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30 Sharks: T.J. Galiardi on Doug Wilson’s Honesty

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TJ Galiardi San Jose Sharks
Credit: Ryan Cowley

T.J. Galiardi made a difference with the San Jose Sharks. Now, he’s making a difference in the world.

An instinctive playmaker with great on-ice vision, T.J. Galiardi and his work ethic helped the San Jose Sharks in his season-plus with the organization.

One of the few to play at the U.S. collegiate level and at the Canadian junior level, Galiardi was drafted 55th overall in 2007 by the Colorado Avalanche. After developing within the organization, though, Galiardi would be dealt in a five-player swap to San Jose in February 2012.

In a continuation of our “30 Sharks” series, we speak with T.J. Galiardi, who shares his experiences in being traded to the Sharks, his relationship with the club’s then-head coach Todd McLellan, and how his time in San Jose helped him in his future business career.

Ditching the Skis for the Surfboard

On February 27, 2012, the Avs sent T.J. Galiardi and Daniel Winnik to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Jamie McGinn, Mike Connolly, and Michael Sgarbossa. For Galiardi, it was a new start but, at the same time, a sad time leaving the team that had drafted him.

“Mixed feelings,” the Calgary native said of the trade. “I was ready to move on and go somewhere new after Colorado. I think my time there just — it had kind of been washed up. I was ready to have a new challenge and the coach and I there, we weren’t seeing eye to eye a little. It worked out well.”

While he was joining a team more ready to compete for a Stanley Cup, though, there was something missing in that first season in San Jose for the former winger.

“[The Avalanche] moved me to San Jose and it was a real Cup-contending team,” Galiardi started. “But unfortunately, we didn’t really gel the way we needed to gel in that first year there and had a first-round exit.

Things, however, got better.

“But, after that, the group really seemed to kind of shift and everyone got along really well and it was an awesome experience.”

Playing for Todd McLellan

For Galiardi, Todd McLellan was a different kind of coach.

After spending three seasons as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings — the last of which ended in winning the Stanley Cup — the San Jose Sharks hired McLellan as their new head coach in 2008.

“I really loved Todd,” beamed Galiardi. “I thought he was an amazing coach. He had his unique style in the sense that he had a real open-door policy, which was really the first time I had that from a coach at that point.”

In spite of the closeness of their relationship, though, Galiardi admitted that being on the same page with McLellan was a work-in-progress.

“I thought he and I had a slow start to our coach-player relationship,” the 32-year-old admitted. “He didn’t really trust my game early but as things went on, he started to have that trust for me.”

And the rest, as they say, was history.

“You know, it’s fun how it developed,” Galiardi fondly reflected. “The last while that I played there, I was playing on the first line, playing on the penalty kill, second power-play unit, so I had a great opportunity there. And McLellan, you know, I thought he was the most prepared coach that I ever had: His whole staff, everything they did was really well done. So, nothing but good experiences with him.”

A Deep Appreciation of Doug Wilson

After parts of two seasons with the San Jose Sharks, Galiardi saw his days in South Bay numbered. Yet, while general manager Doug Wilson was going in a new direction for his team, he didn’t move Galiardi without giving him the option of where he wanted to go.

Galiardi had expressed a desire to play for his hometown Calgary Flames. On July 2, 2013, Wilson granted his left winger his wish.

“It’s no secret that Doug is known as one of the best, most honest GMs in the league,” Galiardi emphasized. “From the time I arrived in San Jose up until the time I left, he was amazing to work with.”

With that in mind, I couldn’t help but ask Galiardi whether Wilson’s treatment of his players makes San Jose a prime destination spot for free agents, regardless how the team fares on the ice.

“Absolutely,” the 32-year-old said. “San Jose is a top destination for free agents. It checks all the boxes. As someone who played on four different teams in the NHL, I can say that the Sharks organization treats their players like family.”

Post-Playing Career

After San Jose and Calgary, Galiardi made a stop in Winnipeg before taking his game to Sweden and then the KHL before retiring in 2018.

Since then, the Calgary native has co-founded the Halifax-based Outcast Foods with Dr. Darren Burke.

As the CMO of Outcast Foods, Galiardi and his team are on a mission to solve Canada’s food waste problem by “rescuing misfit produce from ending up in a landfill.”

I asked the former NHLer whether anything from his tenure with the Sharks — or any of his stops — had inspired him in his business career.

“I don’t know if anything inspired it, but there are tons of things that I learned in my playing career that have helped me in my business career,” Galiardi said. “Certainly, relationships are important. When you’re on a hockey team, you have 25, 30 other personalities that you have to find a way to gel with in order to succeed in a common goal. Same thing in business: You’re working with people for a common goal and that’s definitely worked. Hard work, commitment, and the cliches [translated] as well into the business world.”

If you’d like to learn more about Outcast Foods, go here.

In 50 games with the San Jose Sharks, T.J. Galiardi scored six goals and nine assists while adding another goal and assist in 14 playoff games.

During his brief time with the club, Galiardi helped the Sharks to some success and had a great time along the way.

Now, in his post-playing career, Galiardi is helping to make Canada — and the world — a better place, showing a strong, unwavering commitment to end food waste.

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Alaskan_ice

TJ had stood out to me while he was on the Avalanche. When DW brought him here, I was eager to see how he did here. I liked him in teal.
I recall that DW asked him where he wanted him to go, what a classy move.

[…] An interesting look at the honesty of San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson courtesy of our friend Sheng Peng. (San Jose Hockey Now) […]

[…] In a recent interview, former Sharks forward T. J. Galiardi gave an example of Wilson’s willingness to work with a player. Wilson told Galiardi he’d be traded, but gave him his choice of destination, something Galiardi appreciates to this day. This sort of thing might seem small, but the cumulative effect proved essential. Players such as Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton typically signed deals around three seasons in length. And re-signed several times each. This only happens in an environment of trust. […]

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