One of the key players to the San Jose Sharks rise to prominence in the NHL is Jamie Baker. The Sharks had floundered in their first two years of existence but by their third year had made the postseason. Facing the daunting task of defeating the Detroit Red Wings, the Sharks never wavered and Jamie Baker made one of the greatest shots in Shark’s history. But he is much more than just a player in San Jose. Following his retirement as a player, he spent more than a decade in the media, analyzing and calling games while providing a familiar voice to avid viewers of hockey in San Jose. This is his story.
James Paul “Jamie” Baker was born on August 31, 1966 in Nepean, Ontario, Canada. He got his start in hockey by playing for the Nepean Raiders in 1984-1985 where he would score 30 goals in his lone season. From there he spent two years at St. Michaels, scoring just five goals over the course of those two forgettable years. St. Lawrence University saw something in him and offered him a scholarship.
Baker scored nine goals as a freshman and eight as a sophomore. He exploded as a junior with 26 goals and 28 assists in only 38 games. Injuries ravaged a once promising senior season and he scored 11 goals in 13 games. The Quebec Nordiques saw potential in him and selected him in the 1988 NHL Supplemental Draft.
A Tough Start
Jamie Baker’s path to San Jose did not begin easily. In the first three years of his professional career, he split time between the Nordiques and the Halifax Citadels of the AHL. He was pretty average in the last year of that stretch, scoring 12 goals between the two teams. The Ottowa Senators vied for his services in the 1992-1993 season and that is where his best opportunity began. He played in a career high 76 games that year, scoring 19 goals and making 29 assists. At the conclusion of the season, the Sharks called, needing help at centre. Jamie Baker’s greatest opportunity was right around the corner.
Prior to the 1993-1994 season, the Sharks had never reached the postseason and were about to move into the sparkling new San Jose Arena. After a series of roster moves and a coaching change, the Sharks barely made the playoffs, facing off against the top seeded Detroit Red Wings. Jamie Baker scored 12 goals and recorded five assists that season and was ready for his first trip to the playoffs.
It was a tough series, one which would not soon be forgotten in San Jose. On April 30, 1994 in Joe Louis Arena, the Sharks battled the heavily favored Red Wings to a 2-2 tie late in Game Seven. Finally, 13:25 into the third period, Jamie Baker scored the series clinching goal. Though they lost in the next round, the Sharks had won over the heart of San Jose.
Baker was less effective the following year, playing in only 43 games during a strike shortened season and scoring just seven goals. In the first round of the playoffs that year, Baker scored and assisted twice against the Calgary Flames, helping San Jose get the victory. Detroit beat the Sharks in the next round, ending their season.
The Sharks were not as dominant the following year and missed the playoffs. Baker had his best year in San Jose, scoring 16 goals and making 17 assists. He left San Jose for the Toronto Maple Leafs following the 1995-1996 season and played well his first year in Canada, recording eight goals and eight assists. He returned to San Jose in 1998-1999 but by then he was at the end of his career and lasted just one game.
After retiring as a player, Jamie Baker entered the broadcasting world and in 2005 joined the Sharks radio broadcast team with Dan Rusanowsky and David Maley. He hosted the pre-game and post-game shows starting in 2008 for NBC Sports Bay Area. Starting in 2014, he became the color commentator for the Sharks in NBC Sports California.
Despite his rise in the broadcasting world, Jamie Baker struggled with depression and ADHD. The 2017-2018 season was the worst of his career as he had to take multiple leaves of absence to address his mental health. Over time, he became better through yoga, daily readings of “The Daily Stoic” and writing in his gratitude journal. He finished his broadcasting career on a positive note and left the booth in 2020. His time with the Sharks has expanded for much of the franchise’s history and he forever will be remembered for his contributions to the team either while on the ice or in the booth.