Jamie Baker leaves Sharks broadcast team

The Sharks player turned broadcaster says his experience has been a privilege.

After 25 years with the San Jose Sharks organization as a player and analyst, Jamie Baker will be departing from the Sharks’ broadcast team ahead of the 2021 season. He released a heartfelt statement, re-living the team’s Game 7 win against the Vegas Golden Knights in 2019:

The Shark Tank was shaking like I have never seen before. It was jubilation personified. You were going bonkers; hugging each other, high-fiving anyone around you, falling on each other, spilling drinks, chugging drinks, and screaming as loud as you could. It was awesome, amazing, the craziest sporting event I’ve ever attended. And we got to share it together.

A Game 7 takes excitement to another level and the Game 7 against Vegas went to a completely different level, becoming an instant classic, a game for the ages. It’s memories like that game I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

2020, the year of uncertainty, seemed like the right time for me to move on from the Sharks broadcast team. It’s been a privilege working with some of the best broadcasters and TV crew in the business, they made my job a lot easier because they are so talented. It’s been a privilege watching the best players in the world battle at a ferocious pace with skillsets that are hard to fathom at times. It’s been a privilege to work in the best hockey league in the world, with the most parity of any professional sports league. But most of all, it’s been a privilege connecting with you, the fans, for all these years. We bled teal together, riding the rollercoaster of pro sports. I hope our paths cross again, sometime, somehow, someway, somewhere. With Radical Gratitude … Bakes

The Sharks released their own statement on Baker’s decision:

Jamie Baker has been a beloved member of the San Jose Sharks family for more than 25 years. As a player, he personified determination and a team-first mentality, authoring one of the most memorable moments in franchise history during the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs. As a television and radio analyst for the past 15 seasons, he brought those same characteristics to his role off the ice, entertaining and informing millions of Sharks fans in the process. His passion for the game of hockey came through in his broadcasting, in his interactions with our fans and in his service to our Bay Area communities. While he will be missed, we respect his decision and wish him the very best in his future endeavors. Thank you, Jamie, for your personification of the Teal Together spirit. You will always be a part of the Sharks family and will always have a place to call home in San Jose.

I met Jamie Baker briefly during the 2019 All-Star Weekend, during a media gathering at a bar in San Jose. The whole broadcast crew was together and Marcus White, our former site manager at Fear the Fin, made introductions.

You always think that people you see on television (especially hockey players) are so much bigger in real life. At around 6-foot-1, Baker was no different, but what struck me most was how big his smile was in person. When he laughs, it takes up his whole face. The larger-than-life personality he’s known for is so much bigger and brighter in person that I could’ve anticipated.

Of course, Baker has been public about his struggles with his mental health, as well, sharing his story with The Athletic’s Katie Strang in March 2019 (content warning for suicide in the linked article).

We didn’t know about his journey yet when I met him in January of 2019, so I didn’t get the chance to thank him in person for making me feel less alone in this struggle. In his story, I saw my own and for once, I also saw a way through.

See, the thing about suicidal ideation is that most of the time when we hear it talked about with high-profile people, it’s often after they’ve died. When you’re a person who has struggled for every day that you can remember, those deaths become reminders that depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are part of your brain that will exist forever. It starts to feel like a losing battle.

Jamie’s story is one of hope, and it feels so rare that we get that. As I told him on Twitter the day the article was released, this was the first time I saw someone detail how ADHD and depression combined to create a trauma that was so similar to my own.

For me, that will always be the biggest part of his legacy in San Jose, and not just because I was only three years old during his 1994 series-winning goal against the Detroit Red Wings. Baker opened up a fragile part of himself to make the world a kinder place. He didn’t have to do that — he doesn’t owe us anything, but especially something so surrounded in stigma.

But there are people out there who got the help they needed after reading his story. There are people who feel less alone, less frightened of their own brain. He chose to break through the stigma and shame to show the reality of what living with mental illness means and that it can make you a more gentle, loving person in the end.

Thank you for that, Bakes, and for all of the memories on the ice and between the benches. You’re a legend in San Jose, and that will never change.

I truly hope our paths do cross again, and someday I get to say that thank you in person.