Wayne Gretzky's nickname remains safe. Nyjer Morgan was not The Great One.

But considering he has a day job as an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, Morgan was ... The Not-Too-Shabby One?

"I'd give him a B-plus to be honest with you," Sharks center Joe Thornton said. "I was surprised with how good he was."

Morgan, a Bay Area native and longtime Sharks fan, lived his dream Wednesday when he got to take part in practice. He even whistled a puck into the net during a breakaway drill, albeit with help from a hospitable goalie.

Wearing a No. 2 jersey with the name "Plush" in honor of his alter-ego Tony Plush, Morgan got a chance to experience his alter-career. As a teenager, he set out to make the NHL and advanced as far as major junior hockey in the Western Hockey League, which means he was no slouch.

Morgan, now 31, shook off some rust against the Sharks, wobbling at times on his skates as he took part in a breakaway drill with his left-handed shot. But after three ineffective attempts, he whacked his fourth shot past backup goalkeeper Thomas Greiss (who all but put up a welcome mat in front of the net).

Morgan later beamed in the Sharks dressing room as he peeled off his pads.

"How many athletes do you know who can just jump on the ice and do what I just did?" Morgan said. "Exactly. Pretty cool, huh?

"It's been many moons. It's been a lot of years, yeah. And I've still got it. You see that?"

Morgan was born in San Francisco and said he was raised in San Jose, at a home near the Eastridge mall, before later attending high school in Mill Valley.

He fell in love with hockey as a 7-year-old while glued to the TV for the 1988 Winter Games from Calgary.

As a kid, Morgan embraced the Sharks right away. "Ever since they came to the Bay Area in 1990 (when San Jose was awarded the franchise)," he said. "George Kingston. I've always been a fan. I've always been a die-hard Sharks fan. ... I bleed teal."

The pesky, trash-talking outfielder acknowledged Wednesday that he would prefer to be a pesky, trash-talking forward. He played for the Regina Pats during the 1999-2000 season. In his debut, against the Moose Jaw Warriors, he scored two goals and was selected as the game's first star.

Alas, those were the only two goals of Morgan's time in Regina. He played six more games before being released.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan, who was coaching in Swift Current in the WHL at the time, remembered Morgan as a fledgling hockey player.

"His (baseball) characteristics, and the way he stirs things up on the ball field? That's the exact same way he was on the ice surface," McClellan said. "He was a bit of a disturber, got under the skin of some of the other players, and competed hard."

Morgan described his hockey style this way: "Just excitement. Grind. Make it happen. Exciting player, just like I am on the diamond. Do what I do, crowd favorite."

Morgan, who hit .304 with four homers, 37 RBIs and 13 stolen bases last season, is as well known for his antics as for his play. Giants fans might remember him as the outfielder who last year taunted fans at AT&T Park or who cursed repeatedly in a KNBR interview. (When the station asked him to ease up on the language, Morgan hung up instead. "T-Plush is out. Thanks for having me.")

Morgan, who sometimes goes by Tony Plush or T-Plush, also spent last fall antagonizing St. Louis Cardinals fans on Twitter, once writing of Albert Pujols, "Alberta couldn't see Plush if she had her gloves on!!!"

That explains why a Cardinals fan came to watch Sharks practice Wednesday. Mike Sizemore, 21, of St. Louis held up a sign that read: "Good to see you trying hockey. Baseball didn't work out."

"Nyjer Morgan talked a lot of smack this year against the Cardinals," said Sizemore, a mechanical engineering student at Santa Clara University. "I thought I'd pay him a visit."

Morgan saw the fan -- and good-naturedly fired a puck off the glass right in front of him.

"Ah, that brought back so many memories, just because I love hockey," Morgan said. "Not too many African-Americans, especially in the (city) of San Jose, can actually relate.

"So I would like to actually encourage people to come out here and try skating. It's a beautiful game."

Contact Daniel Brown at dbrown@mercurynews.com.