Max Giese: In The System, A Look at the Sharks Top 20 Prospects

Taylor Dakers

Max Giese profiled the San Jose Sharks development system at the start of February, but technical difficulties prevented it from being posted on this blog. The following is his uncut post, which will be revised, the stats updated, and the rankings re-edited. A mock draft, and a 2007 draft eligible prospect ranking should be coming up soon from Max.

It is no secret that the key to the San Jose Sharks success is the ability to find talent at the NHL Entry Draft. With that in mind, here is a look at the talent in the current Sharks development system.


1. Young Talent Already at the NHL level - Milan Michalek, Steve Bernier, Joe Pavelski, Matt Carle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Ryan Clowe could all be considered prospects, yet each player has flourished in their roles in the NHL. While each individual player could be a future star, or a solid grinder, the Sharks current roster is notable for the talent groomed within the organization, and the speed with which they became NHL ready.

2. Goaltending - Taylor Dakers, Alex Stalock, and Thomas Greiss are three goaltenders with varying degrees of starting potential in the NHL. Given their talent, and the Sharks reputation for developing stars under goaltending coach Warren Strelow, each will at least be a valuable bargaining chip that can be used in a potential trade. More likely they will be available to anchor the Sharks minor league affiliates.

3. Plenty of Depth Players - The Sharks have several prospects who are well on their way to becoming more than adequate third or fourth liners in the NHL, especially at the center position.


1. Lack of Top End Talent - While the Sharks NHL roster is loaded with young offensive talent (Michalek, Bernier, Carle, Pavelski), the current batch of San Jose prospects is lacking. Setoguchi and Wishart, and goaltender Thomas Greiss, are the prospects at the higher end of the Sharks development system. They are the closest players to the top end, but they are not considered blue chip prospects.

2. Lack of International Experience - The IIHF World Junior Championships are not the end-all-be-all for young prospects, Steve Bernier and Scott Hannan never played in the tournament yet. But it is well known that the Sharks value international experience in their players, and the current prospects lack that experience.

3. First Rounders Struggling - 2004 first round selection Lukas Kaspar has only scored twice this season in Worcester, which is far behind the pace he set last season in Cleveland. 2005 first round selection Devin Setoguchi has been disappointing this year, after a terrific season last year in the WHL. The Sharks need these top two draft picks to start performing up to their capabilities.

Excluded from the list: Milan Michalek- This kid is a horse. Michalek has already proven to be a top line winger in the NHL. Steve Bernier - Bernier is arguably the most gifted young power forward in the game when he plays with passion and energy. Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Ice water and hockey sense run through his veins. If you do not believe me, ask his former boss in juniors Patrick Roy. Joe Pavelski - Thriving in the NHL, given his hockey sense, desire and skill, do not expect his contributions at both ends of the ice to slow down. Matt Carle - Carle has struggled, but he is still a legitimate top four defenseman in the near future, with off the charts offensive potential. Ryan Clowe Solid plugger, who is finding his scoring touch in the NHL. Doug Murray - Extremely physical defenseman, would be a regular on most NHL rosters.

San Jose Sharks Top 20 Prospects:

1. RW Devin Setoguchi 8th overall, 2005 - Prince George, WHL (49-29-22-51) First Line Goal Scorer. The season has been a trying one for Devin, and in some ways he has actually taken a step backward after an exceptional 2005-06 campaign. Setoguchi's play in the WHL has been inconsistent at best. While he was arguably the best player on the ice against Russia in the ADT challenge for the WHL, Devin was pretty much invisible at the Canadian Selection Camp for the World Junior Championship team. His play in the WHL has improved as of late, but his nagging knee injury has kept him out of the line up at times, and he has been flown to San Jose for medical treatment. Every western scout I have spoken to about Devin has the same things to say, that he has a terrific shot and skill set, but inconsistency still plagues his game. This was a knock on Patrick Marleau when he was young, and it is something that can be overcome with experience. Right now Devin is inconsistent shift to shift, and game to game.

Setoguchi has all the ability to be a gritty, fast, sniper on the first line, but he will need to mature before becoming so. The velocity he produces on his shot is tremendous, and he has a pro-level release with average accuracy. He will be a goal scorer in the NHL. Setoguchi's vision and play making is vastly underrated. When he wants to, Setoguchi displays exceptional vision and creativity. In Saskatoon this was more evident when he had chemistry with his line mates. It is starting to creep back into his game as he becomes more comfortable in Prince George every game. Expect an up and down year rest of the way, but this might be a player who catches fire when the emphasis on his development with the Worcester Sharks addresses some of the rough spots. Setoguchi possesses more upside than any other Sharks prospect.

2006 first round selection Ty Wishart

2. D Ty Wishart 16th overall, 2006 - Prince George, WHL (56-10-30-40) #2-#3 defenseman. Wishart has done everything this season that can be asked of him, as he has been playing around 35 minutes a night for the Prince George Cougars. This has helped his development in one way, and hindered it in another. The colossal ice time has allowed him to play in every situation, and Ty has developed as a leader. Wishart has also had to pace himself on the ice to allow him to play all of those minutes, and he will have to increase his urgency when he makes the transition to more limited ice time in the NHL.

That is often the case of any highly regarded junior prospect, although and it is especially common with defenseman. With his ability, it should not be an issue moving forward. Wishart is a exceptional skater for a big man, and his defensive positioning is near flawless. He has the potential to be a shut down defenseman in the NHL. Scouts say Karl Alzner, the 2007 eligible defenseman, has impressive mobility. Well side-by-side at the ADT CHL vs. Russia Challenge, Wishart's mobility was much more graceful and quick. He moves the puck much like Scott Hannan, as he makes the mature decision and handles the puck well rarely turning it over. Wishart lacks the top end creativity to quarterback the first power play unit, but he could find a home on the second power play unit. He has has a right handed shot (a rarity for defenseman in San Jose), and it is heavy and low so it will get through to the net with regularity. The only thing missing from his game is a mean streak, but that is something that may come with time.

3. G Thomas Greiss 94th overall, 2004 - Worcester, AHL (24GP, 14 wins, .913SVP, 2.58GAA). Starting Goalie. This season Greiss has done nothing but build on his breakout 2005-06 campaign, where he sparkled against the World's best at the Olympics vs Canada, and was arguably the best goaltender in the German DEL. Greiss has the mental make up and athleticism to be the next Miikka Kipprusoff.

Starting slowly with the AHL Worcester Sharks this season, Thomas Greiss has developed into the go-to goalie over veterans Nolan Schaefer and Dmitri Patzold. His transition to the North American game has been quicker most than expected, and that speaks well of his ability to develop to the faster NHL game down the road. Blessed with elite-level dexterity, Greiss can rob the opposition with a highlight reel save. Greiss boasts elite leg quickness, and a superb glove side. Greiss is not afraid to challenge shooters, and he has steadily learned how to play his angles better in his first season in North America. With the help of the best goaltending coaching staff in the world, Greiss should only get better in the next couple of years. All he really needs to do is continue to mature, and improve his puck handling outside of the crease. Greiss may be the best kept secret in the league when considering goaltending prospects, and he is the next in a long line of exceptional goaltenders drafted and groomed by the Sharks in the NHL.

4. LW Jamie McGinn 36th overall, 2006 - Ottawa, OHL (59-37-37-74) 2nd line physical goal scorer and team captain. McGinn reminds me a lot of L.A. Kings right winger Dustin Brown. He gives an honest effort every shift, and plays with a mean streak every night. Every time I watch a game with McGinn on the ice, he instantly grabs my attention. He is a real spark plug for his team. He initiates physical play, and leads by example on and off the ice. A rink rat, McGinn never has to be asked twice to do something. He is the type of player who will run into a wall for the good of the team. His keeps his feet moving, which makes up slightly for a lack of speed and explosiveness in his skating. McGinn's hockey sense is underrated, and it serves him very well at both ends of the ice. His play without the puck is mature for his age, as is his ability along the boards and in high traffic areas.

McGinn is very sturdy on his feet and hard to knock off the puck. While his offensive imagination is average, he lacks the elite vision to be a set up man, McGinn can finish when given the opportunity. He has a knack around the net, with a quick release and an accurate shot. Jamie is a bit like Thomas Holmstrom in front of the net. He goes to the net hard, and he is very difficult to move when he plants himself in front of the crease. The puck seems to find his stick before anyone else, and he scores a lot of garbage goals. Simply, McGinn can finish with the best of them in tight. He will be a fan favorite and should transition to the pro game very quickly. McGinn has developed a distinct chemistry with one of the top eligible 2007 prospects, center Logan Couture, which might make the draft interesting if the Sharks can trade up and grab the savvy center.

5. C Torrey Mitchell 126th overall, 2004 - Vermont, NCAA (34-12-20-32) third line center. Torrey is a gritty 2-way centerman, who much like Steve Zalewski, will challenge for a third line center position in the NHL within a few seasons. Likely to sign after this year, Mitchell plays a mature game that is pro ready. Offensively he is a quick skater with soft hands and superb vision. He does a lot of things well, but nothing great. His vision and play making touch are good, and his shot is vastly improved this season. His accuracy has also come a long way since his freshman season. He is now picking corners form the outside and his release has quickened.

Mitchell does the dirty work in the corners, and on the forecheck, to make life for his linemates easier. Skating is an asset as he accelerates swiftly and is very sturdy on his feet. Mitchell does everything at top speed. He handles traffic very well, and possesses a well built frame. Torrey's puck pursuit is exactly where you want it to be, and he forechecks at full speed. Mitchell is no stranger to sticking his nose in traffic, and has a knack for piling up garbage goals. He plays on the penalty kill, and is a fine two way player. Already a captain as a junior, Mitchell has a good head on his shoulders.

6. C Steve Zalewski 153rd overall, 2004 - Clarkson, NCAA (34-15-17-32) third or fourth line center. Savvy, gritty, and reliable are three adjectives that sum up Zalewski's game. In a lot of ways he is reminiscent of Marcel Goc. He is very strong away from the puck and in his own zone, but he is also capable of producing offense if given the chance. Zalewski is more of a playmaker than a finisher.

Max Giese's notes on Zalewski from December 30th, 2006 - "Has slowed down a bit after a breakout start to the season, where he took his offensive game to a new level and was finding the back of the net... his play is reminiscent of Marcel Goc and projects as a third/fourth line center... centers Clarkson's first line... at his best away from the puck, his defensive awareness and work ethic are exceptional. He is a great asset to the penalty kill... never stops moving his feet and has a knack for disrupting the opposition with a strong forecheck or back check... despite possessing a booming slap shot that he is not hesitant to use, he struggles to finish as he lacks velocity and accuracy on his wrist shot, that ultimately hinders him from being a goal scorer. Although he has seen improvement in that regard this season... is an instinctive play maker as he sees the ice very well and distributes the puck crisply tape to tape... hands are okay, he does not fumble the puck but is not a deadly puckhandler either... has a fluent stride with decent power and quickness which make him a good, but not great skater... plays with grit and has sand paper to his game... he is a reliable center at both ends of the ice which makes him a possible bottom two line NHL'er, but he lacks the finish and dangle to be a top two line player in the NHL."

7. RW Mike Morris 27th overall, 2002 - Northeastern, NCAA (20-7-11-18) 2nd line two way forward. It appears that Mike Morris has fully recovered from the car accident that gave him a severe concussion, and forced him to red shirt his senior season. Despite missing several games with injuries this season, Morris was tied for the team lead in scoring at one point. While it took him a couple weekends to rediscover his game, Mike broke out against Michigan and went on a scoring streak after. Morris has been one of the best prospects in college hockey over the years, but he lacks media attention because he plays for a poor team overshadowed by the big names in the Hockey East conference.

Morris has always been asked to carry the offensive load for the Huskies every night, and he has done a tremendous job during his 4-year career. He is a smaller forward, but strong on his feet and a quick skater with a rapid and strong stride. Morris has an accurate shot that gets to the net instantly. He also has a playmakers touch, and has even quarterbacked the power play. In many ways he is the Joe Thornton for the Huskies as the power play always runs through him. Blessed with soft hands and keen anticipation, Morris should be able to add a scoring punch to the Sharks third line in the not too distant future. Logging large minutes in all situations (5-on-5, PP, PK) has helped Morris round out his game. His 2-way play is often overlooked, but he works hard away from the puck and uses anticipation to create turnovers. Suffered a set back as he needed his appendix removed, but that will not hurt his long term development as he registered four assist in his comeback game.

8. RW Lukas Kaspar 22nd overall, 2004 - Worcester, AHL (58-7-19-26) 3rd line winger. It has been awhile since the Sharks have had such an enigmatic prospect in their development system. Kaspar is extremely difficult to get a read on, as he has all the tools to be a special player (size, speed, shot, vision, hand skill, two way play). However Kaspar's passive nature and inconsistancy has hindered him from being able to achieve that. It is more likely that Kaspar will end up as a poor man's Nicklas Sundstrom or + Marcel Hossa.

A first round selection has the skill to never look out of place in the NHL, but rarely will Kaspar use it to his full potential. Even on his off nights, you can not help but be intrigued by the pure physical package Kaspar brings to the table. It is elusive to find a night where he puts it all together to contribute offensively. Kaspar seemed to be turning the corner this summer, when he had a very positive rookie tournament. He was using his size in front of the net to make room for his booming shot. However, that tampered off in the AHL. He has seen his ice time dwindel. His awaited callup to the NHL will likely have to wait until next season. His potental at this stage has dropped to no more than a third liner in the NHL.

9. D Dan Spang 52nd overall, 2002 - Worcester, AHL (46-4-21-25) third pairing puck moving defenseman Spang's development was a concern coming into his senior season at Boston University. Watching tape on him before his senior year was discouraging. His defensive zone coverage was poor, and at times and his offensive game was not special either. That all changed with a rousing senior year where he took his defensive and offensive game to new levels.

His one on one positioning and angling improved greatly. His creativity and anticipation offensively also improved. Spang carried that momentum to the AHL, where if it was not for a few minor injury setbacks, he would probally be leading the Worcester Sharks in defensive scoring. His 2-way game has sparkled this season, and he has drawn praise from a Western Conferance pro scout. "That Spang kid is something, he is the next in line of mobile, 2-way puck moving defenseman in San Jose" said the scout sitting next to me in Milwaukee's press box. While lacking in height, Spang is very sturdy on his feet, and he is powerful and strong. He is well on his way to becoming the defenseman in the NHL the Sharks scouts pictured when they took a chance on him in the second round in 2002.

10. G Alex Stalock 112th overall, 2005 - Minnesota Duluth, NCAA (23GP, 5 wins, .881SVP, 3.34GAA). Marty Turco like starting goalie. For a freshman goaltender in the WCHA, Stalock has been very impressive. He reminds me a lot of Marty Turco with his unorthodox style, but he is extremely athletic and exciting in the crease. He also plays the puck exceptionally well.

Max Giese's notes from Oct 14th 2006 - "Athletic, unorthodox goaltender that is capable of stealing a goal with a highlight reel save, but is also prone to allowing a soft goal here and there... Is the first freshman goalie in Minnesota Duluth's history to win his first two starts... very aggressive, has quick lateral movement and lively agility around the crease area... active, is not economical with his movements, loves to challenge shooters, and plays on the top of his crease... will resort to flopping and will dive head first after loose rebounds in close... adequate glove, blocker side is especially strong... flexible limbs, has a wide V with good leg extension... possesses quick legs, which allows him to make quick kick saves... plays the puck like like a third defenseman, gifted skater and passer... breaks up the forecheck behind the net, can stretch the ice with a pass, and likes to pass the puck after he makes the initial save, at times can be adventurous outside of the crease like Marty Turco... uses his stick aggressively, loves to poke check... once dove head first to the top of the circles to poke check Ben Street on a breakaway... patient, and will stay on his feet to make a save, not a butterfly goalie... rises to the occasion, makes his best saves when his team needs him most or when there is a flurry of action around his net... still prone to weak goals and struggles at times to follow the puck through traffic despite his size... needs to improve his rebound control and fundamentals, which would limit his movements... adjusted quickly to the NCAA and has legit pro potential for his athleticism and competitiveness."

11. G Taylor Dakers, 143rd overall, 2005 - Kootenay, WHL (40GP, 29 wins, .920SVP, 2.17GAA). 1B goaltender. Currently sitting in the top five in the WHL for goaltending leaders, Dakers has done nothing but improve since the Sharks took a chance on him in the 2005 draft. It is very possible Dakers will prove to be a steal, as his draft stock was hurt by the fact that he was a backup at the time. Now a fulltime starter, Dakers has battled health issues to be one of the most dominant goaltenders in the WHL. Dakers has exceptional anticipation for a goaltender and should excel at the next level. He has a knack for finding the puck through heavy traffic. Plays the angles well and likes to challenge the shooter, making himself appear big in net. Has a sizable frame and superb dexterity, with quick recovery speed. Dakers has the upside to start in the NHL, but is also a fairly safe bet to be a backup in the NHL as his mental focus is top notch.

12. D Derek Joslin 149th overall, 2005 - Ottawa, OHL (59-10-31-41) third pairing two way defenseman. Reminiscent of former San Jose defenseman Tom Preissing, Joslin is a savvy defenseman who makes up for his lack of top notch athleticism with an outstanding mind for the game. Joslin is a leader on and off the ice with a great character. He distributes the puck well and positions himself in his own zone properly. Could be a solid, dependable third pairing defenseman, similar to Josh Gorges.

13. D James DeLory 98th overall, 2006 - Oshawa, OHL (52-4-17-21) third pairing physical defenseman. DeLory could be the next Rob Davison for the San Jose Sharks. He has incredible size that no current Sharks prospect can match (6-5, 215 pounds). He is a willing fighter and plays an aggressive physical game. The mean streak along with his size is very attractive, and he could be a solid depth defenseman if he develops his hockey sense. Poor decision making has plagued him in the past, and his overall mobility needs work. His inconsistent puck movement is frustrating to watch. At times he makes the correct read and moves the puck maturely, and then at other times he will make an errant pass up the middle of the ice. One thing you can not question is his desire. Possesses a wild yet bone rattling slap shot. Intriguing prospect, but is still extremely raw and has drawn mixed reviews from scouts this season.

14. LW Tony Lucia 193rd overall, 2005 - Minnesota, NCAA (34-6-7-13) fourth line center. It took a while for Lucia to adjust to the pace of the NCAA game but his play as of late has been strong. Lucia will never be an offensive player, but he could make the NHL as a reliable two way center with grit. Lucia needs to improve his speed as well. He has a fluid stride, but it lacks explosiveness.

Max Giese's notes from January 12th, 2007 "Tony Lucia (SJ), F, Minnesota Gophers The coaches son is a savvy two way centerman who is used on the third line... communicates with his line mates and displays vocal leadership... skating needs improvement has he lacks quickness in tight areas and his top gear in the open ice is also lacking... very sturdy on his feet though and is agile as the mechanics to his stride are fine... sees the ice okay but he lacks offensive imagination as he rather just dump the puck in deep and chase it rather than try to set up a play... has good puck pursuit and is usually the first man in on the forecheck... finishes his checks and has plenty of grit to his game... goes to the net. Despite having a below average shot, he finishes with regularity, as he has a knack for finding loose rebounds... hands are average. He handles the puck well, but could catch passes more smoothly... plays on the penalty kill and is a strong two way player... knows and executes his defensive assignments routinely... puts forth a good effort on the ice... lacks offensive upside, but could be a fourth line type in the NHL if he improves his skating."

15. LW Tomas Plihal 140th overall, 2001 - Worcester, AHL (45-6-8-14), 3 NHL appearances with San Jose. Plihal is much like his friend Lukas Kaspar, as he possesses NHL level talent, but is extremely enigmatic with its application. Every time I have watched Plihal since the WHL, he has teased with high end skill, but left me wanting much more in the end. Blessed with superb hands and a smooth skating stride, Plihal is also a savvy player capable of performing numerous roles for a team. He has not looked out of place in his short audition in the NHL, his speed and hockey sense were instantly evident. Proving to be a capable depth player, Plihal might stick in the NHL, but it likely will not be with the Sharks long term. Plihal can also kill penalties exceptionally well when called upon. His passive nature could be his downfall, and might make him a career European Leauger.

16. G Dmitri Patzold 107th overall, 2001 - Worcester, AHL (20GP, 9 wins, .892SVP, 3.21GAA), 4 appearances with the ECHL Fresno Falcons this season. Capable back up or depth goaltender. After his stunning performance at the World Junior Championships years ago against Canada, and two strong seasons in the AHL with Cleveland, Patzold was at one point the Sharks top prospect in goal. After watching him in his sophomore season with the Cleveland Barons, it appeared he was making the same progress that Nabokov did in his AHL career. Patzold was taking his superb athleticism and added to that rock steady fundamentals that San Jose goaltending coach Warren Strewlow is known for. Unfortunately, the positive momentum has halted. His play has slipped, and injuries have forced him out of the lineup. Rookie and fellow German Thomas Greiss has outperformed Patzold this season.

17. Riley Armstrong free agent - Worcester, AHL (57-16-10-26) fourth line pest. Finally putting it all together this season, Armstrong has emerged as a solid prospect for the Sharks this season. The former Everett Silvertip was signed after a strong performance at the Pacific Division rookie tournament three years ago. Armstrong has had to overcome issues with inconsistent play during his professional career. At his best Riley can play an in-your-face, abrasive game that agitates opponents. His finishing ability and quickness in tight are also strengths. Potential fourth line Mark Smith type pest, if his work ethic and overall game continues to show improvement.

18. RW Mike Iggulden free agent - Worcester, AHL (52-23-15-38) Fourth line physical forward. Somewhat similar to Ryan Clowe, Iggulden has used his size, work ethic, and scoring touch to overcome skating deficencies. He is strong along the boards and in front of the net. Mike never has to be told twice to remember his defensive assignments as he is a strong two way player. Forechecks and backchecks with noticable vigor. Has a NHL release with impressive velocity and decent accuracy, but scores most of his goals from within a foot of the goalmouth. Dependable player who would not look out of place on the fourth line, but his NHL future is not likely with the San Jose Sharks.

19. F Ashton Rome 143rd overall, 2006 - Worcester, AHL (51-6-3-9) fourth line pest and physical presence or bust. Originally drafted by the Boston Bruins, Rome has been impressive in years past with the WHL. He plays an abrasive style that rubs the opposition the wrong way, but he can also skate well. Rome plays with passion and has been labled as positively "feisty" by scouts. Ashton will go hard to the net and has a knack for knocking in a loose rebound before the opposition can clear the puck. This season has been a learning year for Rome. he was injured all summer, and that hindered his conditioning level. Next season will be the true test to see if he was a smart selection by the Sharks.

20. C Tom Cavanagh 182nd overall, 2001 - Worcester, AHL (53-8-18-26) depth center. The former Harvard captain is a savvy two way center who lacks the offensive imagination to be more than a fourth line center. Cavanagh sees the ice well and is an adequate distrubtor of the puck. His finishing skills need refinement. Plays on the penalty kill and power play at this level, but does neither well enough to warrant an NHL roster spot. Potential depth player in the NHL, but not for a team like the Sharks who are stacked up the middle at the center position.

Just Missing The List:

G Derek MacIntyre 243rd overall, 2004 - Ferris St, NCAA Max Giese's Notes: "Has not performed or developed as expected over the three seasons, which has lead him to being the backup on most nights... an athletic hybrid goalie with impressive dexterity and flexibility... quick lateral movement stands out, but he has a troubling habit of lifting his stick off of the ice and breaking his stance in the process, which can be exposed with a one timer... stays square to the puck and does a good job maintaining the proper angle to the shooter... will challenge the shooter at times but can be caught playing too far back in his crease when there is heavy traffic in front... difficult to beat down low as he has fine leg extension and reflexes... exposed up high despite a fine blocker... his glove side is concerning as he is beaten too often there... rebound control needs much improvement as he will leave juicy rebounds right in the slot... needs to do a better job of finding the puck through traffic as screens give him more trouble than the average collegiate goalie... does not get close enough to the opposition screening him, and plays too far back in his crease... needs to be more patient with the shooter as a deke often makes him go down too early as he makes the first move... a long shot for the NHL or even the AHL despite his impressive athleticism."

D Brian O'Hanley 276th overall, 2003 - Boston College, NCAA Max Giese's Notes: "Has the instincts for the offensive zone and pinches in down low intuitively... looks calm handling the puck and distributes it effectively, but lacks the elite vision to be a power play quarterback... has a quickly released point shot that is accurate, and he does a good job of getting it to the net... receives limited ice time because he can be a liability in his own zone... while he is willing to battle physically, he is too weak to be effective, and often gets beat by stronger opponents... easily beaten one on one and can allow a man to beat him off the wall and go straight to the net... has another year to add strength but at this point he is a long shot NHL prospect."

Recently traded (part of the Bill Guerin trade):

LW Jay Barriball 203rd overall, 2006 - Minnesota, NCAA (35-18-20-38) top six winger or bust. Barriball has been an offensive revelation for the Gophers this season and has been a very nice surprise for the Sharks system. A dynamic player with exceptional anticiaption and offensive imagination, Barriball will need to score in the NHL to warrant a stay. While his defensive game is adequate, it does not stand out. His size along with his average skating ability will always put his ability to transition to the NHL in question.

One thing Barriball has on his side is the fact that he has always been doubted his entire career, but he always transitioned quickly to a higher level of hockey.

Max Giese's Notes from January 12th, 2007. "Pint sized but is sturdy on his feet and fearless in traffic... will go to the net and battles for rebounds... will finish checks with surprising power and is a competitive player... lacks first step quickness and overall explosiveness is lacking... agile and he is a fine all purpose skater... top gear is decent, but overall his superb anticipation makes up for his lack of speed,.. has soft hands and is slippery one on one,.. is laterally quick and his shiftiness is decent,.. his offensive imagination is top notch, and he can distribute the puck creatively... sees the ice instinctively and can hit the open man with a pass without even looking at him... hockey sense is a strength, and he positions himself well with or without the puck... his motor is where you want it, as he keeps moving his feet and working... his accuracy and power behind his shot are impressive, but he could quicken and refine his release... is a threat to score even from the outside... could compete harder in his own end, but Barriball is average defensively... is more than willing to block a shot... size and speed are the question marks moving forward, but he compensates for them at this level with anticipation and balance."

Max also scouts prospects for McKeen's Hockey magazine. During the 2005 State of the Sharks event, San Jose director of amateur scouting Tim Burke complimented Max's draft previews posted on the Hockey's Future website.

[Update] The San Jose Sharks released their latest prospect report today. The Sharks on Univeristy of Vermont junior center Torrey Mitchell: "Fifth overall in Hockey East scoring. INCH Shop Player of the week for Nov. 27. Leads team in points (28) and assists (18). Second on team in goals (10). Honored as University of Vermont’s Student Athlete of the Week. Named 2006-07 Co-Captain".

San Jose Sharks vs Nashville Predators Pregame, Bill Guerin in Teal

Bill Guerin
Joe Thornton Bill Guerin

Sharks vs the Nashville Predators are on the ice tonight at HP Pavilion in San Jose. Newly acquired left wing Bill Guerin is skating on a line with Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo. Defenseman Craig Rivet is still en route to San Jose, Patrick Marleau and Scott Hannan are scratches.

Notes and photos after the game.


Trade Deadline Hockey Notes - Sharks trade for St Louis Blues power forward Bill Guerin

Bill Guerin traded to San Jose Sharks

[2:30PM] Tonight on Versus, the Dallas Stars face the Tampa Bay Lightning at 4:30PM.

[2:02PM] The San Jose Sharks released details of the Scott Parker and Nolan Schaefer trades. The Sharks traded enforcer Scott Parker to the Colorado Avalanche for a 6th round draft pick in 2008. Parker has 22 PIMs in 11 games played this season for the Sharks, with zero points.

The Sharks traded goaltender Nolan Schaefer to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 7th round draft pick in 2007. Schaefer has played for both Worcester and Hershey in the AHL this season, and has registered a 5-11-3 record with a 2.93GAA and a .894SV%.

[2:00PM] Media conference call underway between Bill Guerin and San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson.

[1:55PM] The Sharks did not trade either of their #1 goaltenders, Evgeni Nabokov or Vesa Toskala, trade rumors notwithstanding. It remains to be seen if the goaltending rotation in San Jose will continue down the stretch run, or into the playoffs, but the insurance policy of an extra #1 goaltender on the bench is a definite strength.

[1:50PM] It's official: Blues trade Guerin to San Jose - St Louis Post Dispatch.

More on the St Louis Blues failing to re-sign Bill Guerin, and the holes created by recent trades, from the informative Jeff Gordon (aka Gordo):

Then Davidson made a late move to secure leading scorer Bill Guerin to a contract extension -– but Davidson couldn't complete a deal Tuesday morning.

"We had some discussions, no in-depth negotiations," Guerin said. "It's just not the way things went."

[1:30PM] Via phone and Spector's hockey blog, the Pittsburgh Penguins are reportedly going to send a 7th round draft pick to the San Jose Sharks for AHL goaltending prospect Nolan Schaefer.

Penguins make two more trades - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

They were planning to send a fourth-round draft choice to Florida for defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski and a seventh-rounder to San Jose for minor-league goalie Nolan Schaefer.

Schaefer, a 27-year-old who is 6 foot 2, 195 pounds, was 5-1 in seven appearances with the Sharks last season, but has not played in the NHL in 2006-07. He is expected to join the Penguins' farm team in Wilkes-Barre.

Schaefer, who registered a 5-1 NHL record last season when Nabokov and Toskala went down with injuries, has been supplanted in the Sharks farm system by goaltenders Thomas Griess and Dmitri Patzold.

[12:35PM] A late report that the Los Angeles Kings dealt their captain, defenseman Mattias Norstrom, to the Pacific division rival Dallas Stars. No word yet on the return.

[12:30PM] Bob McKenzie is reporting on TSN that the Edmonton Oilers have traded their heart and soul forward Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders for a 2007 first round draft pick, and former first round picks Ryan O'Marra and Robert Nilsson. The Oilers were not able to re-sign Smyth , but with his loss and Pronger's, this 9th place team is not a club that can battle its way to a playoff series win, or possibly even battle its way into the playoffs at all.

The Islanders are a team that does things differently, as in signing goaltenders to 15 year contracts, and their player roster page is no different.

[12:05PM] Received multiple emails that Sharks enforcer Scott Parker was traded to the Colorado Avalanche. Nothing on the official Colorado website yet. The Sharks did need to make cap room. In addition to the photo gallery posted from last night's Sharks-Anaheim game, I put up a photo gallery yesterday from the last Sharks-Anaheim game in San Jose on February 6th. A brief Scott Parker and George Parros tussle made it into that gallery.

TSN and the Globe and Mail just reported a Parker to Colorado trade as well. Lyle Richardson reports on his blog that the return for Parker is a draft pick.

[12:00PM] Trade deadline is up. A mini-trade recap below (trades will still filter in after the deadline).

2007 NHL Trade Deadline

- Detroit gets RW Todd Bertuzzi from Florida for Conditional 2007 draft pick, Conditional 2008 2nd-round pick

- Buffalo gets RW Dainius Zubrus and defenseman Timo Helbling from Washington for C Jiri Novotny and a 2007 1st-round pick

- Pittsburgh gets enforcer (reborn goal scorer) Georges Laraque from Phoenix for 2008 3rd-round pick and prospect Dan Carcillo

- Ottawa Senators get RW Oleg Saprykin (very strong addition), 2007 7th-round pick from Phoenix for a 2008 2nd-round pick (not a strong return)

- Boston gets defenseman Aaron Ward from the New York Rangers for defenseman Paul Mara

- Anaheim Ducks get forward Brad May from the Colorado Avalanche for goaltender Michael Wall

- San Jose Sharks get RW Bill Guerin from St Louis for LW Ville Nieminen, 2007 1st-round pick, and prospect Jay Barriball

- Philadelphia gets goaltender Martin Biron from Buffalo for 2007 2nd-round pick

- Buffalo Sabres get goaltender Ty Conklin from the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 2007 5th-round pick

- Pittsburgh gets veteran forward Gary Roberts from Florida for defenseman Noah Welch

Partisanship aside, although this blog has never been very partisan, the San Jose Sharks and the Detroit Red Wings made the biggest moves so far at the Trade Deadline. With Bertuzzi's health status very much in question, you have to give the edge to the Sharks. Forsberg to Nashville still might register as the biggest trade of the season, health permitting. More soon.

[11:50AM] Blues ship Guerin to San Jose - Sportsnet.ca.

The St. Louis Blues have traded veteran forward Bill Guerin to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a first-round draft pick in 2007, forward Ville Nieminen and prospect Jay Barriball...

"A big trade always shakes up a team," Guerin said of the Blues. "They've got very professional guys here, resilient guys, guys that have bounced back from a lot. We dug ourselves out of a huge hole that we created at the beginning of the year.

"There are some character guys, some quality guys here. Maybe it stings right now but nobody here in St. Louis is going to roll over."

[11:45AM] David Singer of Hockeyfights.com emails that several fight videos of defenseman Craig Rivet have been added to his multimedia section. Rivet vs Todd Harvey, Rivet vs Rob Ray, and a classic between Rivet and Marchment are all available on that page.

[11:30AM] Victor Chi of the San Jose Mercury News reports on the Bill Guerin to San Jose deal, Sharks acquire Guerin from Blues; Chi notes "the Sharks have the NHL's top-rated power play but have had trouble at times scoring at even strength. Guerin could address that shortcoming".

[11:04AM] A conference call with right wing Bill Guerin and San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson will be held at 2PM (pacific time). The Sharks are going to practice today at the Logitech Ice Center at 12 noon. Members of the Nashville Predators were in town last night during the Sharks-Anaheim game, ahead of their meeting with San Jose on Wednesday.

[10:59AM] A press release from the San Jose Sharks:


SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has acquired right wing Bill Guerin from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for left wing Ville Nieminen, prospect Jay Barriball and a first round selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, previously acquired from the New Jersey Devils.

The 14-year NHL veteran departs the Blues leading the team in points (47), goals (28), power play goals (7), game winning goals (6) and shots (189). He notched his seventh career hat trick on Feb. 13 against the Sharks in San Jose. His is currently tied for 21st in the NHL in goals.

"I'm thrilled," said Guerin. "I am really excited about it, This is one of those teams that was on my radar. I am very happy to be going there.

"You have certain expectations and places that you want to go so it was easy (to waive the no trade clause). In the end, the chance to get in the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup, that's what you want. When it was presented to me, it was a no-brainer."

Guerin, 36, has posted 710 points (356 goals, 354 assists) in 1010 career NHL games with St. Louis, Dallas, Boston, Edmonton and New Jersey.

Among all U.S.-born players in NHL history, Guerin ranks eighth in goals, 28th in assists and 21st in points.

In addition, Guerin has made 11 appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, registering 48 points (28-20=48) in 96 games. The Wilbraham, Massachusetts native won the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 1995, posting 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 20 games, including three assists in the series-clinching win against Detroit.

Guerin appeared in his fourth career All-Star Game this season (2006, 2004, 2003, 2001), where he posted two assists and a +4 plus/minus rating. He also has represented the United States at the Winter Olympics in 2006, 2004 and 1998 and at the World Cup of Hockey in 1996 and 2002.

He was originally selected by New Jersey in the first round (5th overall) of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.

Nieminen was acquired by the Sharks last season from the New York Rangers. In 30 games this season, he posted two points (one goal, one assist) and 14 penalty minutes. The native of Tampere, Finland has 117 points (48 goals, 69 assists) in 371 career games with Colorado, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Calgary, the New York Rangers and San Jose.

Barriball was selected by San Jose in the seventh round (203rd overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He is currently playing for the University of Minnesota as a freshman with 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists).

TSN, Sportsnet, and the Globe and Mail all had a few of the details wrong, but the major parts of the trade right. More on this soon.

[10:45AM] Anaheim GM Brian Burke is going toe to toe with the TSN Tradecentre broadcast crew. A few of the rough highlights:

I don't like dramatic upheaval at the trade deadline. We have been in on a number of the talks, but we don't like the prices at this point.

Whether these prices are too high or not will come out in the wash. At the end of the day, after the last goal in the finals, you guys will be able to say that they all overpaid.

[10:15AM] Complete trade deadline blow-by-blow on Lyle Richardson's trade website.

[10:00AM] Email from the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle: as per the Globe on Hockey trade deadline liveblog, the prospect in the Guerin to San Jose deal is Vermont forward Torrey Mitchell. Mitchell was ranked #5 on the Sharks top prospect ranking by Max Giese (which I will belatedly post tomorrow). This season Mitchell leads Vermont in scoring with 12 goals and 20 assists in 34 games played.

Mirtle: Guerin traded to San Jose - Globe on Hockey.

The San Jose Sharks have acquired Bill Guerin from the St. Louis Blues for a first-round pick and prospect Torrey Mitchell (who currently leads the University of Vermont Catamounts in scoring).

Guerin is considered the top player expected to move today, and is due $2.4-million under the salary cap this season. San Jose had considerable cap room heading into the final week of the season, but their recent addition of Craig Rivet on defence leaves them in a tight squeeze...

Here's how Guerin potentially fits into the Sharks' line-up:

Clowe - Thornton - Cheechoo
Mihchalek - Marleau - Guerin
Bell - Pavelski - Grier
Goc - Brown - Rissmiller

That works, although if Guerin or Cheechoo could play the off-wing and make for a top two lines of Guerin-Thornton-Cheechoo, and a reunited Michalek-Marleau-Bernier, it would make the Sharks a dangerous club to face in the postseason.

Rissmiller-Brown-Grier, and a Clowe-Pavelski-Smith-Goc-Bell line could add an effective shutdown element as well. Rissmiller, Nieminen, Parker and Smith are currently recovering from injuries. Defenseman Scott Hannan logged only 3:21 of ice time last night against Anaheim, and Sharks head coach Ron Wilson mentioned he was day-to-day after the game.

[9:45AM] TSN's front webpage has a link to an article on Guerin to San Jose, a post from Jay Onrait's TradeCentre Blog, a Guerin 1-on-1 video interview, and an article on the earlier Craig Rivet to San Jose trade.

[9:30AM] Prince of Pucks: Deadline draws closer - Foxsports.com.

[9AM] Unnofficial trade report from TSN, San Jose 1st round pick (from New Jersey) to St Louis, including player who is not on San Jose roster (prospect), for power forward Bill Guerin. TSN is also reporting that San Jose is at the cap, so a player going to St Louis or money from St Louis would have to be added to the deal.

San Jose dealt their own 2007 first round pick and defenseman Josh Gorges for veteran Montreal defenseman Craig Rivet on Sunday. Bob McKenzie notes the Sharks can trade both of their draft picks because San Jose director of amateur scouting Tim Burke does such an excellent job pulling quality players out of the later rounds. Joe Pavelksi is one of the players McKenzie named.

More information as it come in.

[8:50AM] Thanks to Paul at Kukla's Korner for pointing to the live TSN Tradecentre stream online at NHL.com. In a market with no cable television coverage of the trade deadline, but city-wide wifi in 4 of the neighboring cities, this is long overdue. Thank you for the free wifi Google.

[8:45AM] Josh Gorges welcomed into the fold - Habsinsideout.com (Montreal Gazette). Another article from the Montreal Gazette in the media notes packet for the Sharks-Ducks game provided a similar look at defenseman Craig Rivet: Rivet leaves with head held high.

The next time Rivet is on an NHL rink, he'll be wearing the black, grey and teal jersey of the San Jose Sharks. That's the same sweater another former Canadien left to wear for 5 1/2 seasons, and Rivet soon will talk with his friend Vincent Damphousse about hockey in San Jose.

He leaves with his head held high, the same way he's approached pretty much every situation, including media and fan abuse, he faced as a Canadien.

The most visited blog post on this website is the one covering Vincent Damphousse's NHL retirement announcement from September 2005: Vincent Dampousse retired today after 18 NHL seasons. A few weeks after being traded to San Jose, the longtime Montreal captain mentioned how refreshing it was to be able to walk down the street without being recognized.

[8:30AM] A press release from the NHL:

The NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m., Eastern, Tuesday, February 27 (12 noon Pacific).

The NHL will issue a complete summary of the day’s transactions as soon as all transactions have been approved by the League. However, it is likely the list will not be available until significantly later than 3 p.m., Eastern, due to processing requirements. Every effort will be made to produce the list as expeditiously as possible. No partial information will be available prior to the distribution of the release.

The NHL Public Relations Department does not announce trades, nor does it comment on rumors or media reports of trades. Trade announcements are the responsibility of the Clubs involved.

The NHL also posted a trade deadline Q and A for those interested.

Anaheim Ducks increase Pacific division lead with 3-2 win over San Jose

Anaheim Ducks goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov
Anaheim Ducks Teemu Selanne game winning goal
Kyle McLaren Dustin Penner

The Anaheim Ducks earned a 3-2 win over the Sharks at HP Pavilion on Monday night, and increased their Pacific divison lead to 7 points over Dallas and San Jose. Despite being outshot 42-19, the Ducks relied on solid goaltending by Ilya Bryzgalov, a strong forecheck, and capitalized on the scoring chances they generated in a key intrastate matchup on national television.

Dustin Penner scored twice in the first period for Anaheim, and Milan Michalek scored twice in the second period to tie the game at 2-2. Teemu Selanne scored the go ahead goal for Anaheim in the third period, his 38th of the season, on an assist by Chris Kunitz. Ilya Bryzgalov made 40 saves on 42 shots in a winning effort.

A photo gallery from the game is available here. Video highlights are available via Youtube and Versus.

Starting lineups: SJ - Thornton, Cheechoo, Bell, McLaren, Carle, Nabokov. ANA - Selanne, Kunitz, McDonald, Niedermayer, Beauchemin, Bryzgalov.

First Period:
Joe Thornton crisscrossed with Cheechoo at the blueline and then stickhandled around 2 Ducks to drive down the right side of the zone. Thornton then backed up to the half boards and found Scott Hannan at the top of the faceoff circle for a wrist shot. High glove save by Bryzgalov. 5-on-5, Perrey and Getzlaf cycle the puck around behind Nabokov and out to the point. Ric Jackman fires a point shot that dribbles past the five hole for a goal. Perry and Penner were creating traffic in front of the crease, Penner gets credit for the deflection. Ducks lead 1-0.

Even strength again, Francois Beauchemin shoots the puck wide. Getzlaf reaches the puck before Ehrhoff and pokes it towards Nabokov. Dustin Penner has his stick free to backhand a rebound for a goal. Ducks lead 2-0.

Second Period:
After a faceoff win by Joe Thornton on the power play, the puck reaches Matt Carle who slaps a quick shot on net. Bryzgalov juggles the rebound and then drops it to his left, where Milan Michalek is waiting to tap it home. Ducks lead 2-1.

Thornton held possession while circling around the Ducks zone towards the center of the ice before firing a shot at Bryzgalov. The puck bounces to his right, and as he tries to kick his leg pad over, Milan Michalek slides a goal around the outside to tie the game at 2-2. Hands in the air, Michalek skates to the glass and is mobbed on both sides by players and fans. Crowd noise is shaking the building.

Third Period:
Sharks are really pressuring Anaheim in the third period, putting 18 shots and several quality chances on Bryzgalov. He is standing tall for the Ducks. All game the line of Penner, Getzlaf and Perry has been dominating on the forecheck. They are able to create turnovers, seperate players from the puck, and force San Jose back into their own zone on a number of occasions. While Getzlaf and Penner use their size to challenge players, Perry has twice run into opponents and then pirouetted to the ice trying to draw a penalty. Referees Mike Leggo and Marc Joanette did not fall for it either time. Both refs are calling a solid game by letting the players play.

After a scramble in front of Bryzgalov, several Anaheim players collapse around the goalie crease. Selanne gathers the puck and rushes up the right side of the ice through the neutral zone. Selanne passes to Kunitz and then drives to the left side of the net. Kunitz finds a streaking Selanne who beats Nabokov with the game winning goal. Selanne was very animated in the goal celebration afterwards. Several minutes after the goal, Joe Thornton caught Selanne with his head down to deliver one of the biggest checks of the game.

NHL notes and a trade deadline wrapup will be posted at noon Tuesday. NHL.com has a trade deadline central page online with a list of trades as they happen, and links to a live stream of the NHL Network's day long trade deadline highlight show (via TSN).


2/26/2007 Post-Game audio from Joe Thornton, Matt Carle, Milan Michalek, and head coach Ron Wilson

Evgeni Nabokov

Post-Game audio from Joe Thornton, Matt Carle, Milan Michalek, and head coach Ron Wilson (.mp3 files):

Joe Thornton audio.

[Q] Is their one thing you can take away from tonight, considering the adversity?

[JT] Yes. Usually when you come off a long road trip there is a down period. It seemed like right off the faceoff we were going. It is a good sign our team is going in the right direction. If we play like that, we are going to win and go deep in the playoffs.

Matt Carle audio.

[Q] Overall, you guys come off a long road trip and have a lot more energy than people would expect?

[MC] We had the day off yesterday I don't think anybody did anything except shut it down. We had a big challenge tonight, and the boys responded after getting down 2-0. We battled back. Hopefully we can take the positives from this game and be ready Wednesday for Nashville.

Milan Michalek audio.

[Q] That third period, you had a nice forecheck on Niedermayer out front?

[MM] Yes. That is what we were trying to do, to be close to Niedermayer and Pronger, because they played last night, we tried to wear them down.

Ron Wilson audio.

[Q] Is it a little late in the season for morale victories, or can you take away something from tonight?

[RW] No, we played well. Their goalie played great, and that was the difference in the hockey game plain and simple.

[Q] They pretty much scored on their only three chances.

[RW] Pretty much. To outshoot a team like that, and dominate the territorial play, we did the same thing in Calgary the other night. Then you make a mistake and it ends up in the net. You have to find a way to stop that from happening. I really don't know what to say beyond that.

Craig Rivet conference call audio

The Montreal Gazette's Habsinsideout blog posted a complete audio file of Craig Rivet's Sunday night conference call with journalists from Montreal, Toronto, San Jose and San Francisco.

A partial transcript:

[Q] Did you have any idea about the trade?

[CR] I think I did. It was something I was preparing myself for, something that is going to be difficult. I have been in Montreal a long time and I have toots here. At the same time, I saw the writing on the wall. I was thinking in my mind that change would be good, and I just wanted to prepare myself for it. I feel great about it.

[Q] Can you tell me when you heard, and how the news got to you today?

[CR] I had a call from Bob (Gainey), on the house phone. I got back to him at his offiec and he relayed the message. It was a real good talk with Bob. I have a lot of respect for this man. He has been amazing. I wish him all the best.

[Q] I wonder if you can look back at your 12 years with this team what you'll remember?

[CR] I have so many memories here in Montreal. Some not all good, but I have enjoyed every single minute that I have been here in Monreal. It is a fantastic city. It is a passionate hockey city. Even the good and the bad, I take it all in stride. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I played here. It is a hockey city, an incredible place to play, and I was fortunate enough to play 10-12 years.

[Q] When did you see the writing on the wall?

[CR] Well, there are situations that happen throughout the year. I think a personal feeling of how I am playing. I don't think there is a specific point, just an overall feeling that I am unrestricted this year. It is a year where I can take an opportunity to look at my options. My options were always left open right from day 1. It's not meant to be here in Monreal. It was an amazing time and I am looking for a new beginning.

[Q] You mentioned that you are coming from a passionate hockey city, and now you are coming to a place that is a little more non-traditional, a little different. What do you know about San Jose? It has been awhile since you have seen the Sharks.

[CR] Well I know they have a very very strong team. I know that everyone knows Joe Thornton is one of the best players to put on skates now. I am extremely excited to be a part of this team. I think they have a great future. I think they have a team that can do some damage. I am just looking to be a part of this team and bring a little piece to the puzzle, and make them that much better.

[Q] Are you going to get in town in time to play Anaheim tomorrow night?

[CR] Definitely not. I have had some discussions with the personnel in San Jose, and there are some issues with immigration that need to be taken care of first.

[Q] You were ready to come back anyways from your illness?

[CR] Yes. It has been a little bit of a battle the last couple weeks. Something that I have been pushing pretty hard to get back into game shape. I am at a point where I can't say I am 100%, but I am ready to play and try to push through this. I am really going to look forward to get back to the lineup and get into game shape.

[Q] Did you ask for a trade?

[CR] No I did not ask for a trade. It is like I said, I am unrestricted. It is a situation where at the end of the season I would want to sit back and look at my options. Like I said, I really enjoyed my time in Montreal, but it was time to step back and look at my options.

[Q] Have you talked with Saku?

[CR] Yes, I have talked to a number of guys on the team. I said it from day 1 that we have a number of good guys. I am very sorry to leave these guys.

[Q] When you were made a healthy scratch, did that have any effect on you being traded?

[CR] That is something you are going to have to ask him. I did not ask to be traded. I kind of felt like something could happen this year. We have a lot of unrestricted free agent defenseman, and they cant re-sign all of us this year. That is something you are going to have to ask Guy. I don't think it was something solely directed at me. It was more of a situation where he was trying to get a major jolt out of our team, to try an get us in the right direction. Those are decisions that sometimes coaches make.

[Q] Were you surprised that you were the first roster player to move? There were a lot of rumors about Sheldon Souray going away all together. If he went to the bathroom, people ask where is he, has he been traded? He was the center of gossip.

[CR] No, not at all. Sheldon is having a career year. He is an amazing person and hockey player. He is an unrestricted free agent, a hot commodity. Monreal is dealing with a situation they are going to have to deal with. I was a guy sitting in the background a bit, but the rumors were still there. I am not surprised whatsoever...

[Q] Craig, do you know Vincent Damphousse well?

[CR] Yes, I know him very well.

[Q] Would he be someone you might talk to a little bit, because he made a similar move from Montreal to San Jose, and he had a very good time here.

[CR] Absolutely. He has been one guy that has been on my mind already. I am definitely going to throw a call out to him, he is a good friend of mine. I would like to ask him a few questions. From what I hear it is nice and I can't wait to get down there.

[Q] You mentioned the idea of testing the free agent waters. Now that you are going to San Jose, you are not going to have to pack a snow shovel. Going to a warmer climate, does that have any effect on how you are going to spend your summer? Are you prepared to talk to the Sharks right away, or in the short term about signing on with them?

[CR] Well you know, when I have been asked this question a thousand times in Montreal, I have always said from day 1 that if I have been offered a contract, if I have talked to Bob, I think that is a situation that will play itself out. I am just really excited to get down there to San Jose, get to meet the guys, get back on the skates and get in a game. I haven't played in a couple of weeks now. I want to get back on the ice and help my team. The contract situation will play itself out in due time. I know San Jose is an amazing place. They have an outstanding team, we will just have to see...

[Q] Craig, you said you want to be part of the puzzle out here, what do you think you bring to the team?

[CR] Well, from what I understand they have a few younger defenseman. Very ver talented guys. I am just look to go there and be a solid piece to their puzzle. I know they have a great group up front with Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo, and outstanding goaltending. I am just going to be looking to solidify things on the blueline, not do anything spectacular. That is not my game. I am going there to play a real solid, tight defense. And hopefully I can help them win some tight games.

[Q] In Montreal you are fighting to make the playoffs, barring a catastrophe in San Jose, you are already there. Does that change your goals for the regular season or the playoffs?

[CR] Absolutely. I think in Montreal it is always a dogfight for position, #8. Now I am moving to a team that has a strong hold on a position. I think the focus now is to not look back, but to look ahead. It is a dogfight for home ice advantage, and that means a lot in the playoffs. So the focus now should be to climb up the ladder.

[Update] Sharks try to fill defensive void, Gorges to Montreal for Rivet - SF Chronicle.

[Update2] Sharks acquire Rivet in first-round pick, Canadian expected to give defense a boost - SJ Mercury News.

"We were looking for a Mike Grier-type player to play on our back end," Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson said. "Mike Grier has had a big impact on our team up front. We think Craig will do the same thing. He's a hard-nosed player that can move pucks and is very well detailed."

[Update3] If you have never seen Craig Rivet play before, several full length Montreal Canadiens games are available online for free at Google Video.


Sharks trade Josh Gorges, 1st round 2007 draft pick to Montreal for veteran defenseman Craig Rivet, and 2008 fifth-rounder

defenseman Josh Gorges

After a difficult 8-game road trip where the Sharks struggled defensively, San Jose general manager Doug Wilson pulled the trigger on a trade for 12-year veteran Montreal blueliner Craig Rivet. The Sharks sent Josh Gorges and a 2007 first round draft pick to the Montreal Canadiens for alternate captain Craig Rivet and a fifth round draft pick in 2008. San Jose already acquired New Jersey's 2007 first rounder in a salary cap trade at the start of the season.

The 6-2, 201 pound Rivet was drafted in 1992 by the Montreal Canadiens, and until the trade he was the longest serving player in a Canadiens jersey. Rivet has been on injured reserve since February 6th with Pneumonia, but was scheduled to return to the lineup as soon as this week. Rivet, the only right shooting defenseman on the Sharks roster, will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.

Craig Rivet is expected to make his first start for the San Jose Sharks Wednesday against the Nashville Predators at HP Pavilion (according to KNTV11). On Monday the Sharks face the Pacific division leading Anaheim Ducks at home.

Canadiens trade Rivet to Sharks - TSN.

"We acquired that pick for this purpose," said Sharks GM Doug Wilson. "I would rather get exactly what we want and pay a price than to have to chase your tail and get something that maybe doesn't fit as well."

Gainey said San Jose wanted an experienced defenceman who is a right-handed shot.

Montreal wanted a fit, young defenceman who could step into the lineup right way and help with their playoff push. The Canadiens sit ninth in the East, one spot out of playoff position.

Sharks Acquire Defenseman Craig Rivet From Montreal - SJsharks.com.

Rivet has played 12 NHL seasons with the Canadiens and is currently fourth among Montreal defensemen in scoring with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 54 games this season, along with 57 penalty minutes. He played in his 600th NHL game on Oct. 6, 2006 at Buffalo and is fourth on the team in blocked shots (95).

Rivet registered career highs in assists (27), points (34), power play goals (5), and shots (122) in 2005-06, and he also ranked first in the Montrel Canadiens in blocked shots (135). In 2001-02, and 2002-03, Rivet played in all 82 regular season games. His streak ended on February 3th, 2004 in Pittsburgh after 219 consecutive games. In 2005-06, Rivet broke the 100 PIM barrier for the first time in the NHL with 109 penalty minutes in 82 games played (Rivet had 243 PIMs in 68 combined NHL/AHL games in 1995-96). According to NHLPA.com, Rivet's 2006-07 compensation is $2,470,000.

A scouting report on Craig Rivet from TSN:

Assets: Is a true team player, and is only concerned with his club's success. Fills whatever role is asked of him, including dropping the gloves. Plays a solid game in his own end and occasionally displays his mean streak.
Flaws: Has occasional brain cramps in the defensive zone. Isn't skilled enough to lead the rush on offense. Struggles with a heavy workload.
Career potential: Top six defenseman.

Trade: Rivet swapped to San Jose for Gorges, 1st round pick - Habsinsideout.com.

"We're looking to get into the playoffs. If I can trade (any player) and get something back that's going to help our chances of getting in the playoffs and help us further," Gainey said at the Bell Centre last night. "It isn't about moving one way or the other in our pursuit of a playoff position."

Gainey pulls trigger, Habs GM gets first-round pick, young defenseman and cap space in exchange for 12-year veteran - MontrealCanadiens.com.

And then there were two. With much of the talk surrounding the Canadiens’ blue line this season focusing on how the Habs would handle having anchors Craig Rivet, Sheldon Souray and Andrei Markov all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents as of July 1, that crowded picture got a little clearer with Rivet becoming a San Jose Shark on Sunday night.

"In Josh, we get healthy a defenseman who will be able to step in and help us immediately," said Gainey. "Craig, on the other hand, has been sick with pneumonia and hasn’t played in over two weeks. He will need to round himself into game shape in the coming weeks and we didn’t have the liberty of waiting that long. The Sharks are comfortably in playoff position and have the time to let Craig get into shape which we couldn’t afford."

Josh Gorges signed with the Sharks as a free agent on September 20th, 2002. In 2005-06, the rookie defenseman played 49 games for San Jose in the NHL registering 6 assists. He impressed the coaching staff with mature play in his own zone (doubly impressive coming at the age of 21). Gorges' hockey sense and positioning made up for his smaller size, and it gave the team confidence to play him in critical situations, even during multiple overtime periods in the playoffs against the Edmonton Oilers.

This season the 6-1, 195 pound Josh Gorges (1G, 3A, 47GP) has struggled to maintain his development. At times he has had problems in his own zone. Averaging 17:48 of ice time a night in San Jose, a change of scenery could kick start Gorges. If he returns to the basics, he could be a solid defensive-defenseman on the second or third pair for many years in Montreal.

[Update] Rivet anchors Habs' defense - NHL.com (from March 2006).

So, what makes Rivet the longest-serving member of the Canadiens' defense?

Skills. Plenty of them. Smooth skater. Sure puck handler. Excellent passer. Responsible in his own end. And while Rivet was a steady performer in the past, the new standard of rules enforcement has increased his value.

Rivet's greatest contribution to the Canadiens is as a puck handler in his own end. Perhaps it's experience but you'll rarely see Rivet act pressured. He brings a sure hand and a cool head to what is often a frantic environment.


Team on Team melee during last night's Buffalo-Ottawa game

After a late hit by right wing Chris Neil on Buffalo Sabres co-captain Chris Drury, all hell broke loose on the ice. Buffalo sent out their enforcers who went straight after the Ottawa Senators players.

Three fights broke out at center ice, and then goaltenders Ray Emery and Martin Biron circled each other and dropped the gloves. After Emery dropped Biron pretty quickly, 6-4 230 pound Buffalo Sabres enforcer Andrew Peters dropped the gloves with Emery.

Hockeyfights.com has videos of the individual fights, and notes that the Sabres and Senators play again this Saturday. The Sabres earned redemption later in the game with a 6-5 overtime shootout win.

Buffalo's Drury out indefinitely after taking hit from Ottawa's Neil - USA Today.

Sabres outlast Sens in hard fought battle - TSN.

Goaltender Martin Biron couldn't be more proud with how his Buffalo Sabres responded after co-captain Chris Drury was blindsided and knocked woozy by Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators.

First, the Sabres got back at the Senators during a wild second-period melee - a brawl that involved all 12 skaters on the ice, including Biron taking on Ottawa goalie Ray Emery.

Then, despite a depleted bench, the Sabres won the game 6-5, when Drew Stafford scored the lone shootout goal Thursday night.

[Update] Trade to return Korolyuk to San Jose is off - SF Chronicle.

Sharks break even with 4th win of an 8 game road trip

After allowing 3 unanswered goals against St Louis, and losing three straight games against Nashville, Columbus, and Dallas, the San Jose Sharks have recovered with wins against Washington and Chicago. The marathon 8-game road trip finishes Saturday in Calgary with an opportunity to pick up a 5th win, and finish the stretch over .500.

Sharks 2, Blackhawks 0 - Yahoo.

San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov didn't have a heavy workload to earn his fourth shutout of the season and 31st of his career on Thursday night. Nabokov made 21 saves and Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist in the Sharks' 2-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Max Giese sent in a few notes after watching the Sharks-Blackhawks game live from the United Center in Chicago:

The goalies did not fight, the game did not go to a shoot out, and the home team was shut out, but it was an entertaining time for this Sharks fan in Chicago. Living in Wisconsin and being forced to follow the Sharks from the NHL Center Ice package, it was refreshing to see the team live and up close. Seeing a game live is something any hockey fan must do as there is simply so much to the game that television can not cover. Seeing the players and coaches communicate their strategies, hearing the chatter from the crowd, and being able to appreciate all the small plays that you can not see when watching at home.

The United Center is a great facility that is modern and easy to navigate. The food is decent (but pricey), and despite it being a massive in size every seat in the house seems to be a good one. Frank Pallico does an amazing job setting the mood with the best organ playing of any NHL stadium. The United Center does a fantastic job of presenting an feverish atmosphere, it is just a shame that the lack of attendance makes it impossible for the crowd to do the same. There just seems to be an intensity missing as the fans in Chicago hardly show up to the United Center, and the ones that do seem to expect the Hawks to loose. The fans that do attend games are a passionate and vocal bunch, but are too few in number. The lower bowl is fairly sporadic in attendance, yet the upper bowl is even worse despite being able to buy a seat for $10. After years of having a poor team and a rocky relationship with the owner, the Hawks fans seem to have forgotten about the United Center and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicagoblackhawks.com is one of the top NHL websites online, and the Hawks do a fantastic job with their radio broadcasts. However, this is a team that must begin to televise all of their home games and get creative when selling tickets. They have no ticket package deals that would entice the average family to attend games. On the other hand, the AHL Chicago Wolves do a great job of doing just that. They are creative and aggressive, and they are attracting the average fan to their product as a result. The Blackhawks seem content to be one of the leagues worst in almost all respects, starting with their ownership, and working its way through management.

- The Sharks themselves played well on Thursday night as their forecheck and pressure in the defensive zone gave the Hawks headaches all night.

- Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Jonathan Cheechoo were put on a line together. Although they scored both goals for the Sharks, they spent too much time in their own zone. The most logical move might be to put Pavelski on Thornton's wing and reunited Michalek, Bernier, and Marleau for the stretch run to give the Sharks a potent 1-2 punch.

- Steve Bernier is a physical beast. While he is still adjusting to the NHL level far as getting his offense up to speed, his physical game has already benefited the Sharks. He also enjoyed being back on the ice for San Jose as he gave a glowing smile to a Sharks fan holding up a sign "welcome back Bernier!" during warm ups.

- Also during warm ups, Michalek displayed an ability to dribble the puck up and down much like Tiger Woods can with a golf ball in his Nike comerical. He does it better than anyone else I have seen before.

- Nabokov played extremely well, and he made the shutout look easy. His rebound control was superb, and he kept his movements to a minimum.

- The Sharks victory almost became a loss as Tuomo Ruutu completely blind sided Kyle McLaren with less than a minute left in the game. The hit sent Kyle McLaren to the ice in pain. McLaren left the ice on his own power, but it was a scary moment for the Sharks.

Max will be in San Jose Friday, March 16th for the San Jose Sharks game against the Colombus Blue Jackets.

Stockton to host 2008 ECHL Allstar Game

ECHL Stockton Thunder 2008 Allstar Game

A press release from the Stockton Thunder:

Stockton Selected To Host 2008 ECHL All-Star Game The continents brightest young hockey talent from coast-to-coast will convene at Stockton Arena in January 2008

STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Thunder professional hockey club and the ECHL announced today that Stockton Arena and the city of Stockton will host the 2008 ECHL All-Star Game in January 2008.

The leagues mid-season spectacular will take place on January 22-23, 2008, with the ECHL All-Star Skills Competition taking place on Tuesday, January 22 and the ECHL All-Star Game taking place on Wednesday, January 23. Times, ticket information, additional event information, and volunteer information will soon be announced.

"The Stockton Thunder organization has done an outstanding job of introducing professional hockey and the ECHL to the city of Stockton and surrounding area. We are proud to announce in conjunction with the Thunder that the 2008 ECHL All-Star Game and Skills Competition have been awarded to the city of Stockton and Stockton Arena," said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. "This is a fitting reward to the Thunder fans for their outstanding support since the teams inception. We look forward to showcasing the best the ECHL has to offer in such an outstanding facility in front of such enthusiastic fans."

"The Stockton Thunder organization is very proud to have been selected by the ECHL to host the 2008 All-Star Game," said Stockton Thunder team president, Dan Chapman. "This is the annual showcase event for our league and were thrilled to host visitors from across the United States and Canada who will get to see first-hand the beautiful Stockton Arena and our newly developed waterfront and downtown."

The economic impact of the ECHL All-Star Game is projected to give the city of Stockton an estimated more than $1 million in revenue and will take place in the 9,737-seat Stockton Arena, adjacent to the new seven-story Sheraton Hotel slated to be completed in October 2007. Stockton is the 13th largest city in California and the 69th largest city in the United States of America.

Through February 20, the Thunder has led the ECHL in attendance with 6,978 fans per game (153,521 through 22 dates), an increase of nine percent from the 2005-06 season, which is the largest average in the ECHL since 2000-01 when Florida led the ECHL with 7,086 per game and Greenville was second with 7,015. The Thunder led the ECHL last season in attendance with 228,364 fans.

"It's hard to believe that last year was the Stockton Thunder's inaugural season, and the city of Stockton is already hosting the ECHL All-Star Game," said Mayor of Stockton Ed Chavez. "We are excited to welcome hockey players and fans from around the country to the Stockton Arena. We hope it is just the beginning of many All-Star events in our future."

"With the exciting announcement of the City of Stockton and the Stockton Thunder hosting the 2008 ECHL All-Star Game, it is a dream becoming a reality," said Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Doug Wilhoit. "This exciting happening will show North America what we have here in Stockton and that the dreams and hard work of so many will be on display for all to see. Your Chamber invites fans from all over to converge on Stockton in January of 2008."

The 2007 Rbk Hockey ECHL All-Star Game was held at Qwest Arena in Boise, Idaho.

The Thunder is the ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Edmonton Oilers. Thunder season tickets, mini-plans, and individual tickets for the 2006-07 season are on sale now. For more information about tickets, merchandise, or other inquiries contact the Stockton Thunder offices at (209) 373-1500 or visit www.stocktonthunder.com.

[Related Post] Fresno hosted the 2006 ECHL Allstar Game. 8 goals scored in third period, National Conference downs American Conference 7-6 in 2006 ECHL Allstar Game - Sharkspage.


Sharks come from behind and down Washington Capitals 3-2 in a shootout

San Jose Sharks vs Washington Capitals
Alexander Semin
San Jose Sharks vs Washington Capitals

The San Jose Sharks came back from a 2-goal deficit in the first period, and earned a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals after an overtime shootout. Shaone Morrisonn and Brian Sutherby scored for the Washington Capitals, Patrick Rissmiller and Matt Carle (PP) scored to tie the game for San Jose. Evgeni Nabokov made 24 saves on 26 shots, and stopped 2 of 3 Washington shootout attempts (poke check on Ovechkin, glove save on Semin.)

The Washington Post's Tarik El-Bashir notes that the Capitals could not hold a 2-goal lead against Jonathan Chechoo and the Sharks, and quotes goaltender Brent Johnson about improved play not garnering results; "We're playing better, but we're not getting the wins. We're just falling a goal short". In a second column, Bashir reports that Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee is going to be busy at the trade deadline. Whether or not that means the Capitals will make a move remains to be seen, but veteran forwards Dainius Zubrus and Richard Zednik are unrestricted free agents after this season.

Caps Report - Washington Times.

Victor Chi in the San Jose Mercury News points to Evgeni Nabokov's overtime shootout pokecheck on Alexander Ovechkin as one of the keys of the game.

"I had in my mind what I wanted to do," Nabokov said. "But again it's got to be there for me to do certain things. Obviously it was there, but the toughest part is that you just never know what the guy is going to do because the guy is so talented, so you just have to play the situation right."

Also noted was the return of rookie center Joe Pavelski, Curtis Brown and Steve Bernier, and the continued absence of captain Patrick Marleau from food poisoning. The Sharks outshot the Capitals 35-26, and picked up their first shootout win (37-22-1) of the season. In a second column, Victor Chi reports that head coach Ron Wilson was pleased with defenseman Scott Hannan's shutdown of Alexander Ovechkin, and that the return date for Russian forward Alexander Korolyuk is still up in the air.

Sharks stop the bleeding, Sharks break shootout and losing streaks - Ross McKeon for the San Francisco Chronicle.

He doesn't even get credit for a goal in his personal statistics, but Jonathan Cheechoo may never score a bigger one in the regular season.

His backhand shot to beat Capitals goalie Brent Johnson and cinch a 3-2 victory in a shootout did a lot of things Wednesday night. It gave the Sharks a win in the NHL's system of breaking tie games after 65 minutes of play -- a story in itself. It ended a three-game losing streak. And it went a long way toward repairing the psyche of a team almost ready to surrender.

The Washington Capitals have a post game notebook, audio clips, video clips, a photo gallery, and a game recap available at their official website. Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis described an earlier loss by the Caps to Montreal as painful on his AOL blog.

Sharks Shootout Victory Sinks Washington - SJsharks.com.

Evgeni Nabokov started opposite Brent Johnson in Ron Wilson’s return to Washington where he coached the Capitals to their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Nolan Schaefer backed up Nabokov as Vesa Toskala rested his sore groin. Unfortunately, Captain Patrick Marleau missed the contest due to a bout of food poisoning, but the Sharks would overcome their missing leader.

A full blog preview is available at Offwing.com, and more game photos from Ellen Blanchard can be found at the Offwing Flickr gallery. The photos above were used with permission. Also in the press box last night were bloggers On Frozen Blog, Caps Chick, and Rob Yunich, as well as scouts from the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, and Nashville Predators.

[Update] SJ caps comeback in shootout, Cheechoo bags winner - TheFeeder.com.

[Update2] I emailed Ellen Blanchard before the game and asked her what equipment she uses, and to tell me a little about how she shoots the game at the Verizon Center.

I'm using the D200 with a 70-200 f/2.8 lens. There was one game that I shot upstairs, I used a fixed 300 f/2.8. One of the biggest things I realized was that it was important to set my white balance for the arena. Another one is that it is important to understand the game to some extent so you can anticipate where the puck is going to go. (Also important to have quick reflexes if you are shooting through a hole, I can't tell you the number of times a puck or a player has hit the glass right in front of me).


Cyclists and Bloggers alike fear Sierra Road

Tour of California cycling
Tour of California cycling

A wrong turn on Piedmont lead me to the base of Sierra road, the toughest hill climb on the 2007 Amgen Tour of California cycling race. Stage 3 began in Stockton, passed through the East Bay, and did a lap over the San Jose foothills before heading into downtown for the finish line.

Just walking up Sierra Road was difficult. I had a 10 minute conversation with a cyclist riding up the hill to find a spot to watch the stage, and I was on foot. The lead group came charging through, followed shortly by the peloton and the support caravan. The pain on the face of the riders trailing the main group was evident, and several riders were dropped far back after the climb was complete.

A brief recap of the prologue and 7 tour stages:

Prolouge: San Francisco, Embarcadero to Coit Tower (1.9 mile individual time trial). Photo Gallery.

Stage 1: Sausalito to Santa Rosa (97.1 miles).

Stage 2: Santa Rosa to Sacramento (115.8 miles).

Stage 3: Stockton to San Jose (94.6 miles). Photo Gallery.

Stage 4: Seaside to San Luis Obispo (132.6 miles).

Stage 5: Solvang (14.5 mile individual time trial).

Stage 6: Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita (105.4 miles).

Stage 7: Long Beach (77.5 mile circuit race).

More soon.

Trade Rumor Wire

- Nothing breaking on TSN or Sportsnet.ca as of Wednesday morning.

Sportsnet reports that the Montreal Canadiens will possibly lose the services of starting goaltender Cristobal Huet for the remainder of the season with a groin injury. According to the Sportsnet's performance tracker, backup David Aebischer is 0-2-0, with a 4.15GAA and a .877 save percentage in his last three appearances for Montreal.

- Dreger: Teams talk trade in Florida - TSN.

Like all of the general managers gathered in Florida, Canadiens GM Bob Gainey is working on improving the Montreal Canadiens' playoff chances. With word that Cristobal Huet's regular season is likely over, Gainey admits that his wish list now includes a goaltender.

"We have our antenna up, but we brought up a young player by the name of Halak, who is our top prospect in the American Hockey League, so we aren't without some options," said Gainey.

- Jeremy Rutherford reports in the St Louis Post-Dispatch that forwards Keith Tkachuk and Bill Guerin might have played their last game at the Savvis Center. The Blues are sitting back and waiting for the best offer before the trade deadline at noon on Tuesday, February 27th. The rumored asking price for both impending free agents is a prospect and a first round draft pick. Steep.

- Noise/Bruit: Injuries dampen mood after win over Capitals - Habs Inside Out.

- Prince of Pucks post his list of who he believes is on the trading block: Keith Tkachuk, Bill Guerin, Martin Biron, Gary Roberts, Jozef Stumpel, Ed Belfour, Martin Gelinas, Owen Nolan, Marco Sturm, Anson Carter, Bryan Berard, Bryan Smolinski, Martin Lapointe, Jassen Cullimore, Derian Hatcher, Mike York, Kyle Calder, Geoff Sanderson and Robert Esche.

In his latest column, the Prince of Pucks adds the possibility of Joe Sakic and Jeremy Roenick being added to the list, and Columbus taking Fredrik Modin off the list with a multi-year deal. Modin is the player I would take a shot at first.

- Buyers or sellers? NHL teams picking category for trade deadline - San Jose Mercury News.

With so many teams in the east still contending for playoff spots, look for the bulk of the selling to come from the west. Though there might be as many as 14 teams in the east who believe they can make it when the deadline comes, realistically, there only are 10 teams in the west that could have the same belief.

- The Toronto Star quotes Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke on the trade talks underway between general managers meeting in Florida, "The deals that have been put in front of me haven't been worth spending a lot of time on. They've been short, profanity-laced conversations. They ask for the same group of young guys and I'm not moving any of those guys for a rental (pending free agent)".

- Ducks could be thinking veteran forward if they make a trade by NHL deadline - Press Enterprise.

- No updates for Toronto Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson on his blog.

- The Calgary Flames blog adressed the issue of how Andrew Ference was traded following the Calgary Flames game in Buffalo a week ago Saturday. The Flames blog wanted to clear the air about a difficult trade, and how they took care of their former player during the process.

Ference commented on the Calgarypuck.com's messageboard after the trade. The Calgary Herald published the following quote:

"I am sitting in a hotel room in Buffalo just trying to register everything right now," Ference posted on Calgarypuck.com Saturday night. "I honestly could not have been caught more off guard or thought I could be so sad to say bye to the guys. I have so much respect for the players in the locker room and if I can't hold the Cup, I would love nothing more than to see my good friends do it (in Calgary). But, obviously, when you're traded to a storied franchise it's definitely a little easier to take."

- Nashville Acquires Forsberg, ramifications for the Sharks? - Max Giese.

- Brief opinion on the Sharks trade deadline status:

If the San Jose Sharks are going to add a player prior to the deadline, the need is for a defensman. Either a veteran defensive-defenseman, a young but established blueliner who can log 20+ solid minutes a night, or a higher profile player who might be unrestricted after this season. Adding Alexander Korolyuk from Russia, depending on his condition and his game, could be a boost to this team 5-on-5 with his creativity, on the power play (he is not hesitant to shoot the puck), and if he re-gains his past form he can be an option on the second penalty kill unit with a Marcel Goc or Patrick Rissmiller.

Calling up power forward Steve Bernier from Worcester is also a major step towards righting the ship. Bernier started the season strong on both ends of the ice, but began to fade as the season progressed. He was not a factor defensively, and he became invisible in the offensive zone where he used to be a dominant force. The key for San Jose head coach Ron Wilson will be how to motivate his young lineup to run through walls for him on a nightly basis.

One suggestion is a competition for playing time in all three zones. Continuity is a key for some line combinations, but playing for ice time can be a much bigger motivation to play better consistent hockey. On defense, the Sharks have 7 defenseman, 6 of whom not named Kyle McLaren are in varying stages of the doghouse. San Jose's rotation between 2 number one goaltenders can also apply this simple formula, "win and you stay in".

Home ice advantage may or may not be a bonus for this team, but it needs to play better hockey down the stretch if it wants to cash in on some if its potential in the postseason.

- Bernier, Brown return to lineup for ailing Sharks, Scoreless streak in rearview mirror? - San Jose Mercury News.

Forwards Steve Bernier and Curtis Brown will be back in the Sharks' lineup today and, given recent developments, the club needs all the help it can get.

The Sharks have lost three consecutive games in regulation for just the second time since acquiring Joe Thornton 14 months ago. The first skid occurred in late December, and the Sharks responded with vigor, winning seven of their next eight. In the only loss, they outshot Edmonton 34-16.

During their current slide, the Sharks have endured a scoreless streak of 190:22 -- the longest in franchise history by more than a full period. It ended Sunday in Dallas, but since the second period of the trip opener in St. Louis the team has been outscored 16-2.

- The Sellers Emerge - Damien Cox.

- Mirtle: How the cap crunch affects deadline day - Globe on Hockey.

Think of the NHL's salary cap as operating on a calendar, one that runs the length of the regular season (187 days) from start to finish. Divide the $44-million available under the salary cap this season by those days, and you end up with slightly more than $235,000 that each NHL club has as its average daily limit.

On Feb. 27, trade deadline day, there will be 41 days remaining on that calendar, the equivalent of roughly 22 per cent of the regular season. That's also the percentage of any incoming salaries teams will be on the hook for when they pick up players that day.

- If you have any updates, leave them in the comments section. I am on my way to hike up Sierra road for the toughest climb of the 2007 Amgen Tour of California cycling race.

NHL reverses course on YouTube, (corrected at end of post)

After the NHL opened up at the start of the season to user-embedded Youtube highlights, full games posted on Google Video, and online streaming on Yahoo and Comcast, it appears as if the league is backtracking somewhat on that effort. Many NHL highlight clips on Youtube have had the embedding feature turned off.

When the NHL first made the Youtube announcement, there was an interesting caveat:

Through its partnership with YouTube, the NHL will be able to take advantage of YouTube’s "Claim Your Content" program, which features an advanced content identification architecture and reporting system allowing the league to identify and protect its copyrighted content. The league will have the option to remove the content from YouTube or allow it to remain and share the revenue from the advertising placed adjacent to the content.

It is not unexpected that the NHL would want to make some changes. Driving more people to Youtube.com or NHL.com would increase advertising revenue, creating a registration program would give them a handle on where NHL content would be delivered, and working with Youtube would make it easier to address unauthorized use of their video content.

There are two problems. One, the league needs exposure. A handful of clips have reached tens of thousands of viewers, a figure not possible without being embedded on a few of the larger blogs and hockey websites. Two, the league has not expressed how this content should be used by fans or even by the media.

At the start of the last two seasons I contacted the NHL front office about creating a FAQ for NHL bloggers. Answers to several questions to create a best practices guide. If the league is having problems with the way content (video, text, photo, or other) is being used, the first step to addressing the problem is to let people know how to do it properly.

Eric McErlain has several different opinions at Offwing, NHL Disabling Embedding In YouTube Videos.

[Update] The issue may be moot, all of the recent Youtube NHL video clips have had the embedding features turned back on, but the discussion is still a vital one if the NHL wants to open up to its fans.

[Update2] NHL raises profile online - Atlanta Journal Constituion.

"Long before I got to the NHL, there were decisions made about television where we didn't have a national presence," Bettman said when he was in Atlanta last month. "To this day, that still hurts us. ... It's not an excuse, it's just a fact of life. We need to make sure the next wave of media is something we're on the forefront of."

For 15 years in some form or another, the NHL fanbase has already been using the internet, gophernet, and online BBS technology to deliver information that has not been readily available. It appears as if the NHL woke up to this fact this season and decided to take advantage of it. A key for the league is how best to encorporate the "new media" into its marketing plan, while still trying to increase its mainstream "old" media coverage.

Link from Chuqui and Kukla.

[Related Post] Boost in hockey video streaming mirrors boom in emerging video technologies - Sharkspage.

[Update3] Eric McErlain received an email from the NHL that it was a problem with Youtube not NHL policy, "It isn't the NHL's policy to prevent embedding of videos". The NHL knows which side of the Tim Horton's donut their bread is buttered.


Hockey Photography, British Columbia photographer Jamie Penner and the BCHL Nanaimo Clippers

Nanaimo Clippers BCHL Jamie Penner

Over the weekend I asked British Columbia photographer Jamie Penner a few questions about his hockey photographs, his equipment, if anything has hit him while taking pictures, and about the Nanaimo Clippers Jr A BCHL team.

[Q] Tell me a little about the Nanaimo Clippers.

[JP] The Clippers are a Junior A team in the BCHL. The team feeds a regular stream of players to Cornell University and has many recent drafts into the NHL (the goalie in the attached photo is owned by the Florida Panthers). The team is regularly ranked in the top 15 in Canada.

[Q] What photo equipment do you use? And has anything interesting happened to you while shooting a game?

[JP] I shoot using a Canon 20D and my usual weapon of choice is a Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS. This season I shoot almost exclusively between the benches which results in some very interesting dodges and maneuvers to avoid pucks and sticks. This season I've taken no sticks, 1 wrist shot to the shoulder (after turning to protect the lens), 1 slap shot to the stomach (I'm sure that I can still feel the pain from that one), and an indirect rebound to the head. Lots of fun!! Fortunately, no equipment damage...

At the Jr A level of course, these guys are going from boys to men. The most rewarding part of doing this with the Clippers is when the moms and dads come up to me at the end of the year and thank me for being the only way to "stay in touch" with their kids. I look forward to the day when I get that magic shot of someone a mere few years before they become the next NHL superstar.

The Nanaimo Clippers are leading the BCHL's Coastal Conference with 38 wins and 82 points. The Penticon Vees lead the Interior Conference and the overall BCHL standings with 39 wins and 83 points. Victoria Grizzlies center Tyler Bozak leads the league in scoring with 123 points (44G, 79A) in 56 games played.

One thing to take a look at from Jamie Penner's photo gallery is the player and parent portraits in front of the goalie crease. They are the perfect photos for youth hockey. A link to Jamie's photography website will added here. If you would like to submit a hockey photo or a link, feel free to contact this blog here.

Jamie Penner also sends a shout out to Sharks radio analyst Jamie Baker.


Levi Leipheimer wins prolouge stage of 2007 Tour of California in San Francisco

2007 tour of california prolouge stage

Levi Leipheimer, riding for Team Discovery Channel, won the prolouge stage of the 2007 Amgen Tour of California with a 4:49.05 individual time trial. Close to 300,000 fans packed the sun-baked 1.9 mile time trial course that began on the Embarcadero near Pier 1, and wound its way up steep Telegraph hill to the finish line at the Coit Tower. Jason Donald of Colorado (4:50:49), and Ben Jacques-Maynes (4:54:22) of San Jose rounded out the all-American top three.

More notes and photos from the prolouge stage of the 2007 Tour of California cycling race will be posted soon (after a few hockey posts).

The official website is available at amgentourofcalifornia.com.

Notre Dame Remains No. 1 on USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

A press release from USA Hockey:

This Week's Top-15 Match-Ups

Friday, Feb. 23
No. 8 North Dakota @ No. 7 Denver
No. 2 Minnesota @ No. 5 St. Could State

Saturday, Feb. 24
No. 8 North Dakota @ No. 7 Denver
No. 5 St. Could State @ No. 2 Minnesota

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The University of Notre Dame retained the No. 1 ranking on the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll for the third-consecutive week. The Fighting Irish received 21-of-34 first-place votes and 496 points after sweeping Western Collegiate Hockey Association opponent University of Alaska Anchorage.

The University of Minnesota (489) and the University of New Hampshire (424) remained at Nos. 2 and 3, with the Golden Gophers capturing the remaining 13 first-place votes. Meanwhile, Boston University (418) cracked the top five for the first time since October, coming in at No. 4, while St. Cloud State University (373) earned the No. 5 ranking.

Clarkson University and the University of North Dakota both made big gains in the poll this week, as the Golden Knights moved from No. 9 to No. 6 and the Fighting Sioux jumped up four spots to No. 8.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll -- #19

(first-place votes in parentheses, Last Week's Ranking, 2006-07 Record, Weeks in Top-15)

1. U. of Notre Dame, 496, (21), 1, 26-5-3, 16
2. U. of Minnesota, 489 (13), 2, 25-5-3, 19
3. U. of New Hampshire, 424, 3, 22-6-2, 19
4. Boston U., 418, 6, 17-5-9, 19
5. St. Cloud State U., 373, 4, 18-6-6, 14
6. Clarkson U., 324, 9, 20-7-5, 13
7. U. of Denver, 314, 8, 20-11-3, 18
8. U. of North Dakota, 227, 12, 17-11-4, 15
9. Miami (Ohio) U., 221, 11, 22-10-4, 19
10. U. of Michigan, 212, 10, 22-11-1, 19
11. U. of Maine, 201, 7, 19-10-2, 19
12. Boston College, 153, 13, 18-11-1, 19
13. Michigan State U., 100, 5, 18-11-3, 19
14. St. Lawrence U., 89, 15, 19-11-2, 2
15. Colorado College, 26, 14, 16-13-3, 11

Others receiving votes: Cornell University, 9; Sacred Heart University, 3; University of Vermont, 1.

ABOUT THE POLL: The 12th 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 most widely distributed hockey magazine in the world.

[Update] Wolverines End Skid with Key Win Over Lake Superior - MgoBlue.com.

[Update2] Check the broadcast schedule at hockeywebcasts.com regularly for links to free online streams of NCAA hockey games this season.


Nashville Acquires Forsberg, ramifications for the Sharks?

Peter Forsberg

To Philadelphia: F Scottie Upshall (6th overall in 2002), D Ryan Parent (19th overall in 2005), 1st round pick in 2007, 3rd round pick in 2007.

To Nashville: C Peter Forsberg

Philadelphia: The Flyers had to move Forsberg before the deadline as it was almost certain he would not return next season. It is time to start the youth movement in Philly. The Flyers already have young talent waiting to blossom in Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Joni Pitkanen, R.J. Umberger, and Antero Niittymaki among others. Now you add a young, gritty, third liner with good speed and tenacity in Upshall, a stay-at-home defensive prospect with exceptional mobility, and a 1st round draft choice. While none are blue chip players or picks, the Flyers did a decent job of adding depth to their organization in the long run.

Nashville: The Predators know exactly what they are getting in Peter Forsberg, in addition to a questionable health forecast. He is the best power forward in the league, and he challenges Joe Thornton as the NHL's best playmaker. Forsberg is the type of player who thrives in critical playoff situations. His puck protection is second to none, and Forsberg can beat the opposition in a number of ways. This trade should also give Nashville a boost in the box office, and create a media buzz around a team who deserves it.

With Kariya, Sullivan, Arnott, Radulov, Erat, Dumont, Hartnell, Legwand, and now add in Forsberg, this is a scary team up front. The Predators ice incredible depth and versitality, unmatched by any other team in the Western Conference (except maybe the Sharks). Defensively, the Predators also added Vitaly Vishnevski. Vishnevski will give Nashville the physical presence they need with the absence of Brendan Witt. The Predators defense is underrated, with a very good top 7. Tomas Vokoun will be healthy this year in the playoffs, unlike last year, and Chris Mason proved that he can shoulder the load as a #1. Nashville is now the odds on favorite to win the Stanley Cup, a healthy Forsberg permitting.

Sharks Outlook: It was rumored early that the Sharks were interested in Forsberg, which given his playoff success against San Jose was probably true. It was also rumored that it would have cost the Sharks one of their future blue chip young stars in Steve Bernier, Milan Michalek, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, or Matt Carle. With the return Philadelphia received from Nashville, the price for Forberg for San Jose might not have been this high. A revised offer may have looked something like: (D Ty Wishart, C Marcel Goc, 3rd Round 07, 1st Round in 08).

That is a makeable deal for the Sharks considering all the of the young talent coming down the development pipeline. But this would have gone against the Sharks philosophy of building from within. Defenseman Ty Wishart is nearly NHL ready, and with the possibility of losing Scott Hannan the Sharks will want to keep him in the fold. Centerman Marcel Goc has a wealth of talent, is solid on the penalty kill, but needs to put more shots on net. San Jose's success drafting in the first round make dealing away these draft picks more of a negative than for other teams.

Now the Sharks must look towards the other end of the ice at available defenseman. San Jose needs a (gritty, warrior, veteran, stay-at-home, solid, leader, defensive) defenseman who has battled for a Cup in the playoffs before. Aaron Miller would will fill a big hole, but it is likely the Sharks will target someone in that range. Expect Doug Wilson to move a prospect like Dan Spang or possibly Dimitri Patzold, or package draft picks to close a deal.

With three straight losses, and a less than confident performance in a 6-5 win over St Louis, the situation has changed from making a trade "if opportunity permits" to make a trade now to "shore up the defense".

[Update] The Peter Principle - Yahoo.

[Update2] Flyers trade Forsberg to Predators - Philadelphia Inquirer.

"We've gone round and round with Peter over the last fair amount of time about making a commitment to us in future years, and due to Peter's uncertainty, he could not and would not do that moving forward," general manager Paul Holmgren said.

"It was our belief that in the long run, for the betterment of the franchise's future, this was something we needed to do... . He was noncommittal through this whole process with both myself, Mr. Snider and his teammates," Holmgren said. "We all tried. We ganged up on him. We didn't want to do this deal, but we couldn't afford not to do it in the end."

[Update3] The Forsberg trade is the top story on the "archived" edition of the NHL Live radio show. Bob McKenzie of TSN also contributes his thoughts on how the trade works for both sides, Nashivlle Predators head coach Barry Trotz makes an appearance, and Scott Gomez analyzes the recent play of the New Jersey Devils.

[Update4] The blog stampede on the trade can tracked from James Mirtle, Spector, and Behind the Jersey. Links from Offwing.


San Jose Sharks re-acquire LW Korolyuk from New Jersey

Alexander Korolyuk Chekhov Vityaz

A press release from the San Jose Sharks:

Former Shark Alexander Korolyuk Re-Joins Organization In Exchange For A Third Round Draft Selection

SAN JOSE -San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has acquired forward Alexander Korolyuk from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a third round selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Korolyuk has spent the past three seasons playing primarily for Chekhov Vityaz in the Russian Elite League, where he has posted 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) in 39 games this season.

"We are very excited to have Alex rejoin our organization and we look forward to him integrating quickly into our line-up," said Wilson. "He brings an added element to our team that has been very effective in the past. Alex knows our style of play and we expect him to be a natural fit."

Last year in 45 games with Chekhov, he notched 38 points (19 goals, 19 assists) along with 80 penalty minutes. He also represented Russia at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, picking up two points (one goal, one assist) in six tournament games.

In 2004-05, Korolyuk played in 42 games with Chekhov, adding 52 points (24 goals, 28 assists) and a +10 rating. He also spent 10 games with Voskresensk Khimik, posting seven points (four goals, three assists).

Korolyuk last played in the NHL with the Sharks in 2003-04 when he scored 37 points (19 goals, 18 assists) in 63 games. He also registered a +20 rating, third-best on the team that season. In 17 Stanley Cup Playoff games, he added seven points (five goals, two assists) as the team's fifth-leading scorer, helping the Sharks advance to the Western Conference Finals.

In 296 career NHL games, all with San Jose, Korolyuk has posted 142 points (62 goals, 80 assists), which ranks him 14th on the Sharks all-time franchise scoring list, along with 140 penalty minutes and a +26 rating.

Korolyuk was originally selected by San Jose in the sixth round (141st overall) of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.

Related post: Sharks trade Korolyuk and Fahey to Devils for retired defenseman Vladimir Malakhov and a conditional 1st round pick.


Hockey Notes - February 13th

Teemu Selanne Anaheim Ducks

- With players, teammates, and the league transfixed by the numbers put up by 19 year old Sidney Crosby, another player is quietly tearing up the league at age 36. Teemu Selanne is on pace for 47 goals and 45 assists this season. It would be his best point production in 9 years, and give him an outside shot (pun intended) at his first 50 goal season in 10 years.

Selanne discussed a recent lull in play with the LA Times:

Teemu Selanne sees the difference and said there hasn't been a sense of urgency in their play. Urgency may be needed as their division lead over San Jose is only three points, with fast-closing Dallas now four points back.

"It's always tough this time of the year and a lot of teams are playing more desperate than we are," Selanne said. "Right now, we don't have it. Obviously we have to start playing more desperate too."

Seven of Anaheim's 26 remaining games are against Dallas, San Jose, and Nashville.

- New NHL rules are helping veteran Selanne thrive - LA Daily News.

"In my opinion, he's one of the best, most powerful skaters out there," St.Louis Blues forward Bill Guerin said of Selanne. "He's great on the power play. He's got a great shot. And it's all because of his legs. He had a stop-and-go move the other night in Anaheim, and it was like he was 22 years old again"...

"It's just the way he enjoys the game, the way he goes about his business, his work ethic," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, a teammate when Selanne scored 76 goals with the Winnipeg Jets and earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1992-93. "The most important thing is that our young players watch him."

- Tonight on Versus at 6PM, the Anaheim Ducks travel to Colorado for a Western Conference matchup. Pacific Division leading Anaheim (33-15-8) is starting to regain its early season form with the return of goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and the trio of defensemen in Pronger, Niedermayer, and Beauchemin.

Versus has mid-season video interviews with Ryan Getzlaf, Peter Budaj, and Wojtek Wolski posted online. When asked about the second half, Getzlaf said, "We need to get back to the way were playing at the start of the season, we need to get that attitude back in the locker room."

At 10th place in the Western Conference, the Colorado Avalanche (26-25-4) are on the outside of the playoff race looking in with 27 games remaining. Colorado coach Joel Quenneville discussed some of the Avalanche's problems with the AP, "We've been slow-starting and then playing catch-up... We talked about getting momentum early."

- This week on Yahoo streaming: NY Islanders at Toronto Tuesday at 4:30PM, Chicago at Pittsburgh Wednesday at 4:30PM, Colorado at Calgary Thursday at 6PM, Los Angeles at Anaheim at 6PM on Sunday. Comcast's weekly streaming schedule is available here. Games are accessible by Comcast and non-Comcast subscribers for free. This Sunday viewers will see Washingston at Pittsburgh, Chicago at NY Rangers, or San Jose at Dallas on the NBC game of the week.

- History suggests Sharks will be fine - San Jose Mercury News.

If the NHL season ended today, the Sharks would face Detroit in the first round of the playoffs, with the Red Wings holding the home-ice advantage...

The past three Western Conference champions were seeded sixth (Calgary in 2004), seventh (Anaheim in 2003) and eighth (Edmonton in 2006). And all three eliminated the Red Wings along their way to the Cup finals.

- Surveying the Eastern playoff race - NBCsports.com.

Eastern Conference: While the Sabres have more or less been on cruise control for a couple of weeks, the Devils seemed to have gelled under new head coach Claude Julien using the same old formula: Solid defense and stellar goaltending from Martin Brodeur. The result: The Devils now find themselves only seven points behind Conference-leading Buffalo. The teams only meet twice more this season, and the advantage will go to Buffalo as they'll host both meetings on home ice on March 10 and 28. At the bottom of the conference, it looks like six teams have a realistic shot of challenging for the final three playoff spots: Montreal, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Toronto, the Islanders and the Rangers. Of those six, it's Toronto, Tampa Bay and the Islanders who have impressed the most recently.

- Only pipe dreams -- Bettman's still in charge - SF Chronicle.

- The NHL band of the month is Disturbed. Very good selection. NHL.com has photos, video clips, and comments from Disturbed drummer Mike Wengren.

- Sharkspage band of the month is Tool.

- Back From Iraq, Ready For Hockey. Ticket Holder Follows ECHL Dayton Bombers While Deployed In Iraq - ECHL.com.

His wife, his son and the Dayton Bombers – that's what Senior Master Sgt. Joe Bovair missed most during his recent Iraq deployment...

"I absolutely missed the Bombers," the season ticket holder said. "A couple of us brought our jerseys to Iraq, and I'd check daytonbombers.com and read articles whenever I got a chance."

- Two major NHL trades hit the Western Conference when I was in Southern California. The Phoenix Coyotes traded Ladislav Nagy to the Dallas Stars for a 2007 1st round draft pick and checking line forward Mathias Tjarnqvist. Nagy, an unrestricted free agent after this season, may not have re-signed with Phoenix but trading him to a goal-starved Dallas club in your own division is a dangerous move.

If he has any success with Dallas in the playoffs and signs a long term deal, this trade may come back to haunt Phoenix on a regular basis. Phoenix head coach Wayne Gretzky denied that a "fire sale" was on, instead saying the Coyotes were looking to build through the draft.

- The other major trade to hit the Western Conference over the weekend was Boston's trade of defenseman Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau to the Calgary Flames for defenceman Andrew Ference and forward Chuck Kobasew. Two thirds of the return for NHL MVP Joe Thornton are now gone.

Boston cited an inability to sign Stuart as a reason for the trade, but his 7 goals, 10 assists, and -23 rating in 47 games played this season point to individual and team struggles for the B's on the ice. The night of the Thornton trade I mentioned that Stuart's speed and brutal hip-checks would surprise a few people in Boston, but if they expected too much of an offensive dividend they would be disappointed.

Stuart had an extra gear in San Jose that few defenseman in the league could match, but it was seldom used. With a tight defensive unit and Miikka Kiprusoff behind him in Calgary, the Flames may tell Stuart to release the hounds on a nightly basis. Stuart will help a Calgary power play in the bottom half of the league (17.1%), and log 25+ minutes on the blueline.

- With 2 trades, Calgary and Dallas now join Nashville, Anaheim and San Jose as the top contenders in the West. Sorry Detroit.

- Sutter says No Deal, Flames GM hangs up the phone and is content with current roster for Cup run - Calgary Sun.

Regardless, Sutter's rationale for the deal is sound: There isn't a top-four defenceman coming up in the organization so he grabbed one with two players low on his depth chart. While Ference can be replaced as a fifth or sixth defenceman by Mark Giordano, Richie Regehrw or Andrei Zyuzin, Stuart is capable of logging 25 minutes a night.

"He's a top-four defenceman who can play a lot of minutes, special teams and has a big shot," said Sutter of the 27-year-old. "As well as they've played, the minutes allocated to (Roman) Hamrlik and (Dion) Phaneuf were hurting us."

Hamrlik is having a solid season, and Phaneuf has a Norris trophy coming his way down the line, but Brad Stuart will be one of the impact players for Calgary in the playoffs. Thanks to Spector for the link.

- One of the negative side effects of arena naming rights is the loss of continuity. I dialed the Honda Center for directions by mistake instead of calling the Toyota Sports Center. The Honda Center, home of the Anaheim Ducks (formerly known as Arrowhead Pond), had no idea where the Toyota Center was. The Toyota Center, practice home of the Los Angeles Kings (formerly Healthsouth Arena), is not even listed in the information directory. The Kings have moved from the LA Forum to the Staples Center, and the Ducks new practice rink is no longer Disney Ice, it is called Anaheim ice. Got that?

- Italian fans have their own way of supporting hockey teams from the stands. Hockey Valpe! Another good youtube video clip is this goaltender fight between Petter Budaj and Hannu last season in the AHL. The Hershey Bears and Providence Bruins players skated off the ice for intermission, but the goalies had unfinished business to take care of.

- I spoke recently with Chetan Chaudhari, a Fox Sports engineer and KNTS 1220AM radio host, about an upcoming call-in show for San Jose Sharks fans.

My show is entitled "The Sports Ramble" which airs on Saturdays on 1220AM KNTS. The time varies each Saturday (a programming schedule is available here). Fans call in at 1-800-516-1220 which is our hotline.

We stream online at 1220knts.com and just click on listen live on the upper right hand corner of the site. The focus of my show is for Bay Area fans talking about all the Bay Area teams which a focus on the Sharks.

A playoff show is still in the works. With regards to the Sharks, I was at practice on Friday, the players said it's going to be tough. Losing to Dallas and Anaheim raises eyebrows, but they said it will make them play tougher down the stretch.

The Sharks used to host a 4th period call-in program for Sharks fans after games. It was broadcast live from the HP Pavilion and 1-200 fans would watch the show before heading home from the game. Something similar to that in the Bay Area would be very successful this season.

- Devan Dubnyk back in Stockton, Thunder gets blue-chip prospect back from AHL on scheduled bobblehead day - Stockton Thunder.

- Goalie regrets leaving Thunder - Stockton Record.

The first player signed by the Thunder hasn't forgotten about his experiences at Stockton Arena. And Jake Moreland admits he probably should not have left.

The goalie and former Thunder fan favorite is recovering from a concussion and waiting for his chance to return to his new team. But he still checks in to see how his old team is doing and said the team and city made quite an impression on him.

- Falcons feel a few full houses within reach - Fresno Bee.

The Falcons drew a franchise-record crowd of 14,023 for Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Stockton Thunder. Team officials said it was the seventh-largest crowd in the ECHL's 19-year history.

Tull isn't expecting similar numbers for tonight's game against the Las Vegas Wranglers, but there will be some carry-over. More than 5,500 tickets have been sold, guaranteeing one of the largest crowds of the season.

"We're definitely seeing a trickle-down effect," Tull said. "Everywhere I went this week there's been a buzz about Saturday's game. It really made me feel good because it was a big event."

Impressive. Road trips to Fresno and Long Beach are up next for this blog in March, the Kings as well if they will let me in. February 4th is the Earl Sleek game in Anaheim. Feel free to send in suggestions for games or interviews I should not miss.

- Bluelines (2/13): Sabres' rumors; Shanahan on nets - Stan Fischler.

In case you think humor has gone out of hockey there always are characters like Rhett Warrener around to solidify the slapstick. Our Debbie Elickson reports an episode after Warrener came to Calgary from Buffalo, "Following the Sabres' first visit, he managed to sneak into their locker room and cut the laces on everyone's skates. When the Sabres figured it out, they went outside and Vaselined his vehicle."

[Update] The playoff push: 95 points or bust - James Mirtle. According to Mirtle, the Los Angeles Kings need to go 24-0-0 the rest of the season to reach the 95 point playoff barometer.

[Update2] You and I agree: Pens' Therrien deserves notice - John Buccigross.

[Update3] A press release from the San Jose Sharks:


SAN JOSE - Evgeni and Tabitha Nabokov announced today the birth of their second child and first son, Andrei. Born on Monday, Feb. 12 at just after 5:00 p.m. in San Jose, both Tabitha and Andrei are doing fine, along with big sister Emma.

Andrei is an agile, seven-pound, 12 ounce butterfly-style goaltender. Early reports indicate that Sharks Goaltending Coach Warren Strelow already has Andrei involved in some light puck-stopping drills.

Andrei will be available for the National Hockey League Entry Draft in 2025. Father Evgeni is expected to join the Sharks in time for their game at Nashville on Feb. 14.


USC-Oregon postgame video

Fans leaving the Toyota Center Saturday were greeted by members of the USC marching band. UCLA students, bitter after a USC Pac-8 win on their home ice, provided accompaniment for this song from an SUV horn in the parking lot.

[Update] From uscicehockey.com:

Twice As Nice!

"Fight On!" is the Trojan motto and that is exactly what the Trojans did on Saturday evening against the Oregon Ducks. The Trojans trailed the Ducks 3-2 with 2:31 left in the game and had a two-minute powerplay. SC put the pressure on but was forced to pull goaltender Kevin Kliman after the first minute of the powerplay ticked away. Finally, with less than a minute left in the game, the Trojan powerplay came through when Shon Smith scored to send the game into overtime. SC beat Oregon 4-3 in a shootout of the 2006 Pac-8 Championship and the 2007 game appeared headed in the same direction until Jake McKee picked up a loose puck high in the offensive zone with 45 seconds left. McKee turned around and fired a wrist shot at the Duck net, the puck bounced off an Oregon defensman and into the net. For the second year in a row, the Trojans were able to hog pile for a Pac-8 Championship.

Although the Pac-8 season is over, both SC and Oregon still have some postseason left to go, when the travel to Utah to play in the ACHA West Regional next weekend. No. 7 USC will play No. 6 Utah State on Friday, and an undetermined opponent on Saturday. If the Trojans win both games, they will advance to the ACHA Nationals in Colorado in early March.

Four Trojans Take Pac 8 Honors

After scoring two goals in the championship and one in the semifinal and putting up a solid defensive effort to win the Pac-8 Tournament MVP, Trojan captain, Ryan Seals gave an encore performance later Saturday night when he received First Team All Pac-8 honors. Along side Seals on the first team was Trojan goaltender Matt Buttweiler, who was the 2006 Pac-8 Tournament MVP. Forward Shon Smith was named Second Team All Pac-8 and defenseman Brent Ozaki was named Honorable Mention All Pac-8. Ryan Farias who led the entire Pac-8 in scoring was noticably absent from the All Pac-8 selections.

Washington State coach, Chris Soriano, was named the Coach of the Year after rebuilding a Cougar team that should compete for the Pac-8 Championship next season. Also in the hunt next season will be Arizona State, who beat ucla 13-9 in the consolation game on Saturday. This season was ASU's first season back in the Pac-8 after an extended absence. ASU was knocked out of championship contention in a 5-2 loss against SC on Friday but did hand the Trojans one of their three Pac-8 losses earlier this season.

USC repeats with 4-3 overtime win over Oregon in Pac-8 championship game

USC Trojans Pac8 college hockey championship
USC Trojans Oregon Ducks hockey
UCLA Bruins ASU sun devils hockey

USC forward #16 Shon Smith fired the shot heard round El Segundo as he scored the game tying goal with less than a minute remaining in the Pac-8 Championship game against Oregon. The Trojans won their second straight title game over the Ducks 4-3 in overtime.

After 20 minutes, the game was tied at 1-1 when fireworks erupted. A confrontation on the ice, a goaltender running into a referee, and a punch thrown after a faceoff lead the officials to stop the period with 2:18 remaining. The refs needed to get control of large groups of players on the ice, and USC goaltender Kevin Kliman in particular, if they did not want the game to devolve even further.

Tensions simmered down only slightly, but USC and Oregon played the extra time before starting the final period. Oregon forward Cameron Forni scored on a diving play in front of the crease 11:47 in, and was subsequently mobbed by his teammates. Kevin Kliman made a spectacular save for USC with his back on the ice and his legs cartwheeling in the air to keep the game close.

Oregon tried to hang on to a one goal lead, but USC pressured the Ducks relentlessly up until the final minute. Shon Smith tied the game at 3-3 with 38 second remaining to force overtime, and the Toyota Sports Center erupted. Trojans forward Jason Filantres scored the game winning goal in OT with assists by Michael Mariani and Ryan Seals.

In the earlier consolation game, Arizona State University defeated UCLA in a penalty filled 13-9 win. Up 5-3 after one, UCLA surrendered 5 unanswered goals to ASU to start the second period. Two goals by Martin Galstyan capped a scoring run that gave the Bruins a 9-8 lead early in the third, but the home team could not stop ASU from scoring 5 times to finish the game.

[Note] A photo gallery will be posted soon.


Bakersfield Condors down Stockton Thunder 2-1 in overtime

Bakersfield Condors Stockton Thunder ECHL
Bakersfield Condors Stockton Thunder ECHL

Notes and photos from Bakersfield's 2-1 overtime win Friday over the Stockton Thunder will be posted shortly.

Mike Benton of the Stockton Thunder filed a recap of the game:

Ellsworth and Martz get Stockton to overtime, Scott buries game-winner

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Tyler Scott scored a game-winning goal with 51 seconds elapsed into overtime as Stockton Thunder (21-13-9, 51 points) goaltender Cam Ellsworth made 37 saves as the Thunder settled for a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bakersfield Condors, in front of 6,876 at Rabobank Arena on Friday.

With the point gained in overtime, the Thunder has now surpassed its 50-point total attained in its inaugural 2005-06 season.

Ellsworth and Bakersfield counterpart Jamie Hodson battled through the first period in a scoreless tie, with Ellsworth stopping eight Condors shots, including a one-timer from Alexandre Bolduc early in the frame. Hodson's 11 saves was highlighted by the blanking of four Thunder power-plays in the period.

Alexandre Bolduc buried his fourth goal of the campaign for a 1-0 Condors lead in the second period at the 16:40 mark, burying a rebound from a pile in front of the net.

Assistant captain Nathan Martz tied the game with 3:34 remaining on a breakaway, converting an outlet pass from defenseman Bryan Young and beating Hodson with a backhander.

Defenseman Tyler Scott netted the game-winner just 51 seconds into overtime, converting a drop pass by Bolduc and beating Ellsworth to his glove side.

Ellsworth's record moves to 8-8-3 with the overtime decision.

The Thunder returns home for its next game on Sunday, February 11 against the Las Vegas Wranglers at Stockton Arena, beginning at 4:00 p.m.. The game can be heard live on the internet (free-of-charge) and is available for viewing for a $6 "pay-per-view" charge at www.stocktonthunder.com (courtesy of B2 Networks).

Thunder season tickets, mini-plans and individual tickets for the 2006-07 season are on sale now. For more information about tickets, merchandise, or other inquiries contact the Stockton Thunder offices at (209) 373-1500 or visit www.stocktonthunder.com.


Three Stars:
1. BAK - Jamie Hodson
2. BAK - Tyler Scott
3. BAK - Alexandre Bolduc

Link to box score:

[Update] Thunder barely escapes shutout in 2-1 loss to Las Vegas Wranglers - Stockton Record.


Pac-8 College Hockey Tournament this Friday and Saturday at the Toyota Sports Center

2005 Pac8 champion Oregon Ducks
2005 Pac8 college hockey tournament

The top ranked USC Trojans face off against #4 ASU Friday at 5:30PM, with #2 Oregon and #3 UCLA playing the second game at 8:30PM. The consolation game and championship games will be held Saturday at 1PM and 4PM respectively. All games will be played at the Toyota Sports Center (formerly the HealthSouth training center) in El Segundo.

The Pac-8 conference was founded in 1995 and features members of the Pacific 10 schools including Arizona State University, Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of Oregon, University of Southern California, University of Washington and Washington State University. The Pac-8 teams are also members of the American Collegiate Hockey Association with over 100 other college teams across the country.

The official tournament website is available at pac8hockey.com. ACHA regional and national tournament information is available here.

[Update] Sharks get even against Ducks - Los Angeles Times.

"We weren't going to be denied tonight," Cheechoo said. "We knew how big this game was for us. We couldn't lose two straight to these guys and expect to challenge them for the division."


Anaheim Ducks overpower Sharks 7-4 in first game of home-at-home series

Anaheim Ducks Giguere
San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks
Scott Parker hockey fight George Parros

More pictures from the fight are available here, here and here. A video of the fight is available here.

Vesa Toskala NHL photo

The setting for Anaheim's 7-4 win over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night was a familiar one. Two offensive juggernauts would take shots at each other until one team blinked. Leaving aside the 5-0 blowout loss at Anaheim on November 21st, the 4-3 San Jose win on December 16th and the 4-3 Anaheim win on December 26th were both knock down and drag out affairs. Neither team was able to take control until the waning minutes, despite repeated attempts by both to dominate the game.

In a pregame KNBR interview, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson described the Sharks as the biggest team in the league by far, mentioned that the Sharks can match up with anyone, and that he expected the next two Sharks-Ducks games to be very physical. In a game day Sports Illustrated article on George Parros, The Fighting Duck, Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke declared his team's desire to forecheck and bang on a nightly basis. It was also noted that with 51 fighting majors, Anaheim was far and away the leading pugilistic team in the NHL.

Youtube highlights from the Ducks-Sharks game are available here. A photo gallery is coming soon.

Average age for the San Jose Sharks 26.5, average height 6-2, average weight 212. Average age for the Anaheim Ducks 28.7, average height 6-2, average weight 209. Patrick Marleau is on a 3 game goal scoring streak for San Jose. The Sharks hold the top ranked power play in the NHL (58-268, 21.6%), the Ducks ice the 4th best penalty kill (40-273) and the largest number of penalty minutes in the NHL (53GP, 951 PIMs).

After Tuesday night's home game, the Sharks will hit the road for 8 straight games. The Anaheim Ducks (72 points) lead the San Jose Sharks (69 points) by three points for first place in the Western Conference. The Sharks record against Anaheim is 36-28-7 alltime. San Jose head coach Ron Wilson is on pace to coach his 1,000th NHL game on March 18th. Former Blues, Montreal, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Detroit head coach Scotty Bowman leads NHL head coaches with 2,141 games coached, Wilson is 11th with 981.

In a pre-game radio interview with Dan Rusanowsky, Sharks head coach Ron Wilson described the publicity surrounding Anaheim's penchant for fisticuffs as "a circus sideshow". He went on to say it would not effect how San Jose approached the game, after noting that Scott Parker would be in the lineup. The pregame show mentioned that the top 3 scorers in the Western Conference were part of this matchup (Thornton, Selanne, Marleau), that two of the best goaltenders in the Western Conference were on the ice (Toskala, Giguere), and that the Pronger-Niedermayer Norris tandem would play a huge role in the game. Not sure why the Sharks are wearing home whites at home this game, but it should happen more often.

Both teams are going to try to establish themselves early. The buzz prior to this game is huge. Chris Pronger in a pregame interview with Anaheim media mentioned that he liked being boo'd in San Jose, and the Sharks fans obliged him early and often. The Sharks controlled the play for most of the first five minutes, keeping the puck in the Anaheim zone and outshooting the Ducks 4-2.

The Brown-Grier-Rissmiller line created an early scoring chance, cycling the puck behind the net. Brown takes the initial shot from the left faceoff dot, Giguere stuffs Rissmiller on a point blank rebound attempt, and Brown sprints to the other side of the ice to wrist a shot on goal from 15 feet out. On a breakaway, Dustin Penner beat two defenseman and shot the puck inches over the crossbar.

Fresh off of dropping Nashville's Shea Weber in a fight over the weekend, Travis Moen breaks wide around Marc-Edouard Vlasic and lifts a puck over the glove hand of Toskala. 1-0 Ducks. The Ducks answer that goal with another by Samuel Pahlsson 28 seconds later. A 3-on-2 lead by Niedermayer sucked the Sharks defense in close to Toskala. Pahlsson trailed the play, and beat Toskala glove side for their second goal of the game. The Sharks get on the board with an unusual play. Mark Bell took the puck up along the boards and wristed a shot at Giguere, who was up against the post. Grier came flying in and stabbed at Giguere's pads. The puck was sitting just behind the Anaheim goaltender, and when he reacted to try to freeze the puck, he knocked it in his own net. 2-1 Anaheim.

Scott Parker and George Parros drop the gloves early in the second period after Parker checked Ryan Getzlaf hard along the boards. More on the fight below. Mark Bell sparked a Sharks 4-3 come from behind win over Anaheim on December 16th. It energized a team that was skating on its back foot, and San Jose fans are hoping this would do the same tonight.

After a turnover in their defensive zone, Pronger opens up the play with a break out pass. Selanne tips it to the end boards, and then is the first to reach the puck. Selanne dishes the puck to Kunitz, who finds McDonald on the other side of the ice for a goal. 3-1 Ducks, Selanne robbed of an assist. Crunch time for San Jose, if they can not hold the game close defensively, Anaheim may begin to roll.

Thorton wins a faceoff from Pahlsson , but a strong forecheck from Anaheim creates a turnover directly to Rob Niedermayer. Niedermayer is alone in front of Toskala, and he buries the puck glove side. 4-1 Ducks. Matt Carle was responsible for the turnover. Another strong forecheck in the Sharks defensive zone forces San Jose to clear the puck up ice. Anaheim gains control, and two tic-tac-toe passes by Marchant and Pronger leave 6-4, 243 pound right wing Dustin Penner unchecked and breaking in on Vesa Toskala. Goal, 5-1 Ducks.

You expect a few extraordinary saves from Vesa Toskala a night, but the lack of defensive support in front of him is a concern. The Sharks need to adjust with the forwards backchecking harder, and helping to clear the puck on rebounds in front of Toskala. With all 5 of the San Jose Sharks skaters trying to pressure Giguere in the offensive zone, Rob Niedermayer pokes the puck away from Davison and races down the ice on a breakaway. Gorges angles across to take Niedermayer, but he pulls up and looks towards the center of the ice. Davison can not cover Travis Moen in time, and Moen tips a puck past Toskala for his second goal of the game. 4 unanswered goals by Anaheim in the second period make the score 6-1.

Overheard twice during the second intermission, "Is this game going to be on the blog?" Yes it is. Vlasic wrists a point shot on the power play and Patrick Marleau wraps around the back of the net and scores his 28th goal of the season. 6-2 Ducks. Can Marleau score 22 more goals in the remaining 26 games to notch his first 50 goal season? With a line of Thornton-Marleau-Clowe it is more than possible. You heard the speculation here first.

Marleau feeds Cheechoo in the slot who unloads with one of the quickest releases in the NHL. 6-3 Ducks with seven and a half minutes remaining. The Ducks look a little soft when trying to hold the puck up along the boards, San Jose is skating hard and trying to pile on the goals to give them a chance to win it late. Marleau misses Cheechoo with a pass out wide, but Cheechoo circles around and regains possession of the puck. Cheechoo take a few strides out near the blueline and wrists a puck from center ice that beats Giguere. J.S. Giguere did not react much to the play which usually means he was screened in front of the net. 6-4 Ducks, mind starting to think back to monster comebacks at HP Pavilion.

On a late penalty kill with less than two minutes remaining, and the Sharks down by 2, Ryan Getzlaf makes the key play of the game to clear the puck out of the Sharks zone. Joe Thornton skates back to take control of the puck, but while he starts to carry it up ice, Ryan Getzlaf places his body between Thornton and the puck. Getzlaf takes out Thornton's arms, and the puck squirts free in front of an empty net. Getzlaf scores the EN goal to ice the 7-4 win for the Anaheim Ducks, and he earns Sharkspage player of the game honors in the process. Game 2 tomorrow night.

More from the Sports Illustrated article on George Parros via an email from Hockeyfights.com's David Singer:

The 6'5", 225-pound Parros tends to be a counterpuncher -- last month the one time he was overly aggressive, he was bloodied by a blind swing from Columbus's Jody Shelley -- and has a 4-4-3 record in '06-07, at least according to voters on hockeyfights.com, The Ring magazine of hockey's pugilistic subculture. That website, says Parros, "might as well be my home page." He downloads fight clips on a PlayStation Portable and studies opponents, "just like getting ready for a test at school."

I also helped David Singer with this HF interview of Scott Parker a few years ago. Parker talked about whether fighting belongs in the NHL, how he is working to develop different aspects of his game, about his first fight with Bob Probert, and several other topics. After Tuesday night's game, Parker described his bout with Parros as too short, and mentioned about his hit on Getzlaf that he enjoyed the physical aspect of the game. When asked if there would be a round two against Parros on Wednesday, Parker smiled.

Ducks get away from Sharks, Moen scores twice and Anaheim hangs on to defeat San Jose, 7-4, in first game of a home-and-home set - Los Angeles Times.

The O.C. Register's Dan Wood notes that the return of defenseman Chris Pronger, Francois Beauchemin and Scott Niedermayer, and 4 goals from the checking line of Travis Moen, Samuel Pahlsson and Rob Niedermayer were the keys of the game. In a game day column by the Register, Anaheim goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere and San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson clarified the issue of ice quality at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.

After Giguere injured his groin December 26th in San Jose, he blamed poor ice for his injury. Ron Wilson looked at video and noted that his foot was caught on the post, not on a rut on the ice, but Giguere's comments made the rounds in the media. Victor Chi reported an anonymous complaint from a Sharks player after a recent Dallas game. The challenge of preparing the ice with the number of events and the warm San Jose climate is a difficult one, but the Sharks staff does an excellent job.

I have contacted the man in charge of the ice Bruce Tharaldson, and would like to knock down some of the criticism and discuss some of the problems, but it is a tough subject to broach. In the past he has said the rink normally starts at 60 degrees, and the temperature on the ice can raise as much as 9 degrees during a game. On-ice promotions also give the ice less time to set in between periods. On other local rinks such as Logitech Ice, Belmont Iceland (aka the Meat Locker), Berkeley Iceland, and Valco, the rinks themselves are kept about 10+ degrees cooler than the HP Pavilion.

Sharks Thrashed, Ducks take it out on Sharks' defense - SF Chronicle.

The NHL's new high-profile rivalry was one-sided when it counted Tuesday night. Anaheim broke open a one-goal game after 20 minutes with four goals in the second period, leaving the Sharks shell-shocked and embarrassed after allowing the most goals in a game at home during a 7-4 loss at HP Pavilion.

Anaheim Takes Game One of the Home-and-Home, 7-4 - SJsharks.com.

[Update] Congratulations to my brother Chris who was quoted in the New York Times with regards to Microsoft Vista on Monday, and to my brother Mike who helped Eric Byrnes sign a 1-year $4.6 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.

[Update2] Sharks succumb to mighty Ducks - San Jose Mercury News.

Top 10 NHL goals of January

Sidney Crobsy makes the Top 10 list twice, scoring on a backhand shortside while falling to the ice, and tipping in a long cross-ice feed by Mark Recchi while sliding on his stomach.

Pittsburgh teammate Evgeni Malkin, Dany Heatley, Niklas Hagman, Ales Hemsky (and a falling Patrik Stefan), Alexander Semin, Martin St. Louis on a backhand shootout attempt, Keith Tkachuk on a wicked backhand between the legs feed from David Backes, and Zach Parise also make the Top 10 goal list for January.

[Update] Sean Avery and John Seymour were traded to the New York Rangers yesterday for Jason Ward, Marc-Andre Cliche and Jan Marek. Last week the Kings traded center Craig Conroy to Calgary for Jamie Lundmark and two draft picks. Days before the start of the season, the Kings dealt Eric Belanger and Tim Gleason to Carolina for defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky and 2005 third overall selection Jack Johnson.

It is a sellers market, and Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi is going to take full advantage up until the February 27th NHL trade deadline.

[Update2] Prince of Pucks: Where will Brad Stuart go? - Fox Sports.


Hockey Notes - February 5th

White House Carolina Hurriances Stanley Cup visit

The 2005-06 Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes made a visit to the East Room of White House on Friday. The Washington Post's Dan Steinberg, he of D.C. Sports Bog fame, made the trip along with the Hurricanes and posted a few of the behind the scenes details. Carolina's guy behind the guy, Media Relations Director Mike Sundheim, liveblogged the event and posted photos.

A full transcript of the President's remarks can be found here. Presdient Bush spoke to the audience about what it takes to win the Stanley Cup, and where it has traveled after the Finals were over:

It is the only professional sports trophy that every player on the championship team gets to take home for a day. And this cup has had some amazing experiences. It's been to the top of Mount Elbert in Colorado. It has taken a roller coaster ride at Universal Studios. It's been used as baptismal font, a popcorn holder, a feed trough for a winner of the Kentucky Derby. Players have tested its buoyancy by throwing it into pools and lakes. It does not float. The cup, this may be hard for you to believe, but it has been to a lot of bars. In case you're wondering, it holds 14 cans of beer.

Hurricane players took the cup on many adventures. It went to Russia, Ukraine, Sweden, the Czech Republic, of course, Canada and the United States. Goalie Cam Ward took the cup home to Canada and he ate some corn pops out of it. And then he took it to visit his grandmother, and the other residents at the seniors home where she lives. He used the cup to bring some joy in people's lives.

Other players did the same thing. Several players took the cup to children's hospitals in their home towns. A captain of the team brought the cup to a charity golf tournament, where he helped raise $112,000 for the fight against cystic fibrosis. Defenseman Glen Wesley took the cup to the Wounded Warriors Barracks at Camp Lejeune. Here's what he says: "What better way to thank the troops who fight for our country and defend our freedoms." And I appreciate you doing that, Glen.

- Tonight on Versus: Red Wings at New York Rangers Monday at 4PM, Minnesota at Dallas Tuesday at 5PM. This week on Yahoo streaming: Buffalo at Atlanta Tuesday at 4PM, Tampa Bay at New York Rangers Friday at 4PM, Atlanta at Vancouver Saturday at 7PM, and Calgary at Detroit Sunday at 3PM. The schedule for Comcast streaming is available here, and Sunday's NBC Game of the Week schedule is available here.

- A headless Travis Moen dropped Shea Weber with one of the most violent punches of the season. Anaheim outshot Nashville 36-20, but could not crack Tomas Vokoun in the 3-0 loss. The Anaheim Ducks (32-13-8) trail the Nashville Predators (37-14-3) by 5 points for first place in the Western Conference.

- It Takes a Village to Put These Ratings in Perspective - NY Times.

Richard Sandomir reports that a recent New Jersey Devils vs Florida Panthers game drew a .01% local audience. That was 736 homes in the market out of 7+ million. Sandomir also points to the season averages for the Devils (13,206), Islanders (7,336) and Rangers (36,834), but notes that the National Lacrosse League is gaining traction among viewers.

- Selling could be in Hawks' future, Veteran Smolinski may be of interest to a contending team - Chicago Tribune.

The Hawks, 17 points out of the last playoff spot, are definitely sellers, but so far teams have been asking for players Tallon doesn't want to move—such as Brent Seabrook or Duncan Keith—instead of the players he likely would want to move—such as defenseman Jassen Cullimore.

Tallon probably could get more in return if he moved some of his young prospects, but the question becomes how much better off the Hawks would be. Moving a veteran, such as Smolinski or Cullimore, likely would yield only a draft pick.

If there is any comfort in the situation for a player going through the rumor mill such as Smolinski, it's that if he is traded, it almost certainly will be to a playoff-bound team.

- How is this for a lede (from the Boston Globe's Kevin Paul Dupont):

Meet the Bruins, the movable feast of the 2006-07 NHL season. Home or away, they have become the sacrificial meal offered up on a nightly basis to be devoured by the rest of the Original 30.

Not sure if it is more painful to be sinking like a stone in the standings at the trade deadline, or to lose a playoff series without giving the home crowd a much of reason to believe in the team. Unfortunately for Boston Bruins fans, they have a long history of experience with both.

The B's could have used the Joe Thornton trade that brought in Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart as a catalyst to transform their lineup into a younger and faster team. Instead, management stalled and the trade looks worse with each passing day. Now the Bruins need to address an unspectacular goaltending core, a shockingly porous defense, an aging roster, and the coming exodus of free agents.

- During the Sharks game with Chicago, a Blackhawks-Bruins trade hit the wire. Boston acquired 24-year-old foward Brandon Bochenski for prospect Kris Versteeg and a conditional draft pick. Bochenski registered 33 goals and 33 assists in 35 games for the AHL Norfolk Admirals. The additions of Bochenski and Stanislav Chistov could be significant long term, but these are minor adjustments for a team that needs a massive overhaul.

- The Boston Bruins have not won a Stanley Cup in my lifetime.

- The issue of fighting in hockey has been making the rounds again. More here, here, here, and here.

A recent poll on Chompboard listed these options for fans to vote on the purpose of fighting in the NHL: No Purpose, Theater for the fans, Honor, Saftey valve for emotions, Shifting momentum, Protection of the star players, An "extra" ref, and to Hurt/Damage. Listing those options alone give someone a basis for evaluating where it belongs with regards to the sport.

As long as it is relatively spontaneous and not forced, the NHL should remain with the status quo.

- Rookies Contributing In San Jose - SJsharks.com.

The San Jose Sharks have one of the NHL’s most rookie-influenced teams. In all, five Sharks rookies have contributed on the stat sheet in 2006-07 and they have amassed an impressive 78 points, almost 20 percent of the season’s total.

On Sunday night in Vancouver, the Sharks played a Canucks squad with zero points from first-year players who dressed that night. Only the Pittsburgh Penguins have a higher percentage of points produced by rookies than the Sharks.

The contributions San Jose has received this year from first year players is nothing short of amazing. As noted on this blog prior to the start of the season, relying that much on younger talent will make consistent play a key factor for the entire season. It is almost assured there will be a lot of peaks and valleys.

It is a lesson local fans have learned over the years by watching Mike Rathje, Vlastimil Kroupa, Andrei Zyuzin, Brad Stuart, Jeff Jillson, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Matt Carle patrol the blueline as rookies at HP Pavilion. And some would say that Sandis "Ozone" Ozolinsh played like a rookie at times in San Jose, at least when it came time for defense. The younger legs will whether back-to-back games and longer road trips better than most, and the experience gained during the regular season will help when the puck drops in the playoffs. Allegedly.

- Hockey Buzz writer Daniel Tolensky interviewed Los Angeles Kings goaltender/prospect Jason Labarbera at the AHL All-Star game in Toronto last week.

Labarbera played 29 games for the Kings last year and posted a 2.89 GAA and .900 save percentage. He has already proven he could dominate at the AHL level (1.59 GAA, .936 SVP in 59 games in 03-04) and was starting to excel with the Kings last year until he starting dealing with a personal situation that clearly affected his game. This year the Kings brought in Marc Crawford's old starter Dan Cloutier, which meant Jason started the year in Manchester. Unfortunately for him he has played so well that the team cannot call him up because he would surely be grabbed on re-entry waivers. The Kings lost both Cloutier and Garon for quite a while and have been forced to use Barry Brust, Yutaka Fukufuji and Sean Burke instead of calling up Labarbera, who will have to wait until next year for a chance to play at the NHL level.

[DT] How're you holding up?

[JL] Oh I'm fine. I mean, obviously you want to be playing in the NHL that's everybody in this league's goal but what are you going to do? I just look at it like it's so out of my hands and there's nothing I can do about it so I just looked at it like I need to go out and play well in Manchester. Who am I to go into that dressing room in Manchester and be sulking and ruin 20 other guys' season? You don’t need that. Those guys are trying to get to the NHL too so that's just the way I looked at it. I take pride in the way I play and who I am so it's been fun and we're winning so that's all you can ask for.

[DT] Your job is not to make policy but do you have any solutions to this mess? Like what would you like to see done?

[JL] Well I think they should get rid of the rule.

[DT] From the sounds of things, over the past few months the Kings are almost more frustrated by it.

[JL] Well I mean I don't blame them. It's tough when you can't call up your best available players I would think it would be hard but what are you going to do? You could bang your head against the wall as much as you want but it's not going to change. I think everybody kind of had a feeling that might happen. They were obviously hoping that nobody got hurt and absolute worst possible scenario has happened and it's kindof affected their season I think so what're you going to do? That's just the way it is and hopefully they make a change to that rule, I don't know if they can but we’ll see what happens.

The fact that Jason Labarbera is not playing for the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL this season is an embarassment. Search the archives on this blog for much more on Labarbera's struggles with the NHL waiver re-entry policy preventing his callup.

- Back in my day, we didn't call 'em "Bloggers..." - Two for Elbowing.

We should probably remember that there was a time before the web, also. Laurie and I ran the first San Jose Sharks list (and at the max, about 35 hockey mailing lists), which came into existence before San Jose actually played a game. Early on there were a number of writers doing very detailed write-ups of games (most notably Nelson Lu, who was effectively the list's "beat writer" for years). We've had a quiet and mostly positive relationship with the Sharks for years (more active when Matt Levine was with the team, but we still keep in touch, so to speak). It was in 1994, I think, that we first showed this interesting new thing to the sharks called a browser and a web page and suggested that the team that lived in silicon valley could use it to reach out to fans. They did (not through us....), and I believe they were the first NHL team with any kind of web site.

With no box scores or any articles in a local college paper, I used to dial into a BBS messageboard with a phone and a Mac plus to read the lastest on the Sharks from Chuqi's mailing list. A friend in Pittsburgh started sending me the Le Coq Sportiff online zine in 1994, and the San Jose Sharks started the first team website in 1995.

ESPN.sportszone.com was the first major media website online covering hockey. Throw in nogoal.com, and you have a brief history of the NHL's online legacy.

- No more veterans necessary for the Sharks’ planned Cup run? - Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog.

Kawakami asks San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson about whether this team is relying too heavily on rookies, whether or not they need to add a veteran for the playoffs, and whether they need to add toughness after the Edmonton (and Calgary) playoff series.

I saw Kawakami at the game, but I spent most of my time talking to Lew Shapiro, PR director for the NHL's Oakland/California Seals (1967-76), and the PHL San Francisco Shamrocks (1977-79). It was interesting asking about the media coverage back in the day, the opening of the Oakland Coliseum, the upcoming closure of Berkeley Iceland, Bill Wirtz and the Chicago Blackhawks market, and a few other hockey related topics.

To answer Kawakami's questions, the Sharks do not need to add a veteran for the sake of adding a veteran. The drop off defensively from the big 4 (Stuart, McLaren, Hannan, Rathje) to Hannan-McLaren et all has been steep, even with the standout performances of Matt Carle last season, and Christian Ehrhoff/Marc-Edouard Vlasic this year. Adding Curtis Brown and Mike Grier gave the Sharks a solid 1st penalty kill unit, and a go-to line along with Patrick Rissmiller when it gets down to crunch time.

What the Sharks need to add for the playoffs is a defensive-defenseman, veteran or not, to add a shut down quality they are currently lacking. Goals are harder to come by in the playoffs, and a reliance on power play scoring have highlighted weaknesses 5-on-5. The Sharks have found a winger to compliment Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau on the first line in January Rookie of the Month Ryane Clowe.

What the Sharks have to offer is one of Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov (no trade clause permitting), and an extra first round pick acquired in the New Jersey Devils salary cap trade. Do not expect San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson to make a major move at the trade deadline unless another lopsided offer is made by a team desperate for a #1 goaltender. Instead look for him pick up a smaller piece to the puzzle, or a rental defenseman to help get past any of Nashville, Detroit, Dallas or Anaheim in the playoffs.

- Thornton's no ordinary Joe, Fourteen months after a blockbuster trade from Beantown, the superstar has found new life on and off the ice in San Jose - Toronto Star.

Thornton was, in fact, not much more than a boy when he made his debut in the NHL as an 18 year-old Boston Bruin and No. 1 draft pick. But that's ancient history now, part of a former life, when everyone expected Thornton to remain and reign in Beantown for an extended career, returning that franchise to prima playoff status.

It all unravelled suddenly, shockingly, Thornton the primary asset in a blockbuster trade with San Jose last season that knocked him senseless. Publicly, he shrugged it off, observed that such was the fate of pro athletes, although only months earlier he'd signed a new three-year $20 million (U.S.) contract and appeared set for ages.

- Bigger nets, more Canadian teams ... no problem! - John Buccigross.

I also like the high quality of all the NHL broadcasts in terms of camera work, lighting and directing. Although I do wish analysts would talk less during the action. Buffalo, Dallas, San Jose and New Jersey are three broadcasts that come to mind right away, but I don't want to name more because I don't want to offend anyone. Rick Jeanneret, Mike Emrick, Ralph Strangis, Ken Daniels and Randy Hahn are so good and energetic, it makes the game more fun to watch. And since Jim Lorenz, Chico Resch, Daryl Reaugh, Mickey Redmond and Marty McSorley pick their spots and don't yap all game long, it makes them, and the broadcast, sound better. NHL analysts that talk too long during game action is like a baseball analyst talking while the ball is in the air.

[Update] Winging It: Time to eliminate the instigator penalty? - NBCsports.com.

[Update2] NESN’s Rob Simpson hosts Rubber Biscuit, an up-close and personal look at the Bruins players, coaches and fans every Saturday evening at 10:30, following Bruins games and NESN SportsDesk.


Two assists for Vesa Toskala in 4-2 matinee win over Chicago Blackhawks

Vesa Toskala
Sharks vs Chicago Blackhawks
San Jose hockey fans

In rare 1:00 start against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Sharks poured the heat on goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin early en route to a 4-2 win.

Less than 2 minutes into the game, Patrick Rissmiller beat Cameron Barker to the puck behind the Chicago net on the penalty kill. Rissmiller found a streaking Marcel Goc who scored his 5th goal of the season shorthanded. Toskala picked up an assist with a long breakout pass. The Blackhawks answered on a similar play behind the net. Defenseman James Wisniewski found Tuomo Ruutu at the side of the crease. Ruutu fired an off-speed shot that beat Vesa Toskala short side. Game tied 1-1.

Nikolai Khabibulin stood on his head to keep Chicago in the first period. After robbing Ryane Clowe on a rebound with an extended glove save, Khabi denied a Ville Nieminen spinning backhand with a leg pad tight against the goal post. The Sharks cracked the Bulin wall on a missed outlet pass by Scott Hannan. Hannan tried to hit Curtis Brown up ice, but the puck missed him and bounced off the end boards for an expected icing call. Brown beat a diving Wisniewski to the puck, and chipped a backhand high over the right shoulder of Khabibulin. Toskala earned his second assist of the game, 1 shy of an NHL record, and 2 behind NHL goaltending point leader Marty Turco.

Martin Havlat tied the game at 2-2, after tucking the puck around the post and past a sprawled Vesa Toskala. Patrick Marleau answered with a similar goal, picking up a loose rebound and tucking it around Khabibulin. Milan Michalek picked up an insurance goal 11:54 into the third period. It was his first goal in 6 games. Vesa Toskala made 20 saves, and picked up 2 assists en route to his 22nd win of the season.

Hawks no match for best in West, After being trounced in every facet, Savard says Sharks top team - Chicago Tribune.

The Blackhawks now have faced every team in the Western Conference and coach Denis Savard thinks he knows which one is the best.

"This is the best team we've played by far this year," Savard said after the San Jose Sharks methodically dismantled the Hawks 4-2. "We had a tough time matching their intensity and every other area of their game"...

"[Before] you were able to clutch and grab and that took his speed away a little," said Hawks center Bryan Smolinski, who faced Thornton when both played in the East. "[Now] he can do whatever he wants."

Hawks bitten by Sharks - Chicago Sun Times.

Bell isn't what Sharks expected - Chicago Sun Times.

As recently as the start of last season, the Blackhawks were counting on Tyler Arnason, Mark Bell and Kyle Calder -- the so-called A-B-C line -- to lead the team out of its prolonged slump. None could do it, and within the last calendar year general manager Dale Tallon traded all three.

The Hawks already have faced Arnason, now the second-line center for the Colorado Avalanche after the Ottawa Senators refused to sign him, and Calder, who is struggling badly with the NHL's worst team, the Philadelphia Flyers. Today the Hawks get their first look at Bell in an enemy uniform. He's still trying to get his game together for the San Jose Sharks, who signed him to a three-year contract after acquiring him in a three-team trade that resulted in the Hawks getting Martin Havlat and Bryan Smolinski.

[Update] Toskala gets offensive, 2 assists help SJ jump Hawks - The Feeder.


2/3/07 Post-Game audio from San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson

Post-Game audio from San Jose head coach Ron Wilson (.mp3 files) after a 4-2 afternoon win over the Chicago Blackhawks:

Ron Wilson audio.

[Q] This is not the biggest fish in the pond, but you are not going to throw 2 points back in the water?

[RW] No. That as a workmanlike effort. It was nice to see Milan score the goal, and skate the way he can skate because he hasn't played well recently. Tonight he had his wheels going and he was forcing the issue on the forecheck. Just that kind of speed is intimidating, and he wasn't using it. Our PP struggled but 5-on-5 we got the job done.

[Q] Important to to fight through that second period, kind of a lull?

[RW] Yes, for whatever reason we start sitting back and cave a little bit, and especially in the defensive zone, passive coverage. We are in the way, but we don't want to challenge anybody. We are best when we are an agressive, puck pursuit, in your face team.

[Q] Is this game more of a stepping stone?

[RW] Yes, you have to put a bunch of games together to feel like you have solved any of the issues you have. I just don't know how you can go from playing so well, to so badly in such a short amount of time. It is baffling to me. Now maybe we can rebound, and we have to huge games ahead of us (against Anaheim) before the long road trip.

[Q] Is that what this team needs, any kind of win at this point?

[RW] Yes, but territorially we outplayed them, outchanced them at shots, and we were skating through penalties. Our point me have not gotten the job done, and it is difficult when the other team knows that. Our guys lose faith in passing out to the point because nothing happens. You end up with a 3-on-4 down low, and you are not going to score many goals that way.

[Update] Live on Comcast streaming at 4:30PM, the Buffalo Sabres at New Jersey. The online broadcast is free for Comcast subscribers and non-subscribers.


Dallas Stars down Sharks 4-2 for a two game sweep at HP Pavilion

Mark Smith
Marty Turco
Patrick Marleau NHL

The defensive minded Dallas Stars outscored the Sharks by 1 goal in each of three periods on Thursday night. A 4-2 win over San Jose improved the Dallas Stars record to 3-1 at HP Pavilion. Tied at 1-1 in Dallas, the Sharks will travel to the American Airlines Center on February 18th and March 4th to close out the regular season series.

Joel Lundqvist, Stu Barnes, Jere Lehtinen and Krys Barch scored for the visiting Stars. Mark Bell and Patrick Marleau lit the lamp for San Jose. Marty Turco made 18 saves on 20 shots to earn his 26th win of the season. Evgeni Nabokov did not return after the first period with an apparent leg injury and was replaced by Vesa Toskala. Center Mark Smith also did not return after leaving the ice with a groin injury.

The Code On Display In San Jose - Eric McErlain.

There's an interesting situation going on right now in San Jose that's ended with some nasty stares being exchanged between Eric Lindros of the Dallas Stars and Doug Murray of the San Jose Sharks.

It all started a few minutes ago, as Murray was skating deep in his own end along the right wing boards looking to throw the puck behind the net to clear the zone. Coming hard on the forecheck was Lindros, who cut off Murray right before the goal line with a leg on leg hit that sent both players spinning. While getting pinwheeled, Murray only had one hand on his stick, and as he spun, the shaft of his stick caught Lindros on the side of the head sending him to the ice.

After getting back up, Lindros called out Murray, skating over to him and delivering a forceful cross-check. Murray, not wanting to put up with it, turned, dropped his gloves and faced Lindros.

Which is where Krys Barch came in, dropped his gloves, and took on Murray himself.

After the fight ended with Murray wrestling Barch to the ice, here's how it shook out:

Murray: 2 minutes for high sticking, 5 minutes for fighting.
Lindros: 2 minutes for cross-checking.
Barch: 2 minutes for instigating, 5 minutes for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.

With Lindros in the box, you could hear one San Jose fan call him out and ask if he couldn't fight his own battles. But as I'm finding out in Ross Bernstein's book, The Code, things played out here pretty much as they should have. And the presence of the instigator penalty might very well have prevented justice from being fully served.

Barch added insult to injury (literally) by adding an insurance goal 2:24 into the third period. The fight may have been preceeded by physical play by Lindros in the first period. Shortly after the drop of the puck, Lindros checked Mike Grier hard up against the glass near the penalty box. Later Lindros checked another Sharks forward near the San Jose bench long after the puck had passed the play. After the game in the lockerroom Murray looked bruised and bloody from the altercation, but he appeared more upset about the fashion in which the Sharks lost.

One more note on the selection of Ryane Clowe as the NHL Rookie of the Month for January:

The ROTM award was a well deserved honor. Clowe adds a physical presence to a line with two of the preeminent offensive forces in the league, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. In the first 10 games of January, Ryane Clowe piled up 9 goals and 6 assists, many of the stand in the crease and pound away at rebounds variety.

Clowe played 2 seasons with the Sharks AHL affiliate in Cleveland, leading the team in scoring in 2004-05 with 27 goals and 35 assists. His play in the AHL did not carry over in his first couple of stints with the Sharks. Ryane Clowe said that he was trying not to make mistakes, and that the pressure of trying to remain in the lineup effected his performance. Now Clowe leads all rookies in +/-, he has piled up 5 multi-point games, and opposing teams are game planning on how to shut him down in front of the crease.

It is a successful story, but not a solitary one. The Sharks have received a string of veteran performances from rookies this season. 19 year old defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic made this team straight out juniors after impressing the team during the pre-season rookie tournament and training camp. Vlasic has missed one game all season, is second on the team with a +11, and trails only Scott Hannan in overall ice time per game (21:49).

Add that to the emergence of rookie center Joe Pavelski. Pavelski notched 7 goals and 1 assist in his first 10 NHL games, and has established himself as a solid second line center. At times when the team has sagged on the ice, Pavelski is keeping his legs moving and creating plays to help fire up the team. He is currently out of the lineup after blocking a shot with his foot against Dallas on Tuesday.

When people refer to the "goaltending factory" in San Jose, they point to the play of Evgeni Nabokov, Vesa Toskala, and Miikka Kiprusoff as examples of the Sharks scouting prowess. This season, one needs to acknowledge the contributions of 3 of the best rookies in the NHL, Ryane Clowe, Joe Pavelski, and Marc-Edourard Vlasic.

Postgame Dispatches - SJsharks.com.


The Sharks were on the wrong end of a pair unlucky bounces on Thursday night. The result in each case was a goal for the Dallas Stars. The first unlucky break came with 4:44 remaining in the first period. As Stars forward Jeff Halpern circled the net, he found a streaking Stu Barnes who ramped a shot up the shaft of Murray’s stick and in past Evgeni Nabokov.

Dallas’ third goal would also take a fortuitous bounce in the Stars’ favor. This time the puck careening off Scott Hannan’s stick and in behind Vesa Toskala who was on in relief duty. Jere Lehtinen, operating on a five-on-three man advantage, unintentionally banked his centering feed off Hannan’s outstretched stick and in between Toskala’s legs as he went side-to-side on the play.

[Update] The San Jose Mercury News posted a multimedia photo gallery of Thursday's Stars-Sharks game from Josie Leppe. Very well done.

2/1/07 Post-Game audio from Mark Bell, Patrick Marleau, and head coach Ron Wilson

Post-Game audio from Mark Bell, Patrick Marleau, and head coach Ron Wilson (.mp3 files):

Mark Bell audio.

[Q] It seems you had trouble coming out of your own end tonight?

[MB] It comes down to we didn't do enough to win the game, myself included. We have to to better, that is the key.

[Q] This mini-slump comes at a strange time?

[MB] It is one of those things we have to get ahold of before it goes any furthur, and it starts tomorrow at practice.

Patrick Marleau audio.

[Q] Do you put this loss more on your team, or was it a result of Dallas' team effort?

[PM] When you put in an effort and lose, you know the difference. Right now it is some guys here, and some guys there. When everybody's working, when we are on the same page, we are scary. That is the way we have to play in order to win games.

Ron Wilson audio.

[Q] What were some of the things Dallas was doing right?

[RW] They weren't doing anything. We weren't moving the puck quickly. The defense couldn't seem to find anyone open, even though they were open. You get the blinders on and it slips away. It looks like you are looking through a toilet paper tube out there. It gets harder and harder.

Some guys get nervous in a situation like that, but we have had some guys who I think are feeling sorry for themselves because it hasn't gone their way. In those situations when it is not going your way you can at least be enthusiastic and encourage your teammates, and at the same time listen to yourself and get going. Just sitting there and waiting for the game to end is not the right attitude to have.

[Q] Any updates on Mark Smith or Evgeni Nabokov?

[RW] Nabby tweaked his groin on the second goal. I had no intentions of pulling him, but he couldn't go. Smitty looks like he hurt his groin, but to what extent I don't know. It was enough that he couldn't finish and we had a shorter bench in the third obviously.

Sharks right wing Ryane Clowe named NHL Rookie of the Month

Ryane Clowe

A press release from the NHL named San Jose Sharks right wing Ryane Clowe the NHL Rookie of the Month for January.

NEW YORK (February 1, 2007) -- San Jose Sharks right wing Ryane Clowe, who tallied 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 11 games and led all rookies in goals and plus-minus (+10), has been named the NHL Rookie of the Month for January.

Clowe edged Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (6-11--17 in 12 games), Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny (5-7--12 in 12 games) and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (2-8--10 in 12 games) for the award.

Clowe was elevated to the Sharks' top line with Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton and the trio combined to score 20 of the team's 41 goals in January. Clowe tallied five multiple-point games, including two goals in a 9-4 victory against Detroit Jan. 4 and his first career hat trick, all power-play goals, in a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets Jan. 6. He scored the game-winning goal and added two assists in a 4-1 win over Phoenix on Jan. 13 and notched another three-point game (two goals, one assist) in a 5-2 win over the Coyotes Jan. 18. He recorded his first career three-assist outing in a 5-1 victory over Edmonton Jan. 26.

A 24-year-old native of Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, Clowe was selected in the sixth round (175th overall) of the 2001 Entry Draft. He played two full seasons with the Sharks' AHL affiliate in Cleveland before making his NHL debut in 2005-06, appearing in 18 regular-season games and one Stanley Cup playoff contest. He ranks 10th among NHL rookie scorers this season with 21 points (12 goals, 9 assists) in 27 games.

Clowe is the third player to earn NHL Rookie of the Month honors this season, joining Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin (October, November) and Colorado's Wojtek Wolski (December).

Ryane Clowe In January

Date, Opponent, G, A, Pts, Result
Jan. 4, DETROIT, 2, 0, 2, 9-4 win
Jan. 6, COLUMBUS, 3, 0, 3, 5-2 win
Jan. 10 EDMONTON, 0, 0, 0, 3-2 loss
Jan. 11 at Los Angeles, 1, 0, 1, 5-2 win
Jan. 13 at Phoenix, 1, 2, 3, 4-1 win
Jan. 15 COLORADO, 0, 0, 0, 3-1 win
Jan. 18 PHOENIX, 2, 1, 3, 5-2 win
Jan. 20 ST. LOUIS, 0, 0, 0, 1-0 loss
Jan. 26 at Edmonton, 0, 3, 3, 5-1 win
Jan. 28 at Vancouver, 0, 0, 0, 3-1 loss
Jan. 30 DALLAS, 0, 1, 1, 3-2 loss (SO)

Total: 9G, 7A, 16PTS, 7-3-1