Toronto defenseman Pavel Kubina denies accepting a trade to San Jose Sharks

David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail reports that 6-foot-4, 244 pound Maple Leafs defenseman Pavel Kubina denied agreeing to a trade to the San Jose Sharks before Monday's 5-0 win over the Ottawa Senators.

Shoalts quoted Kubina's agent Petr Svoboda, who said that he received a call from San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson Monday afternoon. Svoboda was not able to reach Kubina until he was en route to the game with Ottawa, and Kubina said that he needed time to think about the offer.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher recounted a different story to the media gathered for a trade deadline press conference on Tuesday. After trading Wade Belak, Chad Kilger and defenseman Hal Gill for a collection of draft picks, Fletcher railed against an unnamed Toronto player who allegedly agreed to waive his no-trade clause, changing his mind after the win over Ottawa. Refering to the future plans for the Maple Leafs this offseason, "I can assure the fans that this team will be different than it is right now," Fletcher said.

The Globe and Mail's Shoalts speculates that the trade for Pavel Kubina may have been for Sharks defenseman Kyle McLaren, who is sitting out today's Sharks game in Columbus with a sore knee. The TSN trade panel mentioned that Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberele and Los Angeles Kings defenseman Rob Blake also declined trades to the San Jose Sharks. Earlier this season, Ottawa Senators defenseman Wade Redden made waves when he refused to waive a no-trade clause in order to complete a trade to the Sharks.

Thanks to James Mirtle for the link to the Globe and Mail article.

[Update] Fletcher long way from done giving Leafs a retooled lineup, 'Come July 1 we will have cap clearance' - Toronto Star.

The "Frozen Five" – the five Leafs who refused to waive their no-trade clauses at yesterday's NHL trade deadline – are not necessarily in a worry-free situation when it comes to finishing their contracts.

Interim GM Cliff Fletcher squarely took aim at the five – Mats Sundin, Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe, Darcy Tucker and Pavel Kubina – when he said yesterday that the franchise will explore the expensive proposition of buying out some of those contracts.

"Absolutely ..." Fletcher said when asked about the buyouts in his post-deadline press conference. Fletcher has promised drastic changes to the roster for next season and stressed that in addition to the buyouts, those changes could come via trades that were explored but not consummated in the frantic 48 hours prior to the deadline.

[Update2] Sharks finally get their (defence)man - Eric Duhatschek for the Globe and Mail.

The Sharks, meanwhile, address a significant need. Campbell becomes, in effect, their No. 1 defenceman (he plays 25-plus minutes per night). A quartet of regulars on their blue line has three years or fewer of NHL experience (Christian Ehrhoff, Matthew Carle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Douglas Murray). Last year, they picked up Craig Rivet from Montreal at the deadline, but then lost Scott Hannan to the Colorado Avalanche as an unrestricted free agent.

A lot of comments were made on deadline day that Brian Campbell is the first true offensive defenseman the Sharks have had since Sandis Ozolinsh's original tenure in San Jose from 92-95. Ozolinsh, Andrei Zyuzin, Brad Stuart, Jeff Jillson, Christian Ehrhoff, Matt Carle... the Sharks have developed a number of blueliners with potential to contribute offense from the blueline, but none of them have become a true #1 like Rob Blake, Nicklas Lidstrom, or a Scott Niedermayer.

Max Giese: Winners and Losers of the Trade Deadline

San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson was active once again at the trade deadline this season, swinging one of the blockbuster trades of the day to land offensive defenseman Brian Campbell from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Steve Bernier and a first round pick in 2008.

The trade makes the Sharks a better team for the rest of this season. The lack of a true puck moving defenseman was evident, and Doug Wilson landed the best available power play quarterback on the market. Campbell is a dynamic skater, with exceptional vision of the ice while carrying the puck. He will immedietly create offense with the man advantage, and will make every player on this team a little more productive offensively. Similar to what Joe Thornton contributes from the center position, Campbell is that type of player on the blueline, a player who makes those around him better.

For the Sharks to walk away as true winners at the trade deadline, resigning Campbell will be crucial. He is an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Sharks payed a steep price to acquire Campbell, considering the long-term. Steve Bernier is a blossoming power forward who should thrive in the Sabre's offensive system, with a coach known to be good with young players. Bernier was challenged recently by Ron Wilson, but Buffalo's Lindey Ruff could spark Bernier's physical and goal scoring potential.

Trade Deadline Winners:

Dallas Stars: Co-General Managers Brett Hull and Les Jackson pulled off one of the biggest steals in NHL trade deadline history acquiring Brad Richards for spare parts. Richards is a proven playoff performer, often compared to Joe Sakic given the impact he has on his team. Richards can elevate his play when it matters most, and the trade gives Dallas a dynamic #1 center to build around for years. The Dallas Stars are now a Stanley Cup favorite with great goaltending, a dangerous offense, and a rock solid defense.

Atlanta Thrashers: Despite trading away one of the NHL's top players in Marian Hossa, Atlanta did exactly what they needed to do. They fortified their lineup for the future with young talent. The Thrashers development system was depleted, and they desperately needed to add blue chip prospects with a chance at contributing on an NHL level. For the Thrashers to acquire a first round selection in a deep draft was a huge success, and to get four impressive assets all with considerable upside for a free-agent to be, this makes the Thrash one of the winners at this year's trade deadline.

Washington Capitals: Thanks to a weak Eastern Conferance, and an even weaker Southeastern Division, the Capitals stand a legitimate chance at making the playoffs this year. General Manager George McPhee did an excellent job acquiring a veteran goaltender in Cristobal Huet, one who can challenge an aging Olaf Kolzig. Sergei Fedorov could sparkle with Alex Ovechkin if given the opportunity. Matt Cooke is a super-pest that can frustrate some of the game's top offensive talents into mediocrity.

Trade Deadline Losers:

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Tampa Bay Lightning had arguably the biggest player on the trading block this year, Brad Richards. General manager Jay Feaster managed a failing trade deadline grade by acquiring "depth" for one of the NHL's most spectacular offensive talents. Players like Brad Richards might come along once in a generation for a franchise. Players like Jeff Halpern and Jussi Jokinen add 3-4th line depth, possible secondary scoring, and shootout prowess. Feaster should have demanded a package similar to the one that Atlanta received for Marian Hossa, and started the rebuilding process early.

Montreal Canadians: Choosing to pass on Marian Hossa wasn't a bad idea considering how hefty the price tag was. That said, choosing to move proven veteran goaltender Cristobal Huet, right before a playoff stretch run was puzzling. Rookie goaltender Carey Price is arguably the top young goaltender in the world right now, but it was very risky for the Habs to bet on a Cam Ward-like performance from one of their youngest players. Halak has been very good in the AHL.

Phoenix Coyotes: Phoenix general manager Don Maloney owes his team an apology for trading key forward Frederik Sjostrom for goaltending prospect Al Montoya. The Coyotes are the a playoff hunt in the Western Conference. To trade one of your fastest, most energetic players for a prospect that will likely be nothing more than a #2 goaltender several years down the road is a baffling move.

[Update] Trade deadline: Winners and losers - Ross McKeon for Yahoo Sports.

5. San Jose Sharks – Grade: B.
GM Doug Wilson took care of two problems. He improved the power play and probably acquired a piece that will fit now and later in Brian Campbell from Buffalo. Campbell was emotional on Tuesday, and the Sharks have to hope he brings the right attitude to San Jose. Having ex-Sabres Mike Grier and Curtis Brown on board could help. Campbell’s skating and power-play ability will make him valuable to the Sharks for years to come if they can get him to sign an extension like Craig Rivet did after the Sharks acquired him at last year’s deadline. The loss of Steve Bernier is not difficult to overcome, especially because the team expects Ryane Clowe back shortly. Brian Boucher was signed to back up Evgeni Nabokov, and now 21-year-old Thomas Greiss can go back to playing and developing in the minors. Wilson found a home for the loyal and hard-working Rob Davison on Long Island. San Jose picked up two picks (both seventh-rounders) and dealt a first-rounder.

[Update2] Trade Deadline Winners - Barry Melrose video recap for ESPN.

[Update3] Winners and losers - Jim Kelley for Sportsnet.ca.

You could argue that the Buffalo Sabres also did well in dumping soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Campbell on the Sharks. That won't play in Buffalo where the fans think Sabres management has been largely inept in handling the salary cap and their budget. The fans aren't wrong, but that doesn't mean general manager Darcy Regier didn't make a decent deal in getting former first-round pick Steve Bernier and a first-rounder in the upcoming draft. That's decent value for a good but not great defenceman who still has a way to go in regards to not giving the puck away in key situations and isn't at all physical in his own end, but when you tack Campbell's name onto a list that includes lost players like Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, Jay McKee and Mike Grier (most of whom left for nothing in return), well, you have to wonder if there is a commitment to winning in Buffalo or just a commitment to keeping prices down, ticket sales up and revenue sharing checks coming in from other money-market teams.

Buffalo's locker room was unstable with regards to management's commitment before this happened, it can't have improved no matter how well Bernier plays. The Sabres certainly aren't any better on defence either.


Trade Deadline Day: Sharks trade Steve Bernier and 1st round pick for defenseman Brian Campbell, sign goaltender Brian Boucher, trade Rob Davison

Buffalo Sabres San Jose Sharks defenseman Brian Campbell
San Jose Sharks vs Buffalo Sabres ice hockey
San Jose Sharks goaltender Brian Boucher

The old refrain is that if you are born round, you are not going to die square. The San Jose Sharks have recast themselves this season as a methodical, defensively sound club. A few ticks behind the Dallas Stars for the top penalty kill (86%), and the third least goals allowed (151) combined with stellar goaltending by Evgeni Nabokov have positioned the team for a tight checking playoff run.

But the Sharks at the core are not a defense-first minded team. San Jose is a high pressure offense, automatic power play, very mobile defense, two centers down the middle large enough to be seen from the space shuttle. This season the Sharks have struggled to score goals, struggled on the power play, and struggled to break the puck out of their zone to create a quick transition attack.

Heading into the stretch run with only 20 games left, fans in San Jose should have been prepared for a big move by general manager Doug Wilson at the trade deadline. Wilson engineered the largest trade of 2005-06 for Joe Thornton. At the deadline last season, Wilson pulled the trigger on two of the biggest names available in Bill Guerin and Craig Rivet. This year Wilson acquired puck moving defenseman Brian Campbell and a 2008 7th round draft pick from the Buffalo Sabres for Steve Bernier and a 2008 1st rounder. Campbell scored 5 goals and 38 assists in 63 games played for the Sabres this season. TSN calls him the best power play quarterback available at the deadline, but adding Brian Campbell (the Buffalo Sabres captain in December) continues the Doug Wilson tradition of adding character to the lineup.

Two other moves were made at the deadline, goaltender Brian Boucher was signed to provide a veteran backup for Evgeni Nabokov. In 42 games with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL this season, Boucher registered a 23-16-1 record, .917SV%, 2.47GAA, with 4 shutouts. Boucher broke the record for consecutive shutouts with 5 for the Phoenix Coyotes in 2004, and is known for his ability to battle in net. Defenseman Rob Davison was traded to the New York Islanders for a 7th round 2008 draft pick.

The list of monster trades on deadline day is not a short one. Brad Richards to Dallas, and Marian Hossa to Pittsburgh provide more offense to teams already putting up good numbers. Adam Foote's trade to Colorado to play alongside the returning Peter Forsberg will give the 9th place Avalanche a solid chance to make the postseason.

No other team filled as big a hole as the San Jose Sharks on deadline day, and the Sharks filled two. In the short term, Brian Campbell will absorb large minutes and give Kyle McLaren a chance to rest a knee that has been giving him problems. Campbell will be expected to solidify the Sharks play in their own zone, which has been shaky at times, but he is also expected to resuscitate a lifeless power play that has suffered from a lack of creativity and lack of movement. 5-on-5, Campbell will be expected to turn the Sharks defense-first minded train around and get a quick transition attack moving in the other direction. The addition of Boucher is not a small one. Young goaltenders Dimitri Patzold and Thomas Greiss are solid talents, but they need more seasoning at the AHL level. Boucher can steal a game at the NHL level, and handle the load in case of an emergency.

A press release from the San Jose Sharks on the signing of Brian Campbell:


SAN JOSE – San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the team has acquired defenseman Brian Campbell and a seventh round selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for right wing Steve Bernier and a first round selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Campbell, a two-time NHL All-Star (2007-08, 2006-07) is tied for seventh among all NHL defensemen in scoring with 43 points (five goals, 38 assists) in 63 games and was fourth overall on the Sabres in scoring. He was named Buffalo’s captain for the month of December.

Originally selected by Buffalo in the sixth round (156th overall) in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Campbell, 28, has led all Sabres defensemen in scoring for the last two seasons. In addition, he finished as a plus-28 in 2006-07. In 391 NHL games, all with Buffalo, Campbell has posted 176 points (32 goals, 144 assists) and 113 penalty minutes. In 34 Stanley Cup Playoff games, Campbell has posted 13 points (three goals, 10 assists).

"Brian's a guy that gets the puck out of your zone quick," said Wilson. "He's a quarterback on the power play and he will compliment our group really well." Campbell had a stellar career with the Ottawa 67's in the Ontario Hockey League, including winning a Memorial Cup in 1998-99, along with being named the OHL's Most Outstanding Player and leading all OHL defensemen with 87 points (12 goals, 75 assists).

Bernier has posted 23 points (13 goals, 10 assists) in 59 games this season with the Sharks. He was originally drafted by San Jose in the first round (16th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. In 159 NHL games with San Jose, Bernier posted 81 points (42 goals, 39 assists) and 126 penalty minutes. "We wish Steve the best," Wilson added. "He's worked really hard for us and we think he will go on and have a tremendous career."

A few quotes from Brian Campbell's conference call with the media Tuesday after being traded to the San Jose Sharks:

[Q] Considering that the Eastern Conference and Western Conference don't see each other much, is it a bit of an unknown for you going to a Western Conference team?

[BC] Yes, definitely. I don't know a whole lot about them, especially the last 3 years with the schedule. I am sure it is going to take a little bit of time to get used to it, but you have to learn pretty quick.

[Q] Do you think it will take time to get adjusted to a new team, or do you think that will happen the first time you step out there?

[BC] Hopefully instantly. For a defenseman it is probably easier than it would be for a forward would be my guess. You are getting used to one guy, instead of a couple of guys on your line. I need to go back, get the puck, and move it up ice as quick as possible. I feel comfortable that I will be able to fit in pretty quick.

[Q] I know you want to focus on hockey, but the question in San Jose is do you think you will sign with the Sharks before coming a free agent on July 1st, or are you determined to test the free agency waters?

[BC] I think I always listen to anything that comes forward, but I would not mind just playing hockey for awhile. This year in Buffalo, I have been talking with them and my agent since training camp, so it has dragged on my a bit as of late. It is just something I would like to get away from for now, and worry about playing hockey. I think I am going to have enough on my plate coming up here. Obviously I would like to see San Jose, and see how it fits into what I do. And I think I can make adjustments as we go.

[Q] I wanted to ask you about the Ottawa 67s, and about Doug Wilson-Brian Kilrea connection, how well do you know him?

[BC] I think it is going to be really good. The first year I met him was probably my second or third year in juniors, he came out to a practice with us, and worked especially with the defense. He tought us a lot. I definitely remember that day. any time you get a player of his stature to come out and work with you, you listen. I bumped into him at the Allstar Game. We were talking about Ottawa, and how everything is going there. He is a gentleman, and I look forward to talking to him more, and find out about them making a big commitment to me. I want to reward him for that.

[Q] What was this morning like?

[BC] I slept pretty good last night, and went to practice today. Everything was pretty normal. We stretched, and then Lindy called me and told me to come with him. We walked into his room, and he had his arm around me. I said, "It's happened, hasn't it?", and I asked the question 3 or 4 times. He didn't say a word, and then he finally said "ya". For me going in there, boom, thats when it really hit home. I looked at him as a coach, but also as a friend. He and Darcy walked in there, and they told me. I would have liked to have said more, and thanked them, but the words did not come out too easy for me. They were obviously upset. I have worked hard for them, and they have put a lot of sacrifice into me and taught me a lot. It wasn't fun, it wasn't fun for any one of us. Darcy said "I hate this". He said it was a business, and that he hates this part of it. It was very true for all of us. The three of us just kind of sat there and stared, and did not say a whole lot. Because we did want to say it was going to end.

[Q] How were you able to develop more of the offensive aspects of your game?

[BC] I don't think it was ever the offensive side that was hard for me, it was defensively where I needed to work at. But during the lockout I went and played for Finland. I played a lot of minutes over there, a lot of games. The only other thing to do there was to stay in the hotel room, so I spent a lot of time on the ice, hung out as long as possible. I think I kind of enjoyed that. I came back to Buffalo and was a healthy scratch for 3 games at the start of the year. It was an opportunity that they gave me, a couple of injuries happened and I was put in different areas where I had a chance to succeed. I think it is huge for any player coming up, to get an opportunity to play and then to succeed. My confidence rose from there. Now I feel like I am a confident hockey player. I can really support, and really help out a team.

[Q] When you guys came into San Jose earlier in the year, and beat them pretty bad 7-1, why did you only have 2 assists? Do you have any thoughts about HP Pavilion?

[BC] Not too much, I have not played there very much. I think I just remember watching the playoff series against Detroit, and seeing how loud that building can get. Now I am excited for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. There is no better situation than that, and I have had that situation the last couple of years. I need to get over that last little hump there.

San Jose Sharks EVP and General Manager Doug Wilson's Tuesday media conference call transcript:

[Q] Can you talk about getting Campbell, and why you made him your top priority?

[DW] Well there are a couple of players we have been looking at for a long period of time this year. The puck moving defenseman who can help out on our power play. There are not going to be too many available with no trade clauses, and players resigning with their original teams. Brian is a player we are very familiar with. We saw how things were playing out, or potentially playing out. You identify things you want, and then you go out and get it. We have had pretty extensive conversations with Buffalo the last little while, and I think it ended up being being in a good place for it to happen.

[Q] You mentioned the no-trade, what are your thoughts on how prominently the no-trade clauses factored in to the deadline day this year?

[DW] It certainly had an impact because we discussed players potentially making a trade, but the player certainly has a right to it. When a player receives a no-trade clause in a contract, there are several ramifications that come from it. One of them is the players made a choice, and they are entitled to stick to that choice. You think there are X amount of players available, but several of them made the choice to stay on their team. It shortened the market a little bit.

[Q] What are the chances of signing Campbell compared to signing Craig Rivet last year? About the same?

[DW] Our only focus right now is to get him here, and to get him integrated on our team. That is the approach we took to Craig, and that is the approach we will take with anybody. We think about the rest down the road. This is a deal that we would have done either way to improve our hockey team. We always say we have an eye on the present and an eye on the future, but right now we are focused on the present. We need to play to the highest level we are capable of, because lately we haven't, and he will certainly help us in many areas.

[Q] Did you think you might have to give up a defenseman to get a defenseman?

[DW] You do. Ideally, we are very fortunate that our scouting staff has given us the ability to replenish with many young forwards. With the depth we have, and with Ryane Clowe coming back in the next few weeks, Torrey Mitchell has played well, Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi... we had a bit of a surplus up front. We gave up a very good hockey player in Steve Bernier, and a good pick. But we were able to discuss many trades from a position of strength.

[Q] Did you view Campbell as a missing piece guy, that one guy that could get you over the top?

[BC] We think we needed that component. We think we have known that for awhile. We were pretty open and honest with teams we were talking with, that was what we were looking for. We would pay full and fair value, and we did that. We were pretty upfront about what we were trying to accomplish. That makes it easier for people to matchmake, and for a deal to come together.

[Q] Can you take us through how long the discussions were going on with Buffalo?

[DW] With all due respect to any team, those conversations are held in confidence. I had a conversation with Darcy awhile ago about what his plans were, and I had discussions with many other NHL GM's. He knew where we stood, and he knew we had great interest in this player. It was really since the GM meeting that this advanced pretty quickly. But he had some decisions to make in negotiating with Brian, so I had to wait until they went through that phase. It was actually the last couple of days, and mostly last night that the discussions were brought to a close.

[Q] So it wasn't the GM meetings when this initially popped up?

[DW] I think it was actually before that. We needed to do our research. Darcy has known for quite awhile what we were looking for. I am sure it didn't shock him to learn how serious we were.

[Q] Were you close to anything else?

[DW] We explored every area, but you never know if this was the thing that was going to come together. I think there were a lot of pursuers in this one. There was the one player signed in Tampa yesterday (Boyle), so that heated things up a little more. We had a lot of conversations, probably as many as we ever had. You have a Plan A, a Plan B, and a Plan C, but we did a couple of other things. We wanted to shore up our goaltending. So that was going on at the same time. You never know what is going to come out of left field, but this was our main focus.

[Q] Generally, how did the Western Conference teams do? Was it a domino effect?

[DW] I think we all acted indepedantly. I think its tougher when it comes down to a compressed time frame like this. When you do something a month ago, or a few weeks ago, it gives you time to react. But you have to have your own plan mapped out, and you do what is right for your team. And then every thing tries to put their price tag on it, keeping an eye on their future. You are concious of what other teams have done, but you can't pick who your opponents will be, you have to build your own team. I think that's pretty much what most teams did.

[Q] You opted to get a goalie with NHL experience to help Evgeni?

[DW] Two things, Boucher has played over 20 playoff games, and he has been around the NHL and had success. And you also want some of your own guys playing games. We are very pleased with our goaltending, and it is something that we knew we were going to do something at some point but it had to be the right time and place. You want your guys to grow and experience the NHL. When you add a player at this time of the year, they have played a few games. They have been around the guys in practice. Now they can go down to Worcester and play a few games there... you don't get better by sitting.

[Q] Did any of the trades today jump out at you as unexpected?

[DW] Not really. We talked to every GM, on a weekly or monthly basis. You have to understand what teams are looking for. With the parity in the league and the cap system, you have to look at each team and try to view them as they view themselves, and try to find what might be a match. Every team goes through that process. We know each other pretty well, and short of a recent injury you know what they are looking for. So nothing is really going to be a surprise.

[Q] What is your rationale about going after a rental player?

[DW] I am not sure we view anyone as a rental player. We go after players who make our team better, and then if it makes sense we go after them long term... Our #1 priority is to make this a place players want to play. When a player gets here, you have to make it a place they can win. Hopefully you can get an environment where you get great fans. I think that is really the basic foundation of this system. If players want to be here, and all the criteria they are looking for is answered, it is a lot easier 1) to get them to come here, and 2) to get them to stay.

[Q] Will the trade today send a message to the team?

[DW] I think that we are trying to do what we can to win. You have to back that up, if you have an opportunity to do that you have to do it. We have talked about this, and we were pretty open with what our needs were. I think everybody identified it. If we had not backed that up, I am not sure if that neccessarily would have been a good thing. We were willing to pay, and give up what we had to in order to do it. We are demanding a lot of each other. We think we are capable of being a really good hockey team. There is a lot of room for improvement the last 20 games, and we think we increased our chances of being successful. Hopefully everybody responds to that.

[Update] Sharks acquire Sabres defenseman Campbell - David Pollak for the San Jose Mercury News.

Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson pulled off one of the biggest deals at the NHL trade deadline Tuesday by acquiring Campbell to be the offensive-minded, power-play quarterback San Jose has coveted for its blue line. In return for Campbell and a seventh-round draft pick, Buffalo got right wing Steve Bernier and the Sharks' first-round pick this summer.

More trade deadline day notes from David Pollak's Working the Corners blog. He reports that Brain Campbell's defensive partner today against Columbus will be Craig Rivet.

[Update2] Campbell ships out; Sabres get winger, pick in trade with Sharks - Buffalo News.

The Sharks believe they can win the Stanley Cup. Campbell, who spent eight seasons with the Sabres, has developed into one of the NHL’s more potent offensive defensemen. San Jose needed more scoring in order to contend for the title, and it likely found it...

A change of scenery and an increase in ice time should help that. Plus, Bernier is eager to show he's worthy of trading places with an elite player. "Campbell is pretty much the best defenseman in the league, from my point of view," Bernier said on a conference call. "It's going to be tough. I'm young right now. I've got a lot of growing to do to become a good player. I'm happy to do it with the Sabres. I'm going to work hard and try to be as good as possible to make sure that trade is going to be a good trade for the Sabres."

[Update3] Which deadline deals will have most impact? - Scott Burnside for ESPN.

[Update4] More notes: Anaheim Ducks general manager Brian Burke on TSN's deadline day show, "Not sure it is a great strategy to go on TSN and tell other guys exactly what kind of guy you are looking for". On San Jose, "there is no question they got better". Former Islanders GM Mike Milbury said that Buffalo, "took away a core piece of their team, biggest losers of the day". There was also mention that Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Pavel Kubina agreed to waive his no-trade clause in order for a trade to be made with the San Jose Sharks, only to have Kubina turn down the deal after a 5-0 win Monday over the Ottawa Senators. New Toronto GM Cliff Fletcher went absolutely ballistic in a post-trade deadline news conference, and lashed out at his own players and former GM John Ferguson. Ferguson was a Trade Deadline Day analyst for TSN, and he somewhat downplayed the comments made by Fletcher.

Earlier this season there were reports that Ottawa Senators defenseman Wade Redden turned down a trade to the San Jose Sharks, and a short while back San Jose was one of the 3 finalists in the Scott Niedermayer sweepstakes that resulted in a Stanley Cup Championship for the Anaheim Ducks. One note about the acquisition of Craig Rivet at the deadline last year, he instantly provided stability and leadership on the blueline but he was not fully recovered from pneumonia that plagued him earlier in the year with Montreal. This year healthy he is almost a full step quicker, and much more mobile on the power play. There is a reason the hockey staff is paid the big dollars, and their decision to let former #1 Scott Hannan leave to Colorado turns out to be a wise one in retrospect.

Small bone to pick with ESPN analyst Barry Melrose's winners/losers video recap of the trade deadline moves. He of the invincible mullet says that the acquisition of Campbell "drastically changes their team. San Jose has a defenseman who can join the rush, a guy who can run the power play, a guy who plays a ton of minutes and a guy who is pretty good defensively." High praise indeed, but Melrose goes on to say the Sharks added a great skater, "to a defense that is not a great skating defense". That has been the baffling problem with the Sharks defense this year, they are a very good skating defense. Christian Ehrhoff can take it end-to-end when the Sharks are struggling, and former Hobey Baker winner Matt Carle is a fluid skater with a quick stride when he skates with confidence. Sandis Ozolinsh adds the "O-****" factor whenever he plays the puck, but he still has the wheels and the selfishness needed to jump into the play and fire shots on goal, something the Sharks desperately need. The aforementioned Rivet has also quickly adapted his game to the West Coast style. The Sharks defense is a very quick and mobile one, it has just struggled with hot and cold stretches, much more cold than hot in the last month of play.

[Update5] Kubina's Last Stand costs Leafs, pulls out of trade sources say - Toronto Sun.

As the NHL's 3 p.m. trade deadline approached yesterday, the Maple Leafs' swank beach-front hotel was pelted by driving rains and howling winds while patrons inside were informed of tornado warnings in the area. If the Leafs think that ugly storm was bad, it might very well pale in comparison to the one that awaits Pavel Kubina upon his arrival back in Toronto at the conclusion of this four-game trip.

Any public bitterness that had been brewing the past week toward captain Mats Sundin for not waiving his no-trade clause could now shift to Kubina, who very well may have been a San Jose Shark today, according to sources.

Kubina is believed to be the player who agreed to waive his no-trade clause on Monday only to allegedly change his mind after the Leafs' 5-0 thrashing of the Ottawa Senators that same night.

The Toronto front office and the Toronto media have set their sites on Kubina, he may very well wish he was a Shark if the Maple Leafs falter down the stretch. He did have former Shark Vesa Toskala to consult about a possible trade. Toskala would have told him it is a much more laid back atmosphere to play in than the media fishbowl in Toronto. Many players would not want to leave the 24-hour rockstar limelight that exists in Toronto, and you can not fault a player for exercising a no-trade clause if he has earned the right to be given one.

Interview with Tour of California and cycling photographer Ken Conley

Bixby Bridge - (c) Ken Conley

Cycling photographer and blogger Ken Conley answered a few questions about the 2008 Tour of California, and what it was like to cover each leg of the 7-stage race and prologue from Palo Alto to Pasadena.

[Q] Third Amgen Tour of California in the books, with the inclement weather, the addition of the Mount Hamilton climb to Stage 3, and the 7+ hour rainsoaked Seaside to San Luis Obispo stage, how much did the Tour challenge the field this year?

[KC] I think the Tour of California did more damage that you'd like to see with an early season race. It always rains in February in California, so this was bound to happen sometime. The big challenge seemed to be the onset of a stomach virus coupled with the weather, rather than any particular course. Mt. Hamilton was a nice addition, but it didn't change the result much from last year.

[Q] What are your thoughts on Levi Leipheimer's second straight Tour of California championship, and what was the biggest individual or team surprise you witnessed this year?

[KC] The Tour of California is Levi's race and races generally go to riders with the strongest motivation. You see similar extraordinary performances from riders like Jackson Stewart, Steven Cozza, and Ben Jacques-Maynes, who are also performing for their home crowds.

BMC and Slipstream were both surprises. BMC seems to be last year's Slipstream, and Slipstream is last year's CSC. CSC is still CSC.

The biggest surprise was probably Dominique Rollin. I should have predicted more from someone whom I watched take third in the Tour of Missouri, but to see a rider outdo George Hincapie on such a tough stage and also keep the green jersey to the end is impressive. He singlehandedly made the Tour of California a success for Toyota-United, which had seemingly lost its green jersey hope with Ivan Dominguez's departure. Hincapie single-handedly rescued the Tour of California for High Road, but that was not a surprise.

[Q] You traveled and posted notes and photos from each of the 7 stages and the race prologue in Palo Alto, what were the logistics involved your covering the Tour? Which was the most difficult stage to follow, and which photograph worked the best or did not work out?

[KC] I did the entire race following by car. I skipped stage starts if I felt that I couldn't make it to an interesting landmark; there are also only so many starts that you need to do. The biggest logistical difficulty is parking at the stage finish, but you often get lucky.

Mt Hamilton was the hardest to cover. It's such a long descent that you risk missing the stage finish, even with Sierra Road right after. Stage 1 might have been harder had I attempted to get out to Point Reyes.

I'll have to let others say which photograph worked the least -- you often get too emotionally attached to a photo you spend 3+ hours waiting in the rain to snap. In general, I've published a photo from every stop that I made, with the exception of a stop in Carpinteria after the Santa Barbara start. That stop was a bit of a lark as it's neither scenic nor important -- it just happens to be 1 mile off the highway.

As for screwups:

* There was one more framing of Bixby Bridge I was hoping to squeeze off but was too cold to remember. I shot it well enough as a 1-pager but I was hoping to shoot it for a 2-pager as well.

* I bumped the focus on one of my Mt. Hamilton shots, so that can't be published large.

* The peloton was far more bunch together than I had anticipated on the Millcreek descent, so I am not as happy with this photo as I could have been:

[Q] Did you scout and find shooting positions on your own or with part of the contigent traveling in media vans? How did it work out, and what would you change or keep the same to follow the Tour next year?

[KC] I talked with some people, but for the most part the points of interest I chose were obvious: KOMs, landmarks, etc... You get there about 2 hours before the race, walk up and down a bit, and choose your angle. There is no media van for photographers, just motorcycles.

[Q] Your photos have appeared in Road Bike Magazine and Velo News, where can fans see your photos from the 2008 Tour of California? And will you have photos for sale for editorial use by the media, or for the public to buy prints?

[KC] Probably Road Bike Action, but I don't count my eggs before their hatched. Definitely not VeloNews as they are already paying for Graham Watson and Casey Gibson. You have to get a pretty unique shot to sell and there were none of those for me this time. Any of my photos are available for editorial use by the media.

I will be making photos available for prints, though I am still judging which photos people are interested in. If someone asks for me to make a print of something, I will. I'm also toying with the idea of putting together a small book that people can buy, though that's more risky.

[Q] If there was one thing you could change about the course of the Tour of California for 2009, what would you change?

[KC] Mountain top finish. And if I had a second change: team time trial.

Ken Conley focuses primarily on cycling photography in California and at professional events, and his photos can be found at kwc.org/cycling/photos. An archive of his 2008 Tour of California coverage can be found here, his 2007 Tour of California coverage here (scroll down), and his 2006 coverage of the race won by Floyd Landis is available here.

Ken has also photographed or blogged about many other races including the San Francisco Grand Prix and Sea Otter Classic in California, the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta a Espana, the Tour de Georgia, and the Tour of Missouri.

[Update] More coverage of the Tour of California is available from Velo News, Cycling News, cyclelicio.us, steephill.tv, and the official Amgen Tour of California website.


Andy Roddick powers to 2008 SAP Open title, but there is no worm celebration

Andy Roddick 2008 SAP Open tennis tournament champion
Andy Roddick 2008 SAP Open tennis tournament champion
Andy Roddick 2008 SAP Open tennis tournament champion

Andy Roddick overcame several hurdles this week en route to his third SAP Open tournament championship. The #6 ranked American needed 3 sets and a game deciding tiebreak to advance past 6-foot-7 Australian left hander Chris Guccione in his opening match. On Thursday, Roddick faced rising 18-year old Japanese phenom Kei Nishikori. The tone of the baseline slugfest changed after an exchange of volleys at the net. Nishikori drilled a shot at the body, but Roddick got a racquet on the ball and won the point. Roddick barked at Nishikori after the point, later exalting to the audience "you better come up with mad balls if you want to beat me". No mad balls from Nishikori, Roddick won with a tighter game 6-2, 6-4.

A rematch of the 2004 SAP Open finals with Mardy Fish awaited Roddick for his third match. After holding off a set point and winning the first set tiebreak 8-6, Roddick self destructed and dropped the second set 1-6. He was called for a code violation by umpire Norm Chryst for hitting a ball into the seats in frustration after Fish broke serve. Roddick may have still been upset by the the lack of a similar call against Nishikori one day earlier, repeatedly claiming a ball Nishikori launched over his head and onto the court should have been called a double fault. After the code violation in his match with Fish, Roddick chastised umpire Chryst according to the SF Chronicle "C'mon, Norm... There was zero anger in that whatsoever. That was the weakest (warning) I ever received in my life. I wasn't even angry. I think you're just bored." Roddick rebounded in the third, registering the only break of the set to earn a 7-6, 1-6, 7-5 win.

Roddick's semifinal match against 56th-ranked Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez was mild in comparison to his earlier competition. The Canadian Press termed the 7-6, 6-1 win "drama free". Roddick's power on the the serve and with groundstrokes was too much for Garcia-Lopez. He finished with 16 aces, his highest total of the tournament (9-7-14-16-13).

After winning back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005, Roddick overpowered a game Radek Stepanek in the 2008 Final 6-4, 7-5 to capture the SAP Open hat trick. Stepanek came into the match on a California roll, winning 9 matches in a row dating back to the Countrywide Classic tournament last summer in Los Angeles. The colorful Czech is a fan favorite on the court (his "worm" victory dance garnering a lot of applause), but off the court Tennis Magazine reports that after splitting with former fiance Martina Hingis he recently filed for a marriage license with Czech tennis star Nicole Vaidisova. Stepanek kept the drama train rolling walking onto the court at HP Pavilion for the finals in a #19 Joe Thornton jersey, instantly splitting the crowds loyalties.

The match played pretty much to form, with the 31st ranked Stepanek trying to mix it up but failing to throw Roddick off his game. Roddick broke Stepanek's opening service game, and never looked back. Roddick tried to match Stepanek's showmanship after clinching the title with what looked like a Michael Jackson leg kick, but fans wanted the worm.

After the match, Roddick was asked if defeated Roger Federer or winning another major tournament was one of his goals. "My biggest goal is to win Wimbledon. I had four major goals, and I reached three of them (a No. 1 ranking, a U.S. Open title, a Davis Cup title), so that's the one that would be on top of my list." Roddick told the media. The SAP Open tournament win was Roddick's 24th career singles title, and it should put him in a position to make a run at the ATP's top 5 rankings.

2008 SAP Open Tournament History:

Attending 10 out of the last 12 tennis tournaments in San Jose, I was a little shocked to find out about the long 120 year history of the SAP Open this year. The SAP Open is the second oldest tennis tournament held in the United States.

Originally held in 1889 as the Pacific Coast Tennis Championships at the Old Del Monte Lodge in Monterey, W.H. Taylor Jr won the first 4 amateur-only tournaments. The tournament moved from the defunct Hotel Rafael in San Rafael, to the Berkeley Tennis Club or California Tennis Club in San Francisco. Sharkspage favorite Stan Smith won the last two amateur titles in 1968 and 1969, and joined the esteemed ranks of Fred Stolle, Barry MacKay, Donald Budge and 10-time amateur champion William Johnston. The tournament became a professional event, and changed its name to the Redwood Bank International from 1970-72. Arthur Ashe won the inugural Redwood Bank International "open title in 1970 at the Berkeley Tennis Club, followed by Rod Laver in 1971, and Jimmy Connors in 1972. In 1973 the tournament renamed itself after a sponsor to the "Fireman's Fund International", Roy Emereson took home the title. The venue was moved from the Round Hill Country Club to San Francisco's Cow Palace due to increased fan interest.

Transamerica became a title sponsor in 1977, and the tournament became the TransAmerica Open. Butch Walts became the first Transamerica Open champion, followed by back-to-back wins from John McEnroe. McEnroe finished with singles championships in 1978, 79, 82, 84, 86, and doubles championships with Peter Fleming from 1978-81, with Mark Woodforde in 1988, and Jonas Bjorkman in 2006.

Volvo took over sponsorship in 1989, and for 5 years the tournament became the Volvo Tennis/San Francisco tournament. The tournament briefly moved to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in what would have been an interesting venue to watch tennis, before moving to 15 straight years at San Jose's HP Pavilion. Sybase came into the fold as a sponsor in 1995, renaming the tournament the Sybase Open. Siebel Systems became a title sponsor from 2002-04, and SAP is scheduled as the tournament's title sponsor from 2005-2009. In the 39 years as a professional event, the SAP Open can boast of Roscoe Tanner, John McEnroe, Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg, Michael Chang, Brad Gilbert, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Mark Philippoussis, Lleyton Hewitt, and Andy Roddick as former singles champions. Tournament director Bill Rapp, in his 26th year with the tournament, 8 as tournament director, is well known for his sense of humor and dedication to promoting tennis locally.

2008 SAP Open media coverage:

The SAP Open media coverage started out a bit on the wrong foot this year in my opinion. Ann Killion's article in the San Jose Mercury News chastised Andy Roddick for not being able to get past Roger Federer, speculating that America's best possible hope at Grand Slam titles may be looking at the better part of his career in the rear view mirror. After James Blake, Killion was not impressed with a lot of the American talent on the ATP horizon.

It may be a different tact, but I looked at the 2008 SAP Open as a celebration of American tennis, and an excellent opportunity to get a look at a big part of this country's tennis future. The 2007 U.S. Davis Cup Champion team (Roddick, Blake, Bob and Mike Bryan) were on hand along with the Davis Cup trophy, the greatest American tennis player of all-time, Pete Sampras, played an exhibition match against Tommy Haas and spoke very candidly with the media afterwards about the state of the game, and 12 of the top 20 American tennis players (6-Roddick, 9-Blake, 53-Querrey, 77-Fish, 100-Young, 104-Reynolds, 106-Isner, 117-Kendrick, 125-Odesnik, 138-Ginepri, 159-Warburg, 173-Levine) were in the draw after 2 withdrawls (73-Spadea, 130-Russell). Former 38-year Stanford tennis coach Dick Gould also provided a link to the local college tennis dynasty as a color commentator along with Leif Shiras for the Fox Sports television broadcast. You want a barometer to measure the state of American tennis? The Sap Open was where you should have been last week.

Nice to see U.S. Davis Cup coach Patrick McEnroe has a blog, but he wrote an interesting article for this month's Tennis Week. In "A Lesson in team-work", McEnroe described the enthusiastic fan response in Portland for the U.S. team's Davis Cup win, he mentioned Roddick-Blake and the Bryan brothers inviting practice partners Mardy Fish and Robert Ginepri to watch the finals in person, and noted that Andy Roddick has practiced with younger American players such as Donald Young and Sam Querry, and Mardy Fish and James Blake have trained with Isner, Querrey, Young, and Ryan Sweeting. Instead of an every man for themself philosophy that may be evident on the ATP Tour, the Americans are fostering a tradition to grow the game and support their country from within.

Tennis Week has more from the SAP Open online here, here and here.

Tennis Magazine had very little in the form of a SAP Open preview in its March 2008 issue, but online Kamakshi Tandon was blogging for the venerable tennis publication. Tandon blogs about how one would best annoy Andy Roddick, plays six degrees of Martina Hingis with Radek Stepanek, covers the Kei Nishikori media circus (note that several of those in attendance were from Bay Area Japanese media as well as from Japan), reports that Sam Querrey was the first American to exit the SAP Open, and details comments made by Pete Sampras in the post-exhibition press conference.

Roddick overpowers Stepanek for San Jose title - Tennis Magazine.

The San Jose Mercury News posted an audio slideshow of Andy Roddick's SAP Open Finals win over Radek Stepanek here. I would mention the photographer, but the video is not loading for me.

Bryan brothers enjoy their doubles life - San Jose Mercury News.

East Bay based magazine Inside Tennis was well represented at the San Jose tournament. The Inside Tennis crib sheet notes that #6 Andy Roddick "Got it done with team colors on his back, but he's only won 3 titles in last 2 years and is miles behind Federer." Make that four. Inside Tennis also talks to 19 people involved with the game about The Changing State of American Tennis. Looking forward to the SAP Open coverage in the next issue.

I have been watching a lot of the Tennis Channel the last few days, but there has been almost no mention of the SAP tournament. Online, they have little more than an AP recap here. They should have been all over this, and stopped by and posted reports from Stanford, Cal, Santa Clara and SJSU while they are at it. Post a comment on that article and tell the Tennis Channel your thoughts.

The official ATPtennis.com website published features on Donald Young, Radek Stepanek and Andy Roddick, and recapped Roddick's SAP Open Finals win.

[Update] 13 aces win it for Roddick, Sharks' jersey can't help Stepanek in final match - SF Chronicle.

Radek Stepanek is part showman, part tennis player. So perhaps it wasn't shocking that he walked on the court for his SAP Open final against Andy Roddick wearing a Sharks jersey.

What better way to get the San Jose crowd on his side than covering his tennis outfit with Joe Thornton's No. 19? Problem is, Stepanek did Sunday what the Sharks have done often at HP Pavilion this season - he lost.

Ouch. Morning Buzz of the San Jose Mercury News also cracked on Patrick Marleau when mentioning Stepanek's #19 Joe Thornton jersey, saying that fans would have boo'd him out of the building for coming out in a #12. No humor, just a straight cheap shot. That entry deserves a double fault.

[Update2] The vanishing American star player, Roddick, one of few ranked U.S. men, blames lack of drive - SF Chronicle.

Roddick is the last American who's active on tour to win a Grand Slam singles title, and that was the U.S. Open back in 2003. The only American with more than one major title who'll play in San Jose this week is Pete Sampras, who's facing Germany's Tommy Haas in a Monday exhibition. Sampras has been retired six years.

Offwing's Eric McErlain interviewed John Isner during his run to the semifinals at last year's Legg Mason Tennis Classic.


Tour of California - Stage 3 climbs San Jose's Sierra Road

Tour of California Sierra Road cycling hill climb San Jose
Sharkspage Bighair Supergan
Tour of California Sierra Road San Jose

Wednesday a NHL Stanley Cup Playoff jersey from Versus arrived in the mail. After borrowing a giant American flag, I decided to make the trek up Sierra Road and offer a little encouragement to the Tour of California cyclists on what was initially thought to be the most difficult stage of the race. The 102.7 mile course added three category 4 climbs en route to the 4000+ foot summit at Mount Hamilton before dropping down to sea level to face the 9-10% grades on East San Jose's Sierra Road. A steady downpour early in the morning gave way to overcast skies and perfect whether to watch the Tour pass through San Jose.

Defending Tour of California champion and Team Astana rider Levi Leipheimer took the yellow jersey race lead with a second place finish on Stage 3. Leipheimer broke with Rabobank's Robert Gesink on Sierra Road and built up enough of a gap to get a lead on Fabian Cancellara. Cancellara took over the race lead on the course after leader Tyler Farrar withdrew from the race.

Fans were 2-3 deep for the initial stretches up Sierra Road, but thinned out as the elevation increased. The road is so steep that walking at an average speed you could keep pace with many of the cyclists climbing up to the King of the Mountain mark at the summit. I set up at one of the steepest stretches of road, and ran alongside leaders Leipheimer and Gesink, and again with the peloton for 200+ yards. A quick walk back down to Piedmont made a second view of the race possible as they circled around and headed towards downtown San Jose for the stage finish.

Fans were out in force on the side streets. Wearing a Versus jersey, many came up and complemented their Tour of California coverage, and a handful complained it was not long enough. A number of fans yelled out "Go Sharks", but there were also fans of the Ducks, Kings, Montreal Canadians, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, and Colorado Avalanche out on the course. Unfortunately, there were also a half dozen vocal Detroit Red Wings fans (including one Tour of California cyclist, and someone from the Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast team car).

You can watch the final days of the Tour of California live on Versus, or also online via the excellent Adobe Tourtracker on the official site. The Tour Tracker has two race video streams, GPS tracking allowing you to follow the riders on a map, and text updates from the race. A live video race feed is also available on cycling.tv, with PPV-only access after the race.

Photos from this the post were taken by Bighairsuperfan.com, who can be seen running alongside the cyclists at various points along each stage. Bighair is a Northern California native and an avid cycling aficionado, but I could not pin down a prediction from him for the overall winner. There are many more photos available on his website.

[Update] TourTracker: Follow the 2008 Tour of California Online - Wired.com.

[Update2] Team Astana's Levi Leipheimer Assumes the Amgen Leader Jersey after Stage three of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California, Rabobank's Robert Gesink Wins Stage 3 As Challenging Day Separates Riders and Shakes Up Remaining General Classification Leaders - Amgen Tour of California.

After completing one of the most challenging and defining stages of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California, which included the brutal Mt. Hamilton (Hors Category) and Sierra Road (Cat. 1) climbs, cycling's new generation shined again as 21-year-old Robert Gesink (NED) of Rabobank took the stage win. While Santa Rosa California resident Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Astana was outsprinted by Gesink for the stage win, the defending champion none-the-less gained the event's overall lead. As the one of most difficult stages in the 2008 Amgen Tour of California, the 103-mile Stage 3 course from Modesto to San Jose featured 165 turns and two critical climbs that separated the pack.

"This win is really great for me because the field of riders is very competitive in the Amgen Tour of California," said Gesink. "Today was a really big win for our team; we were strong as a team today."

[Update3] Gesink Wins in San Jose, Levi in the Lead as Farrar Abandons - Ken Conley for Spare Cycles.

Mount Hamilton was a big addition to today's stage, but the results were eerily familar -- so much so that Fritz of Cyclelicio.us was able to pull one of my 2007 photos for his stage 3 summary. Last year it was Levi, Voigt, and Gesink over the top of Sierra Road. The trio survived and Voigt easily took the sprint. This time around, Levi and Gesink were lucky to leave Voigt behind and negotiate a rider's agreement: Gesink took the stage, Levi the overall lead. From comments Leipheimer made after the stage, it sounds like Astana and Rabobank had worked this possibility out the night before.

[Update4] Another great photo from Dublin Reeds at the top of Sierra Road shows a Montana fan sporting a huge pair of antlers running alongside Splistream/Chipotle's Danny Pate and Steve Cozza.

Tour of California Sierra Road cycling hill climb San Jose

[Update5] Thanks to Peggy and Andy Poggio, and Ken Wilson for sending in a few more photos of Stage 3 in San Jose. This photo shows the leaders initiating a breakaway on Sierra Road after the Mount Hamilton climb. The descent on the other side of Sierra Road is insane, but it is usually cut out of the television broadcast. Have to watch the online stream for that.


2008 SAP Open early results, Pete Sampras vs Tommy Haas exhibition

2008 SAP Open tennis Pete Sampras Tommy Haas exhibition
2008 SAP Open Tommy Haas
2008 SAP Open tennis John Isner

More from the 2008 SAP Open tennis tournament will be posted soon. A photo gallery from Day 1 is available here.

SAP Open - Singles Results
San Jose, CA, U.S.A.
February 18-24, 2008

Sunday, February 24th:
A.Roddick d. R.Stepanek 7-5, 6-3

Saturday, February 23rd:
A.Roddick d. G.Garcia-Lopez 7-6 (7-2), 6-1
R.Stepanek d. R.Ginepri 6-7 (7-5), 6-4, 6-1

Friday, February 22nd:
A.Roddick d. M.Fish 7-6 (8-6), 1-6, 7-5
R.Stepanek d. Y.Lu 6-2, 7-6 (7-5)
G.Garcia-Lopez d. J.Isner 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (7-1), 7-6 (13-11)
R.Ginepri d. J.Blake 6-2, 6-2

Thursday, February 21st:
M.Fish d. D.Gremelmayr 6-7 (7-4), 6-3, 6-3
Y.Lu d. W.Odesnik 6-4, 6-4
J.Isner d. T.Haas 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3
A.Roddick d. K.Nishikori 6-2, 6-4
J.Blake vs J.Levine 6-3, 6-4

Wednesday, February 20th:
A.Roddick d. C.Guccione 6-3, 6-7 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5)
T.Haas d. R.Kendrick 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
R.Stepanek d. B.Reynolds 7-5, 7-6 (7-5)
K.Nishikori d. D.Hartfield 7-5, 6-3
G.Garcia-Lopez d. B.Becker 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
R.Ginepri d. K.Vliegen 6-2, 6-3

Tuesday, February 19th:
M.Fish d. T.Smyczek 6-3, 6-4
B.Becker d. M.Daniel (retired) 6-3, 3-0
R.Ginepri d. J.Witten 6-2, 5-7, 6-4
D.Gremelmayr d. S.Querrey 5-7, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3
Y.Lu d. M.Mirnyi 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-2
J.Blake d. S.Warburg 6-3, 6-1

Monday, February 18th:
J.Isner d. F.Serra 7-6 (7-5), 6-4
W.Odesnik d. D.Young 6-1, 7-5, 6-4
R.Stepanek d. P.Capdeville 7-6 (7-2), 6-1
J.Levine d. S.Darcis 6-3, 2-6, 6-4
G.Garcia-Lopez d. J.Melzer 6-2, 6-7 (7-5), 7-6 (8-6)
B.Reynolds d. B.Dorsch 7-5, 6-4
K.Vliegen d. V.Hanescu 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)

Pete Sampras d. Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-2


2008 Tour of California Prologue on the streets of Palo Alto, Fabian Cancellara wins opening time trial


Team CSC rider and World Champion Fabian Cancellara emerged from the 2008 Tour of California Prologue time trial in Palo Alto with a blistering 3 minute, 51 second mark on the flat 2.1 mile course. Early speculation was that a sub-4 minute mark would be needed, but Cancellara was in front of the next fastest competitor Bradley Wiggins (GBR) of High Road racing by more than 4 seconds. Defending champion Levi Leipheimer finished fourth after having to readjust his line on the final Stanford loop heading into the finish line. Cancellara will open the first Sausalito to Santa Rosa stage of the 7-stage race with the leaders yellow jersey.

Save for one hovering helicopter, heading down to Palo Alto for the Prologue on Sunday was almost like any other day. The first signs something was different came 4 blocks from the starting line. 20+ members of a cycling club adorned with jerseys and camelbacks stopped traffic to cheers and honking from some of the drivers. Passing by the row of team trucks, cyclists rode furiously on stationary bikes to get their heart rates up. Volunteers with the City of Palo Alto handed out course maps and starting orders, and mentioned that the Prologue was an opportunity to showcase the beauty of downtown Palo Alto.

The crowds at the Palo Alto starting line for the first few riders was manageable. It was easy to find a spot to watch at any point along the course barriers. The route passed the Jamacian restaurant, made a left on Cowper, and another left on University for the long sprint towards Palm Drive and the finish at Stanford University. David Zabriskie of Slipstream/Chipotle, Stuart O'Grady of Team CSC, and Freddie Rodriguez of Rock Racing drew loud applause at the start. You could follow Mario Cipollini (RRC) around the course by the surge in bells/whistles and applause.

Without any barriers along most of Palm Drive, crowds swelled late in the day. It was beyond standing room only passed Campus Drive, with packed grandstands and fans lining a Stanford circle. A festival with music and numerous cycling products lined one side of the finish line.

"It was like being in the Tour de France out there on the course today. The last time I raced in front of so many people was in London last year. The Amgen Tour of California is a really great race. It is good for cycling. The race has had a great start in the past 2 years. I hope it continues like this" Fabian Cancellara told the media after his Prologue win.

A photo gallery from the Prologue is available here.

[Update] A few notes from the Versus Tour of California broadcast:

The 2008 Tour of California will have the most comprehensive Drug Testing program of any cycling race with blood samples taken from every rider, urine samples from 30% of the riders, blood tests logged into the UCI biological passport program, secondary screening for daily stage winners/overall leader/3 random riders, and random morning/evening screenings for 3 other riders, the Tour of California also has reached an agreement with each cycling team that no riders who are involved with an open doping investigation will be allowed to compete.

The announcement that Team Astana would not be invited to compete in the 2008 Tour de France was discussed by the panel. Paul Sherwin said the ban was "part of a political battle". Bob Roll said "It may be time for a little amnesty". Some of the conspiracy theories I heard from fans on the course was that the discrepencies with the Tour de France officials regarding their actions from team to team may be a result of a bias against Americans, may be a bias against Johan Bruyneel, or it may be a signal of more stringent actions regarding other racing teams in the weeks to come.

[Update2] The best blog covering the last 2 years of the Tour of California will get even better this time around. Photographer Ken Conley is documenting and pointing to links from each stage less this year, but he is providing simply fantastic photographs from several locations along each course. For more from each Tour of California stage, and several other California and national cycling races, visit Ken's cycling blog at Spare Cycles.

Prior to the start of the Prologue, Ken Conley posted a very informative youtube video of Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner speaking with the media and fans in Palo Alto. Leipheimer called his Prologue win in 2006 "special", and said he was speechless when he saw people packing parking garages and hanging off of telephone poles as he approached his hometown Santa Rosa with the race lead. About the ban of his racing team from the Tour de France, Team Astana, Leipheimer said that he sess a large number of Americans and American flags on the final stage of the Tour de France. He believes that American fans provide a large number of the Tour de France fan base, and if a loud enough voice is heard from this country the Tour organizers may reconsider their decision.

Leipheimer and Team Astana have set up a website at letleviride.com, where fans can sign a petition to let him and his team compete in the Tour de France this year.

[Update3] Prologue: Cancellara wins Amgen opener - Velonews.com.

What more fitting an opening to the Tour of California than the best racers in the world flying down asphalt between rows of palm trees, and who a more fitting winner than current world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (CSC)? The Swiss rider turned a time of 3:51.211 to handily beat second-place rider Bradley Wiggins (High Road) by four seconds over the 2.1-mile course.

Like many riders coming from Europe — the 23-year-old American lives in Ghent, Belgium — Farrar was happy to be riding in front of a big crowd under a warm sun. "It felt like one of the biggest races in the world," Farrar said. "I think every rider in Europe wants to come to this race — beautiful roads, beautiful weather, great crowds."

[Update4] Race updates from my favorite cycling photographer Graham Watson are available here. More random notes and links will be posted with my Stage 3 recap.

Fight Notes - February 18th

Frank Shamrock vs Cung Le Strikeforce
Eloy Perez Riot Boxing at the  Monterey Convention Center

- The Cung Le vs Frank Shamrock fight is on. Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and the first-ever UFC Middleweight Champion Frank Shamrock (23-8-1) will meet former IKA and San Shou Kickboxing Champion Cung Le (21-0) March 29th in a battle San Jose fans have been waiting many years for. It is a giant step up in mixed martial arts competition for the undefeated Le. Shamrock has a granite chin and a highly tuned submission game. Shamrock will have to deal with a strong wrestler, one who can rain kicks down on him from all angles. Much more on this fight will be posted in the next few weeks.

Saturday February 23rd Strikeforce and Bodog Fight will host Strikeforce At The Dome live from Tacoma, Washington. Former NFL lineman Bob Sapp, Former UFC Heavweight Champion and K-1 Kickboxing Champion Maurice Smith, promising Bodog Fight competitor Jorge Masvidal, MMA trainer Duane "Bang" Ludwing, and late replacement Joe "Diesel" Riggs highlight the fight card. Riggs will face Cory Devela at 185 pounds.

Strikeforce Inks TV Deal With HDNET - strikeforceusa.net.

- Upcoming UFC events:

The UFC 82 Pride of a Champion PPV March 1st from Columbus will feature a superfight between UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva and Pride FC Middleweight Champion Dan Henderson, Jon Fitch of AKA in San Jose will face Chris Wilson on the main card and AKA's Josh Koscheck will face Dustin Hazelett on the undercard. UFC Fight Night April 2nd free on Spike TV is stacked from top to bottom (make it 3 hours SpikeTV). The UFC 83 Serra vs St-Pierre 2 PPV event from Montreal April 14th will give Georges St-Pierre a chance to avenge his Welterweight title loss to Matt Serra on home territory.

- ESPN Friday Night Fights color analyst Teddy Atlas was missing from a recent event last month with no explanation. There has been almost no coverage, but boxingscene.com reports that Atlas was suspended for one week because of a discussion he had with ESPN boxing program director Doug Loughrey. Allegedly the comments could be heard over the air. Atlas questioned Loughrey's choice of fighters, matchmakers and promoters, but as of yet there has been no confirmation.

- Prepare to face on onslaught of upcoming MMA related movies, here are notes on three soon to be released films.

Red Belt by writer and director David Mamet is scheduled for an August 21st release date. Chiwetel Ejiofor becomes involved in the martial arts film business, and is subsequently pulled into professional competition. Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini and Randy Couture join the cast along with Tim Allen and Joe Mantegna according to IMDB. A trailer has already been leaked on youtube here, more from Wikipedia here.

During a recent Strikeforce event at the Playboy Mansion, San Jose's Cung Le mentioned his work in an upcoming movie. In the film Fighter, Writer/director Dito Montiel tells a story of "a young ticket scalper introduced to the world of underground street fighting." No release date is scheduled yet, cast alongside Cung Le is Terrence Howard. A behind the scenes look from the set of Fighting is available from Phoenix Carnevale of Wfighter.com. Video outtakes of a previous 2007 film Cung Le appeared in along with David Carradine called is available here. The official site for Blizhniy Boy: The Ultimate Fighter with another video trailer is available here.

Also, just seen on ESPN: Never Back Down starring a bunch of people I have never heard of. Tagline: "At his new high school, a rebellious teen (Faris) is lured into an underground fight club, where he finds a mentor in a mixed martial arts veteran (Hounsou)." And yes, a video trailer is up on youtube here.

- Announced Wednesday was the start of a new mixed martial arts promotion, Dream. FEG, the Japanese television station TBS, and former Pride FC executives told the assembled media that the new promotion would initially produce fights in 5 weight classes, and hold Lightweight and Middle Weight Grand Prix tournaments to determine the inaugural Dream champions. Also announced was the departure of Heavyweight Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic from the UFC in order to sign with Dream. Filipovic may be able to face M-1 Global's Fedor Emelianenko, a rematch of one of top fights in MMA history. A preliminary tournament roster and schedule of events from Dream is available here.

- "EliteXC: Street Certified" Recap: Kimbo Dismantles Tank, Silva Narrowly Edges Rodriguez - MMA Junkie. More from Sherdog.com, sho.com/proelite and Fairtex.

- The quality of the sports content aired on Versus continues to impress. One case in point is the WEC 32 event last week from the Santa Ana Star Center in New Mexico. The first WEC card aired outside of Las Vegas featured 3 WEC title fights, with 2 belts changing hands. Carlos Condit retained his title over strong judoka/wrestler Carlo Prater, upstart Jamie Varner at one point called a timeout en route to a 3rd round TKO over Rob McCullough, a dominant Miguel Torres blew through Chase Beebe in just under 4 minutes, and hard punching Manny Tapia earned a split decision win over Chuck Liddell-trained Antonio Banuelos. Sharkspage-favorite Charlie Valencia was knocked out by Pancrase veteran Yoshiro Maeda, but it was not on the televised fight card. The WEC needs to put that fight online.

- Boxing: One more Riot set in Monterey - Dennis Taylor for the Monterey Herald.

Promoter Jerry Hoffman said this week that he'll stage one more version of The Riot this coming July at the Monterey Conference Center, then he'll take a long look at the future of the popular, twice-a-year professional boxing show that has served as a launching pad for many of the sport's well-known fighters.

All of Hoffman's shows in Monterey (and previously Santa Cruz) have been sell-outs or nearly sold to capacity since 1992, introducing Central California boxing fans to future world champions like "Sugar" Shane Mosley, Stevie Johnson, James Page, Nonito Donaire, Carina Moreno, Robert "The Ghost" Guerreroand Gina "Boom Boom" Guidi, and others who made a splash, such as Jose Celaya, Jesus "Chuy" Rodriguez, Alejandro Perez, Eloy Perez, Jesus Vega and Danny Lujan Jr.

2007 Riot Boxing coverage from this blog is available here from Monterey, and here from San Jose. The Riot shows put on an entertaining night of local boxing. If the next event turns out to be the last it should be a cant-miss for local boxing fans.

- New Years Eve weekend this year was an interesting study in Mixed Martial Arts. It has long been a Japanese tradition to hold events at years end, but for the last 2 years the UFC knows a solid marketing opportunity when it sees one. On December 29th in Las Vegas, the UFC held half of a solid PPV card with Georges St. Pierre possibly extinguishing the career of former champion Matt Hughes, and former UFC champion Chuck Liddell finally fought former Pride FC champion Wanderlei Silva after years of organizational sparring. After two straight losses, Liddell's unanimous decision win breathes life into the career of the most recognizable figure in MMA.

Former Pride FC executives, FEG, DEEP, and newly christened M-1 Global combined to produce the entertaining Yarennoka! card December 31st at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan. Fedor Emelianenko made his triumphant return to armbar a game 7-foot-2, 350 pound kickboxer Hong-man Choi. Strikeforce Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez lost a close fight with Mitsuhiro Ishida, Kazuo Misaki and Yoshihiro Akiyama provided one of the most drama filled fights of 2007, and Japanese stars Tatsuya Kawajiri, Hayato Sakurai, and Shinya Aoki all earned Unanimous Decision wins.

The premiere kickboxing organization K-1 held a mixed MMA/Kickboxing card K-1 Premium Dynamite!! December 31, 2007 at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan. It was a mix of spectacle and competition, with the scales tipping heavily towards the flash. Monstrous former NFL'er Bob Sapp defeated comedian Bobby Ologun, Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto is one of the most dominant atheltes plying his trade outside of the UFC, Nicholas Pettas defeated another monstrous 7-footer in kickboxer Kim Young-hyun, and Kazushi Sakuraba and Masakatsu Funaki provided a look back at the sport's origins. The freakshow fight of the night was 5-foot-9, 181 pound Ikuhisa Minowa facing off against 6-foot-7, 407 pound Brazilian Zuluzinho. The erratic showman Minowa ended up running circles around the ring for the better part of 3 rounds. It was going to end when Minowa turned and fought, or Zulu caught him with a punch and then sandwiched him. Zuluzinho pounded out Minowa 2:13 into the third.

- A press release from the Cage Combat Fighting Championships:

Santa Rosa, CA - Cage Combat Fighting Championships (CCFC) returned to the Grace Pavilion at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on February 16th to a sold out crowd of over 2,500 fans for a night of Mixed Martial Arts action. The night's action started with a bang as Team USH fighter Andrew Valladerez recorded a devastating first round Knock Out over his opponent Philip Ramirez. In the night's main event Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance member and local home town favorite Rick Cheek defeated a very game Richard Blake by Knock Out to be crowned the Cage Combat Fighting Championships first Heavyweight Champion.

Fans in attendance were treated to a card filled with Knock Outs and Submissions as well as appearances by some very special guests including: UFC Veterans Chris "The Story" Liguori, Tyson Griffin, Frankie "The Answer" Edgar, Josh "The Punk" Thomson, David "The Soul Assassin" Terrell, Nathan Diaz, K-1 Veteran Travis Johnson, Rumble on the Rock Champion Jake Shields and StrikeForce Champion Gilbert "El Niño" Melendez. Official results of the night's action are below. Highlight coverage of this event will appear on an upcoming show of "Inside MMA" on the HDNet television network.

CCFC "Annihilation" results
Grace Pavilion, Santa Rosa California
February 16th, 2008

Rick Cheek def. Richard Blake 1st rd 2:05 KO Wins Heavyweight Title

Anthony Rubalcava def. Kawika Morton 2nd rd 1:15 TKO

Kyle Pimentel def. Rick Reeves 2nd rd 3:19 Submission (Rear Naked Choke)

Danny Castillo def. Noah Schnable 2nd rd 2:42 TKO

Jeremiah Metecalf def. Josh McDonald 1st rd 3:40 KO

Andy Miranda vs. Terrance Dickens Technical Draw (Unintentional foul by Dickens)

Justin Smitley def. Ricardo Almondia 3rd rd 5:00 Unanimous Decision

Bobby Cearley def. Ray Doxie 2nd rd 1:36 Submission (Rear Naked Choke)

Marcello Cassero def. Kyle Rideau 1st rd 1:29 Submission (Arm Bar)

Chris Quitiquit def. Tony Boyles 3rd rd 5:00 Unanimous Decision

Andrew Valladerez def. Philip Ramirez 1st rd 0:47 KO

Full versions of HDnet's Inside MMA hour-long highlight show are available on Google Video.

[Update] Taylor has reason to hold his head up - Dan Rafael for ESPN.

In the ring after Jermain Taylor's seventh-round knockout loss to Kelly Pavlik in September, the deposed middleweight champion insisted he would exercise his contractual option for an immediate rematch. A few weeks later, he made it official.

People within his own inner circle were unhappy with the decision. They would have preferred he take an easier confidence-builder first. That decision also was questioned hard by the media.

Have not watched Pavlik-Taylor 2 or Pavlik-Taylor 1, but I will add a few thoughts here after I give both a look.

[Update2] - Early reports out of Mexico were that Salinas-area boxer Jose Celaya quit in the 8th round in a difficult WBC title fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. A followup article from Dennis Taylor of the Monterey Herald reports that a determined Celaya fought nearly 6 and a half rounds with one eye nearly swollen shut. After one punch that he did not see narrowly missed, Celaya decided he could not continue.

Celaya's knockout loss to James Webb in the May 2005 Friday Night Fights at the SJ Civic Auditorium was one of the most brutal losses I have seen in person. ESPN boxing commentators Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore agreed it was a very difficult loss. At the time I said it was a match-up of blunt force vs technique, and on that night blunt force won. The weight of promise and expectations in the following years has been heavy on Celaya, but only hard work in the gym and a hard edge inside the ring will give him an opportunity to overcome.

[Update3] A press release from Robert "the Ghost" Guerrero's manager Mario Serrano:


With less than two weeks left before his second title defense, two-time world champion Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero (21-1-1, 14 KO's) prepares for the biggest fight of his life when he battles Jason "The American Boy" Litzau (23-1, 19 KO's) at the Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore CA on February 29th, 2008.

"This is going to be a great fight for the fans" said Guerrero who's knocked out thirteen of his last fourteen opponents. "Everyone knows we both throw bombs so most likely someone's going down. One thing we all know, Litzau is fighting in his first world title fight, so you know he's bringing everything he's got. Me, I'm fighting for my wife and family. Nothings going to stop me from getting what I want and that's the victory."

When asked about training camp, Robert went on to say, "Everything were working on in camp is geared toward Litazu. My dad and I are working extremely hard. We've seen some holes in his defense that we want to expose. I'm doing all my road work in the Gilroy Mountains, while getting great sparring from the local pros up here. I feel like a machine. I'm ready for war."

This bout will be televised on SHOWTIME (Shobox: The New Generation, 11:00 p.m. ET/PT delayed on the west coast). Goossen Tutor Promotions, LLC and the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino are proud to be promoting this world title bout. For ticket information call the Tachi Palace at (559) 924-7751.


2008 SAP Open tennis tournament singles draw held in San Jose, Davis Cup Championship Trophy on hand

2008 SAP Open tennis tournament Davis Cup trophy
Jan Michael Gambill Kristof Vliegen Jurgen Melzer
San Jose SAP Open tennis tournament singles draw photo

More notes and the singles draw from the 2008 SAP Open tennis tournament coming soon.


Andy Roddick (USA) vs Vincent Spadea (USA)
Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs Deigo Hartfield (ARG)
Mardy Fish (USA) vs Qualifier
Sam Querrey (USA) vs Qualifier

Tommy Haas (GER) vs Robert Kendrick (USA)
Florent Serra (FRA) vs John Isner (USA)
Benjamin Becker (GER) vs Marcos Daniel (BRA)
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) vs Jurgen Melzer (ESP)

Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR) vs Donald Young (USA)
Max Mirnyi (BLR) vs Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE)
Bobby Reynolds (USA) vs Qualifier
Paul Capdeville (CHI) vs Radek Stepanek (CZE)

Kristof Vliegen (BEL) vs Victor Hanescu (ROU)
Michael Russel (USA) vs Robby Ginepri (USA)
Steve Darcis (BEL) vs Jesse Levine (USA)
James Blake (USA) vs Qualifier

1 - Andy Roddick
2 - James Blake
3 - Tommy Haas
4 - Radek Stepanek
5 - Hyung-Taik Lee
6 - Jurgen Melzer
7 - Sam Querrey
8 - Kristof Vliegen

Earthquakes v3.0 vs Earthquakes v2.0, Houston Dynamo down San Jose 1-0 in preseason scrimmage

San Jose Earthquakes vs Houston Dynamo MLS soccer

The San Jose Earthquakes version 3.0 arrived in the flesh Wednesday night, as the Houston Dynamo earned a 1-0 win over San Jose in a preseason scrimmage. After more than 2 years San Jose fans finally had a chance to cheer on a Major League Soccer team of their own, instead of grudgingly watching the former franchise win back-to-back MLS championships. The small PAL Stadium was not fully prepared for the onslaught of 3,182 fans making the mid-week trek, but people seemed to enjoy the chaos and confusion because it meant the return of soccer to the Bay Area.

As noted by Soccer Silicon Valley and this video by Centerlinesoccer, many of those in attendance were more familiar with the visiting Houston Dynamo than the new Earthquakes squad. Former Earthquakes Pat Onstand, Richard Mulrooney, Ricardo Clark, Dwayne De Rosario, and Brian Ching lined up for the Houston Dynamo. Wade Barret was sidelined with an illness.

The scrimmage was an opportunity for a first look at the new SJ Earthquakes squad. The tandem of former Galaxy forward Gavin Glinton and Kei Kamara struggled to create scoring chances, but with Houston flooding the midfield it was difficult for the Earthquakes to build any momentum.

Former California Victory forward and Santa Cruz native Yuri Morales almost capitalized on two scoring chances in the second half. He is said to be strong on the ball, and a gifted passer. Morales launched a header just over the post in the 56th minute, and a shot from just outside the box had to be punched over the bar by Houston goaltender Corbin Waller in the 79th minute. After the game, Morales told Centerline soccer that it will be an adjustment to move up to the MLS level but that is the level where he wants to be.

Major League Soccer Preseason
Houston Dynamo 1, San Jose Earthquakes 0
San Jose, Calif.; PAL Stadium
Attendance: 3,182

HOU – GK Pat Onstad (Tony Caig, 46th), D Patrick Ianni, D Eddie Robinson (Stephen Wondolowski, 64th), D Bobby Boswell (Mike Chabala), M Stuart Holden (Jeremy Barlow, 64th), M Richard Mulrooney (Nick Hatzke, 64th), M Ricardo Clark (Geoff Cameron, 46th), M Dwayne De Rosario (John Michael Hayden, 64th), M Corey Ashe (Johnny Alcaraz, 64th), F Brian Ching (Erik Ustruck, 64th), F Chirs Wondolowski (James Georgeff, 64th).

SJ – GK Joe Cannon (Preston Burpo, 46th), D James Riley (Chris Roner, 64th), D Nick Garcia (Taylor Graham, 46th), D Jason Hernandez (Jay Ayres, 64th), D Chris Pozniak (Greg Curry, 64th) (Robert Sandoval, 75th), M Shea Salinas (Adam Smarte, M Joe Vide (Eric Denton, 46th), M Ned Grabavoy (Fabrice Noel, 64th), M Ivan Guerrero (Tim Bohnenkamp, 64th), F Gavin Glinton (Yuri Morales, 46th), F Kei Kamara (Matt Taylor, 64th).

Scoring Summary
HOU – Clark (Wondolowski, C., De Rosario), 44th.

HOU - Jeremy Barlow (yellow), 74th.

Shots: HOU – 15, SJ – 13
Shots on Goal: HOU – 5, SJ – 5
Saves: HOU – 5, SJ – 4
Fouls: HOU – 14, SJ – 11
Corners: HOU – 4, SJ – 5
Offside: HOU – 5, SJ - 0

Another video from Centerlinesoccer after the Earthquakes first practice at PAL Stadium is available here. More notes after a Quakes practice earlier this week were posted by Soccer Silicon Valley's Jay Hipps here.

Sorry about the picture and video quality above, both were taken with my LG-VX8350 cell phone. My notes from the game without an Earthquakes roster were pretty indecipherable as well. Nice to see Joe Cannon return to San Jose, and Bobby Boswell's addition to Houston will be an interesting one, especially for those who have followed his numerous exploits on the D.C. area blogs. His official website can be found at bobbyboswell.com.

Key questions facing the Western Conference - ESPN.


Where will the offense come from? San Jose has done an excellent job of piecing together a solid defense to go in front of star goalkeeper Joe Cannon, but the lack of quality forwards and midfielders is alarming. You would imagine San Jose coach Frank Yallop has some signings on the horizon, but he will need to squeeze some offense out of the foursome of Kei Kamara, Gavin Glinton, Ivan Guerrero and Ned Grabavoy. If Kamara or Glinton emerges as a reliable starting forward, San Jose could avoid an awful start. If neither forward shows much in preseason, Yallop and the Earthquakes could field one of the worst offenses in league history.

[Update] Quakes lose exhibition, but that hardly matters to fans - SJ Mercury News.

Pat Onstad was nervous when he arrived at PAL Stadium in San Jose on Wednesday night. After all, the goalkeeper was playing in the Bay Area for the first time since he and the old Earthquakes left San Jose for Houston in 2005. "I wanted to show I can still play to a group of people that supported us," he said...

The highlight was rookie Shea Salinas, the team's top collegiate draft pick from Furman. Salinas started up front and showed off his quickness. General Manager John Doyle was impressed, as was Yallop, who said Salinas was tested against a strong and fast defender.

[Update2] Quakes originals boost new San Jose - Soccer America.

Unofficially, about 30 players attended training Thursday, a day after the Quakes lost to the Dynamo, 1-0, in the first of their two exhibition meetings this spring. Former Quakes Ryan Cochrane and Joe Cannon are familiar to San Jose fans, but a few MLS products are also with the club.

Ex-Rapids forward Fabrice Noel received permission from his current club, Puerto Rico of the USL, to show what he can do. He's shown quite a lot... Another former Rapid, Eric Denton, is in camp to try to find a spot from those players Yallop claimed in the expansion draft or by trades: defender Nick Garcia, midfielders Joe Vide and Ned Grabavoy, forwards Gavin Glinton and Kei Kamara. Midfielder Shea Salinas, taken out of Furman in the second round of the SuperDraft, has looked sharp in training and played well against Houston.

[Update3] Earthquakes acquire MF Ramiro Corrales - San Jose Earthquakes.


Hockey Notes - February 14th

San Jose Sharks Jonathan Cheechoo Calgary Flames Miikka Kiprusoff

- The Calgary Flames come from behind 4-3 OT win against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday was a disconcerting loss for the home team. It was the second overtime game winning goal for Jarome Iginla at HP Pavilion this season, and the Sharks let a game they were dominating slip away late in the third.

Mark Emmons of the SJ Merc chronicled 4 losses the Sharks have suffered in the last minute of regulation this season: Oct. 13th Aaron Ward scored the game winner with 12 seconds left in the power outage home opener against Boston, Dec. 20th Phoenix captain Shane Doan's game tying goal with 42 seconds left, Jan. 13th Doug Weight scored a game tying goal with 28 seconds left off of the leg of Alexei Semenov, Feb. 12th Dion Phaneuf scored the game tying goal with a 6-on-4 power play with the goaltender pulled and Jarome Iginla scored the game winner in overtime.

The last minute loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals still looms over the Sharks, but it stresses the need for situational awareness late in games. Part of the solution is confidence playing the puck, part of the solution is confidence in binding together to overcome obstacles as a team, but the execution needs to take place on the ice. The Western Conference playoff race is going to become increasingly tight, and points squandered at the end of games will impact the postseason.

- Sharks look for ways to hold on to leads, team had victories within its grasp, wound up losing - San Jose Mercury News.

"There's a line in hockey that you play to win and you can't play not to lose," veteran Jeremy Roenick said. "Well, in those last few minutes, we played not to lose. We allowed them to take it to us. We have to maintain our killer attitude, and we didn't in the last three minutes."

A Jonathan Cheechoo delay-of-game penalty gave the Flames a two-man advantage after they pulled goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. When Patrick Rissmiller failed to clear the puck, Dion Phaneuf scored the tying goal with 49.8 seconds left.

- San Jose Sharks feature from ABC-7, The 500 Club. Ron Wilson's 500th NHL coaching win, Jeremy Roenick's 500th NHL goal, and Joe Thornton's 500th NHL assist.

Saturday night against Nashville, coach Ron Wilson won his 500th career game. He is only the 11th coach to achieve this Milestone. He went to Disneyland to celebrate... Coach Wilson wanted the puck to commemorate the occasion, but Christian Erhoff flicked it into the stands. "We were kidding him today saying he intended to throw it to me, but he missed by 30 feet like one of his shots," says Wilson.

- James Mirtle takes a look at cap room available to NHL teams heading into the trading deadline on Feb 26th pro-rated for the games remaining in the regular season. Given the team data from nhlnumbers.com, the Sharks have a $41.197 million cap hit this season, and they are at $10.412 million under the cap now. Using the prorated formula, (10,412,000 x 187[days of the season]/25[games remaining]), the Sharks can sign a player to a $77,881,760 contract to finish out the regular season. Peter Forsberg turned down San Jose?

- According to a Pen Press Club report from January, there are rumors that radio giant Clear Channel might sell 3 San Jose radio stations including alternative rock station KCNL-FM, Spanish station "La Preciosa" at 92.3FM, and KFOX 98.5FM classic rock/home of the Sharks. Nationally, Clear Channel is expected to sell 42 major stations as part of a buyout arrangement with Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

The last regulatory hurdle for the sale of Clear Channel was removed today. The U.S. Justice Department followed an earlier decision by the FCC to approve the $19.5 billion sale to Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

- First NHL player of Asian descent beat long odds - Tom Hawthorn for the Globe and Mail.

- Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal speculates that the San Jose Sharks may dangle 6-foot-2, 225-pound right wing Steve Bernier on the NHL trade market. Matheson writes that with power forward in waiting Devin Setoguchi working on his game in Worcester, Sharks GM Doug Wilson may try to move Bernier for a defenseman.

Bernier was singled out after a recent performance by head coach Ron Wilson, and subsequently benched for a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. At times this season, Bernier has been one of the key players initiating physical play on home ice, and ratcheting up the intensity level. Bernier is the type of hard nosed player the Sharks will need to come out of a stacked Western Conference.

- There has been a lot of outside dicussion about the lack of offensive production this season from Sharks forwards Jonathan Cheechoo (14G, 9A, 4GP) and Patrick Marleau (10G, 18A, 55GP). Marleau has struggled with stretches of inconsistent play, for the season he is projected to reach only 14 goals and 40 points. As noted earlier, after four straight 28+ goal 57+ point seasons, this would be Marleau's lowest point production total in 5 years. He has been a recent scratch while recovering from an injured groin.

Jonathan Cheechoo has exploded with 10 goals and 2 assists in his last 12 games. After a January game, Joe Thornton explained that Cheechoo's mobility is improving, and that he is able to find open spaces more frequently. His shot and quick release will always be a constant, but a quick look at video of Cheechoo's 56 goals in 2003-04 shows that he is starting to play into a form that was hampered by double hernia surgery in the offseason.

[Note] A server problem kept this from being posted yesterday. San Jose Earthquakes scrimmage vs 2-time defending MLS champion Houston, boxing/mma notes, Sharks-Edmonton notes, Tour of California and SAP Open tennis information coming up this weekend.

[Update] Going Five Hole lists the Top 10 Don Cherry suits. #3 has to be one of my favorite hockey photos alltime.

[Update2] Sharks seeking blue-liner - Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

The San Jose Sharks are looking for an experienced blue-liner, but that's as much as Sharks general manager Doug Wilson will divulge. "If we can do something on our back end that makes us a better team, we will," he told the Contra Costa Times. "But a lot of teams are looking in that area."

Buffalo's Brian Campbell, Toronto's Tomas Kaberle and Rob Blake of Los Angeles are the three big names that keep coming up as far as potential available defencemen are concerned.

Sharks captain Patrick Marleau and defenceman Matt Carle have been the two names most often mentioned in many media rumours as the Feb. 26 NHL trade deadline nears.

[Update3] Joe Dumas over at Offwing.com posts 4 new video ads for the NHL Network. A couple are good, but this one is the best. The ads are promoting NHLnetwork.tv. More on the ads from the National Post blog here.

Max Giese: San Jose Sharks Top 20 Prospects

With the NHL trade deadline approaching on Feb. 26th and the 2008 NHL Entry Draft on the horizon, it is the perfect time to take a look at the top prospects in the San Jose Sharks system. While roster spots will be at a premium in the coming years due to the depth in talent, the Sharks ogranization boasts several prospects who project to be impact players in the NHL.


1. Goaltending – The Sharks ice one of the world's top goaltending prospects in Thomas Greiss, along with incredible depth at the position including Sexsmith, Pielmier, and Stalock all who have a chance at developing into solid NHL goaltenders.

2. Diversity – The Sharks scouting staff have kept the depth chart full with talent at every position. In addition, the Sharks system contains several different types of prospects with goal scorers, playmakers, and defensive defenseman offering the big club flexibility to deal with injuries.


1. Offensive defenseman – Ty Wishart, Justin Braun, and Derek Joslin are nice prospects capable of moving the puck, but the Sharks lack any true power play quarterbacks in the making. Ty Wishart's offensive development has been impressive, but the Sharks need to target a pure offensive defenseman in the 2008 draft that could potentially run the power play down the road.

2. 2002 Draft – While every draft under the tenure of Doug Wilson has produced significant results, the last draft of Dean Lombardi's reign has proven the opposite. The players taken in the 2002 draft by the Sharks have given them 0 NHL games, and only Kris Newbury has proven to be a worthwhile selection while plying his trade in the Toronto system. Hopefully first rounder Mike Morris can get back on the ice and stay healthy, as he possesses the talent to make a solid NHL third liner down the road.

San Jose Sharks Top 20 Prospects:

1. RW/LW Devin Setoguchi – Worcester Sharks AHL
A fast scoring winger, strong on his skates with a sick dangle. Flashes of Setoguchi's talent were on display in 29 games played in NHL (9G, 3A, +8), but Devin needs to work on consistency at the AHL level before he can stick. Setoguchi remains a key player for the Sharks longterm and short term success. He should be back in San Jose in time to provide a secondary scoring punch for the stretch run before and the playoffs. The 6-foot 205-pound winger from Alberta may become a permanent fixture in the Sharks top 6 as soon as next season.

2. C Logan Couture – Ottawa 67s OHL
Couture is a highly skilled 2-way center with elite hockey sense and play making ability. His skating stride still lacks explosiveness and the injury bug continues to follow him, but his shot has improved significantly. Logan Couture is a natural leader on the ice, and he is a prospect that should develop into a key player at both ends of the rink for the Sharks down the road. Couture continues the Sharks tradition of drafting character players, and he should be an addition to the young core of talent for San Jose in the next few years.

3. G Thomas Greiss – Worcester Sharks AHL
Blessed with natural athleticism and a calm demeanor, Greiss is a prototypical NHL goalteding prospect with the fast reflexes and patience to develop into a starter in the NHL. The 6-foot-1 200-pound German native should be the full-time back-up in San Jose next season. This season Patzold and Greiss will split time in Worcester to see pucks in game action, something not possible on the bench behind NHL ironman Evgeni Nabokov.

4. D Nick Petrecki – Boston College NCAA
A solid all-around athlete with enough physical strength to impose his will against the opposition, Petrecki is a big (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) and mean stay at home defenseman with exceptional mobility. Previously knocked for his decision making with the puck, Petrecki has made marked improvements to this side of the game and should be an absolute horse on the Sharks back line within the next few seasons.

5. D Ty Wishart – Moose Jaw Warriors WHL
A mobile and towering presence on the ice, Wishart (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) is a savvy defender that plays a suffocating positional game defensively. Wishart generates offense from the back-end with his deceptive skill level and a solid first pass. Previously known as a steady two-way defenseman, Wishart's skill set has blossomed this season. He currently leads the WHL in scoring by defenseman. Destined for the AHL next season, Wishart projects to be a formidable presence on both sides of the puck in the coming years.

6. LW Lukas Kaspar – Worcester Sharks AHL
While Kaspar has developed rapidly this season, he still remains the enigma of the Sharks development system despite his recent focus on defensive play. Lukas Kaspar (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) is a big and athletic two-way winger, with the heavy shot needed to score and the creativity to be a playmaking threat. Physically ready for the NHL right now, the Sharks are waiting for him to develop consistent offensive production.

7. LW Jamie McGinn – Ottawa 67s OHL
McGinn is the type of player the Sharks would love to have for a tough 7-game playoff series, or a critical regular season stretch run. Jamie McGinn (6-foot, 200 pounds) is a fiery power forward that drives the net and plays a tenacious two-way game. Like his teammate in Ottawa Logan Couture, McGinn has dealt with a few injuries this season and has been a marked man on a young club. He has continued to improve his skating, and could be fast tracking his way to the NHL.

8. C Steven Zalewski – Clarkson Knights NCAA
Drafted in the same draft and from the same level of hockey as Sharks center Torrey Mitchell, Zalewski could ultimately make a similar contribution. While has a great mind for the game, and he is a gritty competitor that oozes leadership qualities. Zalewski projects to be a pugnacious two-way third line center, that can grit out some goals in front of the net, and kill penalties.

9. G Alex Stalock – Minnesota Duluth NCAA
Few prospects in college hockey have seen their stock rise this season as much as Stalock. Stalock has put an offensively starved team on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the WCHA ranks. Stalock has wowed scouts with natural athleticism and solid mental game. Similar to a young Marty Turco, the only question remaining about Stalock is that he can still be a bit too wild in the net.

10. G Tyson Sexsmith – Vancouver Giants WHL
The knock on Sexsmith coming out of the 2007 draft was that his impressive season may have been a result of the stacked team in front of him more than his own ability. Tyson Sexsmith has proved that notion false with another dominant season in the WHL, playing behind a suspect defense. Sexsmith is a hard working and mechanically sound goaltender who continues to maximize his abilities. He is likely to represent Team Canada next season at the World Juniors.

11. D Derek Joslin – Worcester Sharks AHL
Talk to anyone who has watched the Worcester Sharks this season, and Derek Joslin will be one of the first players they talk about. A cerebral puck-moving defenseman, Joslin does nothing fancy or electrifying but he consistently makes the correct play. He has also shown the ability to generate offense from the point. Joslin moves a couple of spots up the prospect rankings because of his defensive reliability, and he still has considerable upside that has not been tapped yet.

12. G Timo Pielmier – St. John’s Fog Devils
The Sharks where pleased with Pielmier's commitment to come over to North America to play in the QMJHL, and should be happy with his transition to the North American game. While Pielmier's play early in the season was erratic, his recent play has been stellar. Blessed with all the physical tools to be a number one goaltender in the NHL, Pielmier will benefit greatly from San Jose's coaching as well as their weight training program. Next season will be a critical one for Pielmier as he will be Team Germany's starting goaltender at the World Junior Championships.

13. RW Nick Bonino – Boston University NCAA
The San Jose Sharks may have found a steal in the 2007 draft, selecting Nick Bonino (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) out of Eastern High School Hockey in the sixth round. Nick is a first round talent with magnetic hands, excellent offensive instincts, and a deadly ability to finish and create equally well. His skating is vastly improved, and his defensive effort has improved steadily throughout the season.

14. D Justin Braun – Massachusetts NCAA
With Matt Carle fully entrenched in San Jose, Braun is now clearly the Sharks top offensive defenseman prospect in the NCAA. Justin Braun (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) sees the ice well, and he can create offense with a slick passing game. With a fluid skating stride, active stick and good positioning, Braun will be a prospect to keep an eye on in the years to come.

15. C P.J. Fenton – Massachusetts NCAA
Comparable to San Jose Sharks Torrey Mitchell, P.J. Fenton (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) is a small but surprisingly strong and fast center that generates offense through hard work. Last season was a breakout year for Fenton, but he started this year campaign in a disappointing fashion. P.J. rebounded of late string together a couple of strong performances. P.J. Fenton has been scoring recently, and as a proven big game player with his physical gifts, he should make a solid third or fourth liner in the NHL down the road.

16. C Tony Lucia – Minnesota Gophers NCAA
Lacking the high end skill to be a top-6 NHL forward, Lucia is still a prized prospect that projects as a very capable third or fourth liner. Lucia's strengths are his hockey sense and tenacious 2-way game. He kills penalties and thrives at hemming the opposition deep in their zone with a stiff forecheck and strong cycle down low.

17. D Dang Spang – Worcester Sharks AHL
The 2002 Draft has turned into a disappointing one for the Sharks, and Spang has a lot do with it. He still remains a potential NHL defenseman thanks to great skating ability and fantastic offensive skill, however Spang does not play the body well and he is careless with the puck in his own end. Spang will need to correct his defensive issues quickly to make the NHL.

18. LW Frazer McLaren – Moose Jaw Warriors WHL
Frazer McLaren (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) is unlike any other prospect in the Sharks system, a gigantic power forward with a very hard wrist shot. The Sharks want him to develop a playing style similar to Ryan Clowe. When McLaren has followed that mould, points have followed this season. The issue with McLaren is inconsistency, and to compete at an NHL level his mobility will need to improve.

19. RW Riley Armstrong – Worcester Sharks AHL
A spark plug type player with good speed and a heavy wrist shot, Riley Armstrong (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) would likely be one of the first players called-up from Worcester if injuries beset the San Jose Sharks. Armstrong's offensive numbers (13G, 11A, 43 games played) are not as impressive as teammate Mike Iggulden's, but Armstrong remains a solid prospect thanks to his hard work and gritty two-way play.

20. RW T.J. Fox – Worcester Sharks AHL
Professional scouts from around the league believe the Sharks discovered a gem in T.J. Fox. While he has not been lighting the lamp this season as much as he did with Union College, Fox has flashed glimpses of goal scoring ability and a power game in the AHL. If his skating improves, and he plays up to his potential every night, Fox could rise dramatically in the prospect rankings next season.

Retired: C Torrey Mitchell, G Dimitry Patzold, LW Tomas Plihal.

[Update] Playoff chances are fading - Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

Hollywood was in town with the Sharks last night as San Jose hockey advisor Mike Ricci went behind the Worcester bench as a second assistant coach.

Ricci was in several scenes in the excellent hockey movie "Rocket" about the life of Maurice Richard. Ricci is credited with having played the part of Elmer Lach, and those who saw the film say he was in about a half-dozen scenes. Ricci is supposed to stay with the team through the Norfolk trip.

[Update2] Top draft choices coming into focus - Kyle Woodlief for Red Line Report.

[Update3] Petrecki knows his history, Freshman glad to be part of Beanpot lore - Boston Globe.

Of course, he was also 5 years old, so it could be said that it has taken Petrecki 13 years to straighten out the Beanpot picture as he envisions it. The fact that he did it in a most improbable way last night - with his first two collegiate goals, the second of which came 7:07 into overtime to beat Harvard, 6-5 - well, it's nothing he ever could have imagined.

"Definitely, it's being in the right place at the right time," said the 6-foot-3-inch, 215-pounder whose charge toward the goal resulted in a sight that any hockey player dreams of: a loose puck, a sprawled goalie, and plenty of net to shoot at. "My life flashed before my eyes right there," said Petrecki. "I was like, 'Do not hit the post. Do not fall down.'"

Hockey Weekend Across America celebration begins Friday

USA Hockey Girls Championships San Jose

The upcoming weekend February 15-17th will be the first ever Hockey Weekend Across America, an event created by USA Hockey to celebrate the sport at all levels across the U.S. The three day celebration includes a theme for each day, Friday (Feb. 15) is Wear Your Favorite Hockey Jersey to School day, Saturday (Feb. 16) is Bring a Friend to the Rink day, and Sunday (Feb. 17) is Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes day.

The growth of hockey has been strong in the U.S. USA Hockey has grown from 200,000 members in 1990 to over 600,000 today, there are now 217 varsity level hockey programs at NCAA Division I, II, and III schools and 373 teams in five divisions at the ACHA college club level, USA Hockey girls/womens participation has more than doubled in the past 10 years to more than 57,549 members at the end of the 2007 season, and an alltime record 202 U.S. born players (20%) played in at least one NHL game during the 2006-07 season.

Two milestones were set by U.S. born players this season at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Mike Modano scored twice to register the most career points by an American born player (1232), and Jeremy Roenick became the 3rd NHL player to score 500 goals with a tally against the Phoenix Coyotes. On December 1st 1924, the Boston Bruins demolished the Montreal Maroons 2-1 in the first ever NHL game played in the United States. The Portland Rosebuds were the first American team to compete for the Stanley Cup in 1916, but the Seattle Metropolitans were the first American franchise to win the Cup a year later in 1917.

The NHL arranged teleconferences by three American NHL players to talk about their development including Jeremy Roenick, Mike Modano, Chris Chelios (today 10AM); and 5 Members of the 1998 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team including Karyn Bye, Cammi Granato, Katie King, Angela Ruggiero, and Sarah Tueting. Also participating in the round of conference calls Wednesday were 4 NHL general managers: Brian Burke (Anaheim Ducks), Ken Holland (Detroit Red Wings), Paul Holmgren (Philadelphia Flyers) and Don Waddell (Atlanta Thrashers).

USA Hockey and Reebok Hockey are sponsoring a Hockey Weekend Across America contest giveaway each of the three days, with the winner receiving head-to-toe Reebok hockey apparel worth over $3000. To enter and for contest rules, visit hockeyweekendacrossamerica.com.

A few of the Hockey Weekend Across America events scheduled:

Belmont, California
The Northern California Women’s Hockey League is hosting a “Give Hockey a Try Day” for women on Feb. 16 at Belmont Iceland. No prior skating experience is necessary and gear and instruction will be provided.

Stormville, New York
A 64-by-38 backyard rink will host a 2-on-2 tournament for all the local kids and adults. Following the championship games, an outdoor picnic will take place.

Detroit, Michigan
Over 300 inner city youth will come to Detroit to participate in “Hockey in the Hood,” including children from 12 NHL Diversity programs across the United States. Many activities are planned outside of the competition. Willie O’Ree will drop the puck for the game against the two oldest minority programs in the world – the Detroit Hockey Association vs. Ft. DuPont Hockey Club from Washington, D.C.

Taylor, Michigan
At Taylor Sportsplex on Feb. 16, bubble hockey machines around the arena will all be set on free play. A giant inflatable rink for mini-stick mayhem will be available and every time the zamboni is on the ice, everything in the pro shop will be 40 percent off. A high school game will be played at 7 p.m. and all kids wearing a jersey will get in free.

Centennial, Colorado
The Mile High Meltdown Recreation Hockey Tournament, sponsored by Arapahoe Youth Hockey, takes place over the weekend.

Sunrise, Florida
The NHL's Florida Panthers will be holding a contest on Feb. 15 open to all public schools in the tri-county area. The school with the most students wearing hockey jerseys on Feb. 15 will win tickets to a future Panthers home game.

Scottsdale, Arizona
Arizona Girls Youth Hockey Association is hosting a 25-team all-girls invitational. The Arizona Selects (10U, 12U, 14U, 16U) will be wearing their jerseys to school on Feb. 15.

Prior Lake, Minnesota
Association volunteers and area sponsors will prepare the ice on Prior Lake with three hockey rinks, a pleasure rink and a 1.5 mile loop for pleasure skating and pond hockey games on Feb. 17, during “Skate the Lake.” NHL alumni will scrimmage against youth skaters and a volunteer “Zam Crew” will prepare and maintain the ice for smooth skating. Raffles will take place with funds earmarked for the development of additional ice facilities in and around Prior Lake.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms have events planned throughout the week and weekend. On Feb. 11, the Philadelphia City Council will proclaim Feb. 11-17, “Hockey Week Across Philadelphia.” On Feb. 15, a Flyers/Phantoms school assembly will take place at St. Agnes School in West Chester, Pa., at 10:30 a.m. Both teams are encouraging fans of all ages to wear their hockey jerseys to school or work. On Feb. 17 during the Flyers game, five Hockey Weekend Across America pucks will be hidden in the arena and fans will redeem the pucks for prizes.

Jamestown, New York
Free drop-in hockey on Feb. 15; free learn to play hockey clinics on Feb. 16; honoring local hockey heroes during Tim Horton’s Tournament on Feb. 17.

River Falls, Wisconsin
Ads are running in various local papers to promote the weekend and encourage kids to wear their jerseys to school. The community is being invited to watch and bring a friend to a mite tournament during the weekend. There will also be a free open skate for the community on the evening of Feb. 17.

Brick, New Jersey
Brick Hockey Club is encouraging all players to wear their game jersey to school on Feb. 15 and also on Feb. 14 due to many local school closing for President’s Day weekend. All local school districts will be contacted to promote hockey by arranging for hockey related story time and playing hockey or scooter hockey in gym classes.

Knoxville, Tennessee
Knoxville Amateur Hockey Association is encouraging kids to wear jerseys to school on Feb. 15. KJ Voorhees, former professional hockey player, will visit the local schools that day to share the excitement of hockey. KAHA will celebrate its “birthday” on Feb. 16 with cake, popcorn, drinks, a learn to skate game, etc. The Blood Mobile will also be on hand to tap the theme “Give Blood … Play Hockey.” On Feb. 17, KAHA is celebrating its coaches, referees and other heroes by hosting a meal fit for a king.

Cincinnati, Ohio
The Cincinnati Amateur Hockey Association is sponsoring a free introduction to ice hockey on Feb. 17 with free skate rental.

Phoenix, Arizona
Among the initiatives of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, the club is conducting a contest with local schools to see which school can have the most kids wearing hockey jerseys on Feb. 15. The winner will receive a visit later in the season from the Coyotes. In addition, several Coyotes players (Peter Mueller, Mike York, Keith Ballard and Matt Jones) will be in local school to visit with kids participating in Wear Your Jersey to School Day.

Albuquerque, New Mexico
The University of New Mexico Lobo Club is inviting everyone to learn the basic skills of hockey and then test those skills in a skills challenge on Feb. 15. On Feb. 17, the club is inviting all to join their favorite UNM Lobo hockey players in a game of 3-on-3 street hockey.

Plymouth, Michigan
On Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. at the Plymouth District Library, three pioneers of hockey will showcase stories of the early days of the NCAA Championships and international hockey. Al Renfrew, Tom Mustonen and Raymond Rolak will relate history and experiences that will appeal to players, coaches and parents on all aspects of hockey lore.

Austin, Texas
On Feb. 17 at the Chaparral Ice Center (Northcross Mall location), girls and women (11 a.m.-12 p.m.) and boys and men (12-1 p.m.) are invited to try hockey for free. From 4:15-5:15 p.m., a sled hockey demonstration will take place. In addition, at the Chaparral Ice Center (I-35 location), a party to honor coaches and referees will take place from 6-9 p.m. with free drop-in hockey games and public skating. Activities are planned on Feb. 15-16 as well.

If there are other events not listed, or if you have a blog post, photo or news article about HWAA that you would like me to add to this post, feel free to drop me a line.

[Update] Q&A: USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean - USA Today.

Which states or areas illustrate the growth of the sport?

Ogrean: There is a lot of examples, but California is one. When you have a couple of kids off the California Wave recruited to attend our National Team Development Program, that says something. That would have been unheard of back then. Just look at the hometowns on our national team rosters, it's just a much greater footprint. (Commissioner) Gary Bettman has sometimes been criticized because of his goal of adding teams in the south in order to get a national television contract. There is no question that this game has grown and the number of rinks has increased because we have teams in Carolina, Florida, Texas, Arizona and Colorado. On a percentage growth basis, Colorado has been the fastest growing state two years in a row. Our Southeastern District from the Carolinas down is a big growth state. This isn't a regional sport anymore. And I think Southern California benefited enormously by the coming of Wayne Gretzky 20 years ago.

[Update2] The San Jose Jr Sharks 16 AAA Tier 1 hockey team won the 2008 State of California Amateur Hockey Association Championship Sunday, February 10th. The Jr Sharks team lead by coaches Justin Alonzo and Tony Zasowsk finished with a 3-1 record against Southern Californian teams to win the first Tier 1 State Championship ever for the Jr. Sharks and Northern California. More information about the Jr Sharks can be found at sjjrsharks.com, statistics from the CAHAC tournament can be found here.

[Update3] Norcal Women's Hockey League sponsors Give Hockey a Try Day August 18th - Sharkspage.


Jeremy Roenick Conference Call Transcript, buildup for Hockey Weekend Across America begins

Jeremy Roenick's participated in a media conference call this morning arranged by USA Hockey as part of the build up for Hockey Weekend Across America.

Dave Fischer, USA Hockey Hockey Weekend in America runs through Sunday. Actually there's a lot of activity happening throughout the country throughout the course of the week. We came up with this initiative just simply to celebrate our great game and all those involved at all levels and also certainly to expose the game to additional audiences so we can attract more players, coach, officials and volunteers to the sport. I think as you're also aware, the website, HockeyWeekendAcrossAmerica.com, is filled with information that you can get from that website. Certainly if you have any questions regarding the initiative, feel me to call me here in the office at any time, 719.538.1171 is the number.

Our goals today, we'll ask Jeremy for some opening remarks and once he's through with that we'll take your questions across the country. Certainly Jeremy Roenick needs little introduction, one of the most prolific and dynamic players ever produced in hockey in our country. I think you all know he's one of only three American-born players to score 500 or more goals in the National Hockey League. He's been a very important part of the U.S. men's national team throughout his career, played in two Olympic Games and of course helped us to the silver medal in Salt Lake City in 2002. He also had a very big impact on the development and expansion of youth hockey in our country through the many activities that he's been involved with. I've asked Jeremy if in his opening remarks he'd touch a little bit on some of his favorite youth hockey memories and also some of his favorite pro hockey memories and finally to comment a little bit about his thoughts on how the game has changed in the United States over the course of his career. Pleasure to have with us this morning Jeremy Roenick.

Jeremy Roenick Good morning, everybody. I'm very happy to be on this call. I think the development of USA Hockey is very important to me and obviously to keep our tradition going in United States Hockey. Me being a part of what I believe is probably the resurgence of hockey internationally, being a part of the generation of Brian Leetch, Chris Chelios, Mike Richter, Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, I think that helped put America on the map in terms of being able to compete with the Russians with the Canadians, with the Finns, with the Swedes, and now trying to do that continually into the future.

You know, growing up in Boston, which was a big hockey hotbed when I was growing up, I was able to play in some fantastic competition, American Hockey obviously having a big part of a lot of the organizations that go on throughout the Boston area, the camps, the conditioning programs, the coaches programs that are out there for kids to get involved in to keep kids interested.

Growing up, again, through the 16 select teams that USA Hockey puts on to compete against other kids our age internationally at that level, it was obviously a huge part of my growth, testing my talents, comparing my talents to other kids, being able to go out to Colorado Springs at the age of 16, learn how to get away from the family, learn how to deal with issues by yourself, live by yourself a little bit, try to grow up a little bit faster in a hockey atmosphere, really helped my production as I got older.

To go into the World Juniors was obviously huge. I still see that the USA is still very prominent in the US Junior teams, which is a good sign. It means there are some kids that are still coming up that are going to continue this USA Hockey growth, which is very important. A lot of people think it might be dying off with our generation. But with the success of our US Junior team in the last couple years, hopefully that will continue.

But it won't continue unless we continue to have the camps and USA Hockey continues to have the instructional videos they put out, the instructional camps they allow people to sign up for, the camps they put on all over the country that are obviously huge. With having the pro players that nowadays are in the NHL participate I think is also very important which wasn't there when I was growing up. We didn't have too many USA Hockey players when I started to play the game in the '80s that we could bring on to help these young kids develop. I think that has turned the corner in the past 20 years. I think guys that are in the NHL now can really be a big part of helping USA Hockey grow as this game gets stronger and stronger.

The development of hockey has really grown in the last 20 years. It's more of a 12-month-a-year deal. When I started playing in the late '80s, you get to go to camp, you get ready for the season during camp, and you play, then you have four months off to do nothing. Nowadays your season ends, you have one week off, you get right back in the gym training. You see guys are tremendously fit, you see six-pack abs all over the place. When I came in, there was not one ab to be seen, which is kind of a revelation if you want to call it that.

Kids are younger, they're faster, they're stronger, they have more ability. In order to keep that competitiveness, there has to be a lot of energy thrown into development of these kids, which if we don't as a country really buy into it, we're going to find ourselves falling and fading back into the B pools and the bottom of the ranks internationally, which I think would be a shame after everything we've done as a country. Hopefully I can help do that. Hopefully Keith Tkachuk can help do that, Mike Modano, Chris Chelios. It's really helped my production.

That's pretty much all I've got to say about it. I could talk for a long time. But USA Hockey is very dear to my heart and I'm going to do what I can to help it grow and help it produce some more players like Mike Modano, Chris Chelios and Keith Tkachuk. Guys like Patrick Kane in Chicago is going to be a part of keeping that tradition going. We have to keep those guys up in the forefront of our minds, in the papers, in the magazines, and keep kids that are growing up right now interested in guys like that that keep USA Hockey growing.

Dave Fischer, USA Hockey Jeremy, thanks very much. You mentioned the World Junior Championships. I'm not sure everyone knows, but still today, Jeremy played in that tournament two years, '88 and '89, he is the all-time United States point leader in that tournament, 25 points, 13 goals, 12 assists, 14 games. Still very much at the top of the record book in many categories for the World Junior Championships in the U.S.

A couple other things I wanted to mention. I think you all know, too, on this coming Sunday, it will be the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Olympic women's ice hockey team winning the first ever gold medal awarded in the sport. It was February 17th of 1998 when the United States had that terrific victory over Canada. And I'd also direct you to the NHL Network in the U.S. They have a lot of programming over the course of the three days of Hockey Weekend Across America specific to American hockey, including top 10 draft picks of 1988. That's Friday at 6:00 eastern. The whole rundown you'll find on our website and the release we sent out yesterday. In the draft of 1988, Mike Modano and Jeremy Roenick. Without further ado, we'll open it up to questions.

Kevin Allen, USA Today I want to take you back in time a little bit. I'm doing a piece on the contributions that parents make. I remember many years ago the story, but I don't have all to get my arms around it, with regard to you were living outside Maryland or outside Washington, D.C. and you were commuting trying to get to New Jersey. Can you walk me through what your family had to do in order to prepare you.

Jeremy Roenick Well, first of all, living in Virginia, I moved to Virginia when I was 10 or 11. The hockey was okay there. It was not great, but I think when I got there we boosted it up a little bit, my dad did, in terms of introducing it to more of the Northeast.

The second year I lived there, I had the opportunity to play in New Jersey, which was one of the powerhouse teams in the division, the conference, that I was playing in, the New Jersey Rockets. We had a chance to win a national championship and I wanted to be a part of that. In order to do that, I had to leave school at 1:30 every Friday afternoon, my mom would pick me up from school, take me to Dulles Airport, which was just outside in Virginia. I would jump on a Peoples Express commuter plane up to Newark. She would just drop me off at the front gate, front curb. I was 14 years old. I had to find my way through the airport, onto the planes, Peoples Express, up to Newark.

I'd get picked up by a family friend whose son was also on the team, and I would practice on Friday nights, and we would play Saturday and Sunday, whether we had to travel, whatever we had to do. Then I would fly back the last flight, Sunday night, then I would go to school for the week, then I would do it all over again the next week.

After doing that for a year, my family decided that we needed more, and my dad gave up a six-figure job to move the family to Boston so they could send me to a prep school, a private school, to play hockey. They made a decision not to send me away. They didn't want to send me away to a boarding school, so they moved the whole family. He probably took a half a cut in pay just to move the family so I had the opportunity to play the best hockey I was able to play.

Kevin Allen, USA Today In retrospect, at the time it seemed like the logical thing to do, but that's quite a sacrifice. Have you had a chance to talk about that with your family?

Jeremy Roenick My dad and I, we talk quite often. It never goes unappreciated. I never forget it. It's worked out for our family. It's worked out for me. You know, my dad gets a lot of appreciation out of it. He gets to sit there and watch me on the tube every night and know the sacrifice he made has allowed me to get to where I am. He gets a lot of enjoyment out of sitting in front of the TV and watching me, you know, battle night in, night out on a professional level. I think that in itself is a huge gratification.

Kevin Allen, USA Today I wanted to ask you about your relationship with Ron Wilson. He gives you a little run for your money for being the most glib guy on the team. You know him pretty well. Is that humor one of the reasons why he's sort of a likable guy to play for, because he does have a good sense of humor? Makes it a little fun, anyway.

Jeremy Roenick I've always liked Ron since I played for him in '98. I have really, really come to love him and respect him playing for him this year. He's been a breath of fresh air for me as a veteran player, to come and to be able to have a relationship with a coach that is very sarcastic, very fun, honest and respected. There's a lot of respect between the two of us, which I think allows our relationship to be so strong.

I've been very lucky to be able to play for a guy like that, especially at this point in my career. He's very stern. He's very knowledgeable. But he's like one of the guys, which I think makes him so much better to play for because he doesn't - at least for me, I don't feel uncomfortable around him. That's a really good trait or quality to have as a coach, that you know how to deal with veteran players. And he is a guy that understands and gets the game and knows the game and appreciates it. Him and I have a very, very good relationship. He's quickly become my favorite coach I've played for.

John McGourty, NHL.com Tell us, what would be your proudest moment in the Team USA sweater.

Jeremy Roenick Well, I think a couple moments that I've experienced. Obviously winning the silver medal in the Olympics in 2002 has been one of the greatest achievements I've had in hockey. That was so special, just to be in an Olympic atmosphere and to win a medal. An actual medal of an Olympics is something that you always dream of as a kid, especially since 1980.

Going to my first World Juniors in Moscow in '88 was just -- it was like a dream for me to be able to travel to a country like that and play in such a high level at that time, was something that I will always remember.

Pierre LeBrun, CP Two years from now it will be 2010 in Vancouver.

Jeremy Roenick Awesome.

Pierre LeBrun, CP I wanted to get your thoughts on the U.S. team. A lot of young U.S. guys breaking through right now in the NHL. What are your thoughts on what that team is going to look like?

Jeremy Roenick First I'll start by saying I think it's an awesome, awesome venue for the Olympic Games. When I saw that Vancouver got the Olympic Games, I couldn't be more happy for the site they picked. Whistler being close by, with the excitement that Vancouver hockey players and fans bring to the game, it's been one of my favorite places to play in my career. So I was really happy. I mean, I might even venture up there to bring my son up there so he can experience it. That's just the kind of feeling I have about Vancouver.

Hopefully the U.S. guys, guys like Patrick Kane, we're going to need guys like him to bolster a group to compete in that. I mean, it's going to be some great hockey. Obviously the Russians are still strong. The Canadians are the ever-so-powerful dynasty that they can continue to lead in the U.S. Juniors. If we want to do anything in the Olympics, guys like Patrick are going to have to really step up and show why they're so dominant in the National Hockey League and why they're stars.

But it's good because we are so close to the States, being in Vancouver, it's right across the border, I think a lot of U.S. people can get up there and support the team and see what I think is like the next generation of players coming into international hockey, which is very, very important...

Dave Caldwell, New York Times I have a strategy question about overtime games. Obviously some games have two points, some have three. How do you sort of approach the last minutes of a tie game? Do you try to win it in regulation? Does it matter what team you're playing?

Jeremy Roenick Yeah, it all depends on the team that you're playing. I think if you're playing a team that's within your division, you have to be very careful about the strategy that you use to try to win the game. It's best to get in there and try to get the push, maybe at least get a point. The last thing you want to do is lose an extra point to the team you're playing. Obviously with a shootout, it's a little different scenario. The team with the better shooters usually are going to get the extra point.

But if we're playing a team from the east, I think we're more inclined to really institute our defense into the play on the four-on-four, try to get the extra two points. If we do lose that extra point, at least we're losing it to a team that's in the other conference, it really doesn't affect our standings too often. But, you know, with all the games that we play against our divisional rivals nowadays, it's taken very seriously about how you structure your overtime play, for sure.

Dave Caldwell, New York Times I notice that your team has seven overtime losses, which is a little bit more than the average. Is that something you're looking for?

Jeremy Roenick It's just I think our lack of ability to score in shootouts.

Harry Thompson, USA Hockey Magazine In your opening remarks, you were talking about some of the young players coming up. T.J. Oshie plays for the University of North Dakota and has been drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Blues, calls one of his fondest hockey memories being out on the inline sport court with you during one of the times you were out there back in early 2000. Can I get some of your thoughts about the pride you feel, the impact you've had, not only on individuals such as that, but just the overall growth of youth hockey in America.

Jeremy Roenick I mean, hearing things like that makes me really, really proud. It gives me a really good feeling inside to know that I've helped some of the kids get interested in hockey, to have that effect on kids in terms of their wanting to be a professional hockey player.

I remember when I gave out the trophies at the bantam national championships a few years back, a number of years back, in Phoenix. At the time I didn't realize it, but I was giving one of the trophies out to the team from Alaska that won the bantam national championship, and Scott Gomez was on the team. He had told me the story a number of years later, that was one of the greatest things -- winning the bantam national championships was something, but when you gave out the trophies, it made it even more exciting.

You know, that made me feel real good to know that a guy who's now a very big star in the National Hockey League, you know, was at the tip of my fingers receiving a national award. It's gratifying, it really is. Hopefully that will continue on for the next few years, the guys that are playing now can do that again for the young kids coming up.

Friday Recap: Evgeni Nabokov turns in Vezina caliber performance in 2-1 OT win over Columbus

San Jose Sharks Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets NHL photo goaltender Fredrik Norrena
San Jose Sharks Jody Shelley

Evgeni Nabokov cast his ballot for the Vezina Award with a spectacular 31-save performance Friday as the Sharks registered a 2-1 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Center Marcel Goc opened the scoring in the first, Joe Thornton scored the game winner in overtime from the left faceoff dot, but it was Evgeni Nabokov who stole the show with several jaw dropping saves.

The first highlight reel save came after a hard forecheck by Rick Nash lead to a turnover inside the blueline. Manny Malhotra could not thread a pass through traffic, but center Dan Fritsche blistered a shot from 20 feet out that was swallowed up by Nabokov. Later in the first, Michael Peca fed left wing Jason Chimera a breakout pass in the neutral zone. Chimera tried to hesitate on his forehand, but an extended Nabokov poke check prevented Chimera from bringing it back to his forehand.

It was more of the same in the second. Malhotra broke into the zone, shoulder faked inside before taking a hard stride out to his left and snapping a shot labeled for the high glove side. Nonchalant looking glove save by Nabokov, just like another day at the office. Jason Chimera, named second star after a very strong game, beat two San Jose Sharks (Ozolinsh, Rivet) to a puck along the wall to create a breakaway. Chimera breaks in from a hard angle with a lot of speed, and moves the puck twice trying to get Nabokov to move and create room 5-hole. No room, Chimera is forced wide left before he tries to lift the puck up high. Nabokov quickly stacks the pads to his right, and puts an exclamation mark on the save. Chimera looks a little stunned at the missed opportunity, and Ozolinsh quickly moves in to control the rebound behind the net. Chimera is yelling to himself on his way back to the bench.

There is a scramble in front of the Sharks crease, and Malhotra is sandwiched off his feet by McLaren and Cheechoo, falling on top of Nabokov. Prone on the ice, Nabokov stacks his pads again and corrals a weak shot by Gilbert Brule that trickles through traffic. After the play, two more Sharks are checked on top of Nabokov. Referee Tom Kowal signals a penalty shot, somewhere in the pile of bodies someone was denied a scoring chance. Rick Nash will take it. Mano-e-mano duel between the two players who should have rightfully been named 2008 Allstar Game MVP, Nash for his ASG hat trick, Nabokov for his ASG shutout. Nash skates in from the right side, moves the puck to his forehand, but he loses control as he tries to move it to his backhand. Nabokov is focused throughout, poking the puck away from Nash, and then kicking it away from the crease as it bounces to his right. Columbus 4-on-3 power play late in the second, 22-goal scorer Nikolai Zherdev tries to pound home a puck from the doorstep, but he can not get one passed the left leg pad of Nabokov. Nash beats Ozolinsh, but he wrists a shot near Nabokov's midsection.

Third period Nabokov is on my side of the ice, and he continues to pump himself up on stoppages and inbetween plays. Chimera takes the puck almost end-to-end. After spinning off a check near his own goal line, Chimera skates with determination up ice and creates about 15 feet between himself and Patrick Marleau. He hits Michael Peca with a hard pass, but Craig Rivet deflects the puck to the right corner. Peca pulls up and fires a one-touch pass to Chimera who drove to the front of the net. With his stick on the ice, Chimera tips the puck up over Nabokov to tie the game at 1-1. Chimera's goal, his 11th of the season, boosted his goal scoring streak to 3 games.

Evgeni Nabokov earned his 30th win of the season, stopping 31 of 32 shots. The NHL ironman who has started all but one of his team's games should be considered the favorite for the Vezina Award given to the NHL's best goaltender. Subscribe to NHL Center Ice Online, check out the archived games section for February 8th, and watch this game as Vezina exhibit 1A.

A photo gallery from the game is available here. Youtube video highlights from the game are available here.

[Update] Trade rumor notes:

There was considerable trade speculation circling around the Sharks this week. TSN.ca broke the story of Ottawa Senators defenseman Wade Redden declining a trade to the San Jose Sharks. Although he is in the final year of his 2-year, $13-million contract, Redden has a no trade clause and he expressed a desire to make a playoff run with his current team. David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News noted that previous Wade Redden to San Jose rumors included captain Patrick Marleau, but the Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported that former Hobey Baker winning defenseman Matt Carle and a draft pick were rumored to be the return this time.

The Sharks radio broadcast noted that 10 NHL scouts were in attendance for the San Jose vs Columbus game, but I only have the names of 9: Derek Clancey from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Rob Laird from the Los Angeles Kings, Jamie Hislop from the Minnesota Wild, Chuck Fletcher also from Pittsburgh, Marshall Johnston from the Carolina Hurricanes, Rick Hehoe from the New York Rangers (SJ travels to NY/NJ for 3 games next week), Dave Hietz from the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Archie Henderson from the Ottawa Senators.

A player who might have been more in the Sharks wheel house was on the ice Friday with Columbus, Blue Jackets captain Adam Foote. There has been a lot of talk out of Columbus about the veteran defenseman's future with the Blue Jackets, but he has expressed an interest in staying, his teammates have spoken about how much he means to the team, and fans have expressed an interest for him to stay. Blue Jackets management has said that playoff position, injury status, and team performance prior to the trade deadline on February 26th would determine whether or not the pending free agent Foote would be moved.

On the Sharks side of the ledger sheet, general manager Doug Wilson has to determine if a major trade or a minor tweak is needed to smooth out inconsistent play, and to contribute gritty secondary scoring that will be needed in the playoffs. The return of bruising winger Ryane Clowe, veteran center Curtis Brown, and the development of Devin Setoguchi and Lukas Kaspar with the AHL affiliate in Worcester give the Sharks organization in-house options.

[Update2] Sharks put up a wall, Nabokov toughest guy on the block - San Jose Mercury News.

[Update3] Jackets settle for a point, Shelley gets assist against former teammates - Columbus Post Dispatch.

In his first meeting against the Jackets since the Jan. 29 trade, Shelley assisted on the game's first goal and Joe Thornton won it in overtime with a power-play goal at 1:49. The Jackets' Dan Fritsche was serving a hooking penalty...

The Jackets no doubt feel they deserved more after outshooting the Sharks 26-5 through two periods. But they couldn't solve Evgeni Nabokov, who stopped 31 shots. That total doesn't include a second-period Rick Nash penalty shot that rolled off his stick as he tried to deke the goalie.


Darryl Hunt: WorSharks First Half Report Card

As the WorSharks head to Hershey as their six game road trip continues, the much delayed mid-season report card makes its appearance. The stats are as of last Wednesday’s game at Lowell, the grades are based on games played through February 2 vs Manchester.

Mike Iggulden - C (18g, 23a, 41pts, -4)
One would think the team leader in goals, assists, and points would earn himself an easy “A”, but that’s not the case here. Iggulden has had some issues in the last few weeks, many times taking off whole games or instead trying to get by on raw talent instead of 100% effort. Speculation is Iggulden is upset of being passed over for recall to San Jose. If that’s the case, all he’s done is prove the Sharks front office was right to not recall him. Longtime Worcester hockey fans are getting ready to dust off the David Haas Award for him. Grade: D

Graham Mink - RW (12g, 19a, 31pts, -7)
Comparing his stats to last year you night think Mink is having an off year, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Despite not scoring as often as last season Mink has stepped up as the WorSharks first captain with an increase in physical play and leadership by example. Despite missing several games with a leg injury (one that looks like it may still bother him some) Mink continues to be one of the top pure power forwards in the AHL. Grade: B

Tom Cavanagh - C (11g, 16a, 27pts, -5)
One of the WorSharks most dependable forwards, Cavanagh is the prototypical hard working center that plays well on both sides of the red line. He is one of the few forwards that plays on both the power play and penalty kill, and can play whatever role is needed on all three regular strength lines. Cavanagh is just two goals short of his career high (12). Grade: B

Lukas Kaspar - LW (13g, 10a, 23pts, -1)
Kaspar has really stepped up his play this season, becoming a much more complete player. Still prefers to use his quickness over taking the body, but certainly isn’t afraid to using his size and strength when needed. He has very deceptive quickness, and is able to go from gliding to full speed in just a couple strides. Sometimes he gets too fancy with the puck in the offensive end, and needs to trust his instincts a little more often. He has also improved defensively over last season. Grade: B

Riley Armstrong - RW (13g, 10a, 23pts, +5)
Armstrong is one of those players that fans love when he’s on their team and hate when he’s on the opposition. The stereotypical pest, what Armstrong lacks in ability he more than makes up for with heart and determination. He plays very well along the boards, and is not afraid to dish out big hits and to push the limits of the rules to antagonize his opponent. Grade: B

Nate Raduns - C (9g, 13a, 22pts, +5)
During the preseason game vs Providence, Nate Raduns name wasn’t even on the roster handed out to the media. I doubt there is a WorSharks fan that doesn’t know who he is now. Raduns started the regular season with five goals in his first four professional games, and despite a long goal scoring slump Raduns continues to improve his play on both ends of the ice. Raduns has seen time on all four regular strength lines, and is quickly becoming one of the WorSharks most dependable players. Grade: B

Dan Spang - D (5g, 16a, 21pts, -7)
Will the real Dan Spang please stand up? Is he the tentative, turnover prone player we saw early in the season? Or is he the aggressive, offensive minded player we see now? There’s lots of questions, and only Spang can really answer them. Grade: C

Patrick Traverse - D (6g, 14a, 20pts, -1)
Traverse is doing exactly what was expected of him, anchoring a fairly young defense corps and adding the occasional goal when the situation arises. He’s not very flashy; he just gets the job done. Like every player career AHLer he makes the occasional mistake, but the good clearly outweighs the bad. Grade: B

Derek Joslin - D (6g, 14a, 20pts, -1)
When the season began it looked like Joslin was a little in awe at the speed of the pro game, and made lots of rookie mistakes in his own zone. His play as of late places shows he has all the speed and skills to play in the NHL. Joslin leads the WorSharks defense in power play goals scored, and in the last few games has distanced himself from Raduns as Worcester’s rookie of the year. Grade: B

Tom Walsh - D (1g, 19a, 20pts, -4)
Walsh is the standard AHL depth defenseman. Has flashes of brilliance on both sides of the red line, and along with that comes the occasional brain cramp. A fairly good puck handler and doesn’t generally turn the puck over by making a bad pass. Not an overly physical player, Walsh often gets pushed around too easily in front of the net. Grade: C

Dennis Packard - LW (5g, 10a, 15pts, 0)
It’s “what you see is what you get” with Packard, who is the standard third and fourth line AHL winger. While he won’t blind you with speed or awe you with ability, Packard doesn’t make many mistakes, making the most of the talent he has. He’s also one of the WorSharks better penalty killers, which is one of the reasons he stuck with the team after his PTO was up. Grade: C

T.J. Fox - F (8g, 5a, 13pts, -2)
As free agent out of Union College, fans were uncertain what the undrafted forward coming out of a small college would be able to do in the AHL. What he’s done is become a decent depth forward that has improved his game each month during the season. He still needs lots of improvement on both sides of the red line before anyone can even think of him playing in the NHL, but so far, so good. Grade: C

Devon Setoguchi - RW (3g, 10a, 13pts, +3)
Setoguchi has split his time between San Jose and Worcester, and it may be best for his development if San Jose would just keep him in the AHL for the time being. Setoguchi has all the tools to be a top line winger in the NHL and it shows in his play in the AHL during his last assignment. What he needs is to play and mature as a professional. His grade is lowered slightly due to some uninspired play earlier in the season, but he only has to play to his potential to raise it to the max. Grade: B

Ashton Rome - RW (4g, 8a, 12pts, -9)
What was supposed to be a break out year for Rome has turned into more of the same for the Sharks fifth round pick. While he’s scored as many points as last season in only 39 games, Rome really hasn’t shown much in the way of offensive or defensive play. Rome has the size and speed to be a very good player, and why he doesn’t use either of those abilities more is a mystery. Grade: D

Brad Staubitz - D (2g, 9a, 11pts, -3)
Staubitz has been moved to forward as of late at the Sharks search for a physical presence in its forward lines. Despite being a lifelong defenseman, Staubitz has shown this season and last in his opportunities at forward that he’s not out of place there. Often paired on defense with Walsh, the two complement each other’s play with Staubitz being the physical player in the pairing. Grade: B

Josh Prudden - C (5g, 4a, 9pts, -3)
The WorSharks have announced Prudden has been released from his PTO, although no transaction has been reported by the AHL as of Saturday. Prudden has played well on all four lines, and can play the role of checker or scorer equally well. As one of the WorSharks best face off men, Prudden was often on the ice in key situations no matter where the face off was located. Grade: B

Craig Valette - C (2g, 6a, 8pts, -9)
While not showing it on the score sheet, Valette has elevated his play to the next level from a game play stand point. Valette has shown a willingness to drop the gloves this season that he didn’t show last season, and his aggressive forechecking is the best on the team. Valette is the best penalty killer on the team, and is quickly cementing himself as the team’s best defensive forward. Grade: B

Brennan Evans - D (0g, 6a, 6pts, +1)
As a pure defenseman, any point Evans scores is a bonus. Evans is the team’s most physical player, and has dropped the gloves many times in defense of a teammate. He was slumping earlier in the season trying to do things that weren’t part of his game, but has come along as of late to being his plus/minus score back into black numbers. Grade: C

Thomas Greiss - G (13-10-1, 3.06, .898)
Greiss hasn’t had the year anyone has hoped he would, but much of that may have to do with some less than stellar play in front of him at times. The WorSharks terrible penalty killing has also led to some fairly unimpressive stats for Greiss. One thing is for certain though, the WorSharks playoff hopes lay squarely on the shoulders of Greiss. Grade: B

Taylor Dakers - G (4-9-1, 3.05, .893)
Dakers has had a “Jekyll and Hyde” type of season, with great games followed by games where it looked like he’d never played the position before. He needs to work on every aspect of his game, and based on published reports really needs to apply himself at practice. Dakers is a long way from being a bona-fide AHL goaltender, never mind playing in the NHL. Grade: C

Dimitri Patzold - G (4-4-1, 2.94, .906)
Despite the .500 record Patzold has had more good games than bad, but is still wildly inconsistent. By bringing the WorSharks back from down 3-0 vs Manchester to a double overtime loss in game six in last season’s playoffs Patzold showed he can take his game to the next level, but has unfortunately not shown that level at all this season. Grade: C

Roy Sommer - Head Coach (21-20-3-3)
While this isn’t the most talented team in the league, the WorSharks are much better than their record indicates. In far too many games this team is not prepared to play at the opening whistle, and there are virtually no adjustments made during the game. Their special teams play is only slight better than pathetic. Their line changes are ill-timed and poorly executed. Sommer also doesn’t seem to know when to utilize his timeout. How noticeable is it? When Sommer called his timeout with 70 seconds to go against Manchester recently, many fans let out a mock cheer. My instinct is to give a failing grade, but I know things could get worse. Here’s to hoping they get better. Grade: D


Sharks can't match strong start by Colorado, Avalanche win 3-1 at HP Pavilion

San Jose Sharks Evgeni Nabokov Jaroslav Hlinka
San Jose Sharks Colorado Avalanche hockey photos

Two teams dealing with significant injuries clashed at HP Pavilion on Wednesday night for the fourth and final regular season meeting. Colorado came out strong from the drop of the puck, and earned a 3-1 win on goals by Ben Guite, T.J. Hensik and Jeff Finger. The Avalanche were without the services of major contributors Paul Stastny (appendectomy), Ryan Smyth (ankle), Joe Sakic (hernia). The San Jose Sharks were absent twin colossal blueliners Douglas Murray (groin) and Kyle McLaren (knee), and forward Ryane Clowe (knee).

The San Jose Sharks could not match Colorado's intensity in the first period. The Avalanche outshot San Jose 13-4, 23-8 if you include blocked shots and missed shots, 3 penalties and 5 turnovers also gave the Colorado offense room to get in a groove. University of Maine product, right wing Ben Guite, scored his third goal in 3 games to put Colorado on the scoreboard in the first period. Guite tipped home a Brett Clark shot from the right point.

Patrick Marleau answered with a power play goal in the second period. Everyone on the ice thought Sandis Ozolinsh was driving the lane to unleash a shot, instead he found a wide open Marleau with his stick on the ice to the left of Jose Theodore. The goal made Patrick Marleau the sixth San Jose Sharks to reach double digits in goals this season. Based on 53 games played, Marleau is projected to register 15 goals, 26 assists, and 42 points after an 82 game season (-31). After four straight 28+ goal, 57+ point seasons, this would be Marleau's lowest point production total in 5 years.

T.J. Hensik added a power play goal for the Avalanche less that 10 minutes later, giving them a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish. The San Jose Sharks applied consistent pressure in the second and third periods, but they could not get another puck by Jose Theodore. Jeff Finger added an empty net goal late in the third period as the Sharks pulled their goaltender and tried to score the equalizer. Theodore (14-12-2) finished with 30 saves on 31 shots, registering his 14th win of the season. Evgeni Nabokov (29-17-6) finished with 22 saves on 24 shots.

A photo gallery from the game is available here. Youtube video highlights from the game are available here.

[Update] Theodore elevates Avs in return to net, After nursing a back injury, the goalie makes 30 saves as the Avs close in on the division lead - Adrian Dater for the Denver Post.

Jose Theodore missed a few games with a back injury. Despite the fact he carried the Avalanche to victory Wednesday night, he was not reinjured.

Theodore was outstanding in his return, stopping 30 of 31 shots in the Avs' 3-1 victory against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion. Goals by Ben Guite, T.J. Hensick and Jeff Finger (on an empty net) earned the injury-ravaged Avalanche another two points, moving it within one point of the Northwest Division lead.

[Update2] Theodore solid as Avs top Sharks - Rocky Mountain News.

Theodore looked as healthy as ever, making 26 of his 30 stops over the final two periods in the Avalanche's 3-1 victory against the San Jose Sharks before a crowd of 17,087.

"You get dehydrated, so you have to drink a lot of water," Theodore said. "But it's a great building to play in. The atmosphere is great, and they're a fun team to play against because they play a fast game."


Sports Science video featuring Olaf Kolzig and Alexander Ovechkin: Does an NHL goaltender possess cat-like reflexes?

The Sports Science show on Fox Sports that analyzes athletics from a scientific perspective moved from the universal questions of which sport features the hardest hits and what does a cheap shot feel like, to determine once and for all if an NHL goaltender actually has "cat-like" reflexes.

6-foot-3, 225 pound Washington Capitals goaltender Olaf Kolzig steps in front of the slow motion cameras to fulfill the guinea pig role, and NHL scoring leader Alexander Ovechkin lined up to take shots at him from 25 feet out.

The Sports Science crew determined that cats have a reaction time of 0.10 seconds. After examining the slow motion video, they explained that a glove save is more of a reflex action than a reaction to a thought process. Ovechkin's shot took 0.22 seconds to reach Kolzig. It took 0.11 seconds for Kolzig's brain to locate the puck, and 0.10 seconds for him to make the reflex glove save. The Sports Science crew proved that yes, Olaf Kolzig does has reflexes as fast as a cat.

Thanks to On Frozen Blog for posting the video. The Sports Science program airs on Fox Sports Sundays at 9PM. Other featured athletes on the show have included UFC Champion "Rampage" Jackson, former heavyweight champion Chris Byrd, former 49er Jerry Rice, Raider kicker Sebastian Janikowski, Los Angeles Kings veteran Luc Robitaille and softball great Jennie Finch.


Two points the hard way, Jeremy Roenick and Evgeni Nabokov lead Sharks in 3-2 shootout win over Chicago

Chicago Blackhawks NHL photo Nikolai Khabibulin
Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane Douglas Murray
San Jose Sharks pregame national anthem

The Sharks radio broadcast crew made a comment that Evgeni Nabokov was still carrying momentum from shutting down the NHL's best during the Allstar Skills Competition, and shutting out the Eastern Allstar team and Ilya Kovalchuck in the second period of the Allstar Game. Nabokov was focused and combative against the Chicago Blackhawks for this Saturday matinee, and he emerged with a hard fought home win after a goaltending duel with Nikolai Khabibulin pushed the Sharks to the brink of a 5-round overtime shootout.

Jeremy Roenick scored the decisive shootout goal blocker-side to give the Sharks a 3-2 win over a Blackhawk team that he played his first eight seasons for. "(Khabibulin's) a guy you really can't deke on because his side-to-side movement is so good. I think he thought I was going to go to my patented backhand-to-forehand move, but I tried to change things up a little. I knew you had to be a shooter on him." Roenick told the Mercury News.

Rookie Patrick Kane scored on the first shootout attempt for Chicago, rifling a forehand top shelf after a nice shoulder fake in front of the crease. Khabibulin stopped Tomas Plihal and Jonathan Cheechoo, before Joe Pavelski tied the shootout at 1-1 with a quick release just inside the post. Khabibulin made a nice save on a Steve Bernier wrist shot, before Roenick scored the game winner in the fifth round. Evgeni Nabokov's save on Patrick Sharp is quickly becoming a trademark move. He threw his legs out for a double pad stack to his left, with his glove hand taking away the top portion of the net. In Nabokov's second save on Ilya Kovalchuk in the middle period of the Allstar Game, he made a similar padstack/glovehand combination move along with a poke check. Call it a Nab-save, or a Nab-stack.

The Sharks began February with a critical shootout win at home. It was the first shootout win at HP Pavilion since October 29, 2005. Nils Ekman scored the game winning goal in that game to give the Sharks a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames. Saturday's victory over Chicago boosts the Sharks shootout record to 3-6 this season, 6-15 alltime. The win at the Shark tank builds on a 5-3 home record in January. San Jose has been trending better at HP Pavilion after finishing 1-2 in October, 3-5 in November, and 2-5 in December. The win against Chicago also pushed the overall record on home ice above .500 for the first time (12-11-1-3). Solid goaltending, a suffocating team defense, and improved secondary scoring have been three keys to the Sharks turnaround.

The Saturday matinee began with a little gamesmanship between Chicago head coach Denis Savard and San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson. Savard challenged his team after a recent 6-3 loss to a banged up Colorado, and teammates Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith came to blows during a Thursday practice. Savard put his checking line on the ice to start the game, Rene Bourque-Adam Burish-Craig Adams, and Wilson answered briefly adding newly acquired enforcer Jody Shelley to a line of Jeremy Roenick and Joe Thornton.

A hard hit by Shelley lead to an extended fight between defenseman Douglas Murray and Burish. After the two traded several blows, the referees had trouble seperating the two combatants as well as their teammates gathered near the Chicago bench. David Pollak reports that Shelley was moved to a line with Joe Pavelski and Jeremey Roenick for the remainder of the game. Shelley finished with 4:55 minutes of ice time and 3 hits in his San Jose Sharks debut.

Patrick Sharp split Joe Pavelski and Matt Carle to create a breakaway late in the first period. Nabokov made the save, but Sharp drew a hooking penalty on Matt Carle. It was the first of five successful penalty kills on the night pushing the Sharks 2nd leading PK percentage to 86.9%. San Jose trails only the Dallas Stars (87.6%). Sharp, the Blackhawks second leading scorer, tipped a Cam Barker point shot off the post at the end of the first period. The even strength goal for Sharp was his first in 7 games, despite registering 23 goals and 14 assists in 50 games played this season.

Jonathan Cheechoo scored a power play goal to tie the game 5:35 into the second period. After two consecutive scrambles in front of Khabibulin, Joe Thornton found an open Cheechoo at the side of the crease. A subsequent Cheechoo fist pump draws a very loud reaction from the crowd. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic added a second goal for the San Jose Sharks with Jonathan Cheechoo setting up a screen in front of Khabibulin. The goal gave the Sharks their first lead of the night.

Less than two minutes later Duncan Keith scored from the point to tie the game at 2-2. Center Tuomo Ruutu intiated the play after winning a battle in the corner to gain possession of a loose puck. Evgeni Nabokov (29-16-6, .911SV%, 2.17GAA, 6SO) finished with 19 saves on 21 shots, registering his league leading 29th win of the season. Nikolai Khabibulin finished with 38 saves on 40 shots.

Post-game comments by San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson:

"You have to persevere, you think about those things but I would be concerned if we were up 4-1. That is what you guard against. We played a solid game tonight. They had a couple of seeing eye pucks go in. Khabibulin had a great game in net for them, we jast had to hang tough, and I think we did."

"I am blessed witha lot of righties (when it comes to picking shootout participants). Righties have a distinct advantage on a right catching goalie, because you can go over the glove easier, and thats how I feel about it. Get as many righties as you can, and throw a different guy out there who might be excited to do it. We tought Tomas Plihal would be excited to do it. Khabibulin could have never seen him before, so anything can happen in that situation. Joe Pavelski has got a great record. I think he is like 7-10 now on shootouts. He is a standard. Then you just gut feel it from there. J.R. has played a lot with Khabibulin with Phoenix in the past. He had a good idea what he would do. But you can pretty much expect Pav will get the job done."

"(Jody Shelley) played fine. I liked his agressiveness. He certainly makes some of our other guys bigger. He is great on the bench and in the room. He fits right in. We have a pretty enthusiastic group, and they welcomed him. We had a little excitment going on the first shift, on his hit, and everyone piled on. It was a nice start for him. (On what he expected with Shelley on the ice to start the game) I was looking for a riot (laughter). I wanted a big cheer, I wanted the fans to welcome him... I wanted to show confidence in him right away."

Post-game comments by Chicago Blackhawks head coach Denis Savard:

"It's a tough game. I've got to give them a lot of credit. They're a big team. In order to get the Stanley Cup, we're going to have to cross paths with them at some point. We haven't won here in a long time, but we gave ourselves a chance to win. We came within one shot of winning. It's unfortunate because it was a superb performance by Khabibulin."

"You look at their team with the size and the strength. We were in the penalty box a lot tonight. A lot of their shots came mostly on the power-play. Overall it's a good thing for us to try to emulate a team like that. They're big, strong, they battle and they finish checks everywhere. They really wear you down. But we battled right to the end."

Post-game comments by San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov:

"Khabby shut the door for them, I tought we played pretty well. I thought we outplayed them for most of the game, but that's hockey. We could not capitalize on more than 2. Shootouts is just one of those things where you never knoew who is going to win..."

"We are in February and every point is crucial. It doesn't matter if it is after Calgary, the next game is going to be important again. We are going to fight for first place in our division, that is our goal. Today we played well, and I thought we also played well in Calgary."

A photo gallery from the game is available here. Youtube video highlights from the game are available here.

[Update] Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune noted that Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin played a solid game with 38 saves and a shootout loss to San Jose, but that Chicago has lost 10 straight games to the Sharks. Prior to the game on his Tribune Icing blog, Kuc called the contest a "must-win" for Chicago's fading playoff chances. Lacy Banks of the Chicago Sun Times wrote about a mounting frustration regarding Khabibulin's 10-game losing streak. The Hawks chances looked good heading into a shootout with a 4-1 record. San Jose entered with a 2-5 overall record this season, winless on the shootout at home.

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Dethrone Monarchs 3-1

The Worcester Sharks outhit, outshot, outpunched, and outscored the Manchester Monarchs Saturday night during a 3-1 victory at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of a near sellout crowd of 6897.

WorSharks captain Graham Mink got the building rocking early by firing a laser of a wrist shot over the glove of Monarchs goaltender Daniel Taylor and into the top corner for a 1-0 Worcester lead just over six minutes into the game. Dennis Packard and seldom used defenseman Marc Busenburg got the assists.

TJ Fox would make it 2-0 just over two minutes later as the WorSharks crashed the net after Mink wheeled the net and fired a low wrister. In the scrum that followed the puck ended up on the stick of Fox, who pushed it into the open net. Packard picked up his second assist on the night for his original feed to Mink.

The first of three fights on the night took place under a minute later after Manchester defenseman Drew Bagnall gloved Brad Staubitz, who was playing forward with the injury to Mike Iggulden, in the face after the puck was tied up by Taylor. Both skated into the far corner where both dropped the gloves, where Bagnall held on tightly as Staubitz tried to get an arm free to throw punches. He succeeded several times, landing every clean punch thrown in the fight. Despite being dominated in the fight Bagnall continued to chirp at Staubitz as both were led to the penalty boxes, and continued to do so while they served their majors.

The game's second fight was a quick affair, with Craig Valette dropping the gloves after being speared in the shins by John Zeiler behind the Monarchs net. Valette landed five clean rights before Zeiler could even get a hand on Valette, and even then all he could do was take Valette to the ice. For good measure Valette threw two more punches that connected while both were on the ice just as the linesmen jumped in.

The second period would begin with the WorSharks continuing a power play, and as the penalty expired Manchester cleared the puck into the Worcester zone. WorSharks netminder Dimitri Patzold stopped the puck and left it for Derek Joslin, who hit Mink with a long pass sending him into the Manchester zone. Mink cut to the front of the net on the backhand and flipped a puck that knuckled under Taylor and into the net for a 3-0 just 39 seconds into the second period.

Staubitz and Bagnall would have round two just before the five minute mark as the teams lines up for a face-off in the Monarchs zone. The lineman would misfire on the face-off, but unfortunately for Bagnall Staubitz didn't misfire once, as Staubitz absolutely pummeled Bagnall with huge right hand bombs.

After another altercation in front of the benches, this time between Riley Armstrong and Monarchs enforcer Kevin Westgarth, Manchester would score a power play goal to make it 3-1 after Gabe Gauthier beat Patzold from a bad angle after Patzold had made a nice pad save.

The teams would trade power plays twice during the rest of the game but neither squad could score during their man advantages. After Manchester pulled Taylor for an extra attacker Lukas Kaspar would ring the iron from about 50', and in a hat trick bid Mink would hit the post himself from 150' just as time expired.

Jonathan Tremblay was the only healthy scratch for Worcester. Other Worcester scratches were Mike Iggulden (knee, day to day), Mike Morris (surgery). Iggulden was seen around the concourse signing autographs and was walking with a slight limp. He is not expected to play this afternoon in Providence, but should be ready to play Wednesday night in Lowell.

The start of the game was delayed a few minutes as the DCU Center bull gang was called out to fix the divider between the two benches. That divider, and the pad attached, did get an abnormally large workout during the game.

The three stars of the game were:
1. Mink (2g,1a)
2. Patzold (27 saves, 1a)
3. Packard (2a)
Not too much to argue with there. I would have given Staubitz an "honorable mention". He did win "Pest of the Game", sponsored by a local extermination service.

The game was just the 12th of the season for Busenburg, but there was no rust showing on him. He played a regular shift the entire game, making several nice plays. He currently has 3 assists and is +2 on the season.

The only two WorSharks without a shot on goal were the two fight participants, Valette and Staubitz.

Prior to the game the WorSharks held the First Annual High School Classic took place between the Saint John's Pioneers and the Saint Peter-Marian Guardians. The SJ/SPM rivalry is one of the biggest and best in central Massachusetts, and it showed in the two team's very physical play. The Pioneers won the game 3-1 on goals by Devon Smith, Ben Snow, and Thomas Krysil. The Guardians goal was scored by Andrew LeClair. St John's netminder Ben Siok was the game's MVP, but the save of the day belonged to Guardians defender Drew Allain when he dove across an open net to deflected away a sure St. John's goal.

Several members of the WorSharks front office were in Binghamton for the AHL All-Star game last Monday, and all had rave reviews and very positive comments about the experience. All agreed the Senators set the bar very high, and look forward to the challenge of making next season's game in Worcester even better.

Even Strength Lines


Power Play Lines


Penalty Kill Lines

Face-Offs (offense/neutral/defense = total) (unofficial)
Raduns 0-2/2-2/3-1 = 5-5
Cavanagh 2-3/0-1/7-2 = 9-6
Armstrong 2-4/3-0/3-0 = 8-0
Fox 2-5/2-1/5-3 = 9-9
Prudden 2-0/0-0/3-1 = 5-1
Rome 1-0/0-0/0-0 = 1-0

Manchester 0 1 0--1
Worcester 2 1 0--3

1st Period
Scoring: 1, Worcester-Mink, Graham 11 (Packard, Dennis 7; Busenburg, Marc 3) 6:16. 2, Worcester-Fox, T.J. 7 (game winner) (Mink, Graham 19; Packard, Dennis 8) 8:22.
Penalties: MCH-Bagnall, Drew (Roughing, Fighting, Major), 9:04. WOR-Staubitz, Brad (Fighting, Major), 9:04. WOR-Evans, Brennan (Interference), 13:55. MCH-Zeiler, John (Fighting, Major), 16:25. WOR-Valette, Craig (Fighting, Major), 16:25. MCH-Gauthier, Gabe (Tripping), 18:36.

2nd Period
Scoring: 3, Worcester-Mink, Graham 12 (Joslin, Derek 14; Patzold, Dimitri 2) 0:39. 4, Manchester-Gauthier, Gabe 16 (power play) (Purcell, Teddy 40; Tukonen, Lauri 11) 8:28.
Penalties: MCH-Bagnall, Drew (Fighting, Major), 4:50. WOR-Staubitz, Brad (Fighting, Major), 4:50. MCH-Crosty, Paul (Roughing), 5:10. WOR-Kaspar, Lukas (High sticking), 5:10. MCH-Westgarth, Kevin (Roughing), 7:43. WOR-Armstrong, Riley (Roughing), 7:43. WOR-Evans, Brennan (Roughing, Ten minute misc.), 7:43. MCH-Milam, Troy (Hooking), 13:52. WOR-Mink, Graham (Hooking), 17:19.

3rd Period
Scoring: None.
Penalties: MCH-Dravecky, Vladimir (Slashing), 8:25. WOR-Mink, Graham (High sticking), 9:29.

Shots on Goal
Manchester 8 9 11--28
Worcester 17 13 8--38

Power Play Conversions: Manchester - 1 of 3, Worcester - 0 of 3.
Goalies: Manchester-Taylor, Daniel (58:50, 38 shots, 35 saves; record: 8-2-1). Worcester-Patzold, Dimitri (59:47, 28 shots, 27 saves; record: 3-4-1).
A: 6897. Referee: Koharski, Jamie. Linesmen: Paquette, Bob; Millea, Jack.


San Jose Sharks trade for Columbus heavyweight Jody Shelley


The San Jose Sharks acquired 6-foot-4, 230-pound Columbus Blue Jackets enforcer Jody Shelley for a 6th round 2009 draft pick on Tuesday night. General Manager Doug Wilson noted Shelley's character and his ability to make opponents uncomfortable during a statement announcing the trade. Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock also cited Shelley's character, and his membership in a 6-man team leadership group after his departure. Shelley is best remembered by San Jose fans for a 2003 punch to defenseman Brad Stuart that caused a concussion.

This season Jody Shelley has played a diminished role for the Blue Jackets with the emergence of young right winger Jared Boll. In 31 games played this season, Shelley has 44 penalty minutes, 10 shots on goal, and averaged 4:20 of ice time after a string of 7 healthy scratches. According to the readers of Hockeyfights.com, Shelley has a 1-2-3 record this season in 6 fights against D.J. King, Derek Boogaard, Aaron Downey, Jeff Cowan, George Parros and Darcy Hordichuk.

Jody Shelley is the alltime Columbus Blue Jackets franchise leader in penalty minutes with 1,025 in 380 games played. In 2002-03, he lead the NHL with 249 penalty minutes. In 2003-04 he finished 4th in penalty minutes (228), and second in the league in fighting majors (30). Shelley also holds the franchise single season marks with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL (420 PIMS) and the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL (357 PIMS). Shelley's favorite athlete? Lance Armstrong, who might be in town for the upcoming Tour of California cycling race that starts in the South Bay in mid-February.

After the trade, Shelley said his new role with the San Jose Sharks would be similar to the one he held with Columbus.

"My role is pretty cut and dry... the way the game has evolved, you have to be smart. You've got to be able to play the system. If I'm not at the level I'm supposed to be, then I'm just hurting the team... If you don't understand it, you think a guy is just looking for a fight... You take a lot of pride in putting the other guys first. You do what you can to make guys on your team feel a little bigger. We get our glory in seeing the other guys success" Shelley told the official website.

Since the February 2007 trade of Scott Parker to the Colorado Avalanche for a 2008 sixth round draft pick, the Sharks have been without a true enforcer on the ice. The job of dropping the gloves when liberties are taken has fallen to defenseman Douglas Murray (6), Craig Rivet (4), Rob Davison (4), and forward Steve Bernier (3). The Sharks have also been without physical left winger Ryan Clowe, who could return from a knee injury in early March.

It was an interesting addition for the San Jose Sharks, but one that might help stabilize the team as all of the moving parts return and get up to speed. In the past, head coach Ron Wilson has openly criticized fighting and its place in the NHL. After the acquisition of Jody Shelley he called the enforcer an important tool at his disposal, a "nuclear weapon". Former Sharks assistant coach and current television analyst Drew Remenda labeled Jody Shelley a "nuclear deterrent". The bottom line is that Shelley will be able to answer teams who try to pound out a win against San Jose, and he may even inspire more mean from the largest team in the National Hockey League.

[Update] Shelley ready to fight for Sharks - San Jose Mercury News.

Jody Shelley often has a hard time discussing what he does for a hockey team. Talking to kids is especially challenging. "When I visit elementary schools, that's always the first question - 'Why do you fight?' " Shelley said. "I'm always like, 'Well, uh, you shouldn't fight. Fighting is bad. And don't you do it. But I fight to help my teammates.'"

[Update2] Enforcers face threat, Need for speed, diverse skills undercuts their value - Columbus Post Dispatch.

Foote believes there's still room in the game for enforcers. Many teams carry one on their roster but sometimes scratch him if the opponent doesn't have a dance partner.

Shelley will help the talent-laden Sharks, Foote says, who face Anaheim eight times a season. "Everyone in that San Jose locker room just gained 10 pounds," Foote said.

[Update3] So long, Shelley. Blue Jackets trade longtime left winger to Sharks for draft pick - Columbus Post Dispatch.

[Update4] More thoughts from Army of Ohio, These fists were made for fightin', and an excellent Jody Shelley photo gallery is available from Hockeychick. Former Blue Jackets beat writer Michael Arace writes on his blog that fans were divided about the role of Shelley in Columbus, but the majority understood his value and contribution to the team. Bethany post a few quotes from Shelley upon his exit from Columbus, where he mentions that he will return to Ohio for the summer.

Light the Lamp asks why was Shelley traded, and notes that the role of an enforcer has been drastically reduced. The Columbus Post-Dispatch's Blue Jackets blog Puck Rakers, writes in a post titled The Morning After; "life goes on in professional sports... but it was weird to see Jody Shelley's stall empty this morning." More on Shelley here, and also take a look at an excellent post detailing 21 reasons why Espen Knutsen is the greatest Columbus Blue Jacket of alltime.