Scouting a veteran squad

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:20 PM ET

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 The San Jose Sharks are being hailed as a young team on the rise -- much like the Calgary Flames.

 But, like the Flames, who have Dave Lowry, Chris Simon, Stephane Yelle, Martin Gelinas and Rhett Warrener among experienced players in their fold, the Sharks also boast a bevy of key vintage playoff performers.

 Ron Sutter, the Western professional scout of the Flames, knows firsthand what Mike Ricci, Mike Rathje, Todd Harvey, Scott Thornton and Vincent Damphousse bring to the Sharks' pool of talent.

 "Those guys have been around -- they've got a lot of experience," said Sutter, who played with the Sharks for five seasons prior to retiring from the Flames after the 2000-01 campaign. "They've been through the battles -- not just for what they can bring to the locker-room but how they can perform on the ice.

 "Their determination and how hard they compete -- the younger guys see that and they feed off of that. They're used to having those experienced guys around -- not just from playing with them but to talk to about their experiences. It's invaluable. You can't put a measuring stick on that."

 Both Ricci and Damphousse, have Stanley Cup rings. Ricci won his in 1996 with the Colorado Avalanche, while Damphousse played on the 1993 Montreal Canadiens.

 "When Vinny speaks, everyone listens," said Sutter of the 18-year NHL veteran. "He's been through it all and he knows what to say at the right time. He's probably one of the more underrated players in the game today and always has been"

 On the blueline, Rathje has 65 playoff games under his belt, a Sharks high.

 "Rat has always just been a very, very quiet leader," Sutter said. "He's probably one of the toughest guys to play against 1-on-1 with his long reach and size. And he's been through a lot with that hockey club, so it's good to see a guy like that getting an opportunity now." /P>


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