While the NHL is away, Shark co-authors article in the Atlantic Economic Journal

Tom Preissing

A paper co-written by Sharks defenseman and Colorado College graduate Tom Preissing will appear in the June 2005 issue of the Atlantic Economic Journal, according to this article by In Common.

"The Influence of Structural Changes and International Players on Competitive Balance in the NHL," was co-writteb by Aju Fenn [Colorado College], Peter von Allmen [Moravian College], Stacey Brook [University of Sioux Falls], and Tom Preissing [San Jose Sharks].

I do not have access to Lexis/Nexis anymore, but maybe the Sports Economist will find the article in the Atlantic Economic Journal interesting.


Local sports notes

Born to Fight

San Jose native, and 3-time world champion, Cung Le organized an amateur kickboxing event in the South Bay July 23rd. From borntofight.com:

BORN TO FIGHT is an annual amateur kickboxing event focused around San Shou, also known as Chinese Kickboxing. The largest of its kind in the US, this event is one of the best venues for a young fighter to try his San Shou skills as well as a premier display of San Shou at its best.

The website also notes that the USA San Shou Team trials will be held during the day of the tournament, with Cung Le training many of the fighters.

The Team Trials for the USA San Shou Team will be held at BORN TO FIGHT during the day time tournament. Every other year, the USA sends some of its best San Shou fighters to compete in a San Shou worldwide championship for the ultimate test of skills. In 2003, The USA team comprised 5 men and 4 women. Competition was fierce but the team managed to bring home one bronze, one silver, and one gold medal. The gold medal the USA's first ever and was won by veteran BORN TO FIGHT fighter Elaina Maxwell. This year's world championships will be held in Vietnam in December, and Cung Le will be heading up the training for the team.

A press release from Mavericks Surf ventures:

First and only dedicated action sports network launches series of telecasts beginning July 2

Half Moon Bay, CA and Los Angeles, CA - Mavericks Surf Ventures, LLC and FUEL TV announced today that FUEL TV will telecast the 2005 edition of the world-famous Mavericks Surf Contest™ starting July 2, 2005 at 2pmET/PT, followed by additional telecasts on July 10 at 3pm ET, August 20 at 2pm ET/PT, and throughout the remainder of the calendar year.

A world-renowned big-wave spot located one-half mile off the coast of Half Moon Bay, California, Mavericks has played host to four historic big-wave surfing contests, and was recently crowned by Sports Illustrated as "the Super Bowl of big-wave surfing." The 2005 Mavericks Surf Contest™ took place on March 2 with more than 30,000 fans that witnessed the 40+ foot surf-one ride was later judged the planet's biggest paddle-in wave of the year at 48 feet.

From Ryan Stenn of the San Jose Stealth:


San Jose - The San Jose Stealth have announced their protected list for the 2005 National Lacrosse League Expansion Draft. The draft will take place on Wednesday, July 13 at 1 pm Pacific.

The league's two new entries, the Edmonton Rush and Portland (to be named) will each select up to nine players from the League's current teams as their rosters begin to take shape for the 2006 season. The Expansion Draft will be conducted via conference call.

The draft will consist of nine rounds with the first selection going to Portland, who received the first pick by winning a coin flip with Edmonton at the Board of Governors Meetings earlier this month. Portland will select first in each round, followed by Edmonton.

From Soccer Silicon Valley, an older news item on the departure of San Jose Earthquakes President/GM Alexi Lalas to the NY/NJ Metrostars:

(June 13) Earthquakes president and general manager Alexi Lalas is leaving San Jose for another AEG-owned team, the MetroStars. The move was announced on a conference call today by Lalas and AEG head Tim Leiweke, who both stated that the move was necessary as the MetroStars prepare to announce that they have reached a deal to construct a new stadium in Harrison, NJ. Leiweke added that Lalas' transfer had nothing to do with the future of the Earthquakes and that, with the stadium deal due to be announced in the next two weeks, AEG needed Lalas in New York.

FYI Sharks/Earthquakes fans, Tim Leiweke is the President of the Los Angeles Kings, in addition to being President/CEO of the Anschutz Entertainment Group. Or as AEG is otherwise known in San Jose, the Anti-Earthquakes Group.

San Jose Earthquakes President & General Manager Alexi Lalas to depart club - mlsnet.com.

Donovan's return is bad all around, He's jeered by San Jose fans as Galaxy loses big - LA Daily News.

From HBO Sports:

It's a special edition of WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on a Thursday night when HBO Sports presents the exclusive delay broadcast of the showdown at super lightweight: ARTURO GATTI VS. FLOYD MAYWEATHER, airing THURSDAY, JUNE 30 AT 10:00pm ET/PT.


Hockey Notes - June 28th

- After the Sharks struggled during the 2002-03 season, San Jose management announced that prices for season tickets would not increase for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons [single purchase tickets did increase for 2003-04].

With the loss of the 2004-05 season, David Pollak of the Mercury News reports that the Sharks will reduce ticket prices for a possible 2005-06 season. The savings are skewed towards upper level seating. It remains to be seen how single-game tickets will be treated, and whether or not the team will allow fans to bypass Ticketmaster and purchase tickets directly from the Box Office.

Spector says that a new CBA will not automatically result in lower ticket prices across the league. It should. He finishes with:

That could prove an eye-opening experience for fans that always believed high salaries equaled higher ticket costs.

(1) Player salaries are not 100% of team costs. (2) Gate Receipts do not equal 100% of revenue. Ticket prices are the largest component of team costs, and gate receipts account for 55-76% of overall revenue depending on who does the accounting. After a year of no NHL, and one would assume little to no revenue, a team that keeps ticket prices at pre-lockout levels does not challenge either of the 2 facts above. For some teams, not lowering ticket prices has to do with recouping losses, no matter how much lowered player salaries effect the equation.

James Mirtle has more.

- Nashville Predators re-sign entire coaching staff - NY Times.

- Offwing hosted the 2nd Carnival of the NHL, and Steve Ovadia of Puck Update has signed on to host the third. If I hosted one I would contact all 30 NHL teams and ask them to re-introduce themselves to their fans.

- Rumor out of the CBA talks is that the NHL minimum salary may be upped from $175,000 to $400,000.

- An interesting look back: 2003-04 team salaries, 2003-04 top 25 player salaries, top 10 NHL franchise valuations. Eklund may get the bulk of the unsolicited anonymous tips, but if anyone wants to pass along information about the NHL/NHLPA revenue definition discussions from last week, I am listening.

- Roenick has harsh words for NHL fans - SF Chronic. The words a few fans and writers took umbrage with:

We're going to try to make it better for everybody, period, end of subject. And if you don't realize that, then don't come.

We don't want you at the rink, we don't want you in the stadium, we don't want you to watch hockey.

I say personally, to everybody who called us 'spoiled,' you guys are just jealous ... We have tried so, so hard to get this game back on the ice... If people are going to chastise professional athletes who are making a lot of money, they need to look at the deal we are probably going to end up signing in the next three weeks.

As usual, Jeremy Roenick mixes in valid points with an extra helping of emotion and sarcasm. Although I might suggest that telling fans not to come back to the arena after a year of no hockey is not what you want to hear from one of the NHL's most prominent players.

Onthewings has more from a Jeremy Roenick interview with Rod Smith of TSN. Roenick claims that his comments were taken out of context. He also clarifies his thoughts on what fans mean to the game:

The fans are the #1 most important entity in professional sports. It would go totally against my nature, totally against my nature, to tell the fans not to come and watch. I love the fans. I'm a hot dog left and right for the fans. I love it. I love throwing pucks and winking and all that stuff. In my answer, when I was very riled, and I'm sorry I get very heated, I get very animated, I'm a passionate person. But I was referring to a very, very very small percentage of people, that I've even encountered that have a gripe against me, against hockey players - not the hockey fan. At all. I'd never do that...and all you fans: come back, cause I love you, we love you. And we need you."

- And finally, good news. Cheerleaders a sign of NHL's return - Panthers seeking pom-pom shakers Teams look to fill.

Beverly's Diamond Girls Performance Team is now accepting applications. It's one of the clearest signs yet that hockey is coming back.

- ESPN Cutting Back On Sports, Plans More Original Programming - allheadlinenews.com. And I plan to write my cable company and ask for Comcast to cut back on the balloon payments made to ESPN. The Raiders are never on ESPN anyways thanks to Al Davis.

- NHLPA statement after a week of meetings last week:

TORONTO (June 24, 2005): At the conclusion of Friday's meeting in Toronto, National Hockey League Players' Association Senior Director Ted Saskin released the following statement:

"The two parties engaged in lengthy negotiations everyday this week, and while progress has been made in a number of areas, there remains a considerable amount of work to be completed in order to reach an agreement. We will be continuing our meetings with the league on Monday morning in New York."

- Eklund is launching a new pay hockey website September 1st:

Finally, an update on the new website. I will soon have a major announcement regarding our Sept 1 launch date, but just to give you an idea of one of the features, there will be a section called "Hockey Blog World." I am putting together a virtual who's who in the hockey world from players (former and current), to writers, to broadcaster, etc. All of these folks will have their own blog where they will be able to write, uncensored, to the largest internet hockey audience about hockey and their lives in general....This will be guaranteed to be a great way to wile away the work day if you are a die-hard...The line-up will be announced shortly.

- Cleveland Barons likely to return next season - Cleveland Plain Dealer. This is an older new item, but the speculation that the Barons may play somewhere other than Cleveland next year has not died down.

- How will NHL win back the fans? - Scott Burnside.

Although the exact details of the NHL's marketing plan aren't yet known, some of the strategies include attempts to market its star players in a more aggressive way. Better access and a more friendly relationship with the media have been promised in the hopes of promoting players and their stories. The league is looking to expand access to players and coaches during games, beyond the traditional between-period interviews.

The NHL announced that it hired a new marketing firm to market the sport a few months back. I wrote it down somewhere. I will dig up the name and post it here as soon as I find it.

- New divisions and conferences were announced last Thursday from the ECHL:

  • American Conference (16 teams)
  • North Division (6 teams) - Dayton, Johnstown, Reading, Toledo, Trenton and Wheeling
  • South Division (10 teams) - Augusta, Charlotte, Columbia, Florida, Greenville, Gwinnett, Mississippi, Pensacola, South Carolina and Texas
  • National Conference (11 teams)
  • West Division (6 teams) - Alaska, Idaho, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Utah and Victoria
  • Pacific Division (5 teams) - Bakersfield, Fresno, Long Beach, San Diego and Stockton
5 California teams make up the Pacific Division, cool. This ensures two rounds of Kelly Cup playoffs between Californian teams before the Pacific Division winner meets the West Division winner in the National Conference finals.

[Update] The Stockton Thunder released their 2005-06 ECHL schedule. The first game is October 22nd against Fresno, which starts a 13 game road trip. The first home game at the new Stockton Arena will be December 2nd against the Fresno Falcons.

[Update2] Rant wont hurt their fan base, Sharks say - David Pollak.


Larry Brooks, I am not your father

darth vader and stormtrooper with the Stanley Cup

This made the rounds awhile ago, but I have to correct one of the false conclusions made about this image. This photo is not of Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow. This photo shows Darth Goodenow giving remedial dark side training to his apprentice Larry Brooks.

Thanks to Jes Golbez for the pic.

[Note] Whoever is at Yahoo sending me junkmail with the name Bob Goodenow deserves a pat on the back. I did not laugh that hard in a long time. If it is actually mail that belongs to Mr. Goodenow, I apologize. Click here.

[Note2] Whatever you do, do not click on this link.


Nashville Predators co-blogger Charlie Tuttle passed away

Last week word came that Predators Den co-blogger Charlie Tuttle passed away after undergoing radiation treatment for lung cancer. An hour after being shocked by the news on Jes Golbez's website, I got a phone call from the Nashville Predators asking how they could help and where could they send a get well card. I emailed the team a week or two earlier figuring it might boost his spirits.

I started following the Nashville Predators because of Tomas Vokoun in net, and kept watching because Jordin Tootoo would run anything with two skates. Then I came across a hockey radio show run by two fans from Nashville. It was one of the funniest things I have heard online, with the heavily accented hosts often working themselves into stream-of-consciousness rants about a ref or an opponent.

Jason Kirk and Charlie Tuttle brought much of the same energy to the Predators Den. You can read about Jason's passionate article to Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold and Leipold's response here, and read more about Charlie Tuttle here.

In Charlie's last post on Predator's Den he talked about the 11th anniversary of Mark Messier predicting a win against the NJ Devils in Game 6 of the Conference finals. He added:

I have lost count of how many hockey bloggers have written that they have not missed the NHL much. I am not one these, for the past 3 seasons I went on average to 20 Preds games a year and I was slated to go to all 41 this past season. I miss going to Nashville, I miss all the chants, I miss not being able to talk the next day after a game, I miss yelling at stupid Red Wing fans and my oh my do I miss NHL playoff hockey. This is usually the best time of the year...

Amen. This was kind of a weird year, but I have heard the same sentiment everywhere from a 6 year old mite hockey player, to an Indian software engineer, to a retired Sharks fan. Everyone wants to forget about all the details and just see the players on the ice. Charlie won't.


Fresno Falcons unveil 2006 ECHL allstar logo

Fresno Falcons allstar game logo

A press release from the ECHL has more on the 2006 allstar game that will be held in Fresno, California.

FRESNO, Calif. – The Fresno Falcons on Wednesday unveiled the logo for the 2006 ECHL All-Star Game presented by Bud Light and hosted by the Falcons at Save Mart Center on January 24-25.

Inspired by the host team’s primary logo and using the team colors of navy blue and light blue in addition to red and white, the design has the head and wings of the team’s Falcon. The words "2006 ECHL All-Star Game" and "Fresno, CA" are in the Falcons trademark font. Immediately below "Fresno, CA" is "Presented By" with the logo of Bud Light.

The logo was designed by Joe Bosack Graphic Design Company in Pipersville, Pa. which also designed the Falcons team logos.

Fresno also announced that in conjunction with the release of the All-Star logo that it has restructured the front page of its web site (www.fresnofalcons.com). Designed by SS Web Design, the web site now incorporates the All-Star logo as well as action shots of Fresno players.

The official Fresno Falcons press release can be found here. With the addition of the Stockton Thunder, next year there will be 5 Californian teams in the ECHL: Fresno, Stockton, Bakersfield, Long Beach, and San Diego. An enterprising CA business [Gordon Beirsch, Sierra Nevada, Adobe, EBAY, Google] could sponsor a California Cup to be given to the team with the most regular season wins between the teams out the five.

[Update] Stockton has game plan for polishing its image - Sacramento Bee.


Hockey Notes - Charlie Tuttle edition

- Instead of dedicating this version of notes to Cam Neely's induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, to ESPN's decision not to broadcast the NHL, or to the positive CBA developments between the NHL and NHLPA, this version of hockey notes is dedicated to Predator's Den co-blogger Charlie Tuttle, who is undergoing treatment for cancer. Hang in there and get well soon.

- This article might provide a little inspiration, Comeback kids finally meet, Battochio drew inspiration from Kotyk's return to hockey from illness - Globe and Mail.

Tim Wharnsby writes about Ottawa 67's goaltender Danny Battochio, who came back from emergency surgery to fix blood vessels near his eyes, meeting former 67's goaltender [and former Sharks prospect] Seamus Kotyk, who needed heart surgery to treat his cardiac arrhythmia.


Seamus Kotyk played 23 games for the AHL Milwaukee Admirals last season, earning a 10-6-1 record with a 2.95 GAA. The Ottawa 67's had an impressive season, winning their first OHL Championship, and finishing third in the Memorial Cup. Danny Battochio finished the regular season with a 24-10-3 record and a 2.95 GAA.

- The Globe and Mail had more details of ESPN's recent break with the NHL: ESPN pulls plug on TV talks with NHL. Mark Shapiro, ESPN's executive VP for programming commented on the decision:

"Right now, we're done negotiating... We held various discussions and had several meetings with Gary and his team. And unfortunately we were not able to get a deal done."

Shapiro also told the Globe and Mail what kind of deal ESPN was looking for:

Shapiro said ESPN wanted a significantly reduced rights fee -- "well below half of $60-million" -- because of the potential damage incurred to advertising and ratings by the lockout and cancelled season.

However, the NHL would not move from the $60-million figure.

"The $60-million option was negotiated [in 2004] with the possibility of a lockout discussed," said Bernadette Mansur, the NHL's vice-president of communications. "Were not interested in devaluing the product any further."

Shapiro said ESPN, at an acceptable price, was interested in retaining NHL rights.

And finally the door is left open, if ever so slightly:

"If the NHL decides it wants to come back with us, and propose a new offer, given our history, we'll listen," he said. "But anything in the neighbourhood of $60-million is a conversation were not willing to have.

"The only deal we see ourselves doing, today, is a no-rights-fee deal. The NBC revenue-sharing model we believe is the model that should exist for any partner of the NHL right now."

- From the Newsday article linked on top, ESPN was slated to air 100 NHL games for $60 million dollars. That is $600,000 per game. It would be interesting to compare that with the advertising revenue from the 2003-04 season.

- Et tu, NBA?

- The specifics are still a little hazy, but the Globe and Mail and TSN both reported last week that the next CBA might have a salary cap in the $34-36 million range [US], with the floor from $22-24 million, at least for the first year.

More from James Mirtle on the scoop that his paper unleashed upon the hockey world.

- Eric Gilmore is on a roll for the Contra Costa Times. Pickup games fill void in NHL lockout - CC Times. Photos from a different pickup game here.

- John Buccigross's annual put Cam Neely in the HHOF article paid off this year. Three 50-goal seasons during an injury shortened career, six 100+ PIM seasons, 57 playoff goals in 93 GP, prototypical NHL power forward, first player I have seen stiff-arm a defenseman, best ESPN commercial with a weiner dog, burgeoning tv and film career, why did it take so long HHOF? Congratulations Cam.

- Ex-Bruin Neely part of vanishing breed - SF Chronicle/Boston Globe. In San Jose, Cam Neely is spelled with an O-w-e-n N-o-l-a-n.

- The One and Only Cam Neely - Ben Wright.

The term 'power-forward' is thrown around a lot these days in hockey and it's used to describe guys like Todd Bertuzzi, Brendan Shananhan, John Leclair (before he wrecked his back), and occasionally centres like Forsberg and Thornton. What you have to realize is that the term wasn't a part of the hockey lexicon until Cam Neely became the perfect combination of grit, size, strength and skill. As Terry O'Reilly said in the Boston Globe, "He fought, he shot, and he checked, and it was utterly impossible to stop him."

Neely still holds the Bruins records for goals in a season (54), career playoff goals (55), and playoff goals in a season (16), as well as points in one game (3 goals, 4 assists, 7pts).

I have three regrets as a hockey fan- never going to a game at the Boston Garden, never getting to see Ray Bourque play, and never getting to see Cam in person. That last one is the real kicker.

There will never, ever, be another Cam.

- Old news, but I still have to post it; Andrei Nazarov attacked a referee after a playoff game in Russia. I did not know he was playing for Avangard Omsk, but I have a feeling he will not be playing with anyone for awhile.

- For Pittsburgh fans, the San Jose Mercury News had more on your new potential owner, San Jose's William 'Boots' Del Biaggio III. I knew the name sounded familiar. I wish him luck, with the team and getting a new arena, but I hope he read Exhibit A [that the league is in financial trouble] first.

- Interesting white paper by agent Neil K. Sheehy: The Systematic Erosion and Neutralization of Skill and Play-making in the NHL.

- Paul, Steve, and Martin have all appeared on this blog the last few years, so I have to mention Noriko Kariya's split decision win in her first professional bout.

- NHL 2K6 First Look [Xbox 360] - TeamXBOX.com

- No hockey? Well at least there's a hockey videogame - IGN

In one of the saddest and most pathetic bits of recent sports history, hockey fans are looking at a second season in a row where there will be more action on the PlayStation and Xbox ice than on the real thing.


- Interesting hockey-spy intrigue, Easton claims that New Balance and Warrior Lacrosse Inc were engaged in corporate espionage. The trade secrets alleged to be stolen involve hockey sticks, pads, and skates. New Balance slashed in hockey-spy case - Jennifer Heldt Powell.

- Belated props to Offwing for his inaugural turn at the Carnival of the NHL, and Carnival of the NBA #10.

Hockey Gladiators

- James Mirtle notes the return of the Hockey Gladiators event to Canada. After a year of no NHL, it would not be out of the realm of possibility for a current NHL enforcer to join the ranks. Anyways, the news gives me an excuse to post the ad above of Gladiator Girl Amelie Paul, photo by Eric Daoust.

Hockey fight spectacle slated for B.C. - TSN.

- Brian Burke leaves TSN and joins the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, or the Mighty Ducks of Los Angeles in Anaheim? I expect the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim blog will have more on the new GM. The LA Times has more, including an amusing Burke quote from 2003.

One of Burke's off-the-cuff comments may need to be explained to Duck center Sergei Fedorov. Burke had Fedor Fedorov as a player in Vancouver, and when Sergei Fedorov became a free agent in 2003, Burke was asked whether he would try to sign him.

"We already have a Fedorov," Burke replied. "That's one Fedorov too many."


[Update] The New WHA: A Third Reincarnation - Jes Golbez. Visit worldhockeyassociation.net for more information.


Sunday boxing notes

- If you were looking for a glimpse of the early Tyson knockout mystique at the Tyson-McBride fight last night, you were not alone in being disappointed. Instead you were treated to the late Tyson mystique of giving up when it becomes apparent a one punch knockout is not going to happen. This time it happened when Tyson did not answer the bell for the 7th round.

- Michael Wilbon, of PTI fame, captured the bizarre desperation from Tyson in the 6th: 'It's a Hard Feeling, Not to Be a Violent Man Anymore' - Washington Post.

After twice trying to break the arm of Kevin McBride, intentionally swinging his head like a ram in an attempt to crack open his opponent's skull, then quitting on his stool at the end of six rugged and bloody rounds, Tyson was more defeated than he had ever been in 20 years of boxing. And afterward, for 2 1/2 hours beginning at about 10:45 Saturday night, he seemed to rampage through the various states of being that have made Tyson probably the most complex and compelling figure in sports over the last 20 years.

Wilbon also notes a comment Tyson made during the post-fight press conference, "I just don't have it in me anymore... My career's over. It's been over since 1990." At 38, with two straight embarassing losses against questionable opponents, this should put a period on the end of Tyson's career.

- The talented and prolific boxing photographer Ed Mulholland has a gallery of Tyson-McBride photos from rinkside.

- The most exciting figure in the ring Saturday night appeared early on the HBO Cotto-Abdullaev fight card from Madison Square Garden. Almazbek Raiymkulov, [aka Kid Diamond], greatly stepped up the level of his competition against Cuban veteran Joel Casamayor. Casamayor has been in against the best in his divison [Freitas, Corrales, Castillo], but Kid Diamond brings a right hand reminiscent of, I hate to say it, Tyson.

The Kyrgyzstan Lightweight Almazbek Raiymkulov is not as polished as the early Iron Mike, often trying to line up the knockout right hand without any other punch. Casamayor was able to withstand a number of very heavy shots, even control a few later rounds, but Diamond should have easily won the fight. The judges saw it differently scoring the bout a 116-111, 112-115, and 114-114 draw.

In the main event, Puerto Rican WBO junior welterweight champion Miguel Cotto [24-0, 20KO’s] stopped Mohamad Abdullaev [15-2, 12KO's] with a 9th round TKO. Cotto was slated to lead the NYC Puerto Rican day parade today.

- One note from the Diamond-Casamayor fight, during one of the later rounds Diamond was caught in the strap from a photographer's camera and took a right from Casamayor while looking down at his foot. Later in the fight one of the fighters bumped into a photographer's second camera that was left underneath the ropes. Not sure if it was the same one. Unbelievable.

- The boxing radio show Ringtalk is re-airing the Tyson post-fight press conference now, look for it in the archives. After Mike Tyson said he would retire from boxing to pursue missionary work, one reporter asked Mike "How are you going to pay back the government with missionary work?" The resulting cringe reminded me that the media was an intergral part of the trainwreck that was the second half of Tyson's career.

- In the flurry of recent boxing movie reviews, you will not read a better column than Fight Snub by David Fellerath of Slate Magazine. Fellerath examines the backgrounds of Jewish boxer Max Baer, who is portrayed as the villian in Cinderella Man, and the hero of the movie Jimmy Braddock.

- It was a boxing explosion in the San Jose Mercury News today with a half dozen boxing articles in the Sunday fishwrap: No contest: When it comes to drama, movies can't deliver like real boxing, Hollywood hook, Someone's got to play the villain.

If your paper is not even going to note the best fight of the weekend, then it might not be a good idea for one of your columnists to say the sport is "on the ropes". Never heard that metaphor before by the way. I was more entertained when Kawakami challenged Julio Cesar Chavez's ability in the ring, was challenged to go a round in sparring, and declined.

- Interesting proposition from the Sacramento Bee's Jim Jenkins: "The Next Great Champ" reality-boxing champion from Sacramento Otis Griffin vs "The Contender" reality-boxing champion Sergio Mora from Los Angeles. Make it happen in LA or Sacramento and I am down.

More comes back to reality - Maxboxing.com.

- Local Bay Area fighter Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero was on KNTV Sunday Night. Unfortunately the San Francisco Chronicle has more on one of his upcoming fights that fell through: Reality KOs aspiring promoters' big dream.

[Update] Shannon Briggs re-appeared on ESPN Friday Night Fights destroying Abraham Okine. Fox Sports showcased 4 heavyweights on the Best Damn series, with Olympic gold medal winner Audley Harrison (17-0) coming back from injury to knock out Robert Davis.


Game 4 of AHL Calder Cup finals underway - Philadelphia up 3-0 on Chicago

[WIRE4] The Philadelphia Phantoms are the 2004-05 AHL Calder Cup Champions. Final Score: Philadelphia 5 - Chicago 2, Antero Niittymaki [PHI] 28 saves on 30 shots, Kari Lehtonen [CHI] 24 saves on 29 shots, 1st star of the game Niittymaki. Scoring: PHI - Patrick Sharp (Randy Jones), Jon Sim (Freddy Meyer), Ben Stafford (R.J. Umberger, Freddy Meyer), Jon Sim PP (Jeff Carter, Patrick Sharp), Patrick Sharp SH EN(John Slaney); CHI - Steve Maltais PP (J.P. Vigier, Tommi Santala), Lonny Bohonos (Stephen Weiss, Steve Maltais).

[WIRE3] Patrick Sharp scores short-handed for Philly, the Phantoms lead 5-1. 10 minutes left in the 3rd. Lonny Bohonos scored with under 4 minutes left for Chicago, 5-2 Philly.

[WIRE2] Still 4-0 Philadelphia with 16 minutes left in the third period. Chicago has a 5 minute power play. Chicago scores a PP goal by Steve Maltais, Antero Niittymaki is in net for Philly. All 3 Wolves goals in the series have been on the PP. 4-1 Philly with 15 minutes left.

[WIRE] Philadelphia is leading Chicago 4-0 tonight after scoring 4 goals in the second period. Patrick Sharp, Jon Sim [2], and Ben Stafford are the goal scorers. Follow the game on the live AHL scoreboard or via the live radio cybercast.

- The 4th game of the AHL Calder Cup finals started today at 4:05 PT, with the Philadelphia Phantoms leading the Chicago Wolves 3-0. Visit caldercup.com, chicagowolves.com or phantomshockey.com for more on the series.

- AHL: Phantoms hope to close out series tonight - 640 Toronto.

- A win tonight gives Phantoms the title - Tim Panaccio.

- Phantoms shove Wolves to the brink - Chicago Sun Times.

- Wolves Cup hopes on ropes - Chicago Tribune.

- From an AHL press release:


Philadelphia posted a 2-1 double-overtime victory over Chicago on Saturday night, taking a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-seven 2005 Calder Cup Finals… The Wolves now face a daunting challenge to come back with the next three games scheduled for the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, beginning with tonight’s Game 3 (7:05 ET).

Patrick Sharp got the winning goal for the Phantoms 3:50 into the fifth period of Game 2, converting a nifty pass from Jeff Carter… Sharp finished with a goal and an assist and Carter had two assists for the game, which lasted exactly four hours… Carter is now tied with Providence’s Andy Hilbert for the AHL playoff scoring lead with 21 points (12g, 9a)… Antero Niittymaki made 48 saves in Game 2, including nine in the third period and 17 in overtime, and has now stopped 75 of 76 Chicago shots in the series for a 0.42 goals-against average and .987 save percentage… Niittymaki and the Phantoms have not allowed an even-strength goal in more than eight periods of play (168:20)… John Slaney scored during a two-man advantage for Philadelphia in the second period… Alexandre Picard, a third-round pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, made his professional debut for the Phantoms on Saturday… Philadelphia, 4-0 in Game 1’s and 4-0 in Game 2’s during the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs, is 0-3 in Ga me 3’s… The Phantoms return to the Wachovia Center looking to tie an AHL record for consecutive home wins in one playoff year; they are 9-0 at home this postseason, outscoring their opponents, 36-12… Philadelphia is the first team since the 1992 Adirondack Red Wings to open the Calder Cup Finals with two road victories.

Steve Maltais ended Chicago’s scoreless streak at 104:13 with a goal during a 5-on-3 advantage early in the second period… The Wolves, who entered the Finals leading the AHL in playoff scoring, have just one goal in their last 163:11 of play… Maltais’s goal was the 86th point of his Calder Cup Playoff career, moving him into sole possession of seventh place all-time… Kari Lehtonen has lost consecutive decisions for the first time since Jan. 19-21… Chicago was 1-for-13 on the power play in Game 2, falling to 10-for-109 (9.2%) – including 5-for-63 (7.9%) at home – this postseason… The Wolves have not allowed more than three goals in a game during these Calder Cup Playoffs… Chicago is 6-1 on the road this postseason, dropping only a 3-2 decision to Cincinnati on May 11… J.P. Vigier, Tommi Santala and Lonny Bohonos have combined for 24 points (8g, 16a) in seven road outings, to go with six points (3g, 3a) in nine home games… The Wolves had been 12-0 this postseason when leading o r tied after the first period; they’re 0-2 in that situation in the series.

Game 3 – Chicago at Philadelphia, 7:05

Calder Cup Final -- Series "O" (best-of-7)
W1-Chicago Wolves vs. E2-Philadelphia Phantoms
Game 1 - Thu., June 2 - Philadelphia 1, CHICAGO 0
Game 2 - Sat., June 4 - Philadelphia 2, CHICAGO 1 (2OT)
Game 3 - Wed., June 8 - Philadelphia 2, CHICAGO 1
Game 4 - Fri., June 10 - Chicago at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
*Game 5 - Sat., June 11 - Chicago at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
*Game 6 - Mon., June 13 - Philadelphia at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 7 - Wed., June 15 - Philadelphia at Chicago, 8:00

All times Eastern… *if necessary
§at Wachovia Center, Philadelphia

102 -- Career Calder Cup Playoff games played by Philadelphia head coach John Stevens in his career, the most by a defenseman in AHL history.

7-2 -- Record of home teams in overtime during the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs… Both home losses were by the Chicago Wolves, in Game 2 against Philadelphia and Game 2 of the division semifinals against Houston.

ON THIS DATE (June 8):
1996 – Portland posts a 5-4 win over Rochester before a standing-room-only crowd of 7,322 fans at the Cumberland County Civic Center, tying the Calder Cup Finals series at two games apiece.

Edmonton Roadrunners

[Update] The Edmonton Oilers may suspend operations for the AHL Edmonton Roadrunners franchise in order to persue an expansion team in the WHL. Edmonton Sun writer Robin Brownlee speculates that Kansas City might be an option if the league votes to expand to 22 teams.

The former IHL Kansas City Blades were affiliated with the San Jose Sharks. Rumors that the current San Jose Sharks affiliate in the AHL [Cleveland Barons] might be moving have been spurred on by poor attendance.

Jes Golbez has more:

Still, it's a puzzling move given the strong attendance and the need to develop prospects on their own terms. (Rather than farming them out to other AHL teams). The WHL is not going to give Edmonton a CHL team to start the 2005-06 season, either, so I'm hoping someone from Edmonton may be able to fill me in better on this puzzling situation.

Click here for a photo gallery of the Edmonton Road Runners 2-0 win over the Cleveland Barons at HP Pavilion in San Jose.

[Update2] Edmonton Road Runners to suspend operations - TSN.


Bakersfield Condors win ECHL website of the year honors

An interesting press release on team websites from the ECHL:

PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL on Thursday announced that the web site of the Bakersfield Condors (bakersfieldcondors.com) has been chosen as the inaugural winner of the ECHL Web Site of the Year. The web sites for each of the ECHL teams were reviewed by Rich Libero, who is in his sixth year as Vice President Editorial & Production, NHL.com, the official web site of the National Hockey League.

The Condors received their award at the annual ECHL Marketing and Communications Meetings attended by more than 160 representatives from league teams. Bakersfield finished ahead of Alaska (alaskaaces.com), Augusta (augustalynx.com), Columbia (columbiainferno.com), Gwinnett (gwinnettgladiators.com) and Wheeling (wheelingnailers.com).

Libero was instrumental in the development and implementation of the NHL.com Network which includes all 30 member teams in the NHL as well as numerous league and hockey-related web sites, including the ECHL. During his tenure, NHL.com has seen traffic increase from hundreds of thousands of page views and tens of thousands of visitors to millions of page views and visitors. NHL.com is the No. 1 hockey site in the world, the No. 1 sports site in Canada and Netscore consistently ranks it among the Top 10 sports sites in the world.

"The Bakersfield web site is neatly organized, colorful, clean and simple and it offers good news representation. CondorsTown is a solid program and the fact that they include fan feedback is terrific. Fans are provided with a good seat-finder tool that shows what their seats will look like" said Libero. "The Spanish language web site is very innovative and impressive," Libero added. "The Condors have put together a good overall concept with 'The Nest'."
The team redesigned its web site in September 2004 and launched the Spanish language site in March 2005. The site was designed by Jason Best at IWS/D in Bakersfield and is hosted by The Marcom Group in Bakersfield. The web site is maintained by IWS/D and updated regularly by Kevin Bartl, who is the director of broadcasting & media relations for the Condors.

In one of the most unusual stories I have read online a few years ago, a Southern California man came home to hear some rustling in an upstairs bedroom. Thinking it was an intruder, he grabbed something and went to check it out. Eight California Condors tore through his screen door and were hopping around in his bedroom or perched on a railing on the deck outside.

The California Condor has a wingspan of 9-10 feet. That is 80 feet of Condor that not only tore through his house, but they kept coming back. Perfect mascot for the Bakersfield Condors.

Click here for a photo of Bakersfield goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji during the 2003 NHL rookie camp in Anaheim.

[Update] The ECHL has also recognized the San Diego Gulls director of public relations Jeremy Zager as the 2004-05 recipient of the ECHL Media Relations Award, as well as the Bakersfield Condors and the Long Beach Ice Dogs for outstanding 2004-05 ticket sales. Sports writer Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times-Colonist received the "Commissioners Award" for his coverage of the inaugural season of the Victoria Salmon Kings.

[Update2] Representatives from the 2 ECHL expansion franchises for next season, the Stockton Thunder and the Phoenix Roadrunners, were in attendance for the 10th Annual ECHL Marketing/Communications Meeting earlier this week in Las Vegas. ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna, B2 Networks, and Mike Emrick were among those who spoke to the attendees.


What does the NHL need to do in order to bring back fans after the lockout?

Sharks contemplate moves needed to restore attendance - Contra Costa Times.

Eric Gilmore of the CC Times asked Sharks President and CEO Greg Jamison the magic question.

Good question. What can the Sharks and the NHL in general do to soothe their fans' hard feelings?

Jamison and the Sharks know it will take more than a public relations blitz or the promise of more face time with S.J. Sharkie for season-ticket holders' kids to heal these wounds.

The key to bringing back fans throughout the NHL, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said, is to put a faster, higher-scoring and more entertaining product on the ice.

The comments from Jamison and Wilson hit the nail on the head, but read the entire article for more thoughts from Sharks announcer Drew Remenda, and San Jose players Mike Rathje, Scott Thornton, and Wayne Primeau.

In addition to improving the product on the ice, supporting local youth hockey in NHL cities, and improving the product on televison are areas that need to be focused on. I am going to break down ESPN's decision not to air NHL games on ESPN2 in an upcoming post.

For more on youth inline hockey, see the post directly below this one. A fourth rink at Logitech Ice, and a new facility in Fremont are promising signs for youth ice hockey in the South Bay Area.

Berkeley Iceland was threatened with closure by city officials after problems with its amonia-based cooling system. After agreeing to make changes, it looks like the East Bay can breathe a sigh of relief.

If San Jose wants to draw more young hockey fans into the SJ Arena, consider using some of the ample new Guadalupe River park space in downtown San Jose to put an outdoor roller hockey rink. The park directly across from the arena could not be in a more prime position.

2005 USA Hockey InLine Cup Set For Las Vegas

A press release from USA Hockey:

2005 USA Hockey InLine Cup Set For Las Vegas

Premier National Inline Tournament, Presented By Labatt Blue, To Span Two Weekends

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The 2005 USA Hockey InLine Cup, presented by Labatt Blue, will be held at the Las Vegas Roller Hockey Center in Las Vegas, Sept. 30-Oct. 2 and Oct. 7-9, 2005. It marks seventh time in nine years that the nation's premier men's and women's inline hockey tournament will be held in Las Vegas.

"USA Hockey InLine is extremely excited to bring this prestigious event back to Las Vegas," said Gary Del Vecchio (Colorado Springs, Colo.), director of USA Hockey InLine. "The anticipation and excitement on the part of the teams and our staff is tremendous."

The 2005 USA Hockey InLine Cup will feature competition in seven divisions including Women's, Men's Division I (Premier), Men's Division II (Competitive), Men's Division III (Recreational), 30-and-Over, 40-and-Over and 50-and-Over. Following the preliminary round, the women's teams will be seeded into two divisions for the playoffs, Women's Division I (Competitive) and Women's Division II (Recreational). Likewise, the Men's Division III teams will be reseeded into Men's Division III and Men's Division IV for the playoffs. As a result, there will be a total of nine champions crowned.

New this year, the tournament will be divided into two weekends to accommodate more teams in each division. Competition will begin on Friday, Sept. 30 for Division III (Recreational) and the 30-and-Over Division with playoff and championship games scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 2. All other divisions will begin competition on Friday, Oct. 7, with playoff and championship games scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 9. Team awards will be presented to the top two finishers in each division. An All-Tournament Team will also be selected for each division.

The USA Hockey InLine Cup was introduced in 1997 to provide national-level competition for adult players of all skill levels.

To register a team for the 2005 USA Hockey InLine Cup, call (719) 576-8724 or log on to usahockeyinline.com. Teams do not need to qualify through a state or regional playoff system. The team entry fee is $745.

Click here for the full USAhockey.com inline hockey section.

In addition to contributing to several local charitable causes, the San Jose Sharks and the NHL also participate in the Sharks and Parks youth street hockey program. Started by San Jose in 1991, it became so successful that it was adopted by over 30 NHL and AHL cities.

Visit the NHL street webpage on NHLforkids for more information. If there is a Sharks and Parks program this year in San Jose, I will try to make at least one game.

When I helped organize 7th period and afterschool athletics for a grade school, street hockey was the most popular sport.


Saturday in the Bay, A's-Toronto and Strikeforce Kickboxing photos

Oakland Athletics

Beleaguered rookie right hander Joe Blanton [1-5, 6.14 ERA] warms up Saturday before downing the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2. After giving up 2 home runs in 2 innings, Blanton settled down and pitched 5 more scoreless innings to pick up his first major league win. I left in the 2nd inning to head down to San Jose.

Click here for a few A's photos, and one of me getting passed on 880 by two motorcycles doing wheelies.

Cung Le Strikeforce San Jose

San Jose was home to 11 kickboxing fights Saturday Night for the Strikeforce Fighting Championship at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. San Jose's Cung Le and Gary Owens, and San Mateo's Brian Schwartz were the highlight fights of the evening. A trio of San Francisco fighters also represented Team Fairtex, Ra’Karma “Saucy MacSauce” Young, Ryan Roy and Lynda Loyce.

It was a little overwhelming to see 11 fights in one setting, just when you started to get a feel for one technique, a different style would start. In addition to the ISKA Championship San Shou bout, there was full contact, Muay Thai, San Shou, and International kickboxing fights.

Click here for a full Strikefoce San Jose kickboxing photo gallery.

Cung Le Strikeforce San Jose

San Jose's own Cung Le came out to two dancing dragons, smoke, and a throng of festooned drummers. In a close bout with only a handful of throws attempted, Cung Le won a unanimous decision. There is no lockerroom portrait of Cung in the photo gallery because he stayed long after the bout to sign autographs and chat with his fans rinkside.

Strikeforce Fighting Championship results - Fairtex.com.

[Note] My little brother Pete [aka Soren pete] is in South Korea training for Judo and Tae Kwan Do. His roommate said he brought a camera along with him, so I will see if I can get a photo or an update from his trip and post it here.

[Note2] Thanks to KNTV NBC11 for the Strikeforce tickets.

[Note3] Not hockey, kickboxing, or A's related but take a look at this from today's SJ Merc:

In the realm of computer desktop distractions, the Magic Widget might rank alongside solitaire or snake as the perfect way to suck the productivity out of your day...

As some 3,000 professional software developers converge on San Francisco today for the start of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, the Internet-connected widgets are more than just a sidelight among the more than 140 technical sessions. They're the tantalizing software tchotchke that analysts predict will lure the next generation of young coders to the Mac platform...

Professional developers will spend the week discussing ways to incorporate new features, like Spotlight search, into their applications. But Apple's widgets have made it possible for anyone who's created a Web site to try their hand at programming for the Mac, said Chris Swenson, director of software analysis for NPD Techworld.

Nice work Chris.


News from the ECHL, Trenton Titans are the 2005 ECHL Kelly Cup Champions

Before posting a list of links and notes for Friday, I wanted to post a photo, and 2 press releases sent to me by the ECHL after the completion of the Kelly Cup playoff championships.

Take a look at this Trenton Titans team championship photo from Allarsonphoto.com, and an article from Len Bardsley of the New Jersey Times.

A press release from the ECHL:

Trenton Wins 2005 Kelly Cup Championship

PRINCETON, N.J. - The Trenton Titans won their first Kelly Cup Championship on Wednesday, beating Florida 4-1 in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 7,805 at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla. The Titans won all three games on the road in the finals to win the series in six games.

Trenton becomes the first team in league history to win the Kelly Cup by defeating four teams that had over 90 points in the regular season, beating Atlantic City (92 points), Reading (93), Alaska (98) and Florida (94). The Titans are the third team in history to capture the title after not finishing in the Top Five in the regular-season standings, joining Idaho, which finished 11th in the regular season in 2003-04, and Hampton Roads, which finished 19th and qualified for the postseason on the last day of the regular season.

Mike Haviland is the second coach in history to lead two different teams to the ECHL title, having won the Kelly Cup in 2003 with Atlantic City. John Marks won the Riley Cup with Charlotte in 1996 and won the Kelly Cup with Greenville in 2002. Trenton defenseman Steve Munn, who played for Atlantic City in 2003, and Haviland become the ninth and 10th individuals to have their name engraved twice on the Kelly Cup.

Leon Hayward was named the Most Valuable Player after scoring the first goal and assisting on two other goals in Game 6 to finish with six points (3g-3a) in the finals and 11 points (6g-5a) in 20 postseason games. Trenton's Scott Bertoli led the postseason in assists (18), power-play assists (10) and power-play points (13). Bertoli and Florida's David Lundbohm, who led the postseason with 12 goals, tied for the scoring lead with 24 points.

Trenton's Rick Kowalsky had five power-play goals, tying him with teammate Michael Schutte for the postseason lead, and three game-winning goals, tying him with Alaska's Mike Scott and Florida's Damian Surma for the league lead. Kowalsky ranked second overall in goals (10) and power-play assists (7) and third in assists (13) and points (23). The finals drew 40,796 for six games, the largest finals attendance since 45,927 for seven games in 1999.

The average of 6,799 per game was the largest since 8,156 in 1998. Florida's crowd of 7,805 for Game 6 on Wednesday was the second-largest postseason crowd in the past six years, surpassing Florida's crowd of 7,738 in the conference finals in 2004. The largest crowd in the playoffs since 2000 was 8,834 on May 27, 2001 at South Carolina. The 2005 Kelly Cup Playoffs averaged 3,931 per game, an increase of almost nine percent from 2004.

The Premier "AA" Hockey League, the ECHL had affiliations with 24 of the 28 teams in the American Hockey League in 2004-05 and provided over 78 percent of the roster additions to the 28 teams in the AHL. The ECHL accounted for 355 of the 450 roster additions involving players from the four professional minor leagues in North America. The 28 teams in the ECHL provided 219 of the 267 players listed by the AHL as being added to rosters in 2004-05, the remaining 48 players coming from the remaining 39 minor professional teams. The ECHL has affiliations with 23 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League and almost 100 players in the ECHL are on NHL contracts.

The ECHL welcomed its first team outside the United States in 2004-05 with the addition of the Victoria Salmon Kings in British Columbia and 2005-06 will welcome the Stockton Thunder in California and the Phoenix Roadrunners in Arizona.

And here is a second press release on the online cybercast of the deciding game 6:

PRINCETON, N.J. - The ECHL announced on Friday that Game 6 of the Kelly Cup Finals on Wednesday was the most-watched hockey game in the history of B2 Networks. The finals were the most watched playoff series carried by B2 Networks, which for the second year in a row allowed fans around the globe to watch the run to the Kelly Cup.

The Kelly Cup Playoffs had more connections than any other hockey playoff series in B2 Networks history and had the most viewers of any league in the postseason.There were 19 teams in the ECHL who had their games available on B2 Networks in 2004-05 and over 15,000 subscribers around the world watched the Premier "AA" Hockey League on B2 Networks during the regular season.

The first hockey game ever broadcast by B2 Networks was a Las Vegas Wranglers game in February 2004 and the first hockey championship broadcast by B2 Networks was the 2004 Kelly Cup Playoffs.

B2 Networks is a premier provider of reliable and secure international television and video broadcasting systems, pay-per-view and billing systems. The network of arenas, stadiums and venues combined with billing systems and data centers allows B2 Networks to distribute live events to computer and television screens around the world. B2 Networks manages and owns the digital distribution rights to distinct areas of entertainment, sports and television and has established itself as the leader in innovative broadcasting. For more information about B2 Networks, visit b2now.com.

The only suggestion I would give B2 Networks is to post a hard copy of every game available online for the week instead of making fans click on a webpage 10 minutes before gametime. Learn from ESPN's mistakes. ESPN determined their programming schedule with a roulette wheel.

The NHL is conducting an R&D camp somewhere up north of the border, but I hope they have been following the last year of the AHL/ECHL/WorldCup/SEL/RSL/OHL/QMJHL streaming their games online. Best quality? Eastlink.ca. Best promotion? B2 Networks. Best value [when not free]? The all tournament World Cup package from Media Zone.

If the NHL could get its games down to .99 each, and broadcast every game nightly, it would be another important metric the league could use to measure viewership other than the highly subjective Nielsen ratings. But .99 cents might not cover the bandwidth costs for a 2-3 hour game. If the NHL ever comes back, they should consider a $2-3 charge per game, or a flat fee to watch every game available that day. Or offer a low bandwidth and high bandwidth option. Just a thought.

[Update] The ECHL Phoenix Roadrunners signed their first two players in franchise history. PHO President Claude Lemieux inked goaltender Michael Mole and center Dean Tiltgen to one year contracts.