Hockey Notes - you cant stop Link, you can only hope to contain him edition
MIKE RICCI IN HIS OFFICE, MARCH 2002
- An article in the Merc Sunday notes that Mike Ricci will be taking more than boxes with him during his move to Phoenix. Ricci makes a few interesting comments about a "bygone" Sharks era, the blazing Arizona heat, and how he interacted with fans in San Jose.
Overall, Ricci said he felt like he became part of the community during his years with the Sharks.
"I think I was just another guy to talk to around here. Most of the people I met would just talk as an acquaintance, not as me being a hockey player and they being a fan."
- In Phoenix, Ricci is bonding with former Pacific division arch-nemisis Shane Doan.
The chatty Ricci, San Jose's captain the last NHL season, said the bonding was well under way. He joked about his former dislike of Coyotes captain Shane Doan.
"Now that I've met him? You know, you take away his skills and the way he plays, his tenacity and all that and his leadership, he's a very good guy," Ricci said. "I feel bad that I hated him so much the last few years."
- Reality television meets real roster spots for NHL training camps; six Canadian NHL teams each awarded one roster spot to a contestant from Making The Cut. Jordan Little (Edmonton), Michael Mole (Ottawa Senators), James Demone (Vancouver Canucks), Matt Hubbauer (Calgary Flames), Kevin Lavallee (Montreal Canadiens) and Dominic Noel (Toronto Maple Leafs) are the lucky hockey players.
- New Era of Ticket Resales: Online and Aboveboard - NY Times.
That NY Times article was top heavy with information about ticket brokers, but it did motivate me to update the tickets page on Sharkspage.
- Kevin Wey at Hockeys Future posted a 2005 San Jose Sharks draft review. The first three selections, San Jose definitely made a decision to go in their own direction instead of following the various rankings of North American and European players. With organizational depth in net and on the blueline, any draft where the Sharks add a bluechip offensive prospect [Devin Setoguchi] is a good one.
- Recent hockey interviews on the Jim Rome show.
- Reports that OLN would have to black out games aired in certain regional areas [New York, Buffalo, Phoenix, Dallas] may not be accurate. Larry Brooks reported in the New York Post yesterday that language in the new television contract explicitly gives the NHL the right to approve telecasts of games, even if it appears on a subscription sports tier package.
- According to Newsday, the OLN refutes that contention:
OLN REFUTES REPORT. Comcast-owned OLN, the NHL's new cable TV partner, refuted a newspaper report that declared that Cablevision subscribers would be able to watch NHL games this season on the company's sports tier.
"We cannot discuss specific language within the NHL contract," an OLN spokesman. "We can state with certainty that, while it's our desire to resolve this issue prior to our first game, the blackout guidelines previously communicated remain in effect." - Steve Zipay
- David Singer at the Ice Block reports that OLN might be making a move at the National Lacrosse League as well. In local NLL news, the San Jose Stealth drafted goaltender Matt Vinc in the 2005 NLL Entry Draft.
- The NHL recently announced its new marketing partnerships according to an article in Brandweek magazine: NHL Names Conductor Lead Marketing Agency.
NEW YORK -- As part of its strategy to ramp up efforts following a season-long lockdown, the National Hockey League said Tuesday it has signed a roster of marketing, communications and PR agencies "to help reconnect with fans and launch the 2005-06 season."
Conductor, Los Angeles, an entertainment and brand agency, will use its "Hollywood storytelling skills" as the NHL's lead marketing communications and integration agency. CarryOn Communication, New York, will oversee strategic brand and consumer public relations. Rogers & Cowan, Los Angeles, will handle entertainment public relations. Media services will be overseen by PHD. Financial terms were not released.
I suggest they read tomorrow's post for a cheap, interactive, and effective tool for marketing the game. Blogs.
- McCauley leading a pack of hungry Sharks - NHLPA.com. The feature details Alyn's goals for the season, how he thinks the Sharks can build on their run to the Western Conference finals in 2003-04, and whether or not he thinks American fans will return after a contentious lockout that cost an entire season.
- James Mirtle has an extensive post on the "Battle of Hockey Enforcers" event from Prince George, Canada over the weekend. The winner of the $62,000 grand prize was Dean Mayrand, who plays for the Sorel-Tracy Mission of the LNAH adult senior league.
Last year I interviewed event organizer Darryl "Beef" Wolski. Hockey Enforcers was originally titled Hockey Gladiators and scheduled for Winnipeg, before it ran into legal problems over restrictions against bare-knuckled fighting. A later date for Lowell, Massachusetts was also cancelled.
After emailing "Beef" again Friday, Wolski mentioned that it would air in the USA October 2nd on PPV, and air live over the weekend on mediaontap.com.
While the event did include original Shark Link Gaetz and former NHL'er and current "Rescue Me" extra Lyndon Byers, there were a lot of question marks. The first 2 iterations of Hockey Gladiators flamed out, the Gladiator Girls contest winners were never paid, the fighters were using martial arts gloves, and very few of the participants were recognizable outside of Northern Canada. Even the mecca of frozen pugilists everywhere, HockeyFights.com largely ignored the Hockey Enforcers.
In the end, it seems as if the action on the ice was enough to entertain the 2,000 fans in attendance. The reports of fights in the stands sounded similar to Giants-Dodgers games at CandleStick Park, and might have been worth the price of admission themselves.
ORIGINAL SHARK LINK GAETZ, 1991-92
- The Toronto Star has a few notes about the quality of the Hockey Enforcers PPV broadcast, and the Morning Buzz details the exploits of the Missing Link.
Link Gaetz -- and his reputation -- took a pounding Saturday night in the inaugural Battle of the Hockey Enforcers pay-per-view...
Gaetz was "splayed face forward on the ice," according to the Globe and Mail of Canada.
"Link was hit really hard and early and he didn't expect the shot," Ray Walker, one of the event's coordinators, told the Canadian Press. "He said the stars started spinning and he said to the doctor he couldn't determine shapes and sizes."
Say it ain't so Link!
- OLN hires Mike "Doc" Emrick as lead NHL play-by-play analyst - OLN press release.
- Blockbuster deal of the week, the Atlanta Thrashers traded former rookie of the year Dany Heatley to the Ottawa Senators for 26-year-old Marian Hossa and veteran defenseman Greg de Vries. I have to give the nod to Atlanta based on this season, but the upside belongs to Heatley and the Senators.
[Update] Eric McErlain's website Offwing has been down for a few days due to a denial of service attack at his hosting company. Hang in there while he gets it back up and running. Yesterday he had a great post on Cammi Granato being left off of the USA Womens hockey team: What would Herb Brooks Do?
Does Cammi Granato belong on America's Olympic squad? I have no idea. But it certainly doesn't seem implausible that a veteran player at age 34, especially a female at age 34, might have lost a step.
Age is cruel in sports. And as we're finding out, it's perhaps all the more cruel in women's sports, where youth is served without regret or pity.
Team USA head coach Ben Smith might very well be a control freak who could never coach in the NHL. But ultimately, he's responsible for the team he'll put on the ice in Turin next Winter. And the last time I looked, the only coaches who have ever led Team USA to Olympic Gold in hockey are named Riley, Brooks and Smith.
Yes, it's unfair that Granato, a class act, didn't get to leave the game on her own terms. But she isn't the first. And let's not pretend she'll be the last.
Cammi Granato is the face of the USA Womens team. If head coach Ben Smith decided she was not able to make the team, it should have been handled a lot better than this.
[Update2] A press release from USAhockey.com:
2005 Women's Four Nations Cup Set To Begin, U.S. Women's National Team To Open Play Against Finland
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The U.S. Women's National Team will compete at the 2005 Women's Four Nations Cup to be held Aug. 31- Sept. 4 in Hameenlinna, Finland. The tournament opens with a round-robin format beginning Wednesday (Aug. 31) and includes teams from the United States, Canada, Finland, and Sweden. The medal games will be played on Sunday (Sept. 4).
The tournament represents the first competition for the U.S. Women's National Team that was named last Thursday (Aug. 25) following the 2005 USA Hockey National Women's Festival held in Lake Placid, New York.
The U.S. Women's National Team includes 18 returnees from a squad that last year finished second at the 2004 Women's Four Nations Cup.
Team USA will play its first of three round-robin contests against tournament host Finland on Wednesday (Aug. 31) at 11:30 a.m. EDT. The medal games will be held on Sunday (Sept. 4)
NOTES: Only two of the four goaltenders selected for the 2005-06 USA Hockey Women's National Team will attend the 2005 Women's Four Nations Cup. Chanda Gunn (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Shari Vogt (Richmond, Minn.) will compete in Finland, while Pam Dreyer (Eagle River, Alaska) and Megan Van Beusekom (Loretto, Minn.) will rejoin the team for its upcoming Hilton Family Skate to 2006 Tour this fall ... Forward Rush Zimmerman (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) will replace injured USA Hockey Women's National Team member Natalie Darwitz (Eagan, Minn.) in Finland.
Scores and stats are available from finhockey.fi.
[Update3] In addition to taking a different position on Cammi Granato than Eric McErlain above, John Buccigross also details where the ESPN NHL broadcasting crew will end up after the move to OLN.
Third period -- OLN
Most of the e-mails I received since last week have concerned the NHL moving to the Outdoor Life Network. What does it mean for the NHL, NHL 2Night and Barry Melrose?
First, there will be no NHL 2Night on ESPN2 this season.
Barry Melrose? He told the New York Post he would like to move on to OLN. Darren Pang has signed with the Coyotes, Brian Engblom with the Blue Jackets and Dave Strader with the Panthers. Bill Clement will find a home somewhere, whether it's in the studio or at the games. Ray Ferraro will call Oilers games … and sell 2006 Ken the Otter calendars door to door.
OLN hasn't announced any play-by-play teams or studio hosts, but with the season just five weeks away, I'm sure we'll be hearing news about the OLN hockey roster soon. Published reports have Mike Emerick and John Davidson as the top broadcast team.
I haven't seen whether there will be an NHL 2Night-type show on OLN, but I'm sure there will be at least some studio presence on game nights. Again, all of this will come out soon.
Is OLN a good move for the NHL? The bad news is that at least 25 million households won't get a chance to see Sidney Crosby begin his NHL career. That's a negative. ESPN2 is in about 25 million more homes than OLN. But Comcast is a broadcast powerhouse that will grow the number of homes it reaches by using its financial clout. Personally, I'm devastated by the news. Hockey is what gets my heart going more than any other sport, and I will miss covering it on ESPN. But the column will remain. And as I've said before, this is my favorite thing I do at ESPN.
OLN would be well served to transfer over as much of the ESPN/ESPN2 NHL crew as possible, hire Emerick, Davidson, Melrose, Saunders [ABC], and announce a 30 minute NHL/Hockey highlight show yesterday. Bonus points if it is offered online as well.
What would you name it?
A Comcast stream of NHL games online could make up for the loss of households from ESPN to OLN. With the current moves Comcast is making towards the NFL and MLB, OLN may be introduced to a number of new markets shortly.
The biggest problem ESPN faced has already been solved. NHL broadcasts at OLN are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday Nights. I suggest one of them should be labeled "Hockey Night in America".
John Buccigross and the crew at ESPN deserve props for breathing life into their coverage of the sport. They made it fun to watch, and Barry Melrose singlehandedly brought back pinstripes and larger than life mullets to the masses.
Comcast will broadcast the NHL, ESPN does not match 2 year $135 million offer - Sharkspage.
[Update4] The San Jose Sharks announced today that the team's January 21, 2005 contest at Los Angeles has been moved to 2:00 p.m. PST. The game was originally listed as a 3:00 p.m. PST start.
[Update5] A second press release today from the San Jose Sharks:
SAN JOSE SHARKS ANNOUNCE ECHL AFFILIATION WITH TOLEDO STORM
SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson and Sharks Vice President and Assistant General Manager and Cleveland Barons General Manager Wayne Thomas announced today that the club has developed a secondary affiliation with the Toledo Storm of the ECHL, America's Premier "AA" Hockey League. The Sharks also share an affiliation with the Fresno Falcons of the ECHL and their top development affiliate is the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League.
Entering their fifteenth ECHL season, the Storm have reached the postseason eleven out of fourteen times. The Storm finished in fourth place of the North Division with a 41-26-5 record during the 2004-05 season. They are led by the reigning ECHL Coach of the Year Nick Vitucci, a former goaltender with 14 years of professional playing experience.
"We are pleased to welcome the Toledo Storm into the Sharks organization," said Thomas. "Being one of the most accomplished and successful franchises in the ECHL, we fully expect the Storm to strengthen our developmental system. Also, when the need arises, it is a perfect pipeline to filter prospects into Cleveland from a geographic standpoint."
A link to the Toledo Storm will be added permanently to the right under DEVELOPMENT shortly.