In the beginning, Ryane Clowe was like every other kid on the pond. He wanted to dazzle.

"Obviously when you're younger, you think everybody's a skill player," the Sharks forward said with a smile after practice Tuesday morning. "You think you just want to stickhandle."

It's only later that kids realize they can't all be the shooting star. After all, someone has to get the star the puck. Someone has to create traffic in front of the goalie so the star can score. Someone has to defend the star's honor, mesh with the star on the power play and pick up the star on those rare occasions when he comes up empty in the shootout.

After giving it some thought, and getting a wide-eyeful of guys such as Brian Bellows and Eric Lindros, Clowe arrived at a decision: He wanted to be all those support guys rolled into one. In hockey, they call it a power forward.

"I liked Bellows more or less because I was a huge Montreal fan," said Clowe, 28 and in his sixth NHL season. "But I liked Lindros because he just seemed so much bigger and stronger at a young age than everyone else to go along with so much skill. He definitely could throw guys around if he wanted to. He was fun to watch, man. He was unbelievable."

Clowe, whose Sharks meet the Calgary Flames and their working definition of a power forward, Jarome Iginla, on Wednesday night, has been an interesting study this season. He doesn't lead the team in anything but is in the top five in almost everything. He can drop the gloves, post up in front of the net, hold the puck hostage against a double-team for what seems like hours, and he's in the shootout rotation. His specialty -- a delicate backhand roof shot.

"I think it speaks volumes to his talent level," coach Todd McLellan said. "A typical power forward gets involved physically and chips in a few goals, takes care of his teammates. Clowey can man the power play and, if you watch our power play, he's not always net-front. He has the ability to work it off the half-wall, so he's got great hands and good vision. He is in the shootout, and we often choose to use him real early because he's got a number of tricks in his bag."

It's a comprehensive skills set that requires a resolute mind-set. For Clowe, it's as much heritage as it is a job description.