Lower Sackville’s James Sheppard ready to lace ’em up again with San Jose Sharks

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LOWER SACKVILLE - For San Jose Sharks forward James Sheppard, playing the game becomes simpler when he’s just enjoying being on the ice.

Lower Sackville's James Sheppard with the San Jose Sharks.

“I was having fun playing hockey,” the 26-year-old from Lower Sackville said recently of lacing up last season for the Sharks.

“The game becomes easier when you’re doing that.”

Sheppard tallied four goals and 16 assists for 20 points in 67 games during the 2013-14 regular season, while adding another two goals and four assists for six points during seven playoff games.

“I started playing well at the end of the season,” he said at a Halifax charity event this month. “I wanted to make sure that I as on the top of my game.”

The Sharks were watching. The six-foot-one, 215-pound left-winger re-signed for a third season with San Jose in early July, on a one-year contract worth reportedly $1.3 million.

“We didn’t finish the way we wanted to,” he said of the Sharks being ousted in the first round by the Los Angeles Kings, falling 4-3 after winning three straight.

“But I was happy with the way I played, just because I know I gave it all for my teammates.”

Keeping perspective is important for Sheppard, who underwent three surgeries after shattering his knee in a serious ATV collision in fall 2010.

He was selected 9th overall by the Minnesota Wild in the 2006 NHL Draft, but was forced off the ice for two seasons while he recovered.

San Jose gave him a chance, snagging him in an August 2011 trade.

“You just have to take it in stride, “ Sheppard said, admitting his knee is still often sore, especially during the off-season.

That’s why in addition to working out at Citadel Hill and the Halifax Common, and practising at local rinks, he’s also taken time to travel and relax before heading back to San Jose.

Summer activities have included golfing in Cape Breton and participating in Chester Race Week with his family.

After all, it’s the support of his loved ones, he said, that has helped him get back into the game so that he can simply “keep playing.”

Organizations: San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild

Geographic location: Lower Sackville, San Jose, Halifax Cape Breton

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