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Walman Excited To Join Sharks’ Rebuild, Bring Griddy to San Jose

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Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

Jake Walman is happy to be part of the rebuild.

Originally, Walman was blindsided by his trade to the San Jose Sharks, which saw him, his $3.4 million AAV cap hit for the next two years, and a 2024 second-round pick exchanged for future considerations. Now, the former Detroit Red Wings defenseman is excited to discuss his future role with his new, rebuilding team.

Sharks Add Jake Walman, 2024 2nd-Round Pick in Trade

The 28-year-old, in his introductory media availability, discussed his initial reaction to the trade, bringing the Griddy to San Jose, the positive vibes that he got from Mike Grier, and meeting Macklin Celebrini and Joe Thornton in Las Vegas:

Walman, on his initial reaction to the trade:

First off, I’d say that the hockey world didn’t really expect it.  I saw a bunch of tweets about it, so I don’t think anybody really expected it. I’m not sure if the Wings expected it; I didn’t expect it. But when I got the call, obviously, I was a little bit shocked. Just that the whole trade thing, I didn’t think that was [a] question. But after being able to digest it a little bit and talk to my family, I was really excited about it. I’ve heard so much about San Jose, and I was just around a bunch of people that live there — that’ve played for San Jose, and I couldn’t be more excited right now.

Walman, on what he knows about the San Jose Sharks and their rebuild:

I think there’s a lot to be excited about in the Sharks organization. As a city, too, I think a lot of people should be excited about what’s to come. Whether that’s 1, 2, 3, 4 years from now, I think there’s a lot to build on. Seeing the Sharks’ success in the past, when they’re buzzing, it’s a good place to play. So, I think there’s a lot to be excited about. I actually met Macklin [Celebrini] after he got drafted, that night.

He’s pumped. I’m really excited that he’s going to bring some high energy. Same with [Smith]. They’re going to bring high energy. I haven’t met him yet, but it’ll be good to get the youth in. I think that’s the way the game is trending. Like you said, Detroit was in that similar situation a few years ago — almost a rebuilding stage. But I think the foundation that the Sharks are creating right now, you can’t beat that. So, I’m really excited about it. Hopefully, I can be a huge part of that future too.

Walman, on if he enjoyed playing for former San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner:

I really did. He sent me a text too when the trade went down, a couple of days later. That was one of the texts that I was honestly most excited about. He really helped me in a lot of different ways. He thinks the game really well and gets really excited when things are going well for his players. There’s been, over the years, a lot of coaches that I’ve gone through, but I would say [Boughner] was definitely up there as one of my favorites.

Walman, on bringing the Griddy and lightheartedness to San Jose:

I told Macklin, that was one of the things I said, we got to start growing this game. It starts with you guys, you got to live up to the hype. You’ll see me doing some celebrations too. I have some stuff in store, for sure.

We had some really interesting meetings this weekend at the PA meetings. Short story is hockey is pretty old school and thought about [in] an old school mentality.

[A celebration like the Griddy is] just who I am. You’ll see when I’m at the rink, even off the ice: I’m laughing, enjoying it. Being serious when it counts, but I think you need that light personality. Like you said, it’s not showboating.

My favorite player growing up was Alex Ovechkin. I just saw his crazy [celebrations] and how fired up he got when he scored, and when stuff was going well for his team. That’s why I first started celebrating. But we turned it into a positive this year when I was in Detroit.

I actually just finished coming from dropping off a check [in relation to the Griddy]: We did a charity t-shirt drop for the Boys and Girls Club there, and it did really well.  I’d say about 90 percent of the messages are positive and 10 percent that I get are people that are pissed off or the other team thinks it’s silly. Fans of the other team.

But in the end, the thing that I do it for is I get those 90 percent of messages from parents that send me videos of their kids doing [the Griddy] on the ice. Other kids doing it. People wearing 96 jerseys and their kids doing it after they score. Or, wanting to play hockey. That’s really why I do it. Just trying to grow the game because I remember when I was young, I loved meeting NHL players or going to watch a game in Toronto. So that’s really why I do it. It’s nothing more than that.

Walman, on meeting Thornton for the first time in Las Vegas, and how Jumbo “sold” San Jose:

He asked me if I like to golf first. I think that was his thing. He said [San Jose] is a great spot to live. Obviously when the team is doing well, like you saw when he was there, it’s a great place to play. So, I’m excited. I think the future is bright.

That’s what I look forward to. After talking with management and coaches after the trade happened, [it] just solidified that excitement in me — being able to be a big part of a transitioning team moving forward. Bringing that — I wouldn’t call myself a veteran by any [means] — but I can pick little spots from where I played before in St. Louis and Detroit. What it takes, how a team is built, and what it takes to really win. So, hopefully we can get that going and the young guys can really feed off some of the older guys.

Walman, on bringing positive vibes to San Jose

There’s always going to be an expectation, doesn’t matter where you see the team at this point. There’s always still an expectation. The teams that I’ve been on, it’s been slowly, slowly building. It doesn’t happen in one year. You’re not gonna see a total 180 from the start to the end.

But if you can start creating that standard to be great and know each year what you’re building on. Eventually that’s going to turn into success. Building on those little things every single year, after two, three years, you’re going to know what the standard is.

Like you said, there’s time, for sure, to keep it light. and that’s part of it- especially when you get into those grindy parts of the season. Late in the season, when you’re in those meaningful games — going into playoffs or something like that, you’ve got keep it light. You’ve got to keep it flowing, because those are stressful times. Everybody wants to do well; that’s the ultimate goal. But keeping it light, especially with the with the young guys here, I feel like I can relate to them. I still feel young, I still feel like I’m 20. I’m excited. I think I’ll be great for those for those young guys, too.

Walman, on veterans who helped him learn what it takes to push for the playoffs:

That’s what I talked to the guys on the phone about. That’s the same thing I did, I picked [the brains of] these older guys like the David Perrons and Ryan O’Reillys and learned a lot from them about that push. What it takes to be a true pro. I think they taught me a lot for sure. I definitely think that, especially in the room in between periods, off the ice stuff, just being a leader. I feel like I’ve gotten those qualities a little bit from the guys that have been there before.

If there’s one person I learned from the most about what it takes to be a true team and doing the right things and everybody pulling the same ship, it’s David Perron. He’s became a really close friend of mine. Obviously, he’s out of Detroit now too, but he’s definitely taught me a lot. He likes to keep it light as well, but at the same time he knows what it takes to win.

Watch the full Walman interview here

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