- Editor's Note: Sheng Peng will be a regular contributor to NBC Sports California’s Sharks coverage. You can read more of his coverage on San Jose Hockey Now, listen to him on the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast, and follow him on Twitter at @Sheng_Peng.
Welcome home, Daddy!
Jason Demers is returning to the Sharks, this time on the air, as part of NBC Sports California’s “Sharks Pregame Live” and “Sharks Postgame Live" coverage.
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Demers makes his Sharks broadcast debut later today as San Jose visits the Nashville Predators. “Sharks Pregame Live” begins at 4:30 p.m. PT.
The Sharks’ seventh-round pick of the 2008 NHL Draft, who patrolled the San Jose blueline from 2009 to 2014, also suited up for the Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers in a 700-game career that appears to have ended last season.
Demers has made a quick transition to the air since then, making his NHL Network and PHNX Sports debuts last month.
Demers, 35, spoke with San Jose Hockey Now about his NBC Sports California role, keeping the door open for a comeback, wanting to inject more personality into hockey broadcasts, which ex-Sharks teammates were surprisingly hilarious and some candid thoughts about this season’s Sharks.
San Jose Sharks
Jason Demers, on if he’s open to coming back to the NHL:
Yeah, if somebody calls, I'd for sure consider it. They need a No. 7. I'd be able to. I'm in shape. I'm like Jumbo, I could play whenever.
Demers, on coming back to the Sharks with Joe Thornton at the trade deadline:
That'd be good. If they're looking, we stay in shape. We'll be primed, ready to go. (laughs)
Demers, on how he fell into TV:
I didn't really know much about the TV world. I wasn't really open to it, ever. My wife was just kind of like, "Go try, you'd be good at it." I always had a lot of people saying you should just test it out, see if you like it.
I pushed for the NHL Network; I kind of called a lot of the producers there. Devon Fox with NBC in San Jose, she really helped me with getting my name out there. I owe a lot to her.
They kind of brought me in for a test run, and it seemed to work out pretty good. Now, I'm kind of doing a little bit with the Sharks, more with the NHL Network. I'm doing also Coyotes [for PHNX Sports]. So it's like, all of a sudden, I'm on TV, mama, so to speak.
It's just been a whirlwind. I'm just kind of taking it for what it is, just taking it day by day and seeing what fits. It's been good so far.
Demers, on the challenges that he’s faced doing TV so far:
It's really getting the reps, seem comfortable. Some people I've talked to, even now, sometimes you automatically censor yourself.
Everybody that I've talked to has been so gracious with their support, and they've kind of just been like, "Just talk about what you know, talk about it like it's a conversation at a bar."
I've tried to kind of take that, sprinkling my personality. It seems to be good.
Obviously, you try to censor yourself and not swear. I'm trying to speak concisely and succinctly enough that NHL fans understand, so it's not just me speaking in hockey talk.
Demers, on being honest on the air about his ex-teammates:
There needs to be a level of honesty. I knew when I made a mistake in the game.
There is a line I think that doesn't need to be crossed. But also, there's a line that you can kind of dance on a little bit.
If I see Logan [Couture] makes a bad turnover, I'm going to address it. Now, I know how good of a player he is, and how consistent he is, so it's not a knock on his game.
That's where people get a little weird about it.
They're like, you can't say anything bad about your friends.
No, listen, if I saw it, that's a bad turnover. But I know how he's going to come back next shift and be dialed in.
The one thing I noticed and I don't like with other guys that have played that do media, it's like, you have to be honest, because the fans know what they see. They know what they like and they don't like, so if you kind of try to tiptoe around that they'll call you out.
Being authentic is more important than being polished is something I've heard more and more recently.
I love what they're trying to do with the NHL Network, and obviously, TNT with [Paul Bissonnette] and those guys where it's a lot more honesty-driven because fans are very knowledgeable.
Demers, on hockey needing more authenticity and personality:
I know a lot of guys, we get criticized a little bit in hockey where the answers are very cookie-cutter. Guys don't want to make a mistake when they're speaking.
I've seen so many great personalities in the NHL that people never knew about.
[Like] this guy is one of the funniest humans that I've played with, but you'd never know it because he is very reserved when it comes to TV. So hopefully, that [authentic approach] kind of opens up some doors for some other guys to kind of feel more comfortable, to kind of let the freak flag fly a little bit.
Demers, on if he’s planning to be a bit of a wild card on the air:
I'm going to tiptoe around it. Listen, I can't go full crazy. (laughs)
Demers, on which ex-Sharks teammate was secretly hilarious:
Kent Huskins. Kent Huskins made me laugh more than most people ever have in the league.
People probably think that he says three words a day and that's it, but he's a great guy when you kind of get him going. We certainly had a [Sharks] team that opened people up.
I just thought he was so funny, and I don't think Sharks fans would really know that he was this just hilarious human when you got him in the right setting.
James Sheppard was hilarious. Probably wouldn't really know. But so funny. Such a good dude. Andrew Desjardins.
Demers, on this season’s Sharks:
When you don't have superstars through your lineup, I think as a coach, the system needs to be a little bit more connected.
I think they work really hard.
Willie Eklund came around the last two games, and I liked what I've seen from [Filip] Zadina.
The penalty kill needs to be a little bit better. Penalty kill, they've given up too many low plays.
Mackenzie [Blackwood] has been incredible. I think last game was not really indicative of how we played that game.
Situationally, certain plays, certain times, you can't try a high-risk play. You can't leave guys high and dry. So I think just being a little bit more connected, coming up the ice. Helping out the D-men [for] the Sharks' forward group.
If I'm the coaching staff and with a young team like that, I think I would simplify even a lot more the system.
I'm a little biased, but I do think Labanc should be in the lineup.