Clowe returns to his roots

This Breaker product spent part of the Olympic break at home, enjoying role as a new dad

Kenn Oliver koliver@thetelegram.com
Published on February 24, 2010
Fermeuse native Ryane Clowe signs a young San Jose Sharks' fan's jersey while his grandmother, Alice Clowe of Ferryland, looks on Sunday at the Southern Shore Arena. Clowe was invited by the Southern Shore Breakers to perform the ceremonial faceoff prior to their Avalon East Senior Hockey League game against the Mount Pearl Blades. Clowe, who says he never missed a senior Breakers game as a child, didn't get to see much of the contest as he was mobbed by local youngsters and some moms and dads in search of a autographs and photos. - Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

Hockey often lends itself to some contentious debates. Fans, pundits and purists alike spar over whether fighting still belongs in the game, the benefits of using wooden sticks compared to composite and tie games versus the shootout.

Even locally, the argument over which was the better townie team during the province's senior hockey zenith - the Shamrocks or Blue Caps - rages on to this day.

Hockey often lends itself to some contentious debates. Fans, pundits and purists alike spar over whether fighting still belongs in the game, the benefits of using wooden sticks compared to composite and tie games versus the shootout.

Even locally, the argument over which was the better townie team during the province's senior hockey zenith - the Shamrocks or Blue Caps - rages on to this day.

Sunday in Mobile, as he was surrounded by a throng of minor hockey players - and a few starry-eyed moms and dads - Ryane Clowe settled one of local hockey's great mysteries.

He is a Breaker, not a Blade.

"This where I grew up, this is where I played the majority of my minor hockey. They retired my jersey here. I'm from Fermeuse," the 27-year-old San Jose Sharks' forward said when asked where he hails from, the Southern Shore or Mount Pearl, where he played some minor and high school hockey before jetting off to the QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic in 2000.

"Everything's usually listed as Fermeuse and I think they get a little ticked off up here when it's not."

Clowe was home for a week during the NHL's Olympic break. While some of his big-league brethren used the unusual hiatus to steal away to sunnier locales, a special delivery awaiting in St. John's steered him home for eight days this February.

Two weeks ago, he and girlfriend Jennifer Murray welcomed their daughter into the world.

"That was pretty exciting," Clowe said of the birth of his daughter, Willow. "She was born when we were in Toronto and I came home not long after, the schedule worked out really well."

Clowe also took time to catch up with family and got in a couple of skates at Prince of Wales (Capital Hyundai) Arena with fellow NHLer St. John's native and Los Angeles Kings' forward Teddy Purcell and senior hockey legends Brian Mulcahy and Andy Sullivan, among others.

But his trip back to the Southern Shore Arena was the first in some time and brought back some great memories from his childhood.

"I never missed a senior game here when I was a kid. Every Sunday I'd be down here with my dad (Tony). It was great," Clowe recalled.

Practices have resumed in San Jose

Clowe is back in San Jose this week as the Sharks resume practising in preparation for their post-Olympic schedule. And as far as he's concerned, despite the challenges posed by a compressed schedule through the first two-thirds of the season, the league should consider a similar break every year, Olympics or not.

"If gives the guys a chance to refresh and when we come back the season's going to be amped up, the hockey's going to be great for 20 games because everyone's rested and ready for a strong push.

"You get to the 50-to-70 game mark and it's kind of like the dog days in the NHL. The season gets long and you get back-to-back games. So this is a good break to refresh and I think, more than anything, everyone's going to be mentally prepared when they get back."

For some teams, a lengthy break leading directly into the NHL's trade deadline on Mar. 3 could make for some decision making in a short time. And while Clowe's name has been tossed about in the scattered blog, mostly because the Sharks are flush to the league's salary cap, he isn't concerned about being dealt.

"It would be a shock," insisted Clowe, who is in the first year of a four-year contract that pays him $3.65-million annually.

"I've never heard any rumours , but I haven't heard a lot of rumours about our team in general. We're one of the top teams and we're built for the playoffs. So I don't see a whole lot of changes coming."

But Clowe agrees there will be changes if the Sharks are not able to rid themselves of a post-season curse that has led to four straight early round exits, despite consistently finishing atop or near the top of the standings.

"We kind of stumbled into the playoffs last year and we want to go in on a high this year," explained the six-foot-two, 225-pound left winger.

"I think we're headed in the right direction. We added some good pieces in character guys and penalty killers.

"But at the end of the day, you've just got to bring it at that time of year."

Clowe is fifth in Sharks' scoring (15) and points (40) and leads the team in penalty minutes (90). After a slow start to the season, he picked it up and had registered 10 points in his last 12 games before the break.

The Sharks' next game is Tuesday when they host Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils.

koliver@thetelegram.com