Weatherby Says Good-Bye to Sharks Fans, What He’ll Miss Most About Eklund
When’s the last time that it felt really, really good to be a San Jose Sharks fan?
It probably hasn’t been at any time this year. Sure, Erik Karlsson is having a season for the ages. But a 0-5-0 start – and trading homegrown star Timo Meier – cast a pall on this campaign.
Really, it’s been a depressing four years for Sharks fans, going back to letting Joe Pavelski walk in free agency in the summer of 2019.
But there was, I think, a brief ray of light in these otherwise dark ages.
Let’s go back to Oct. 16, 2021. The Sharks beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 on opening night at SAP Center.
Rookies Jasper Weatherby, William Eklund, and Jonathan Dahlen were making their NHL debuts.
Weatherby, straight from the University of North Dakota to San Jose’s second-unit power play, scored his first-ever NHL goal.
The seventh-overall pick of the most recent Draft, Eklund, notched his first-ever NHL point.
Swedish import Dahlen, son of Sharks great Ulf, was about to take the league by storm with seven goals in his first 15 games.
Prospective future of Sharks goaltending, Adin Hill, San Jose’s first opening night starter not named Martin Jones since 2014, got the win.
Visions of a surprise playoff appearance, led by these young guns, danced in many heads when the Sharks started the season 4-0-0 – then 20-16-1 – but it wasn’t meant to be, and a dismal second half left San Jose outside of the playoffs once again.
Anyway, over the summer, new Sharks GM Mike Grier let Dahlen become a UFA and traded Hill, and in January, he dealt 25-year-old prospect Weatherby to the Detroit Red Wings for AHL veteran Kyle Criscuolo.
Last month, I caught up with fan favorite Weatherby, who reminisced about his time in San Jose.
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After 50 NHL games last year, Weatherby had to adjust to a new role this season with the San Jose Barracuda, as increased organizational depth pushed him down the Sharks and the Cuda’s line-ups.
The gregarious 6-foot-4 center is excited for his new opportunity with the Grand Rapids Griffins though and told some great stories about his time in the San Jose Sharks organization, like who’s the best and worst Barracuda players at Charades, what he’ll miss most about his good friend Eklund, and why he named his dog Larry.
Jasper Weatherby, on if he was surprised to get traded:
Yeah, I think super-surprised. It’s not something I had asked for, was really happy in San Jose, and has some obviously really good relationships there. So yeah, just kind of came out of the blue.
Weatherby, on his season with the Barracuda and how his role changed from last year:
I think an up-and-down year. I think sometimes, players are asked to fill different roles than they kind of maybe previously have had the year before. And that’s something I tried to embrace, obviously, we had a lot of young firepower coming in.
So there were certain things that were kind of asked of me, and I tried to do them, best I could, be coachable.
A lot of credit to the staff down there with the Barracuda, it’s their first year, and they were obviously amazing with us. I was just grateful to be a part of it.
Some people would look and say, hey, maybe he’s having a down year, I look at it and say, I was asked to do different things. My role may be changed a little bit. That’s all part of the game and maturely playing in a role.
Weatherby, on saying goodbye to his teammates:
It was obviously pretty, pretty emotional saying goodbye to a lot of these guys. Some people say you’re only there for a year and a half. But in reality, I came in 2018, drafted 2018, was there at development camps, training camps, that’s a lot of time spent in the hotel, a lot of time spent with the guys even before you get there, to play.
It’s one of those things where you make those bonds in the summertime, I think that’s why those camps are so important to make those bonds. You get their phone numbers and you stay in touch and then maybe you play against some of them in your seasons in college, or you see them around in the summer, you train with them.
From a relationship standpoint, it’s obviously really, really challenging to say goodbye to a lot of those guys. But one of the things that I think I was saying was, hey, we have these bonds for life. I’m gonna see you guys around. It’s a small world, especially the hockey world.
Weatherby, on his favorite Barracuda memories:
So many of them.
From playing golf with guys to having game nights at different guys’ houses and playing board games to experiencing the other guys’ cultures. Having some of the Swedish guys take me to IKEA was just a blast.
Just kind of the stuff where you might look back and you might go, that’s just going out to dinner, are you serious? And I would say, absolutely. That’s where those bonds are created.
Weatherby, on if William Eklund is still going to IKEA:
Yeah, I think he’s been a couple times, for sure.
We actually lived in the same building. His family came over, and they made a couple of us guys in the building a true, traditional Swedish meatball dinner and it was just fantastic. Another one of those, you’ll look back and just be like that was really special time.
Weatherby, on what board games the Barracuda played:
Yeah, we played a bunch.
One was called Just One. And it’s kind of a collaborative guessing game. I probably shouldn’t be thrown out free sponsorships, but it’s a great game. (laughs) I think anyone should pick it up.
We played some Catan, it was a lot of fun. And then Ticket to Ride is another game, as well as some other Charades and acting games, get the whole group together.
Weatherby, on was the best and worst at Charades:
Let’s give the best actor, probably Bords. He had some funny acting.
We’ll give Vieler the worst at acting. He’ll be happy when he reads that.
Weatherby, on if he was able to bring his dog over to Grand Rapids yet:
My dog’s name is Larry.
He made the move over with me too. Which was obviously really nice. We’re just in a hotel right now, but the nice part is, this season’s got about [one] and a half months left here and super-great hotel in Grand Rapids and there’s lots to do. Stay right downtown. You’re right by the rink, so I can walk to and from the rink.
Weatherby, on Larry:
He’s a little French bulldog. We got him in college. Me and my girlfriend, got him in college. We got him in like January of 2020, right before the pandemic, obviously, nobody knew the pandemic was happening.
You get to spend his puppy years and we’re in quarantine together training him, and he’s literally, the best dog. I’m lucky to have him in my life, for sure. I love him to death.
Weatherby, on why Larry:
I’ve always wanted to give a dog a human name. And I just thought Larry was hilarious, and funny enough, I get Larry, and that quarantine, I got really into “Curb Your Enthusiasm” with Larry David.
I was either gonna name Larry, Terry.
[But] I’ve wanted to name a dog Larry forever. Maybe the next dog’s name will be Terry.
Weatherby, on giving a dog a human name:
I’ve met more dogs named Jasper than I’ve met people named Jasper.
Weatherby, on what he’s going to miss most about William Eklund as a friend:
I don’t even know where to start. San Jose fans should be extremely grateful for not only having a outstanding prospect and extremely talented hockey player, but even a better human being. That’s the most important story there, his work ethic, how he treats people off the ice, his habits. I was lucky enough to room with him on the road as well.
We spent a ton of time together. Almost just like a little brother to me, being able to kind of show him North America and introduce him to Chipotle and stuff like that. He’s still bugging me to come out to Sweden, he sends me a text all the time, are you coming to Sweden this summer?
Weatherby, on if Chipotle is still Eklund’s favorite restaurant:
You have to help him get sponsored by Chipotle. I told him I would do it. But now, I’m not there. Yeah, he loves that restaurant. They would benefit from having a spokesperson like him.
Weatherby, on the idea of Eklund opening a Chipotle in Sweden:
That would be a heck of an investment. He would save himself a ton of money. (laughs)
Weatherby’s message to San Jose Sharks fans:
Yeah, I couldn’t be more grateful. I grew up being a Sharks fan and coming down to the Shark Tank for games when I was younger, and it’s really where I started to fall in love with hockey. Obviously, watched my first [NHL] game down there. Funny enough, it was actually the Sharks versus Detroit in the playoffs.
As a young kid stepping into that environment for the first time, I believe it was my first professional sporting event ever. I went down with my dad and one of my best friends and his dad. Yeah, it was just phenomenal.
So from being at that environment as a kid and kind of growing in San Jose and playing in the Silver Stick and actually winning the Silver Stick Championship when I was younger in San Jose. And the Sharks over there at the practice facility.
And then, getting the chance to obviously play in my first game with the Shark Tank rocking, spend half a season up there. I just couldn’t be more grateful. The fans were amazing, every step of the way. It was really, really, really awesome.
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