Another hurdle for Havlat

Sharks forward Martin Havlat skates against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich.,...

Sharks forward Martin Havlat skates against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich., Oct. 28, 2011.9 (GREGORY SHAMUS/Getty Images/AFP)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:32 PM ET

SAN JOSE - Remember when the Senators’ top three scorers were right wingers?

Eight seasons later, Marian Hossa and Daniel Alfredsson will be in Ottawa for the all-star game, while Martin Havlat will be at home in San Jose, doing what he does a lot of these days: Watching on TV.

Havlat, who was acquired by the Sharks in an off-season trade for another former Senator whose name rhymes with Fany Beatley, didn’t get off to a great start with his new team. But at 30 years of age, he still has all the skills to be a star.

He’s a great skater, amazing puck-handler and deceptively talented shooter, all talents his dad helped him hone. There is one detail Mirolsav Havlat neglected to help his boy with, however.

“My father was my coach when I was young ... he forgot to tell me how to jump over the boards,” Havlat said Thursday morning. “So he’s mad at himself right now.”

Havlat needed surgery to fix a partially torn hamstring he suffered while making a line change last month. It sounds like he suffered some ankle damage at the same time.

“I got stuck,” he said. “I just tried to put my leg in front of me and I think my ankle twisted and I just put all my weight on it. The toe got stuck in it and the ankle twisted. Just a freak. Freak accident. Another one.

“Might be the freakiest one, but it’s not as bad as the shoulder. Pain-wise.”

Ah, yes, the shoulder. Havlat’s last regular season in Ottawa (2005-06) was limited to 18 games because of the shoulder injury. He recovered to score 13 points in 10 playoff games, but was dealt to Chicago in the summer when he told the Senators he would only sign a one-year deal.

Injuries plagued him during his three seasons with the ’Hawks, too. Only in his last one did he play as many as 81 games.

Two years into a six-season free-agent deal he signed with Minnesota, he was moved for Beatley.

Havlat was hopeful his injury woes were behind him when he landed in San Jose.

“I watch a lot of games on TV now,” he said. “I just got rid of the crutches (Thursday). I’m on a cane now, so improving. I can walk a little bit today.

“Some of the guys don’t get hurt their whole career, and some of us have to battle through injuries. You have to jump over a few hurdles in your career. There’s another one for me.

“It’s the only goal to have now is to get better. The team is doing great, and my goal is to be ready for the playoffs, hopefully before that. Then we’ll go from there.”

Good guy, Marty Havlat. Good guy that’s had a lot of bad luck.

STARTS AND STOPS

Sharks D Dan Boyle isn’t totally disappointed not to be going back to his hometown to play in the all-star game. “I had mixed emotions about it,” said Boyle, who has 25 points this season despite playing the first few weeks on a broken foot. “I think it would have been nice to see the family, my whole family is still in Ottawa to this day, but I haven’t had a break, with the last two all-star games and Olympics, in about four or five years. So it’s kind of nice to get a break, to be honest with you.” He’ll recharge his batteries a four-hour drive from San Jose, in Lake Tahoe ... Boyle, on the Senators: “They’re arguably the biggest surprise, especially in the East, for sure. They went from being one of the worst teams to one of the best right now.” ... Thursday’s game was the second for Milan Michalek against his old Sharks teammates. The first one saw him score two goals in a losing cause. “It was about two months after the trade and it was kind of weird, playing against some of my friends,” he said. “But now I’m two years in Ottawa. I’m home here. I love Ottawa. I still have a few friends (in San Jose), but not too many. I think it will be a normal game.”

THIS AND THAT

Thursday’s game was a reunion for Senators coach Paul MacLean and San Jose bench boss Todd McLellan, who were assistants together in Detroit under Mike Babcock. “I think that Paul has done a tremendous job in Ottawa,” said McLellan. “He’s done such a good job in installing a system, and getting players to believe in it. When you watch them and do the pre-scout, it’s pretty evident. Obviously, spending time with him and Mike, I have a pretty good idea of how they want to play, and you can see it. I think that’s a sign of a coach doing a tremendous job. The players also deserve some credit for buying in an accepting it, but it looks like thye’re having fun playing the game. It looks like they have an identitty. They’re a very dynamic offensive team, when they’re on the entries, their defence is up on the rush., very much like the Red Wing teams.” .... It’s not like MacLean and McLellan talked about this day coming, though. “We didn’t have time, Babs was working us to death,” laughed McLellan. “I think anybody in that situation ... those are the kind of assistant coaches you want. Sombody that has aspirations to move on. Somebody that has their own ideas and thoughts, and hopefully they’re sharing them with you. Challenging you as a coach. Mac was always that. Mac was the guy that played the 600 or 700 games and scored the 40 goals. His insight to the game as a player was really unique. I always remember one thing, that he would always say ‘nobody ever made me backcheck. I didn’t have to, nobody made me.’ And I think he was referring to us as coaches, that we better get on our guys and make them backcheck. Nobody ever made him and he didn’t. He had those simple little insights. A great man and a great family. I’m really happy for him.” ... McLellan, of course, will be coach at the all-star game with New York Rangers’ John Tortorella, as Claude Julien and his Bruins staff mans the other bench. McLellan said his duties will be minimal.“I was lucky enough to have been there once before and you learn a lot from having attended that one,” he said. “I was joking around that coaches need to know how to say ‘next’ in more than one language. Because that’s usualy the extent of it., By no means is there going to be any strategy. I’m not even sure how the lines and pairings are going to be put together, whether the captains do that as well as the draft itself. Torts and I will have the best seats in the house, I can tell you that. We’ll actually be able to hear and smell the players.”

BETWEEN PERIODS

Former 67’s star Logan Couture is looking forward to going back to Ottawa with his family, as an all-star. “It’s going to be cool to be in that city again, spend some time around Ottawa, hopefully see my billets, see (Brian Kilrea) Killer,” he said. “I’m going to try and check out a 67’s game, I know they play at home on the Friday there. See (coach Chris Byrne) Byrnie and a bunch of the guys I played with are still around there. So it will be good to see those guys.” ... Sharks GM Doug Wilson, another former 67’s star, recently flew Kilrea to San Jose for a game. “He kind of keeps his space,” said Couture. “Even when he was here, we saw him for a little bit before the game. He said he didn’t want to get in the way, just kind of didn’t want to be seen. It was good to see him.”

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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