ST. LOUIS -– When Dainius Zubrus joined the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 27 on a tryout basis it was a chance for the 37-year-old to show that he still belonged in the NHL, after the New Jersey Devils bought him out in the offseason.
It didn’t work out. Zubrus was released on Nov. 6, as the Blues opted to go with former Sharks forward Marty Havlat.
Ironically, Zubrus is the still in the league, of course, while Havlat –- bought out by the Sharks after the 2013-14 season after three ineffective and injury-prone seasons –- left the Blues after just two games.
Now on the Sharks after signing a one-year contract on Nov. 24, Zubrus doesn’t have any feelings of ill will towards the Blues organization for letting him go. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
“It was great. I was put back on the map,” Zubrus said after the Sharks practice on Sunday at Scottrade Center.
“I wanted to be, I guess you could say, relevant. I wanted to still be in the game. Even though things didn’t work out here, no regrets whatsoever.”
Zubrus was brought to the Sharks at Pete DeBoer’s urging, as the coach had him on the Devils for three-and-a-half seasons. Skating primarily as a fourth line winger, Zubrus has three goals and one assist in 27 games.
He’s a big body, at six-foot-five and 225 pounds, can kill penalties, and serves as a veteran role model and leader to some of the Sharks’ bottom six forwards, a position that needed to be filled in DeBoer’s view.
That’s why Zubrus was on DeBoer’s radar even when he was trying out for the Blues. When the Lithuanian native showed up for a Sharks practice in Boston on Nov. 16, Zubrus was prepared after being with the Blues less than two weeks earlier.
“I think he was much closer to being ready to step into a lineup, having spent 10 days here training and working out and practicing and doing everything,” DeBoer said.
“A lot of guys in his situation at the end of his career might have walked off and sailed into the sunset. Instead, it showed you how hungry this guy was, that he was willing to pick up and try another opportunity. I think that’s a great credit to him. … Fortunately for us, it didn’t work out [with the Blues].”