San Jose Sharks 2004-2005 season preview

[By request] The latest news and a preview of the 2004-2005 season for the San Jose Sharks:

San Jose Sharks season preview

Shark Roster News: Vincent Damphousse signed with the Colorado Avalanche. Mike Ricci signed with Phoenix. Curtis Brown signed with the Chicago Blackhawks. Free agent defenseman Jason Marshall signed with the New York Rangers. Free agent forward Todd Harvey, and restricted free agent forward Wayne Primeau are now the only unsigned San Jose players.

My lines for next year are:

1st line: Sturm - Marleau - Cheechoo
2nd line: Ekman - McCauley - Korolyuk
3rd line: Thornton - Goc - Zalesak - Michalek
4th line: Primeau - Smith - Parker - Dimitrakos

Jonathan Cheechoo should start on the first line. Thornton and Ricci struggled last year, but they made an extraordinary effort to get the puck to Jonathan Cheechoo, who scored from almost every area on the ice. Marleau and Sturm will create scoring chances with their speed, and Cheechoo will lead the team in goals as a result.

Ekman, McCauley, and Korolyuk will try to build on an impressive year. McCauley was injured in the postseason, and Korolyuk was mixed and matched to try to spark other lines. Nils Ekman did make an effort to raise his game defensively. The World Cup will wipe the slate clean and give him another chance to display his talent.

San Jose has been able to rely on a solid third line for a number of years. With the departure of Ricci, the line will bring something different to the ice. Sharks 2003 1st round pick Milan Michalek was injured 2 games into the season, but he wowed fans with his stick-handling and passing ability in the pre-season. He re-injured his knee during a short stint with the Cleveland Barons, but a lot of eyes will be on him to see how well he recoverd.

Sharks coach Ron Wilson referred to Marcel Goc as his closer in the playoffs [Mariano Rivera, the New York ace reliever]. Goc had a game winning goal and an assist in under 10 minutes of total ice time in two playoff games. Not a bad way to start your NHL career.

Miroslav Zalesak has had a brief look in San Jose on more than one occasion. Last year he led the AHL in scoring for most of the year, until prospect Brad Boyes was traded. Zalesak ended up tied for third with 35 goals and 40 assists in 72 games. He is gifted with the puck and a smooth skater, but my people in Cleveland and Slovakia tell me he needs to work more on his defense to play in the NHL full-time. Zalesak will have to clear waivers before he can be sent down to the Cleveland Barons again, so he should expect a long look with the Sharks next season. If there is a season of course.

When it comes to the fourth line, I always think about the Darryl Sutter line of Matteau-Sutter-Stern. They were not the largest, the fastest, or the youngest players in the league, but they were more than capable of shutting down an opposing teams top players. They played hard, but more importantly, they played simple. No end to end rushes, no cross-ice, rink-wide passes. 9 times out of 10 they would bounce the puck off the glass to get the puck out of the zone. But they got the job done.

Wayne Primeau is still negotiating with the Sharks mgmt, but San Jose will try to sign this key player for their fourth line. I expected a lot from Wayne Primeau and Chris Brown [now with Chicago] in the playoffs. I had both slotted in the role of defensive forward who could add some energy. To be honest, both underwhelmed. Primeau has size [6,4 - 230], and is one of the fastest players on the team. He deserves another year to see where he fits with the club. And unlike other coaches in the league, San Jose coach Ron Wilson gives ice time based on performance. Sign him for a year and give him the Korolyuk treatment.

Scott Parker had an injured wrist/hand for a large part of the season, but GM Doug Wilson made it clear there will be no intimidation of this team at any time. Any liberties taken on the ice should be answered by Parker. Mark Smith is an example of how deep the San Jose roster is. Three players who should start on an NHL roster did not start in San Jose last year [Smith, Zalesak, Fahey]. Fahey and Smith were effective in a reserve role. Smith's size is an issue [5,10 - 200], but pairing him with Primeau should work well. Niko Dimitrakos provided the most exciting moment of the 2004 playoffs for San Jose with his game-winning OT goal against St Louis. Dimitrakos has flashes of excellent play both on offense and defense, and has very soft hands with the puck, but he needs to show more consistency.

I can not really go into the specific defensive pairings because I do not remember them, and they were juggled fairly regularly. Here is how they rank on the Sharkspage depth chart, with my insightful commentary:

[1] Hannan - named to Team Canada, should have been an allstar.
[2] Rathje - his size and hockey sense changes the way teams prepare for the Sharks (rough quote from an opponent).
[3] McLaren - Marchment launched people at the blueline, McLaren launches players and TV analysts sideways along the boards.
[4] Stuart - hits hard, needs to take control of the power play.
[5] Preissing - straight from Colorado College to San Jose, smart.
[6] Ehrhoff - SJ lacks a true offensive-defenseman, Ehrhoff is that player.
[7] Davison - improves every year, and can throw down.
[8] Fahey - solid defensively, led the NHL in rookie scoring by defenseman his first year in the league.

In goal for the San Jose Sharks during the regular season:

Evgeni Nabokov [31-19-8, 2.21 GAA, .921 SV%, 59 GP]
Vesa Toskala [12-8-4, 2.06 GAA, .930 SV%, 28 GP]

While most San Jose Sharks previews will trumpet the regular season turnaround, the real story last year was in goal. The Sharks started with three legitimate #1 goaltenders: Evgeni Nabokov, Miikka Kiprusoff, and Vesa Toskala. When Nabokov held out and missed training camp and the start of the 2002-2003 season, Kiprusoff [5-12-0, 3.25 GAA, 22GP] struggled as the #1 goalie behind a weak defense.

Miikka Kiprusoff

After GM Doug Wilson traded Miikka Kiprusoff to Calgary for a conditional second round pick [part of the future considerations in the Lynn Lyons trade was making sure the Sharks obtained a 2005 2nd round pick], Kiprusoff went on to record the lowest goals against average of any goaltender in the modern era [1.69]. A number of NHL fans have emailed this site asking, "what was the GM thinking?". It was simply the best the market would offer at the time.

How did Nabokov respond after a disappointing 2002-2003? 4 losses and 4 ties to start the season. Like the previous start under Kiprusoff, this year's slow start was largely a reflection of the team in front of him. For the entire month of October, and the first half of November, the Sharks let teams come from behind, or win late to notch a horrible 3-7-8 record.

Nabokov injured his groin late in November only to see Vesa Toskala come in and go 5-2-1 in his absence. Evgeni returned to his role as a #1 goaltender, and backstopped one of the biggest turnaround seasons in the NHL. The Sharks were able to take a lot of chances up front because Nabokov would bail them out more often than not if they made a mistake.

Toskala played well in spot duty the rest of the season, notably against difficult teams such as Vancouver [1-1 (overtime loss)] , St Louis [1-1 (overtime loss)], Detroit [L], Colorado [W], and Dallas [L] among others.

In the playoffs, Evgeni Nabokov started all 17 games for the San Jose Sharks. He had 10 wins and 7 losses, with a .935 SV% and a 1.71 GAA. The team played well in front of Evgeni, and when they struggled to score he locked it down and gave them a chance to win. Getting past the Colorado Avalanche in the second round was a turning point for the franchise.

Nabokov and Toskala are only the tip of the goalie iceberg. The goaltending factory in San Jose has a track record of success at the NHL level, and it is percolating down through the other levels of the organization.

My prediction for next season? A top 4 finish in the Western Conference, another appearance in the Western Conference finals, another Pacific division banner [not so fast Phoenix], and the first 40+ goal scorer in San Jose since Nolan [if the season starts on time].

If there is no NHL season? I predict I will attend a lot of San Jose State Spartans hockey games, and photograph a number of other local sports.

[Update] A German reader emails to say that Marco Sturm is writing occasional "Sturm reports" for hockeyweb.de. In German of course, but there was a nice link to Marco Sturm's hockey school.

Sharks rookie camp roster

The San Jose Sharks announced their NHL rookie tournament roster this week. The camp will be held from Sep 9th to Sep 13th at Disney Ice in Anaheim. Prospects from the San Jose Sharks, the Phoenix Coyotes, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks will compete in the tournament.

Call 714-535-RINK for ticket information.

58 - Riley Armstrong [5-11, 175, R] Everett, WHL
46 - Steve Bernier [6-2, 230, R] Moncton, QMJHL
66 - Scott Dobben [6-1, 195, L] Sault Ste. Marie, OHL
49 - Aaron Gill [6-0, 180, R] Cleveland, AHL; Notre Dame, CCHA
61 - Joshua Hennessy [6-0, 190, L] Quebec, QMJHL
59 - Rob Hisey [5-9, 175, L] Erie, OHL
69 - Patrick Jarrett [5-10, 180, L] Owen Sound, OHL
47 - Shane Joseph [5-9, 170, R] Cleveland, AHL
54 - Lukas Kaspar [6-2, 200, R] Litvinov Jr, Czech
52 - Glenn Olson [6-4, 230, L] Kootenay, WHL
39 - Tomas Plihal [6-1, 195, L] Cleveland, AHL
63 - Josh Prudden [5-10, 195, L] Atlantic City, ECHL
65 - Colin Shields [5-11, 175, R] Maine, Hockey East
56 - Jonathan Tremblay [6-3, 240, R] Acadie-Bathhurst, QMJHL

67 - Doug Andress [6-2, 205, R] Ohio State, CCHA
53 - Mark Ardelan [5-11, 210, L] Prince Albert, WHL
50 - Tim Conboy [6-1, 205, R] St. Cloud State, WCHA
55 - Scott Ford [6-3, 225, R] Brown, ECAC
40 - Josh Gorges [6-1, 190, L] Kelowna, WHL
62 - Mike Hoffman [6-5, 250, R] Worcester, AHL; Peoria, ECHL
64 - Niko Tuomi [6-1, 205, R] Guelph, OHL
51 - Michael Vernace [6-2, 200, R] Bramalea, OHA; Brampton, OHL

1 - Jason Churchill [6-3, 185, L] Halifax, QMJHL
33 - Patrick Ehelechner [5-6-2, 170, L] Sudbury, OHL
36 - Thomas Greiss [6-1, 190, L] Kolner Jr, Germany

Other rosters:
Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Los Angeles Kings
Phoenix Coyotes

Here is a photo gallery from the development mini-camp last month. A partial list of the players photographed is here.


This was too funny not to post

The Chicken Dance as sung by NY Islanders fans.

For some backround: Rangers interlopers turn Isles fans into Bad Santas - USA Today.

The bad Santa incident is second only to Philly fan Chris Falcone. After fans repeatedly threw things at Tie Domi in the penalty box, he turned around and sprayed a few with water. Chris Falcone lunged at him and tried to throw a punch. Falcone ended up falling through the plexiglass and onto a waiting Tie Domi.

Very smart of him to fall on a player with 3406 career penalty minutes.

[Update] Finland downs Germany 4-2 in their final World Cup exhibition game. Olli Jokinen had 2 goals, Tuomo Ruutu 2 assists, Jochen Hecht 1 goal, and Ville Peltonen scored a goal. Miikka Kiprusoff started in net for Finland, and Olaf Kolzig started for Germany. Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu did not suit up for the game.

[Update2] Jay Bouwmeester, Scott Hannan trying to force their way onto starting six - Canadian Press.


Danish Hockey Central -- part two

Danmark hockey

From Hockeys Future, Danish hockey turns the corner. Peter Seeberg discusses the Danish Super League and their financial situation, the Danish national team, the Danish Ice Hockey Federation trying to grow support for youth hockey, and the hopes of Danish Hockey to sign their first player to an NHL contract.

Like the author, I thought Kim Staal would be the first player to succeed at the NHL level. He mentioned Slava Truhno and Morten Madsen as solid Danish prospects eligible in 2005. Look for more on both players before the next draft.

My sister has been in Denmark for over a month, but I was not able to coax any hockey reports out of her. Here is a Viking boat and a Danish flag for a little slice of Denmark.

Last year, when this website was Danish hockey central for the World Championships, I got permission to post a few photos of the Danmark national hockey team in action. I wrote about the Danish team's performance in the 2003 World Championships.

[Denmark] stunned team USA 5-2, and shocking team Canada 2-2, Denmark has proven it can compete against the best players in the world.

Two years ago I read an article about the previous time Denmark played in the World Championships, a 47-0 loss to Canada in 1949. After reading that, I promised I would make this website Danish hockey central for the 2003 WC.

Another AP report on the 1949 loss said:

In the 47-0 loss in 1949 in Sweden, the Danes gave up 13 goals in the first period, 16 in the second and 18 in the third. Every member of Canada's team scored at least three goals.

Also make sure to visit the Danmark Ishockey Union official site, and the English-language Copenhagen Post.

Danmark hockey

[Update] The author Peter Seeberg emails in his recommendations about where to go to watch the Denmark Super Best league.

Hockey in Denmark: If you go to Kopenhagen, R�dovre is the best venue, Rungsted/Nordsj�lland ok, Herlev to be avoided. Odense, where I live, is a couple of hours from Kopenhagen by train... always good atmosphere. In Jutland, Herning and Esbjerg are interesting, Herning has always been a force. Vojens, a small club now named "S�nderjylland" plays there, is also interesting because of the atmosphere...a crazy place, especially against local opponents like Esbjerg and Herning.


World Cup exhibition notes and photos

Team Germany WC photo

Great exhibition photos of the German World Cup team at Monty's NHL page. Team Germany will start the tournament against Sweden Aug 31st in Stockholm.

It looks like Monty will be taking photos of Team Germany vs Finland during their next game Sep 2nd in Cologne. I wonder if German captain Marco Sturm will face his former teammate Miikka Kiprusoff or his former teammate Vesa Toskala in net?

There is one more exhibition game for Team USA, Aug 27th vs Russia in Columbus. USA will start the World Cup tournament in Montreal against Canada, Aug 31st. The next games will be against Russia Sep 2nd, and Slovakia in St. Paul Sep 3rd.

The World Cup schedule and television times can be found here. The USA Hockey website's World Cup section can be found here.

Notes: Team USA defeated Canada 3-1 in the first warm-up game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. Canada won the second exhibition game 3-1 at the Corel Center in Ottawa. Defenseman Paul Martin will replace Jordan Leopold due to a concussion suffered in the first exhibition game. Doug Weight is writing a journal about the World Cup for USA Hockey. Weight had a goal disallowed in the second game. Brett Hull, not wanted by Canada, the USA is glad to have him. The IIHF has a World Cup Hockey timeline with a history of the tournament. Offwing also notes that USA defenseman Hal Gill broke a bone in his foot during the 3rd period of the 3-1 Canadian win according to the Toronto Star. Forward Brian Rolston filled in on the blueline, Chelios and Leetch are probably going to log nearly 30 minutes a game.

[Update] I just noticed the official World Cup of Hockey website prohibits any link not to the front page of their website. Linking to the schedule page so fans can find dates and times of ESPN broadcasts is not allowed. Read the terms of service. Bill Daly says the NHL set up www.nhlcbanews.com "to allow our fans to have as much current and relevant information as possible to inform them on the collective bargaining process." But allowing fans to have current and relevant access to what time and channel the World Cup games are on is prohibited? Same TOS on the NHLcbanews.com webpage. "All links to the Website must be to http://www.nhl.com." So are we not allowed to even link to NHLcbanews.com?

Offwing blatantly violates the terms of service.

[Update2] More on Team Germany from Scott Burnside.


Tom Wheatley, no longer chumming for controversy in San Jose

goal celebration

Tom Wheatley, a columnist for the STL Post-Dispatch and ESPN, is an interesting choice to write the annual ESPN Sharks pre-season preview. Sharks fans remember Wheatley as the writer who almost single-handedly stoked the Owen Nolan [cancer in the locker room] rumors with 3 anonymous accusations in ESPN the Magazine last year.

After that report, Wheatley cited another 3 anonymous sources with more criticism of Nolan, in addition to his own comments. The rumors circulated around all of the major hockey media sources within days, and was the topic du jour for weeks. There was a small backlash against the accusations, but the rumors were kept alive by the Nolan to Toronto trade, and the firing of GM Dean Lombardi shortly after.

At least this current column is mostly an interview with Doug Wilson.

And my take on Owen Nolan? I think he was a player who tried to lead in San Jose by example, who tried to play through too many injuries, and who was not the most media-friendly individual. I think he was the best player to put on a Sharks jersey, but not the best player to sell the sport in a non-traditional hockey market. Nolan's "called shot" goal on Dominik Hasek during the SJ allstar game was one of the top 10 moments in the history of the sport.

This just in -- don't quote me on that

From the official website: "January 8 Start Time Changed - The Pacific Division Champion San Jose Sharks announced that the start time for their January 8, 2004 contest vs. Tampa Bay has been moved to 2:00 p.m. PST (5:00 p.m. EST)."

From the official Sharkspage weblog: If the season starts January 8, we will be lucky.

From Steve Thomas in an NHLPA press release, after he accidentally mentioned considering a salary cap: "I never have and never will support a salary cap and any reports that say otherwise are totally inaccurate. I have always believed that a marketplace is the best system for our sport and I still believe that today. NHLPA members will never accept a salary cap."

From NHLPA senior VP of business affairs Ted Saskin to ESPN August 16th, 2004: "[the NHL] approached the CBA discussions with only one solution -- a salary cap -- and they know that that's a non-starter for us."

From Robert Goodenow, Executive Director NHL Players Association, to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Jan 31st, 2003: "We won't be agreeing to a salary cap."

NHL fan Russ F. from Alberta, in a letter to the Hockey News: "the suggestion NHL teams should be allowed to function in a free market implies the function of the Rangers is to maximize market share by driving the Islanders, Devils and Sabres out of business... As a guy with a business background, I hate seeing an economics term inappropriately used to justify something that does not apply to it. It amazes me to see players claim major league sport franchises are in competition with one another, then pursue anti-trust legislation against the owners. How can the NHL be a monopoly if there are 30 independent companies in a 'free market' system?"

From Jacques Plante: "How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?"

[Update] From the webmaster of Ehelechner.com, a virtual postcard on the Sharks goaltending prospect's plans to attend goalie camp and the rookie tournament in Anaheim.

[Update2] A fan emailed in this lastest chat transcript with Bill Daly, NHL's Chief Legal Officer and a member of the league's negotiation team. Read the entire transcript. It is refreshing to see issues raised by fans, by hockey blogs, and by the media answered respectfully and at length.

This is really a significant change from how fans were treated by the league in the past, especially online. I see the change from the league threatening legal action with the fans behind nogoal.com and other websites, to the league addressing fan concerns with NHLcbanews.com. I wonder if anyone else noticed?


Shark Notes

Jason Churchill

After four solid #1 NHL goaltenders came up through the system [Evgeni Nabokov, Miikka Kiprusoff, Vesa Toskala, Johan Hedberg], after developing solid goaltending prospects [Patrick Ehelechner, Dimitri P�tzold, Nolan Schaefer], the goaltending factory in San Jose drafted 4 goalies in the 2004 entry draft [Thomas Greiss, Jason Churchill, Derek MacIntyre, Brian Mahoney-Wilson].

Six foot four Halifax goaltender Jason Churchill was an interesting 4th round selection. Churchill impressed scouts and his coaching staff last year taking over the starting goaltending duties for the Halifax Mooseheads [15-28-4, 3.73 GAA]. Red Line Report's Kyle Woodlief described him as raw, with "tremendous size and potential".

The Mooseheads have a one-on-one interview with Jason Churchill, and an interesting pre-draft column: Trend toward big goalies a boon for Churchill.

- Marco Sturm has been named captain of the German World Cup hockey team. In a 3-3 exhibition tie with Russia, Marcel Goc scored two goals on a line with Sturm and Hecht. Christian Ehrhoff also had a goal and an assist. Here are the box scores from the game in German. Thanks to RF and Ansbach for the information.

I also have it on good authority that Sturm jerseys will be available from the official Ingolstadt site. Prohockey.de also has more on Sturm and Ehrhoff.

- The Berkeley club hockey team gets a nice write-up from Inside College Hockey, Postcard: California Dreaming. Look for a lot of photos from me throughout the Berkeley season on my CAL Hockey page.

- Make no mistake, this site is primarily a San Jose State club hockey supporter. Initial SJSU tryouts were held last week. Tomorrow night there is a banquet to support the SJSU Hockey team. The banquet is on Tuesday, August 24 [7PM], at the The Drying Shed in San Jose. Visit the official site and spend a few dollars to help out the only hockey San Jose will probably see this year.

- Anyone out there from Stanford hockey? Send me an email.

- The Boston Globe has some interesting thoughts on Damphousse's role with the Colorado Avalanche. As long as they do not overplay him, and there is no lockout, he will have a breakout season. But then again, I said the same thing about Teemu Selanne last year. Puck Update also has some thoughts on Vinnie and the Sharks.

- My quote on the Hockey Photo Project is kind of humorous:

Earlier, I thought it was easier to find photos from Mars than from a Sharks game. Hockey Photo Project is one small step for Sharks fan; one giant leap for hockey photography fans.

- Ron Wilson out to recapture 96 magic - Scott Burnside. He discusses Ron Wilson's pledge not to shave his head, his stars and stripes tie, and his hopes for Team USA in the World Cup. For some reason while reading this column, I kept trying to picture former Sharks coach Darryl Sutter making some of these statements. And remember Sharks fans, Dean Lombardi hired Ron Wilson.

- Thanks to Andrews Stars Page for the mention. His excellent CBA section can be found on the right of this website [scroll down]. Now I know he has a weblog as well. One link I would recommend for him is this Screen Shots article with fan emails to Hockey News. The free market vs franchise comment is worth a read.

- First the Hockey Forecaster released its magazine for free online, now probably no McKeens Hockey magazine will be released this year. [Thanks Jes]

- An open letter to the Gary Bettman [Commissioner, National Hockey League] NHL and Robert Goodenow [Executive Director, NHL Players� Association] from Jim Boone of the NHL Fans Association.

[Update] Germans look to reprise a surprise - Official World Cup of Hockey 2004 website.

[Update2] Thanks to Kirk who sent in a link to an ESPN hockey blog, espnhockey.net. The blog posted a link to this KNTV Channel 11 report on ESPN hockey.


Flashback - NHL 97 and LCS Hockey

About six years ago, the best hockey video game ever created was released upon an unsuspecting public... NHL 97. Now you can play it online for free. If you select 2 players, both have to use the same keyboard. The 1-2-3 keys and the arrow keys are used for controls.

If only the Sharks used that organ music instead of blasting Van Halen or whatever top 40 hit is popular at the moment. You might even be able to have a conversation.

EA Sports NHL 2005 is scheduled for release September 20th. Here is the official site.

A little over 5 years ago, the small group of shock opinion columnists at LCS Hockey released their final issue [#125]. Whether it was a loving, if not obsessive devotion to Al Morganti, helpful Swedish to English translations, or their yearly world domination reports, the online hockey magazine was an entertaining read. They resurfaced briefly to try out a blog, but now the site is down permanently. Here is the final thank you note from LCS Editor-in-Chief Michael Dell.

Thank You
by Michael Dell, Editor-in-Chief

June 23, 1999

All mediocre things must come to an end. After five years and 125 issues, LCS Hockey has run its course.

When we started back in the day, our goal was to provide an alternative to the mainstream hockey coverage. We wanted to be different. We wanted to be informative, yet entertaining... 50/50, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I think we achieved what we set out to do. I mean, c'mon, it wasn't like we were shooting for the moon. How hard is it to be more entertaining than The Hockey News? I've read funnier warning labels.

The reason for us calling it quits is really quite simple. We've lost the love of the game. This isn't the NHL we fell in love with as kids. Back then, the glory of the sport was enough to inspire us to dedicate our lives to the cause. I can't imagine today's NHL inspiring people to do anything, except maybe turn the channel. It's a garage league. The NHL has placed money ahead of tradition and in the process alienated the true hockey fan. It can make all the cash off expansion it wants, it will never be enough to buy back its lost pride.

We could have returned next season, but our hearts wouldn't have been in it. Frankly, my heart hasn't been in it for the past six months. It's just time for a change. We need to move on. Now that LCS Hockey is dead, I can turn my full attention towards trying to be a real writer of some importance or, in other words, unemployed. Ace Reporter Jim Iovino is well on his way to realizing his dream of being a big time sports journalist, already owning a gig with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Matthew Secosky is currently working for a technology firm in Pittsburgh and is biding his time until one of his many fraud/bunko ideas pays off. As for Zippy, well, he's corporate.

Before parting, I'd like to take time out for a few needed thank yous.

First, I'd like to thank all of the correspondents, writers, and contributors that volunteered their services over the years to help make LCS Hockey a success. We were extremely lucky in finding quality individuals that stayed loyal despite little reward. Nothing would have been possible without their help and kindness.

I'd like to thank Susan Aglietti of the NHL for shafting us at the Draft in Hartford back in 1994 and providing even more incentive to stick it to The Man.

Thank you to Andy McGowan and the other members of the various NHL media departments for eventually treating us like real reporters even though we were just a bunch of worthless punks.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Zippy the Wonder Chimp wrote the following paragraph.)

Thanks also go out to Marc Boucher, our former publisher. Early statements concerning our former publisher, Marc Boucher, were printed in error and we would like to apologize to Marc Boucher for those comments. Mr. Boucher was a firm believer in LCS Hockey and made several financial and professional commitments to our publication. He helped LCS Hockey grown in our early years and without him we probably would not have lasted as long as we had. If you want to learn more about Canada visit his Internet Directory, Maple Square.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Now back to the original letter as written by me, Michael Dell.)

Thank you to Johnny Cullen, LCS Hockey hero and the idol of millions from eight to eighty, for being so generous with us in the past and for keeping us in mind even during the toughest of times. Cullen made us all proud to say he was our hero.

And finally, on behalf of everyone at LCS Hockey, I'd like to thank you, our valued readers. You're twelve of the nicest people I've ever met. Your support is what kept us coming back week after week. We liked to consider ourselves a publication for the fans, by the fans. We never wanted to let you down. I just hope you can understand our decision to leave.

While we'll be stopping production, the web site will remain online in order to act as a permanent reminder of all we've accomplished and to serve as a warning to future generations on how not to live their lives. And who knows? Maybe one day the spirit will move us and we'll come back and start writing LCS again.

But regardless of what the future brings, we'll never be far away. For wherever there's an obscure reference to popular culture, we'll be there. Wherever there's blatant sarcasm and indifference to authority, we'll be there. And wherever there's an open bar you damn well better believe we'll be there.

Thank you all very much.


Michael Dell
LCS Hockey

I was one of the 12 readers, and I was also lucky enough to write a few columns for LCS before they folded. It struck me how five years later, not much has changed with the NHL.

[Update] Continuing the flashback, a post from four years ago on this blog:

National Media discover San Jose Sharks
The national media discovered hockey in San Jose this week.

Evidence: 3 newspaper articles on Nabokov over the weekend, Sharks #1 on the ESPN power rankings (a first), and Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman heaps praise on "that other guy", Evgeni Nabokov.

[Update2] Three years ago this blog released our official theme song.

[Update3] Two years ago with the help of Mats Sundin, the new slogan for Sharkspage was unveiled: Less talk more rock.

[Update4] Last season, the San Jose Sharks were 2nd [$6.50] in the NHL for beer prices according to teammarketing.com. And only 16oz. The horror, the H-O-R-R-O-R!


CBA point, counter-point :: Tasca's Take vs Sharkspage

In response to this post from Joe Tasca:

I couldnt help but chuckle after I read a commentary from PJ at Sharkspage that chastises the players union for failing to provide fans with sufficient information regarding their CBA negotiation position. PJ claims he supported the NHLPA during the 1994 strike, but says he now has no sympathy for the union, which is supposedly thumbing its nose at the fans.

Well I am glad at least my CBA commentary is amusing.

About supporting the NHLPA during the first strike, the 400+ blog posts in the archives to the right should demonstrate my ability to be fair and honest with the issues hockey is facing. At the time of the first lockout, I was also lucky enough to trade a few emails with a defenseman who to this date, has played 15+ years in the league. I met him on a BBS, which for young-uns was a computer hosting a messageboard before the internet, connected to a hard phone line.

In the olden days, you had to dial in with a 1200 baud modem in order to complain about one player being better than another on a messageboard. I will try to find his agent, and see if I can ask him 3 or 4 similar questions about the current impasse. FYI, this site was a solid white page of text and links around 1994 on a college web server. I used a Mac classic to surf the web with the lynx text-only browser to search gopherspace. The web exploded in 1995 with the SJ-Sharks official website, espn.sportszone.com, and the now defunct, but still my favorite Le Coq Sportif [lcshockey.com]. Around 1998 this site became a blog on tripod, moving to blogger in 2001.

But instead of anonymous name dropping, or talking about the last time I used a mac, I have had 10 years to examine and re-examine both sides of this issue since the last lockout, and I must admit my position has changed.

First off, I have a hard time convincing myself that the players owe the fans a detailed explanation of their position. Im not saying the players shouldnt be indebted to the fans, as we do provide the owners with gate receipts, which subsequently partially contribute to player salaries. But what we, as a whole, dont seem to realize is the fact the players and the league are involved in a bitter legal dispute over the distribution of finances, and by no means are we deserving of any private bargaining information or proposals.

No one expects the NHLPA to run its proposals by fans before submitting them to the NHL. But you are right, the players do not play for free. The players are not "indebted" to fans, they are dependent on them for their livelihood. And judging from Ted Saskin's recent comments, judging from Bob Goodenow's comments going back 3 years, both seem to have no clue how ticket prices, plummeting ratings, and a general discontent has set the stage for what fans are currently facing... another lockout.

Great way to set the sport back another 10 years. Yes the owners will technically be responsible for instituting a lockout, but the NHLPA has not proposed enough legitimate solutions to prevent one. There seems to be a serious disconnect between the NHLPA and not only the league, but the fans as well.

I do not need the detailed proposal they are going to give the league next week. But I do need more specifics other than the two or three general arguments that they use to respond to every position the league has taken over the last few years. And since the NHLPA seems incapable of giving them to me, I am going to give them to myself with the next blog post.

Would divulging such information be beneficial to the union from a PR standpoint? Absolutely. Still, whats the point?

First of all, it might encourage fans not to support any scab league or replacement players. Second, it would give fans, some of whom pay several thousand a year for season tickets, a reason to come back to the game after an extended lockout. Third, it might keep merchandise sales, advertising revenues, and television ratings from plummeting. And fourth, the PR it would generate could help bring a resolution that is in their favor.

If you do, it becomes painfully apparent why the players have absolutely no intentions of winning over the fans.

I could have told you this two years ago when I noticed a distinct lurch towards the obstinate in Goodenow's statements about this issue. Last year even Bettman started loosening his rhetoric and becoming more flexible. Goodenow did not budge, and in some cases, he even hardened his positions.

The reason for the players recent dismissal of the six financial concepts concocted by the NHL is simple - all six plans revolve around a salary cap, and the players have made it abundantly clear that they will not accept such a salary restriction.

If you say they are six different versions of a salary cap, then I will not disagree with you. The fact is the NHLPA has not proposed a viable economic system in 15 months according to the NHL yesterday. The last stop-gap measure the players made did not address the fundamental financial problems the league is facing.

If the NHL and the NHLPA want to allow another informal review, I can think of two people I would nominate. My brother Chris, who has created some of the economic models for two major Silicon Valley software companies. And financial guru, former radio host, current television host, founder of GLBI Management Group, and hockey fan Rob Black [RobBlack.com].

Fans dont give a hoot about the players position, because if we did, we would be able to read between the lines of the political posturing and the public relations fodder that we have been fed by the league over the last year.

Actually, I am concerned with the players position. It takes many years of training, dedication, hard work and luck to make it to the NHL level. The game has seen injuries increase, and a career ending injury could happen at any moment. Watching Brett Lindros talk about his career in the past tense was particularly shocking for me. I think I am a year or two older than he is.

The players need to look out for themselves and for their families.

Regarding the McCabe comments that you referenced in another post, they did not sway me in one direction or the other. I read comments by Ollie Jokinen, Darryl Sydor, and Mirsolav Satan during the last 2 years that were all of the "we are going to take everything we can get" variety, and they have definitely influenced my position. I emailed all three and received 2 bounced emails [mailbox full], and did not receive a response for the third.

A few days ago I ran across two SJ players and asked them in my usual blunt fashion, why is there a training camp if there is not going to be a season? The players were cool, and mentioned that a lot of the younger prospects still had teams to train for. And they seemed hopeful that an agreement could be reached.

But how can you read between the lines of the NHLPA position? They have not advanced the debate at all. They are stuck in a phase of he said-she said, dismissing anything the league says as propaganda for far too long. Read Saskin's comments in the Q and A from yesterday on ESPN for just the latest example.

What is even more sickening is the fact that fans seem to be falling prey to a perfectly executed NHL PR blitzkrieg that is making the players look as sinister as the big bad wolf and the league appear as innocent as Little Red.

First off, don't be sickened. Read this cartoon, it will make you feel better.

Second, I think the "PR blitzkrieg" as executed by the NHL is little more than a trial effort. Not an altogether unsuccessful one, but far from blitzkrieg-esque. I would call it a minor blip in the labor armageddon landscape.

The NHL has put all their CBA information on a single page, they update it with the latest news, and have some interaction with league officials. The statistics look so horrible I have been playing around with a new flash charting program to try to improve their presentation. If the NHLPA wants to display any of the above, they can host it on this blog for free [even though I am sure they have plenty of server space on NHLPA.com]. I will even help them create the charts and the graphs to back them up.

Given that, the entire NHLCBAnews.com website offers only a few nuggets of information. The Forbes yearly franchise valuations, while disputed by both sides [great article on the difference between the Forbes numbers and the Levitt numbers at Andrewsstarspage], offer at least a starting point to examine the league's health. The Hockey News bucks and pucks issue is helpful. There are links to a couple dozen media reports on the financial situation of the NHL going back several years on this blog. And in my first post on the CBA, I outlined the proposals made by both sides and gave readers links to most of the information for their review.

Saying my position has been effected in any serious way by the NHLCBAnews website would not be accurate, the effect has been minimal at best. Saying my position has been effected by the comments and positions taken by Goodenow, Bettman, Saskin, and a few players would only be slightly correct.

Saying my position was influenced by the Levitt and Moag report, the Forbes valuations, the Kings fan who examined the LA books, the debate between that fan [Phillip Propper] and Canucks Central's Tom Benjamin, the unusual television contract, the freefall in television ratings, contract holdouts, the apathy towards the sport of many casual fans, 10+ years of following the media reports on the subject, 10 years of ticket increases since the last lockout [I believe there was 1 year with no ticket increase in San Jose, the last two season have only been raised for non-season ticket holders]. My position has been effected by a lot of things, but I think the key is that my position is still open-ended.

Hope that clears things up a little.

[Update] Great post at OntheWings, Draft Success of all Teams in NHL History: 1963-2002.

[Update2] Prince of Pucks: The Forgotten Fan, Fans not important in CBA talks

In its ranking of the 100 most powerful and influential people in the sport by The Hockey News earlier this year, "Joe Fan" was ranked 100th in importance, due to the billions of dollars the fans contribute to the NHL every season. That would be the money the owners and the players are presently squabbling over.

The paper said it was up to the fans to make their opinions known if they want to avoid a lockout, just as the threats of baseball fans to abandon the game they loved influenced CBA talks between MLB and its player association. The anger of pro baseball fans was a contributing factor in MLB avoiding yet another work stoppage.

So how much influence are hockey fans having on these negotiations?

If we believe the media hype that both the league and the union currently remain far apart in their negotiations, fans are having no impact on the proceedings.

No impact whatsoever.

[A few related Sharkspage posts]
1. NHL Econmomics 101
2. Where should the NHL look for financial salvation?
3. Bad Moon Rising
4. Financial state of the NHL 1999-2000
5. Exhibit A [that the league is in financial trouble].
6. Financial state of the NHL 2 8/23/2002
7. Pro Hockey's in trouble - Fool.com
8. For whom the trade winds Blow - NHL dumps salary
9. Shark Notes - SJ dumps salary
10. As the Collective Bargaining Agreement turns - part 1
11. NHL Fans Association Speaks Up About CBA


Vincent Damphousse signs a $2 million, 1 year deal with Colorado

Vincent Damphousse signs one year contract with Colorado

An official press release by the Colorado Avalanche reports they have signed Vincent Damphousse to a one year contract.

Damphousse told the Avalanche:

I am excited and extremely enthusiastic about joining the Avalanche, a club that has already established a winning tradition in Denver... I am looking forward to playing in such a great hockey environment.

TSN reports: "Vincent Damphousse has signed a one-year, $2-million US contract with the Colorado Avalanche".

My thoughts on Vincent Damphousse's recent playoff performance and free agent status are here: Damphousse, Ricci, Harvey, Marshall free agents.

Vincent Damphousse had a subpar regular season with 12 goals and 29 assists for 41 points in 82 games played. That is 5 points less than the injury shortened point total he achieved in 45 games of the 2000-2001 season. That is 1 point more than he scored in the strike shortened in the 48 games he played in 1994-1995 for the Montreal Canadiens.

It was possible that Vincent Damphousse was playing too large a role during the regular season, that the near 20 minutes of ice time a night was starting to wear on the 36 year old center.

But then came the postseason. After registering 3 assists in the first round against St Louis, Damphousse scored a goal and an assist in the first two games against the Avalanche, and a game winning goal in game 3. San Jose had lost twice in the postseason to Colorado, once after having a 3-2 series lead in 2001-2002. Damphousse helped the Sharks gain a 3-0 series lead, one which the all-star laden Avalanche could not overcome.

After losing the first two games of the Western Conference finals against the Flames, Damphousse scored the game winning goal in games 3 and 4 of the series. San Jose went on to lose the series to Calgary 4-2, but many feel that Damphousse was the most valuable player of the postseason for the San Jose Sharks.

Lacroix acts, signs Damphousse - Denver Post.

Colorado preparing for defections - ESPN.

Damphousse leaves Sharks, signs with rival Avalanche - San Jose Mercury News. Damphousse told the Merc:

I'm disappointed but there's no hard feelings. I think San Jose has a great team and I would have loved to be part of it. The players are great, the spirit is good, but I believe they're going to need somebody to play my role. Some guys are totally ready to take more of a leadership role, but they're still a very young team.

Avalanche signs Sharks Damphousse - Rocky Mountain Post.

Club America might move the San Jose Earthquakes to Houston or San Antonio

Earthquakes might be sold

This is not Sharks related, but very important to local fans of the San Jose Earthquakes MLS franchise. After an expansion team in Los Angeles was awarded to the Mexican soccer giant Chivas, rumors about Club America buying the San Jose team have heated up considerably. Dylan Hernandez reports today in the San Jose Mercury, Team may be sold this week. Chivas has expressed interest in moving the Earthquakes to Houston, San Antonio, or even Dallas.

I was five when Pele played at Spartan stadium with the NY Cosmos. I remember when San Jose announced a new MLS franchise, the Clash, who eventually re-named the team to the Earthquakes. And now it looks like it might they might be leaving again.

There is a rally at 12noon this Friday at Plaza de Cesar Chavez in San Jose. Members of the original Earthquakes from the NASL will be in attendance. Hopefully a large turnout by fans will convince the owners and the city that the team should remain in the Bay Area. There is a 7PM home night game Saturday against Dallas.

The local organization holding the rally can be found at http://www.soccersiliconvalley.com [it would help if they publish this URL in the article]. Soccer Silicon Valley also has a PDF flyer complete with directions for the Save the Earthquakes rally. Make sure to sign the petion on their website.

Frustrated Earthquakes could soon be calling Texas home - SF Chronicle.

The official MLS website, http://www.mlsnet.com.

My personal gallery of San Jose Earthquakes digital photos. I will also post photos from the rally on this blog.

ESPN on the CBA negotiations

Two excellent articles today on ESPN about the CBA negotiations. The first by Scott Burnside, Talks take side-step, not backward, not forward, is almost the exact title I used for my post yesterday. I probably would have said: at least they aren't moving backwards, which is an improvement.

In addition to detailing the agreement to meet four more times for further negotiations [Ottawa Aug 25, 26, Montreal Aug 31, Sept 1] Burnside reports the NHLPA will actually make its first economic proposal after the first meeting on August 25th.

This answers a blistering statement made by NHL executive VP and chief legal officer Bill Daly in a video report on TSN. He told TSN:

We have been working 5 and a half years now to try make adjustments to this economic system, which by any definition of an economic system is not working... The last and only proposal the NHLPA made to us was in June 2003, which was 15 months ago. They have not suggested any alternative since then. So we are working with a proposal that we told them 15 months ago did not work.

I am no fan of Daly, but this comment is brutal. The NHLPA had to respond, and they did. Ted Saskin, senior VP of business affairs for the NHLPA, said the press mocked the NHL's six economic proposals. He will be in for a harsh dose of reality if the NHLPA does not deliver a plausible solution to the leagues financial problems. I was underwhelmed with their first offer, which by some reports, has already been rescinded.

The second ESPN article is actually a series of questions directed at Ted Saskin and Bill Daly by Darren Rovell. He asked too many solid questions to quote here, you need to read the whole article. But in addition to the Saskin reference I mentioned above, this statement really spoke to where the NHLPA is coming from.

Q: The NHL has developed a comprehensive Web site, NHLCBANews.com, to inform fans about every step of the labor negotiations. Why has the league spent so much time educating the public on the issues?

Saskin: I don't think they are trying to inform the public, they are trying to sway the public with their own propaganda. I don't go on their Web site because I took a quick look when it was first put up and it was obvious that it was just a very partisan effort to try to get their view of the world out there. I wish they spent as much time trying to negotiate or solve the issues as they do on the public relations front. But I think it's all part of their strategy to lock out the players and they are focused on managing the PR around their planned lockout.

Take a look at the blog post directly below this one, and realize I wrote that while the negotiations were taking place, before Saskin made these comments. This NHLPA representative seems incapable of recognizing that there are three parties that make the NHL work: the owners, the players, and the fans.

In my first post on the CBA negotiations [As the CBA turns part 1], in yesterday's NHL Notes, and when I first realized the league was headed towards another lockout, I took positions that leaned heavily towards the owners.

Tomorrow I am going to post [As the CBA turns part 2] trying to argue some of the points from the players perspective. It would be impossible for me to examine the league as a whole, so I am going to focus on the San Jose Sharks in specific in the hopes that it will raise some issues that apply to the rest of the league.

Three things I will discuss are the repeated rumors in the past of large financial losses for San Jose [some rumored to be as high as $10 million a season]. Reports this season, that after three rounds in the playoffs, after Nolan and Selanne's $6.5 million salaries were no longer on the payroll, the San Jose Sharks still lost $7 million. And finally, while I can not link to it directly, I will discuss some of the issues raised in an article from the San Jose Business journal [Sharks seeking new revenue sources as labor strife looms - Andrew F. Hamm, 5/31/04].

[Update] A dissenting opinion from Tasca's Take. [Note: Give me a day to post the players arguments before drawing any conclusions about my position. But disagreements based on facts are encouraged here.]


NHL Notes

- The NHL and NHLPA are meeting today. TSN quoted NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin:

We approach each meeting prepared to discuss a fair agreement for both sides... The main stumbling block remains the league's demand for a salary cap and refusal to consider any alternatives. A willingness to negotiate on the part of the league will get us far closer to progress than any schedule of frequent meetings.

Keep in mind, the NHLPA not only rejected the NHL's five proposed economic structures, but recent reports have said the NHLPA also has taken off the table its 5% salary cutback proposal, its revenue sharing and entry-level salary proposals. The CBA negotiations are actually moving backwards.

The five "system concepts" the NHL proposed not involving a salary cap are listed below, according to NHLCBAnews.com. The 6th concept is a salary cap.

1. A Performance-Based Salary System, in which a player's individual compensation would be based, in part, on negotiated objective criteria and, in part, on individual and team performance.

2. A Payroll Range System in which teams could spend within a negotiated range of payrolls.

3. A system premised on the Centralized Negotiation of Player Contracts, where the League would negotiate individual player contracts, either with players and their agents or with the Union directly.

4. A Player Partnership Payroll Plan (P-4), which would involve individual player compensation being individually negotiated on the basis of "units" allocated for regular-season payrolls, supplemented by lucrative bonuses for team playoff performance.

5. A Salary Slotting System, which would contemplate each team being assigned a series of "salary slots" at various levels, each of which would be allocated among each team's players pursuant to individual player-team negotiation.

- I was firmly behind the NHLPA and the players during the 94 lockout, but this year they have been woefully inadequate giving fans information about their position. Although the timely release of salary information on their website is informative, they have no CBA news on the front page of their site, nothing on the press release page, no blog, no detailed information about their CBA position, nothing of interest to those concerned about the loss of a season.

- [Note] It helps if I read the paper before posting. The SJ Mercury sports page has black square over half of the front, with ominous white lettering "NHL braces for Ice Age". The article, NHL lockout looks certain, does a good job of covering the NHLPA and NHL positions. The two included tables represent a virtual avalanche of hockey coverage for summertime in California. The second table details the players and owners recent offers. From the NHLPA:

1. Reducing top entry-level salaries from $1.3 million to $850,000 and reduced bonuses.

2. One-time cut in all salaries by 5 percent.

3. Luxury tax, similar to baseball's, that forces four or five teams with the highest payrolls to share revenue with others.

- NHL fans as perceived by both sides:

NHL fan

- The Czech national coach Ivan Hlinka was killed in a car crash en route to talk to Jaromir Jagr about the World Cup. Many NHL fans will remember the battles between the two on the bench of the Pittsburgh Penguins. According to Jes Golbez, as a player and a coach, Hlinka won 14 World Championship medals and 4 Olympic medals.

I have been reading somewhat bizarre but interesting Czech media reports on Hockey Rodent for some time. They are understandably taking the loss of Ivan Hlinka hard. Hockey Bird also linked to this Hlinka obituary from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

- To continue the bad news for the league, I will get the rest out in one post: Jeremy Roenick paid a firm 100,000 for gambling tips, Atlanta Thrashers forward Dany Heatley will enter a plea Sep 16th on vehicular homicide and reckless driving charges, and the battle of the Hockey Gladiators succumbs to the Winnipeg criminal code.

- Jes Golbez also emailed in a link to this article about Sharks first round draft pick Lukas Kaspar. Czech stars en route to 67's - Ottawa Sun. By sending the wrong email to the wrong hockey league, I found out that the Ottawa 67's had a trial internet hockey broadcast of their home games last year. I will post more information about this season as I get it.

- With the distinct possibility of no NHL season, Bay Area hockey fans might take a look at other local teams. I have been talking with players from local Berkeley and San Jose State teams, so look forward to plenty of college photos this season. Also take a look at Summer Robertson's ECHL Fresno Falcons photos. Just south of the Bay area, and the SaveMart Center looks cool. Still no word on if a Sharks prospect will suit up for the Falcons this year.

- Sharks to Host NHL Pre-season Game at Save Mart Center - OurSports Central.

- Offwing is back from vacation, and delivers the rink notes. And about the meltdown in Boston, make a deal with San Jose for forward Miroslav Zalesak and offensive defenseman Jim Fahey. Both would make the Bruins roster while still on the bubble in San Jose, both are in the Bruins price range, Zalesak is a legitimate goal scorer, Fahey has proven he can lead an NHL PP unit, and both have offensive upside that Boston seems to be hemorrhaging at the moment. Offer a 2005 1st round pick and get Sinden to open his wallet and throw in some cash. Nice to see another Bruins blog on the net too. About ******* time.

Boston additions:
[RW] Tom Fitzgerald - from Toronto
[LW] Sergei Samsonov - re-signed
[D] Hal Gill - re-signed

Boston subtractions:
[C] Brian Rolston - to Minnesota
[C] Michael Nylander - to NY Rangers
[RW] Mike Knuble - to Philadelphia
[LW] Ted Donato - retired
[D] Sean O'Donnell - to Phoenix

In case you missed my Boston coverage, click here [Bourque sportsman of the year], here [no more forwards like Neely], or here [Orr and Bourque's names on the Stanley Cup]. There was some pre-Blogger Bruins news items that have been deleted. I was a B's fan for 10 years before San Jose got a franchise.

[Update] Another diversion if the NHL goes on strike, On the Wings details the specifics of the Original Stars Hockey League.

[Update2] One of the many Cheechoo's from Moose Factory, I think there are a few thousand, sent me a link to this inspirational website about Jordan Tootoo and his late brother Terence Tootoo; teamtootoo.com. Jordan is a player fans love to hate, but one who is hard to root against. If there is an NHL season, I would like to see Jordan line up againt a line of Sturm-Marleau-Cheechoo.

[Update3] The new Sharks Ice rink at Fremont opened yesterday, visit sharksice.com for more information. According to the official website, Fremont Ice will serve the Fremont, Union City, Newark, and Milpitas communities. Here is the closest BART train station. I am not sure how far that is from the rink.

[Update4] The meeting between the NHL and the NHLPA today ended in a standstill. No surprise here. According to Is it Hockey Season, there are four more meetings scheduled for "August 25th and 26th in Ottawa, and August 31st and September 1st in Montreal".


Sharks avoid arbitration again, sign goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to 2 year $8.85 million contract

Evgeni Nabokov signs 2 year deal

According to TSN, the San Jose Sharks avoided arbitration and signed Evgeni Nabokov to a 2 year contract worth $4.425 million per season. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson commented on the official website:

We are pleased to get this deal completed... Nabby is obviously a very important part of this hockey club. Good goaltending is one of the main components to a championship hockey team and we feel we have one of the League's best in Nabby.

Evgeni Nabokov had 31 wins, 19 losses, and 8 ties in the 2003-2004 regular season [2.21 GAA, .921 SV%]. In 17 playoff games this year, Nabokov notched 10 wins and 7 losses [1.71 GAA, .935 SV%]. Evgeni won the 2001 Calder Memorial Trophy awarded to the NHL rookie of the year.

Sharks re-sign goalie Nabokov - SF Chronicle.

Nabokov, Sharks agree to 2-year deal - SJ Mercury News.

San Jose locked up their number one goaltender and made sure the holdout of two years ago which forced him to miss training camp, the pre-season, and 5 regular season games would not happen again.

Nabokov recently withdrew from the Russian World Cup team in order to recover from offseason arthroscopic knee surgery [update: the Mercury news quotes Nabokov as saying he will wait till after a preliminary skate to decide]. Earlier this summer the IIHF made a decision on Nabokov's international status.

The IIHF Executive Committee approved the request by the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia to make Kazakhstan-born goaltender Evgeny Nabokov, 29, eligible to play for Russia in IIHF competitions.

The Sharks are still negotiating with the lone restricted free agent who declined arbitration, Wayne Primeau. Unrestricted free agents Vincent Damphousse, Todd Harvey, and Jason Marshall have not yet signed with other teams. Free agent Mike Ricci signed with the Phoenix Coyotes. Free agent Curtis Brown signed with the Chicago Blackhawks.


Cleveland Barons photo gallery

Milan Michalek

Melissa Hess has a nice Cleveland Barons gallery at the Hockey Photo Project. The photo above is 2003 Sharks 1st round draft pick Milan Michalek.

[Update] Clevelandbarons.net interviewed coach Roy Sommer about the Sharks development mini-camp, Hennessey, Bernier, Carkner, the power play, Niko Dimitrakos, and more.

Q: Last season was your best in Cleveland and the Sharks best in San Jose. Why?

RS: Down here, we had certain goals we needed to attain and we did that. We increased our goals for by one a game. We lowered our goals against by one a game. Our power play was very good. Unfortunately our PK was a little inconsistent. But we play the same type of hockey that San Jose does. We get 5 guys up and 5 guys back. We stress using our speed as a team. Skating and puck control go a long way...

Q: What is your approach defensively?

I always say a defenseman is best when he keeps it simple. Move the puck to a forward and be done with it. You want to make it simple. Go with the first play you see. But with a lot of young guys, that isn't the case. When they get here, it is the first time that they aren't the "man" on the ice. They are competing on an even playing field. They can't keep the puck for extended periods of time. Passing becomes more important.

Here is an example. If a player was at Junior, he could make a brilliant 30ft. pass and create a goal. But here and in the NHL, there isn't that much time and space. You have to make three 10ft. passes. It is just a learning process. I try telling all the guys. But it isn't something that you can be told and you just start doing it. It eventually just clicks.

[Update2] Puck Update has interesting thoughts on the Hockey Photo Project.

Digital cameras and the Internet have really changed photography. Thanks to those two tools, we now have access to lots more photos we probably wouldn't have had previously. The only problem now is actually finding the photos online.

The Hockey Photo Project is working to help with that, though. It's a clearinghouse for hockey pictures, from the NHL on down. The cool thing is that it's all pictures taken by fans, so you'll really be seeing pictures you haven't seen before.

Earlier, I thought it was easier to find photos from Mars than from a Sharks game. Hockeys Photo Project is one small step for Sharks fan; one giant leap for hockey photography fans? Upload any hockey photos you have taken, and make sure to visit the San Jose Sharks gallery.


NHL Fans Association Speaks Up About CBA

The NHLFA distributed the following news release to North American sports media today:

NHL Fans� Association Speaks Up About CBA

For immediate release

August 10, 2004

(OTTAWA) � Fans of NHL hockey are livid and they are speaking out to protect their game.

On the verge of an impending lockout of players by the National Hockey League, failing successful Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) talks, 85% of fans believe that a work stoppage is looming. Only 8% of NHL hockey fans believe that the 2004-05 season will begin on schedule.

"Fans are extremely fed up with both the NHL and its players," says Jim Boone, co-founder of the NHL Fans� Association. "In 1994, when similar CBA talks occurred, fans were clearly supporting the players, since they had endured years of suppressed salary levels. However, this time around, fans are not so enamoured with the players crying poor. Likewise, fans have little appetite for NHL team owners who showed poor judgment by paying players ridiculous salaries over the last decade."

A recent poll of NHLFA Members found that 81% of fans believe that there should be some form of team salary cap or luxury tax to keep player costs under control. More than half (55%) of fans think a team�s salary cap should be between $30 and $40 million (USD) each season. Seven out of 10 fans also believe that players should participate in a television broadcast revenue sharing program with the NHL, effectively increasing the amount each team can spend on players� salaries as TV revenues increase. The general thinking is that the players and team owners should not be adversaries, but partners in the successful growth of the game � on and off the ice.

Sixty percent (60%) of NHLFA Members support a reduction in regular season games from 82 to 72 as a means to keep costs down. One third (31%) do not support such a change in the game.

The NHLFA was launched in 1998 to give hockey fans across North America and worldwide a way to express their views on NHL hockey and to influence the game for the better. The non-profit NHLFA is free to join at www.nhlfa.com and has 21,904 Members.

For more information, please contact:

Jim Boone

Links to various Collective Bargaining Agreement news sources can be found to the right of this post. Scroll down. My second post on this topic is coming later this week.

[Update] NHL Players union hardens stance against NHL - Toronto Star. One step forward, three steps back.

Not only did the NHL and its determined players fail to produce any kind of agreement on even the most insignificant of matters yesterday, the union followed up a four-hour meeting by suggesting that an intriguing offer it made to the league last fall is no longer on the table.

Why? Well, said union executive Ted Saskin, many things have changed since the fall of 2003, including improved NHL profits and a moderation in player salary increases.

So the league can essentially forget the union's proposal to absorb a 5 per cent across-the-board salary cut and accept cutbacks on entry player salaries.

[Update2] Canucks Corner has an interesting post about an omnibus bill which will make sports franchises a depreciating asset. The tax savings for these franchise owners will be nothing short of ginormous.

[Update3] Sharks prospect Josh Hennessy is a member of the USA World Jr evaluation camp [Aug 9-14]. Team blue of the USA squad lost to Sweden 3-0 today. Watch the live internet broadcasts from Ralph Engelstad Arena on pay-per-view.


Sharks avoid arbitration, sign Hannan to a 3 year deal

Scott Hannan signs contract

The San Jose Sharks avoided arbitration and signed defenseman Scott Hannan to a $7.8 million, 3 year deal according to TSN. The contract makes Hannan the highest paid Shark. Sharks GM Doug Wilson said about the signing:

Scotty has certainly earned this on merit... Not just us, everybody views him as a player that's moving up to an important spot in this league. He is a core player on this hockey team with great leadership skills, too.

Doug Wilson also commented on the signing of Scott Hannan to the official website:

We are very pleased to get this deal completed with Scott... He is a crucial part of this team and we want to take care of those players who get it done when it counts the most. On merit, he was selected to Team Canada's entry for the World Cup, which is arguably the toughest squad to make due to the large number of talented players vying for roster spots, and we hope this experience will help enhance his game by competing against the best players in the world every night. The best compliment I can give is that he loves to play and you know when the game is on the line, Scotty will be there.

Hannan selected for World Cup by Team Canada - Sharkspage.

Sharks award Hannan his due - SF Chronicle.

Sharks give Hannan a deal reportedly worth $8 million - Mercury News.

Roster Notes: Evgeni Nabokov is scheduled for arbitration August 13th. Wayne Primeau is the lone restricted free agent still in negotiations with the organization. Vincent Damphousse and Todd Harvey are unrestricted free agents. Mike Ricci signed a multi-year deal with the Phoenix Coyotes. Sharks prospects Marcel Goc, Milan Michalek, Shane Joseph, Steve Bernier and Miroslav Zalesak are expected to compete for forward positions. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, Tom Preissing, Rob Davison, Jim Fahey and Doug Murray are expected to compete for positions on the blueline. Marco Sturm signed a lockout deal with ERC Ingolstadt of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga [DEL].

[Update] From Canucks Corner: With the future of the NHL in doubt, the Hockey Forecaster magazine will offer a free online edition this season.

[Update2] A Sharks fan in Japan sent in a few links which have been added to the Asian hockey section. Thanks Atushi. While the Hockey Night in Mongolia article was one of my favorites, the new Asia League Ice Hockey is even more interesting. Four teams from the old Japan Ice Hockey League [Oji, Nikko, Kokudo, and Paper Cranes] will compete, along with one team from Korea [Halla Winnia], two teams from China [Harbin and Qiqihar], and one team from Russia [Amur]. A four country league sounds promising, with a season lasting from Sep 25th to March 22nd. Thanks to Slapshots Japan for some of this info. I can only hope the Kokudo Bunnies name will live on with another team. [note: Esa Tikkanen will play for the Korean team Halla Winia].

asian league ice hockey


Shark Notes

- First, ESPN's Jim Kelly complimented the Sharks on building through the draft. Then Cleveland Barons public relations coordinator Thomas Holy writes a much more in-depth column, Taking Ownership Of The Future. Building on the success of Jonathan Cheechoo, Niko Dimitrakos, Marcel Goc and others, the Sharks are replacing departing stars with players developed in the organization. It allows fans the opportunity to follow a player throughout his career and positions the team well for the impending CBA problems. A Sharks-Barons double header in Cleveland and San Jose would build fan interest in both teams.

- San Jose Sharks forward Nils Ekman was awarded a one year, $1.2 million contract by an arbitrator on Thursday. Ekman had 33 assists and 22 goals in 82 regular season games, 3 assists in 16 postseason games, and was never spotted once without a smile the entire season.

- I was unable to get a photo of Miroslav Zalesak for Jes Golbez, but the official website notes an interesting fact. In order for Miroslav to be sent down to the Cleveland Barons, he would have to clear waivers. Zalesak led the AHL in scoring at one point, but finished tied for third with 35 goals and 40 assists in 72 games played. Zalesak had 1 goal and 4 assists in 9 Cleveland playoff games. In 2 games for the San Jose Sharks, he had 0 points and 3 shots on goal.

- For a completely different view of sports news, check out the News Maps beta from Newsisfree. Make sure you have java enabled.

- 2003 7th round draft pick Kai Hospelt tore his ACL according to prohockey.de.

- The Phoenix Coyotes signed free agent Brett Hull today. This is after they drafted Blake Wheeler, hired hall of famer Grant Fuhr as a goaltending coach, re-signed Ladislav Nagy and Derek Morris, and signed free agents Mike Ricci, Sean O'Donnell and now Brett Hull. Look out Pacific division.

- Also from the official site, Sharks first round draft pick Lukas Kaspar confirmed that he will play with the Ottawa 67s of the OHL. Aaron Bell, director of information and special events for the Ontario Hockey League, mentions a test project broadcasting live video of the Ottawa 67s home games last season on the internet. More information will be available on www.ontariohockeyleague.com.

- Thanks to Cooljay for attempting to identify the players from the mini-camp photo gallery. This should be considered a rough estimate. If the team lets me chill up against the glass, I would rent a big zoom and these photos would be clear and in color.

Pic 1: Ehrhoff
Pic 2: Zalesak
Pic 4: Carle
Pic 5: (from left to right) Ford, Clowe, Hennessy(?)
Pic 6: Bernier
Pic 7: Plihal and Bernier
Pic 8: Zalesak
Pic 9: Ehrhoff
Pic 11: Hennessy
Pic 12: Schaefer and Ford
Pic 13: Stevenson
Pic 14: MacIntyre
Pic 15: Coaches
Pic 16: ??
Pic 17: Clowe
Pic 20: MacIntyre
Pic 98: Zalesak
Pic 99: MacIntyre

[Update] According to Cooljay, I did get a photo of Zalesak. I stand corrected. A couple fans emailed me about defenseman Doug Murray. I do not think he attended the open practice, but here is a photo of Murray leaving the ice after a practice last summer.

[Non-hockey Update] Oakland Athletics outfielder Eric Byrnes is the featured interview at JimRome.com. The Los Angeles area just got another expansion MLS franchise. Tentatively called Chivas USA, the pull of fans from the original team in Guadalajara should create an exciting rivalry with the Los Angeles Galaxy. In San Jose Earthquakes news, Landon Donovan has been suspended for the Saturday game with D.C. United due to "post-game dissent" from an earlier game with the New England Revolution. According to Earthquakes President and GM Alexi Lalas:

The moral of the story is that unless you are going to give the thumbs up to the referee, be very careful with your gestures... even if the referee is a moron.


Sharks mini-camp photos

San Jose Sharks prospect mini camp

The San Jose Sharks opened their development mini-camp to the public today. I was only there for a short time, but here is a gallery of color and black and white photos.

development draft pick camp

Steve Bernier dekes the puck around Tomas Plihal, and goaltender Derek MacIntyre readies for a faceoff in the photo above.

[Update] More mini-camp photos from Sharks fan Janet on her webshots gallery. Jeff Zank of Hockeys Future has a report on the development camp.

[Update2] San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is on a roll. On Friday defensemen Rob Davison and Jim Fahey signed contracts. On Monday San Jose head coach Ron Wilson, and assistant coaches Tim Hunter and Rob Zettler all signed multi-year contracts. On Tuesday Sharks goaltender Vesa Toskala, and wings Niko Dimitrakos and Scott Parker, and defenseman Matt Carkner all agreed to contracts. Nils Ekman [August 2] will probably sign shortly, while Scott Hannan [August 8] and Evgeni Nabokov [August 13] are awaiting arbitration decisions. Wayne Primeau is still in negotiations. A+. [No Damphousse? B+]

[Update3] The NHL and NHLPA are talking again, this time in Toronto. I am going to go out on a limb and predict no agreement will be reached.

[Note] The Sharks news feed to the right has been moved to the NHL-SJ news page.


Open question, what will you be doing instead of watching the NHL this fall?

Shu asks, what will you be doing instead of watching the NHL this fall?

Unlike the lucky writer at Inside College Hockey who was able to watch 3 games in one day, or David Albright of ESPN watching 4 games in 4 arenas in 4 nights, those on the West Coast have limited options if the NHL goes on strike.

The first alternative would be to watch the Sharks mini-camp for prospects tomorrow at Logitech Ice [open to the public at 2PM]. A second option would be to attend the rookie tournament between prospects of the Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, and San Jose Sharks, at Disney Ice in Anaheim Sep 9-13.

During the season, I will try to check out local college hockey club teams from SJSU, Stanford, and Berkeley. New 2004-2005 schedules are up for SJSU and Berkeley.

Even if the NHL and NHLPA negotiate an agreement on time, I plan on making at least one roadtrip to watch the ECHL Fresno Falcons, and one to watch the WHL Portland Winterhawks. I have driven through Portland twice at night and it looks pretty interesting. Good breweries too. My only experience with Fresno was being pinned in 50 seconds by a state wrestling champ in a freestyle wrestling tournament. Time to associate Fresno with something other than intense pain.

The World Cup of Hockey will broadcast a number of games on ESPN and ESPN2. CBC for you north of the border, eh? If they can get Erin Andrews to do spots from either Helsinki, Stockholm, Montreal, Cologne, St Paul, Prague or Toronto, I foresee even larger ratings than game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Think E's wild on in a parka, with hockey after. Make it happen ESPN.

Another interesting viewing option may be the newest iteration of the WHA. Browsing their website, it seems they have a streaming partnership with MCN sports [as I write this, the video is down]. If the WHA streams their games online similar to Major League Baseball's MLB.tv, then the new hockey league could gain a foothold with viewers. I guess it depends on what the WHA would charge to watch the games [free?]. The MLB charges 2.95 a day, blackout restrictions apply. Not bad.

[Note] David Singer emails in a link to this press release from the Central Hockey league about online hockey broadcasts. Check back with CHLTV.com as it gets closer to the start of the hockey season to watch a live CHL game.

There is a hockey calendar to the right [scroll down] with most of these options listed. Directly above that is a section on the collective bargaining agreement so you can follow along with whether or not there will be an NHL season. Also take a look at an earlier post I wrote about alternatives here.

And fans can always lace up their skates and play at a local hockey rink. If anyone has any suggestions about roller hockey, please send them along.

[Note] Inside College Hockey's Nate Ewell responded to an email where I complained about how much hockey there is on the East Coast.

It's time to get some of those California colleges to elevate hockey to varsity status. At least you've got some good ex-collegians to watch with the Sharks, like Coach Wilson, Dimitrakos, Preissing, etc.

He does have a point. Kevin Wey from Hockeys Future has more on the San Jose Sharks 2003-2004 collegiate prospects.

[Update] Love it or hate it, there is always the Hockey Gladiators event August 20-21. From David Singer of Hockeyfights.net, here is a link to his interview on Hockeybird. He talks about his site, hockey, and the upcoming goon action. Hockey Gladiators also invited Singer to be a judge at the event, which has now been moved to Winnipeg. Very cool.

[Update2] Sharks head coach Ron Wilson, and assistant coaches Tim Hunter and Rob Zettler were signed to multi-year deals today according to the official site and TSN.