How to do it right

The Dallas Stars know how to host a photo gallery for its fans. I have a feeling this photographer is using overhead strobe lights due to the perfect exposure for each shot. Very nice work.


Return of the Heater

Dany Heatley returns

Dany "Heater" Heatley returned to the Atlanta Thrashers this week. It is hard to figure out who this will help more, Dany, the families, the players, or the fans.

In an article for ESPN, Scott Burnside asked Blues forward Doug Weight if any NHL player would taunt Heatley about the accident that killed [#37] Dan Snyder.
I would like to think that throughout his entire career he would never hear a thing from another player. As a league I think we've united to stand behind Dany and this team. I'm very proud to be a part of this league. - Doug Weight
As Hulk Hogan used to say, Amen brother.

Milan Michalek

In the Sharks hemisphere, 2003 first round draft pick Milan Michalek was assigned to the Cleveland Barons after returning from a knee injury.

[Note to the columnist who said the Sharks could falter if hit with injuries]

In addition to a lineup firing on all cylinders, the Sharks have Milan Michalek getting into game shape, AHL leading scorer Miroslav Zalesak, and the rookie NHL scoring leader among defenseman from last season Jim Fahey, all playing well in Cleveland.

[Bonus goalie mask photo]

Vesa Toskala goalie mask photo

It looks like Vesa Toskala's mask is from Bishop Custom Designs. Nice gallery of Bishop goalie masks on Eddy Masks as well.


NHL Notes - sellout edition

A year after Jason Allison last played in an NHL game, the LA Times reports he is still suffering symptoms similiar to post concussion syndrome. The Kings roster has been decimated by injuries and could desperately use Allison's talent.

[update: Todays Ross McKeon article mentions the serious injuries to Adam Deadmarsh and Aaron Miller. Ziggy Palffy, the Kings leading scorer, had season ending shoulder reconstruction surgery. Straka is also down.]

Via Off Wing Opinion, BudLight presents Mr Giant Taco Salad Inventor.

The NY Newsday has started counting down the days until the Rangers GM Glenn Sather is fired.

But look at the five "questionable" deals the NY Newsday thinks are suspect. Which of these moves is supposed to be irresponsible?

1. Trading for goalie Mike Dunham
2. Trading for Anson Carter
3. Hiring coach Bryan Trottier
4. Trading for Pavel Bure
5. Trading for Eric Lindros

Add Holik and Jagr to this list and these are some of the best players in the league who for whatever reason [injuries, motivation, Donald Trump] have not worked out. The onus should be on the players not the GM in this case.

The dumbest management team in professional sports has done it again - Al Morganti.

New hockey website, The Ice Block. Very nice movable type layout, and lots of content. Take a look.

The HNIC Hotstove crew expands on which NHL team they think will move to Winnipeg. My opinion? Bring back the Nordiques, not the Jets.

According to Dave Pollak in the SJ Mercury, Sharks attendance has lagged averaging 89.2% in the first 25 home games.

Four comments:
1. Losing star attractions Nolan, Selanne and Marchment without corresponding cuts in ticket prices will effect fan interest. Even with the team in first place.

2. Name a local radio personality that has attended a Sharks home game.

3. How about having a large Sharks photo gallery of both home and away games. James Guillory has a nice one for Top Shelf. The official SJsharks.com site used to have a photo gallery from all home games, but it looks like that is gone. It is easier to see photos from Mars than a Sharks game.

Post a regular gallery of large game photos, or a virtual panorama of the inside of the HP Pavilion. A picture says a thousand words.

4. Your fan base can only be so large in an area where people do not grow up playing the game. Put a year round roller hockey rink in the park across from the Arena and the attendance problem will be an afterthought.


Brian Boucher backstops
a 2-1 Phoenix win

Phoenix goalie Brian Boucher

A few starts after his 5 game shutout streak, Brian Boucher made 34 saves to shut down a confident Sharks team.

The NHL released a statement saying the referees made an error allowing the first Phoenix goal. The net was off the moorings when the puck went in.

I emailed Hockey Pundits a rant about this mistake, the Shanahan self-highsticking in Detroit, and the Korolyuk Chicago nongoal/goal.

Alyn McCauley San Jose Sharks bench
Sharks Coyotes scrum in front of the net Brian Boucher
another picture of Brian Boucher's mezmorizing goalie pads Cleary breakaway on Nabokov
Evgeni Nabokov during pregame warmups


Bleeding edge of NHL photography

Minnesota Wild photographer Cory Shubert is utilizing the latest wireless technology built in to the Nikon D2H digital camera. Here is how he hopes to set up the workflow:
Shoot images during a period of hockey and while shooting, the RAW files are being written to the CF card and the .JPG's are being FTP'd to a folder on the desktop of my G4 PowerBook.

Once the images hit the folder, iViewMediaPro has been set to watch this folder and once activated, will take the images and add Keywords for use in retrieving images on a per game basis, then trigger a PhotoShop action that will process the images and save them off to a game day folder sitting on the MN Wild's server.
Not only is the camera beaming images to his laptop, but he wants to set up automated image adjustments and keywords before it saves them to the Minnesota Wild server. All of this should happen while he is shooting the players on the ice. Amazing.

In addition to news and galleries of hockey and panorama photos, Cory Shubert also has a forum where visitors can ask questions.

I asked him what white balance he uses when shooting a NHL game.
Hi PJ. I use a custom WB off a Gel Card from ColorEyes. I tried vaious color settings but have found over the years that a custom WB is always best. I get in early with all the TV lights set to full and have someone stand at center ice and I do my WB settings.

That is what I use all year since they don't change anything during the season. It is not perfect, as the color does shift at different spots in the arena, but since I have to do the best I can and average things out, it is the best of all worlds. Try to set a custom WB and see how it works for you. Good luck, Cory
I did not have time to set this up for the Phoenix-Sharks game, but I will try this in the future. Not quite sure how it works, but Thom Hogan has more information.

The Sharks also deserve another round of Kudos for changing the camera policy at the HP Pavilion. Instead of each usher determining whether a camera was professional or not, a sign on the front door last night said all cameras with lenses under 6 inches are allowed. This is a great policy in gadget crazy Silicon Valley.

Make sure to read these two earlier posts:
amateur guide to amateur NHL photography
amateur guide to pro NHL photography.



Adding to an already uncertain future, the NHL's next television contract might be reduced significantly according to Judd Zulgad.
Faced with a potential work stoppage... the league's $120 million per year rights fee is expected to dip by as much as 50 percent when a new U.S. television deal is announced in the coming months.
The NHL has been bashed for low ratings so often it is boring. The problems start with two things: gimmicks make the broadcast worse, and fans could not find a game on ABC or ESPN if a
TV Guide was stapled to their head.

Fox tried "innovations" such as the infamous glow puck, fox tracks, and scoreboard transformers.

ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 have tried the unannounced game of the week that could be on a Saturday, but is also sometimes shown on Tuesdays.

How hard is it to schedule one weekday game at the same time each week? I can not tell you when an NHL game is going to be on ESPN or ABC next. Broadcast a game every Tuesday at 5PM Pacific, and fans like me will watch.

We might even buy the beer that is advertised every other commercial.

Labatt Blue anyone?

[Note: the Sharks and local television stations have gone out of their way to make games available to SJ fans.]


Chicks with sticks movie

After I posted about this movie earlier, Tom Benjamin from CanucksCorner as usual finds more information. Chicks With Sticks is a $3.5 million TV movie currently under production in Calgary.
Chicks With Sticks revolves around a womens hockey team and the on-ice sexual politics they encounter when they take on the local mens team in a winner-takes-all game.
If Haley Wickenheiser does not at least make a cameo appearance in this movie, then it deserves Gigli karma.


Sharks getting attention

With solid play on the road, and the unbelievable point streak at home, a few journalists around the league are starting to take notice of the professional hockey team in San Jose. That is why it is nice to read Sharks deserve more attention from John Devine in today's Monterey Herald.

It is only a matter of time before local morons like Gary "I like the sound of my own voice" Radnich or Glenn Dickey decide to hop on the bandwagon and pretend like they are interested.

Gary Radnich should make a deal with the Shark fans he has insulted so many times in the past. He will be allowed on the bandwagon only if he devotes an entire radio program to hockey if the Sharks win their division.

To be honest, I still would not listen. NHL Live has a much better hockey broadcast, and it is archived on the web so you can listen when you have the time.


Shark Notes

- The trade winds picked up with TSN first reporting San Jose's interest in Chicago Blackhawks center Alexei Zhamnov. Adding Zhamnov's offense and playmaking ability to the Sharks balanced attack [14 players with double digit point totals] would signal that the organIzation is determined to make a run for the Cup.

Ross McKeon reports for the SF Chronicle, Sharks noncommittal on Chicago's Zhamnov. Victor Chi reports for the SJ Mercury that being blown out by Dallas may have intensified the Zhamnov rumors.

Kurt Russel Miracle on ice movie

- Kurt Russell looks like he landed a once in a lifetime role in the upcoming film about the USA Olympic hockey team, Miracle [opens Feb 6th].

- We also received an email from Canada about an upcoming movie with an inspirational women's team playing against men, the working title is Chicks with Sticks. It sounds like a good story line, but what an unfortunate name for a movie.

- With the Boston Bruins retiring Cam Neely's jersey, the inevitable question of should he make the Hall of Fame is making the rounds. Before San Jose had an NHL team, I followed Cam Neely and Ray Bourque for many years.

In his last year before retiring from injuries, I can remember one play that to this day I have seen no other NHL player even try. After taking the puck near the red line, Cam Neely went wide left carrying the stick with his left hand while stiff arming a defenseman to his right. Then with the defensman still hanging on him, he cut towards the goal, brought the puck into his body and shot top shelf over a sprawled goalie. I have never seen anyone do that before, and I doubt I will ever see it again.

Ben Wright has some thoughts and a lot of links on Cam Neely and power forwards, John Buccigross seems to be gathered around a fire pit singing tales of ancient warriors with his column Raising Cam, and probably the best analysis of why no one will see a player like Neely again comes from Chris Stevenson, Todays game renders power forwards useless.


Brian Boucher passes Bill Durnan's goaltender shutout streak

With 332 minutes and 1 second of scoreless hockey, Brian Boucher passed the 1949 scoreless mark set by Montreal Canadian goalie Bill Durnan [309 minutes, 21 seconds]. ESPN analyst Darren Pang offers an insightful column of how the Phoenix Coyotes entire organization pulled together to make this streak happen.

But it was not the streak that was the most compelling aspect of this article for me. I could not get past this description of Canadians goalie Bill Durnan.
Durnan wore huge leather mitts that would allow him to hold the stick in either hand, thus he was able to switch hands depending on who was shooting on him. He often wore a derby while captaining the Habs to two Stanley Cups.
I found this webpage from Hockey Sandwich detailing his career, with an amazing photo of Durnan in action. I believe this photo is in the public domain, so here it is:

Bill Durnan

All this talk about goalies and I feel compelled to mention the stellar play by Sharks netminders Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala. Before last nights 3-0 *** whooping at the hands of the Dallas Stars, the Sharks rode hot goaltending to a 14 game home point scoring streak

Toskala is 6th in the league with a [1.94] GAA, and 4th in the league with a save percentage of [.934] in 17 games.

Evgeni Nabokov is 24th in the league with a [2.24] GAA, and 18th in the league with a save percentage of [.921] in 28 games.

Both goaltenders are playing extremely well, but I still believe when one gets a loss the other one should start the next game. Creating a competition for starts will help create a sense of urgency for measuring stick games against St Louis, Colorado, Detroit, or Vancouver.

Seamus Kotyk
Looking elsewhere in the organization, Cleveland Barons goalie Nolan Schaefer is playing well losing only once in his last four starts. Schaefer is staring due to injuries to Dimitri Patzold and Seamus Kotyk [pictured above]. Patrick Ehelechner proves the point that the Sharks do not rebuild their depth, the goaltending factory reloads.


Sharks television broadcast notes

Sharks television newsTime for fans to vote on Ice Picks for which game ESPN2 carries nationally on Feb 11th. The Sharks vs Wings broadcast is in the lead with 49% of the vote.

Also announced on the official sjsharks.com site was the launch of Fox Sports Net Plus. When dual events are scheduled [Warriors game, Sharks game, Log rolling], one game will appear on Fox Sports Net Bay Area, and FSN+ will carry the second game. The first game on FSN+ will be the Vancouver Canucks on Jan 15th at 7:30PM.

Channels for FSN+ are on Comcast [15 or 22], Direct TV [655], and on the Dish Network [445-448]. Kudos to the Sharks staff that worked to make this possible.


Stealth deliver a Mammoth opening night

[Non-hockey post] San Jose introduced a new professional team to the masses last night. The San Jose Stealth prevailed in a low scoring 13-12 affair over the Colorado Mammoth [cool name].

San Jose Stealth game winning goal
Game winning goal to break a 12-12 tie with seconds left.

SJ Stealth forwardl
A Stealth forward driving the Mammoth net. There was a surprising amount of violence last night, but I spent most of the game trying to figure out if lacrosse has offsides.

SJ Stealth spygirls cheerleaders
Second game in existence and the Stealth has already leapfrogged over the Sharks in this respect. The Stealth spygirls are shown here, but there were also about 50 high school cheerleaders doing flips at intermission. Two female fans wearing stealth tshirts became de facto cheerleaders as the night wore on, with fans lining up to have their pictures taken with them. Bizarre night, but cool.


For whom the trade winds blow

- After Calgary suffered injuries to three centers [Betts, Conroy, Reinprecht ], and lost another forward to the waiver wire [Morgan], the Flames traded future considerations for Sharks prospect Lynn Loyns.

Darryl Sutter is going back to the well to see if Loyns can produce until the injured Flames return. My favorite take on this trade comes from dtab80s on the Calgary board:
"At this point anything that can skate and not get hurt is a good pick up."
Loyns had 1 assist, 1 SOG [+2] in his first game with Calgary as they defeated the Florida Panthers 4-2.

Newest Flame Loyns has a definite connection to Calgary - calgaryflames.com

- From Spectors:
New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello might be interested in obtaining Vincent Damphousse from the San Jose Sharks to bolster his club's offence.
I do not see this happening. Damphousse may be struggling in the red zone [5 goals in 43 games], but with 18 assists he is certainly helping others find the back of the net. Add to that he is clutch on faceoffs, contributes veteran leadership to a young team, and is a vital cog if this club has any hope of going deep in the playoffs.

You don't mess with a team chemistry that nets you points in 14 straight home games. If you do mess with it, you get someone who can score for draft picks or a player who is struggling [Ricci, Dimitrakos, Harvey]. Or you just call up AHL allstar Miroslav Zalesak, who is currently tearing up that league.

[Update: the source of the Damphousse rumor was this Ted Montgomery column for USA Today. Larry Wigge also has more on Damphousse and the team meeting that turned things around for SJ, Finding a way in San Jose]

- Kristian Huselius can be had if the price is right.

- GM shopping list for the allstar break.

- First Nils Ekman gets a feature in the Chronic, and then Alexander Korolyuk gets a positive review from the Mercury. What is going on? Soon there will be no more unheralded San Jose forwards left. What is next, fans picking the Sharks to win the Stanley Cup?


Team USA wins 2004 World Junior Championship

Team USA wins 2004 World Junior Championship

Congratulations Team USA! Visit usahockey.com for a good recap of the tournament.

UND will host 2005 WJC's - Hockeys Future
USA Hockey Unveils Official Logo For 2005 IIHF World Junior Championship - Official press release

2005 WJC

How far is the drive between San Jose and Grand Forks North Dakota, or Thief River Falls Minnesota?


Shark Notes - New years edition

- No TV for tonights Sharks game in Chicago? Try out the live United Center HawkeyeLivecam from the official Chicago Blackhawks website. [click on GameCenter in the menu]. The picture is updated once every minute or so... it is almost like watching a game on Fox Sports Net! Just kidding.

- Interesting stat comparison:
Patrick Marleau - 17G, 11A, -1
Owen Nolan - 9G, 19A, +4
Teemu Selanne - 10G, 13A, +11

- Sharks defensive prospect Josh Gorges is getting a little respect from the media before playing with Team Canada in the World Junior Championships.

Josh Gorges steps into limelight with Canadian junior hockey team - CP.
That's ironic because the 19-year-old defenceman has often been overlooked during his hockey career. He wasn't drafted by an NHL team, was passed over by his regional under-17 squad and was never selected in the Western Hockey League's bantam draft.
When Josh Gorges left the ice at the rookie camp this summer in SJ, fans shouted at him "who are you"? He laughed and signed autographs with a few other players for the fans attending the practice. It is nice to read that his talent on the ice is exceeding expectations, but he has the personality to match.

Playing defense for Team Canada in the WJC tournament, Josh has 0 goals, 2 assists and is +5 after 4 games. As captain for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL, Gorges has 4 goals, 18 assists after 33 games.

A couple sites of note:
Josh Gorges profile - Team Canada
Sharks prospect aids Canada's junior team - SJ Mercury

- And now for something completely different:
It is clear, from the rhetoric on the players' side, that no matter what the league may say, they simply do not trust the NHL's accounting practices
Just reading the title of this article gets me upset. It's time to tackle trust - Eric Duhatschek. I would say that fans are equally distrustful of the players distrust, but I have a feeling it is mostly the posture taken by the players' agents. The title of this article reminds me of this comment by Brett Hull, "Seventy-five percent of the league is overpaid." Not sure if I agree with Brett, but tackling the trust issue does work both ways Eric.

- CNNSI's Jay Dolezar has a cover article on Patrick Marleau, More of Marleau: Seventh-year center proving to have more bite than bark for Sharks.

- Team USA plays Finland in the semi-finals of the WJC's 9AM Saturday. The Gold Medal game [probably against Canada] will be on Monday. Sharks prospect Matt Carle is a defenseman for Team USA.

- Last, but probably the first you should read is the lastest column by Red Line Report's Kyle Woodlief for USA Today: Christmas means tourney time for juniors.


Happy New Year!

New Years fireworks in San Francisco

Happy New Year from Embarcadero street in San Francisco.