Quakes tie Galaxy 1-1, Los Angeles advances, San Jose's MLS future uncertain

San Jose Earthquakes fan
Cobi Jones
Dwayne De Rosario

The San Jose Earthquakes tied the Los Angeles Galaxy 1-1 Saturday, in the second round of the Western Conference Semifinals. Los Angeles advances to the Western Conference Finals with an aggregate goal total of 4-2. The mood was apprehensive for San Jose fans as the waning moments ticked down. Then it turned grim as many realized this could be the last San Jose MLS game played at Spartan Stadium.

A photo gallery with a few photos from the evening is here. Thanks to the Quakes for letting me shoot from the field. More notes and links later today.

Unofficial box score from the SJ Earthquakes:

L.A. Galaxy (1-0-1) vs. S.J. Earthquakes (0-1-1)
October 29, 2005 -- Spartan Stadium

Scoring Summary:
SJ -- Brian Ching 1 (Brian Mullan 1) 42
LA -- Ned Grabavoy 1 (Landon Donovan 1, Peter Vagenas 1) 67

Los Angeles Galaxy -- Kevin Hartman, Chris Albright, Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant, Cobi Jones (Ednaldo da Conceicao 78), Paulo Nagamura, Peter Vagenas, Ned Grabavoy (Alan Gordon 72), Landon Donovan, Herculez Gomez,

Substitutes Not Used: Pablo Chinchilla, Steve Cronin, Troy Roberts

San Jose Earthquakes -- Pat Onstad, Kelly Gray (Kevin Goldthwaite 74), Danny Califf, Eddie Robinson, Wade Barrett (Ronald Cerritos 72), Brian Mullan, Ricardo Clark, Dwayne De Rosario, Mark Chung, Brian Ching, Alejandro Moreno,

Substitutes Not Used: Chris Aloisi, Ryan Cochrane, Jon Conway, Julian Nash, Danny O'Rourke, Ian Russell, Chris Wondolowski

total shots: SJ - 18 (Brian Ching 5), LA 6 (Ned Grabavoy 2), shots on goal: SJ - 7 (Brian Ching 2), LA - 3 (Ned Grabavoy 2), fouls: SJ - 15 (Brian Ching 3), LA - 18 (3 tied with 3), offsides: SJ - 1 (Alejandro Moreno 1), LA - 2 (Landon Donovan 2), corner kicks: SJ - 6 (Dwayne De Rosario 3), LA - 1 (Landon Donovan 1), saves: 2 SJ - (Pat Onstad 2), LA - 6 (Kevin Hartman 6).

Misconduct Summary:
SJ -- Kelly Gray (caution; Pushing, Holding) 44
SJ -- Ricardo Clark (caution; Pushing, Holding) 89

referee: Alex Prus
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; George Vergara
4th official: Ricardo Salazar
time of game: 1:52
attendance: 17,824
weather: Partly Cloudy -and- 60 degrees

Dominic Kinnear

Quakes 1, Galaxy 1 -- quote sheet - SJearthquakes.com.


On the game:
"I am very proud of the guys. They created chances and they showed great determination throughout the game. The second goal just wouldn't come. On another night, we might score two or three goals."

On the season:
"I told the guys after the game that they had a great season and they deserved better than this. They played correctly the whole year and gave the effort game in and game out. From week one to week 32 and beyond, I thought we played good, attractive soccer and the guys should feel proud of that."


On beating his former team:
"It was a little bit of revenge. They've been nasty to me all year, and I don't think it's warranted or justified, and it's nice to just get it over with."

On the emotion of facing the Earthquakes:
"I needed to get down for this game. I was excited starting last night. But I think we played well. Giving up the first goal hurt us, but Ned's goal just gave us the lift we needed ... That killed them."

Quakes' offensive woes lead to loss - MLSnet.com.

"It was like a shooting gallery out there," said San Jose midfielder Mark Chung. "But no ducks."

[Update] Notes from the game: De Rosario rushed down the right side early in the first half and crushed a shot all the way from the sideline that missed wide by a few feet. Late in the first half, the ref called a yellow card, a phantom penalty that halted a SJ rush, and missed a Galaxy hand ball all in the span of a few minutes. Near the 60th minute, 4 rolls of toilet paper came streaming from the end zone onto the field. Both coaches argued with the official over whether the clock should stop, it did not. The last 20 minutes of the game, Los Angeles did little more than clear the ball as San Jose pressed hard to finish on its numerous scoring chances. The Galaxy held on for a 1-1 tie.

[Update2] Donovan motivated by 'idiots' in stands, Quakes fans now fuel him with jeers instead of cheers - SJ Mercury News.

Landon Donovan credited the fans who tormented him at Spartan Stadium for helping him and the Los Angeles Galaxy sink the Earthquakes.

"It's too bad, because they had a good team, a team that had a chance to be champion," said Donovan. "But the idiots in the stands motivated me to a level I haven't felt in awhile."

This is a little ridiculous. You leave San Jose to fulfill your obligations in Germany, fine. That does not work out and you return to Los Angeles, the arch-rival of the Earthquakes, and San Jose does not receive anything for losing their star player? Be prepared to be booed. Of course there will be a few individuals who take it too far, but most of the "idiots" rushing to the front rail to boo Landon on Saturday were under 16. The prevent offense, and hair-trigger flopping on display at Spartan Stadium will not earn a championship if they have to face Chicago.

[Update3] An unfortunate postscript from Grahame L. Jones of the Los Angeles Times.

For the Earthquakes, meanwhile, the future looks bleak. Saturday night's game could well have been the last in their 10-year history. A phone call from AEG in Los Angeles or from MLS in New York could soon pull the plug on the two-time MLS champions.

Neither the Earthquakes — who drew a playoff record crowd of 17,824 to Spartan Stadium on Saturday — nor the Kansas City Wizards are selling season tickets for the 2006 season. Both teams are expected to be relocated by the league during the off-season.

There is a slight chance that a local buyer could come through at the last minute for the Earthquakes, but the odds on that are not promising.

The San Jose Earthquakes played in the North American Soccer League at Spartan Stadium from 1974-1982, and as a franchise of the Western Soccer Alliance from 1985 to 1988. Pele came out of retirment with the NY Cosmos in 1977 and lost to the Earthquakes 2-1 in a regular season game at Spartan Stadium.

The San Jose Clash joined the MLS as an inaugural franchise in 1994, and began play in 1996. San Jose switched back to the Earthquakes team name in 1999, and later won MLS Cups in 2001 and 2003. In 2005, the San Jose Earthquakes set the record for fewest losses in a season, and won the supporters shield with the best overall record in the MLS [18-4-10].

[Update4] Soccer: Mark Chung considering retirement and other Earthquakes-Galaxy post-game notes - San Jose Mercury News sports blog. And another Hartman watching the ball sail by him photo courtesy of the Soccer Silicon Valley blog.

[Update5] Gone Freddie Gone? - Offwing.

Know this: D.C. United may very well be the flagship MLS franchise. But the folks who run MLS and the U.S. Soccer Federation care more for the game as a whole, than they do about being fair to D.C. United. And if they come to the conclusion that Adu and the state of the sport in America would be better served if he left Washington, expect it to happen in a New York (or L.A.) minute.

Mexico vs USA amateur boxing tonight in San Francisco

San Jose Earthquakes fan

Visit SFgoldengloves.com or the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for more information.



Donovan Elimination Day - San Jose Earthquakes face Los Angeles in deciding 2nd playoff game

Dwayne De Rosario

After dropping the initial playoff game last Saturday in Los Angeles 3-1, the San Jose Earthquakes face an uphill battle for today's Landon Donvan elimination game 7:00 at Spartan Stadium.

Donovan scored two goals, and Herculez Gomez scored once to give the Galaxy a 2 goal lead in the best-of-two playoff series. Ricardo Clark scored for San Jose in the middle of the second half shortly after a free kick.

The San Jose Earthquakes website posted an interview with head coach Dominic Kinnear. Kinnear talked about the team's mindset heading into the 2nd game, whether the Quakes have an advantage over the Galaxy controlling balls in the air, and if he expects the Galaxy to do anything differently on Saturday. Dominic answers selected questions sent in by fans every Thursday.

The Mercury News notes that ownership questions, and a potential relocation to Houston, increase the significance of today's playoff matchup. For Quakes, it's at last time to play, to prove - SJ Mercury News.

Some players think that winning the MLS Cup might persuade their investor-operator, the Anschutz Entertainment Group, and the league to let them stay put. But not everyone is sure.

"The talk of us moving has been going on for four years," Robinson said. "We've won two championships and that hasn't changed much. I don't know what a third would do."

The Boston Garden like confines of Spartan Stadium are notoriously unfriendly to visiting teams. Case in point is the fact that the Earthquakes were the first MLS team to go undefeated for an entire season at home, with the unbeaten streak stretching to 18 regular season games going back to 2004. A second factor was the Galaxy's 4-2 lead after the first of two playoff games in 2003. San Jose spotted Los Angeles another two goals, and then went on an offensive tear to reel off five unanswered goals. The Earthquakes won the second playoff game 5-2, and the two-game series 5-4.

San Jose Earthquakes 2, Los Angeles Galaxy 1

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Galaxy do not want to keep it close this time. Galaxy Wants to Avoid a Close Call - Los Angeles Times.

"My guess is they're going to come out fired up," [Landon Donovan] said. "They're going to be intense. And they're going to put a lot of pressure on us, especially early. Our job is to weather that and to make the most of our chances going the other way.

"I'm sure the game is going to look pretty one-sided at points."

The Soccer Silicon Valley blog posts an interesting note on a bidding war for television coverage of the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. ABC, NBC and Fox are all in the running. Read Michael Hiestand's USA Today column on Sports Television for more.

This quote by MLS Commissioner Don Garber should raise an eyebrow:

Garber also suggests FIFA, in awarding U.S. World Cup rights, might consider requiring the winning bidder to also carry MLS games: "It's our view that FIFA will ensure that any decision they make will support overall growth in soccer interest in this country."

Earthquakes need big win vs. Galaxy - MLSnet.com.

Goal.com is predicting a 2-2 outcome. Quakes vs Galaxy will be on HDnet tonight. The UK blog UnitedRant, offering fair and balanced football coverage, notes that former Manchester United and San Jose Earthquakes star George Best is critically ill at a Chelsea hospital.

San Jose Earthquakes win 2-1 over Los Angeles in So-Cal vs No-Cal grudge match - August 28th.


NHL Notes - October 28th edition

Jason Labarbera

- While the Sharks are fielding Nolan Schaefer and Dmitri Patzold for tonight's game, Los Angeles Kings 6-3, 225-pound rookie netminder Jason Labarbera leads the NHL with a 1.40 GAA, 5 wins 0 losses, .947 SV%, and a total of 7 goals against in 5 games.

Last year, Labarbera notched a 31-16-2 record, 1.84 GAA, and .934 SV% in 53 games played for Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. In 2004-05, Jason Labarbera shared the Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Trophy for the fewest AHL goals against average with Stephen Valiquette. In 2003-04, Labarbera received the Les Cunningham Plaque for AHL regular season MVP, and the Baz Bastien Memorial Trophy for best AHL goaltender.

Jason LaBarbera: King of the Crease - TSN.

- A press release yesterday from the San Jose Sharks:

Evgeni Nabokov Placed On Injured Reserve

SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has recalled goaltender Dimitri Patzold from the Cleveland Barons, the Sharks top development affiliate in the American Hockey League. In three games with Cleveland this season, Patzold has posted a 1-2-0 record with a 4.67 goals-against average. The six-foot, 195-pound goaltender from Kamengorsk, Kazakhstan was originally selected by San Jose in the fourth round (107th overall) in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

In related news, the Sharks placed goaltender Evgeni Nabokov on Injured Reserve retroactive to October 21. He is eligible to return to action on October 29 when the Sharks host the Calgary Flames at HP Pavilion.

Goalies Cheering On Goalies - SJsharks.com.

- NHL.com's John McGourty notes that Mike Rathje is a key to the Philadelphia Flyer's plans this season.

"When fans look at the new players that we've brought in, Peter Forsberg, Derian Hatcher, Mike Knuble, Turner Stevenson, Brian Savage and Mike Rathje," said Flyers' coach Ken Hitchcock, "the one they're going to be surprised by the most is Mike Rathje. I coached against him for many years and I know that he believes he is a great defenseman, and he is, and he takes a lot of pride in that. He also takes a lot of pride in his penalty killing. I know we are going to kill a lot of penalties this season because of Mike Rathje."

San Jose has struggled up until this point to fill the very large hole left by Rathje's departure.

- The ECHL Stockton Thunder came back, but eventually lost their inaugural game to the Fresno Falcons 4-3 on Saturday. Noah Whyte scored the first goal in Stockton Thunder history, and was later waived by head coach Chris Cichocki. Cichocki told the Stockton Record "I had a restless night over it, and it's never easy to do this. But I think this is an upgrade."

- Rumors are picking up around inactive forward Owen Nolan. His status is still up in the air until a contract buyout with the Toronto Maple Leafs can be arranged, but Spector reports that the Phoenix Coyotes are interested.

[Phoenix] General manager Michael Barnett told the paper if things didn't improve over the next ten games or so that there could some personnel changes. Speculation persists Barnett is interested in signing Owen Nolan once his contract buyout with the Toronto Maple Leafs has been settled. If so, he could face some competition from the Calgary Flames, as it's rumored GM Darryl Sutter, who coached Nolan in San Jose, might also be interested in him.

- Last week I did not make the trip from Manhatten up to Long Island for the second half of a Rangers-Islanders home at home. No use making the 1+ hour subway trip if the game is obviously going to be sold out, right? Wrong.

Notes: The Islanders were 387 tickets short of a sellout, the first time a game between the local rivals wasn't filled to capacity at Nassau Coliseum since April 4, 1998.

Eric McErlain of Offwing noted:

The first time in seven years a Rangers-Islanders game hasn't sold out? Amazing, and a fact I'd find a bit troubling if I was in the front office on Long Island or at NHL HQ in Manhattan or Toronto.

Or it could just be that everyone thought the game was already sold out.

- News of the weird: Bearcat bites 2 Dallas Stars. Thanks to Andrew for the link.

- Notes from the first San Jose video hockey hotstove from SJSharks.com featuring Randy Hahn, Drew Remenda, Dan Rusanowsky and Jamie Baker:

"I am surprised the changes have happened so quick. I thought the players would take a little longer getting used to the calls... The players are grasping it. The referees and the players are starting to work together which seems better to me... If there is a call, the referee skates over to the player and says, this is why." - Drew Remenda.

"The new NHL is about puck possession more than dumping the puck in and forcing the other team to make mistakes." - Jamie Baker.

- Is Sidney Crosby the ‘Real Deal’? - Protrade.com. Not too many websites where you can read an article on an NHL player and then check out his P/E ratio. Just don't buy him on margin.

- Deutscher Eishockey Liga update from Eccho:

The Eisbaren Berlin announced today the signing of Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Tomas Popperle. He was selected by Columbus at #131 overall (5th round) in the 2005 draft. He was born on 10th october 1984 in Broumov,Czech Republic. He was playing his first year as a professional (with Sparta Praha) last season recording 15 wins, 9 losses and 1 tie, 4 shutouts,a 1.58 gaa and a 94.9% spct. He was named rookie of the year.

21 year old canadian center Patrick Jarrett is doing a tryout with the Eisbären. He was drafted 2002 by the Nashville Predators (5th round - 138 overall).Last season he was playing with the Owen Sound Attack in the Ontario Hockey League (Regular season: 68gp 27g 49a 76p 56pim - Playoffs: 8gp 4g 6a 10p 10pim)

Tonights game:
Hannover Scorpions-Adler Mannheim

Hannover defeated Mannheim 4-3 if you are curious. Former Shark Steven Guolla had 2 goals for the Hannover Scorpions, and Rene Corbet put in two for Adler Mannheim. Trevor Kidd earned the win making 27 saves on 30 shots.

- A Civil War in Russian Hockey? - Jes Golbez.

According to this article on Eurohockey.net, the Head of the Russian Federation agency of physical culture and sport, Slava Fetisov, is close to launching the European-Asian Hockey League (EAHL).

As Russian Information Agency “Novosti” reported on Thursday, the Declaration was signed by the general managers of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Avangard Omsk, CSKA Moskva, Spartak Moskva, Severstal Cherepovets, SKA St.Petersburg, Khimik Moscow Region, HC MVD Tver, Molot-Prikamie Perm and the Minister of Tatarstan Republic, which is part of Russian Federation, Marat Bariev. (There are two teams from Tatarstan in RSL – Ak Bars Kazan and Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk).

As it stands now, Dynamo Moskva, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Lada Togliatti, Metallurg Novokuznetsk, Vityaz Chekhov, Sibir Novosibirsk and Salavat Yulayev Ufa declined to sign this Declaration.

The launch of EAHL is planned for next autumn. There will be nine Russian teams participating in the inaugural season as well as three teams from ex-USSR countries – Ukrainian Sokol Kiev, Belarus Keramin Minsk and Kazakhstan Kazzinc-Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk. The EAHL plans to expand in its second season when 16 teams are to be in the league. Most likely the additions come from two Russian teams, one team from Latvia and two teams from Eastern Europe region.


- Alexander Korolyuk is playing with Vityaz Chekhov in the Western Conference of the Russian High League (Vysshaya Liga), one level below the Russian Superleague (Superliga). According to Russian Prospects, Korolyuk has 7 goals and 10 assists in 17 games played for Vityaz.

- There was a Curtis Joseph siting last night in Phoenix, from the Slam newsletter:


Curtis Joseph reached a milestone but Philippe Sauve did most of the work last night. The Calgary Flames' backup netminder was spectacular in his first start of the season, stopping 30 shots. But he couldn't stop Mike Comrie from scoring his second of the night during a scramble in front of the net with 88 seconds left in regulation to give the Phoenix Coyotes a dramatic 3-2 win at Glendale Arena.

Cujo made 30 saves in his first start of the season, but a late Mike Comrie goal with just over a minute left in the third gave the Phoenix Coyotes a 3-2 win.

San Jose State vs Colorado College

- From San Jose State captain #4 Ray Kellam:

SJSU has never been ranked number one ever. With the rowdy help of our fans, if we can upset current #1 seed CSU both games, it would be impossible to not rank SJSU as the #1 team in the WEST out of 30 teams. This is going to be a war! Come out and get rowdy! All greeks, costume wearers and Spartan Squad members get in free for this weekend.

Friday- 7:45pm vs. Colorado State Rams
Saturday 7pm vs. Colorado State Rams
Both games at Logitech Ice

For more information visit SJSUhockey.com. Just an FYI, Colorado College's NCAA hockey program finished second overall in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll this week. They currently have a 5-1-0 record and received two first place votes. Scroll to the bottom of this post for the poll.

- The NHL Live radio program is once again, live.

- Mike Lee of thefeeder.com passes on a link to the Save the Instigator blog. Charlie Teljeur, the artist behind The Instigator, had his NHL comic shelved this season by CBC.ca until they could find a sponsor. You can send an email to the CBC here.

Charlie also contributed a cartoon for the blog that details the Flyer's new attempt to solidfy their playoff goaltending.

[Update] Cablevision to add OLN to digital line-up - NHL.com.

Cablevision to add OLN to digital line-up

BETHPAGE, NY and STAMFORD, CT (October 28, 2005) -- Cablevision Systems Corp. and OLN today announced that they had reached an agreement under which Cablevision will include OLN, which has exclusive rights to carry 58 regular season NHL hockey games, numerous playoff games and the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, as part of its iO digital service. These New York area hockey fans will be able to watch Monday's Rangers game on OLN.

"We are pleased that we were able to reach agreement with Comcast in a number of areas, including making OLN and its exclusive telecasts of NHL hockey games available to many more Cablevision customers," said Mac Budill, Cablevision's senior vice president of programming. "Beginning with Monday night's game between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens, OLN's exclusive national hockey telecasts will be available to the majority of our cable customers through our iO digital service."

Now the NHL, Comcast and OLN have to work to get back on Echostar's Dish Network. One solution that would bypass all of the cable problems, is to open up the online streaming of games to more than just Comcast High-Speed customers.


Marleau overtime goal snaps 4 game losing streak

In overtime, Patrick Marleau was the first player to race to a puck that was shoveled into the neutral zone. He gathered the puck for a lone breakaway on Dallas goaltender Marty Turco. After switching the puck from forehand to backhand twice, Marleau shot it past Turco low on his glove side for the game winner.

The OT win broke a four game San Jose losing streak, where the Sharks lost on the road in OT to Detroit 3-2, allowing 5 third period goals in a 6-1 loss to Minnesota, a 4-1 loss to Columbus, and a 2-1 loss to Nashville.

With the Sharks on the power play and trailing 4-3 in the third period, Marco Sturm converted a nice point blank feed from Scott Thornton to tie the game at 4 with 19 seconds left. Marcel Goc, Scott Hannan, and Jonathan Cheechoo also scored for San Jose. Jere Lehtinen, Trevor Daley, and Jussi Jokinen [2] scored for Dallas.

Sharks goaltender Vesa Toskala left in the second period with a groin injury, Evgeni Nabokov is out until this weekend with an unspecified "upper body" injury. Goaltender Nolan Schaefer posted a win in his first NHL appearance Wednesday night, Schaefer made 12 saves on 13 shots. Cleveland Barons goalie Dimitri Patzold will probably join the Sharks in Los Angeles Friday. According to the SF Chronicle, it was the first Sharks win on the road in Dallas in almost 4 years, with the Sharks having an 0-5-1 record dating back to Dec. 17, 2001. Marcel Goc did not convert a penalty shot on Marty Turco in the second period. Dallas forward Brenden Morrow poked a puck past Schaefer in OT, but the ref had blown the play dead moments prior. All 4 Dallas goals came at even strength. Nils Ekman was a health scratch.

Marleau completes comeback - SF Chronicle.

Split decision: Sharks win game, lose another goalie. Schaefer comes through after Toskala departs - SJ Mercury News.

Stars very giving in loss to Sharks - Dallas Morning News.

The old hockey saying is "You are who you are," and the Stars were themselves Wednesday night.

In a microcosm of the season, Dallas was awful early, spirited in the middle and frustrating in the end, losing a 5-4 overtime game to the San Jose Sharks.

The overtime loss drops the Stars to 5-3-1, while Pacific Division rival San Jose gets a much-needed road win and jumps to 4-5-1. Dallas was 19.9 seconds from taking a victory in regulation.

"It's frustrating," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "They're division games, and there's no excuse to give away games like that."

Stars let one slip away - Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Why the Stars lost: Inconsistency. Coach Dave Tippett said it, and the Stars exemplified it. Missed opportunities, poor puck handling and penalties led to their late downfall.

Why the Sharks won: They capitalized with a late regulation goal on their sixth power play, then sent the dagger home with Patrick Marleau's overtime goal.

San Jose Sharks 5 Dallas Stars 4, OT - NHL.com.

[Update] For a schedule of free streamed NHL broadcasts for Comcast High-Speed Internet customers click here. Thanks to Andrew for the link.

[Update2] A dissenting opinion on Brenden Morrow's disallowed OT goal from Grapevine's Sports Ramblings, with video evidence. Your objection is duely noted.

[Update3] Schaefer enjoys first NHL victory - Clevelandbarons.net.

[Update4] A note from the ECHL with a few interesting statistics:

PRINCETON, N.J. - Former Fresno goaltender Nolan Schaefer made 12 saves for the San Jose Sharks in his National Hockey League debut on Wednesday and former Dayton defenseman Steven Goertzen played his fourth game with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Schaefer picked up the 5-4 overtime win at Dallas after coming on in relief of starter Vesa Toskala, who sustained a groin injury, while Goertzen skated 12 shifts in the Blue Jackets 3-2 win against Nashville. There have now been 266 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 10 who have made their NHL debut in 2005-06.

Selected in the fifth round (166th overall) by San Jose in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, the 25-year-old Schaefer began his professional career with Fresno in 2003-04 and was 5-5-0 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 3.12 and a save percentage of .910 before being called up to Cleveland of the American Hockey League where he was 14-9-3 with two shutouts, a goals-against average of 2.34 and a save percentage of .925 in 27 regular season games and 4-5 with a goals-against average of 2.51 and a save percentage of .927 in nine playoff games.

Selected in the seventh round (225th overall) by Columbus in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, the 21-year-old Goertzen had three assists in 11 games with Dayton as a rookie in 2004-05 while also playing in the AHL with Syracuse where he had nine points (2g-7a) and 100 penalty minutes in 57 games. The Premier 'AA' Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL and there is one head coach, 12 assistant coaches, 12 referees and five linesmen working in the NHL in 2005-06 who have ECHL experience.

There have been 10 players in 2005-06 that have made their first NHL appearance since playing in the ECHL: Adam Berkhoel (Atlanta on October 15), Derek Boogaard (Minnesota on October 5), Michael Garnett (Atlanta on October 12), Steven Goertzen (Columbus on October 21), Timo Helbling (Tampa Bay on October 5), Colin Hemingway (St. Louis on October 19), Raitis Ivanans (Montreal on October 8), George Parros (Los Angeles on October 5), Nolan Schaefer (San Jose on October 26) and Mark Streit (Montreal on October 8).

Jamie Holden, who was assigned to the Fresno Falcons after the San Jose Sharks training camp, was called up to the AHL Cleveland Barons. Holden earned a 4-3 win making 18 saves on 21 shots in his first start over the Stockton Thunder on Saturday.


Ranking the NHL power rankings

- TSN rankings from October 24 have San Jose dropping from 8th to 28, noting the unusual concern over Shark goaltending.

- FoxSports rankings from October 18th have San Jose rising 14 spots from 28th to 14th based on a strong week 2 performance.

They earned five out of a possible six points in their three Week 2 games, losing out of the sixth point by dropping a heartbreaker in overtime to the Red Wings.

- Jeff Sagarin's NHL ratings are available via USA Today. San Jose ranks 25th, with a rating of 2.64. The Ottawa Senators lead the NHL with a 7.25, and the Columbus Blue Jackets bring up the rear with a 1.92. Sagarian rates the difficulty of San Jose's schedule at 18th, and predicts a slight bump up to 2.86 in the overall ratings. The Pacific Division also rates last in his Divisional power rankings.

- ESPN switches things up a little and offers and around-the-rink look at the NHL with several different analysts contributing. Remembering the last NHL season coverage on ESPN taxes the long term memory muscles, but ESPN's power rankings, and the sarcastic commentary and occasional fan reaction was one of the reasons I returned to the website often.

Bring it back.

- McKeen's Hockey top 4: Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs. The ranking from October 18th notes that a high goals against average is keeping San Jose [12th] from the NHL elite.

- S.I. had the Sharks [#8] cracking the top 10 last week. Yahoo has San Jose at #15 based on a tough point earned on the road in Detroit and a not-so-good 5 third-period scored by the Minnesota Wild in the next game. The Globe and Mail concurs with the fifteenth slot for San Jose.

- Hockeyanalysis.com is an interesting blog using their own statistical recipe to rank the 30 NHL teams, and offer daily predictions. The last power ranking from the 19th has San Jose at 20th with a 9.3, Ottawa at first with a 15.9, and 0-6 Pittsburgh last with a 5.1.

His strong/good/some confidence designations remind me a little of the Homeland Security color-coded terror warning system, which is not a good thing. He also offers a graphic keeping a running statistical total of the goals per game average from 2005-06 compared to the average from 2003-04.

- Thanks to Ninja's Dojo for helping me fill out my power ranking's list with McKeens, GM, and Hockey Analysis.

[Update] Post and yee shall receive, ESPN Power Rankings. Ranking the Red Wings [#1 offense] over the Hasek-lead Senators and undefeated Predators [7-0] at this point raises an eyebrow. Hear me now and remember this later, Tomas Vokoun will bring a Stanley Cup to Nashville.

Darren Eliot believes that Vokoun's greatest strength is his glove hand, but every game I watch him his speed and ability to never give up on a play stand out. There may have been far too many mad scrambles in front of the crease, and times when it looked like he was driving a golf cart on a driving range, but he always made that last stretch which forced you to say, "that should have been a goal".

Prior to training camp I had the Flyers, Flames, Sharks and Senators in my top 4, the Predators, Canucks and Canadiens in my top 8. Those would have changed slightly after the wholesale free agent changes, but Toronto, Buffalo, and Los Angeles were near the bottom and have had surprisingly good starts.

[Update2] This is a good place to add this press release of a College Hockey Poll from USAhockey.com. If you want the rankings from Women's college hockey, drop me a line and I will post them or send you an email.

On USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll for Oct 24-30th

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The University of Michigan held its position atop the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll for the second straight week following a 3-3 tie with rival.

This Week's Top-15 Match-ups

Friday, October 28
No. 8 Michigan State @ No. 3 Cornell
No. 9 Denver @ No. 6 North Dakota
No. 5 Maine @ No. 10 Boston College

Saturday, October 29
No. 8 Michigan State @ No. 3 Cornell
No. 9 Denver @ No. 6 North Dakota
No. 10 Michigan State University

This week will feature a full slate of games, as the Ivy League schools will also begin play. No. 3 Cornell University will kick off its season when it welcomes No. 8 Michigan State for a pair of games. Meanwhile, No. 6 University of North Dakota will begin league play by hosting a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series against No. 9 University of Denver. Finally, in Hockey East Association action, No. 5 Maine will travel to take on No. 10 Boston College.

NOTES: Michigan State's No. 8 ranking is its highest since Oct. 7, 2002 ... Northern Michigan University jumped back into the poll at No. 14 with a pair of victories against archrival Michigan Tech University. Northern Michigan had held a position on the poll for two weeks before falling out last week.

ABOUT THE POLL: The eleventh annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the American Hockey Coaches Association and USA Hockey Magazine, the official publication of USA Hockey.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine
Men's College Hockey Poll -- #4

[First-place votes in parentheses, Last Week, Record, Weeks In Top 15]

1. U. of Michigan, 493(23), 1, 4-0-1, 4
2. Colorado College, 425(2), 4, 5-1-0, 4
3. Cornell U., 416(3), 3, 0-0-0, 4
4. Ohio State U., 410(3), 2, 2-1-1, 4
5. U. of Maine, 400(3), 5, 5-1-0, 4
6. U. of North Dakota, 347, 6, 4-1-1, 4
7. U. of Minnesota, 322, 8, 2-1-1, 4
8. Michigan State U., 250, 10, 2-0-1, 3
9. U. of Denver, 224, 9, 2-2-0, 4
10. Boston College, 209, 7, 1-1-1, 4
11. U. of Vermont, 155, 14, 4-0-0, 2
12. U. of Wisconsin, 152, 13, 2-1-1, 4
13. U. of New Hampshire, 74, 12, 1-2-1, 4
14. Northern Michigan U., 50, NR, 3-1-0, 3
15. Bemidji State U., 45, 15, 4-0-0, 2

Others receiving votes: Boston University, 24; Miami (Ohio) University, 21; St. Lawrence University, 19; Dartmouth College, 18; Harvard University, 16; University of Alaska Fairbanks, 4; Mercyhurst College, 4; Colgate University, 2.

Goaltender Nolan Schaefer recalled from Cleveland

A press release last week from the San Jose Sharks:


SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has recalled goaltender Nolan Schaefer from the Cleveland Barons, the Sharks top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.

In three games with Cleveland this season, Schaefer has posted a 1-2-0 record with a 3.01 goals-against average. The six-foot-two, 195-pound goaltender was originally selected by San Jose in the fifth round (166th overall) in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that Evgeni Nabokov may be ready to return from an "upper body" injury as early as next week. The Sharks play on the road at Dallas on Wednesday, and at Los Angeles on Friday. San Jose returns home Saturday to face their 2004 Western Conference Finals opponent, the Calgary Flames.

[Update] Sharks' goal: Get better production from their goalies - SF Chronicle.

[Update2] Press release from the ECHL on former Shark prospect Seamus Kotyk.

PRINCETON, N.J. - Augusta goaltender Seamus Kotyk is the Reebok Hockey ECHL Saver of the Week for October 21-23.

The 5-foot-11 and 187-pound Kotyk was 2-0-0 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 0.59 and a save percentage of .983 save percentage.

On opening night, Kotyk came in relief on opening night just after the second period began and stopped 26 of 27 shots to give the Lynx a 4-2 win against South Carolina. In his first ECHL start on Saturday, the 25-year-old made 31 saves, including two in overtime, as Augusta beat Columbia 1-0.

Selected in the fifth round (147th overall) by the Boston Bruins in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, the 25-year-old was 10-6-1 and had a goals-against average of 2.95 in 23 games with Milwaukee of the American Hockey League in 2004-05. On April 17, he became the eighth goalie in AHL history to score a goal when he accomplished the feat against San Antonio.

Kotyk, who played three seasons with Cleveland of the AHL, won the Gretzky Trophy as the Ontario Hockey League's postseason Most Valuable Player in 2001 as the Ottawa 67's advanced to the Memorial Cup. In four seasons with Ottawa of the Ontario Hockey League he was 75-38-18 with 12 shutouts and a goals-against average of 2.73.

Runners Up: Matt Yeats, Idaho (3-0-0, 1.67 GAA, .940 save pct.) and Jeff Glass, Charlotte (1-0-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 save pct.) Also Nominated: Matt Underhill (Alaska), Rob Gherson (Columbia), Brett Jaeger (Fresno), Mike Morrison (Greenville), Sean Fields (Gwinnett), Frederic Cloutier (Pensacola), Mathieu Chouinard (Phoenix), Cody Rudkowski (Reading), Tyler Weiman (San Diego), Maxime Daigneault (South Carolina), Logan Koopmans (Toledo), Scott Stirling (Trenton), Alfie Michaud (Utah) and BJ Boxman (Victoria).

Echostar removes OLN from Dish Network's offerings, Cablevision protests blackout

Already widely reported, but last week Echostar removed the Outdoor Life Network from the offerings of The Dish Network:

The owner of The Dish Network said Thursday it pulled the Outdoor Life Network from its system after the cable channel failed to provide NHL games to the nation's second-largest satellite television provider.

EchoStar Communications Corp. spokesman Marc Lumpkin said the network did not show games on Oct. 10-11 and on Monday and Tuesday as advertised. "We were not given advance notice that they would not show the programming," he said.

OLN released a statement responding to Echostar's removal of OLN from The Dish Network:

OLN Statement Regarding DISH Network

We were surprised and disappointed that DISH unilaterally chose to stop providing OLN to its customers without warning, and denied fans access great sports coverage. Fortunately, those customers do have the ability to explore other cable and satellite options that carry OLN.

More from Reuters and the Hollywood Reporter at the Washington Post: Dish slashes Comcast's NHL channel.

A three-way brawl over National Hockey League games has broken out among Comcast, Cablevision and EchoStar, which on Thursday ejected the Comcast-owned OLN channel from its Dish Network lineup.

Earlier this month, Comcast began replacing NHL games scheduled on the channel with other OLN programing on systems run by Cablevision and EchoStar. The two distributors were put in Comcast's penalty box because they put OLN on channel tiers available to fewer than 40 percent of their subscribers, according to a Comcast spokesman.

Sources said EchoStar stunned Comcast brass by yanking the channel without warning. Company executives flew to the satellite service's Denver headquarters Thursday to negotiate a truce, but after 10 minutes of discussion, EchoStar ended the meeting, citing an unspecified crisis.

OLN owner Comcast is receiving heaploads of criticism for its blackout of games on cable networks with less than 40% of total OLN availability by customers. Cablevision, the large NY-NJ cable provider, is protesting the OLN blackout.

The Hollywood Reporter notes Cablevision's position.

Cablevision has no plans to pull OLN, according to a spokesman. But the operator isn't giving up the fight, either. "We continue to carry OLN, and we continue to call upon them to cease their illegal electronic blocking of hockey games in New York," the spokesman said.

Jamie Fitzpatrick expands on the cable standoff at About.com.

As a small player among the cable giants, OLN is using hockey to expand its audience. So cable distribution companies have been told they must provide OLN to at least 40 percent of their households. Otherwise, NHL games are blacked out.

That has led to a stand-off with two distributors: Cablevision serves 3 million customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut; the Dish Network has 11 million subscribers, mostly around Philadelphia. Those companies can't hit the 40 percent mark unless they move OLN to a less expensive channel package. (Most of us know all about these "packages" or "tiers" of channels. That's where you pay for a dozen channels you don't want in order to get the two you do want, thereby subsidizing all that garbage nobody ever watches.)

OLN is actively promoting the Total Choice package available from DirectTV. Thanks to Offwing, Kukla's Korner and my NHL news page for the links.

Before the inevitable onslaught of criticism continues, it took me 3-4 years to get ESPN2 on my local cable lineup while friends and family one mile north and one mile south received it with no problems. I relied on word-of-mouth for my ESPN2 NHL2nite updates. Actually, many of them were of the "did you see that last night" variety. The answer was usually, "no".

Instead of trying to be the first one to note the time and date of the death of the NHL on OLN, I am interested in how they address some of the problems. If they hammer out the cable availability problems soon, and address a few of the glitches on the broadcast, all of this will be a footnote.

[Update] Dish subscribers losers in hockey battle over OLN - Denver Post.


World Sumo Challenge descends on New York City

Normal hockey programming, and a regular internet connection, will return to this blog next week.

World Sumo Challenge New York

Sumo champions from Japan, Mongolia, Germany, Ukraine, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Poland, Georgia, Hungary, Norway, and the USA competed at Madison Square Garden this evening for the World Sumo Challenge. The World Sumo Challenge Cup, sanctioned by the International Sumo Federation, is scheduled for a national tour of North American venues in 2006.

The pre-event entertainment featured a history of sumo, a martial arts demonstration, and a Japanese women in a long, flowing yellow gown sitting on a large ring hanging from the rafters. Musashimaru, a longtime Sharkspage favorite, provided color commentary ringside for a future video broadcast. Musashimaru was the second American-born Yokozuna, the highest rank that can be earned in sumo.

The 24 wrestlers were divided into four clans. There were 3 round robin matches in each clan, with the four clan winners fighting each other for the Championship.

World Sumo Challenge New York

World Sumo Challenge New York

Mitshuhiko Fukao of Japan defeated Petar Stoyanov of Bulgaria in the final to win the inaugural World Sumo Challenge. Stoyanov initiated a throw, but the 410 pound Fukao used his leverage to force the Bulgarian to hit the mat first.

The bleached blonde Hans Borg of Norway was far from the largest competitor at 6,4, 324 pounds, but his enthusiasm was contagious and made him an early fan favorite. After readjusting and preparing for each bout, Hans would raise his leg high in the air and the fans at Madison Square Garden erupted in applause.

The largest sumo wrestler was 6,1, 461 pound Deszo Libor of Hungary. The smallest competitor was 5,9, 200 pound Georgiev Stiliyan of Bulgaria. Stiliyan defeated a number of wrestlers who were almost twice his size, each time taking the initial charge head on. He eventually lost to the crafty Petar Stoyanov, who used his size and skill to force the smaller wrestler outside of the circle.

Big-boy wrestlers a sumo-ngous hit - NY Daily News.

Are You Ready For A Sumo Smackdown? - Time.

For notes and links on the Grand Sumo Las Vegas basho, click here.

[Update] Bonus photo:


Born on May 2 1971 in American Samoa, Musashimaru grew up in Hawaii and later traveled to Japan in 1989. After quickly rising up through the ranks, he earned a record 52 consecutive tournaments without suffering a loss. In 1993, American-born Akebono became the first foreign-born rikishi [wrestler] to earn the highest rank in Japanese sumo [Yokozuna]. Musashimaru became the second American-born Yokozuna in 1999 when he was able to win the Grand Championship.

According to Wikipedia, Musashimaru was declared "the most successful foreign sumo wrestler ever" upon his retirement October 2, 2004.


Letterman and the Rock on USC vs Notre Dame

Letterman and the Rock on USC vs Notre Dame Late Show with David Letterman

Posted from the David Letterman show in NYC last night, with The Rock and 13rd year old pianist Kit Armstrong as guests. Both Letterman and Rock agreed that the USC-Notre Dame game was one of the most memorable each had seen. Rock also noted that it was USC's 27th straight win.

Before the show in the warmup question and answer session, Letterman congratulated a fan in a USC sweatshirt for almost winning the game, and a fan from Notre Dame for pulling it out. Someone asked about Danica Patrick's tussle after a crash ended the IRL rookie of the years season, and Letterman laughed at how much it was blown out of proportion. On the show, The Rock talked about a University of Miami football incident a few years ago with Monte Montezuma, the mascot for San Diego State. When Dave asked him if they won the game, the Rock said "We always won, Dave".

The Late Show set at the Ed Sullivan theater is smaller than it looks on TV, but much more beautiful. The yellow light from the background scene of New York is stunning. The band is always notable for Paul Schaffer and the talented musicians, but the trombone solo on songs by Green Day and Tool is something you do not hear often.

Top Ten list: Signs you are not going to be named the World's #1 Intellectual. #2 "Just put $50,000 on the Jets".

Late Show with David Letterman

New York City Times Square

Stopped by the Photoplus Expo this afternoon, very big. NHL photographer Bruce Bennett was scheduled to give three mini-seminars on Thursday but I missed all of them. Bennett sold off his professional hockey photography business to Getty Images in 2004.

Last nights sold out Islanders Rangers game went to an overtime shootout. Islanders goaltender Rick Dipeitro stopped shootout attempts by Jaromir Jagr, Petr Prucha, and Michael Nylander. Miroslav Satan scored in regulation, and again in the overtime shootout to put the Islanders ahead 3-2.

Islanders need shootout to edge Rangers - NY Times.

Oh Shoot! Rangers lose - NY Post. [subscription only] Larry Brooks roots for all 30 NHL teams equally.

Isles win Icebreaker - NY Daily News.

Informal poll of 4 hockey fans: 2 Rangers fans, 1 Islanders fan, and 1 Red Wings fan. After we started talking about hockey, all 4 independently brought up the lack of NHL coverage from the mainstream media, and the "horrible" Rangers broadcast situation in NY.

Maybe the increased buzz around the NHL was not enough to pierce the mainstream fog surrounding the sport.

Danica Patrick Network Solutions

Walking out of the Barnes and Noble across the street I ran across a mini gocart track setup at Union Square for the Tony Danza show. On the sidewalk on my way past it about 5 feet in front me, Danica Patrick got out of a limo, so I stopped to watch. To be truely honest, the second member of her entourage ran into me getting out of the limo, so technically, I was stopped. Danica won the 10 second race hands down. The photo above is of Danica Patrick, Tony Danza and the CEO of Network Solutions. An assistant for Mayor Bloomberg also named Thursday NY Small Business day.

A fan next to me at the event mentioned that Montreal was one of the best Formula 1 tracks on the circuit, that Renault won the F1 manufacturers championship, and agreed with me that Toyota Atlantic phenom Katherine Legge might compete with Danica if she makes the jump to Champ Car. Legge won 3 Toyota Atlantic races in 2005, including the inaugural one in San Jose. He also said that Legge had tested for F1.

The New York ESPN radio host asked Danica if she ever made left turns. Genius. Maybe oval tracks started racing counter-clockwise? He also asked whether she ever got a ticket, and pointed out that she was attractive. A truely groundbreaking moment of sports journalism.

Photos of Danica and Rahal-Letterman teammate Buddy Rice driving on the streets of SF are here. Photos and race times for Katherine Legge at the San Jose Grand Prix are here.

[Update] Just saw on NY1, Sumo Wrestlers From Around The World Do Battle At The Garden.

[Update2] My brother (Chris Swenson), NPD's director of software industry analysis, traveled with me to the PhotoPlus Expo in New York on Thursday and Saturday. The big news was Apple's announcement of Aperture. Chris and I saw Aperture close-up, both in the booth demo and in the hands-on learning area. Chris thought it was interesting how everyone was bending over backwards to say that despite the announcement, Apple and Adobe weren't competitors in the area of pro digital imaging software.

"Aperture competes with the workflow functionality found in Adobe's Bridge and the Camera RAW plug-in for Photoshop, period. To say it doesn't is ludicrous," he said. After watching the demos of Aperture, Chris and I went over to the Adobe booth and watched Peter Krogh - author of 'The DAM Book' - give a talk on "Digital Photography Workflow with Adobe Bridge." And I have to say, the RAW workflow story Apple was trying to sell looked very similar to the RAW workflow story Adobe was trying to sell.


Four Sharks named to Team Canada for 2006 Winter Olympics

A press release from the San Jose Sharks:


Patrick Marleau, Scott Hannan, Kyle McLaren and Brad Stuart Join Olympic Hopefuls

SAN JOSE - Team Canada Executive Director Wayne Gretzky along with Head Coach Pat Quinn and Team Canada's management and coaching staff, announced today that Sharks forward Patrick Marleau and defensemen Scott Hannan, Kyle McLaren and Brad Stuart are among 81 potential players for Canada's Men's hockey team at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.

Only four teams (Boston, Edmonton, Toronto and Philadelphia) have more players (five) represented on the list than San Jose and the Sharks are the only NHL team with three defenseman selected.

Marleau and Hannan both represented Team Canada at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 2005 World Championships. In addition, they were invited to the Summer Olympic Development Camp for Team Canada in August. Stuart played for Team Canada in the 1999 World Junior Championships and at the 2001 World Championships, where he was a teammate with McLaren.

Entering tonight's game at Minnesota, Marleau leads the Sharks in scoring with 8 points (4-4=8) in six games. Hannan tops the team in average ice time with 25:13, followed by Stuart (22:34) and McLaren (21:38). Stuart leads all Sharks blueliners with four points (1-3=4) and McLaren has three (1-2=3).

All participating countries are required to select their final Olympic men's hockey rosters of 23 players, from these long lists, on or before Dec. 22.

Canada's long list of 81 Canadian NHL players submitted on Wednesday includes:
* 9 goaltenders
* 23 defensemen
* 49 forwards

"As a country, we are very lucky to have such a wealth of talented players to select from," said Gretzky. "As a management and coaching staff, the task of reducing this list to 23 players will be challenging as we strive to defend Olympic Gold in Turin."

For more on the Canadian national team visit hockeycanada.ca. For more on the USA national team visit usahockey.com.


Brett Hull, the third overall goal scorer in NHL history, retires

Boyd Devereaux, Brett Hull, & Pavel Datsyuk with the 2002 Stanley Cup #28 - ©Photofile

Brett Hull, third overall in NHL goals scored [741], 1,391 overall points, 650 assists, 458 penalty minutes in 1,269 games, first in power play goals scored [265], third in career game winning goals [110], Stanley Cup winner in 2002 [Detroit] and in 1999 [Dallas], lead the NHL in goal scoring three times [90, 91, 01], 2002 Olympic silver medal [USA], won the Hart Trophy for NHL MVP [1991], won the Lester B. Person Award as player of the year [1991], won the Lady Byng Trophy for most sportsmanlike player [1990], won the Dudley "Red" Garret Memorial Trophy for AHL rookie of the year [1987], member of 9 NHL allstar teams and 1 AHL and WCHA allstar team, part of the only father-son tandem to score 600 goals each, announced his retirement from the NHL at age 41 on the 15th of October, 2005.

On his retirement, Brett Hull commented:

"I realized I wasn't who I thought I was. I wasn't Brett Hull at 30 or 35 even. I was 41 years old and after a year and a half layoff, I didn't have what it took to play in the new game that was so exciting."

"There's an old expression, and I don't know who said it - 'The mind is willing but the body isn't. I wish no one had to do this because it's so hard, it's hard because you never think you're going to grow older and be unable to live up to the expectations you set for yourself."

Hull was also quoted by the Phoenix Coyotes:

"I would like to thank Wayne Gretzky, Steve Ellman, Mike Barnett and Cliff Fletcher for giving me the opportunity to play for the Phoenix Coyotes organization. I am very proud of what I have accomplished in my career, but at 41, I felt that it was time to move on. I would also like to thank all of the players, coaches and management that I have been with over the past 19 seasons. I am very fortunate to have played for some class organizations in Calgary, St. Louis, Dallas, Detroit and Phoenix. I love the game of hockey and I appreciate everything the game has given to me and my family."

UC Yongmudo championship

It is hard to look back on Brett Hull's career without acknowledging his verbal contribution to the game. Thanks to Vancouver Canucks Op-Ed, welcome back by the way, Paul Jay examines the top 10 quotable Brett Hull moments.

10 "I think he's done. Anyone who would walk away from this team is obviously done." — on Dominik Hasek, now with the Ottawa Senators, in 2002.

9 "I'd like to win the Stanley Cup. I'd like to score 50 goals, more than once. I'd like top play in the All-Star Game, more than once." — Hull said in 1987 to reporter Eric Duhatschek. Hull did all of these.

7 “Do I catch flak because I’m so much smarter than everyone else? I don’t know.” — from a 2002 ESPN interview.

6 In 1999, when asked who impressed him the most when he broke into the NHL: "You know what? I did! I impressed myself just making it."

5 "Bob Goodenow will kill me, but if we're going to be realistic about things, probably 75 per cent of the league is overpaid." — to reporters in 2003.

Left off of the list:

"I can't retire after this year. I could, but I can't because I'm not going to let this game get the better of me. I am beating this game. I am not going to go out sour. I've had too many great times in this game. I'm not going out sour. I'm going to go out on my terms, not the game's terms."

"It's the same reason I've been known to be hard on players. But it's only because I want them to be better and be the best they can be. At times, I just don't think they try to do that, and it's the same with the league. Sometimes I don't think the league is trying to make itself better."

"The fans are the most important part of the game. Without them, there is no game. They are going to quit coming to the games if we don't make the game better, more entertaining."

"If you're going to play hockey now, you have to be able to play. If you have the ability to fight and play, you're an unbelievable commodity. But if you can only fight, there might be six of those guys left in the league, and I can guarantee they're going fast."

"I'm also not going to cut my nose off to spite my face, because I also know that - without sounding egotistical - there are some people who bring the 20,000 or so fans into the arena to watch. And as much as I'm older, I think I'm kind of an exciting player at times."

Brett Hull had an uncanny ability to find open space in front of the net, and one of the quickest releases in the game. The right winger scored over 40 goals 8 times, with 86 goals and 45 assists for 131 points for St Louis in 1990-91.

UC Yongmudo championship

Was Brett Hull's foot in the crease for his game winning goal that gave the Dallas Stars a 1999 Stanley Cup Championship? Or did he have possession of the puck playing it from foot to stick? The resulting controversy changed the way the game is played, and spawned one of the most infamous hockey photos of all-time, at least in Buffalo.

Hull was gracious to his opponents and supportive of his teammates after the 1999 Dallas Stars Stanley Cup Championship:

I think you are looking at an organization that is if you ever wanted to use a family as an organization, it sits here. They brought up the core players like Matvichuk and Modano and Hatcher and they molded them together and stuck with them, made very few changes and picked up some free agents basically this group is. I never have met a guys from the day one that I got to Dallas that were closer and cared more for each other.

To have Bob Gainey, Tom Hicks and Ken Hitchcock bring me here and fit me in, and to be able to battle great teams in the playoffs, like Edmonton, St. Louis, Colorado and Buffalo, this is truly amazing. I think of Eddie Belfour and Mike Modano and the things people said about them, I think of how people said we were too old. We proved them wrong.

Someone get him a microphone and a blazer.

German Hockey Update

Deutscher Eishockey Liga fans are voting online for player of the month honors.

Sharks goaltending prospect Thomas Greiss was named the September player of the month by Eishockey News after leading the DEL in GAA and SV% [8GP, 445:12 minutes, 221 shots, 12 GA, 1.62 GAA, 209 saves, 94.57 SV%].

Patrick Ehelechner was transferred to the Duisburger Fuchse, who need another goaltender while the #1 recovers from injury. With 3 games played, Ehelechner has seen 179:16 minutes of playing time, 101 shots on goal with 10 goals against [3.35 GAA, 90.1 SV%].

Q and A with Gary Bettman from the Miami Herald

The Miami Herald posted a Q and A with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman:

[Q] Are you happy with what you've seen from new cable partner OLN?

[A] If you want to put something in perspective, to accomplish what they did on about six weeks' notice is nothing short of phenomenal. This year on OLN will be a work in progress in two respects: 1, as the year goes on they'll get better and better in doing all the things they want to do, and they're not in a fire drill; and 2, the schedule we agreed to put together really won't be in place for a year; that is, on Monday nights have all the hockey in the U.S. to themselves, and two good exclusive games on a lighter schedule on Tuesday nights. Remember we did the schedule before we even announced the deal; we didn't even know what our cable arrangements were going to be. And it wasn't just who our partner was going to be, it was what was the right schedule. And there were a lot of variables because we were talking to different parties. But this year will be a work in progress, and they will only get better, and next year, when people look at what they do and our ratings this will be a very good move both for OLN and for us. Also, look at their coverage at the end of the game; there's a nice studio show, they're not blasting off to somewhere else.

Thanks to Kuklas Korner for the link.


First Annual UC Yongmudo Championship and Martial Arts Expo

UC Yongmudo championship

The First Annual UC Yongmudo Championship and Martial Arts Expo took place this weekend at UC Berkeley. Each Yongmudo bout features four rounds of competition: a first round with full contact kicks and punches, a second round with standing throws, a third grappling/wrestling round, and a final round that combines techniques and rules from all three previous rounds.

The Martial Arts exhibition after the championship consisted of demonstrations from the Korean Yonggin University Yungmudo and Kumdo [sword sparring] teams, a second kumdo team from Los Angeles, and the UC martial arts clubs.

UC Yongmudo championship

UC Yongmudo championship

My brother Soren, and his girlfriend Colleen posed for a photo with the Yonggin University Yungmudo team. Both trained in South Korea over the summer. When I asked who got a chance to beat him up over that time, almost everyone raised their hand. More on the championship and exhibition soon.

UC Yongmudo championship

Weekend Update

San Jose State Long Beach State hockey

San Jose State scored early and kept the pressure on Long Beach State Friday night earning a 7-4 win. With a revolving door to the penalty box, both teams accounted for 36 total penalties. Mason Nave led the Spartans with a goal and three assists. Long Beach State goaltender Mike Bergman made 55 saves on 62 shots.

In the second game with Long Beach State Saturday night, SJSU forward Aaron Scott scored his 200th point en route to an 8-2 San Jose win. Spartan forward Adam Dekeyrel scored a hat trick.

Stanford Georgia Tech hockey

Stanford dropped the opening night game against Georgia Tech 8-1. A last second goal by #14 prevented the bagel. Starting goaltender John Stragis sat while recovering from an injury. The onslaught continued after a scoreless first period on Saturday. Georgia Tech scored 4 in the second and 8 goals in the third period for a 12-1 win.

From the Georgia Tech Coach's Corner:

Coach Greg Stathis commented after the second game that he thought his team played real well in both games and adapted well to the smaller ice surface at the Belmont Ice Palace.

He felt the two week layoff hurt the team early in the first game. Despite that, the team was more focused and played a lot better in the second game with better passes and play set-up.

Stanford Georgia Tech hockey

The Georgia Tech crowd at meat-locker cold Belmont Iceland was respectable, but a lone contigent of Stanford fans provided a strong vocal offense. A Stanford Daily or Palo Alto Daily feature on the team would help.

A. Sheldon sent in a note on Cal Berkeley's first win of the season on the road at Washington State.

The Cal Berkeley Golden Bears earned their first win of the 2005-06 season on the road. Cal defeated Pac-8 rival Washington State 5-3 at the Eagles Ice Aren in Spokane, Washington on Friday night.

Cal captain Amir Moazeni posted two goals and one assist while top line center Sean Haq registered one goal and two helpers.

After dropping four straight to start the season, the Bears will look to post their second victory of the year as they once again face the Cougars in their barn before taking on a tough Eastern Washington University squad on Sunday.

More on Cal soon.


Early OLN television numbers

A press release from the NHL:

OLN'S NHL Ratings Achieve Most-Watched Wednesday Night Ever Among Men 18-34


Wednesday, October 5 was OLN's most watched Wednesday night ever among Men 18-34
(average 67,228 viewers)

Excluding Tour de France coverage, it was OLN's most watched Wednesday night ever among Households, Men 18-49, Men 25-54 and Total Viewers.


NHL Games versus Wednesday 2005-to-date average
HH Rating = .4 vs .1 (up 300%)
HH Impressions = 268,484 vs 93,398 (up 187%)
Total Viewers = 353,439 vs 125,089 (up 183%)

OLN Wednesday night NHL vs Wednesday night 2005-to-date average
HH Rating = .3 vs .2 (up 50%)
HH Impressions = 209,518 vs 99,864 (up 110%)
Total Viewers = 276,869 vs 132,260 (up 110%)

NHL Pre-Game (7:00-7:25pm) = .2 HH Rating / 134,947 Total Viewers

NHL Game (7:25-9:55pm) = .4 HH Rating / 353,439 Total Viewers

NHL Post-Game (9:55pm-11:00pm) = .2 HH Rating / 155,278 Total Viewers

OLN Primetime Average (7:00pm-11:00pm) = .3 HH rating / 276,869 Total Viewers

NHL Game on OLN (7:25-9:55pm):

- Substantial increases versus the same night a year-ago
(Wed, 10/6/04, 7:30-10p):
HH Rating = up 300% (.4 vs .1)
HH Impressions = up 285% (268,484 vs. 69,706)
Total Viewer Impressions = up 258% (353,439 vs. 98,795)
Men 18-34 Impressions = up 581% (74,111 vs. 10,878)
Men 18-49 Impressions = up 442% (132,720 vs. 24,468)
Men 25-54 Impressions = up 325% (126,097 vs. 29,673)

- Substantial increases versus the 2005 average
(Wed, 12/27/04-10/04/05, 7:30-10p):
HH Rating Rounded = up 300% (.4 vs. .1)
HH Impressions = up 187% (268,484 vs. 93,398)
Total Viewer Impressions = up 183% (353,439 vs. 125,089)
Men 18-34 Impressions = up 577% (74,111 vs. 10,955)
Men 18-49 Impressions = up 277% (132,720 vs 35,227)
Men 25-54 Impressions = up 181% (126,097 vs. 44,879)

- Substantial increases versus last week
(Wed, 9/28/05, 7:30-10p):
HH Rating Rounded = up 100% (.4 vs. .2)
HH Impressions = up 158% (268,484 vs. 104,249)
Total Viewer Impressions = up 152% (353,439 vs. 140,213)
Men 18-34 Impressions = up 1167% (74,111 vs. 5,849)
Men 18-49 Impressions = up 713% (132,720 vs 16,317)
Men 25-54 Impressions = up 458% (126,097 vs. 22,598)

OLN Primetime (7:00-11:00pm):

- Substantial increases versus the same night a year-ago
(Wed, 10/6/04, 7-11p):
HH Rating Rounded = up 200% (.3 vs .1)
HH Impressions = up 262% (209,518 vs. 57,883 )
Total Viewer Impressions = up 243% (276,869 vs. 80,719 )
Men 18-34 Impressions = up 563% (67,228 vs. 10,136 )
Men 18-49 Impressions = up 415% (112,497 vs. 21,856 )
Men 25-54 Impressions = up 299% (104,605 vs. 26,187 )

- Substantial increases versus the 2005 average
(Wed, 12/27/04-10/04/05, 7-11p):
Rating Rounded = up 50% (.3 vs .2)
HH Impressions = up 110% (209,518 vs. 99,864 )
Total Viewer Impressions = up 109% (276,869 vs. 132,260 )
Men 18-34 Impressions = up 433% (67,228 vs. 12,610 )
Men 18-49 Impressions = up 191% (112,497 vs. 38,673 )
Men 25-54 Impressions = up 116% (104,605 vs. 48,417 )

- Substantial increases versus last week
(Wed, 9/28/05, 7-11p):
HH Rating Rounded = up 50% (.3 vs. .2)
HH Impressions = up 90% (209,518 vs. 110,476 )
Total Viewer Impressions = up 99% (276,869 vs. 139,285 )
Men 18-34 Impressions = up 571% (67,228 vs. 10,024 )
Men 18-49 Impressions = up 333% (112,497 vs. 25,986 )
Men 25-54 Impressions = up 203% (104,605 vs. 34,516 )


Weekend hockey calender

SJSU hockey calender

Above is a calender for the 2005-05 SJSU hockey season. Friday night at 7:45PM, and Saturday night at 7PM, San Jose faces the Long Beach State 49'ers at the Logitech Ice Center. SJSU's 3-1 win over LBS last season, with 2 goals scored late, was one of the best games of the season.

Stanford faces Georgia Tech in back-to-back weekend games at Belmont Iceland. Friday's game is at 9:45 PM, and Saturday's game starts at 5:45 PM. After a rough start at home and on the road, Cal Berkeley travels to Washington for a 3 game weekend set against Washington State and Eastern Washington University.

The San Jose Sharks [2-2-0] play the first weekend home game against the Chicago Blackhawks [1-3-1] Saturday at 7:30. A podcast available from the offical Blackhawks webpage offers a good preview of the Central Division rival.

The Stockton Thunder open the 2005-06 ECHL pre-season with a game against the Fresno Falcons October 22nd. The Thunder are also holding open tryouts for the team's public address announcer role on Sunday, October 16 at Stockton Ballpark from Noon - 3pm.

Quite Frankly's Steven A. Smith interviews Gary Bettman and Barry Melrose

I mentioned that the host of Quite Frankly, ESPN's Steven A. Smith, covered a few important topics with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose a few days ago. Here is a partial transcript of their conversation.

Steven A. Smith with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman:

[SAS] Hockey is back October 5th. How do you feel about that?

[GB] It was a wonderful feeling. Everybody associated with the game was in pain that we lost a season. We had come off our 4th season in a row with 20 million fans at over 90% capacity, but our economics weren't working, we had franchises struggling financially and it was affecting our competitive balance. Teams with 20 million dollar payrolls couldn't compete with teams with 80 million dollar payrolls. We knew we needed a new system. We knew we needed a new partnership with our players. We knew we needed to work with our players to grow the game and we were determined to get the kind of system that would allow hockey to be as good as it could be. So while it was painful, our fans stood by us and understood why we were doing what we were doing. From our standpoint, frankly they have come back very strong. Our season ticket sales are 3% higher than they were from 03-04, attendance from the first 40-45 games is up 4%, our buildings are full, season ticket renewals were over 90% for 23 of our clubs. Its a good story because with the rules changes and the partnership with our players, we are back better than ever...

[SAS] You would have admit, not every player would be happy with the fact that there is a 39 million dollar salary cap and basically you cant get more than 20% of that, so you are talking about players making no more than approximately an average of 8 million, that is the highest, unless their contract is grandfathered in. Some players are not going to be happy.

[GB] That is what our economics warrant. That's what our economics justify. And the players and the ratification vote approved the deal 90% to 10%.

[SAS] How are you going to be able to convince a lot of these guys that you are now in partnership, that once again, this was an economically sound decision that you guys had to make. How are you going to get on the same page.

[GB] We weren't going to continue the way we were, we had franchises that were not healthy. When you look at the commentary about the game now, even though it has only been about 45 games, what you are hearing is people speculating that up to 20 clubs could win the Stanley Cup. Competitive balance, the ability of fans in every market to believe that their team has a chance, no matter what market they are in, that's what sports should be about.

[SAS] Quickly, before I let you go. Sidney Crosby. I mean, this... kid... I mean, everybody has been raving about him. Why was he not on national television opening night.

[GB] well you have to remember two things. One, when we did the schedule, we did it early July, and we didn't have a collective bargaining agreement at the time, and we didn't have a national TV contract on cable at the time. So we decided the most important thing to do, was to have 30 teams playing, 15 games on opening night to really symbolize that we were back. The schedule couldn't accommodate it. OLN had to get up and running quickly. I think for a variety of reasons including the fact that they were more comfortable operating out of Philadelphia which is a home base building for them, and we had so many games on. Sidney Crosby is going to be a great player in this game, and he will be on national TV more than anyone can imagine. Getting his first game or not was not the key. It was getting the entire league up and running was what we needed to do.

[SAS] Real quick. Is that something you are going to do more of. A lot of people have been very critical of the National Hockey League. Myself included. We talk about the lack of marketing that occurs with individual players. The NAB, the NAVAL, Major League Baseball, that seems to be the ingredient that generates the most success. Marketing those individual players and using them to sell your sport, what are you guys going to do?

[GB] Well, we're going to do more than we have done before. We are going to have more access to the players and the game. We are going to have more intense coverage by our broadcast partners in terms of storytelling. But the fact that of the matter is, we start with the fact that we are the most team oriented of the 4 major sports. And so, with a more team focus because that's a major part of our game. You can't market individuals in quite the same way and extent. Having said that, we have a marketing and broadcast committee with the players now as part of our partnership. The shootout in terms of giving players individual attention, is something the fans really like. Now that were a partnership across all platforms with our players, we are going to do more work together to tell great stories.

Steven A. Smith with Barry Melrose:

[SAS] Joining me right now was a star, a coach, and an analyst for ESPN. I want to say that Michael Irvin would be proud. Look at this suit right here.

[BM] Laughs... Well I just wanted to say I was a much better coach than a player. I want to make sure you have all the facets and facts straight.

[SAS] What did you hate about today's game?

[BM] Hockey was meant to be played fast. When god invented hockey, he said let them play fast. I think for the last 7 or 8 years we have gotten away from that.

[SAS] How did that happen exactly?

[BM] Because of the defenses, the packing up the neutral zone, the coaches got so smart they changed the game. The got a bunch of big guys who could play good zone defense. Ken Hitchcock, Jacques Lemaire, a lot of great coaches. It was easier to coach defense and get 20 less talented guys to beat 20 more talented ones, we took the speed out of the game. And now with the new rules, we have guys flying through the neutral zone, speed creates turnovers, speed creates aggressiveness, speed creates mistakes, mistakes create offensive chances. And that is what's happening now. You look at the Montreal Canadiens. They are a small team built for the rules changes. They are fast, they are 3-0 on the road. Montreal never won on the road before. Now they go into other teams buildings with the rules changes and win, because they are a very fast team.

[SAS] Interesting question. When Gary Bettman was up here talking about the popularity of the sport, Ken just alluded to it talking about the marketing of the players. Did you ever feel like a coach should be sensitive to the popularity. I know the priority is to win, but at the same time if everyone is on the same page and you are all trying to increase the popularity of the sport, then you don't institute your own schemes and what have you that ultimately infringe on the quality of the game itself. Do you ever think that coaches should be sensitive to that.

[BM] We have been the worst sport for utilizing the media. Gary mentioned the TV situation, the ratings on TV are not good enough. The bottom line is we have to get better and they will get better. Coaches have to realize, owners have to realize, we are in the entertainment business. And we forgot that for awhile. The game got slow, the game got boring...

[SAS] How do you explain the fact that it is opening night, and this kid Sidney Crosby who has been marketed, hyped as the next Eric Lindros, possibly the next Wayne Gretzky. Lindros, unfortunately, has not lived up to expectations. I know the NBA commissioner Stern, Lebron James was playing in Sacramento. THAT game was on national TV. The Flyers and the Rangers were on national TV, the Rangers actually chose that moment to win a game, but I digress. The point I am trying to make is, why was Crosby not on television.

[BM] Mistake. Mistake. Mistake. Marty Brodeur, who never says anything, the goalie for the New Jersey Devils, he questioned that. Why isn't this kid on national TV, we made such a big deal, he is great. He is the future of the NHL, and we don't have him on opening night, with all 30 teams playing. That was a big mistake by the NHL...

[SAS] I already mentioned they are on the Outdoor Life Network.

[BM] Two more years they will be on ESPN.

[SAS] When you look at it again, the NBA would have had Sidney Crosby on television. And so when you listen to commissioner Bettman talking, and he says there is nothing to be concerned about, it was more important to have all 30 teams back on ice. How do you feel about that.

[BM] I think that is good, but Crosby should have been on opening night. We have just been missing things the last 7 or 8 years. We do a lot of good things, we do a lot of great things, but we just miss it...

[SAS] Does it really come down to just marketing individual players.

[BM] Yes... We don't do a good enough job with our athletes.

Sharks player representative Alyn McCauley and former New Jersey Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko appeared on another segment of the show, Victor Chi of the Mercury News has more.

[Update] When the SF Chronicle's Ray Ratto writes about the NHL, 6 or 7 people always email me the article. Read his latest column: NHL's hope: If you grovel, they will come.


Full court press for tonight's Sharks-Columbus home opener

San Jose Sharks home opener

The San Jose Mercury News leads the charge with an article about how the return of hockey will affect downtown San Jose. David Pollak reported on renewed expectations from the Tied House, O'Flaherty's Irish Pub, Patty's Inn, Poor House Bistro, and the Fairmont's MG Image.

That should be good news for San Jose mayor Ron Gonzales, who last year at this time sent a letter to Gary Bettman, Robert Goodenow, and Greg Jamison detailing how there was "more at stake than just hockey labor issues". The letter sent to NHL Commissioner Bettman can be read here.

Pollak also reports that the Sharks are still not expected to turn profit according to San Jose CEO Greg Jamison. Season ticket renewals are respectable, television ratings are up, luxury box sales are down. The financial tea leaves are unclear at this point.

Morning Buzz notes that local radio giant KNBR 680AM turned all-Sharks, all-the-time, if only for a day yesterday. Drew Remenda traded barbs with Gary Radnich, who struggled mightily to maintain his interest a day later. Sharks head coach Ron Wilson was on with Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert on the popular Razor and Mr T. afternoon show.

Ron Wilson's Razor and Mr T. interview, and Marco Sturm's interview with Rick and Rod are available on the KNBR podcast page. On the KNBR instant replay page, interviews with Doug Wilson, Jonathan Cheechoo, Mike Ricci, Patrick Marleau, Scott Hannan, and Wayne Gretzky among others are archived for your listening pleasure.

Mark Purdy of the Merc contributes his usual tough love, How NHL can make all nights like tonight:

Hockey fans aren't the only people who watch hockey. But they are the only ones who watch it for more than five minutes.

Not completely untrue, but you have to commend his timing. Purdy does hit the nail on his head with one of his suggestions to improve the game.

Get the players' personalities more out front. This goes completely against hockey's traditionally modest all-for-one ethos. But if the new rules open up the game and create more scorers, I guarantee you some marketing person can find a way to make those scorers into more familiar faces. Good gravy, they've done it with poker players. Why not power players?

This was also a topic on Steven A. Smith's, "Quite Frankly" ESPN talkshow yesterday. Smith noted how other sports market their superstars, and that the NHL chose to air the Rangers-Flyers on OLN's opening night instead of showing "the next great one" Sidney Crosby, and "also great" Mario Lemieux.

Granted Steven A. Smith is a caricature for what is wrong with ESPN, all ego and hype, and an ever dwindling substance, but I will give him minor props for putting the question bluntly to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Bettman replied that the schedules were in place before the NHL draft, that OLN had a short ramp up time to produce its broadcasts, and that the NHL was more of a team sport than other leagues and should be marketed accordingly. A transcript of questions asked to Bettman and Barry Melrose will be posted here later because I think their answers were important.

Victor Chi, the Mercury News San Jose Sharks beat writer, covered Steven A. Smith's interview with Sharks center and NHLPA player representative Alyn McCauley who appeared in a segment with former New Jersey Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko: McCauley appearing with Commissioner. Smith asked McCauley about the controversy surrounding NHLPA's hiring of executive director Ted Saskin, about the return of the NHL, and about teams needing to replace NHLPA player representatives who have either retired or changed locations.

Chi also covers how the new NHL rules changes will open up play in the NHL.

For now, the league is busy touting offensive upswings. Five games, including Sharks-Blues, have featured a team overcoming a two-goal deficit to win. That happened just once in the first 40 games in 2003-04, the most recent season.

In 2003-04, the Sharks opened on the road with two losses and a win, just as they have this season. But the matching trend ends tonight. In 2003-04, the Sharks skated to a 0-0 tie in their home opener. Tonight, there will be a winner, because with shootouts as part of the new NHL, ties are impossible.

The SF Chronicle's Ross McKeon notes a 41 percent increase in goals over the first 40 games of the 2005-06 NHL season. From 4 1/2 last year, to 6 1/2 so far this season. McKeon also reports a 12% increase in scoring chances, a 400% increase in go-ahead goals scored, and a decrease in shutouts by goaltenders from 10 to 3.

"In the past, we'd talk about save percentage and goals-against. Now, that's going to go down the sink. It doesn't matter," Nabokov said. "You might have a 5.00 goals-against average, but you might also have five wins in five games. You still have to make the big save in the key situation."

Those are going to be two statistics that are hard to give up, but if a sub-5 goals against average is the new measuring stick, so be it.

Fox Sports Bay Area is airing a special pre-game edition of Shark Byte at 7PM, before tonight's broadcast of the San Jose Sharks vs Columbus Blue Jackets home opener. An interesting stat from FSNBA, the Sharks first ever home opener was played on October 5th, 1991 against Vancouver. Visit fsnbayarea.com for more information and a chance to ask commentators Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda your questions.

For a dissenting opinion, turn your attention to ESPN's redoubtable Scott Burnside. He issued a Memo to the San Jose Sharks.

We all know the preseason means nothing. Well, don't we? Apparently the San Jose Sharks didn't get that memo.

After romping through the preseason with a 7-0 record, the Sharks dropped a 3-2 opener to Nashville, got smoked 6-3 by Chicago and then blew a 2-0 lead to woeful St. Louis on Saturday, allowing four straight goals before rallying for a late 7-6 win over what is certainly the worst team in the Western Conference.

Burnside goes on to mention that the Sharks were the consensus pre-season media favorites in the Western Conference in no small part based on solid goaltending and defense, two areas where the Sharks have struggled early. He also, fie on him for doing so, brings Nabokov and Toskala's GAA and sv% into the discussion.

For a team many picked to return to the top of the conference pack based on its sterling defensive play, it's not exactly the start most were expecting. The goaltending has been especially ordinary with former rookie of the year Evgeni Nabokov giving up an average of 4.25 goals per game with an .825 save percentage. Backup Vesa Toskala has the distinction of ranking dead-last in save percentage (.714) among 43 goalies who have seen action, after allowing four goals on 14 shots versus Chicago. Only the winless Blues have given up more than the 15 goals the normally stingy Sharks have allowed.

Sharks try to continue home mastery of Blue Jackets - Sports Network.

Frank Albin lists his favorite hockey websites for SJSharks.com's In the Crease. Five I would add to the list: Mike Chen, Teal Sunglasses, TheFeeder, Webthumper and Dont Feed the Sharks.

More on the home opener later tonight. I think I am going to steal Bill Clement's sign off "This is Ron Burgundy. You stay classy San Jose".

[Update] With Scott Parker out because of a slight concussion, there will be no Parker-Shelley rematch in tonight's home opener. From the introduction of Scott Parker's interview with Hockeyfights.com:

Before last season the San Jose Sharks sent out a press release. It recapped the Brad Stuart – Jody Shelley incident, where Shelley punched Stuart in the back of the head, and Stuart missed 21 games with a concussion because of it. Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson said that will not happen again – and then announced the Sharks traded for Scott Parker.

For added irony, here is SportsTicker's 5 questions with the Columbus Blue Jackets enforcer Jody Shelley from the San Jose Sharks news ticker.

[Q] While playing a round of golf, what three famous people would you want to complete your foursome?

[A] Let's see, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong and maybe Mike Tyson, throw him in there for a laugh.

A laugh, and tips on how to go down faster than a wet blanket when challenged.

[Update2] A slice of Columbus Blue Jacket land from thathockeychic.com.


Goaltending Factory update

Thomas Greiss

From Ecco in Germany, Sharks 2004 third round draft pick Thomas Greiss was named the German Deutscher Eishockey Liga hockey player of the month (September/Eishockey News). In 7 games played for Kolner Haie, he has 182 saves on 193 shots, 1.71 goals against average, and a .943 sv%.

Kolner Haie was one of the founding DEL franchises, with German Championships in 1977, 1979, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1995, and 2002. Visit the official site at haie.de for more information, or fandome.de to purchase colorful action photos.

DEL 2005-06: Back to normal, Wolfsburg relegated, Kassel stays, Duisburg in - Prohockey.de.

Sharks 2003 5th round selection, goaltender Patrick Ehelechner, currently plays for Adler Mannheim in the Deutscher Eishockey Liga. Based on statistics from his personal website, Ehelechner has 2 made appearances with Mannheim, making 63 saves on 70 shots.

More on Ehelechner from Ecco:

Patrick was the starting goaltender before the season began. Cristobal Huet went back to the NHL and Mannheim needed a new #1. So they got former NHLer Frederic Chabot. Ehelechner was his backup. Last week the Mannheimer Adler signed former fin (Finland) Ilpo Kauhanen, who got his German citizenship. So Patrick is the 3rd goaltender at the moment.

The Adler Mannheim have a relationship with the Heilbronner Falken from Germanys 3rd league (Oberliga). Younger players can get a "Forderlizenz" by a DEL team, so they have the chance to play either for their home team or the DEL team. Here is a link to the Heilbronner Falken.

Mannheim's second game should have been played last sunday (Nürnberg Ice Tigers – Adler Mannheim), but there were some problems with the ice in Nurembergs Arena (they game was postponed by the DEL).

The San Jose Sharks prospect report notes that Patrick Ehelechner finished his 2004-05 OHL season with the Sudbury Wolves tied for 6th overall in GAA [2.56], and in the top 10 for wins, sv% and shutouts.

[Update] Goaltender Nolan Schaefer made 22 saves on 26 shots in a 4-1 loss to Rochester for the Cleveland Barons season opener. Defenseman Josh Gorges was assigned to Cleveland of the AHL. The 2004-05 Cleveland Barons rookie of the year played in 1 game for the San Jose Sharks October 7th.

[Update2] From Melissa:

Nolan Schaefer

Craig Valette

On who will captain for the Cleveland Barons this season:

As for the Cleveland Barons captain this year, it doesn't appear that any one guy will wear the "C", but instead 3 of them will wear the "A". If you didnt hear, the AHL had a special thing going on with the Red Cross in which all of the team captains wore jerseys with a special Red Cross patch at their first game. Carkner wore an A with a +, and our other two "A"s went to Doug Murray and Craig Valette.

For more Cleveland Barons pictures visit Hossenfeffer photo.

[Update3] Cal hockey off to a rough start - A. Sheldon.

OLN statement on technical difficulties with Monday's Pittsburgh-Buffalo broadcast

OLN released a statement on the technical difficulties that prevented a lot of fans from watching the Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo game Monday night.

Note to fans who had trouble viewing OLN's NHL game on Monday, October 10:

OLN apologizes if you were unable to see the Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo game on OLN Monday night. There were technical issues in certain markets and OLN is working to resolve those issues as quickly as possible.

Buffalo's Jochen Hecht scored with 20 seconds left in overtime to give the Sabres a 3-2 win. Rory Fitzpatrick and Paul Gaustad also scored goals for Buffalo. Zigmund Palffy and Mark Recchi each scored a goal and an assist for the Penguins. 2005 1st overall draft pick Sidney Crosby was held to an assist on Recchi's goal.

2003 1st overall draft pick Marc-Andre Fleury [0-0-0-1, 2.78GAA, .927sv%] made 38 saves on 40 shots for Pittsburgh. Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller made 26 saves on 28 shots to raise his record to 3-1 [3-1-0-0, 2.95GAA, .904sv%] for the season.

More on the game is available from the Buffalo News, and the Sabres Report. Thanks to the Buffalo Sabres for the links.


Hockey Notes - OLN debut edition

- To start at the beginning, Kukla's Korner tallied attendance figures for the NHL's opening night. Several rinks were filled beyond capacity, which is a positive sign for the mostly gate-driven league.

Boston- 17,565, Buffalo- 15,702, Philadelphia- 19,821, Washington- 16,325, Florida- 19,250, New Jersey- 18,101, Tampa Bay- 22,120, Detroit- 20,066, Toronto- 19,452, Nashville- 17,113, Chicago- 16,533, Minnesota- 19,398, Dallas- 18,532, Edmonton- 16,839 and Vancouver- 18,630!

That folks, is over 98% capacity, job well done.

- This Media Week report details opening night ratings for Fox Sports local broadcasts:

Opening night ratings in eight NHL markets where Fox Sports Net (FSN) televises games were all up over opening night 2003 (the league was dark last season), ranging from gains of 3 percent to 257 percent.

The Detroit Red Wings telecast on FSN-Detroit produced an 8.1 rating, up 3 percent from the 7.9 the opening night telecast produced in 2003. The St. Louis Blues telecast was up 24 percent to a 2.1; Columbus Blue jackets, up 69 percent to a 2.2; Boston Bruins, up 107 percent to a 2.9; Pittsburgh Penguins, up 122 percent to a 7.1; Pheonix Coyotes, up 140 percent to a 1.2; San Jose Sharks, up 200 percent to a 1.5; and Tampa Bay Lightning, up 257 percent to a 2.5.

- Morning Buzz reviewed the local television ratings for hockey last week, and questioned why the national ratings did not come out sooner:

The Sharks' loss in Nashville pulled in a 1.5 rating in the Bay Area. The early start time might have kept the numbers down, but clearly the marketing rush of the past two weeks hasn't outweighed the 16 months of inactivity. Red Sox-White Sox brought in a 4.6 local rating in the same time slot, and Yankees-Angels did a 2.2 in prime time.

All of which means? It was ratings for one day, don't get ahead of yourself. It will take time for a few fans to get in the habit of checking the Lance Armstrong channel for hockey, and it will take more time for Comcast high-speed internet customers to realize they can stream games online for free for up to 48 hours.

- John McGourty of NHL.com covers OLN's opening night ratings:

Whatever concerns executives of the NHL and the Comcast-owned OLN had about the network's ability to cover hockey were quickly allayed in last Wednesday night's debut...

OLN set ratings records with the broadcasts and was particularly strong among men, 18-to-34. Excluding Tour de France coverage, it was OLN's most watched Wednesday night ever among households, men 18-49, men 25-54 and total viewers...

OLN set ratings records with the broadcasts and was particularly strong among men, 18-to-34. Excluding Tour de France coverage, it was OLN's most watched Wednesday night ever among households, men 18-49, men 25-54 and total viewers.

"These ratings prove that hockey is back in a big way," said Gavin Harvey, president of OLN. "As the new cable home of the NHL, we're going to continue to deliver coverage that takes advantage of the increased access the League is allowing and highlights how the new rules are changing the game. My hat is off to the OLN production team for all of the hours they've put in this past month in order to produce an excellent first telecast"...

OLN made a smart decision to do its first game from Philadelphia, where Comcast has installed a state-of-the-art broadcast studio for Flyers' games. They used 18 cameras instead of the usual 10 or 12 employed at Flyers' games. Four players were miked for the game, although only Rangers' center Steve Rucchin produced content relevant enough for use.

Initial reaction to OLN's broadcast: It was a streamlined, but effective presentation. The conversations were less scripted, and delivering information was as much of a priority as presentation, which is rare. It worked well considering they had a very short time from signing the deal to actually producing the show.

My one suggestion for the studio is that there are three straight, just-the-facts hosts/analysts at the table. Bill Clement is the host of OLN’s studio show, Keith Jones and former Rangers GM Neil Smith provide very capable analysis.

I may be pilloried for suggesting this, but they need a Tom Arnold type figure to wreck havoc on the set. Someone who will say "you are wrong, and here is why" regardless of what the broadcaster before him said.

Erin Nicks of the Ottawa Sun displays that sentiment perfectly. OLN's going down the tubes, Zoomed-in effect for hockey doesn't work - Ottawa Sun.

For some reason, I can't help but think of a headline from last year when people talk about the new-look NHL, "The NHL, Now with more Explosions!".

- OLN In The Dark For New York Fans - NY Post.

NHL to New York television market: Drop dead! Despite a contractual right to instruct OLN to televise all of its NHL exclusives over all cable systems regardless of whether the network is carried on a basic or subscription tier, the league is abdicating.

Thus, tonight's Penguins-Sabres game in Buffalo will apparently be blacked out in all Cablevision homes because of OLN's position on a subscription tier. If the league does not intervene within the next week, then next Monday's Rangers-Panthers game at the Garden may also be blacked out by OLN.

I am going to be in New York October 19-23rd. If you have any pro or college hockey suggestions, send them in. PhotoPlusExpo is a huge photography conference underway that weekend, the Rangers play the Islanders in a home-at-home on the 19th and 20th, and the Ice Rink just opened at the Rockefeller Center.

- The Globe and Mail filed a report from NY on the NHL's opening night, and naturally, the sports bar was filled with expatriate Canadians.

NHL spokeswoman Bernadette Mansur said OLN is still ramping up its hockey operations, having signed the deal with the league only this past summer.

"For people to jump on the opening-night ratings for OLN as an indication of the NHL's future with OLN, or the indication of the NHL's growing fan base, is simply ludicrous," Mansur said.

She noted that OLN was competing with a full slate of local telecasts, something ESPN rarely had to do. FSN Pittsburgh, for example, grabbed a 7.5 share of the market for Sidney Crosby's regular-season debut in New Jersey, nearly triple the number of viewers it had at the end of 2003-04.

- Debut a smash on FSN - Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

- OLN serviceable in NHL debut - SPtimes.com.

- NHL.com editorial director Phil Coffey answers more questions from fans at Ice Age. Last week he worked with Kukla's Korner to answer questions about OLN's NHL broadcasts.

- Opening night lines for the San Jose Sharks:


Scott Hannan was paired with Christian Ehrhoff on defense, Kyle McLaren with Rob Davison, and Brad Stuart with Tom Preissing.

- Sign off from Bill Clement after the opening night Rangers-Flyers broadcast on OLN:

Good night, this is Ron Burgandy. You stay classy San Diego.

- Whether you love or hate Jeremy Roenick, he is enjoying himself on the ice. Generating a buzz from the Los Angeles media with Roenick playing in your building 40+ times is not going to be a problem.

- A press release today from USAhockey.com:

University of Minnesota Retains No. 1 Position In USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The University of Minnesota retained the No. 1 spot in this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll, receiving 19 of 34 first-place votes and a total of 487 points.

For most teams, this weekend marks the start of the season with 39 games being played between Friday and Sunday, including three tournaments - the Q-Cup, the Maverick Stampede and the Nye Frontier Classic.

This weekend's slate includes multiple non-conference confrontations between ranked teams. No. 2 Denver travels to face No. 14 Maine on Oct. 14 and 15. No. 3 The Ohio State University will visit No. 6 Colorado College for a pair of games. No. 7 University of Michigan will host No. 5 Boston College on Friday, Oct. 14 before welcoming Merrimack College on Sunday, Oct. 16. Meanwhile, Boston College will head south on Saturday, Oct. 15, to face Bowling Green State University for the second leg of its road swing against Central Collegiate Hockey Association teams.

Additional games featuring ranked teams include No. 1 Minnesota hosting the University of Alaska Fairbanks for two games, No. 8 New Hampshire taking part in the Maverick Stampede, No. 9 North Dakota welcoming Northeastern University for a weekend series, No. 10 Boston University playing its first Hockey East game against the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and No. 12 Northern Michigan University hosting St. Cloud State University for two games.

ABOUT THE POLL: The eleventh annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the American Hockey Coaches Association and USA Hockey Magazine, the official publication of USA Hockey.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll -- #2
(first-place votes in parentheses)

1. University of Minnesota, 487 (19), 0-0-0
2. University of Denver, 465 (15), 0-0-0
3. The Ohio State University, 403, 0-0-0
4. Cornell University, 389, 0-0-0
5. Boston College, 386, 0-0-0
6. Colorado College, 340, 2-0-0
7. University of Michigan, 308, 2-0-0
8. University of New Hampshire, 262, 0-0-0
9. University of North Dakota, 210, 1-1-0
10. Boston University, 146, 0-0-0
11. University of Wisconsin, 145, 1-1-0
12. Northern Michigan University, 129, 0-0-0
13. Michigan State University, 127, 2-0-0
14. University of Maine, 122, 1-1-0
15. Harvard University, 40, 0-0-0

Others receiving votes: Colgate University, 38; Dartmouth College, 34; University of Massachusetts Lowell, 14; Miami (Ohio) University, 10; Bemidji State University, 8; St. Lawrence University, 8; University of Vermont, 6; Mercyhurst College, 2; Canisius College, 1.

- Visit the INCH college hockey blog for more updates throughout the season.

- Pat asked about a grandson wanting to become a professional hockey player. Visit The NHL Academy for an interesting survey to see if he has the right makeup. For an honest answer to your question, just get him started with either ice or roller youth hockey. The more he plays, the more he likes the sport, the better chance he will have.

- Jeff emailed a link to this ESPN liveblog of NHL's opening night. Interesting to say the least. But then again, car crashes are also interesting.

- Fixed a link to Rollin Ice on the rinks page, added training camp and SJ-LA photo galleries to the photo links page.

[Update] From the Blueland blog, LW Ilya Kovalchuk signed with the Atlanta Thrashers and will hold a press conference with the team tomorrow at noon Georgia time. Offwing also contributed an away game report from the Atlanta-Washington game.

Local colleges open 2005-06 season

The Bay Area college club hockey teams kick off the 2005-06 season this October. San Jose State came out of the gates firing with a 6-2 drubbing of USC at Logitech on Friday, followed by a 7-1 win over USC on Saturday night.

A. Sheldon sent in a report from the SJSU season opener.

The last time SJSU hosted Golden State rival USC, the Spartans slammed the Trojans with 15-4 and 7-1 decisions to end the 2004-05 regular season and solidify a berth into the ACHA DII national tournament in Detroit, Michigan. To kick off SJSU’s 2005-06 campaign, USC returned to the U.S.S Spartan fresh off a solid rout of UC Berkeley, out-scoring the Golden Bears by a total of 20-8 in two games.

Cal opened the season at USC last weekend with a pair of losses at Disney Ice, 12-2 on Sep. 30th, and 8-6 on October 1st. Berkeley was also swept in a double-header this weekend at home with UCLA, 8-2 on Friday, and 4-2 on Saturday. UCLA goaltender Adam Kubalski made 65 saves on 69 shots for the weekend.

Stanford opens the season this weekend against Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech's Sarge Day sent in an email noting that the Friday game is at Belmont Ice at 9:45 PM, the Saturday game at the same rink starts at 5:45 PM.

The final rankings for ACHA D2 will be Feb 4th, 2006, with the West Regional Playoffs being held this year at Logitech Ice in San Jose Feb 17-18th.

[Update] A. Sheldon also sent in a report on the rough start to Cal Berkeley's season.

In front of a few hundred spectators at Berkeley Iceland, the Bruins handed the Golden Bears two more losing decisions on Friday and Saturday night - 8-2 and 4-2 respectively.

Stockton Thunder earns affiliation with the Phoenix Coyotes

The ECHL Stockton Thunder has earned an NHL affiliation with the Phoenix Coyotes. The affiliation agreement is scheduled to last for one year.

"We are very pleased to form this partnership with the Phoenix Coyotes," Chapman said. "With Wayne Gretzky at the helm, they are a highly-respected organization throughout the NHL, and we're delighted to be a part of their team."

"I'm excited to work with the Phoenix organization and I'm looking forward to a long-lasting relationship,” Thunder head coach Chris Cichocki said. "I'll do everything in my capacity to properly enhance their players’ development as future Phoenix Coyotes."

Thunder gets ready to rumble - Stockton Record.

2005 Stockton Thunder training camp schedule:

Saturday, October 8th
Session 1: 9-10:30am
Session 2: 2:30-3:45pm

Sunday, October 9th
Session 1: 9-10:30am
Session 2: 2:30-3:45pm

Monday, October 10th
Session 1: 9-10:30am
Session 2: 2:30-3:45pm

Tuesday, October 11th
Session 1: 9:30 -11:15am

Wednesday October 12th
Morning skate: 9:30am

Friday, October 14th
Session 1: 9:30-11:15am

Saturday, October 15th
Session 1: 2-3:30pm

Sunday, October 16th
Morning skate: 9am

Monday, October 17th
Optional skate: 10-11:30am

Tuesday, October 18th
Session 1: 10-11:30am


Fleet Week in SF

Fleet week san francisco

red bull air race

Missed the parade of ships at Fleet Week, missed the inaugural Red Bull Air Race in SF, but I did watch the Blue Angels peformance. Impressive.

Caltrans and Muni, not so impressive.

Percentage of blogs talking about the NHL, Sidney Crosby and OLN

hockey blogs

Blog pulse examines the percentage of blog posts that reference the NHL, Sidney Crosby, and OLN. Play with the search terms, and email me if you get an interesting result.


ECHL training camp rosters

The training camp rosters for the 2005-06 ECHL season are out, below are the 5 from the all-California Pacific division.

Stockton Thunder

Richard Keyes, C (vet); Vin Hellmeyer, C; Noah Whyte, C; Casey Bartzen, C; Mike Keisman, C (vet); Dean Stork, D (vet); Tony Johnson, D; Brian Escobedo, D; Gio Flamminio, D; Jason Metcalfe, D (vet); Dave McCulloch, D; Travis Leighton, D; Brad Sullivan, D; Nathan Martz, F; Avery Wilson, F; Christian Hankins, F; Aaron Foster, LW; Mike Lalonde, LW; Paul McBrien, LW; Jason Kostadine, RW; Joel Irwin, RW (vet); Todd Grant, RW; Jeff Weber, G; Jake Moreland, G; Casey Moreland, G.

Fresno Falcons

Matt O'Dette, D (vet); Dustin VanBallegooie, D; Cory Murphy, D (vet); Matt Deschamps, D; Cramer Hickey, D; Dan Rohanna, D; Shawn Weiman, D; Brad Both, F (vet); Derek Krestanovich, F; Peter Fregoe, F; Alex Motley, F; Kelsey Muench, F; Korey Diehl, F; JF Plourde, F; Rob McFeeters, F; Shawn Mather, F (vet); Brett Hammond, F; John Wroblewski, F; Scott Rozendal, F; Fraser Clair, F; Luke Curtin, F (vet); Jamie Holden, G; Brett Jaeger, G.

Bakersfield Condors

Kevin St. Jacques, C (vet);Scott Balan, D; Michel Massie, LW (vet); Sean Venedam, LW/C (vet); Dennis Shirayev, RW (vet); Mike Hofstrand, C; Andrew Ianiero, C; Alexander Bolduc, C/LW; Justin Quenneville, C/LW; Marcus Falkheden, D; Florian Iberer, D; Reagan Leslie, D; Rob MacGregor, D; Oriel McHugh, D; Nate Metcalf, D; Anders Olsson, D; Kevin Truelson, D; Nathan Daly, LW; Jaakko Kallio, LW; Nobumasa Kinugasa, LW; Kevin Kotyluk, LW/RW; Patrick Levesque, LW/RW; Scott Borders, RW; Louis-Philippe Martin, RW; Eric Neilson, RW; Dave Cacciola, G; Ryan Cyr, G; Jamie McCaig, G; Davis Parley, G; Ryan Munce, G.

Long Beach Ice Dogs

Dan Watson, D (vet); Mike Vellinga, D (vet); Steve Villeneuve, D; David Walker, D; Chris Busby, D; Luke Fritshaw, D; Scott Basiuk, D; Kevin Lavallee, D; Jonathan Foster, F; Kevin Ulanski, F; Jeff Drummond, F; Chris Kenady, F (vet); Mike Woodford, F; Christian Larrivee, F; Ash Goldie, F; Sean Mcaslan, F; Anders Strome, F; Danny Stewart, F; Jason Sessa, F (vet); Sheldon Wenzel, F; Max Birbraer, F (vet); Greg Hewitt, G; Dennis Cook, G.

San Diego Gulls

Mitch Love, D; Tomas Slovak, D; Grady Moore, D; Jonathon Shockey, D (vet); Chet Ferreria, D; Andy Thompson, D; Nikita Korovkin, D; Michael Mendres, D; Matt Schultz, D; Justin Silver, D; Guillaume Fournier, F; Darren Clark, F (vet); Jesse Bennefield, F; Jade Galbraith, F; Steve Hildenbrand, F; Martin Mandville, F; Frantisek Skladany, F; Pierre-Luc Sleigher, F; Sean Starke, F; David Svagrovsky, F; Brad Wanchuluk, F; Alex Rogosheske, F; Nick Prange, F; Tyler Weiman, G; Tom Lawson, G.

The ECHL announced Thursday that a voluntary suspension request from the Texas Wildcatters was approved by the Board of Govenors. The Wildcatters Ford Arena, located in Beaumont, was directly hit by Hurricane Rita. Earlier this year the ECHL lost the Mississippi Sea Wolves for a season due to damage sustained from Hurrican Katrina.

The San Jose Sharks also assigned goaltender Jamie Holden and defenseman Matt Deschamps to their ECHL affiliate, the Fresno Falcons. From an ECHL press release:

Sharks Assign Holden, Deschamps To Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. – The Fresno Falcons announced that they have been assigned goaltender Jamie Holden and defenseman Matt Deschamps by the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League.

Holden and Deschamps come to the Falcons after attending the Sharks rookie camp and training camp with the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League. Fresno is the ECHL affiliate of the Sharks and the Barons.

Holden played four seasons at Quinnipiac College where he finished his career as the school’s career leader in saves (2,879), goals-against average (2.49), wins (59), shutouts (7) and save percentage (.921).

Signed by Atlantic City after completing his college career at the University of Maine, the 25-year-old Deschamps played in four regular season games and had one assist in three Kelly Cup Playoff games for the Bullies.

Fresno is the host of the 2005-06 ECHL skills competition January 24th, and the ECHL AllStar Game January 25th.

Oakland A's head coach Ken Macha gone

Boston Oakland game 5

The Oakland A's announced that head coach Ken Macha will not return for 2006. GM Billy Bean initially offered almost $1.4 million for two years, and then followed up with a 3 year, $2.6 million deal with a 4th option year. Macha's agent countered with a $4 million 3 year deal, and then lowered it to $3.1 million over three years.

October 6th, 2003.

Ann Killion of the Mercury news comments on Macha's departure.

Never mind that Macha will earn some consideration for manager of the year. Never mind that he took a stripped-down team that plummeted to 15 games under .500 in May and got it to play like a champion for half a season. Never mind that for three consecutive years he had his team in contention until the last week of the season.

No post season series wins. No post season at all the last two years. The team was stripped-down, but not talentless. A number of head coaches could have lead this team to the playoffs with the weapons at the A's disposal this season. Macha did not. This is the big leagues. Your fired.

Split 'amicable' for A's, manager - Oakland Tribune.

Where is the fire and brimstone breathing sports columnists? Not one could find it within themselves to get worked up about this? I would say this is downright opprobrious.

The mood on Athletics Nation and Elephants in Oakland? Ambivalent. Offwing points to a similar situation 3 years ago with then Oakland head coach Art Howe.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Macha may rebound with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh GM Dave Littlefield is working with Macha's agent to arrange a formal interview. Other candidates are Jim Tracy [LA], and Joe Girardi [NY].

My comments about Macha back in May, when the Athletics were struggling.

There was a rumor recently that the A's might replace the batting coach after a team-wide slump at the plate. The last two games have obviously shown a light on the Athletics relief pitching woes, and starting pitching entered the rebuilding phase after losing Hudson and Mulder. If there is one move that the Oakland Athletics could make to wipe the slate clean and give the team a fresh start at the rest of the season, replace the head coach.

Macha actually did an above average job with the young pitching staff, with Haren [14-12, 3.73ERA, 217IP], Blanton [12-12, 3.53ERA, 217IP], and Street [5-1, 1.72ERA, 78.1IP, 23SV] providing significant contributions. A trade for outfielder Jay Payton gave the Athletics added firepower for the stretch run, but the slow start and roster missteps lead the team to a deficit it could not recover from.

Next year, a new season, a new coach, and a new shot at success in October. World Series or bust. I am sick of being nice to the A's. Win, and start keeping the players you develop, or I am going to start watching the Giants.


The Puck Drops on OLN today at 4PM


The puck drops on OLN's NHL coverage today at 4PM with the Rangers-Flyers.



Happy Sharktober! Happy Oktoberfest as well!

Hockey Broadcast notes

- Comcast joined with the NHL and OLN to be the first internet provider to offer live NHL games streamed over the internet. Comcast high-speed internet customers, estimated at 7.7 million users, are the first to have access to up to 300 games this season. The press release is available at the Comcast Press Room: Comcast, OLN and the NHL Make Hockey History - Streaming Games Over the Web for the First Time.

- In the latest John Buccigross column, word comes of a possible Thursday "Hockey Night on ESPN". ESPN will preview games in studio with Barry Melrose and presumably Buccigross, in addition to having a number of rotating guests contributing. Rumors of a regular Melrose "Pimp my Zamboni" segment are not true.

- October 4th marked the inaugural "Coach's Show" on KUFX-FM 98.5 in San Jose. Every Tuesday from 6:50-55 AM, San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson will discuss the latest NHL developments with radio host Greg Kihn. A live online feed is available at kfox.com.

- The 7-week CBC lockout looks like it is coming to an end. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and union representatives traded offers this week. The return of Hockey Night in Canada is a top priority, but it could be several weeks from happening.

- If you missed the NHL preview on NBC last Saturday, visit MSNBC's NHL page for video clips and links to the previews for all 30 teams. The highlight is the new goaliecam video as demonstrated by Flyer's goalie Robert Esche. Offering it on its own page so you can link to it would be nice.

- NHL Games on XM Satellite Radio to Begin Airing October 5 - Press Release via Yahoo Business.

- From Kukla's Korner, an article from the Pittsburg Penguins discusses how the OLN and NBC are working together to improve NHL television coverage. More from Kukla's Korner and OLN questions answered on NHL.com here.

[Update] From Jason Kottke, a link to one of my favorite website designs at bigempty. Photographer Tim Gasparak captured snowboarders flying over the streets of SF on his blog, and in his flickr photo gallery.

[Update2] Local sports links are going to be added to a side section this week, and the hockey photography and hockey rinks pages are going to be updated as well. Feel free to send in your suggestions.

[Update3] Sidney who? The #1 overall draft pick with the biggest chance to right a franchise is Alexander the Great.

AHL Set to Begin 70th Season

AHL season preview

A press release from theahl.com previews the 2005-06 AHL season:

AHL Set to Begin 70th Season

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League begins its historic 70th season this week as 27 teams begin the road to the 2006 Calder Cup championship. The 2005-06 campaign gets underway on Wednesday night, Oct. 5, when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza. It is the sixth consecutive time that the Penguins have hosted the AHL’s regular-season opener.

The 2005 Calder Cup champion Philadelphia Phantoms drop the puck on their title defense on Saturday night, Oct. 8, when they take on the Binghamton Senators at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. The Phantoms were a perfect 11-0 at the Center, home of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, during the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Rochester Americans, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season, host the first-year Toronto Marlies at the Blue Cross Arena on Friday, Oct. 7. Other AHL debuts include the Peoria Rivermen and Iowa Stars meeting at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Thursday, Oct. 6, and the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights taking on the defending Western Conference champion Chicago Wolves at the Omaha Civic Auditorium on Oct. 7.

The AHL has added several new rules for the 2005-06 season, including:
- Permission of "two-line passes"
- Restoring “touch” icing
- Returning the blue lines and center red line to 12 inches in width (from 24 inches)
- Widening the attack zones to 64 feet (from 60 feet) and reducing the neutral zone to 50 feet (from 58 feet)
- Reducing the maximum dimensions of goaltender equipment

In conjunction with B2 Networks, the American Hockey League will be offering live video broadcasts of nearly every AHL game this season. Any fan worldwide with a high-speed internet connection will be able to watch the action for just $6 (US), while listening to either team’s audio feed.

The regular season comprises 1,080 games leading up to the start of the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs in April. On Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, the 2006 AHL All-Star Classic will be held at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, featuring the top talent in the AHL competing in both the Skills Competition and the All-Star Game.

Established in 1936, the American Hockey League serves as the exclusive top development league for all 30 NHL teams. More than 80 percent of all players to compete in the NHL 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.

Barons open camp and year with better outlook - Cleveland Plain Dealer.


Sumo returns to the United States for the Grand Sumo Las Vegas

Grand Sumo Las Vegas

A press release from Grand Sumo Las Vegas:

Grand Sumo returns to the United States

Tokyo - One of the most popular and venerable sports in Japan is returning to the United States. The Japan Sumo Association, the supreme governing body for the sport, announced that a special Grand Sumo Tournament will be held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas October 7, 8 and 9, 2005. A field of 42 top Makunouchi Rikishi (the highest level sumo athletes) will compete with a champion determined each day and a Grand Champion named after the Sunday event.

Heading the field will be Asashoryu, the current Yokozuna or Grand Champion of sumo. While there can be more than one Yokozuna, Asashoryu currently stands alone at the very pinnacle of the sport. At the age of only 24, this native of Mongolia has conquered Japan with his prowess. He is hugely popular and appears to be poised to hold the crown, or in this case, the traditional belt, for many years to come.

Sumo is more than a sport in Japan. It is an important part of the culture. According to Toshimitsu Kitanoumi, Chairman of the Grand Sumo Association and one of sumo’s greatest Yokozuna , "Our Association works to preserve Grand Sumo’s traditional culture, valuing the courtesies and rituals cultivated over its long history built up by ceaseless efforts of our predecessors." Every part of the bout, every move, even the construction of the dohyo or sumo ring is governed by rules codified over centuries.

The organizers are stopping at nothing to present a truly authentic experience for those who follow sumo and those merely attracted by the novelty of this unique event. For example, a special crew will construct the dohyo over a three day period to ensure that it meets all the requirements of the sport including the proper mixture of clay and sand and the correct deployment of the tawara, or rice-straw bales. A traditional yakata, the roof over the sumo ring, will be imported from Japan specifically for this tournament.

As 2005 is the 100th anniversary of the city of Las Vegas, it seemed only appropriate that the tournament be held there. And as home to many marquee World Championship Boxing bouts, the Mandalay Bay Events Center is the ideal venue. Glenn Medas, Vice President of Entertainment for Mandalay Resort Group summed it up this way: "I wish to express our excitement and enthusiasm for the upcoming Grand Sumo Tournament at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. The event is truly unique, even for Las Vegas."

Grand Sumo Las Vegas is being produced by Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Inc. of Japan, in association with Mandalay Bay. It will be broadcast in Japan by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) and is sponsored in part by Japan Airlines. The producer, Dan Yoshida, handled the year-long show in Japan by Las Vegas icons Siegfried & Roy as well as tours by Cirque de Soleil and other artists.

The Basho takes place in Las Vegas October 7th and 8th at 8PM, with the final day action on October 9th at 2PM. A champion will be crowned after the tournament each day, with the grand champion named on the final day. Visit or Grandsumolasvegas.com or Mandalaybay.com for more information.

For a list of past Sumo results visit the official Nihon Sumo Kyokai Grand Sumo home page. For a who's who and more background information visit Goo Sumo. Goo is a major Japanese search engine if you are curious.

Sumo legend Musashimaru breaks down the Las Vegas basho on the Sports Bloggers Live podcast. Thanks to Offwing for the link. For an in-depth Washington Post Sumo photo gallery, click here.

[Update] Sumo Basho San Jose - June, 1993.


Name that sports franchise

If you have seen this team, or any prospective owners, please call the MLS

1. You lost your top player under nefarious circumstances to a bitter socal arch-rival.

2. You lost your iconic GM on a whim, because the powers that be feel he would have a greater impact on the East Coast.

3. After engineering the best record in your league, other teams are openly salivating at the opportunity of stealing your head coach away in the middle of the night.

4. Your team has won enough championships in the 00's to plug both ears when people criticize your sport.

5. Respected local announcers believe all the talk about you moving to Houston is just hype. Fate and Hollywood concur.

6. Your fans in the end zone Casbah like to chant "its a small field after all" to comfort and befriend opposing players.

7. Your 24.2% growth in attendance, and over 13,000 fans per game average in 2004, has all but silenced attendance questions.

8. You just blanked the second best team in the league in their own stadium. It was featured simultaneously on network, cable, and Spanish television thanks to the tireless efforts of broadcast consultant Al Davis.

9. Reporters go out of their way to make sure your star players are household names.

10. Your name starts with an "S", and ends with an "AN JOSE EARTHQUAKES".


Sunday Boxing Notes - 60/40 edition

Brief capsules on the weekend in boxing.

- Friday night from Brooks, California, former unanimous light-heavyweight champion Glen Johnson stopped George Khalid Jones in the 10th round. In what was billed as an IBF title elimination bout, Glen Johnson wore down his opponent until a furious combination even had him calling for the ref to stop the fight. With his hand raised in the air, Johnson wasted no time calling for a fight with the winner of the Tarver-Jones event the following evening.

- Johnson wants rematch with Jones-Tarver winner - Miami Herald.

James Toney

- Saturday Night from the Reno Event Center, James "Lights Out" Toney made his first appearance in the ring after a suspension for a positive steroid test. Toney dominated a hapless Dominick Guinn, and declared himself "heavyweight champion of the world" after the fight. On the same card, IBF heavyweight champion Chris Byrd defeated DaVarryl Williamson in a forgettable 12 round bout. Twice, the ref cited the boxers for not punching.

- Earlier Saturday Night, Roy Jones Jr. came out of retirement to finish his own trilogy with unanimous light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver. Roy Jones Jr. defeated Tarver November 8th, 2003 to win the WBC light heavyweight titlle, 9 months after stepping up in weight to win the WBA heavyweight title against John Ruiz. Jones Jr. was TKO'd in the second round by Tarver in May, 2004 to lose both the WBC and WBA light heavyweight belts. Glen Johnson KO'd Jones Jr. in September, 2004 in a fight for the IBF light heavyweight championship.

Antonio "Magic Man" Tarver is coming off his own epic struggle with Glen Johnson. A relentless effort by his opponent, and a late round off by Tarver, gave Johnson the 12 round decision in December of 2004. In May 2005, Tarver used a steady offense and movement to win the rematch over Johnson.

The Tarver-Jones fight started without a lot of action from either boxer. At 36, Roy Jones Jr. looked in very good physical condition, but he lacked the lightning quickness that used to devastate the competition. Jones tried to use his awkward, off balance style, but Tarver's counter punching and movement was more effective. In the later rounds, Tarver pulled ahead by throwing and landing more punches. Jones had a brief second win in the 11th that was stopped cold by a Tarver left. Roy was hurt, but he held on. Tarver won a unanimous decision after a fairly anti-climactic 12th round.

- Even in Defeat, Jones Remains Center of Attention - NY Times.

- Lightweight Nate Campbell knocked down Sharkspage favorite Almazbek Raiymkulov [a.k.a. Kid Diamond] twice in the fifth round, and TKO'd him in the 10th round on the Tarver-Jones undercard. You may remember Campbell for a highlight from 2004. Ahead in the fight, he dropped his hands and offered Australian Robbie Peden a free shot. Peden took it and floored the heavily favored Campbell.

- Also on the Tarver-Jones undercard, Bay Area native Andre Ward dropped Glenn "Caveman" LaPlante in the first round. Ward scores first-round knockout - SJ Mercury News.

Fire bad.

- World Boxing Rankings, October 3 - Fightnews.com.

[Update] In a blog exclusive, Juergen reports firsthand from the inaugural chessboxing heavyweight European championship in Berlin. I would explain furthur, but I am speechless. View the photos and videos for yourself.


NHL.com works with Kukla's Korner blog to answer questions about OLN


NHL.com editorial director Phil Coffey worked with Paul Kukla at Kukla's Korner to answer questions fans had about upcoming hockey broadcasts on OLN. The article also offers an overview of OLN's NHL coverage, comments from the president of OLN, information about NBC's NHL coverage starting January 14th and the NBC NHL season preview October 1st at 11AM [PT], and details about the NHL's high definition broadcast partner HDNet.

Shedding some light on TV questions - NHL.com

[Q] I live in British Columbia and wanted to know if OLN will be made available to watch in B.C.?

[A]Sorry Hank. The NHL is on CBC, TSN, RDS, plus the Center Ice package. OLN in Canada is a different network and won't have the games.

[Q] I am on Comcast in the Detroit area, will they be creating a new HD channel for OLN games or will they be using an existing channel, such as INHD to televise in HD?

[A] OLN is producing one game a week in HD, which will be made available to all its cable and satellite providers. Please check with your provider to find out where they will be offering OLN's HD games.

[Q] Does NHL Center Ice have any plans to broadcast HD versions of the games when the feed is available? I'm particularly interested about NHL Center Ice on Comcast cable systems.

[A] Center Ice plans on offering select feeds in high definition on DirectTV, the Dish Network and In Demand.

[Q] Will OLN be taking broadcasting cues from CBC? Because they should. Also, will TV timeouts ever supercede the intent of the after icing, no line changes for offending team rule change? Because they shouldn't.

[A] You can be sure that OLN will do everything in its power to ensure the telecasts will be top notch. Hiring Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Bill Clement was a start and OLN also will be using veteran NHL producer Mike Baker as the Coordinating Producer for the network's NHL coverage. In this role, he will oversee OLN's weekly production of two NHL games, as well as the post-game studio show, the playoffs and the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.

Phil Coffey consulted with NHL Senior VP, Television and Media Ventures Doug Perlman and NHL's VP of Broadcasting and Programming Adam Acone to provide information. Coffey also provides the background of NHL producer Mike Baker and details his new role as Coordinating Producer for the OLN's NHL coverage.

[Q] What types of camera angles do we expect to see in the "new NHL" from OLN and regional broadcasts? Will they be entertaining helmet cams, dasher cams, overhead cams, etc.?

Concurrently, how much and how often will they employ the use of microphones on refs, players, and coaches? Are "in-game" interviews with coaches and players to be expected?

[A] "Our coverage, at times, will be closer to the action so the puck is looks closer," said Marc Fein, OLN's senior vice president of programming and production. "If the puck was the size of a basketball or football, we wouldn't have a problem. High-Definition TV is the answer for hockey."

"Our philosophy is going to be back to the future, so to speak," said Mike Baker, OLN's coordinating producer. "With the way graphics and wider scoreboards have evolved over the past year, you get anywhere from four to 12 rows of stands and fans in your picture. I have measured TV screens and nearly 40 percent of screens was fans. We're going to reduce that and focus our cameras closer to the ice. If the puck is 40 percent bigger because we have zoomed in, that means it's 40 percent easier to see and 40 percent better.

"We're hoping to mic between two or three players per game and maybe a coach," Baker said. "We want the games and the players to be entertaining, but we don't want to overwhelm people with stuff, either."

In an elevator ride with a CBC producer during the Stanley Cup playoffs a few years back, I asked him what was the biggest difference between CBC and U.S. hockey broadcasts. He replied that it was the number of cameras they used and the ability to get in tight on the action.

The one question I would have asked Phil Coffey, if I was not battling a cold and a computer virus last week, how can OLN's broadcasts capture the speed and physical play of the NHL better than before? How can it reproduce the experience of watching a game from the best seat in the house, front row up against the glass? Ok, that is two questions. Being that close to the speed and the action raises the bar significantly on the entertainment value.

Kukla also posted a link to the new OLN "We Believe in Hockey" OLN commercial, and hosted the Carnival of the NHL #10.

For more of Kukla's Korner NHL television coverage, visit here, here or here.

[Update] Another question from a reader, "What is the status of OLN streaming games online?".

Sharks finish pre-season 7-0

Patrick Marleau put the Sharks ahead for good late in the third period, as the San Jose downed the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1. The San Jose Sharks finished the pre-season with a perfect 7-0 record.

Marco Sturm scored the first goal for San Jose at 4:22 of the second period, with assists by Patrick Marleau and Scott Hannan. Matt Johnson answered with a short-handed goal for Phoenix at 12:30 of the second, with an assist by Boyd Deveraux. Ryan Clowe and Brad Stuart assisted on Marleu's game winning goal at 13:27 in the third period.

Phoenix head coach Wayne Gretzky has watched his team struggle to a 1-6 pre-season record, losing their sixth straight game scoring only 14 goals while allowing more than twice that at 30. Coyotes goaltending prospect David Lenevue made 39 saves on 41 shots to earn the first star of the game, and rookie defenseman Keith Ballard registered 18 minutes of ice time.

Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson was impressed with the performance:

"Two things have really impressed me. The coaches had a great structure. And the fitness level of the players allowed us to get a real high tempo right away."

Phoenix head coach Wayne Gretzky was frustrated after the loss:

The Sharks closed out a perfect exhibition season with a 7-0 record by beating their Pacific Division rivals 2-1 at HP Pavilion on Friday night. Patrick Marleau's tiebreaking goal at 13:27 of the third period handed Gretzky's team their sixth straight loss.

And Gretzky was in no mood to talk about coaching afterward. Gretzky uncharacteristically cut off a question and said, "Not tonight," only to repeat the phrase again over his shoulder as he stroke briskly away from a handful of reporters outside the Coyotes locker room.

Phoenix was called for 10 minor penalties, including 6 hooking calls. Niko Dimitrakos took the only 2 penalties for San Jose.

[Update] Coyotes lose sixth straight - Arizona Republic.

The approach to Friday night's game vs. San Jose was to give the group of players fighting to make the roster another chance to impress the coaches.

Seven players must be cut before the regular season starts Wednesday.

Roster locks such as Shane Doan, Mike Leclerc and Mike Ricci didn't make the trip to San Jose.

Forwards Jason Chimera, Boyd Devereaux, Krys Kolanos, Fredrik Sjostrom and Jeff Taffe, and defensemen Keith Ballard, Brad Ference, Matt Jones and Zbynek Michalek are the players still trying to earn spots.

All traveled to San Jose.

San Jose is down to its last roster cut to make it to the 23-man NHL roster limit, but left wing Josh Langfeld was scheduled to get an MRI on his bruised knee Thursday according to the Mercury News.