San Jose Grand Prix - Day 3

San Jose Grand Prix winners podium
Minardi Team USA racing Robert Doornbos
Patrick Marleau Dan Rusanowsky

Notes from Day 3 of the San Jose Grand Prix will be posted soon. An abbreviated photo gallery from Day 3 of the San Jose Grand Prix is available here.


San Jose Grand Prix - Day 2

San Jose Grand Prix qualifying
San Jose Grand Prix Neel Jani
San Jose Grand Prix pit row

The Champ Car drivers had one hour and fifteen minutes on a cool track to improve lap times in the morning practice session. Graham Rahal of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing was the first to break 50 seconds with a time of 49.786 (avg/104.343mph). In a short succession, #7 Servia and #34 Heylen both use the runoff in turn 6. Rahal lowers his time to 49.786.

#3 Paul Tracy hits #28 Mario Dominguez and loses his front win on turn 6. Tracy assessed a red flag penalty, and an 8 minute stint in the pits. After a green flag and a few more practice laps, Tracy locks up his breaks and hits the tire barrier near turn 7 and the main grandstands. His car is towed back to pit lane. Rahal improves to notch the fastest lap time at 49.366, three tenths faster than yesterday's pole.

The final round of qualifying is given the green flag at 2PM. Drivers are given 15 minutes to warm up, 10 minutes to work on their cars, and 30 minutes of qualifying where each driver can record 15 laps. Track temperature is 116 degrees, very hot in pit lane as well. Rahal again is the first driver to crack 50 seconds with a 49.749 (avg/104.420mph), he follows that with a 49.259 (avg/105.032mph).

#15 Pagenaud spins on turn 6 and returns to put road under his own power. #7 Servia takes the pole with a 49.106 only to lose it to #9 Wilson with a 49.039 with 3 minutes remaining in qualifying. #9 Wilson will be joined by #1 Bourdais who earned the provisional pole on Friday. #4 Clarke will be third, #7 Servia fourth, and #5 Jani earned the fifth position for the race on Sunday.

The 2007 San Jose Grand Prix Champ Car race will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 3PM (PT). More information is available from sanjosegrandprix.com and champcarworldseries.com. A photo gallery from qualifying and the 2007 Miss San Jose Grand Prix contest is available here.

- Top 5 Champ Car qualifying times from Day 2:

1 J. Wilson (#9) RSPORTS, 49.747
2 D. Clarke (#4) Minardi Team USA, 49.092
3 O. Servia (#7) Forsythe Racing, 49.106
4. N. Jani (#21) PKV Racing, 49.151
5. G. Rahal (#2) Newman/Haas/Lanigan, 49.178

- Quotes after the second day of Champ Car qualifying:

Justin Wilson #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone - "The obvious advantage of being on the pole here in San Jose is hopefully being first to the first corner, and after that dictating the pace of the race. Then you can just get into a rhythm and start to pull away. Whereas in the past last two years, I started the race in San Jose 9th and 12th. It had been a tough battle of just trying to leapfrog the cars in front either in the pit stops or on the racetrack because you're always trying to catch up. Now, we have the advantage of just being able to sit back and relax and see how the race unfolds. I am just happy that we could put the #9 CDW car on the pole today, and hopefully take it all the way for the win tomorrow for my team, CDW, and all our partners."

Oriol Servia #7 INDECK Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone - "I'm very happy, obviously we wanted to be on pole and definitely had a car to be there, but we just couldn't do it. It was all about putting together a perfect lap, I had many laps where we were up a tenth but there was a lot happening today, we just kept having little lockups and small problems every lap. Today it was about hundreds not tenths so tiny things like that really hurt you. I'm pleased that we are competitive and we are in the game, I think we definitely have good car to fight for the win tomorrow."

Alex Tagliani #8 RSPORTS Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone — "I want to thank my #8 RSPORTS crew; they gave me a fantastic car this afternoon. We were on a pole lap today, but (Mario) Dominguez t-boned us on our quick lap at the end of the session today. We were on a 48.9 lap, and when he made a mistake in front of me and did not move out of the way he destroyed our lap. The lack of respect cost us the pole, but other then that I am very proud of what my team did to give me a good car."

- Top 5 Champ Car Atlantic qualifying times from Day 2:

1 J. Bomarito (#23) PR1 Motorsports, 55.286
2 F. Perera (#11) Condor Motorsports, 55.544
3 R. Wickens (#3) Red Bull Team Forsythe, 55.548
4. R. Matos (#6) Sierra Sierra Enterprises, 55.566
5. M. Lee (#44) Conquest Racing, 55.723

Marivel Salgado named 2007 Miss San Jose Grand Prix

2007 Miss San Jose Grand Prix Marivel Salgado

Grade school teacher Marivel Salgado was named the 2007 Miss San Jose Grand Prix on Saturday. Out of 19 finalists, Marivel was selected to join the winning drivers on the podium, and to represent San Jose in the Face of Champ Car competition to promote the series across the globe. Sarah Guerrero was named 1st runner up for Miss SJGP, and Areli Ahrens was named 2nd runner up.


San Jose Grand Prix - Day 1

San Jose Grand Prix Paul Tracy
Katherine Legge Dale Coyne Racing
San Jose Grand Prix Champ Car World Series

The track for the San Jose Grand Prix was built quickly this year. All week long there were small groups of curious locals inspecting each turn, grandstand, and potential area of conflict for Sunday's Champ Car World Series race. The third iteration of the 1.443 mile San Jose race (2.322km) will be broadcast live on ESPN2 Sunday at 3PM.

The first practice on Friday saw fan favorite Mario Dominguez fill in for Ryan Dalziel in the #28 Pacific Motorsports Car after an injury to Dalziel this week while training. Practice given the green flag to start at 10:15. Dominguez drove into the runoff on turn 1 drawing a red flag, and an 8 minute penalty. Paul Tracy posts 3 consecutive fast laps, with the lowest at 51.363. Servia spins in turn 6 and does a donut to return to the track. Sebastien Bourdais follows that by driving into the runoff on turn 6. Graham Rahal makes contact with the wall and slides into the runoff for turn 6, which should be the most treacherous part of the track on race day.

The first round of Champ Car qualifying allows the drivers 15 minutes to warm up, 10 minutes of red flag time to fine tune the cars, and 35 minutes to log 15 laps with the best time possible. Three minutes after the green flag to start the practice session, Paul Tracy slides into the tire wall at turn 2. Justin Wilson (50.488) and Robert Doornbos (50.440) turn in the two fastest times in the last 2 minutes. In qualifying, Will Power is the first to break the 50 second mark with a lap time of 49.822 (averaging 104.267). Graham Rahal brushes the wall at turn 2, followed by an amazing last lap by Bourdais. He rises from worst to first with a 49.509 on his 14th and final lap to capture the provisional pole and a guaranteed spot in the front row on Sunday.

A photo gallery from the first day of qualifying is available here.

Top 5 Champ Car qualifying times from Day 1:

1 S. Bourdais (#1) Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, 49.509
2 J. Wilson (#9) RSPORTS, 49.747
3 W. Power (#5) Team Australia, 49.822
4. B. Junqueira (#19) Dale Coyne Racing, 49.852
5. A. Tagliani (#8) RSPORTS, 49.852

- Quotes after the first day of Champ Car qualifying:

Sebastien Bourdais #1 McDonalds Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 1st) — "The first run I spent more time on the escape road than on the track. We have a brake issue, we know that. But we didn't have any time to fix it at lunchtime. We have variable brake values that keep on tricking me; one locks the rears and one locks the fronts, and I'm still not changing anything. It's very difficult out there. Second run we were just trying to find the gap, and every time we had something, where we were like, yeah, it's going to be all right, then someone would run in escape road and someone would end up backing off, so we couldn't do that. I finally got one opportunity and I still don't know quite how it worked out, but we made it stick, and the brake values didn't play any tricks with me, so I was pretty happy about the outcome because it didn't look really good for a long, long time."

Justin Wilson #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 2nd) — "I think we're just starting to find our speed and work things out. It was quite a difficult start to the year with all the changes going on, but we've managed to work through that and try and understand what this car needs. I'm pleased that we're making progress and we can do it on the street circuit this year, which is quite nice compared to the last couple of seasons. We've just got a little bit more work to do and I'm sure we can do it and hopefully get the number 9 CDW car right up there and qualify in the pole tomorrow."

Will Power #5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 3rd) — "Absolutely nothing is going to be quicker tomorrow. It's not going to rain here, so for me, it's either number one today or nothing. Obviously we've got to go out and try to get the pole tomorrow so we can get front row start or second if Sebastien is on pole, and race away."

- As San Jose Grand Prix grand marshall, Sharks captain Patrick Marleau will launch the 3rd annual Champ Car World Series race in San Jose with the call, "Drivers start your engines." Former 49er's quarterback Steve Young (2005) and Air Force pilot Eric Pena (2006) served as the previous SJGP grand marshalls.

- This will be the first time the SJGP will see a standing start, instituted this year by Champ Car.

- Brazilian Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) can clinch the Champ Car Atlantic Championship with a win in San Jose. With six wins already in the 12-race season, Matos is well on his was to the $2 million prize toward a Champ Car World Series ride given to the Champ Car Atlantic Championship winner. Matos earned the pole and lead every lap en route to winning the 2006 race in San Jose, and he holds a 40 point lead over nearest competitor Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport/Continental Cartage Inc).

Monterey's own Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Miracle Sealants/Konica Minolta/Dynacor) earned the provisional pole position after the first day of Champ Car Atlantic qualifying. Bomarito clocked the fastest lap at 56.018 seconds, and is guaranteed a front row position for the race on Sunday (live on ESPN360.com, 12:30PM PT).

Top 5 Champ Car Atlantic qualifying times from Day 1:

1 J. Bomarito (#23) PR1 Motorsports 56.018
2 F. Perera (#11) Condor Motorsports 56.056
3 R. Matos (#6) Sierra Sierra Enterprises 56.095
4 J. Hinchcliffe (#9) Sierra Sierra Enterprises 56.179
5 J. Edwards (#7) Red Bull Team Forsythe 56.258

Sharks sign defenseman Alexei Semenov to a 1-year contract

The San Jose Sharks signed 6-6, 235 pound defenseman Alexei Semenov to a 1-year $650,000 contract on Friday. TSN's scouting report on Semenov describes his "tremendous physical package", "mammoth frame", and "ability to move the puck up ice" as a few of his strengths, lists his coordination and consistency as things he needs to work on, and projects him as a top 6 NHL defenseman.

Last season Semenov played 23 games for Salavat Yulaev in the RSL registering 3 points and 32 PIMS, and 23 games in the NHL for the Florida Panthers where he earned 5 assists. Alexei left Rochester (AHL) after 4 games to play in Russia.

Semenov was a second round draft selection (36th overall) of the Edmonton Oilers in 1999, and in 2001 he won the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the best defenseman in the Ontario Hockey League. Semenov played parts of 3 seasons for the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs before being called up to the Edmonton Oilers. In 2003-04, Semenov participated in the NHL Youngstars Game as part of the allstar weekend. He has also registered a slapshot over 100 MPH in a hockey skills competition.

[Update] Sharks Sign Defenseman Alexei Semenov - SJsharks.com.

[Update2] Alexei Semenov's draft profile at RussianProspects.com is a little over the top, Semenov is projected to be an NHL allstar and a Norris trophy winner, but it does provide a little background on the Soviet Wings product.

[Update3] Google has a Russian to English translation service in beta testing now. Here are the results of the Salavat Yulaev home page translation.

[Update4] David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News notes that Semenov signed a 2-way contract with the Sharks.


New logo for the Battle of California hockey blog

new Battle of California logo
new Battle of New Yorklogo

Dustin of Proud to be the Underdog Designs contributed new logos for the Battle of California hockey blog. Job very well done.

Thanks also go out to Steve from the Battle of New York, which has been added to the blogroll on the right. Also take a look at BOC editor Earl Sleek's latest hockey cartoon: Captain Elbows and the Suckerpunch Kids.

Price for upcoming NHL Center Ice Online PPV service from NeuLion yet to be determined

Last week this blog linked to a paidcontent.org post and a Washington Post blurb by Peter Grant which included a few pricing details on the NHL's upcoming Center Ice Online service. The NHL sent in a press release on the streaming partnership with NeuLion Inc, and noted that the pricing for the service has yet to be determined.


NeuLion Is Chosen As The NHL’s Online Video Service Provider

NEW YORK, N.Y. / PLAINVIEW, N.Y. (July 19, 2007) – The National Hockey League (NHL) and NeuLion Inc., today announced their partnership to bring a unique online experience to fans worldwide using NeuLion technology at the start of the 2007-08 season.

A new NHL Integrated Video Portal will be available via NHL.com and all of the 30 club sites to deliver high-quality video and other content. Fans will be able to navigate easily between live game content, video features, behind-the-scenes footage and game highlights that are viewable in multiple video windows or full screen.

NeuLion will power this NHL online video offering, which will include the following (pricing has yet to be determined):

• Live hockey games from NHL Center Ice Online. Paying subscribers of NHL Center Ice Online will be able to watch up to 40 games per week, subject to local blackouts, with the option to view multiple games at one time, zoom into just one game and set their own viewing preferences. The multiple game feature is one of several exciting upgrades to last year's NHL Center Ice Online product.

• League-wide videos, player information and fan input. Fans can monitor their favorite players or teams, monitor stats for fantasy league purposes and share videos with other fans around the world. Fans can organize and share their favorite specific NHL content through buddy lists, blogs, e-mail, and playlists.

• Team Channels for all 30 teams plus NHL.com. The team experience features footage only available through this new service such as the clips from morning skate, pre-game interviews and post-game commentary. Additional content may include off-season NHL highlights and team-specific video-on-demand such as locker room access and mascot features. In addition, fans can choose game highlights to watch their favorite team or players around the League. Premium content may be available for a pay-per-view or subscription fee.

"The popularity of viewing sports highlights and games online continues to grow, especially with hockey fans, who tend to be early adapters to new technology," said John Collins, Senior Executive Vice President, Business and Media, NHL. "This new agreement with NeuLion is another addition to the NHL's technical platform to deliver unique and exciting content online that is available anytime, anywhere, without geographic boundaries."

"NeuLion networks continue to grow across our customer base, we are really excited about this new partnership with the NHL, as we worked hard this past year to create a new fan experience for Islanders and Rangers fans, that was truly unique," said Nancy Li, Chief Executive Officer of NeuLion Inc. "We know hockey fans throughout the world will benefit from this service."

The official NHL Center Ice Online website notes that Center Ice television subscribers will get 50% off of the online service, that local blackout restrictions apply, and that some wireless connections such as Verizon or Rogers Portable Internet may not have sufficient bandwidth for the 500k and 768k streams.

[Update] At the start of last season, this post detailed a number of issues surrounding online streaming and digital video: Boost in hockey video streaming mirrors boom in emerging video technologies.


Video of downtown track construction for the San Jose Grand Prix

Please excuse the video quality, and one or two traffic regulations, but I took a quick drive around the Champ Car track for this weekend's San Jose Grand Prix. The setup and directions are different for normal traffic flow but you can get a good idea of where the track is at. Each year they fine tune it a little more for speed and passing, and they have greatly improved fan visibility and access throughout the viewing areas.

The Wave Magazine, and the San Jose Mercury News each published a comprehensive SJGP race and event guide for the weekend. More information is also available from the official sanjosegrandprix.com website and champcarworldseries.com.

Past Sharkspage coverage of the 2005 Champ Car race in San Jose can be found here, here. Past coverage of the 2006 Champ Car race can be found here, here, and here.

Notes and photos from downtown will be posted on this blog throughout the weekend, and a preview will be posted Friday morning.

San Jose Sharks unveil new logo and new Terry Smith design for 2007-08

new Sharks logo
new San Jose Sharks territory sign
Sharks NHL hats

At 10AM today the San Jose Sharks released a new Terry Smith designed logo, related markings, re-opened the Sharks Store at HP Pavilion, and launched a new website at sharks.nhl.com.

The new logo was said to emphasize speed, strength and determination, and it does give the Sharks crest a little more edge. Logo designer Terry Smith, responsible for the first iteration of the Sharks logo, also created the updated version. Sharks President and CEO Greg Jamison said of the new look, "We feel that the new logo will be a look our players are proud to wear, but also one our fans will enjoy and have pride in".

In addition to thanking VP of Business Operations Malcom Bordelon, logo designer Terry Smith, SVSE's Mary King, Equipment Manager Mike Aldrich, Director of Broadcasting Frank Albin, VP of Marketing Kent Russell, and GM Doug Wilson, Jamison also mentioned that defenseman Kyle McLaren, captain Patrick Marleau and Mike Grier were intricately involved in the design process of the new logo and the new RBK uniform.

The re-branding also coincides with a move by the NHL to the new RBK Edge Uniform System. The Sharks will release their version of a RBK Edge Jersey in September. When asked about how the new design would be incorporated into a third jersey, Jamison noted that the third jersey would not be used by the NHL this year, but it would be used in 2008-09. He also mentioned that the idea of teams wearing home whites, one that allows an array of colors from visiting teams road jerseys, was brought up at the recent Board of Governors meeting. It did not have enough votes.

Logo designer Terry Smith made a few comments at the press conference:

I would like to thank the Sharks for getting me involved in this process... This one, there was no pressure here (laughter). It's like shooting free throws at a full house at UCLA when they are screaming and yelling and there's pressure. I felt it was very important to maintain the tradition that I think the Sharks established. It was also important for this logo to reflect what they had in the past.

Some of the things we tried to do, was to give it a little more upgrading. With video games, and 3D cartoons, the old logo was a little flat. We were giving it a little more life, making it a little more aggressive. The eye pops out. It brings a little more color to it.

When we first introduced that teal color years ago, I got a lot of phone calls. Hockey was a very aggressive sport, teal was a color that hockey folks were not all that pleased with... At one point, I remember asking the question. Should we remove the teal, do you want more black? Which a lot of people were going for. They were very proud of the teal. It now represented the Sharks, an organization they were proud of, and the players now wanted to be a part of. So it was very important to bring that out. I am hoping that we developed a mark that the city, the players, and most importantly, the fans will be proud of.

Malcom Bordelon described the new website in a press release, "Our website is an integral part of our organization from both an information standpoint, and as a marketing tool. The consistency of the new NHL Network gives fans a much easier time navigating each team's site". The San Jose Sharks were one of the first professional teams to create a website in 1995. ESPN.sportszone.com (this does not direct to ESPN.com?) and LCS Hockey were two of the other websites covering hockey online in the formative years.

After the brief press conference, there were still a number of fans looking through the new items at the re-opened Sharks Store, also available via sharkstore.com. A rough query of 7 fans found 7 thumbs up on the new logo design. All but 2 had seen the design previously online. According to a press release, the first 500 fans making a purchase today at the Sharks store will get a free Sharks sticker. The Sharks are also accepting deposits for the new RBK jersey to be released in September.

[Update] The New Look Of Sharks Territory Unveiled - Sharks.nhl.com.

[Update2] A selection of the new full, triangle and fin logos, the primary crest, and word marks is available on a photo here. A photo gallery from the logo press conference is available here. Send comments on the new designs to (jon--a-t--sharkspage.com).

[Update3] Sharks unveil new logo - San Jose Mercury News.


San Jose Earthquakes return to MLS in 2008 as soccer nomads

San Jose Earthquakes last goal Brian Ching
San Jose Earthquakes return to MLS
San Jose The Casbah soccer

The Bay Area soccer universe just got a little bigger. The San Jose Earthquakes will become the 14th team in Major League Soccer starting in April of 2008. An official report from sjearthquakes.com notes that permission for San Jose to re-enter the MLS was made without a firm stadium deal in place, which was against previous league policy. The Quakes will play at unnamed local venues in the interim.

In June, the San Jose City Council unanimously voted in favor of a more detailed look at re-zoning an industrial parcel of land to finance a soccer-specific stadium near the Mineta San Jose airport. A video of Oakland A's and San Jose Earthquakes owner Lew Wolff's opening statement regarding the stadium plan is available here. The next City Council meeting on October 15th will be critical in the development of a new stadium.

The MLS decision, and a pending decision by the San Jose City Council, hinges in large part on the ownership group lead by Lew Wolff and John Fisher. The Oakland A's and SJ Earthquakes owners display commitment and enthusiasm to a San Jose franchise that was not there with former AEG ownership, who held up an hourglass whenever the future of the Earthquakes was brought up. A profile of Lew Wolff by David Pollak in the Mercury News noted that an active team would not be used as leverage in a stadium vote. "My intent was to get a team going so we could keep the Earthquakes alive" Wolff said.

A rough transcript of the pre-allstar game press conference speech by MLS Commisioner Don Garber:

We formally announce our new ownership, Lew Wolff and John Fisher and the Earthquakes will be entering Major League Soccer as our 14th expansion team starting in the 2008 season... The A's are a fantastic sports group operator, they understand the market, they understand pro sports, they have fallen in love with the sport of soccer.

Nothing to me was like seeing the vision of John Fisher at the World Cup, with his head, hairline similar to mine, painted with an American flag as he was walking around Germany with his family, and experiencing the excitement of the World Cup in Germany this past summer.

They have become committed to bringing the Earthquakes back to San Jose for quite some time, and we have been working tirelessly with them to find a stadium solution that would work with the team, work for the fans, and would work for the community.

Now all of you know we accept that it was traumatic for the Earthquakes to leave to Houston in 2005. It was the first team move that we had in our history, and it was done after two out of market ownership groups tried to make it work in Spartan Stadium, and tried to find local owners. We tried for years to try to find a stadium solution that would be different, and more successful for us and our team than Spartan, and we were unable to do that.

The day after we left in December 2005, we began working on a plan to return to the market. The league retained the team name, as well as all of the historical records so that we we enivitably returned back to San Jose, we would be able to have a local owner that would be able to take the Earthquakes back to San Jose as opposed to a new expansion team with a different name.

We were approached by Lew Wolff and his guys 30 days ago to see if we could bring the team to San Jose earlier than the option they had, which gave them the right to bring this team back until 2010. They secured the rights to that option in December 2005, at that time we agreed on a $20 million expansion fee. The right to bring that team back. They had years to sit on that. Now that they are getting close, they are very confident they can find a solution on land they have been negotiating to purchase.

We are very confidenced that now, and working over the next 2 years, their new stadium will give us a solution that will be beneficial for Major League Soccer, great for the fans in the Bay Area, great for the local community, ans something that will work for the sport of soccer in America. So on behalf of the entire MLS board of govenors, our players, our fans, I want to thank the Earthquakes for all of their eagerness, the efforts and commitment to the team and the sport, and formally welcome you to Major League Soccer as the 14th in our league.

A rough transcript of the pre-allstar game press conference speech by Oakland A's and San Jose Earthquakes owner Lew Wolff:

Thank you. The one group we did not thank is all of the other owners who I understand unanimously voted us in. I think they can use that as a deduction for helping the homeless for awhile.

I can't remember now, it was 3 or 4 years ago Tim Leiweke asked me to attend a game at the Home Depot Center, and I was fortunate enough to sit in Mr Anschutz's box, and sit behind him. My exposure to Phil has been limited, but he has always been kind of a quiet person. I was sitting behind him watching this game and he was extremely animated. It was a surprise to me, I said there must be something to this game that is really intriguing. I called my partner John Fisher and said we ought to take a real long look at soccer.

Then we got into the baseball industry, and thanks to our staff, Billy Beane and Mike Crowley, when I walk through our offices at night, soccer games are on all the time. They are on 24 hours a day. The interest that Billy and Mike, and others on our staff, David Alioto, and recently Ann Rodriguez, we got the feeling that this is a sport that might be terrific for us and parellel some of the things our staff has done with the baseball team. Then we met Don, and he is pretty hard not to get excited about. His enthusiasm stimulated us even more. As we watched soccer and the quality of the ownership, we thought that as a group we would be honored to do so.

I have two signs over my bed at home. One says the Earthquakes are in hibernation, and the other as a real estate person says never exercise an option early. I am taking off the option one because instead of sitting around for 2 years and contemplating what we are doing, we have an office and a staff, we have excitement in the community. Even though we do not have a firm venue, we are working hard with the city of San Jose. We would be willing to excersize our option now, figure out how to get a team fielded for next season, and start to have some fun instead of just talking about it.

Thank you, and we are going to make whatever investment neccessary to reconstitute the Earthquakes and the city of San Jose. San Jose is the 10th largest city in the United States, and we think having soccer will make it even more of a major league city. And with that in mind, we are off and running and we can use any help anyone can offer.

If you blinked you may have missed the first report on the Earthquakes return by Sports Illustrated's Jonah Freedman, but the resulting media onslaught has been tough to ignore. Freedman cited television deals with ESPN/Fox and a recent $100 million sponsorship with Adidas as signs of a slow and steady growth. He notes that the MLS was embarassed by the lack of a team in the 5th largest media market (San Jose), which should be compounded by a championship for Houston their first year after the move.

The Soccer Silicon Valley blog has been chronicling the media attention here and here, and posted a few notes on the allstar game/MLS return party the SSV members held to celebrate the news.

The Earthquakes will begin accepting $50 season ticket deposits Monday at 10AM. Each season ticket deposit will receive a "Return of the Earthquakes/Quakes 08" t-shirt. For more information call 408-282-2808, email questions@sjearthquakes.com, or visit sjearthquakes.com.

The last word has to go to Soccer Silicon Valley, the organization dedicated to bringing the Earthquakes back to the Bay Area:

Soccer Silicon Valley salutes return of Earthquakes for 2008 SAN JOSE, CALIF. – Soccer Silicon Valley (SSV), a grassroots group dedicated to bringing Major League Soccer back to the Bay Area, applauds the return of the two-time MLS Cup champion San Jose Earthquakes for the 2008 season.

"We're elated that we have succeeded in getting our team back," says Don Gagliardi, SSV's president. "Lew Wolff deserves a parade for purchasing the team and proposing to build a state-of-the-art soccer stadium in San Jose with no public funding."

For the past 16 months, SSV has been assisting David Alioto and Ann Rodriguez of Earthquakes Soccer, as well as other members of Wolff's group, in laying the groundwork for the return of the Earthquakes as an expansion franchise with its records, colors, and trophies intact.

To commemorate this milestone, SSV's 10-member board-Gagliardi, vice president Jay Hipps, and directors Freddy Adames, David Chamberlain, Lori Hibbett, John Jussen, Carol Vartuli Marin, Colin McCarthy, Mike Turco, and Ned Zuparko-has made deposits on the initial 100 season tickets for the coming season, the team's first following a two-year hiatus. "We are privileged to have the opportunity to fill the first hundred seats with our families and friends," says Hipps. "This is a great day for the Bay Area soccer community, and we hope everyone joins us in welcoming back the Quakes."

About Soccer Silicon Valley: Soccer Silicon Valley is a grassroots organization consisting of soccer fans, soccer players, business leaders, and political leaders that aims to create a permanent home for professional and recreational soccer in the Bay Area. A business trade association, SSV advocates the development and construction of a soccer facility which will permanently house the San Jose Earthquakes and provide playing fields for the use of the entire soccer playing community in the Bay Area and Northern California.

Thanks to all the members of SSV.

[Update] In addition to the report from the San Jose City Council meeting on the new soccer arena, this blog has also posted notes and photos from recent soccer games: Chelsea's international friendly with Club America at Stanford, a Chivas friendly with Busan I'Park at Spartan Stadium, and a USMNT exhibition with China. Upcoming this Saturday at Spartan Stadium is an exhibition between the U.S. Women's National Team and Japan at 7PM. More information is available at ussoccer.com.

[Update2] After losing to the MLS Allstars 2-0 in a tightly contested match on Thursday, Celtic FC rebounded with a 1-1 tie against the Chicago Fire on Sunday. Mexican soccer icon Cuauhtemoc Blanco made his first appearance for Chicago, and he beat two players to score his first goal in the 30th minute.

[Update3] Start of something big, Beckham makes a brief appearance, but his influence is clear to his teammates and his opponents, who predict big things for him - Grahame L. Jones for the Los Angeles Times.

The 32-year-old Beckham, his injured left ankle heavily taped, made his Galaxy debut in a 1-0 loss to Chelsea of the English Premier League in front of a sellout crowd of 27,000 at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night.

Oddly enough, it was John Terry, the man who replaced Beckham as captain of the England team, who scored the game's lone goal, steering a shot inside the left post in the 49th minute after the Galaxy defense failed to clear a corner kick by another England international, Frank Lampard.

Afterward, Terry predicted that Beckham's influence on soccer in the United States will be huge. "He's going to take it to another level," he said. "All eyes will be on MLS now."

[Update4] The current San Jose Earthquakes available job list from MLSnet.com.


Hockey Notes - July 19th

Los Angeles Sharks jersey

- The Sharks will host a media press conference Tuesday with President and CEO Greg Jamison, Sharks Executive Vice President of Business Operations Malcolm Bordelon, logo designer Terry Smith, and an unnamed Sharks player to unveil the new design of the San Jose Sharks logo, and the newly designed website. The new RBK Edge jersey with an updated Sharks logo will be released at a later date. The press conference will be streamed online via sjsharks.com Tuesday at 10AM.

In conjunction with the "new look of Sharks territory", the first 100 fans who spend $50 or more at participating Orchard Supply Hardware Stores on July 24th will receive a free commemorative shirt with the new logo. Stores open at 7AM, but the shirts will be given out with a reciept after 10AM.

- The Sharks were saddened to announce the passing of John Ferguson, who spent 11 years as a consultant and scout with the San Jose Sharks organization. A veteran with the Montreal Canadiens, Ferguson racked up 1,214 penalty minutes en route to winning 5 Stanley Cups. His son, John Ferguson Jr, is the president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"We have lost a very beloved member of the San Jose Sharks family today," said Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson. "John Ferguson was one of the most beloved figures to ever represent the Sharks, as well as the entire National Hockey League. His sense of class, grace and love of the game of hockey is legendary among those who were fortunate enough to know and work with him. We will always carry his spirit with us and never forget the impact he has had in the success of this franchise. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ferguson family."

The Canadian Press said the league lost one of its most colorful characters, noting that he got into a fight 12 seconds into his first NHL game. Ted Wyman and Jim Bender of Sun Media recalled Ferguson as "one of the toughest players in NHL history, and a fiery-tempered executive", but one with a softer side. David Pollak of the Mercury News quoted longtime Montreal Gazette writer Red Fisher, "he was the best by far of that breed", and former Sharks announcer and former Maple Leaf Pete Stemkowski, "He had a lot of friends and he had a few enemies over the years, too". A memorial service for Ferguson will be held Saturday in Windsor, Ontario.

- After several difficult weeks in the media, the Edmonton Oilers emerged with the highest profile player remaining in free agency with offensive defenseman Sheldon Souray. Souray returns to his home province of Alberta with a 5-year, $27 million contract. The Oilers were rebuffed in their attempts to sign center Michael Nylander or the much publicized offer sheet to Thomas Vanek. In the 6-4 226-pound Souray, the Oilers gain a much needed presence on the blueline after trading captain Jason Smith to Philadelphia for Joni Pitkanen.

- Sharks of the (near) future? Setoguchi, Wishart could find their way to San Jose this season - San Jose Mercury News.

- Recent San Jose transactions: The Sharks signed defenseman Brad Norton on Wednesday and re-signed right wing Tom Cavanagh, right wing Mike Iggulden, left wing Riley Armstrong, and defenseman Brennan Evans. On Monday, the Sharks re-signed group III free agent defenseman Rob Davison to a one-year contract.

- The blog at Dear Lord Stanley has an excellent post breaking down the release of the new Boston Bruins jersey with a historical and aesthetic perspective. Joe calls the new Boston uniform a "good, old-school" design.

Paul Lukas of Uniwatch says, "The Bruins hit a home run, scored a hat trick, bowled a turkey, [insert next cliché here] with their new uniforms, which were unveiled yesterday. In an era when I almost always have some quibble about a team’s new design, I have exactly zero bad things to say about this one."

Former Sharkspage webhost and current Bank of America VP Justin brought back one of last year's Boston Bruins jerseys from a recent road trip. With the exception of the laces on the collar of the new jersey, the yellow stripes down the sleeves, and the block lettering leave the old style looking a bit more authentic. The Sharks open the 2007-08 NHL regular season October 4th in Edmonton, and face the Boston Bruins October 13th in the home opener at HP Pavilion.

- Last month the Professional Hockey Writers Association honored the San Jose Sharks in the West, and the Washington Capitals in the East with the Dick Dillman Award as the NHL's best media relations departments. The PWHA announced the awards during the 2007 NHL Entry Draft in Columbus.

The San Jose Sharks media relations staff, lead by Senior Director of Communications Ken Arnold, includes Scott Emmert, Tom Holy, and Ryan Stenn. The Washington Capitals media relations staff, lead by VP of Communications Kurt Kehl, includes Nate Ewell, Paul Rovnak and Julie Petri. Thanks to Eric McErlain for the information.

- Mark Smith's band the Vinyl Trees plays July 20th at the Barnes and Noble in Blossom Hill, and August 17th at the Cardiff Lounge in Campbell. If you attend the shows, drop me a line.

- A quote by vocal Dallas Stars President Jim Lites last week on his team's inactivity in the free agent market:

Many of the contracts that were signed by free agents in the first 24 hours of free agency were for what we like to call "stupid money." In our opinion, several teams drastically overpaid to sign these free agents and they are now tied to contracts for many years that they may regret in the future because of the way it will hinder their roster movement.

- The post on Sharkspage noting the firing/buyout of San Jose beat writers Victor Chi and Ross McKeon made its way to the far corners of the web. Deadspin, Poynter Romenesko, Sports Designer, Sports Journalists, James Mirtle, and Hockeybuzz covered the topic to name a few. An update will be posted as soon as more information is available.

- Former Sharks prospect Glenn Olson was involved in a small plane crash on Vancouver Island this weekend that killed the pilot. As another passenger was airlifted to a hospital, Olson remained trapped under the wreckage with a broken leg until an officer could cut him loose.

- She believes: Redding girl eager to live hockey dream at Lake Placid school - Redding Record Searchlight.

[Update] This silkscreen shirt by Sportscrack.com will not be the new Sharks design, but it is cool enough I had to buy one. They are onsale for $6 now because it looks like they might be discontinued. A portion of all sales goes to the American Cancer Society in honor of Gail Fairchild.

[Update2] Sharks Sign Center Logan Couture - SJsharks.com.

[Update3] Snoopy's 75-and-over Senior World Hockey Tournament July 15-21 in Santa Rosa - Sharkspage.


Bodogfight NJ Report

Trevor Prangley Bodogfight

David Singer of Hockeyfights.com and MMAontap posted a review and photos from the Bodogfight MMA fight card last weekend in New Jersey. Trevor Prangley, who trains out of AKA in San Jose, dominated Yuki Kondo to win the Bodog Middleweight title. Eddie Alvarez and Tara LaRosa won in main event fights.

The event held at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ was filmed by Bodog for a future airing on the Ion Television network, which I surprisingly have. Check your listings. I could not find a PPV offering available for the fights. More information is available at bodogfight.com.

PrideFC heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko fought Matt Lindland on a Bodog card in April. Emelianenko is reportedly in contract negotiations with several different organizations (UFC, Bodog, EliteXC, etc). There is very little information out there concerning Emelianenko's status, but one good source is his official website at fedor.bel.ru. On the site he answers questions from fans, and details his current training, his meeting with president Vladimir Putin, and talks about a few of his past fights with the now defunct Pride organization.

Other news on the MMA front is the announcement of EliteXC's partnership with Showtime. On the heels of a successful promotion with Strikeforce in San Jose, the ShoXC fight card will be held July 27th in Santa Ynez, CA featuring Edson Berto against K.J. Noons.

[Update] Devil's in the Details Says Fedor's Striking Trainer - Sherdog.

[Sherdog.com] What do you think of (UFC president) Dana White's comments in a recent interview about the deal being difficult to finalise because the UFC is dealing with "crazy Russians"?
[VM] They can say what they like. The Americans and Russians have never seen eye to eye, don't see eye to eye now and will probably never in the future.

[Sherdog.com] What did you particularly like about PRIDE?
[VM] The thing that stands out most is the stand-ups that were performed by the referees after a short period of time with no action. No one likes a long running ground fight; it's not easily televised, not interesting to watch. Those interested on drawn out ground fights can watch wrestling. The Japanese fans like our fighters -- Fedor, Aleksander and Amar (Suolev) -- as they were exciting to watch.

[Sherdog.com] Which is easier to fight in, in your opinion: the ring or the cage?
[VM] The cage. You can lean against the fence and use it more to your advantage. There is also more room to move, utilising both defensive and offensive strategies. The cage is definitely my preferred choice.

[Update2] White not worried about the competition - ESPN.

[Update3] UFC World Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk tests positive for Nandrolone Metabolite - MMAweekly.com.

[Update4] In April, San Jose State earned its 42nd Judo Association Collegiate Team National Championship in 46 years. Let me repeat that, 42 team Judo Championships in 46 years. In individual action, according to the Spartan Daily student newspaper, SJSU students took home 6 of 13 gold medals, and 11 medals overall.


Sharks captain Patrick Marleau named Grand Marshall of 2007 San Jose Grand Prix

A press release from the San Jose Sharks:

Sharks captain Patrick Marleau named Grand Marshall of Third Annual San Jose Grand Prix at Redback Raceway

San Jose, CA - The San Jose Grand Prix at Redback Raceway announced today that Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau has been named as the race's Grand Marshall. The race will be held on July 29.

Marleau follows Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young (2005) and the 2006 Air Force Outstanding Airman of the Year, Staff Sgt. Eric Pena from Travis Air Force Base (2006) as the third grand marshall in the history of the race.

Marleau holds nearly every major offensive franchise record for San Jose, including games played (717), goals (219), assists (272) points (491) and game-winning goals (41). He's second in franchise power play goals (67) to Owen Nolan (75).

Last season, Marleau finished second on the team in scoring (78 points) goals (32) and assists (46) and was selected to his second NHL All-Star Game. He has scored at least 28 goals over the past four consecutive seasons and more than 30 in each of the past two seasons.

For more information on the San Jose Grand Prix at Redback Raceway, visit sanjosegrandprix.com.

Sharkspage will post more on the San Jose Grand Prix over the next two weeks.


Riot at the San Jose Civic Center Boxing, Rodriguez wins Cal State Jr Welterweight title

Cynthia Talmadge Riot Boxing
Jesus Rodriguez Hector Alatorre Riot Boxing
Riot Boxing Ring Girl

The inugural Riot at the Civic Auditorium boxing brought an entertaining 5 fight card to San Jose on Saturday night. The main event featured Jesus "Chuy" Rodriguez earning a unanimous 10-round decision over Hector Alatorre to win the California State Jr Welterweight title.

Alatorre talked extensively to the media before the fight, talked at the weigh-in, talked over the phone at the press conference, and even sent a message with a cardboard cutout, but when the fight began it was the Rodriguez jab and left hook that did all the talking. The fight opened with Rodriguez trying to solve Alatorre's unorthodox style. At the end of the second and third rounds, each fighter traded tremendous flurries after which Hector Allatorre goaded Rodriguez to deliver more.

The tableside crowd and those in the stands began to alternate chants for each fighter. A long looping right by Alatorre landed after the end of the fourth to a chorus of boos from one half of the auditorium. The naturally bigger Rodriguez began to dominate position in the sixth, pushing Alatorre up against the ropes and connecting with several combinations. In the 10th and final round, each boxer let go with several combinations and then encouraged the other to do the same. All three judges awarded the bout to Jesus Rodriguez, who turned in a dominant performance after an extended abscence from the ring.

A featherweight professional debut for 2-time San Francisco Golden Gloves champion Cynthia Talmadge against National Golden Gloves and California PAL champion Jennifer Barber showcased two of the top boxing prospects in the division. Barber came out strong, and was able to land effectively. The punches took their toll, and Barber punctuated the fight with several heavy shots up until the bell in the final round. Barber was awarded a unanimous decision win.

On the undercard, 6-6 260 pound heavyweight Keith Spencer dictated the action in his 4 round decision win over Cornell Davis. Spencer landed more punches but appeared frustrated by his opponent's defensive tactics at the end of the fight. Caught in a middle area, he was unable to maximize his size advantage to wear Cornell down in close, and unable to create enough distance to let go with his hands from outside. After the decision was announced, Spencer talked about his redeployment with the Navy to Afghanistan in the fall, and he received a loud ovation from the crowd.

Welterweight Brian Gordon, an Iraqi war veteran out of Bakersfield, scored a first round knockout over Maurice Slade. Bantamweights Constancio Alvarado and Sammy Yniguez fought to a majority decision draw after 4 rounds.

The semi-main event bout between undefeated Team Garcia fighter Eloy Perez and Carlos Musquez was called off after doctors disqualified Musquez because of dehydration. Last week Musquez told the Gilroy Dispatch that he was recovering from a "bug", and his camp requested that the fight be held at 134 pounds instead of 132.

In attendance for the Riot at the Civic Auditorium were IBF and IBO Flyweight Champion Nonito Donaire, IBF Featherweight Champion Robert Guerrero, WBC Strawweight Champion Carina Moreno, and top amateur featherweight Ana Julaton. The next scheduled 12 Sports Productions fight card is a Riot at the Monterey Conference Center on October 26th.

[Update] 7/14 Riot at the Civic results:

Jr Welterweights - Jesus Rodriguez (15-2) defeated Hector Alatorre (14-2) by a unanimous decision to win the California State Jr Welterweight title.

Featherweights - Jennifer Barber (2-0) defeated Cynthia Talmadge (0-1) by a unanimous decision.

Super Heavyweights - Keith Spencer (2-0) defeated Cornell Davis (4-11) by a unanimous decision.

Bantamweights - Constancio Alvarado (1-0-1) earned a majority decision draw after 4 rounds with Sammy Yniguez (1-0-1).

Welterweights - Brian Gordon (2-0) knocked out Maurice Slade (0-1) in the first round.

The semi-main event bout between Eloy Perez and Carlos Musquez was called off after doctors disqualified Musquez due to health reasons after the weigh-in.

[Update2] 'Chuy' pounds way to victory - Monterey Herald.

Salinas boxer Jesus "Chuy" Rodriguez took three rounds to figure out what his opponent was made of, then he dismantled Hector Alatorre piece by piece. Rodriguez (15-2) won a 10-round unanimous decision over the Tulare fighter who calls himself "Corozon de Leon" — heart of the lion — to capture the California state junior welterweight championship at the San Jose Civic Auditorium.

[Update3] Rodriguez wins again, 'Chuy' captures state title - The Bakersfield Californian.

[Bonus Photo] After the end of the boxing at the SJ Civic Auditorium, I stopped by the light heavyweight finals of the 2007 NPC Bodybuilding, Fitness, and Figure Championships in San Jose.


Disney Friendship Cup: Chelsea FC 2, Club America 1

Andriy Shevchenko Chelsea FC
Chelsea FC
Frank Lampard Chelsea FC

After the Chelsea Football Club finished a successful season with a FA and Carling domestic cup double, the Blues traveled to Stanford Stadium to face 14-time Mexican League champion Club America for the Disney Friendship Cup. In his Chelsea FC debut, former Lyon midfielder Florent Malouda scored a goal and registered an assist en route to a late 2-1 win over Club America.

America's Juan Carlos Mosqueda scored in the third minute, which triggered an explosion of confetti from the Mexican fans behind the north goal. The midfielder let loose with a ball from 30 feet out that deflected off a Chelsea defender and beat goalkeeper Peter Cech wide to his right. Chelsea's captain Joe Cole responded with a fantastic move in front of the Club America goal. With a man in his hip pocket, and another in front of him, the English World Cup veteran stepped over the ball, cut to his right, and unleashed a heavy shot from in close. Club America goaltender Armando Navarrete left his feet to make the save.

In the second half, both teams made ample substitutions. The depth of Chelsea's roster became immediately apparent with Didier Drogba now prowling in front of America's goal. Chelsea sent a long cross into the box which Naverrete could not handle. Florent Malouda jumped on the loose ball and directed it past two America defenders for the equalizing goal.

With less than 8 minutes remaining, Chelsea lined up a free kick from the right corner. Malouda arced the ball in front of the goal with his left foot and found captain John Terry, who headed the ball past Naverette. Chelsea finished with a 2-1 win.

The Chelsea Football Club posted a an initial reaction, and a match report after the 2-1 win over Club America. Chelsea also discussed its global partnership with the Right to Play charity, which encourages the use of sports to improve the lives of children.

Caimos ante el Chelsea, America abre los juegos de pretemporada con una derrota por 1-2 ante el Chelsea - Club America.

AMERICA: Armando Navarrete, Oscar Rojas (Omar Tena, 65), Duilio Davino (Rodrigo Iñigo, 46), Ricardo Rojas (Armando Sánchez, 46), Ismael Rodríguez (Carlos Infante, 46), Germán Villa (Guadalupe Zavala, 46), Alejandro Arguello (Jesus Mosqueda, 46), Juan Carlos Mosqueda (Fernando Julien, 46), Raúl Alvin Mendoza (Joaquín Martínez, 79), Santiago Fernandez (Daniel Marquez, 46) y Federico Insua (Diego Cervantes, 46). DT Luis Fernando Tena.

CHELSEA: Peter Cech (Carlo Cudicini, 46), Glen Johnson (Scott Sinclair, 77), John Terry, Claude Makelele (Ricardo Carvalho, 46), Tal Ben Haim (Shaun Wright-Phillips, 46), Jack Cork (Sam Hutchinson, 46), Frank Lampard (Lassana Diarra, 46), Arjen Robben (Salomon Kalou, 46), Joe Cole (Michael Essien, 46), Andrei Schevchenko (Didier Drogba, 46) y Steve Sidwell (Florent Malouda, 46). DT Jose Mourinho.

[Update] Chelsea 2, Club America 1 - USA Today.

But Mourinho has no interest in results during this West Coast tour, which includes a meeting with the Los Angeles Galaxy and David Beckham next weekend. Chelsea is instead using its fourth annual U.S. training camp to build teamwork and fitness for next month's Premiership schedule.

"I'm pleased totally," said Mourinho, who made nine substitutions at halftime. "I think it was a very good training session. Club America, they gave us exactly what we need: competition, but competition with quality. We played a good game with good passing, good movement."

[Update2] In what was a full page of soccer coverage, the San Francisco Chronicle posted a game report from Dan Giesin, a photo gallery from Lance Iverson, and a from the stands perspective from Anna Liu.

The San Jose Mercury New's college reporter Jon Wilner filed a story from the game; A crackling good show. Unfortunately for local soccer fans, the subhead for the article was "Chelsea and Club America excite in ways Stanford and MLS can't". The members of the Soccer Silicon Valley blog were not happy with the characterization. I spent 2 hours talking with fans at tailgate parties and in lines outside the stadium and did not hear those comments once, but to take a laid back and enjoyable atmosphere like that Saturday afternoon and use it to bash the MLS and the Earthquakes is ridiculous. Next time I will post video.

Duncan Castles for the Times, Chelsea are a Mickey Mouse outfit, The Premier League club believe the Disney rodent will help them attract fans and conquer the US market. Disney rodent? Castles does detail Chelsea's plan to alternate preseason training schedules in the U.S. and Asia to try to broaden its fan base.

[Update3] Brazil Stuns Argentina to Win Eighth Copa America Soccer Title - Bloomberg. Thats on Point also breaks down the Brazil Copa America win, and reviews a recent Portland-California USL soccer game.

[Update4] Allen Clark posted an excellent photo gallery of a D.C. United 3-3 tie at home with FC Dallas for Offwing.com.

Fans turn out for Chelsea FC vs Club America friendly at Stanford

Chelsea FC Fans
Club America fans

Chelsea FC vs Club America was the first international soccer game held at the newly renovated Stanford Stadium, and 47,329 fans turned out to watch Chelsea captain John Terry score in the 84th minute to earn a come from behind 2-1 win.

A trip around the tailgaiting parties before gametime turned up more of a family atmosphere than hardcore fans. Pickup soccer and barbecues were the norm. ESPN Deportes set up a two-stage interactive group video game where dribbling fast and the loudest goal call into a microphone determined the winner.

On the Chelsea FC side, there were many local EPL fans mixed in with the expatriates. David Beckham mania, a soccer stadium in San Jose, and the Copa America finals between Brazil and Argentina were the main topics of pre-game conversation at Galvez Field and Lasuen Grove.

Stanford stadium was overwhelmingly dominated by Chelsea blue, but everyone kept an eye on the pulsating contingent of yellow and blue Club America fans behind the North goal. Starting several hours before kickoff, the Club America fans danced, sang, and showered the bleachers with confetti without slowing down. Not as many Mexican wrestling masks as Chivas fans, but Club America fans would get farther on American Idol.

A photo gallery from the game is available here.

[Update] Chelsea wins tuneup, Club America's fans fill stadium with enthusiasm - SF Chronicle.


Riot Boxing at the Civic Auditorium weigh-in photos

Riot Boxing San Jose Civic Auditorium
Riot Boxing San Jose Civic Auditorium
Riot Boxing San Jose Civic Auditorium

On tap for Saturday: The San Jose Sabercats meet the Chicago Rush at 1PM in the American Conference Finals (ESPN), English Premier League powerhouse Chelsea FC will play an international friendly against Club America of Mexico for the Disney Friendship Cup at 6PM, and the Riot at the San Jose Civic Auditorium begins at 7:30.

Also available via Ion Television and PPV is a stacked Bodogfight.com MMA card from New Jersey. David Singer of Hockeyfights.com and MMAonTap should be in attendance.


Riot Boxing at the SJ Civic Auditorium premieres July 14th

Jerry Hoffman Riot Boxing San Jose Civic Auditorium

Monterey and Santa Cruz boxing promoter Jerry Hoffman brings his popular Riot Boxing series to the San Jose Civic Auditorium Saturday, July 14th. The card features 6 bouts, including a California State Jr Welterweight title fight between Jesus "Chuy" Rodriguez (14-2, 5KO's) and Hector Alatorre (14-1, 5KO's) that will establish a major contender in the Jr Welterweight division. Rodriguez is returning to the ring after serving 3 years behind bars, and the colorful Hector Alatorre is coming off his first loss in 14 fights.

Undefeated Team Garcia boxer Eloy Perez (8-0-1), last seen on this blog in a strong performance May 24th at HP Pavilion, will face Sacramento native Carlos Musquez (3-1-1). Two time Golden Glove amateur champion Cynthia Talmadge will make her pro debut against featherweight Jennifer Barber. Both were top-5 ranked boxers at the amateur level.

Also on the card is a 4-round heavyweight feature between Keith Spencer and Cornell Davis, a 4-round bantamweight fight between former field worker Constancio Alvarado and Sammy Yniguez, and San Jose's Maurice Slade in a welterweight fight with Iraq war veteran Brian Gordon.

Tickets will be available at the door, or they can be purchased over the phone by calling the Crowne Plaza at 408-998-0400 and asking for The Riot or Jerry Hoffman. The weigh-in for the boxers will be held at the Crowne Plaza Friday at 5PM. IBF and IBO Flyweight title holder Nonito Donaire, IBF Featherweight title holder Robert Guerrero, and WBC Female Minimumweight title holder Carino Moreno will all be special guests at the Civic Auditorium on Saturday night.

Visit a photo gallery from the pre-fight press conference, a photo gallery of Eloy Perez's last fight with Barbaro Zepeda, and all the details of THE RIOT AT THE CIVIC online at www.myspace.com/riotboxing.

A few quotes from the press conference:

"I am just relaxing right now, listening to Bob Marley, trying to heal my bones because I know Saturday is going to be a battle. (Chuy Rodriguez) always comes in strong, but I am going to come in stronger." - Hector Alatorre.

"I had to spend some time with the family, because I had not seen them in awhile, but after that it was time to go to work. The sacrifices and the commitments they put me through, it made me a better person. I may have lost a year of my life, but I got a better understanding by turning my life around." - Jesus Rodriguez.

"I think (Barber) is going to be very competitive, and so am I. We have very similar amateur backgrounds. I plan to execute in the ring, adjust to whatever comes unplanned, and come up with a win."

"I always fought to fight (not score points). The point system in amateurs is frustrating, so this is going to be exciting. I think we are going to have a really good fight." - Cynthia Talmadge.

"I do believe (Talmadge coming up from 119 to 126) is an advantage for me. I have won two national titles, the National Golden Gloves in Chicago, and the National PAL here in Oxndard, so I do think I have the advantage when it comes to weight differential." - Jennifer Barber.

ESPN2's Friday Night Fights series showcased 4 local boxers live from the San Jose Civic Auditorium in 2005. The main event featured a grueling 8-round James Webb TKO over the crowd favorite Jose Celaya. It was a match-up of blunt force vs technique, and on that night blunt force won.

[Update] In the Blood, Pro Cynthia Talmadge is a 3rd-generation boxer - SF Chronicle.

[Update2] Boxer ready for Riot after Iraq tours - Monterey County Herald.

(Bakersfield welterweight Brian Gordon) was 18-3 as an amateur, won the Texas state championship and was fourth at the 2002 Ringside Nationals. More notable is that the 27-year-old Gordon has done two tours of duty on some of the bloodiest roads in Iraq, where he saw action that will make this weekend's experience seem like child's play.

[Update3] Purdy: A boxing show at Civic Auditorium? It's a date - SJ Mercury News.


Sharks release pre-season, regular season schedules

The San Jose Sharks announced the preseason and regular season schedules for 2007-08 earlier today.

Preseason opens in enemy territory, with mid-week road games at Los Angeles and Anaheim September 18th and 19th. On Friday September 21st, the Sharks face off against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks at home, followed by the 2007 Northwest division winning Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Two road games in Calgary and Vancouver, before the Sharks finish up the preseason September 29th against Calgary.

The Sharks begin the 2007-08 NHL regular season October 4th with a 4-game road trip through Canada and the U.S. (at Edmonton, at Vancouver, at Colorado, at Chicago), the first of three 4-game road stints. A monster 8-game, 14-day road trip lurks from the middle of February to the beginning of March (at NYR, at NYI, at NJ, at Philadelphia, at Pittsburgh, at Columbus, at Detroit, at St Louis).

San Jose will face the Boston Bruins in the home opener Saturday, October 13th. The best series in the NHL last season, the Sharks vs Ducks, will return to HP Pavilion (November 17th, December 18th, 22nd, March 21st). The Northeast Division teams (Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto), including 3 members of the original six, will travel to San Jose next season. The Sharks will face the Atlantic Division Atlantic Division (New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh) on the road.

A home-at-home series with the Los Angeles Kings, and a tough divisional road game against the Dallas Stars at the start of April could be a decisive three game stretch in what should be a tight Western Conference playoff race.

[Update] Sharks Schedule News And Notes - SJsharks.com.

[Update2] 4-day workout for top prospects, Team updating logo; no State of Sharks - SJ Mercury News.

[Update3] NHL schedule set to be unveiled - Globe and Mail.

Meanwhile, Hockey Day in Canada will have a couple of American visitors in February. Because of its unbalanced setup the Canadian teams of the Northwest Division do not play the three Canadian clubs of the Northeast Division this upcoming season.

Therefore, CBC will broadcast four games for their popular Hockey Day in Canada on Feb. 9th, beginning with the Detroit Red Wings visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs and concluding with Ryan Smyth and the Colorado Avalanche in Vancouver to play the Canucks. In the other two matches that day, the Ottawa Senators will play host to the Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers travel south to play the Calgary Flames.

There have been plenty of whispers about an Ice Bowl outdoor game, possibly between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. on New Year's Day. But because the logistics have yet to be finalized, this potential event won't be announced for three weeks.


Give Blood, Play Hockey

Give Blood Play Hockey powerplayhockey San Jose

Spotted on the streets of San Jose a few nights ago: A bumper sticker from powerplayhockey.com that reads "Give Blood, Play Hockey". The PPH website is still under contruction, but the hockey equipment store down the street from HP Pavilion can be reached at 408-294-2995.

Forty 1.5-inch by 8-inch mini Sharkspage.com bumper stickers recently came in the mail. If you would like one of the black and white stickers for your car, sportsbar, or Zamboni, send an email with your mailing address to rathjefornorris-at-sharkspage.com.


Sabercats advance to Conference Final with 76-67 win over Colorado

Ben Nelson touch down catch
Rodney Wright San Jose Sabercats

The downtown migration to HP Pavilion on Saturday was a little different than the usual affair. A collection of green and gold fans with scattered foam claws made for an announced crowd of 12,719 attending the San Jose Sabercats divisional semifinal game with the Colorado Crush. The 2-time Arena Bowl Champion Sabercats (2002, 2004) were looking to avenge a first round playoff loss against Colorado in 2005.

The first quarter started slowly for both teams. The Crush gave up possession on a fumble, and the Sabercats capitalized with a 7-play, 45 yard drive ending in the first of 5 touchdown receptions for receiver James Roe. Colorado answered with a quick touchdown drive of its own, and the offensive oneupsmanship would continue for most of the game. When each team combined for 8 touchdown passes in the second quarter, you start to run the numbers to see if reaching 100 points in regulation could be possible. Short quarterback drops, and a running start for wide receivers puts defenses in a tough position. Colorado lead 35-34 at the half after a missed extra point attempt by A.J. Haglund.

Former Sabercat and current Crush quarterback John Dutton began to air it out in the the third quarter. He completes long passes for 38 and 25 yards in two touchdown drives. Dutton would finish throwing 29-of-37 for 416 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. At the end of the third quarter, the score is San Jose Sabercats 55, Colorado Crush 48.

Start of the fourth quarter, if there is going to be a pivotal play in this game it has to happen with a turnover or a defensive stop. John Dutton of the Crush throws a 44 yard bomb to Brad Pyatt, but Steve Watson blocks the extra point attempt for San Jose. Both teams trade touchdowns, but Colorado kicker Jason Ball misses the extra point attempt, SJ 62 - CC 60.

San Jose quarterback Mark Grieb connects on a long 25 yard touchdown to Ben Nelson for the final touchdown of the day. Rashad Floyd got an arm in between Nelson and the ball, but the Sabercat receiver was able to pull it in before hitting the turf. Mark Grieb's 9 touchdown passes tied an AFL playoff record, and he finished completing 30-41 passes for 316 yards. The 76-67 score was the second highest point total in league history.

The Crush have one last possession, with a touchdown and a 2 point conversion they still have a chance to make it close. SJ middle linebacker Phil Glover sacks Dutton for a 3 yard loss. On a subsequent play, SJ defensive lineman Ron Jones pressures Dutton to make a desperation pass that flutters high and wide. Sabercats and Crush players collide at the wall with several fans hungry for a free football, fans win. Another incomplete pass and a fumble, time runs out on the Colorado Crush. San Jose wins 76-67.

San Jose will face the winner of the Los Angeles at Chicago game (4:30PM Monday on ESPN2), in the American Conference Finals next Saturday at HP Pavilion.

[Update] SaberCats Advance To Conference Championship Game, Grieb Tosses 9 TD Passes In 76-67 Win Over Colorado - Sanjosesabercats.com.

Receiver James Roe caught five of Mark Grieb’s nine touchdown passes and linebacker Steve Watson made two key extra point blocks as the San Jose SaberCats overcame a torrid offensive onslaught by the Colorado Crush, 76-67, Saturday in an Arena Football League American Conference semifinal game.

[Update2] Colorado Crush at San Jose Sabercats - ESPN.

[Update3] SaberCats top Colorado in postseason opener - SJ Mercury News.

The SaberCats found out Saturday that the playoffs are far more intense - and exciting - than the regular season. Having outscored its previous 10 opponents by an average of three touchdowns, San Jose needed a record-breaking performance from its offense to survive its Arena Football League postseason opener.

Quarterback Mark Grieb and Co. proved up to the challenge. The SaberCats scored touchdowns every time they ran at least one play from scrimmage - 11 for 11 - and that's what it took to outlast the Colorado Crush 76-67 at HP Pavilion.

Video of new wraparound LED display at HP Pavilion

Here is a brief video of the newly installed wraparound LED display during a San Jose Sabercats playoff game today at HP Pavilion. The LED display will compliment a new state-of-the-art scoreboard, sound system, and video system as a part of a $16.5 million arena renovation.


Sharks stand pat as NHL GM's embark on Free Agency gold rush

Scott Hannan signed with the Colorado Avalanche
Brad Stuart signs with Los Angeles Kings NHL
Owen Nolan signed with the Calgary Flames

The NHL/NHLPA raised the salary cap from $44 to $50.3 million last Friday as a result of increased revenues, and Sunday's Canada Day saw general managers try to spend that money on available free agents as quickly as possible. The lucky GM's acquired 57 players in the first 5 days of free agency for over $539 million in multi-year contracts.

The big names fell early, Daniel Briere signed a massive 8-year $52 million contract with Philadelphia, Scott Gomez inked a 7-year deal with the Rangers for $51.5 million, Chris Drury also committed to the Rangers, Ryan Smyth with Colorado. The top defenseman available did not last past Canada Day. Former Sharks stalwart Scott Hannan defected to Colorado, Mathieu Schneider signed with Anaheim, Brian Rafalski with Detroit.

A brief list of major Free Agent acquisitions:

ANAHEIM: D Mathieu Schneider, F Todd Bertuzzi, D Shane Hnidy.

ATLANTA:: F Slava Kozlov.

BUFFALO: D Teppo Numminen, G Jocelyn Thibault.

CALGARY: F Owen Nolan.

CHICAGO: C Robert Lang.

COLORADO: D Scott Hannan, F Ryan Smyth.

DETROIT: D Brian Rafalski, G Dominik Hasek.

EDMONTON: D Dick Tarnstrom, D Denis Grebeshkov, G Mathieu Garon, F Raffi Torres.

FLORIDA: F Richard Zednik, F Radek Dvorak.

LOS ANGELES: D Tom Preissing, C Michal Handzus, F Kyle Calder, F Ladislav Nagy, D Brad Stuart, G Jason LaBarbera.

MONTREAL: D Roman Hamrlik, F Bryan Smolinski.

NASHVILLE: F Radek Bonk, D Greg de Vries.

NEW JERSEY: F Dainius Zubrus, G Kevin Weekes.

NY ISLANDERS: F Ruslan Fedotenko, F Bill Guerin, C Mike Comrie.

NY RANGERS: F Scott Gomez, F Chris Drury.

PHILADELPHIA: F Daniel Briere.

PITTSBURGH: D Darryl Sydor, F Petr Sykora.

ST LOUIS: F Paul Kariya.

TAMPA BAY: D Brad Lukowich.

TORONTO: F Jason Blake.

WASHINGTON: D Tom Poti, C Viktor Kozlov, C Michael Nylander

Initial reaction has to focus on the West Coast, because that is where the next 3 Stanley Cup Champions are going to come from:

The Anaheim Ducks addressed the possible retirement of Scott Niedermayer with the acquisition of the best puck moving defenseman available, Mathieu Schneider. GM Brian Burke stated that he does not want his players to develop in a "fear free" environment. He takes a big step in that direction by signing Todd Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi joins a roster that lead the NHL in penalty minutes and fighting majors.

One of the biggest movers on the free agent front in terms of quantity and quality was Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi. In a significant departure from the previous philosophy of building through the draft, Lombari made 2 solid additions to the blueline in former Sharks Tom Preissing and Brad Stuart. Preissing tied Norris trophy winning defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom for the top +/- in the league (+40) in 80 games with the Ottawa Senators. Brad Stuart has struggled to capitalize on his offensive talent, but he has all the tools to be a #1 defenseman and can deal out devastating hip checks when so inclined. Michal Handzus, Kyle Calder, and Ladislav Nagy add size and significantly upgrade the offensive potential of the lineup.

Re-signing Jason LaBarbera locks in the best NHL-ready goaltender in the AHL last season, and frees the team of the waiver call-up restriction embarassment that neccessitated stints from Barry Brust, Yutaka Fukufuji, and Sean Burke in goal. With Jack Johnson, goaltender Jonathan Bernier, and the first defenseman selected in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Thomas Hickey, Los Angeles has stockpiled talent from top to bottom in the organization.

Where does this leave the San Jose Sharks? In all honesty, they had less holes to fill than most NHL teams. Locking up center Joe Thornton until 2011, negotiating with captain Patrick Marleau (who has a year left on his contract), and settling the starting goaltender logjam between Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala were the top three priorities. Two down, Marleau to go.

The play of the Detroit Red Wings and the Anaheim Ducks in the playoffs magnified the Sharks need for a solid #1 defenseman who can contribute on both ends of the ice. The defenseman remaining who could best fill that role is Montreal's Sheldon Souray, but there is believed to be a bidding war for his services pushing the price tag to over $6 million a year. The New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and San Jose Sharks are reported to be among the teams pursuing the offensive defenseman. Danny Markov, Brent Sopel, Vitaly Vishnevski, Ossi Vaananen, and Aaron Miller are other free agent options available on the blueline.

The departure of Scott Hannan to Colorado leaves a large hole on the San Jose blueline. Not only did Hannan log the most minutes season after season, he did it against opponents top lines. The Sharks have struggled with three difficult playoff exits, and a significant addition to the blueline could be the catalyst that carries this team over the hump. Rob Davision, who recently filed for arbitration, and hard hitting Douglas Murray give San Jose options on the blueline. With Bill Guerin moving to the New York Islanders, center Mark Smith remains the Sharks biggest Group 3 unrestricted free agent.

[Update] Rangers come out on top with free agency picks - Scott Burnside for ESPN.

Los Angeles Kings
Yes, the Los Angeles Kings signed a lot of players; Brad Stuart, Michal Handzus, Ladislav Nagy, Tom Preissing and Kyle Calder; but this free agency test isn't graded on volume but quality and the Kings are still a step, maybe two, away from being a playoff team. Still, the Kings are definitely better than a year ago even though they still don't have a number-one goaltender and GM Dean Lombardi seems to have positioned himself well for a bigger splash next summer when he might add the cornerstones as opposed to the complimentary pieces he's assembled this summer.

The exact opposite of my assessment, but the regular season will determine how accurate this is. As a number of East Coast and Canadian media demonstrated by picking Ottawa decisively over the Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup Finals, when it comes to hockey prognostication, caveat emptor.

More on LA from Inside the Kings, the Los Angeles Times, and a light hearted contribution from the Battle of California.

[Update2] Who's left? - James Mirtle.


Interview with Sharks 2007 first round draft pick Nick Petrecki

While the Sharks have not been as aggressive in the free agent market as other teams, at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft it was a different story. After dealing away two first round draft picks to acquire Bill Guerin and Craig Rivet, San Jose traded Vesa Toskala, Mark Bell and draft picks to gain two more first rounders in 2007.

The 28th overall selection in the draft was aggressive, hard hitting native New Yorker Nick Petrecki. Petrecki recently sat down with Max Giese of Sharkspage for a one-on-one interview. The 6-3, 213-pound defenseman from the USHL will be in San Jose next week for the Sharks Prospect Development camp, before heading back east to play for Boston College in the fall.

[MG] When the Sharks traded up to acquire the 28th overall pick, did you expect to be their selection?

[NP] To tell you the truth, when the sharks traded up for the 28th pick it really just made me think they knew who they wanted, but at the time I really did not think it was going to be me. I really did not think the sharks were interested in me.

[MG] How many times did the Sharks interview you before the draft?

[NP] To be honest I never interviewed with the Sharks at all before the draft, I just knew they came to a few of my games.

[MG] What happens after you and the Sharks brass walk off the stage?

[NP] After I went up on stage and got my jersey and hat and took the picture, I preceded to walk to the Sharks table on the draft floor and meet all the scouts and representatives in the organization and then was taken by a Sharks media rep. for pictures and interviews.

[MG] Have you set any goals for yourself heading into your freshman season at Boston College?

[NP] Obviously, I am very excited to join the college game and college experience at Boston College, and my main goal is to work as hard as I can each day, improve each day, and make it hard on coach York and his staff to take me out of the lineup.

[MG] Have you spoken with the Sharks since draft day about what they want you to focus on over the summer?

[NP] As far as I know right now my only plans with the Sharks for the summer are to attend their prospects camp July 10 threw the 14th, and I am looking forward to it.

[MG] If you could achieve all of your goals, what kind of a game would like to bring to the Sharks down the road?

[NP] Down the road I would like to be a solid two way defender for the Sharks, bring toughness and grit to their blueline, and be able to play in all situations and log a lot of minutes for them.

[MG] Favorite T.V. Show?
[NP] Seinfield.

[MG] Favorite Movie?
[NP] Dumb and Dumber.

[MG] Playstation, Xbox or Nintendo?
[NP] Xbox.

[MG] Favorite Food?
[NP] Pasta.

[MG] Favorite off ice hobbies?
[NP] Working out, fishing, gulfing, vacationing in Maine and Cape Cod.

[Update] Petrecki ranks high on NHL's wish list, Defenseman from Clifton Park looms as a top draft prospect - Albany Times Union.

But before long, Petrecki proved too advanced for his father and his peers. By age 14, already standing 6-foot tall, Petrecki played for the Capital District Selects in a league with boys as much as four or five years older. Though not as physically developed as his opponents, he showed flashes of the punishing defenseman he would become.

"For the first few months, he'd be trying to move guys out of the crease, and he couldn't move them two inches," Selects coach Jim Salfi said. "Then he started moving them a foot. Well by the middle of the season, he was moving them to the face-off dot. Soon enough forwards just wouldn't go anywhere near him."


Black day for hockey coverage in the Bay Area, SF Chronicle and SJ Mercury News buy out and lay off Sharks beat reporters

The San Francisco Chronicle bought out the contract of Sharks beat writer Ross McKeon, who has been covering the team since 1991. Also, Sharks beat writer Victor Chi is on the list of 31 San Jose Mercury News employees who were laid off on Monday. Fifteen others, including soccer and boxing reporter Dylan Hernandez and photographer Meri Simon, voluntarily resigned.

It is a paradigm shift for local sports reporting, and for coverage of the San Jose Sharks. The San Francisco Chronicle, the largest newspaper in the Bay Area, is expected to cut approximately 100 of its 400 editorial positions. The San Jose Mercury News, founded in 1851, lost 50% of its staff from a high of 400 only a few years ago.

Chronicle reporters have set up a blog with job opportunities and resources for those who have been let go at chroniclecolleagues.blogspot.com. When deputy managing editor John Curley accepted a buyout at the Chronicle, he posted a farewell on his flickr page that reflects on his many years at the paper.

On MN Technology reporter Dean Takahashi's tech talk blog, he asks if the Mercury News can be saved? He also mentions an upcoming interview with Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, who along with Craig Newmark of Craigslist have had a significant impact on the bottom line of newspapers across the board.

It is tough to quantify how much losing the two main San Jose beat writers will impact coverage of the team (with news about both layoffs coming on the same day). Lost in a lot of the hype and hyperbole surrounding blogs, web 2.0, and "citizen reporting" is how much hard work goes into their reporting day in and day out.

The Chronicle is expected to scale back its coverage of the Sharks and the NHL, possibly to wire reports that are readily available in dozens of other locations. Letters can be sent to Sporting Green editor Glenn Schwartz at letterstogreen@sfchronicle.com, the editor at letters@sfchronicle.com, the San Francisco Chronicle's reader representative readerrep@sfchronicle.com, or via a feedback form. Chronicle EVP and Editor Phil Bronstein can be reached at pbronstein@sfchronicle.com.

It is too soon to tell how this will effect the Mercury News coverage of the Sharks, but it should remain in a prominent position as the South Bay's largest sports franchise. John Ryan of Morning Buzz and David Pollak have filed stories on the Sharks after the layoffs. The Mercury News Sports Editor, Rachel Wettergreen Wilner, can be reached at rwilner@mercurynews.com. The Mercury News Deputy Sports Editor, Bud Geracie, can be reached at bgeracie@mercurynews.com.

More information will be posted as it comes in.

[Update] This post last August detailed what was expected to be reduced NHL coverage in the Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times. The Washington Post did a complete 180, and it has moved into a position of leadership online (if not with its hockey coverage). The New York Times adapted on the fly and published several long personal interest stories, and several extensive reports about different issues facing the league instead of regular game reports. The Los Angeles Times was effected by default, as the Anaheim Ducks made a long playoff run to a Stanley Cup Championship.

[Update2] Interview with Toronto Star deputy sports editor Chris Young - Sharkspage.

[Q] General question, the newspaper industry has been going through a very turbulent time. What are your thoughts on where the newspaper business is at, and how it will affect coverage of the NHL? What are some of the things newspapers or sports departments are getting right?

[CY] The newspaper business is really at a crossroads. The physical newspaper model no longer applies, either in terms of people's day-to-day lives, it is still there, but less and less in terms of time given to it, or more importantly, as a business. So advertising is down, circulation has flatlined, and the concentration of newspaper ownership has become more pronounced. The sooner we become web brands instead of print brands, the better chance we will have of surviving. But adaptation is a hard go.

As far as the NHL, well, you have seen, read, and blogged on how coverage has been cut back at major U.S. papers. At the Star, hockey and the Leafs remain number 1, even as our space is cut back due to some of the factors I mentioned above. That has not changed. I often think that if the shrinkage continues, we will end up with a two-page section, and it would be all Leafs. That is the way it is here. Montreal is the same, as it is in probably every Canadian NHL city.

[Update3] 31 employees laid off from Mercury News staff - SJ Mercury News.

[Update4] Paper trail, Deep cuts at the Chronicle and the Mercury mean less journalism and accountability for the Bay Area - San Francisco Bay Guardian.

[Correction] Ross McKeon accepted a buyout, and was not laid off as earlier mentioned. Thanks to Steven Ovadia and Susan Slusser for the information. According to Jay Hipps of Soccer Silicon Valley, Dylan Hernandez will cover the Los Angeles Dodgers for the LA Times.

David Pollak san jose mercury news

[Update5] On sportsjournalists.com, David Pollak offers more information on the current situation at the Mercury News:

Here's the situation at the Merc.

For the past five years, the paper has had two of us covering the Sharks … Vic as the full-time beat writer, me spending about 50 percent of my time supplementing his coverage with features, notebooks, attempts at analysis. Frankly, I always thought I had the better job (playoff travel only, just a handful of gamers over the years).

Unfortunately, we lost several good reporters in all departments during this week's layoffs, Vic among them. Hockey is one of many areas where the paper is reducing its staffing and I'm the guy left standing.

The Sharks are now my full-time beat. We do plan to redefine our coverage approach, but... despite the speculation out there … we won't stop following the team on the road. Hope that helps clarify things.

Thanks for the update, my apologies if I contributed to any of the speculation. I have met David Pollak a number of times, and he has done an excellent job reporting on the Sharks in the past, and I am sure he will do so in the future. But to lose two reporters the caliber of Ross McKeon and Victor Chi given the current negative media climate, the impact is going to be felt for a long time.


Sharks lock up center Joe Thornton to 3-year, $21.6 million deal

Joe Thornton San Jose Sharks

The Sharks announced Sunday that former NHL MVP Joe Thornton signed a 3-year contract extention for $21.6 million, which will keep him in teal until 2011. "In addition to his play on the ice, Joe leads by example and has as much love for the game as anyone I have seen" GM Doug Wilson said of the 6-4, 235 pound center from London, Ontario.

Thornton followed a career year in 2005-06, one where he was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy and Art Ross Trophy, with his second straight 90+ assist season in 2006-07. Only two other players have accomplished that feat, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Joe Thornton also set San Jose franchise marks for assists [92] and points [112] in a season.

Acquired by the Sharks on November 30th, 2005 from Boston for Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart, and Wayne Primeau, Thornton has registered 206 points (42G, 164A) in 140 games. In 22 playoff games with the San Jose Sharks, Thornton posted 3 goals and 17 assists in two straight runs to the Western Conference Semifinals.

[Update] Sharks' Thornton signs on for another three years, extension keeps him in S.J. until 2011, Hannan to Colorado - SJ Mercury News.

"There's no question I was going to re-sign," Thornton said in a phone interview from his St. Thomas, Ontario, summer home. "It's a perfect fit for me. The ownership wants a winner, and we've got a great young team."

[Update2] Thornton Simply Wanted To Stay In SJ - SJsharks.com.

Thornton is a road roommate of Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau and he hopes the two can play together for several more seasons. A desire that is greater than seeing outside free agents coming in. Like Thornton was, Marleau is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

"I'm more concerned with our own players," said Thornton. "Patty is my roommate on the road and I hope there is something with Patty as well. Patty and I are both 28 and the pinnacle of our careers will be in the next four to five years."

"I talked with him two days ago," said Thornton. "He is optimistic. He wants to play with me and I want to play with him."


Chivas de Guadalajara tie Busan I'Park 1-1 in a San Jose international soccer friendly

Chivas de Guadalajara Busan I'Park San Jose
Chivas de Guadalajara fans San Jose

Mexican first division powerhouse Club Deportivo Guadalajara, aka Chivas (goats), traveled to San Jose for a exhibition with South Korean K-League team Busan I'Park Saturday night. The announced crowd of 12,002 fans at Spartan stadium was overwhelmingly fitted with red-and-white striped Chivas kits, and backed by no less than three Mariachi bands. Two trips around the stadium did not yield any South Korean faithful, although they may have been buried under a steady stream of confetti.

Busan, who finished in the bottom half of Group B play in the Korean League, came out pressing the action and trying to take advantage of their size on the small field. Busan unleashed a shot just over the crossbar 7:55 into the game that sent a gasp through the crowd. Even with a number of players called up to the Mexican National team for the Copa America tournament in Venezuela, CD Guadalajara is a club overflowing with talent and confidence. A sequence late in the first half saw a long cross bounce around dangerously inside the box. With Korean goalkeeper Chung Yoo Seok out of position, a Busan defender deflected the ball to the corner on a desperation play. Chivas sent the ball right back in front of the goal for a second quality scoring chance that ended just wide.

Sergio Santana put CD Guadalajara on the board by beating two Busan defenders with a move to his left, and then sliding the ball just inside the right post at the end of the first half. The loud bass drum and the thumping crowd in the end zone convinced the entire stadium to join in for a few minutes. Busan appeared to lull Chivas into complacency a little in the second half. When the opportunity presented itself, Chivas would jump on it and push the momentum forward, but Busan won its share of one-on-one battles and Park Kyu Seon tied the game at the 67th minute. CD Guadalajara's best chance to score the decisive goal came on a broken play in the final two minutes, but a rocket of a shot from in close was fired well above the crossbar and into the stands.

With 10 minutes left, the fiery endzone crowd exploded for what appeared to be no other reason than the game was winding down. Streamers sailed onto the field, large masses of confetti took 5 minutes to flutter to the ground, and blue flares trailed smoke to the west side of the stadium. Take a look at this photo of a father holding his child up to witness the spectacle. He/she has no chance. Pencil that baby in as a Chivas fan for the next 80 years.

A photo gallery from the game is available here, a short video of the Chivas fans celebrating behind the South goal is up on Youtube here.

Chivas empata con el Busan en el "Spartan Stadium" - chivascampeon.com.

[Update] The blog at Soccer Silicon Valley has been on top of all the Earthquakes and local soccer news. SSV details a San Jose Business Journal report that a soccer stadium in San Jose could host a women's team and possibly the headquarters of a fledgling women's soccer league, clarifies Mayor Chuck Reed's position on the stadium plan after Mercury News columnist Barry Witt used a month-old email for an Earthquakes hit piece, and posted a press release on the donation of 1,000 Chivas-Busan tickets to local non-profit organizations from SSV and the SJ Earthquakes.

[Update2] A young U.S. Men's national team held tight with the heavily favored Argentinian squad through 60 minues in opening Copa America play on Thursday. The Americans gave up 3 unanswered goals in the second half to lose 4-1. USsoccer.com posted a youtube highlight video from the loss, a game recap, and a photo gallery.

In surprising news via Instapundit, Venezuelan soccer fans shouted "freedom" (libertad) instead of what many expected would be a strong anti-American sentiment during the 4-1 win over the U.S. More videos from the stands are available from noticierodigital.com here.

Forget the wave, some soccer fans in Venezuela shout against Chavez - IHT.

Politics penetrated a South American soccer championship when thousands of Venezuelan soccer fans rose to their feet and loudly chanted "Freedom!" in a clear affront to President Hugo Chavez.

The chants — which included "This government is going to fall!" — began shortly into the second half of Thursday's match between the U.S. and Argentina in the western city of Maracaibo, a stronghold of opposition to Chavez. Chavez opponents are hoping the arrival of thousands of tourists for the Copa America tournament will draw attention to their protests against the president's refusal to renew the license of a popular opposition-aligned television channel.

"We want the world to know we're not all with Chavez," said Gabriel Gonzalez, a business student at the University of Zulia, who attended Thursday's match.

[Update3] For Chivas fans, a slice of Mexico here in San Jose - San Jose Mercury News.

It seemed that way to forward Sergio Santana, who scored in the 45th minute in front of an appreciative audience. "It's almost like being in Mexico," he said. "It was pure Chivas in the stands."

It's one reason the players enjoy coming to San Jose for these exhibitions that are meant to galvanize the local soccer base and eventually bring back Major League Soccer's Earthquakes.

Great column by Elliott Almond for the Merc, and corresponding multimedia gallery by Maria Avila. On Saturday, Mark Conley of the Mercury News profiled Jesus Padilla, who grew up in San Jose but now plays for CD Guadalajara, and his journey to earn a full time position in the lineup.

[Update4] Chivas de Guadalajara Tie Busan I'Park 1-1, Busan's Park Kyu Seon scores late to tie in international soccer friendly - OhmyNews Korea.

[Update5] Added to the blogroll to the right under sports, That's on Point. Very opinionated and informed analysis of American and International soccer.