Hockey Notes - you cant stop Link, you can only hope to contain him edition

- Kevin Gibson of 640Toronto reports that the San Jose Sharks made an offer to defenseman Scott Stevens. If Stevens returns to the NHL after suffering from postconcussion syndrome in January 2004, chances are he will finish his career with the New Jersey Devils. You can not fault a GM for making offers to Niedermayer and Stevens, Al MacInnis should be next.

Mike Ricci

- 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.

Link Gaetz

- 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 - 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.


Hockey Blogger Fantasy Challenge

Fantasy Hockey

With the lockout over, and the NHL firmly ensconced on OLN and NBC, now is the time to sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey. It is free to sign up for a rotisserie or head-to-head league, and you can spend as little or as much time as you want on it during the season.

I created a 20-person league just for hockey bloggers, although I did include the addresses of a few journalists to see if they were up to the challenge. If you run a hockey blog and want to join the Blogger Challenge league, request the league ID and password via this contact form.

It looks like the NHL is going to offer its own fantasy hockey games, and the Sporting News has its annual version with over $18,000 in prizes. For fantasy hockey news, rotowire.com is the premiere fantasy news website. USA Today recently released their own fantasy hockey section, with a $10,000 fantasy hockey challenge through CDM Sports.

Thanks to Cameron for emailing a few of the links.

[Update] Another hockey league is available through FSN. That is more fantasy information than you should need.

[Update2] Spike owns, but who left him off of the list of mascot hall of fame nominees?

[Update3] The first league filled up with 20 hockey bloggers in less than a day and a half. I created a second one with the same rules and statistical categories. Use the contact form if you want to join, and I can open it up to the public or the readers here if it needs to be filled out. Good luck.

[Update4] A hockey league simulation offering, simHL.com.


San Jose Earthquakes win 2-1 over Los Angeles in So-Cal vs No-Cal grudge match

San Jose Earthquakes 2, Los Angeles Galaxy 1

San Jose Earthquakes 2, Los Angeles Galaxy 1

Former Galaxy forward Alejandro Moreno scored on a header after crashing into Galaxy goaltender Kevin Hartman in the 23rd minute, and former Galaxy defenseman Danny Califf put in a header off a corner by Mark Chung in the 75th minute. Former Earthquake Landon Donovan scored on a curving ball off his right foot late in the first half, with an assist by the infamous Herculez Gomez.

The 2-1 win moved the Earthquakes [12-4-8] 8 points ahead of FC Dallas [10-7-6] for the lead in the Western Conference with 8 games remaining in the regular season. The New England Revolution lead the Eastern Conference [13-5-6] with 45 points. Former Quake and current assistant coach John Doyle was the first player elected to the San Jose Earthquakes Hall of Fame during halftime.

San Jose Earthquakes 2, Los Angeles Galaxy 1

In front of a large crowd of 24,112 fans, Landon Donovan was again boo'd every time he touched the ball at Spartan Stadium. Most striking was the large contingent of youth soccer players that rushed to the front rails to boo and give him the thumbs down.

Three months after having to leave the Earthquakes to join Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga, MLS purchased the rights to Donovan's contract and assigned him to the Los Angeles Galaxy. Shortly after that, highly regarded San Jose GM Alexi Lalas was moved to the New Jersey Metrostars with little explanation.

Quakes get the best of revenge strikes - MLSnet.com.

Quakes' victory grips conference - SF Chronicle.

Ending could not be better for Califf - MLSnet.com.

Los Angeles Galaxy Landon Donovan MLS soccer


Roller Hockey in Iraq

Sticks and Wheels Help Them Forget the Bombs - NY Times.

Soldiers from Company B of the 203rd Forward Support Battalion, Third Infantry Division, gather at 7 p.m. to lace up their skates and play hockey on an area of concrete separated from the base's helipad by blast walls.

The soldiers' 16 sets of in-line skates and 13 hockey sticks were donated by sporting-goods stores in Wisconsin. The single goal the soldiers use was fashioned with tent poles they welded together and netting normally used as a sun barrier.

This AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky showed soldiers from the US 4th Infantry Division in Tikrit playing hockey in December of 2003. The Stanley Cup also made a stop at Camp Pendleton in 2003.

[Update] Hockey Equipment Headed To Troops In Iraq, Groups Pool Resources To Donate Sticks, Pads, Shirts - Thebostonchannel.com.


Danica Patrick on the Streets of San Francisco

Argent Mortgage IRL race

Argent Mortgage IRL race

Danica Patrick and Rahal-Letterman teammate Buddy Rice took a few laps around Ghiradelli Square Wednesday afternoon.

According to a press release, Patrick was the first woman to lead a lap at the Indianapolis 500 earlier this year, she is the rookie points leader, and currently stands 11th in the points race with six top-10 finishes this season.

The inaugural Argent Mortgage INDY Grand Prix takes place this Sunday at Infineon Raceway.

Danica Patrick

Rahal-Letterman racing official website.


NHL "Pacific Shootout" Rookie Tournament on tap for San Jose

Patrick Ehelechner rookie tournament

The 2005 "Pacific Shootout" NHL rookie tournament will be held in San Jose Sep 7-11th at the Logitech Ice Center in San Jose. Prospects from the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes will play two games a day for three days, with a consolation and championship game on Sunday Sep 11th.

Sharks Executive VP and GM Doug Wilson on how the Sharks will scout the "Pacific Shootout":

This tournament provides a great opportunity for our prospects and recent draft picks to play in a game environment against members of their own peer group. We bring our entire scouting staff in and evaluate where some of these kids are at and can see their progress first-hand. It also is going to enhance the divisional rivalries as the top prospects from these teams see each other more and more.

Detailed rookie tournament ticket information is available from Logitechice.com [word document]. Tickets go on sale Monday, August 29th at 10:00am. A limited number of tickets are available for $10, with a 2 per person maximum, and a number of complimentary seats are going to Sharks season ticket holders.

2004 Rookie Tournament photo gallery.

The Anaheim Mighty Ducks prospects captured the rookie tournament title in 2004 with a 7-2 win over Los Angeles in the championship game. The Phoenix coyotes won the title in 2003, with a 3-1 win over Los Angeles.

Officials picked for NHL rookie tournaments - HockeyRefs.com.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, United States — The NHL has asked USA Hockey's Junior Officiating Development Program (JODP) to handle two upcoming events. "Obviously we are honored to be trusted to supply the officials for these two camps," said Scott Brand, JODP director of officiating. Brand’s top current and former officials will skate two NHL rookie tournaments slated for September 6-11 in San Jose, California and Traverse City, Michigan.

Sharks Rookies Gearing Up For Tourney - ClevelandBarons.net.


Riley Armstrong
Steve Bernier
Tom Cavanagh
Josh Hennessy
Mike Iggulden
Shane Joseph
Lukas Kaspar
Milan Michalek
Glenn Olson
Josh Prudden
Ryan Salvis
Devin Setoguchi
Jonathan Tremblay

Will Colbert
Tim Conboy
Matt Deschamps
Josh Gorges
Evan Haw
Derek Joslin
Brad Staubitz
Michael Vernace
Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Jason Churchill
Taylor Dakers
Thomas Greiss
Jamie Holden

Tim Hunter, Rob Zettler, Roy Sommer, David Cuniff

Ray Tufts, Wes Howard, Mac Read, Dave Zenobi

Mike Aldrich, Kurt Harvey, Roy Sneesby, Rob Kennedy

2004 rookie tournament


Wed., Sept. 7
4:00 p.m. Los Angeles vs. Anaheim
7:30 p.m. Phoenix vs. San Jose

Thurs., Sept. 8
4:00 p.m. Phoenix vs. Los Angeles
7:30 p.m. San Jose vs. Anaheim

Friday, Sept. 9
Practice Day

Sat., Sept. 10
1:00 p.m. Los Angeles vs. San Jose
4:30 p.m. Anaheim vs. Phoenix

Sun., Sept. 11
1:00 p.m. Consolation Game
4:30 p.m. Championship Game


[Update] 2004 Rookie Tournament coverage: day1, day2, day3, day4. 2003 Rookie Tournament: scores and roster. Coyotes rookies beat San Jose Sharks 3-2 in consolation game - PhoenixCoyotes.com. LetsGoKings 2004 photo galleries: 1, 2, 3.

[Update2] Blue Jackets rookie camp slated for September 6-10 in Traverse City, Michigan - Bluejackets.com.

The club's rookies will be in Traverse City to take part in the Annual NHL Prospect Tournament, which will feature the Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild and Tampa Bay Lightning. Practice sessions and tournament games will be held on the facility's two sheets of ice - David's Rink and the Republic Rink - located at 1544 Hammond Road, Traverse City, Michigan 49686 (Phone - 231/933-7465).

[Update3] Kings To Participate In "Pacific Division Shootout" - Monarchshockey.com. Goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji should make the trip.

[Update4] Coyotes 2005-06 Rookie Camp dates - Phoenixcoyotes.com. Keith Ballard was one of the most impressive defensive prospects in the 2004 tournament. No word yet on whether or not Phoenix head coach Wayne Gretzky attend the tournament.


Selanne returns to the Pacific, signs 1 year deal with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks

Teemu Selanne Anaheim Mighty Ducks

Teemu Selanne, fresh off a brief stint with the Colorado Avalanche, signed a 1 year deal with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks today. Mighty Ducks Sign Nine-Time All-Star Teemu Selanne - Mightyducks.com.

In his 1992-93 rookie season with the Winnipeg Jets, Teemu scored 76 goals and 56 points for 132 total points. In 6 seasons with the Mighty Ducks, Selanne scored over 100 total points twice, and 9 playoff goals in 15 Anaheim playoff games. During parts of three seasons in San Jose, including 2 where he did not miss a regular season game, Teemu Selanne scored 64 goals and 67 assists in 176 games played.

From new Anaheim VP/GM Brian Burke:

We expect Teemu Selanne to be an impact player for us, both on the ice and in the community. His skating and goal-scoring ability should fit nicely with our new style of play.

NHL.com provides a number of quotes from the Teemu Selanne conference call today after the signing was announced.

I'm very excited to be back in Anaheim. I have such great memories from there. I'm looking forward to having many more.

I have really high expectations of this year, not only of myself but the team. It's a new start. I think the new rules are going to help this game a lot. Without the red line, I think the game is going to be faster, particularly for our team.

[Update] Looking for a few Selanne highlights while he was in San Jose, I stumbled upon this post answering reader email. Probably the best questions submitted on this site to date. The one third grader who wanted me to get Owen Nolan to tell another third grader that they met once was my favorite.

[Update2] Why sign Selanne? He gets along well with coaches:

"It's hard to imagine there has been such a flap over San Jose Sharks coach Darryl Sutter allegedly telling Teemu Selanne that he could "drive his Ferrari back to Anaheim." - Tony Gallagher, Vancouver Province.

It was "drive his Porsche back to Anaheim", and as Selanne said "Besides, my new Porsche isn't ready yet, it's still in Finland." - Jon Swenson

He is loyal to his teammates:

Earlier this summer Teemu Selanne turned down a 6.5 million option in order to test the free agent market. On the first day of free agency, Colorado signed Selanne to a 5.8 million dollar contract, and Kariya to a 1.2 million dollar contract. The largest problem for Colorado now is who will center the Kariya/Selanne tandem, Forsberg or Sakic? Sigh.

Selanne is loyal to his team:

Teemu deserves large amounts of props for taking a [$3 million] paycut to stay in teal. His situation has not been an easy one [playing time issues, differences with coach, injured hand in the playoffs, missed open net]. With the contract, he stays with a contender in the Western conference, and does not exceed the Owen Nolan salary cap of $6.5 million a season.

And he will have 2004 Norris trophy winner Scott Niedermayer feeding him breakout passes.

Carnival of the NHL #6, now with more James Mirtle!

James Mirtle posted the latest Carnival of the NHL #6 in the wee hours of Monday morning. He takes a tour of the hockey blogosphere and even elicits a few predictions on the upcoming season.

1. Philadelphia, 2. Calgary, 3. San Jose.

Philadelphia picked up the biggest big game finisher on the free agent market [Peter Forsberg], 700 pounds of defenseman [Hatcher, Rathje, Therien], and the 2005 Calder Cup champion Philadelphia Phantoms primed a number of prospects for the NHL [Mike Richards, Antero Niittymaki, Jeff Carter].

Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff came within one game of a Stanley Cup championship. He will be a goalie on a mission. Flames Coach/GM Darryl Sutter made a few additions [Amonte, McCarty], but adding Roman Hamrlik to the very talented defensive core will make teams take notice. Ville Nieminen to the Rangers will hurt Calgary in the playoffs.

Right now the rest of the NHL is feeling San Jose's pain from 2002-03. San Jose traded Owen Nolan, Marcus Ragnarsson, Bryan Marchment and Dan McGillis to regain its financial footing. Young and productive players [Kyle McLaren, Alyn McCauley] were brought in to build for the future. 2003-04 was supposed to be a rebuilding year, but the Sharks were able to use prospects and previously under-utilized talent to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

There is not enough underused talent left in the organization [center Mark Smith, defenseman Jim Fahey] to assure another 100 point regular season. San Jose will need a rookie defenseman and at least one forward prospect to have a breakout season, Marleau, Sturm and Cheechoo all have 30 goal quotas, and a PP quarterback needs to be found. Picking them to finish third overall means that I think it can be done.

What I like about James Mirtle's blog is what makes it different from other blogs. As an editor for the Globe & Mail, and a former writer for the National Post, Mirtle is plugged in to the Canadian hockey media which is a little different than here in the USA. NHL coverage in California seems to be filler inbetween the latest Barry Bonds and Terrell Owens scandals. The Globe & Mail might have a little under-utilized talent of their own they need to take advantage of.

[Update] My brother Chris was quoted today in the IHT and the NY Times: Once a Booming Market, Educational Software for the PC Takes a Nose Dive - NY Times.

Basically, said Chris Swenson, an education software analyst for NPD, "the PC has lost its luster as the center for learning at an early age." The result in business terms has been a downward spiral. Only 222 educational programs for PCs sold more than 10,000 copies in 2004, down from 447 in 2001, according to NPD. As sales began to decrease, retailers devoted less and less shelf space to these titles, making recovery for the industry more difficult.


Best Damn Sports Show "Night of Olympians" boxing photo gallery

Best Damn Sports Show Night of Olympians boxing

Best Damn Sports Show Night of Olympians boxing

Best Damn Sports Show Night of Olympians boxing

Best Damn Sports Show Night of Olympians boxing

Oakland Middleweight Andre Ward [5-0, 3KOs] scored a 3rd round TKO in his first professional fight in the Bay Area Thursday night. The 2004 Olympic gold medal winner dropped Christopher Holt [12-5, 8KOs] 3 times in the 3rd round, as Ward landed his punishing jab at will. The fight was stopped after the third.

British heavyweight Audley Harrison [19-0, 14 KOs] faced Robert Wiggins [20-5-1, 12 KOs] in the main event. In his second fight back from hand surgery, Harrison struggled to remain active. A left late in the fourth crumpled Wiggins, who was saved furthur punishment by the end of the round. Wiggins did not answer the bell for round 5.

USA bronze medalist Andre Dirrell wowed the fans at HP Pavilion with a dominant performance against Juan Camacho on the undercard. Dirrel flipped the switch in the second and KO'd a very game Camacho. USA Olympic team captain Devin Vargas earned a unanimous decision in the first fight of the evening, and Mexican Olympian Juan de Dios Navarro earned a unanimous decision over David Johnson. Jr Welterweight Lorenzo Reynolds earned a four round unanimous decision over Sean Holley in the final fight of the evening.

Glen Johnson

James Toney

After seeing James Toney blow his stack after being asked by a reporter about a hypothetical match with heavyweight Calvin Brock, storm off, only to come back and re-blow his stack while graciously signing a few autographs for young fans, the unique promotional techniques needed for boxing quickly became apparent.

James Toney is a controversial figure, but he has helped legitimize boxing coverage on the Best Damn Sports Show, and helped provide another outlet for the sport. Toney takes on all comers in the media, something the sport desperately needs, and he makes time for a number of fans. "Lights Out" Toney returns to the ring October 1st with a heavyweight bout against Dominick Guinn on Showtime, live from the Reno Events Center.

Ward scores a quick TKO over Holt to stay unbeaten - Contra Costa Times.

Olympians Ward, Dirrell, Vargas remain unbeaten as pros - SF Chronicle.

Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward Records Decisive Third Round Knockout - Eastside Boxing.


Comcast will broadcast the NHL, ESPN does not match 2 year $135 million offer

Kukla's Korner followed the ESPN deadline Wednesday, updating his Goodbye ESPN post as breaking news came in. ESPN declined to match the 2 year $135 million NHL broadcast offer made by Comcast.

Comcast, who is a majority owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, owner of OLN and 5 regional sports networks [New England Sports Network, Comcast Sports South, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, SportsNet Chicago], is expected to air the games on the Outdoor Life Network. There are also reports that Comcast may stream NHL games online.

ESPN, which has broadcast the NHL since 1992-93, finally acknowledged the move late Wednesday night: ESPN decides not to match Comcast's offer. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was diplomatic as usual with his statement.

Over the years, thousands of great NHL moments were presented to our fans through the lenses of ESPN cameras. ESPN was a supportive partner, and both the National Hockey League and ESPN enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. We wish ESPN continued success.

ESPN Inc. and ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer was not so diplomatic in his comments about the OLN deal:

We worked very hard to build and sustain our relationship with the league and would have liked to continue. However, given the prolonged work stoppage and the league's TV ratings history, no financial model even remotely supports the contract terms offered. We wish the NHL all the best.

Anyone notice a small contradiction in the last two sentences? Much more will be added to this post later today, including what led up to this point, and background information on ESPN.

[Update] Tuesday I asked the San Jose Mercury News beat writer Victor Chi about the impending Comcast deal during an online chat.

[Q] If you were in charge of the NHL, what television network would you pick to broadcast the games along with NBC in the US? And what changes would you suggest to make the NHL broadcasts more compelling?

[VC] Reports of comcast's bid to televise nhl games are intriguing... it helps that comcast owns the flyers... this means the network would have a genuine interest in promoting the sport and seeing it succeed on tv... if comcast ends up with the nhl and puts it on the outdoor life network (which it also owns), the odds are good that it will hype the nhl quite heavily.

ESPN is obviously the dominant sports network but the nhl is going to struggle to establish itself in the pecking order... espn already has the nfl, baseball, college football and basketball and the nba... and we all saw how hockey got shoved aside after espn landed its nba deal... it's better to go where you'll be loved. In terms of making the broadcasts better, there will always be some cool technological camera gadget to enhance the experience, but the bottom line is that the product --- the game itself --- needs to be attractive.

Thanks for the response.

[Update2] More details from OLN:

- OLN will televise at least 58 regular-season games

- Games will air consistently on Monday and Tuesday nights and be exclusive to the network.

- OLN will carry the NHL All-Star Game exclusively in the US and will provide wall-to-wall coverage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including exclusive Conference Final action and the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.

- OLN will kick off NHL coverage beginning with the Rangers-Flyers match-up October 5, the first day of the new season.

- OLN and the NHL will bring television viewers closer to the ice by leveraging the League’s new telecast enhancements – increased behind-the-scenes access, microphones on the players and coaches, netcams and in-game interviews.

- More action on video on demand (VOD), in HDTV and online will create an experience like never before, including: VOD game highlights and library footage of hockey’s greatest moments, HDTV game coverage, Online streaming of two live games per night (subject to local blackout), Round-the-clock coverage on the NHL Network, to be launched in the US in the future; and Comcast will have the ability to carry and/or syndicate additional games on Comcast’s regional sports networks where it has the consent of the local team and team’s rights holder.

- Additional details about the OLN television schedule, hockey commentators, HDTV and VOD schedules will be released as details become available.

OLN president Gavin Harvey commented on the television deal:

We are entering into a great partnership with the NHL. Hockey is excellent, exclusive programming for OLN and will be a marquee sport for the network. We are proud to be the new national television home of the NHL when the puck drops on October 5. Adding hockey to our lineup when the NHL returns to the ice with a fresh season, new energy, new players and a new attitude adds tremendous value to OLN and builds upon the momentum of our other premier sports programming like the America's Cup and The Tour de France.

President of Comcast Programming Jeff Shell on the deal with OLN:

Comcast's leadership and innovation in delivering integrated sports and other entertainment on HDTV, VOD and on the Internet is being met with rave reviews from our customers. We will use this experience to bring the NHL to hockey fans in ways that they have never seen before.

A very positive first step.

[Update3] OLN and NHL partner in multifaceted national media agreement - NHL.com.

Best Damn Sports Show Period presents the "Night of Olympians" live from San Jose

Andre Ward

A press release from Millerlitefightnight.com:

LOS ANGELES – It's a boxing rarity, putting a group of Olympic fighters who reached the pinnacle of amateur boxing together in the same ring as they attempt to reach world championship status in the pro ranks. In fact, its only been done three times in recent history, as members of the 1984, 1992 and 2000 U.S. Olympic Teams made their professional debuts shortly after their amateur finales.

But on Thursday, August 18, on a show to be telecast live on FSN's "Best Damn Sports Show Period" from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, Goossen Tutor Promotions is excited to present five former Olympians who are currently making their way through the professional ranks, headed by local favorite and the sole 2004 U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist, Andre Ward.

Simply stated, its the "Best Damn 'Night of Olympians' Period." "This is only the fourth time in history that an event of this nature has taken place and I think its a great opportunity for boxing fans to see the future of what are sure to be some legendary careers in our industry," said Dan Goossen of Goossen Tutor Promotions. "Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor, Mark Breland and Virgil Hill all emerged from the 1984 Night of Olympians as world champions, and the cards featuring members of the 1992, 1996 and 2000 teams has also produced world champions in Oscar de la Hoya (sole Gold for U.S.), David Reid (sole Gold for U.S.) and most recently, Jermain Taylor, as well as other current world champions and top contenders to the title."

In fact, some of the most revered world champions in the history of boxing represented their country prior to forging prominent careers in the professional ranks. Names like Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Clay); George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard all reached the gold medal stand before turning pro. Now it's up to the new kids on the block to carry the torch.

In the 10 round main event, unbeaten heavyweight sensation Audley “A-Force” Harrison (18-0, 13 KOs), the 2000 super heavyweight Gold medalist from Great Britain, will look to continue on his road to pro glory when he faces a very dangerous Robert Wiggins (20-4-1, 12 KOs). "I told my team I was coming to America to fight one challenge after another, and next up is Wiggins, a very well respected and regarded heavyweight. I believe in my talent and after this fight, so will the heavyweight division," said Harrison.

"This is definitely the next step for Audley to catapult himself into the thick of things in the top echelon of the heavyweight division." stated Goossen. "I believe the ability he possesses, and his speed, size and strength, matches up to any of the current world champions today."

Co-featured on August 18 will be the Olympic reunion of the “Two Andres” – lightning-fisted middleweight Andre Ward (4-0, 2 KOs), and his Silver medal winning teammate, super middleweight Andre Dirrell (4-0, 3 KOs). Both will box in separate six and four round bouts, respectively.

For Ward, this is his homecoming. A resident of Oakland, California (in the Bay Area), and fighting in San Jose's HP Pavilion, 25 minutes from Oakland, he couldn't be more ecstatic. "From day one I told my promoters Roy (Jones, Jr.) and Dan (Goossen) I need to consistently fight in my hometown; anywhere in the Bay Area including Oakland, San Franciso and San Jose," said Ward. "I've got very supportive and great fans that want to see me fight here and to do this with some of my teammates only makes it that much bigger for all of us."

Also on the card will be the captain of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, hard-hitting heavyweight Devin Vargas (3-0, 3 KOs), who will look to keep his unbeaten and knockout record intact in a scheduled six rounder. But that's not the only Olympian action in store for fight fans, as the well regarded and talented 2004 Mexican Olympic welterweight representative, Juan de Dios Navarro Ramirez from Torreon, Mexico, will make his professional debut in a four round matchup.

Andre Ward sees golden future - NY Daily News.

Free of injury, Brit Audley Harrison faces foe, impending marriage - ESPN's Dan Rafael.

Andre Dirrell & Devin Vargas On FOX Sports Net, Aug 18 - Eastside Boxing.

[Update] Preliminary Fight Card for Thursday 08/18:

10 Rd Heavyweight Bout

6 Rd. Middleweight Bout

Super Middleweight Bout

Heavyweight Bout

Welterweight Bout

[Update2] Two weeks after announcing his return to the ring against heavyweight Dominick Guinn, 3-time world champion James "Lights Out" Toney appeared on the Best Damn Sports Show Period to preview Thursday night's fights. Toney will provide color commentary for the Fox Sports 8PM broadcast. A few highlights:

[Q] (What are your thoughts on Audley Harrison?)

[James Toney] Right now he is trying to grow, trying to be a top contender. But can he take the next step?

[Q] (Someone backstage said that Harrison would look good in the ring against you?)

[James Toney] I would knock him out in 4 or 5 rounds. It doesn't matter how tall he is.

[Q] (Who would challenge James Toney inside the ring?)

[James Toney] Myself.

Audley "A Force" Harrison is 6'5", 250 pounds with an 18-0 record [13 KO's] as a professional. Harrison won the 2000 Olympic gold medal in the super heavyweight division fighting for England. Audley Harrison's last fight on BDSSP, a 7th round knockout over Robert Davis, was his first fight back after surgery to repair his left hand.


State of the Sharks photos and transcript

State of the Sharks conference

The State of the Sharks conference panel left to right: Director of Amateur Scouting Tim Burke, goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, center Mark Smith, head coach Ron Wilson, executive VP and GM Doug Wilson, president and CEO Greg Jamison, and radio announcer Dan Rusanowsky behind the podium. The session lasted from 7PM to 10PM.

A few short quotes:

[Q] What do you think the implications of tag-up offsides are for the game and for your team?

[Ron Wilson] One of the things that I want to get into, you have to take all of the new rules together to understand. If you just change one thing, it will not matter that much. If you change tag up offsides, if you change goaltenders touching the puck, it adds a little salt to the soup. No red line, be able to make longer passes. When you combine things, there will be less stoppage in play. With less stoppage you actually take some of the coaches out of the mix who like to match lines between whistles. It will up the pace.

With our team, once we rehearse where we want to put pucks, our forecheck was one of the best in the league the last time we played. Ourselves, a team like Tampa, Ottawa, some of the faster teams in the league will really be able to take advantage of the tag up rule, hem people in and force mistakes. That is really where offense comes from, forcing a team to make mistakes by taking away time and space and tiring people out.

[Q] (What about the goal line)?

[Ron Wilson] We moved the goal line back 2 feet. And I was actually talking with Nabby about this today. A lot of people think the goaltenders will not be able to handle the puck, but a team that is sloppy on the dump in, when the puck comes above the goal line on a crease corner dump, Nabby is going to be able to get out and move the puck ahead. What Nabby is going to have to work on is making those long bomb passes, up past the red line to one of our guys.

[Q] With the age for UFA lowered, how will the Sharks be able to keep the team intact?

[Doug Wilson] That is a great question. As you know the last couple of days we have had a group of players step up and get contracts done. We have been very fortunate. I believe this is the third year we will have every single player in camp, without any distractions, and it is a credit to the players.

We have a responsibility as an organization to build this to be a place where players want to play, and it is on many different fronts. 1, It is a style of play players like to play. 2, There is a commitment to winning. 3, You have a coach and a style that make it fun. You have a fan base that you love to play in front of, and this is a great place to live.

[Q] It seems like the goaltenders are taking a hit with the new rules changes?

[Evgeni Nabokov] I think next year they are going to make the puck bigger, so I think we will be all right. It is going to be a more exciting game, thats what the league wants and thats what we want. It is also going to make it more fun for us, but we need to see it before we can make any conclusions.

[Q] (How did you prepare differently for the draft this year)?

[Tim Burke] I think we were so busy with what we usually do that we didn't get a chance to focus on what wasn't there. We had a lot of preperation done, but then it was a matter of how are we going to get all the people in the same room. If we had to make a deal, was this going to be a telephone draft? So there was a lot of tactical things we couldn't get ready for.

The San Jose Sharks open the regular season on the road Oct 5th against Nashville, and Oct 12th at home against Columbus.

San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson

From SJsharks.com:

Doug Wilson on what type of player he wants for the Sharks, whether it is via the draft, trade or free agency.
"They have to have five things. Character. Hockey sense. A love for the game, sometimes we call them rink rats. They have to accept responsibility for making others on the team better. They have to perform the best when it matters the most."

Doug Wilson on Mike Rathje leaving.
"Mike made a decision that was best for him and we wish him well as we do every one whose played here. Just like when people asked who will score with Owen Nolan and Teemu Selanne left, people like Johnathan Cheechoo and Nils Ekman stepped in. We have several young veterans who will benefit from the new rules. A lot of our players grew up without the red line (in college and some European leagues)."

Doug Wilson on Korolyuk’s status.
"Normally you don't take a player to arbitration who is coming off a good year, but this takes the money factor out of it. He'll let us know in the next week whether he wants to stay in Russia or if he wants to play in the NHL. If he plays in the NHL, he wants to play here. What Ron did as a coach, Alex will always appreciate that."

Doug Wilson on the Sharks not dipping into the free agent pool.
"Three teams not radically exploring the unrestricted free agent market because of the way they are built are Ottawa, Tampa Bay and ourselves. If that is the company I'm to be judged with, I’ll take that."

Doug Wilson on Miroslav Zalesak signing with Washington.
"He is a great example of a player who ran into a road block in our system and had people jump ahead of him. He deserves to play in the NHL. At some point a players deserve not to be held up in the minors the way Montreal used to stockpile players. Others just snuck in ahead of him."

Ron Wilson and Doug Wilson

From Victor Chi in the SJ Mercury News:

Coach Ron Wilson liked the fact that his roster will have had minimal turnover since the end of the 2003-04 season.

"I might be the only coach to come back with essentially the same team that played in the playoffs two years ago," he said. "Like most people these days, I'm on the Internet reading all the questions about why the Sharks don't get these players. But I'm happy where we're at."

Notable changes from 2003-04: Mike Rathje to Philadelphia, Vincent Damphousse to Colorado [now a UFA], Mike Ricci to Phoenix, Curtis Brown to Chicago, Jason Marshall to Anaheim, Miroslav Zalesak to Washington, Alexander Korolyuk to arbitration.

State of the Sharks conference

From A. Sheldon:

-Patrick Marleau video hello
-Scott Hannan video hello
-Offspring music video w/ highlights from 2003-04

- GJ: welcome - 'happy to get back to the lil' things such as printing a schedule and worrying about ice conditions & will be happy to never have to utter 'CBA - New York - or Toronto' ever again'

- DW: Proud of the 104 pt season & postseason run - judge players on what they do on the ice - for every player drafted, aquired laterally or via UFA there are FIVE things they look for....1) CHARACTER, 2) HOCKEY SENSE, 3) LOVES TO PLAY THE GAME, 4) RESPECTS THE RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE OTHERS AROUND THEM BETTER, 5) IS ABLE TO PERFORM THE BEST WHEN IT MATTERS MOST..."I don't believe in mercenaries. I care about us winning - by drafting and developing - with spots given to those who have earned it (not by default), working every shift of every game...*pause* How's Smitty doin' next to ya, Ron?" - crowd laughs - he introduces RW

- DR: introduces Nabby & Smitty montage on the jumbotron...the players crane their necks to watch the vid overhead (people cheer for Smitty pounding on Barna-baby)

- Tag Up, takes the coaches out of it who like to match lines...sharks forecheck one of the best in the league - forcing mistakes - taking away time & space and tiring players.
- Limiting Goalies from playing the puck = The Nabokov Zone (outside, The Brodeur Zone), will force work on long-bomb passes
No Center Red Line
- Larger Neutral Zone, more difficult to clear the puck & blue line is now inside the doors - therefore if a player enters the ice and moves forward he'll be offsides (?)
- *Impeding...no longer called 'Obstruction' - in the exhibition games expect many many penalties to be dished out because even the slightest tug on the sweater with a stick will draw a whistle
- No Two-line pass, easier for college/european players to adapt - must get used to making longer passes, leaving areas and trusting D to put the puck on the tape (and a miss on a long pass will be waved-off regarding no-touch icing)

Then they ask for questions from the crowd, here are a few:
-Powerplay QB? = Stuart or Ehrhoff
-Korolyuk? = DW speaking with his agent, issue is family vs NHL, took him to arbitration to say whatever you're awarded we'll pay it, whatever happens they'll honor and respect his decision - they'll know within the next couple of weeks *Chosing three for the OT shoot-out? = Will usually be a 30-sec decision to pick the guys...DR says "Smitty could take the first shot...yeah Smitty?" Mark answers "1-nuthin'"


SJsharks.com named 5th overall in survey of NHL websites, Atlanta Thrashers on top

The Sports Business Journal and the University of Massachusetts Amherst released their annual ranking [subscription required] of major league websites for content, design, commerce and fan interactivity. The rankings are somewhat arbitrary and based on personal preference, and many teams cut back on internet staff during the lockout, but it is still interesting to take a look at the results.

The Atlanta Thrashers were named the top overall NHL website, finishing first in content, commerce, and fan interactivity, 8th in design, with a total score of 102.6757.

"We did a lot of things in the community … and we posted all of it," said Lou DePaoli, CMO of the Thrashers and NBA Atlanta Hawks. "We told our people, 'You're basically full-time at every single adult hockey, youth hockey and corporate hockey event in the city: ice hockey, street hockey, floor hockey — everything.'"

Team executives did numerous online chats during the lockout, though they adhered to NHL rules about commenting on the labor situation. Current players had no role in the site, of course, but former players and former NHLers living in Atlanta were the subjects of long features. Extra emphasis was placed on the Thrashers' farm teams. The site also introduced blogs for fans.

Perfect "more is better" philosophy for an NHL franchise to have during the lockout, and for the recovery period after. The Thrashers website has an extensive list of local hockey resources and rink link contacts, a multimedia section with press conferences, highlights, fan appreciation videos, penalty box skits, and plenty of news and interviews about the team. Content is king.

Atlanta TV color analyst and former NHL goaltender Darren Eliot is also involved with the Thrashers website. Eliot's goaltending scouting reports [Miikka Kiprusoff, Evgeni Nabokov] for Sports Illustrated prior to the 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs were the most informative I have seen to date. If they include more of Eliot's analysis on the site, it would jump start fan interest in the non-traditional market.

The other NHL sites that rounded out the top 5 were: 1. Atlanta, 2. Washington Capitals, 3. Chicago Blackhawks, 4. Columbus Blue Jackets, 5. San Jose Sharks.

The San Jose Sharks finished 2nd in commerce and fan interactivity, 11th in content, and 16th in design with a total score of 98.8919.

2004 rankings of major league websites from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Sports Management home page at the Amherst Isenberg school of management.

[Note] In this casual analysis of NHL websites [last paragraph] over the weekend, I named the Chicago Blackhawks as the most interactive NHL website, although San Jose and Washington would have rounded out my top three.

[Note2] To address a growing trend on sports websites: A webpage with updated news and notes from internal sources is a journal. A webpage with updated news and notes from internal and external sources is a blog.

San Jose Sharks television announcer Randy Hahn joins the blogosphere

During the 301-day lockout, Sharks television announcer Randy Hahn tried his hand calling arena football, and later took over co-hosting duties for CBS 5's Evening Magazine [with Malou Noubla].

With 50 days until the puck drops on the NHL season, Randy Hahn made his first post as a guest blogger for San Jose Inside.

Welcome. Thanks to Mark for mailing in the link.

[Note] In other broadcast news, Sharks radio announcer Dan Rusanowsky called the San Jose Earthquakes vs Colorado Rapids game Saturday night as well as the San Jose Grand Prix champ car race July 31st. Sharks television color analyst Drew Remenda has been busy with the Drew Remenda Sports Show live on 650 CKOM.


Sharks re-sign cornerstones Patrick Marleau, Marco Sturm and Brad Stuart to multi-year deals

Patrick Marleau - Action ©Photofile

The San Jose Sharks issued a dual press release after Patrick Marleau and Marco Sturm agreed to multi-year contracts today.

The San Jose Sharks press release on Patrick Marleau:

Sharks re-sign Patrick Marleau, 25-Year Old All-Star Center Enters Ninth NHL Season Having Played More Than 500 Games.

SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has re-signed Group II restricted free agent center Patrick Marleau to a multi-year contract. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Marleau, who will turn 26 on Sept. 15, enters the 2005-06 season with 332 career NHL points (153 goals, 179 assists). In recent seasons, Marleau has played for Team Canada at various international tournaments including the 2003 (gold medal) and 2005 (silver medal) IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, where he helped Canada capture the tournament championship.

In 2003-04, Marleau tied his career highs in goals (28), assists (29) and points (57) in 80 games with the Sharks, mirroring his scoring totals from the previous season and his 57 points were a team best. For his offensive performance and his leadership on the ice, Marleau was presented with the 2003-04 Seagate Technology "Sharks Player of the Year" award. Marleau also earned the 2003-04 PlayStation "Three Stars of the Game" award.

In addition, Marleau surpassed 300 career NHL points on Jan. 10 vs. Atlanta, posting a goal (300) and an assist (301). His nine-game point streak (4-6=10) from Nov. 6-26 set a career-high, with the Nov. 26 contest vs. the Chicago Blackhawks also being Marleau's 500th career NHL game. The Sharks went 15-4-5-1 in 2003-04 when Marleau scored a goal. Marleau played 15:11 at the All-Star Game on Feb. 8 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. serving as the Sharks All-Star representative. His consecutive games played streak, the third longest in franchise history, was snapped at 181 when he missed the Jan. 17 contest against Colorado with an ankle injury.

In the playoffs, Marleau posted 12 points (team-leading eight goals, four assists) in 17 games while captaining his squad to the Western Conference Finals. His playoff totals ranked him in a tie for 14th place in the league in playoff scoring and third in the league in playoff power play goals (team-high four). Marleau also posted hat tricks in Game Two of WCQF vs. St. Louis on April 10 and Game One of WCSF vs. Colorado on April 22.

In 2002-03, Marleau posted career highs in points, goals and assists (28-29=57) in 82 games with the Sharks. His totals ranked him tied for first in goals (28) and third on the team in assists (29) and points (57). Included in his season highlights were posting a pair of six-game point streaks (3-7=10 from Dec. 10-26; 7-2=9, from Nov. 11-21). His franchise record tying six-game goal streak came during one of his six-game point streaks from Nov.11-21.

In addition, Marleau appeared in his 400th career NHL game on Oct. 19 vs. Colorado, becoming the youngest active player (23 years, 34 days) to accomplish the feat and the youngest player since Bob Carpenter (22 years, 268 days), who did so on April 6,1986.

Among active Sharks players, Marleau ranks first on the franchise list in games played (558), goals (153), assists (174) and points (327). On the all-time franchise list, Marleau ranks second in goals, third in points and games played (10 games behind Owen Nolan for second all-time) and fourth in assists.

The six-foot-two, 210-pound native of Aneroid, Saskatchewan was originally selected by San Jose in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft (1st round, 2nd overall). At only 17 years, nine months old, Marleau was the youngest player drafted that year. On Oct. 19, 1997, while making his NHL debut during the 1997-98 season, Marleau became the second youngest NHL player to score a goal since the end of World War II, previously held by Chicago's Grant Mulvey (18 years, one month and two days) in 1974.

Patrick Marleau is currently attending Olympic Orientation Camp in Vancouver along with teammate Scott Hannan. Both Sharks represented Canada in the World Cup and the World Championships last year. More on the Orientation Camp is available from Team Canada's 2006 Winter Olympics home page.

Marco Sturm

The San Jose Sharks press release on Marco Sturm:

Sharks re-sign left wing Marco Sturm

SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has re-signed Group II restricted free agent left wing Marco Sturm to a multi-year deal. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Last season, Sturm played for ERC Ingolstadt in the German Elite League, finishing tied for second on the team in scoring with 38 points (team-leading 22 goals and 16 assists) in 45 games, along with 56 penalty minutes. In the post-season, he was tied for first with seven points (three goals, four assists) in 11 games.

In 2003-04, Sturm, who turns 26 on Sept. 8, posted 41 points (21 goals, 20 assists) in 64 games with the Sharks. Despite suffering a season-ending ankle injury with 15 games remaining in the regular season, Sturm still managed to notch his third consecutive 20-goal season and finished second on the team in game-winning goals (six).

Prior to his injury in 2003-04, Sturm had dramatically increased his goal scoring production over the previous three seasons, posting 14 goals in 2000-01, 21 in 2001-02 and 28 in 2002-03.

The all-time franchise leader in shorthanded (14) and overtime game-winning goals (five), Sturm appeared in his 500th career NHL game in the 2003-04 season and enters this season fourth on the Sharks all-time list in games played (530), second behind Patrick Marleau (558) among current players. The explosive Sturm twice posted career-high seven-game point streaks in 2003-04 and he was named to runner-up for NHL's Offensive Player of the Week Award (Nov. 16-23).

The six-foot, 195-pound native of Dingolfing, Germany was originally selected by San Jose in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft (1st Round, 21st overall). With 257 career NHL points (122 goals, 135 assists) in 530 games, he is the leading scorer among all players selected in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.

Sharks bring Stuart, Marleau and Sturm into fold - San Jose Mercury News.

The Sharks signed three of their most important restricted free agents Monday by locking up defenseman Brad Stuart and forwards Patrick Marleau and Marco Sturm to multi-year deals.

The Sharks also reached a deal with right wing Scott Parker, their primary enforcer.

[Update] Defenseman Brad Stuart and enforcer Scott Parker agreed to terms on Monday, in addition to prospects Nolan Schaefer, Josh Prudden, Matt Carkner, Garrett Stafford, and Doug Murray. Arbitration for forward Alexander Korolyuk will be determined by September 2nd.


Earthquakes tie Colorado Rapids 1-1, referees get an assist

San Jose Earthquakes Colorado Rapids MLS soccer photos

San Jose Earthquakes Colorado Rapids MLS soccer photos

San Jose Earthquakes Colorado Rapids MLS soccer photos

After an inordinate amount of Rapids fouls in the first half, 2 blown calls worked against a San Jose win Saturday night. The Earthquakes earned a 1-1 tie with the Colorado Rapids after regulation. The refs failed to call Colorado Rapids forward Jean Phillippe Peguero offsides before his goal in the 57th minute, and later in the second half a deep ball was called out more than 2 feet in front of the goal line, cutting short a Quakes breakaway.

Although the Earthquakes remain unbeaten at home [6-0-5], the tie left San Jose with a Western Conference best 38 points. The Quakes trail behind New England [42] and Chicago [39] in the East.

The San Jose Casbah had the best chant of the night, "it's a small field after all". If you have never been to Spartan Stadium, it is similar to the old Boston Garden. The small field leaves less room for maneuvering. Collisions, tackles and battles for the ball are more frequent as a result.

Two highlights of the match were a Dwayne de Rosario stutter step and move outside for a shot on goal, and a second de Rosario drive towards the net and attempted drop pass which was deflected. Both occurred in the second half when the Quakes were pressing hard for the win.

Ugly tie actually does Earthquakes some good - SF Chronicle.

"To score such a great goal as Ricardo did and then let it get away makes you want to go, 'Arrrrgg'" - San Jose Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear.

Splitsville: Quakes, Rapids land draw - MLSnet.com.


Carnival of the NHL #5

For the uninitiated: What is a blog carnival?

Carnival of the NHL 5

Carnival #5 will attempt to gather together original content and analysis from the hockey blogosphere, take a look at the interactive features of NHL team websites, and give me one more excuse to post a hockey photo. This post will be open all weekend, so feel free to submit items that you feel will add to this collection.

To start off with the biggest news of the day, TMLfans.ca recaps the Toronto media reaction to Eric Lindros signing with the Leafs. Jay Kumar also takes a look at Lindros's history of health problems, and guesstimates the lines for Toronto next season.

From LetsgoKings, the Los Angeles Kings agreed to a 1 year contract with forward Valeri Bure. NHsportsradio.com interviewed Manchester Monarchs goaltender Adam Hauser, and the founder of LetsgoKings [Rinkrat], on the upcoming Kings season. LGK will add new images to one of the most extensive hockey photo galleries on the web during the Kings training camp.

Heather Creegan at SVO was significantly underwhelmed at Joe Thornton's decision to turn down a 5-year $32.2 million deal, to sign a 3-year $19.8 million deal with the Boston Bruins. Heather also has an impressive Boston Bruins, and AHL playoff photo gallery.

Jason Kirk at The Predator's Den, re-visits Nashville's signing of Paul Kariya.

Steven Ovadia fell for the ESPN head fake of Sean Burke to Pittsburgh, before he eventually ended up signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning. This Puck Update post notes the CBA loophole that teams may be allowed to go over the cap when signing a previously injured player, but it finishes with this Domokun hockey photo. I can't help thinking that the photo looks like 4 Darryl Sutter's after a player took a bad penalty.

It's looking like a painful season is in store for the Washington Capitals as the team struggles to rebuild after a complete roster overhaul. The kids are in the minor league pipeline, but is the right man at the controls? Offwing takes a look at Caps GM George McPhee in Is It Time For A Change In Washington?

McErlain, the king of all sports blogging media, also explains the Ins And Outs Of Hockey Ticket Scalping, when taking time off from his podcasts in conjunction with Bleacherguy radio.

Jes Golbez quotes Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, details their plan to draft well, and the Caps attempt to land a spot in the new NHL revenue sharing program. The Jagr legacy continues.

This regular Leonsis column is representative of how he has operated his franchise. Leonsis and his team have made some mistakes, but they have been open and honest about their moves from day 1.

The prolific Golbez also rants about the Senators, the St Louis Blues, and Chicago Blackhawks. Sorry James Mirtle, he has stolen your "most prolific" title.

Best new blog design goes to Sabre Rattling. The three-headed monster looks like it left the mid 90's Sharks front office, and entered the 2005 goaltending crease for the Buffalo Sabres. Mika Noronen, Martin Biron, and top AHL prospect Ryan Miller will all rattle their Sabres for more playing time in Buffalo. I want to know how he thinks the Sabres will recover from the loss of Miroslav Satan to the Islanders.

CMcMurtry at Hockey Country notes that the Ottawa Senators currently come in at almost $12 million under the salary cap, with 12 players under contract. Not a lot of wiggle room for Ottawa.

Breakaway Beach has put together a list of NHL head coach and GM tenures. Longest GM tenure: Lou Lamoriello at 18 years. Longest head coaching tenure: Lindy Ruff, Pat Quinn and Barry Trotz are tied at 7 years. Not a lot of longevity behind the bench.

Tom Benjamin at Canucks Corner notes another player that might stay home to play in Russia, defenseman Artem Chubarov. Yesterday there was a report from a Russian website that San Jose Sharks winger Alexander Korolyuk was going to stay in Russia to play with Vityaz Chekhov.

Matt Schwartz of LetsgoWings writes about the most cost effective goaltending duo in the National Hockey League: Osgood signs 1-year, $900K contract with Wings . Manny Legace at $1.14 million this season, and Chris Osgood at $900,000 are going to give Detroit quality starts for a little over $2 million this year.

OntheWings, host of the Carnival of the NHL #4, also has a version of his website translated into Portuguese for Brazilian NHL fans. I have seen many .br domain names visit here, but Mexico is by far the leading Latin American country in visitors to this website.

David Singer at the Ice Block posts that ESPN may move in on Comcast's NHL television offer. An earlier Ice Block post details all of the television options that were once open to the NHL, Looking at More US TV Options for the NHL.

St Pete Times Forum

The St Pete Times Forum, home of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning, sits in silence. Sad.

Get well soon Jordan. They need a new influx of pundits to keep Hockey Pundits rolling while Jordan Cooper is on the hockey blogger injured reserve.

[Update] Speaking of making a mistake above, I made a pretty big one yesterday with regards to hockey in Portland. But in doing a little research on a tip emailed in by a fan, it was easy to correct.

Another reader Greg Dobbe emails about the WHL Portland Winterhawks and Portland's best known export:

- December 2 - 4: Holiday Ale Fest @ Pioneer Square in Portland. www.holidayale.com. If you like big winter brews, this is for you.

December 3: Portland vs Everett / 7pm / Rose Garden

December 4: Portland vs. Tri-Cities / 5pm / Memorial Coliseum

Over one weekend you could catch a wide variety of the northwest's finest brews, both arenas, and even a Kevin Constantine sighting. I don't know if there will be any Sharks prospects playing for any of the teams.

- Google Dance 2005.

- Another hockey mistake, as told by Inside College Hockey. USA Today later admitted being misled during a profile of the CEO of Hat Trick Beverage. Thanks to Poynter Online for the link.

- More on the Burke to Pittburgh, ooops, Burke to Tampa Bay Lightning report from several different websites yesterday from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. In trying to write a blurb on that above, I had Burke errantly going to the Florida Panthers. Unfortunately, no new rumors were spawned as a result.

- Reader AQuietGirl emails in several good photo links: a flickr photo gallery with several photos of the OHL and St Mikes. During the lockout she also posted a nice photo collage rinkside on her blog Icethis.

This blog is flickr enabled, although it is only the free version. I am going to try to get the occasional cellphone hockey photo posted from Canada, Europe and Asia this season. More on that later.

- Hagman accepts Panthers' qualifying offer - TSN. Niklas Hagman has popped up on the radar before, but during the lockout his play in Switzerland and in the World Cup was impressive. Look for him to have a breakout season this year a la Nils Ekman in 2003-04.

- This "blog site" was the featured blog of the week on the San Jose Mercury News interactive section today, here is the website. Other local Bay Area blogs I would recommend: Teal Sunglasses, SFist, Backstage with Marian, SFgate Culture Blog, GMSV and The Bay Area is Talking to name a few.

For new visitors to this blog, you can find boxing photos, links, earthquakes photos, kickboxing, cycling and tennis photos with the google search box to the left.

- A complete list of other blogging Carnivals from a Truth Laid Bear.

[Update2] - New Canucks blog aptly titled Canucks Hockey Blog discusses the possibility of a second salary rollback if the $1.7 billion projection of NHL revenue is not met.

At $1.6 billion, players will need to pay back approximately $156 million from the escrow account to get to the magic 54% number. Because the escrow will be applied to each player proportionate to their own salary and their team's total salaries, for some players, this would mean giving up another 15% of their salary towards escrow. At $1.5 billion, the escrow increases to $210 million or 20% of some players' salary towards escrow.

I wonder if the NHLPA saw this second "rollback" coming?

No. But this is a worst-case scenario. It makes it that much more important that players, owners, front offices, and even the media work to make the product that much more entertaining. With the Sidney Crosby lottery, and the free agent signing bonanza, the league is off to a good start. Next up, and probably the most important, is solidifying a national television contract. Do not give the NHL back to ESPN unless they agree to 2 games broadcast a week, with a set day and time for each broadcast.

- J Mirtle takes on BJ [Mirtle?] for an NHL Roundtable that discusses the Sedin twins [let me guess, BJ is in Vancouver?], revenge of the idiot GMs, Leafs fans comparing Eric Lindros to Peter Forsberg, and the Penguins and Joycelyn Thibault.

- Erika emails in another gallery of Boston Bruins photos, from Brooke of Hockey Chronicles fame. I think Brooke posted this photo just for me.

[Update3] Best NHL interactive features: Pittsburgh Penguins - email Sidney Crosby; Chicago Blackhawks - fan NETwork; New York Islanders - email head coach Steve Stirling; Anaheim Mighty Ducks - virtual tour; Washington Capitals - owners corner; New York Rangers - PDA schedule [for my brother Chris]; Los Angeles Kings - local hockey section; San Jose Sharks - state of the Sharks; Columbus Blue Jackets - Ohio highschool hockey news; Vancouver Canucks - blog [nice 2 links]; St Louis Blues - Blues fan sites; Carolina Hurricanes - jumbotron features; Boston Bruins - historical highlights.

The inaugural Sharkspage NHL interactive website award goes to... the Chicago Blackhawks. The website always has interesting new features, supports youth hockey, and it makes it easy for fans to find out more about the team and the game. The webcam looks like it is gone, but it was also the only team that had an Ice Crew member contribute a link to this site. First prize is a complimentary blog report from one of Chicago's road games in California, or a Shark hat. Their pick.

Thanks to those who submitted links.

Alexander Korolyuk, please phone home

Alexander Korolyuk

When the deadline for team-filed arbitration passed at 2PM Thursday, only two players were selected. Florida Panthers starting goaltender Roberto Luongo and Sharks winger Alexander Korolyuk were the inaugural team-nominated arbitrees under a new provision in the collective bargaining agreement.

The Korolyuk arbitration filing was preceeded yesterday by a report from a Russian website that Alexander was going to re-sign with his Russian Super League team, Vityaz Chekhov. Last year Vityaz played in the Russian High League, but they were able to move up to the Super League via relegation, in part due to Korolyuk's 24 goals and 27 assists in 42 games.

News then came from SJsharks.com that the Sharks intended to take Korolyuk to arbitration to secure his NHL rights, and lock down a salary which they would have to pay for his services.

Under the previous CBA, only the players had the right to mandate the arbitration process. Now both sides have the option. San Jose may still negotiate with Korolyuk and his agent, former Sharks player Brian Lawton, until the arbitration hearing is held.

It is possible for Korolyuk to sign with a European club, however, should he later decide to return to the NHL, the Sharks would still own his rights under the terms settled by the arbitrator.

"We would like for Alex to be back," said Wilson. "He had a good year. We talked to his agent and he just needs to clarify if his decision is the NHL or Russia. Our electing to go to arbitration ensures he will get fair market value in the NHL. Arbitration takes the money out of the decision."

David Pollak in the Mercury News today added a little more color to the situation, Sharks move to force Korolyuk's hand.

Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson said Thursday that neither he nor Korolyuk's agent, Brian Lawton, has communicated recently with the Moscow native.

Any furthur discussion would be moot until Korolyuk can clear the matter up for himself.

Alexander Korolyuk

In 2002-03, Alexander Korolyuk left the NHL to play for AK Bars Kazan after a dispute with then Sharks coach Darryl Sutter over playing time. After scoring 14 goals and 17 assists in 46 games for AK Bars of the Russian Superleague [also known as the Russian equivalent of the New York Rangers], Korolyuk returned to the NHL in 2003-04 to garner a Sharkspage nomination for best supporting yet unknown Shark:

RW - Alexander Korolyuk
From Moscow, USSR, many felt he was banished to play in Russia last season under Sutter, returned to notch career highs in goals [19] and points [37] and +/- [+20], Korolyuk assumed a role on the penalty kill and on the second power play unit, labeled twice by coach Ron Wilson as the best player on the ice in the first round.

To answer a question asked on the offical website, what does this mean for the Sharks?

It means that Sharks are strong in goal, deep on the blueline, and have a number of young, quick 2-way forwards who can put the puck in the net. But there are question marks up front. The clutch playoff goals scored by Damphousse [left to Colorado, now a UFA], Miroslav Zalesak's signing with the Washington Capitals, and Alexander Korolyuk's possible signing with Vityaz Chekhov removes offensive options.

Restricted free agents Patrick Marleau and Marco Sturm need to be signed, and a linemate who can compliment their blazing speed with consistent scoring needs to be found [Cheechoo]. Korolyuk's status needs to be confirmed, and a possible replacement for the McCauley-Ekman line found. The third and fourth lines will mix and match Scott Thornton, Marcel Goc, Niko Dimitrakos, Mark Smith, Wayne Primeau, Milan Michalek, and Scott Parker [RFA].

Bright offensive prospects Steve Bernier, Lukas Kaspar and Josh Hennessy will be given a long look in training camp, and the 6 foot 2, 215lb leading scorer for the Cleveland Barons Ryane Clowe [27goals, 35assists, 74games] is a legitimate option as well.

We will have to wait until training camp to get an idea of how far off my armchair analysis is.

[Update] NHL Playoffs 2004, Korolyuk: No hotdogging on empty net goal - ESPN.

[Update2] Sharks RFA list, from TSN.ca:

Restricted Free Agents: Matt Carkner, Alexander Korolyuk (taken to arbitration), Patrick Marleau, Doug Murray, Scott Parker, Nolan Schaefer, Garrett Stafford, Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm.

54 days until the puck drops.


Kyle McLaren receives a 3 year extension, Niko Dimitrakos re-signs, Korolyuk reportedly to stay in Russia

According to SJsharks.com, defenseman Kyle McLaren received a three year contract extension today. Sharks GM Doug Wilson commented on the San Jose blueliner "Kyle is a big, strong, punishing defenseman who is trending up in his career and he will continue to be one of our anchors on the back end."

The San Jose Sharks also announced that forward Niko Dimitrakos re-signed with the club. Terms of either deal were not released.

Today's signings make it 7 Sharks that have agreed to deals in the last 4 days. Doug Wilson told the San Francisco Chronicle last week, "We will have all our guys ready to go when training camp starts".

[Update] According to an article on Sport Express by Pavel Savchik [translated on Rushockey.com by Alexei Belousenko], Alexander Korolyuk signed a one-year contract with Vityaz Chekhov of the Russian Super League.

Alexander Korolyuk signed a one-year contract with Vityaz

Yesterday, forward Alexander Korolyuk signed a one-year contract with the debutant of the Russian Super League – Vityaz Chekhov. Here is what 29-year-old left winger told the Sport Express correspondent.

A. Korolyuk: I arrived to Moscow from the training camp in Slovakia especially to sign a one-year contract with Vityaz. Financial terms of the agreement are more profitable than 1.5 million dollars that San Jose offered me. Though, Sharks may trade me to some other club, which, possibly, may offer me a better deal. Therefore, there is a chance that I may return to NHL, but the possibility is close to zero.

As a reminder, last season Korolyuk started in the Russian Super League's club Khimik Voskresensk where he scored 4 goals and 3 assists in 10 games. After that he moved to the Russian High League's (Russia 2) club Vityaz from Chekhov where he scored 24 goals and 27 assists in 42 games, which helped the team to move up next level to the Russian Super League.

Confirmation of this report will be posted as soon as it comes in. Earlier this week goal scoring prospect Miroslav Zalesak signed with the Washington Capitals.

Carnival of the NHL #5 update

Make sure to submit your blog, your photo, or your favorite interactive feature on an NHL website by tonight at 9PM [PT] for the Carnival of the NHL #5.

AHL Announces Rules Package for 2005-06

A press release from the AHL:

AHL Announces Rules Package for 2005-06

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League's Board of Governors convened via conference call on Wednesday and approved a series of rule changes for the 2005-06 season.

"The changes implemented by the AHL last season were successful in increasing the flow of the game and generating additional offensive opportunities, and the NHL's recent revisions to their own rules package will further enhance the quality of our sport," said David Andrews, President and CEO of the American Hockey League. "With more than 400 players skating in both the AHL and the NHL every year, our intention remains to substantively follow the NHL rule book in order to allow our players to develop under the same framework of playing standards in each league."

The following rules will be in effect for the AHL’s 2005-06 season:

- The neutral-zone edge of the blue lines will be moved four feet towards center ice, creating 64-foot attack zones and reducing the neutral zone to 50 feet. The goal lines will remain 11 feet from the end boards, as per the AHL’s 2004-05 rules.

- The blue lines and center red line will each be 12 inches in width. The AHL had played with 24-inch lines in 2004-05.

- "Two-line passes" will be permitted; a pass from behind the defensive blue line across the center red line will be considered legal.

- "Touch" icing will be reinstated. Linesmen will have the discretion to wave off an apparent icing violation if it is deemed to be the result of an attempted pass. A team that is guilty of an icing violation will be prohibited from making a line change prior to the ensuing faceoff.

- "Tagging up" on delayed offside situations will continue to be permitted, as per the AHL’s 2004-05 rules.

- A shootout will follow regular-season games which are tied after a five-minute overtime period. The shootout format (five shooters aside) will remain the same as the AHL’s 2004-05 system.

- A penalty for instigating in the final five minutes of regulation or in overtime will carry an automatic game misconduct, an automatic one-game suspension and fines to the coach and team of the offending player. Punishments will double with each subsequent offense.

- The dimensions of goaltender equipment will be reduced per the National Hockey League’s directives. In addition to a one-inch reduction (to 11 inches) in the width of leg pads, there will be reductions in the maximum size of the blocking glove, upper-body protector, pants and jersey.

- The goaltender puck-handling zone will continue to be enforced, as per the AHL’s 2004-05 rules.

- The Board rejected a motion to institute an automatic penalty for delay of game against any player who shoots the puck directly over the glass in his defending zone. AHL Rule 51(a) still calls for a minor penalty against any player who deliberately shoots the puck outside the playing area.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 80 percent of NHL players in 2003-04 were AHL graduates, and in 2004-05, more than 7.1 million fans – an all-time league record – attended AHL games across North America.

[Update] NHL rules changes this season, from NHL.com.

U.S. Junior Teams Improve To 4-0-0 At 2005 Nat'l Junior Evaluation Camp

A press release from USA Hockey:

U.S. Junior Teams Defeat Finland and Sweden At 2005 National Junior Evaluation Camp

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - The United States captured two more victories at USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp, as Team White and Team Blue knocked off Finland and Sweden 4-0 and 8-2, respectively. The U.S. squads are comprised of 42 under-20 athletes eligible for a spot on the 2006 U.S. National Junior Team.

In the first game, goaltenders Cory Schneider (Marblehead, Mass.) and Jeff Frazee (Burnsville, Minn.) blanked their opponent for the second straight night, as Team White defeated Finland, 4-0. Schneider turned aside nine shots in just over 30 minutes of action, while Frazee completed the shutout by stopping all 14 shots he faced.

Team White's Nate Gerbe (Oxford, Mich.) scored the first goal of the game at 16:11 of the second period. Gerbe received a pass from former National Team Development Program teammate Erik Johnson (Bloomington, Minn.) at center ice, drove hard to the net, and chipped the puck past Finland's goaltender.

Chad Kolarik (Abington, Pa.) netted Team White's second power play goal at 7:46 of the third period after tapping a post-to-post pass from Bobby Ryan (Cherry Hill, N.J.) into an open net.

Team White extended its lead to 3-0 at 14:12 of the third period thanks to a strong individual effort by Jack Skille (Madison, Wis.), who drove past two defenders to score his second goal of the camp.

Ryan's empty-net goal at 19:49 of the third period capped off Team White's 4-0 victory.

In the night's second game, Chris Bourque (Topsfield, Mass.), Jordan LaVallee (Corvallis, Ore.) and Peter Mueller (Bloomington, Minn.) each scored twice and led Team Blue to a 8-2 victory over Sweden.

Team Blue jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first period. Justin Abdelkader (Muskegon, Mich.) notched an unassisted goal two minutes into the game, LaVallee extended the lead to 2-0 when he converted on a two-on-one shorthanded opportunity at 8:32, and Mueller scored on a wrist shot from the left circle with just seven seconds remaining in the opening frame.

After Sweden scored its first tally at 4:15 of the second period, Team Blue responded on the power play three minutes later when A.J. Thelen (Savage, Minn.) notched the squad's fourth goal, with assists by Adam Pineault (Holyoke, Mass) and Shawn Weller (Glens Falls, N.Y.). Bourque and Mueller extended Team Blue's lead to 6-1 with goals at 11:54 and 14:48 of the second.

Bourque's second goal of the night came on a power play tally at 4:51 of the third period to give Team Blue a 7-1 lead. Sweden scored at 11:23 with the team on a two-man advantage to cut the lead momentarily to five goals, but LaVallee found the back of the net for the second time to give Team Blue its final margin of victory, 8-2.

Jonathan Quick (Hamden, Conn.) stopped 21 of 22 shots faced in just under 30 minutes of action, while Ian Keserich (Parma, Ohio) allowed only one goal on 17 shots during the second half of the game.

Both Team White and Team Blue return to action on Friday, August 13 in Herb Brooks Arena. Team Blue will face Finland at 4 p.m. EDT, while Team White takes on Sweden at 7 p.m. EDT.

NOTES: Both U.S. teams are a combined 4-0-0 versus the teams from Finland and Sweden and have outscored their opponents 22-4 ... The 2006 U.S. National Junior Team will compete in the 2006 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Vancouver.


Ekman, Primeau and Preissing re-sign

Nils Ekman re-signed with the San Jose Sharks for 2 years on Tuesday. Wayne Primeau and Tom Preissing re-signed with the Sharks for 2 years on Wednesday. Terms of the three deals have not been released.

The Sharks will host a "State of the Sharks" meeting with fans August 16th at HP Pavilion [7-9 PM]. Sharks Executive VP and GM Doug Wilson, Head Coach Ron Wilson, President and CEO Greg Jamison and Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov will all be available for questions.

The Sharks also released a statement with specifics on the NHL rookie tournament this year between San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Phoenix:

The annual Rookie Tournament between the future stars of San Jose, Anaheim, Phoenix and Los Angeles will take place from September 7-11 at Logitech Ice at San Jose. There will be two games per day with the exception of Friday. A complete schedule will be released soon.

No San Jose Sharks players filed for arbitration on Wednesday. The deadline for team-elected arbitration is is 2PM Thursday. Hearings will be held in Toronto August 23–27.

[Update] 11 players file for arbitration - NHLPA.com press release.


NHL.com takes a look at the prospects in the Sharks organization

Dimitri Patzold

NHL.com's John McGourty takes an in-depth look at the prospects in the San Jose Sharks organization. Bernier, five goalies top Sharks' prospects - NHL.com.

Hockey coverage on CNN

The Northern Command may focus aerospace, land and sea defenses, and provide critical support for U.S. civil authorities in times of national need, but sometimes you just need to watch a hockey game.

Former Shark Miroslav Zalesak signs with the Washington Capitals

Miroslav Zalesak

A post from Kukla's Corner cites a Slovakian report that former Shark Miroslav Zalesak signed with the Washington Capitals.

From Hockej.sk:

"I talked with my previous team (SJ) but we couldnt agree. 6-7 teams were interested in me and in the end it was between Toronto, Washington and Vancouver. After consulting with my agent I chose Washington, which has a young team, ambitions and hasnt got a lot of signed players. I have a big chance to play and I hope it turns out well."

"If they send me to the farm, it will be on me If I stay or go to Europe".

Kukla also notes that Miroslav Zalesak was in the top 5 in AHL scoring 2 years ago. He was first overall until his linemate Brad Boyes was traded to Boston. Last year Zalesak had 11 goals and 14 assists in 18 games for Skalica HK 36, and 6 goals and 6 assists in 30 games for Litvinov CHP HC.

[Update] Confirmed. Capitals Sign Free Agent Miroslav Zalesak - Washingtoncapitals.com.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 8, 2005 - The Washington Capitals today signed right wing Miroslav Zalesak, who most recently played in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Zalesak, 25, was selected 104th overall (fourth round) by San Jose in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. The 6' 0", 200-pound native of Skalica, (then Czechoslovakia), recorded no points and no penalty minutes in two games with the Sharks in 2003-04, his most recent NHL action.

In parts of two NHL seasons Zalesak has totaled one goal and two assists (three points) in 12 games. He totaled 35 goals, 40 assists (75 points) and 80 penalty minutes in 72 games with Cleveland of the AHL in 2003-04. Zalesak finished third in the league in goals and scoring and fourth in the league with 13 power-play goals in 2003-04.

Prior to beginning his North American pro career in 2000-01, Zalesak played four seasons in his native Slovakia and two seasons with Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

[Update] Ted Leonsis - Washington Capitals owners corner.


San Jose Sharks re-sign defenseman Rob Davison and Jim Fahey

A double press release was sent out today from the San Jose Sharks. On defenseman Rob Davison:


SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has re-signed Group II Restricted Free Agent defenseman Rob Davison to a one-year deal. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In 2003-04, Davison, 25, posted career-highs in assists (3) and points (3) in 55 games with the Sharks. In addition, Davison ranked second on the team in penalty minutes (92) and averaged over 14 minutes per game in ice time.

In 2002-03, Davison split time between San Jose and top development AHL affiliate, the Cleveland Barons. He posted three points (one goal, two assists) in 15 games with the Sharks and posted four points (one goal, three assists) in 42 games with the Barons.

The six-foot-three, 220-pound native of St. Catherine's, Ontario was originally selected by San Jose in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft (4th Round, 98th overall).

On defenseman Jim Fahey:


SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has re-signed Group II Restricted Free Agent defenseman Jim Fahey to a one-year deal. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In 2003-04, Fahey, 26, posted two points, both assists, in 15 games with the Sharks. Fahey split time between San Jose and the top development AHL affiliate Cleveland Barons where he posted 19 points (one goal, 18 assists) and 64 PIM in 32 games.

In 2002-03, Fahey posted 20 points (one goal, 19 assists) in 42 games with the Sharks. His totals ranked him first among all NHL rookie defensemen in points (20) and power-play assists (13). Fahey was rewarded for his performance by being named the PlayStation "Sharks Rookie of the Year."

The six-foot, 200-pound native of Boston, Massachusetts was originally selected by San Jose in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft (8th Round, 212th Overall).

Much has been made of Mike Rathje signing a five year deal with Philadelphia, but the Sharks have a solid top four on the blue line; Scott Hannan, Brad Stuart, Kyle McLaren and Tom Preissing. Offensive-defenseman and AHL allstar Christian Ehrhoff should be a lock to start the season in San Jose. Davison and Fahey fill out the depth chart with experience, while prospects Matt Carle and Doug Murray are waiting in the wings.

If the Sharks are going to make a move on the free agent market, look for it to be a goal scoring forward for one of the top 3 lines.

Carnival of the NHL #5, now with more Teal

Eric McErlain at Offwing announced that Sharkspage will host the Carnival of the NHL #5.

Other great #5's? Joe Dimaggio, Brooks Robinson, George Brett, Donovan Mcnabb, Ulf Samuelsson, former Sharks defenseman Jeff Norton, Neil Wilkinson and Ken Sutton, current Sharks defenseman Rob Davison.

There are no rules for this carnival, except that you can not talk about fight club or Todd Bertuzzi. I will post links and photos submitted by 9PM [PT] on Thursday, but leave it open throughout the weekend for updates.

In addition to posting submissions and searching the blogs for interesting material, I encourage links to new features at your local NHL team website. Whether it is a player blog [Dallas], a live webcam [Chicago], a fan scouting system [Chicago], ice girls [Chicago], a podcast, or real-time stats, send it in and it will be linked to post haste. If your team does not have anything that jumps out at you, send them an email and see if there is anything they plan on introducing in the future.

If you are attending a training camp, a season ticket holder meeting, or just driving by a hockey arena and you have a camera with a cellphone, email me and I will give you a flickr email address that posts a photo directly on this blog for the Carnival.

That is all.

Complete list of unprecedented free agent and trade movement

This is a current list of NHL transactions by team as of Sunday August 7th, 2005. For a complete list of free agents visit NHL.com.


New Jersey Devils - Re-signed defenseman Brian Rafalski. Signed defensemen Vladimir Malakhov. Signed defensemen Dan McGillis.

New York Islanders - Signed defenseman Alexei Zhitnik to a 4 year contract. Signed left wing Miroslav Satan for 3 years. [Traded Michael Peca for left wing Mike York and a conditional pick from Edmonton. Traded for defenseman Brent Sopel.]

New York Rangers - Signed center Martin Straka, and defenseman Marek Malik. Re-signed goaltender Kevin Weekes. Re-signed defenseman Thomas Pock Signed Martin Rucinsky. Signed left wing Ville Nieminen. Signed right wing Jason Ward.

Philadelphia Flyers - Signed defensemen Derian Hatcher to a 4 year contract, signed defenseman Mike Rathje to a 5 year deal, signed defenseman Chris Therien, signed forward Jon Sim. Signed center Peter Forsberg for 2 years.

Pittsburgh Penguins - [see photo]. Signed defenseman Sergei Gonchar, signed defenseman Ryan Lannon, signed defenseman Noah Welch. Signed right wing Andre Roy.


Boston Bruins - Signed right wing Glen Murray, right wing Shawn McEachern, and center Dave Scatchard. Signed defenseman Brian Leetch for 1 year. Signed center Alexei Zhamnov for 3 years. [Traded for Brad Isbister from Edmonton.] Re-signed Jonathan Girard.

Buffalo Sabres - Signed defenseman Teppo Numminen. Re-signed Taylor Pyatt.

Ottawa Senators - Re-signed left wing Denis Hamel.

Montreal Canadiens - Re-signed right wing Alexei Kovalev, signed defenseman Mathieu Dandenault.

Toronto Maple Leafs - Signed right wing Tie Domi. Signed center Jason Allison. Owen Nolan's status in dispute, possible buyout. [Traded for forward Jeff O'Neil from Carolina.]


Atlanta Thrashers - Signed Bobby Holik. Signed Ramzi Abid.

Carolina Hurricanes - Signed left wing Cory Stillman. Signed center Keith Aucoin. Signed center David Gove. Signed defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky for 3 years. Signed left wing Ray Whitney for 2 years. [Traded for Mike Commodore from Calgary. Traded for Derrick Walser from Columbus.]

Florida Panthers - Signed forwards Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts from Toronto. Signed left wing Martin Gelinas to a 2 year deal, signed defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski, and signed left wing Greg Jacina.

Tampa Bay Lightning - Re-signed defenseman Nolan Pratt. Signed defenseman Brandon Elliott, defenseman Brady Greco, and left wing Mitch Fritz. Signed defenseman Timo Helbling.

Washington Capitals - Signed left wing Alexander Ovechkin for 3 years. [Traded for Chris Clark.]


Chicago Blackhawks - Signed defenseman Adrian Aucoin for 4 years. Signed defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. Signed right wing Martin Lapointe for 3 years. Signed goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin for 4 years. Signed center Jim Dowd.

Columbus Blue Jackets - Signed defenseman Adam Foote to a 3 year deal, signed defenseman Bryan Berard. Signed goaltender Martin Prusek.

Detroit Red Wings - Re-signed center Steve Yzerman for 1 year. Re-signed defenseman Chris Chelios. Re-signed defenseman Mathieu Schneider. Signed center Johan Franzen.

Nashville Predators - Signed defensemen Sheldon Brookbank. Signed defensemen Mark Eaton. Signed left wing Paul Kariya for 2 years. Signed center Scott Nichol. [Traded for defenseman Danny Markov from Philadelphia.]

St Louis Blues - Signed Aaron Downey to a 1 year deal. Signed center Trent Whitfield, left wing Jeff Hoggan and center Ryan Ramsay. [Traded Chris Pronger for Eric Brewer, Jeff Woywitka and Doug Lynch from Edmonton.]


Calgary Flames - Signed right wing Tony Amonte, and right wing Darren McCarty. Re-signed right wing Jarome Iginla. Re-signed defenseman Jordan Leopold. Re-signed center Daymond Langkow. Signed defensemen Steve Marr, and defensemen Brett Palin. Signed right wing Derek Couture. Signed center Warren Peters. [Roman Turek will play in Europe.]

Colorado Avalanche - Signed center Pierre Turgeon, signed defenseman Patrice Brisebois. Signed left wing Brad May. Re-signed right wing Milan Hejduk. Signed left wing Andrew Brunette for 2 years. Re-signed Alex Tanguay.

Edmonton Oilers - [Traded Eric Brewer, Jeff Woywitka and Doug Lynch for Chris Pronger from St Louis.] Signed goaltender Jussi Markkanen. Signed defenseman Igor Ulanov.

Minnesota Wild - Signed Andrei Nazarov from Phoenix, left wing Roman Voloshenko, re-signed goaltender Manny Fernandez, and re-signed center Marc Chouinard. Signed defensemen Scott Ferguson. Signed defensemen Kurtis Foster.

Vancouver Canucks - Re-signed left wing Markus Naslund. Re-signed center Brendan Morrison for 3 years.


Anaheim Mighty Ducks - Signed defenseman Scott Niedermayer for 4 years.

Dallas Stars - Re-signed defenseman Sergei Zubov to a 3 year deal. Re-signed center Mike Modano for 5 years. Signed defenseman Martin Skoula. Re-signed defenseman Patrick Traverse, signed right wing Mathias Tjarnqvist, signed forward Vojtech Polak. Signed defenseman Mario Scalzo. Signed goaltender Johan Hedberg for 1 year. Signed defenseman Stephane Robidas.

Los Angeles Kings - Signed center Pavol Demitra to a 3 year contract, signed goaltender Jason Labarbera. [Acquired center Jeremy Roenick and a 2006 third-round pick from Philadelphia for future considerations.]

Phoenix Coyotes - Re-signed goaltender Brian Boucher, signed defenseman Matt Jones. Re-signed defenseman Brad Ference.

San Jose Sharks - Signed forward Steve Bernier, forward Joshua Hennessy, and goaltender Patrick Ehelechner.

Sources: NHL, TSN, ESPN, Sharkspage.


March of the Penguins, free agents Gonchar and Palffy flock to Pittsburgh

March of the Pittsburg Penguins

A week after Pittsburgh's selection of highly touted Sidney Crosby, the Penguins continue to make a splash signing two of the biggest unrestricted free agents on the market. Right wing Zigmund Palffy, coming off an injury shortened 2003-04 season with the Los Angeles Kings, signed on the dotted line along with premier offensive-defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

Crosby highlights a highly successful Pittsburgh draft that has yielded center Evgeny Malkin, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in the last 3 years. It is no surprise that Mario Lemieux's ownership group decided to only sell a part of the team to San Jose businessman William DelBiaggio. Look for significant movement on a new Pittsburgh arena shortly.

[Update] Gabe at Hockeybird details the bad business decisions, large player contracts, and missed venue opportunity that led to the Pittsburgh Penguins financial meltdown.

[Update2] It was reported today that Wayne Gretzky will be the new head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes. First drill for the forwards, skating behind the net to set up a tap-in goal.

[Update3] The official March of the Penguins website.

San Jose Earthquakes down Columbus Crew 2-1, move into first overall in the MLS

San Jose Earthquakes

The 2-1 win over Columbus Saturday night put the San Jose Earthquakes [10-4-7, 37PTS] one point ahead of the New England Revolution [10-4-6, 36PTS] for first place overall in Major League Soccer.

The San Jose Earthquakes pulled ahead of Columbus early in the first half on a nice left foot shot by de Rosario, with assists by Moreno and Cerritos. Brad Davis came back from his US National Team duties in the CONCACAF Gold Cup to put in the game winner, unassisted, on a free kick in the second half.

San Jose pressed hard to put the game out of reach with several scoring attempts, but eventually allowed a goal by Colombus's Chris Henderson with 12 minutes left.

Earthquakes midfielder Dwayne de Rosario commented on his first half goal:

When I saw Ronald [Cerritos] come out to get the ball from the forward position and drop back to midfield, I saw [Robin] Fraser come out with him and leave that area. I knew it was time to make that run, and Ronald has great vision, he played a perfect ball over the top. I felt the defense charging after me and I pushed it to one side to hopefully move the 'keeper along with me and keep that side of the net open.

Enjoy the Quakes run while they are still here.

[Update] An email from Soccer Silicon Valley:

Dear SSV member:

We wanted to give you a quick update on our activities since it's been over a month since our last message. As many of you are aware, there have been an increasing number of news reports that say that the team will be going to Houston next year. As we noted in our last message, that is one of AEG's options and it appears that they are preparing earnestly for that contingency.

It is not a foregone conclusion that relocation to Houston will be the team's fate, however. We are still working with an investor and things are moving forward. Unfortunately, there's not much more we can tell you. Because of the confidentiality which is required concerning this process, we are unfortunately restricted in what we can share. We understand that this is frustrating for many of you and we appreciate your continued faith in our efforts. We look forward to the time when we can be completely candid with all of you about the whole process.

Until then please accept our apologies for the silence and realize that it is in the best interests of keeping the team here. We realize that this is a difficult time for every Earthquakes fan but please note that we will keep you informed should the situation change significantly.

Contact the MLS or AEG Worldwide and tell them you want the Quakes to stay in San Jose.


Carnival of the NHL #4

Matt Saler and Brian List of OntheWings take a trip through the hockey blogs during an unprecedented free agent signing bonanza with the Carnival of the NHL #4.

Also add my mini-carnival addendum of the brand new Habs blog, and an article on a new general sports site by Eric Mirlis: rookie class like no other.

After getting an email response from Predators owner Craig Leipold for cancelling his season tickets, and losing his co-blogger Charlie Tuttle to cancer, there is finally some positive news for Jason Kirk at Predator's Den to cover: Predators sign Paul Kariya.


Paul Kariya signs 2 year deal with the Nashville Predators

Just over the wire comes news from TSN that the Nashville Predators have signed forward Paul Kariya. Terms of the deal were two years, at $4.5 million each year. Nashville Predators GM David Poile told TSN:

We are proud and excited to bring one of the National Hockey League's most dominant scorers over the past decade to Nashville. Paul Kariya is a dynamic skater and playmaker and a perfect fit for our hockey club. This sends a strong message to our fans that the Nashville Predators are prepared to compete at the highest level.

Paul Kariya scored 11 goals, and 25 assists in an injury-shortened 51 game season in 2003-04 for the Colorado Avalanche. Kariya has scored more than 30 goals 6 times for Anaheim, more than 50 goals once, and more than 100 points twice in his career.

[Update] Predators sign Paul Kariya - NashvillePredators.com.

[Update2] An ironic note on the first three days of NHL free agency, from SportsByBrooks:

NHL'S ICY IRONY: The TORONTO STAR notes the three largest player contracts handed out during the first three days of the NHL's free-agent signing period "have come from Canadian teams."

The Flames retained Jarome Iginla for three years at $21M, while the Oilers signed Chris Pronger to a five-year, $30M deal and the Canucks signed Markus Naslund to a three-year, $18M deal.

If this isn't the surest sign that the NHL's new CBA is working famously, I don't know what is.

Parity comes to NHL: Oilers can afford to sign Pronger, Peca. But Leafs haven't scored any bargains - Toronto Star.


Sidney Crosby goes on the Tonight Show, attacks clothes dryer

Sidney Crosby Jay Leno

Sidney Crosby appeared Thursday on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The 2005 #1 overall draft pick was treated to a 1950's promotional video for the city of Pittburgh, a slideshow of a pockmarked clothes dryer Crosby used to practice his slapshots on as a kid, and questioned about playing with Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.

As a finale, Leno brought out a clothes dryer with a red goal light attached, and asked Crosby to take a few shots.

In addition to Crosby and Mario, the Pittsburgh Penguins scored the best offensive defenseman available in the free agent market, Sergei Gonchar. Gonchar scored 11 goals, 47 assists, 58 points in 71 games for Washington and Boston in 2003-04. The Penguins already have a talented offensive blueliner in Dick Tarnstrom, who scored 16 goals, 36 assists, 52 points in 80 games in 2003-04.


TSN reports Sharks are in the running for defenseman Scott Niedermayer, Kariya rumors persist

[Wire] Sportsnet is reporting that Scott Niedermayer is headed to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to play alongside his brother Rob. Terms of the deal: 4 years, $27.5 million, $6.75 million per year.

A late TSN report stated that the Scott Niedermayer sweepstakes was down to three teams: the New Jersey Devils, the San Jose Sharks, and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Earlier in the day, TSN reported that the decision might come as early as Wednesday night.

San Jose confirmed the speculation, with GM Doug Wilson telling the official website "We have made an offer. This is a guy we had identified from the beginning and we are excited about this type of player considering joining our team."

The 12-year veteran defenseman has won 3 Stanley Cups and a Norris trophy while playing for the New Jersey Devils. In 2003-04, Scott Niedermayer registered 14 goals, 40 assists, 54 points, +20, and 44 PIMs in 81 games played. Niedermayer was drafted 3rd overall in 1991, behind only Eric Lindros and former Shark Pat Falloon.

Scott Niedermayer is widely regarded as the best defenseman available on the free agent market.

[Update] Rumors of San Jose's interest in forward Paul Kariya have been persistent. Updates will be posted here as they come in.

[Update2] Full list of player movement: TSN transaction log | ESPN transaction wire.

[Update3] One day after adding Rathje, Hatcher and Therien, Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob Clarke landed Peter Forsberg. Terms of the deal: 2 years, $11.5 million. Thanks to Spector for the link.

[Update4] Sharks after Niedermayer - SF Chronicle.

[Update5] Ducks Go After Devils' Niedermayer - Los Angeles Times.

A source familiar with the team said Niedermayer was in Anaheim on Wednesday and is seeking a four-year contract worth $6.7 million a year. Epp said his client has expressed strong interest to play with his brother Rob, a center with the Ducks the last two seasons.

"He has a lot of interest in being a Duck," Epp said. "Any time you can play with your brother in a nice environment in a nice city where it's a good place to raise your kids, I think it has to be a good thing."


Shark Notes - farewell Mike Rathje, hello Devin Setoguchi edition

[Wire2] Rathje Heads to Philadelphia - SJsharks.com.

Despite making a significant multi-year contract offer to Rathje during the exclusive period that each NHL team had to negotiate with their Group III Free Agents before they hit the open market, Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson and his staff knew this was a distinct possibility...

Rathje, 31, played all his 671 NHL games in a Sharks sweater, a franchise record. He leaves the franchise ranked first among all-time Sharks defenseman in goals and points (27 goals, 128 assists for 155 points).

[Wire] Update on Mike Rathje signing with the Philadelphia Flyers, from the Toronto Star: terms of the Rathje deal were $17.5 million for 5 years, $3.5 million per season, and a no-trade clause.

- According to Sportsnet, unrestricted free agent Mike Rathje [6,5 235] has signed with the Philadelphia Flyers along with big defenseman Derian Hatcher [6,5 235]. Philadelphia added a third 6 foot 5, 235 pound defenseman, former-Star Chris Therien. In one fell swoop, Flyers GM Bob Clarke added 19 feet, 3 inches and 705 pounds of defenseman to his blue line. Impressive.

- Sharks' Rathje signs with Philadelphia Flyers - SJ Mercury News.

- The Sharks announced that qualifying offers were made to:

Forwards: Matt Carkner, Ryane Clowe, Niko Dimitrakos, Nils Ekman, Alex Korloyuk, Patrick Marleau, Scott Parker, Wayne Primeau and Marco Sturm.

Defensemen: Rob Davison, Jim Fahey, Doug Murray, Tom Preissing, Garrett Stafford and Brad Stuart.

Goaltender: Nolan Schaefer

Wayne Primeau has until August 5th to decide whether or not he is a Group V unrestricted free agent. San Jose has the following players under contract for the 2005-06 season:

Forwards: Riley Armstrong, Steve Bernier, Jonathan Cheechoo, Marcel Goc, Shane Joseph, Alyn McCauley, Milan Michalek, Glenn Olson, Tomas Plihal, Mark Smith, Grant Stevenson, Scott Thornton and Craig Vallette.

Defensemen: Tim Conboy, Christian Ehrhoff, Josh Gorges, Scott Hannan, Kyle McLaren.

Goaltenders: Evgeni Nabokov, Vesa Toskala, Dimitri Patzold and Patrick Ehelechner.

- Sharks extend offers on eve of free-agent season - SF Chronicle.

- The NHL wire will have real-time updates for the latest news on free agents, trades and re-signings.

- Jim Kelley of ESPN, who has complimented Sharkspage in the past, floats an idea that Peter Forsberg might sign with San Jose. That is really a tough call.

Even before the lockout, San Jose was going to try to recover from a $9 million loss incurred during the previous season. All the pieces for a young, fast, and offensive team are in place already in San Jose. I believe any additions that Sharks GM Doug Wilson will make, will be picking off a player or two that can add to the team for a good price. But if Forsberg is on the table and interested, you have to take a shot at him.

- 67's hockey with bite sits well with Sharks, San Jose selects Ottawa's Joslin, Colbert - Ottawa Sun.

Just down the Rideau Canal from where he starred for Brian Kilrea's team in the mid-70s, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson selected Derek Joslin and Wil Colbert in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively.

Joslin and Colbert are Ottawa 67's teammates of Sharks 2004 1st round draft pick Lukas Kaspar. A number of 67's games were available online last season.

- Chuq Von Rospach has an interesting post on why the Sharks selected RW Devin Setoguchi 8th overall in Saturday's NHL entry draft.

At first glance, the kid looks a lot like Jonathan Cheechoo -- but a better skater. Not exactly a bad thing. Why would the Sharks have an idea about the real capabilities of the kid? Because he was a Saskatoon Blade. Saskatoon is the home of Sharks broadcaster (and ex-assistant coach) Drew Remenda. They've basically had someone local and watching every game the kid's played in the last season. Something they've seen has impressed them.

Why move up from 12 to 8? Because you believe someone else is also convinced and planning on moving up ahead of you to get him first. But who?

Chuq goes on to mention that Calgary GM/Coach Darryl Sutter played with Devin Setoguchi's father in a professional Japanese hockey league. If the Sharks felt it was necessary to move up, rumors that Calgary or Ottawa were going to take a stab at Setoguchi might have had something to them.

- Former NHL goaltender Manon Rheaume joins the CCHA staff as Director of Sales and Marketing.

- Complete 2005 NHL free agent list, from ESPN.com. The firesale started at 9AM pacific time yesterday.

- Hockey's Future Q&A with Sharks 2005 5th round draft pick Derek Joslin.

- NHL's Central Scouting profiled Sharks 1st round pick Devin Setoguchi:

A strong skater with a quick stride ... solid on his skates and has tremendous balance and mobility ...displays exceptional lateral movement when skating with the puck and is outstanding in one-on-one situations ... controls the puck well with his head up in full stride and in tight situations ... has a great awareness of where his teammates are and distributes the puck well using flat or saucer passes ... can score in many different ways, with his hard quick accurate shot, beating defenders or goaltenders with a deke ...goes hard to the net and has good hand-eye coordination for one-timers... has excellent scoring instincts ... usually starts his game playing the body with hard hits and finishing his checks with authority ...a very competitive player, illustrated by the fact that most his goals come on the road rather than at home ... a feisty player who is always in the face of the opponent ... uses his body well to protect the puck ... knows his responsibilities away from the puck ... is a threat to score on both the power-play and penalty-killing units ...selected fifth overall in the 2002 WHL Bantam Draft ... voted to the 2005 CHL Top Prospects game in Vancouver and won the 'hardest shot' competition ... a member of Team Canada at the 2005 U-18 World Championship.

- Jes Golbez took notice of Setoguchi at the NHL top prospects game:

Devon had a goal for Team Davidson and really stuck out for the fact he was one of the few players on the team to really make you sit up and take notice. Devin was throwing his body around (he’s 6’0" and 185, so only average) and playing with some Brule-like fire at times. I didn’t really scout Devin closely, but he was hard not to notice on a rather moribund Team Davidson.

- Setoguchi Sr. raises a winner - Alberta Hockey Now. [Thanks to Brian from Alberta for emailing this in.]

- TSN's Bob McKenzie on Devin Setoguchi:

A top offensive player, Setogouchi can finish but did so in unbelievably streaky fashion this season. When he was hot, no one was hotter, but his game lacked consistency and he suffered through a horrendous slump. Some wonder if he can deliver offensively on a consistent basis at the next level, though his supporters would point out he always gets his goals.

- Devin Setoguchi Selected With Eight Pick Overall - ClevelandBarons.net.

[Update] Like Morning Buzz in today's Mercury News, I have heard the same rumors of the Sharks interest in free agent Paul Kariya. He mentioned the Sharks draft of Japanese-Canadian Devin Setoguchi, and that his father played professionally in Japan. Paul Karyia's brother Martin had 6 goals and 12 assists in 15 games for the HC Nikko Ice Bucks of the ALIH this season.

More on the rumor from the latest Prince of Pucks column:

Paul Kariya: Another former top gun for whom there's been little media speculation, it's believed he could regain his high-scoring touch under the NHL's new rules. His drop in stock should make him an affordable signing, which could turn huge dividends if he does return to form. The Sharks, Canucks and his former team, the Mighty Ducks, are believed interested in his services.

[Update2] Offwing has a big roundup of all the free agent manueverings and hockey links in today's rink notes.


Sebastien Bourdais wins the inaugural Grand Prix of San Jose

Champ Car San Jose Grand Prix

Sebastien Bourdais wins the San Jose Grand Prix

Sebastien Bourdais wins the San Jose Grand Prix

Paul Newman SJ Grand Prix

Toyota Atlantic San Jose Katherine Legge

Miss San Jose Grand Prix

Final Champ Car San Jose Grand Prix results:

1. Sebastien Bourdais - 1:45:42.889
2. Paul Tracy - 1:45:46.613
3. Oriol Servia - 1:45:53.272

Final Toyota Atlantic race results:

1. Katherine Legge - 48:56.342
2. David Martinez - 48:57.426
3. Charles Zwolsman - 48:59.524

Final Trans-Am race results [SAT]:

1. Boris Said - 1:15:42.420
2. Greg Pickett - 1:15:42.567
3. Klaus Graf - 1:16:09.668

Smooth ride for one, Bourdais avoids pitfalls in victory - San Jose Mercury News.

By a narrow margin, Bourdais rules the lean streets of San Jose to win Grand Prix - SF Chronicle.

Complete San Jose Grand Prix recap - San Jose Mercury News.

Sebastien Bourdais widens Champ Car World Series points lead with victory at inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose - ChampCarworldseries.com.

CHAMPCAR PHOTOS: San Jose Grand Prix [7/29] - Motorsport.com.

Initial thoughts on the first Grand Prix: 62,371 announced attendance Sunday, 153,767 for the entire 3-day event; Danica Patrick who? Katherine Legge has 3 race wins in 9 total Toyota Atlantic races this season; the bounce off the light rail tracks on Almaden was much more pronounced when watching the replay on NBC11; one Champ Car racer said on his internal radio that he had never caught air like this except in a video game; the historic stock car race featured #3 Dale Earnhardt's old ride, but I could not find it in the exhibition hall; turn 4 caused six wrecks, getting there through the crowds was impossible; Sebastien Bourdais emptied a quarter magnum of champagne in my specific direction, but he missed my mouth and hit everything else.

[Note: First two links fixed, 10 hours in the sun yesterday took its toll.]

NHL free agency kicked off at 9AM pacific time today. More on free agency will be posted tomorrow.