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Noah Gregor: “I’ll probably stick with 73.”



Noah Gregor, San Jose Sharks
Credit: NHL

Taking one step back helped Noah Gregor take two steps forward this year.

After four WHL seasons, Gregor made his professional debut for the San Jose Barracuda in April 2018. Naturally, the 2016 San Jose Sharks fourth-round pick thought he was about to embark on a full season of pro hockey in 2018-19.

The Sharks, however, had different ideas, sending Gregor back to juniors for his overage year.

“My goal that year was to play professionally with the Barracuda. I still think I probably could have. But getting sent back probably was the best thing for me,” Gregor told San Jose Hockey Now of his Age-21 campaign with the Prince Albert Raiders. “We ended up winning a championship, and I was a key player on that team. It helped with my confidence, carrying that momentum into training camp, having a good camp and start of the season and eventually earning that first call-up.”

That’s exactly what happened.

On October 4, 2019, Gregor made his regular season Barracuda debut. Two weeks later, he was making his NHL debut against the Buffalo Sabres. The next month, the speedy winger scored his first NHL goal.

All in all, it was a promising debut season for Gregor, who skated 7:11 in his first NHL game and 17:27 in the San Jose Sharks’ final game before the pause.

San Jose Hockey Now caught up with Gregor this afternoon. The 22-year-old told us his thoughts about changing his jersey number, his favorite Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau stories, something about former teammate Brayden Point that we don’t know, and what his goal song next year might be.

We also chatted more about his dad, Colin Gregor, who played for Roy Sommer in Richmond 25 years ago.

Sheng Peng: What are you emphasizing in your training this off-season — what are you hoping to improve? Who are you training with?

Noah Gregor: A lot of the same that I’ve been focusing on in past summers. I’m always trying to get stronger and faster. This summer, maybe put on a little extra weight, filling out my frame. Building up that lower body and lower explosiveness. That’s been my main focus this summer.

SP: I assume your No. 73 was just something that was given to you. You are the first San Jose Sharks player with that number. You wore No. 22 and No. 18 in juniors, is that something you’re hoping to change to, if given the opportunity?

NG: I think I’ll probably stick with 73. I didn’t know I was the first-ever Shark to wear it. That’s pretty cool. I wore 22 for most of my junior career and growing up, but I think I’ll probably stick with 73 now.

SP: Your uncle wrote a great story about you and your hometown of Beaumont, nearby Edmonton — 37 years after the last player from Beaumont scored an NHL point, you scored the town’s first NHL goal. What does that mean to you?

NG: It’s hard to think about. It’s pretty cool that I’m the first-ever person to score a goal from Beaumont. I don’t think about it too much. But it’s pretty cool I can say I’m the first to score in a city now.

SP: Speaking of your uncle, he’s a well-known media personality in Edmonton. Not a lot of players are related to media people, did you learn anything about the media side from your uncle?

NG: He always told me just be respectful of the reporters. Treat them as you treat anyone else. I know players and reporters, every now and then, you can have disagreements. But at the end of the day, there’s a lot of good reporters, and the majority of them are great people.

I think it helped me understand their job and that they’re doing the best they can to make a living and bring a different side of the the game to the fans.

SP: You played in Chicago during San Jose’s last game of the season. When did you guys find out about Rudy Gobert and the NBA season being canceled? What was the reaction in the room?

NG: Right after the game, I remember talking to Nick DeSimone. He was on the trip and he wasn’t playing. I just came in and he told me that the NBA had cancelled their season. So then all the guys started talking. The NBA and NHL are copycat leagues just because we play around the same time, we play in the same arenas. We were kind of thinking that if they’re done, it’s most likely the NHL will probably follow. It was weird for that day and a half, two days where we didn’t know.

SP: Guys like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, they’re such legends. If for some reason, they don’t come back next year or they play elsewhere, what’s the one Thornton story you’re telling your kids? The one Marleau story?

NG: The Thornton story I always like to tell is when I scored my first goal. He spoke up in the room and said, “Now you’re in the NHL. Before you weren’t quite, but now you’re in the NHL.”

With Marleau, just how nice of a guy he was. I remember one of my first call-ups in Buffalo, he got an Uber and took us out to dinner.

There were a lot of guys at the dinner, but he took me and Ferraro in the Uber, went with him.

He’s been around for so long, but he really took care of everyone, and talked to everybody.

SP: That’s really nice he took you to dinner. You know, he was making the minimum this year, so he was making the same as you guys.

NG: (laughs)

SP: Going back to juniors for just a couple questions, I know in 2018-19 you wanted to go pro, but what did that extra year of pro do for you, in terms of your confidence and pro readiness?

NG: I think it helped a lot. My goal that year was to play professionally with the Barracuda. I still think I probably could have. But getting sent back probably was the best thing for me.

I got to play a ton of hockey, a ton of minutes. Special teams, both penalty kill and power play.

You grow a lot in that last year. I was able to put on some size and make that pro transition a little easier.

Our team was the best in the league. We ended up winning a championship, and I was a key player on that team. It helped with my confidence, carrying that momentum into training camp, having a good camp and start of the season and eventually earning that first call-up.

SP: You played with Brayden Point in juniors. He’s now becoming a superstar, he’s a Conn Smythe favorite. So can you tell me something about Point that nobody knows?

NG: Maybe I’ll throw him under the bus. He was never a guy that liked to wear a tie to the game in juniors. Would never wear a tie to the game.

He’s probably wearing a tie now. I bet he stepped his suit game up. I bet he’s looking good.

I just don’t think getting dressed up for junior games when it’s minus-40 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan was at the top of his list.

SP: Also, you’re a big music fan from what I understand, what was your goal song going to be this year?

NG: I hadn’t picked one out.

SP: Really? Come on, Noah, you gotta show more confidence in yourself, man!

NG: I know. There’s so many. I’m going to have to get some feedback from family and friends this year.

I’m not sure if they do it again, but I think it’s pretty cool if they do.

SP: Top of your mind, what might you go with?

NG: Probably be something hip-hop, something from Drake.

SP: Is Drake also your go-to at karaoke?

Those songs are a little harder to karaoke. I’d probably go something a little easier for karaoke, maybe a country song. Maybe something by Jon Pardi.

SP: Finally, I just wanted to get your thoughts about these pictures of your dad and Roy Sommer in the mid-90s, when he played for Roy:

NG: (laughs) I love seeing the old gear that my dad wore! Good style. And I’ve never seen a young Roy. My dad said he enjoyed playing for him.

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