SAN JOSE -- The Sharks on Monday caught up with other NHL teams that have spelled out plans to reward fan loyalty and maybe even win back those turned off by the 113-day NHL lockout.

The San Jose approach announced Monday includes a range of offers from free sodas for the first five home games to the chance to win an expense-paid road trip. Those free 16-ounce sodas are available only to fans purchasing a meal at the same time.

Opening night special events on Jan. 24 include the chance to win season tickets for this season, drop the ceremonial first puck at faceoff and be in the team photo.

The discount on merchandise at the team store for season-ticket holders is being doubled from 15 percent to 30 percent beginning Wednesday through Jan. 31, and the price on premier jerseys during that same period has been dropped from $140 to $99 for anyone.

Full details are available at www.sjsharks.com/thankyou.

  • Two days into camp, rookie defenseman Matt Irwin has emerged as the front-runner in the competition to win a spot on the blue line in the opening-day lineup Sunday in Calgary.

    Irwin was paired with veteran Dan Boyle once again, this time in a controlled scrimmage that also saw Brad Stuart alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Douglas Murray skating with Justin Braun.


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    While Irwin welcomed the chance to skate with Boyle, he said, "I've got to prove to the coaching staff that I can do that and compete at this level. The opportunity hopefully will come, and I'll take advantage of it."

    Irwin, 25, had one goal and 13 assists in 29 games at Worcester. He and Matt Tennyson were considered the favorites to fill any vacancy created by injuries to Brent Burns and Jason Demers.

    Coach Todd McLellan acknowledged that the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Irwin had a slight experience edge, having been through one NHL camp and playing in an exhibition game. Irwin also was called up once last season, though he didn't get into any games.

  • The fact Braun participated in a controlled scrimmage makes it a little more likely he'll be in the opening day lineup despite injuring his hand while playing in Finland during the lockout.

    "I hope so," Braun said. "Just getting the strength back, that's the big thing."

    For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PollakOnSharks.