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Roenick signs free-agent contract with Sharks

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Jeremy Roenick thinks he still has the
skills and the desire to help the San Jose Sharks' next run at the
Stanley Cup.

He'll even keep his mouth shut to prove it.

The nine-time All-Star signed a one-year, $500,000 contract with
the Sharks on Tuesday, postponing retirement for the chance to get
his 500th goal while chasing his first championship.

The outspoken 37-year-old center has been a dynamic scorer and a
controversial character for most of his 18-year career -- but
Roenick started his first day in teal with a vow to censor himself.

"It's going to be a quiet year in terms of the verbal side of
me," Roenick said in a phone interview.

That might be the toughest challenge yet for a 495-goal scorer
and a two-time U.S. Olympian who has never been shy about
dispensing criticism or praise to any player or coach who crossed
his path.

"I'm going to go in there and just really enjoy being on a team
that's run by two of the great players in the league in Patrick
Marleau and Joe Thornton," he said. "I feel like I've gotten a
second chance at life on a team where I can fit in and just go
along with the flow and try to help as much as I can, the ultimate
dream being the Stanley Cup."

The Massachusetts native has 1,170 points in an 18-year career
spent with Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Phoenix. Roenick
reached the Stanley Cup finals with Chicago in 1992 but hasn't been
back. He signed with Philadelphia in 2001 specifically for a shot
at the title, but didn't get it.

"My motivation is to win a Cup, to try to gain my
respectability as a hockey player back, and to give the San Jose
Sharks every ounce of Jeremy Roenick that I have in me," he said.
"I might have a lot of people that doubt me, but I think a lot of
Jeremy Roenick can be a positive thing."

Even Roenick acknowledges he seemed finished after he struggled
through 70 games last season, saying he lost much of his passion
for hockey while scoring just 28 points for the hapless Coyotes.

But after taking most of the summer off, Roenick got a call last
month from Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, a Blackhawks
defenseman when Roenick broke in as a rookie in 1988. Roenick
jumped into 3½ weeks of tough workouts, then signed with the Sharks
10 days before training camp opens in San Jose.

"He knows he's coming here for hockey, and he knows the other
part is not what it's really about," Wilson said. "He's coming in
here to earn ice time, and the coach will decide everything. We
don't expect any distractions [from] a guy that comes in willing to
play hard."

Roenick has feuded with everyone from Patrick Roy to USA Hockey,
and he viciously criticized the league and the NHLPA during the
2004-05 lockout. But he already exercised his newfound verbal
discipline when he declined to trash Phoenix and Los Angeles, where
he chafed at playing on losing teams.

"My opinion is my opinion," Roenick said. "I do know that I
can play this game. I think my energy and my love for the game is
very large, and I can bring a lot of excitement into a locker
room."

Roenick is tied with Bobby Hull in 44th place among NHL career
scoring leaders. Only Mike Modano (507) and Joey Mullen (502) have
more goals among American-born players.

Wilson usually resisted adding veteran players to his young core
before last spring, preferring to give every spare minute of ice
time to youngsters who might mature into stars. But with San Jose
stuck among the NHL's elite regular-season teams, Wilson is
searching for a mental edge that will get the Sharks deep into the
playoffs after consecutive second-round exits.

"You bring in guys that are at the end of their run, and they
don't want to look back and have any regrets," Wilson said.
"Nobody can question Jeremy's willingness to compete. ... We're
building on the experience we had last year. We had some success,
but Jeremy -- certainly one thing about him, he's not tentative.
He'll run over his best friend if he has to."