If my math is correct, and it very well might not be so I’d appreciate in the comments if I’m wrong, there are 40 days until the Sharks take the ice against the Los Angeles Kings to start the 2014 NHL season. So I thought I’d do a fun little series leading up to then. Each day I will name the best player to wear that number in San Jose Sharks history. A lot of these will be up for great debate. Some of them will not even be close. This is one of the those that isn’t close. So, without further ado, the best player to wear the number 40 for the San Jose Sharks.
Just kidding. It’s actually
Mike Rathje was taken 3rd overall by the San Jose Sharks in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, and the defenseman wasn’t exactly what they thought he would be. He never had more than 29 points in a season, but he had a lot of moments where he showed he was formidable defensively. He also showed very promising plus minus ratings during some seasons and ended up with a plus 26 after his 11 year stint with the Sharks. In those 11 years, he played more than 80 games 5 times, which truly isn’t that much, so durability was an issue with him. And he did miss out on half the 2001 season with a hold out. However, he then posted a career year. Rathje ended up playing 671 games for the San Jose Sharks, which averages out to 61 games played a season, which isn’t bad, but you want a little bit more out of a player you draft 3rd overall.
Was Mike Rathje the best defenseman for the Sharks? No. Not by a long shot. In fact, you could even consider Rathje a draft bust considering the lack of points he put up, his durability, and where he was drafted. And despite being 6’5 and 245 pounds, he never used his size the way he should have. Sure he had a few big hits and a few fights here and there, but someone that size should be a physical force and Rathje never really was. So despite Rathje possibly being considered a bust, he had to go up against Kent Huskins and Mikhail Kravets, who played 1 NHL game with the Sharks, which makes Mike Rathje the best San Jose Shark to wear the number 40.
Tune in tomorrow for number 39, which is a lot closer of a debate than you might think.