Wednesday, July 29, 2009

GJ Berg: Circus in the Desert (7/29 update)

Just a short update. Today, the NHL Board of Governors met with three potential owners of the NHL Phoenix Coyotes in Chicago.

First, the Board unanimously approved the ownership application of Glendale Hockey LLC (Jerry Reinsdorf, Kaites and Tavares).

Second, the Board looked with favor on the application of Ice Edge LLC (Leblanc, Breslow, Jones). But as it is incomplete, they took no action on it. The Ice Edge group plans to continue their effort to submit a complete bid to the bankruptcy court.

The big news is the apparent contentious appearance of Jim Balsillie before the Board of Governors. He was berated by the former owner of the Nashville Predators for how he abused the purchase process, and he was chided by the (outgoing) owner of the Montreal Canadiens for leaking word that the team was for sale, leading to a season of confusion and poor playoff performance. The Board unanimously rejected the PSE ownership application.

So what happens now? Well, in less than a week, objections to the submitted bid will be reviewed. And unless the judge delays the auction to review a bid from the Ice Edge group, on August 5, there could be a new owner of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Max Giese: Sharks Prospect Profile - John McCarthy

John McCarthy is ready to take the next step in his still-young hockey career. With four years of college hockey now behind him, the San Jose Sharks' seventh round selection (202nd overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft is ready for his move into the pro ranks this fall.

This month McCarthy attended the Sharks development camp and valued it as a great learning experience. "The Sharks told me that they are going to expect me to continue my offensive game while still concentrating on playing well in my own end and doing the little things well on the defensive side of the puck," said McCarthy, who is likely headed to the American Hockey League's Worcester Sharks. "I will need to work on my hands and finishing on the offensive side in order to do this."

McCarthy, a 6-foot-1, 200 pound centre, spent the last four seasons with the Boston University Terriers of the NCAA, where he totalled 29 points (including 23 assists) during his break out senior year in 2008-2009, after scoring 16 points in 109 games the three years prior. "A lot of my success on the offensive side of the game this year was a result of me playing with my linemates Nick Bonino and Brandon Yip," said McCarthy. "It seemed like all three of us had our best years this past year individually, as well as the team as a whole."

Sharks management was happy to see the increased offensive production and was very supportive of McCarthy while he captained Boston University to the 2009 NCAA Men's Hockey National Championship, but they are most impressed with McCarthy's two-way game and his leadership qualities. "He's a kid that plays really hard and he's the kind of player that does what coaches ask him to do," said San Jose Sharks Director of Scouting Tim Burke. "He really does a lot of dirty jobs."

A forward more gritty and canny than skilled or gifted, McCarthy is going to need a few years in the minors to polish his craft and further develop his skills. He likely won't ever be overly productive offensively, as his is hands and speed are only average, but his hockey-sense and hard-work could make him a valuable role player on the checking lines. "I would like him more if he was a better skater, but guys like this often will themselves into NHL jobs" said an Eastern Conference NHL scout who wished to remain anonymous. Not expected to be much of a point producer at the NHL level, McCarthy's game is more about doing all of the little things right and he will lead his teammates by example. His calling cards specifically are his exceptional work on the defensive side of the puck and his adept shot blocking.

This defensive maturity and responsibility will allow him to receive immediate play-time in Worcester this fall. "He doesn't care about how many points he gets, he's in it to win it, and he's just an unselfish player," said the scout. "He can kill penalties, you can see that he's a hard-working and smart player."

This summer the Sharks signed McCarthy to an entry-level-contract and are anxious to see how he adapts to professional hockey, starting with his first NHL training-camp in September. "We are excited to see him transition to the professional level,” said San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson. “He has a great work ethic and BU Head Coach Jack Parker and his staff have done a tremendous job in preparing him for the next step in his career.”

Justin Daniels Update

20-year-old Justin Daniels steadily progressed last season with the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL. Last season, Daniels turned some heads totalling 28 assists and he played in the USHL's All-Star Game. The 6-2", 170 lbs. centre is skilled on the puck and looks comfortable as playmaking forward. "Justin is a playmaker who really sees the rink" said San Jose Sharks scout Pat Funk, who expects Justin to be a good college player at Northeastern next year. "He's making good strides and is progressing fine."

Daniels, the Sharks first selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft (62nd overall), admits to having to add some weight and is currently hard at work in the gym attempting to bulk up. "I've put on about 15 pounds since first getting to Sioux City" Daniels said after the Sharks' 2009 summer development camp. "I'm still trying to work on putting on the weight but gradually I'm getting there."

Hockey Canada's Under-18 Team Selection Camp

I'm flying to Calgary on August 1st to scout Hockey Canada's Under-18 Team Selection Camp for my new job with Redline Report. While I'm there, I expect to bump into a couple of members from the Sharks organization and will be passing along anything interesting I hear on this blog.

Friday, July 24, 2009

GJ Berg: Circus in the Desert (7/24 update)

So it's been almost a month since I last summarized what's been happening with the Phoenix Coyotes and their bankruptcy case, but the thing is, not much has actually happened during that time.

When we last saw our intrepid band, the bidders interested in keeping the team in Phoenix dwindled from four to one, and Jerry Reinsdorf/Glendale Hockey LLC was the only firm offer submitted by the 6/26 deadline. (It has since been reported that minority owner Breslow and the unnamed Phoenix businessman are willing to participate in another bid effort.)

This reduction of bids concerned the US Trustee who is overseeing this bankruptcy who thought perhaps the NHL was pressuring too much to consolidate behind just the Reinsdorf bid.

However, the City of Glendale had to contend with a lawsuit from the Goldwater Institute over releasing documents, memos and emails regarding the negotiation with Reinsdorf and other potential owners. After a few weeks of acusations, hearings and deliberations, the City of Glendale was ordered to release a wide range of documents, excluding negotiating positions, with all paperwork to be released after final bid submissions (before the City of Glendale votes to approve any lease modification or other "concessions"). But whatever a new lease looks like, it will not include an early escape clause (ability to move in 2-3 years). But it may include new sources of revenue or even a special tax district.

And another bidder has stepped forward to keep the team in Phoenix, Daryl Jones fronting the effort of Research Edge LLC, a Canadian firm, with ties to Yale hockey. Spokesman Jones has indicated a number of revenue generating things they might do as well as some outside-the-box thinking, the latter which would require NHL Board of Governor approval to do.

There was a hearing on 7/13. Part of the discussion was the scheduling and arrangement of depositions of NHL commisioner Gary Bettman, NHL deputy commisioner Bill Daly and Phoenix Coyotes part owner and head coach Wayne Gretzky, as well as the non-public release of tax reports. The judge ruled that the Reinsdorf/Glendale Hockey LLC could not be deposed until after their bid was submitted (due 7/24). (A couple of other articles on the hearing results.)

And in the actual hockey operations, signing of free agents, trades and more proceeded, with some concern that ticket sales slowed after the filing for bankruptcy. And renewing of the affiliation agreement with AHL San Antonio.

And just in case the Reinsdorf or Jones bids don't go through, the NHL continues to evaluate the Balsillie ownership (and transfer) submittals.

A Chicago Tribune profile of Jerry Reinsdorf and a Q&A with the man himself including this interesting exchange:

You're the most visible majority owner in [Chicago]. Do you enjoy that? First of all, [Blackhawks chairman] Rocky [Wirtz] is now the No. 1 owner. Rocky's a rock star. (laughs) You have to understand how I operate my businesses. I'm a prototypical CEO. I only have three things to think about -- public relations, long-range planning and the most important thing is identifying the jobs that have to be performed and hiring the right people for those jobs and making sure they talk to each other. Look at the people and the Bulls and White Sox and look at how long they've worked there. I hire great people and let them do their jobs. It makes my job very easy. I just have to talk to these people and have them keep me informed. You'd be amazed at how much goes on that I don't know about. What I tell them is if I don't need to know something, don't bother telling me. What I don't like is bad surprises. I like good surprises. But if we have a problem with ticket sales and you sense that something is coming, I have to know about it early. Other than that, I let them all do their jobs. If you want to know if there's any chance of me quitting, if anything ever happened to [White Sox executive vice president] Howard Pizer, that's when you start worrying. Without Howard Pizer, I don't know how I would exist. The key is just having good people and they stay forever. But I wish my name was Williams or Johnson or something like that. Because even people don't recognize me, recognize the name. If my kids go charge something in the stores, the name is recognized. I can't imagine what the plus is of being recognized. If I go to a restaurant, I make a reservation and if they're booked, I don't go. If they want to comp me, I tell them if you insist on comping me, I'm never coming back. I'm not a mooch. I just want to be a regular person. I just happen to like hanging around sports.

On Thursday 7/23, filings by the Phoenix Coyotes show more than a $67.1 million loss for the 2008-2009 season.

Friday 7/24 was the deadline for final bids (in advance of 8/5) auction; one bid and one offer were submitted. Reinsdorf/Glendale Hockey LLC submitted a bid of $148 million and Jones/Ice Edge Holdings LLC submitted a firm offer (with promise to submit final bid by 8/5) in the range of $150 million. Moyes' lawyer Salero categorizes the Reinsdorf bid as more in the range of $120 million with assumption of debt.

So where does that leave us? Waiting for further analysis of the Reinsdorf bid, a final bid from the Jones group, and another couple of weeks until the judge runs the "auction."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Max Giese: Sharks Prospect Profile - Dominik Bielke

San Jose Sharks draft pick Dominik Bielke defenseman Susanne Henning

The San Jose Sharks considered it quite a coup when they landed Dominik Bielke in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, giving up a 6th round pick in 2010 to make sure they had the extra selection in seventh round to do so. "I received notification of being drafted when some of my teammates called me while I was at a Rock Concert in Berlin," explained Bielke. An 18-year old defenseman out of Berlin, Germany, Bielke enjoyed an impressive 2008-09 season where he played for Eisberlin in the junior league, posting 39 points in 47 games. He also played seven games in the Deutscher Eishockey Liga (DEL), registering one assist. Bielke also represented Team Germany at the 2009 World Junior Championships hosted in Ottawa.

"We really like his range, he has a good reach, has a good stick, and he can shoot the puck. You can say that he has a little bit of Christian Ehrhoff in him," said San Jose Sharks Director of Scouting Tim Burke. "We liked him at the World Juniors and we had our guys follow him in the second half of the season. We saw him again at a Swedish tournament late in the year and all of our reports on him were very consistent."

The Sharks scouts weren't the only ones to be impressed by Bielke, who says his strengths are his range, reach and the first pass, as NHL Central Scouting ranked him 134th overall amongst European prospects and Redline Report slotted Bielke at 257th overall on their final list. "He's a really good sized defenseman (he's a shade over 6-3 and pushing 200 pounds) who actually has pretty fair offensive skills," said Redline Report's Kyle Woodlief, who used to scout for the Nashville Predators. "He’s got a heavy point shot, good vision, and can move the puck out of his own end with a crisp breakout. His size and offensive tools do give him a chance to become a decent player."

Bielke is spending the majority of his summer training back home in Berlin, but recently he attended the San Jose Sharks development camp and was told what he needs to work on to make the NHL. "I have to work on the strength of my body and on skating," said Bielke. "His skating needs work, like all tall kids we need him to get him to bend his knees more and get him stronger," Tim Burke noted. The skating concerns were echoed in Redline's scouting report, "His feet are quite heavy and he doesn't pivot or change direction well, so he's in tough against fast, quick forwards," said Woodlief. "Bielke can be beaten wide with speed off the rush, and has trouble staying with guys in the corners who can cut and change direction quickly."

At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Bielke has a projectable frame to work with, and he impressed scouts with his toughness at the WJC's against Team Canada. But, some expected a more physical player considering his size. "He needs to use his size to better advantage by being a bit meaner in front of the net," said Woodlief. The Sharks on the other hand like how he uses his physical gifts on the defensive side of the game, "You can never underrate the ability to reach and deflect pucks and to make them make that play a little bit earlier and hurry something," Burke said of Bielke.

The Sharks are comfortable with his current development path and are going to allow him to grow as a player in Germany for at least another couple of seasons. "This is a kid that is in a good situation over there for his development," said Burke. After making an immediate impression last season in the DEL, expectations are high coming into this season. "I'll start in the 2nd league for Dresdner Eisloewen, and then hopefully the DEL," said Bielke. "The reason why I stay in Germany is that I will finish my school."


Logan Couture on his summer training: "Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Mike Potenza has kept me busy this summer. I work out five days a week in the summer and only take the weekends off. After the development camp I'm staying out in San Jose for an extra week to work with him and some of the other younger guys."

Scouting Services took note of Luke Judson, a prospect that the Sharks invited to play for them at this September's rookie tournament: Redline Report ranked Judson 259th overall on their final list and ISS ranked Judson 180th overall in their final 2009 Draft Rankings. The 6-foot-0, 200-pound right winger from the Belleville Bulls was described by ISS as “A hard worker that plays with energy and he anticipates the game well, although he has average skills and he can get out muscled." ISS continued, "He’s the type of player that makes a good teammate.”

Marek Viedensky, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound centerman out of Slovakia, was drafted by the Sharks 189th overall at this summers' NHL Entry Draft, but he didn't participate at the Sharks development camp because of an injury to his knee.

Thomas Heemskerk, a 19-year-old goaltender from the Everett Silvertips of the WHL, will be participating in the Sharks rookie camp this September on a try-out basis. Heemskerk is said to be a late bloomer with good potential by NHL scouts. It took him awhile to establish himself as a starting goaltender in the WHL, but once he did, Heemskerk turned into a workhorse and was very impressive in the playoffs. Randy Gorman, the WHL scout for McKeens Hockey, had this to offer on Heemskerk "A real stand-up goaltender with good lateral movement and a great glove hand," said Gorman. "He must find shots through traffic with better concentration and work on his rebound control, but he's worth taking a flyer on because he has so much potential based on his athleticism."

Photo of Dominik Bielke by Susanne Henning used with permission.

[Update] Just added to the podcast section, the German hockey podcast and blog at

[Update2] Thomas Heemskerk receives NHL tryout - Herarldnet Silvertips blog.

This is great for Heemskerk, who hasn't really had a full opportunity to display his talents in the WHL yet, despite entering his 19-year-old season. He wasn't given a starting job until Everett acquired him midway through last season, and much of his time as Everett's starter was during a period when the Tips were bruised, battered and beaten down, thus affecting his numbers. His stats during Everett's playoff series against Tri-City are even less impressive, but they don't do justice to his efforts against the overwhelming Americans. So it's good to see someone still recognized his potential.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Club America downs Inter Milan with penalty kicks to open World Football Challenge at Stanford Stadium

Club America goalkeeper Armando Navarette save Inter Milan striker Diego Milito Stanford World Football Challenge
Club America Futbol winger Juan Carlos Silva penaly kick
Club America Stanford Salvador Cabanas Obi shot Inter Milan

Legions of horn blowing, flag waiving, flare lighting Club America fans were out in force at Stanford Stadium on a blazing hot Sunday as the "home" team downed Inter Milan 5-4 on penalty kicks. Each team finished a highly contested regulation with a goal apiece. Midfielder Juan Carlos Silva drilled a left foot volley off a corner kick in the 51st minute to open the scoring for Club America. A hard, low header by Ivan Cordoba deflected off the feet of goal keeper Armando Navarette to even the score for Inter in the 61st minute.

Inter Milan controlled the pace and the tempo of the game early. Short one-touch passing opened up lanes to carry the ball to the outside. Muntari beat Rojas on the left wing and hammered a shot over the net early. New acquisition Diego Milito, transfered from Genoa along with Thiago Motta in May, cut at the top of the box and challenged Navarette with a quick release before wringing his hands in frustration. Milito finished tied for second in Serie A scoring last season with 24 goals, trailing only Inter teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic (25). Reports surrounding an impending Ibrahimovic to Barcelona deal for Samuel Eto’o picked up steam as the teams allegedly agreed in principal to a deal on Friday.

Inter created several quality scoring chances early, but they could not finish. Ricardo Quaresma flicked the ball around a defender, then snapped a shot off the outside of the same foot before the ball hit the ground. It was a great display of individual skill, albeit a low percentage play. Serbian midfielder Dejan Stankovic served a perfect cross to Thiago Motta in the 22nd minute, but it was headed just wide of the goal. Club America generated its best scoring chance of the first half in the 28th minute on a give-and-go between Salvador Cabanas and Enrique Esqueda. Esqueda fed the ball back to Cabanas, who tapped the it wide left from 8 yards out. Inter backup goal keeper Vid Belec was trapped in the center of the net on the play.

The fluid passing and constant pressure from Inter was balanced by an agressive and challenging Club America in the second half. The two international sides brought with them somewhat colorful reputations, but neither backed down resulting in a stream of late penalties and fouls. Esqueda was given a red card in the 81st minute, forcing two quick Club America substitutions for fresher legs. Obi was given a makeup red card on a somewhat questionable penalty, forcing each team to finish the game with 10 players. Each team combined for 6 total cards, 4 yellow and 2 red, and 28 total fouls.

Ibrahimovic nearly put Inter on top in the 83rd minute. After a touch header to Obi, Obi settled the ball and found Diego Milito in front. Milito punched a shot off his right foot, forcing Armando Navarette to make a diving stretch save to his right. As injury time expired, players began to trade jerseys before tournament officials informed them of the World Football Challenge rules. The tournament goes straight to penalty kicks after regulation to determine a winner, there is no overtime. Winning teams in regular earn 3 points, 2 points is awarded for a win by penalty kicks, 1 point is earned for a tie. Teams also earn 1 point for each goal scored (3 max per game). The highest overall point total wins the WFC.

Stanford streaker hugs Zlatan Ibrahimovic World Football Challenge on ESPN

As the situation on the field was sorted out, one young fan in attendance raced out and hugged several players before being escorted away by security. It only added to the confusion. Eventually the goaltenders and shooters converged on the North goal. Each team made their first three penalty kicks, before a Patrick Viera miss. Vid Belec appeared to stop Club America forward Daniel Marquez on a subsequent attempt, but the save was waived off by the referee. He had left the goal line too early. Marquez converted his second attempt as the fans behind the goal exploded in waves of yellow and white confetti. After Nicholas Burdisso and Oscar Rojas converted in the final round, Club America emerged with a 5-4 advantage on penalty kicks, opening the World Football Challenge tournament with a win.

A photo gallery from Club America's win over Inter Milan is available here. Video highlights from the game are available via

2009 World Football Challenge
Club America vs Inter Milan
July 19th, 2009
Stanford Stadium, California

Shots (on goal): C.A. 10(4), I.M. 9(3).
Fouls: C.A. 15, I.M. 13.
Corner Kicks: C.A. 3, I.M. 7.
Time of Possession: C.A. 38%, I.M. 63%.
Yellow Cards: C.A. 3, I.M. 1.
Red Cards: C.A. 1, I.M. 1.
Saves: C.A. 2, I.M. 3.

Lineups: Club America - Navarrete, Mosqueda, R. Rojas, Pardo, O. Rojas, Beausejour, Esqueda, Cabanas, Cerda, Martinez, Reyna. Sub - 45 Silva, 72 Rivas, 85 Marquez, 86 Chitiva. Inter Milan - Belec, Cordoba, Milito, Chivu, Stankovic, Quaresma, Motta, Materazzi, Muntar, Cambiasso, Santon. Sub - 31 Balotelli, 45 Burdisso, 45 Viera, 53 Zanetti, 55 Mancini, 56 Ibrahimovic, 63 Obi, 78 Krhin.

Scoring Summary: 51 Silva (Club America), 60 Cordoba (Inter).

Penalty Summary: 22 AME-Reyna (yellow), 37 INT-Chivu (yellow), 75 INT-Viera (yellow) 79 INT-Balotelli (yellow), 81 AME-Esqueda (red), 87 INT-Obi (red).

Penalty Kicks: Inter Milan - Balotelli (scored), Milito (scored), Ibrahimovic (scored), Vieira (miss), Burdisso (scored). Club America - Chita (scored), Mosquera (scored), Silva (scored), Marquez (scored), Rojas (scored).

Attendance: 31,026.

[Update] Club America beats Inter Milan - SF Chronicle.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Club America World Football Challenge Saturday open practice photos

Club America Futbol open practice World Football Challenge F.C. Internazionale Milano Stanford
Club America Futbol open practice World Football Challenge Stanford stadium
Club America Futbol head coach Jesus Ramirez interview ESPN Deportes

Coming off last Thursday's 0-0 draw against the MLS Colorado Rapids, Mexican League powerhouse Club America was at Stanford Saturday to hold an open practice with the media and a smattering of fans. Club de Futbol America head coach Jesus Ramirez lead his team through a light workout before escorting the media off the field to run private drills.

America opens the inaugural World Football Challenge today at 4PM (ESPN2) against Italian Inter Milan before traveling to the Georgia Dome to face AC Milan July 22nd. C.A. finishes with a rematch against Chelsea FC July 26th in Arlington. Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan squad will make the short trip to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to meet Chelsea FC July 21st, before the "Derby della Madonnina" rivalry with AC Milan July 26th in Foxborough.

A photo gallery from Club America's open practice Saturday is available here.

[Update] New podcast features Quakes, FCGP, Inter/Club America -

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ricardo Cortes scored 3rd round knockout at the Fight Night at the Tank

San Jose middleweight Ricardo Cortes earned a third round stoppage at HP Pavilion
San Jose JR Middleweight Clint Coronel earned his first professional win with a 3rd round TKO over Tony Juarez
Jr Featherweight Juan Tepoz and Jonathan Alcantara were named fight of the night

San Jose native Ricardo Cortes (23-3-1, 16 KOs) got back on the winning track with a dominant 3rd round TKO over journeyman James Buggs (8-10-3). After a pair of losses to Top-10 Jr Middleweights Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland, Cortes rebounded by staggering Oakland's James Buggs early in the first round. Buggs came out firing in the second, but the left uppercut and straight right from Cortes forced him to cover up. Cortes was able to dig to the body with power at will, controlling the pace and the tempo of the fight.

A collision along the ropes left Cortes shaking off a foot injury at the end of the round. After several exchanges he could be seen visibly wincing. He changed his gameplan on the fly, and began attacking Buggs with more urgency. Both boxers started the third trading toe-to-toe to a loud cheer from the crowd, but Cortes eventually resumed picking apart a limited Buggs. After Cortes cornered Buggs and began pouring on the punishment, the Oakland native covered up and the fight was stopped. After the stoppage it appeared Buggs had a problem with an eye.

Cortes finished with his 11th knockout in 14 appearances at the Tank, an HP Pavilion record. Before the referee could raise his arm, he quickly left the ring and jumped into a corner of the stands. He returned, and stayed several minutes relishing the win on home canvas.

Former Oakland Raider, San Jose Sabercat and 2006 SF Golden Gloves gold medalist Tony Hirsch (9-2-1, 5KOs) was successful in the epitome of a tuneup fight against unheralded late replacement Francisco Garcia (5-3, 4KOs). Hirsch was also looking to rebound after a June 19th loss to 2008 Olympian Demetrius Andrade on ESPN's Friday Night Fights. Hirsch displayed quicker hands, good footwork and head movement while fighting off his back foot. A hard left hand wobbled Garcia, and he was barely able to hang on and circle away from danger. He was able to circle around to the opposite corner before another pinpoint left crumpled him against the turnbuckle. The ref stepped in and stopped the fight before the end of the first.

The Jr Featherweight tussle between Juan Topoz (2-1) of Santa Rosa and Jonathan Alacantara (0-1-1) of Novoto earned Topoz Fight of the Night honors from the crowd inside HP Pavilion. Alcantara was brimming with confidence and flair against the larger and more methodical Topoz. The tone of the fight was set early. The flamboyant faux-hawk wearing Alca was able to land quick flurries and back out before Topoz could fire off a right hand. A short, counter left hand dropped Alcantara in the second and the smile was gone. He tried to adjust by overloading the right hand. Alcantara's foot was akwardly caught in the canvas outside the ring as Topoz landed two free blows at the end of the second.

A long straight right was effective for Jonathan in the third, he was moving around the ring well and frustrating his opponent. Clean jabs and counter hooks were landing. Topoz tried to move inside. Juan Topoz was steady but slow in the fourth. Alcantara continued to line up the right hand from the outside, but there was not enough power behind it to affect the outcome of the fight. A toe-to-toe flurry at the end of the round finished off the most entertaining fight of the night. Scores were announced as 38-37, 37-38, 39-36 giving Topoz a split decision win. Sharkspage scored the fight 38-37 Alcantara based on clean punching, effective aggression, ring generalship and defense.

Popular San Jose native Clint Coronel (1-0-1, 1KO) outclassed opponent Tony Juarez (0-3) en route to a 3rd round TKO. Coronel's effective work to the body resulted in a first round knockdown, and caused an apparent injury to Juarez's left side. The rib roasting contiuned in the second, resulting in another knockdown. Coronel finished the second with a series of long, looping hooks to the body. Juarez was trapped in the corner in the third, and a series of uncontested head and body shots forced the referee to stop the fight.

Notable amateur and Chico, California native Claudia Gutierrez (1-0) made the most of her height and reach advantage in a four round bout against Canadian Michelle Nelson (1-2). Gutierrez poured on the punches in the first round, forcing Nelson to cover up and attempt to tie up the fight early. Nelson repeatedly bulled her way in with her head down, earning a warning from the ref for a head butt in the process. Claudia Gutierrez started to find her range in the second and third, using a high work rate and movement around the ring to win the rounds. Gutierrez finished the fight teeing up from the outside, as Michelle Nelson tried to come forward but found it increasingly difficult to close the distance. Claudia Gutierrez earned a unanimous decision win in her professional boxing debut.

Welterweight Maurice Slade (0-2-1) was dominating John Dunham (0-4-1) until a headbutt in the second round forced a technical draw. San Leandro Super Middleweight Fernando Barajas (5-2, 1KO) also earned a third round TKO over Berkeley native Pedro Rios (0-1). Juan Topoz was awarded an extra $1000 bonus and the AMI Cup for his fight of the night honors. The undercard boxers were split into Red and Blue teams, with the Blue Team finishing 5-0-1 and earning a $2100 team bonus.

The second installment of the American Metal and Iron Fight Night at the Tank series drew an announced crowd of 2,841. Hall of Fame boxing analyst Larry Merchant was a special guest analyst for the event, and local MMA stars Frank Shamrock and Josh Thomson were in the corners of Clint Coronel and Ricardo Cortes respectively. Fight Night will return to HP Pavilion in the fall September 12th and November 12th.

A photo gallery from the event is available here.

[Update] Ryan Wallace: Celaya versus Hirsch fight is back after delay - Bakersfield Californian.

Four months later, it appears Jose Celaya and Tony Hirsch will meet in the ring. After having their March 31 fight at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills pulled from the card for an unspecified reason, the two are scheduled to meet July 30 at the El Monte Expo Center in El Monte.

[Update2] Ricardo Cortes gets back on track at Fight Night - SJ Mercury News.

[Update3] Cortes stops Buggs! -

Max Giese: Sharks Sign Four Players, Re-sign Vesce

San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson announced that the club has re-signed unrestricted free agent center Ryan Vesce to a one-year contract and signed defenseman Joe Callahan and Danny Groulx, center Dwight Helminen and right wing Jed Ortmeyer to one-year contracts. By resigning Vesce and adding four players to the mix, Wilson has strengthened the organizational depth. While none of these players are expected to make a large impact at the NHL level next season, the potential is there to contribute as four out of the five have NHL experience. They could fill holes for the Sharks, especially if injuries ravage the lineup. All five players will at a minimum help Worcester this year, and will push and mentor the young prospects along the way.

Vesce, 27, played 10 games with San Jose last season and led the Worcester Sharks in points. "Ryan earned equity with his performance when he came up and played with us last season, but also with the leadership he displayed in Worcester," Doug Wilson said. A pro-scout from the Central Division says Vesce was an important signing for the Sharks. "He's a quality captain and scoring threat in the AHL, I was also impressed with how well Vesce played on the fourth-line for San Jose down the stretch," he said. "At the NHL level, he transformed into a conscientious defensive centerman and fulfilled all of his defensive assignments." The scout continued, "I expect him in the same role he had last year, captaining Worcester and centering the first line, and maybe he sees a few games in the NHL."

Ortmeyer, 30, spent the last two seasons with the Nashville Predators organization. He played in 51 games with Nashville in 2007-08, and appeared in two games with Nashville last season. He has 230 career NHL games under his belt. “He’s the type of player that pushes his teammates and competes with a high level of energy,” said Wilson. The pro-scout isn't ready to write off Ortmeyer from playing in the NHL and thinks he has the ability to hold down a role on the fourth-line. "He does all of the little things right at both ends of the ic,e and is a true professional off the ice with leadership qualities". The scout continued, "He will insulate younger players well in the AHL like he did in Milwaukee last year, at the NHL level he's an offensive afterthought but he plays well defensively and is good on the boards."

Callahan, 26, made his NHL debut in 2008-09 appearing in 18 games with the New York Islanders. "Joe is a poised defenseman that is a good puck mover and is an experienced professional that brings a great deal of competitiveness to our organization" said Wilson. Out of the five players, the pro-scout thinks that Callahan has the brightest future in the game. "Right now his development is on an upward trajectory, and he didn't look out of place as a third-pairing guy with the Islanders last year". Callahan provides the Sharks with a solid 7th defenseman or an injury replacement. The Sharks believe that competition brings out the best in players, and Callahan will push young prospects like Derek Joslin, Nick Petrecki, and Mike Moore this year. "Nothing flashy, he has good size and uses it well, his hockey sense is no longer an issue because he's now beginning to play to his strengths and within his limitations," finished the pro-scout.

Helminen, 26, split last season between Carolina (NHL) and Albany (AHL). "Dwight is a high-energy player that fit in well with Carolina last season and helps build our organizational depth,” said Wilson. The pro-scout that spoke with Sharkspage likes the addition of Helminen to the Sharks depth-chart and thinks he could make a serviceable fourth-liner in the NHL. "He has terrific character, he can win you a face-off, and he was one of the best penalty-killers in the AHL last season". "He's on the small side but he's always attacking and he isn't a perimeter player" said the scout. "He could still develop into an NHL option on the fourth-line because his hockey sense is NHL caliber."

Groulx, 28, appeared in all 80 games for Rockford of the AHL last season as he finished 14th in the league in points by a defenseman. "Danny has been a steady professional with a great deal of experience and he'll add good depth to the organization" said Wilson. Out of the five players that were signed by the Sharks, only Groulx was seen as not having the ability to play in the NHL by the pro-scout, "He would be a defensive liability". Still, the pro-scout thinks he's a good addition for the Worcester Sharks. "He's a smart player in the offensive zone and can quarterback the powerplay for your farm team."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fight Notes - July 16th

San Jose middleweight Ricardo Cortes returns to HP Pavilion tonight vs Oakland's James Buggs
Ricardo Cortes El Guero fans HP Pavilion San Jose

- San Jose's Ricardo Cortes (22-3-1, 15 KOs) returns to HP Pavilion tonight to headline a Fight Night at the Tank main event with Oakland's James Buggs (8-9-3). The 8-round bout tops six 4-round fights in an offshoot of the boxing development series launched May 7th.

Cortes is coming off a pair of losses to Top-10 Jr Middleweights Alfredo Angulo (15-1-0, 12KOs) and hard punching James Kirkland (25-0-0, 22KOs). After registering a 12-fight unbeaten streak, Cortes ran into a hard counter right in the first round from former Mexican Olympian Angulo on a ShoBox televised fight in February, 2008. He picked himself off the canvas and tried to trade punches to finish the round, but Cortes was caught with another flush right hand. He took a knee but did not return to action before the 10 count. Cortes failed to tie up Angulo effectively, and it cost him.

El Guero's rebound effort came against Austin knockout artist James Kirkland on the ESPN Friday Night Fights finale last September. On enemy ground at the Austin City Music Hall, Kirkland knocked Cortes down in the second and finished the fight with whithering pressure moments later. Kirkland later signed with Southern California based Golden Boy Promotions, and subsequently stopped Joel Julio on a featured HBO bout in San Jose before violating parole for possession of a firearm.

Ricardo Cortes will look to put his career back on track based on a stiff jab and a solid right hand against Oakland journeyman James Buggs. According to a press release, Cortes has knocked out 10 of his last 13 opponents at HP Pavilion.

"This is a fight to come back and show what I have, I have to be more of a boxer," Cortes told Mario Ortega Jr. of "Everybody says I have a great jab, so I have to use that to climb the ladder again. It's my strategy to box from the outside." Patient from the outside, and devestating when he flips the switch, Thursday night should be used as an opportunity for Cortes to demonstrate his inside game and dirty boxing. That is what he needs to whether the storm and give himself time to set up his right hand at the next level.

Former Oakland Raider Tony Hirsch (8-2-1, 4 KO's), local MMA trainer Clint Coronel (0-0-1), and amateur standout Claudia Gutierrez (pro debut) appear on the undercard. Hall of Fame boxing analyst Larry Merchant will make a special guest appearance.

- Ricardo Cortes Boxer Blog, July 16 Fight Card -

[Q] Where are you right now in your training and how are you feeling physically and emotionally?

[A] I feel ready, determined and excited to fight at the Tank again.

[Q] Where are you training?

[A] I’m training in Watsonville with Rick Noble and also at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose.

UFC 100 San Jose Jon Fitch American Kickboxing Academy

- UFC 100 may have been the promotion's official entry into the mainstream, but there are cracks beginning to surface around the organization. Saturday night's extravaganza was a throwback to when mixed martial arts pay-per-view events equalled stacked cards replete with highly expected superfights. Too often of late UFC viewers are subjected to watered down shows with too many questionable or non-compelling matchups. In the first 6 years of the UFC from 1993-98, the promotion held 21 total events. Last year alone the organization held 20. It takes several months for competitors to heal and train, and the UFC is pushing that boundry hard.

The 100th anniversary show began with one of the most controversial figures in Japanese MMA, Yoshihiro Akiyama. Coming out to a classical rendition of Time To Say Goodbye by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman sliced through the growing buzz inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center and focused attention back on the fighters. Orland Kurtenblog writer Jason Brough compared the entrance to Andy Dufresne blasting opera music over the prison loudspeakers in The Shawshank Redemption.

Akiyama is an accomplished judo practitioner, steeped in the sport's culture and tradition. It often conflicts with his Terrell Owens/Sean Avery persona. His fashion idol and singing career outside the ring, and recent moisturizer and disqualification scandals inside the ring have made him a popular figure to either love or hate. Akiyama launched a series of high kicks early against Alan Belcher, followed by hard counter left hooks. The technical Akiyama was clearly leading the first until Belcher dropped him with a left hook. The second round slowed down and became more of a ground battle, with Belcher on the losing end. Akiyama's left eye closed in the third round, and Belcher began to gain control. He landed a hard superman punch after pushing off the cage. Akiyama earned a narrow split decision in his UFC debut.

The rest of the main event was turbulent. Dan Henderson and Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar competed in two of the most lopsided matchups of the night. After coaching against each other on season 9 of 'The Ultimate Fighter' reality show, Henderson embarassed Michael Bisping with a second round knockout. Despite voluminous trash talking from Bisping, Henderson was a 2-time Greco-Roman wrestling competitor for USA in the Olympics, and he held two titles concurrently in the now defunct Pride FC organization. Bisping's corner pleaded with him not to circle to his left, but it did not work. He backed in to a monstrous right hand from Henderson, and the California native added a flying strike to the prone Bisping for good measure. Asked about it after the fight, Henderson said he wanted "to shut him up a little bit".

It is was a queasy moment for the mainstream press to cover, but despite a pair of losses to Quinton Jackson and Anderson Silva, Henderson is as tough as it gets in the business. Talking trash to him is going to have consequences, but the post knockout coup-de-grace punch could have consequences for the UFC and NSAC as well.

The highly anticipated Brock Lesnar-Frank Mir heavyweight/interim championship fight was equally lopsided. Brock Lesnar literally flattened Frank Mir with strikes in their first meeting at UFC 81 (19 events since last February?). Mir did not panick, and he sunk in a kneebar to give the hulking Lesnar an L in only his second MMA fight. Lesnar came into UFC 100 a more complete fighter, and after waiting through several delays, a more determined one. The former University of Minnesota and WWE wrestler took down a very fit Mir at will in the first round.

More of the same in the second, Brock took Mir down and pounded him out at 3:20 with a series of uncontested strikes. After the win, Lesnar taunted a bloodied Mir then offered a double middle finger salute to the crowd. With a loud course of boo's from the audience drowning out his postfight interview, Lesnar insulted his opponent, insulted major UFC sponsor Bud Light, and made a crude reference to his wife. It was a low point for the UFC on its biggest stage, but it is one they should be able to sidestep without too much difficulty.

Pound-for-pound candidate Georges St. Pierre defended his Welterweight Championship against Fortaleza, Brazil native Thiago Alves, and San Jose based Jon Fitch earned a Unanimous Decision win against tough Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Paulo Thiago on the remaining televised card. St. Pierre and Fitch dismantled very talented opponents, and showed why they are the class of the division. When both met at UFC 87, it was all Fitch could do to last 5 full rounds against a relentless St. Pierre. Other than Bay Area natives Jake Shields (San Francisco) or Mike Swick (San Jose), there may be nothing left for GSP except a move up to middleweight to face Anderson Silva.

Poor judgement inside the ring by Henderson and Lesnar notwithstanding, there has also been a spike in media attention paid to the organization's business practices. That attention is starting to raise red flags. Airing re-runs selectively timed to draw eyeballs from competing promotions may be bush league, but increasingly questionable actions from UFC President Dana White could be a portent of future problems.

- White fires back on business criticism - Yahoo/MMAweekly.

Strikeforce MMA Showtime Cristiane Cyborg Evangelista Santos

- Strikeforce and Showtime held a press conference Tuesday in New York City to promote the upcoming Carano-Cyborg event August 15th at HP Pavilion in San Jose. Described as the first major MMA event headlined by a women's bout, Gina Carano (7-0, 3KOs, 1sub) will meet Cristiane Cyborg (7-1, 5KOs) for the inaugural Strikeforce Women's 145 pound World Championship title.

Three other titles will be on the line, Stockton's Nick Diaz will meet the South Bay's Joe Riggs for the Strikeforce World Welterweight Championship, the "Demolition Man" Alistair Overeem will meet Fabricio Werdum for the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Championship, and Josh Thomson will meet Gilbert Melendez in a San Jose vs San Francisco reprise for the Strikeforce World and USA Championships.

July 14th, MSG, New York

"Mostly Randy (Couture) has been there as a mentor for me, because I have never really had a mentor in the sport. I went to Extreme Couture to work with Randy. He is definately training for his own fight and doing his own media stuff, but he has been someone I could look to, ask questions to, ask for help and lean on his shoulder a bit. I knew I was going to need someone like that with such a good opponent to train for. Mentally and physically, he has been a good backbone for me." - Gina Carano

"What inspired me to get into fighting was my ex-boyfriend. We were sitting there drinking 40's of Old English and he was talking to his dad, he always had a passion for mixed martial arts. He always wanted to get into. His dad asked him what the problem was, why didn't he do it. He looked at the 40 and said you are not going to be able to do it with that. He put it down, did not touch a drink for another year, and started training... That small decision he made impacted my life. Then I walked in to see him train. A thai master called me fat, and I signed up with lessons from him. I developed a passion, I developed something that I was good at. I haven't looked back since." - Gina Carano

"Just watch the fight, the fight is going to speak for itself. It is not my style to talk trash. It would be funny if we staged a whole argument. I don't think we would understand each other though." - Gina Carano

"When she first came to America, to have her fight, she got to know about Gina Carano. Since she wants to fight the best fighters in the sport, she put Gina as a goal. She wants to test herself against Gina to discover who the best fighter is." - Cris Cyborg via translator

"(When asked if she felt any added pressure participating in the biggest female MMA fight in history) It is definately a very huge show. It is a big responsibility. It is only her next octagon responsibility. Once a fighter goes inside the octagon, it is only both fighters. They have a responsibility to have a great fight. To pay back all the fans" - Cris Cyborg via translator

Details of the undercard will be announced in the next few days according to Strikeforce's Mike Afromowitz.

- Meet the Press, Strikeforce Press Conference Photos -

- Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker discussed his first visit to Madison Square Garden, the efforts to legalize MMA in New York, the time it took to put the Gina Carano vs Cris Cyborg fight together, upcoming female fighters, and possible scenarios involving Jake Shields and Cung Le in an interview with Ariel Helwani for AOL Fanhouse.

"I think it is just a matter of time. New York, talking with the athletic commission today, I think it is just a matter of time before the legislation gets passed, and it moves forward. I am sure rules need to get put forward, and training for officials, but they are going to get into the MMA business," Coker said.

Coker also said the Strikeforce Middleweight title holder Cung Le is getting married August 8th. Jake Shields may be offered an interim title fight in October, with the winner facing Le.

- The fight of the year candidate may be a summer affair, but it might be one that does not appear on either the deep UFC 100 or Strikeforce Carano-Cyborg cards. Affiliction's third event, Affliction:Trilogy on August 1st, showcases the top pound-for-pound MMA athlete in the world Fedor Emelianenko against former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett for the independant WAMMA Heavyweight Championship. Emelianenko was an unmoveable force atop the Pride Fighting Championships Heavyweight Division for almost 5 years. In Barnett, he faces his third straight ex-UFC Heavyweight Champion after quick knockouts against Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski.

Barnett's career fightlog reads like a who's who of the top names in the Heavyweight Division, but a match with Fedor Emelianenko is his great white whale. Similar to the buildup between Mike Tyson and Evander Hollyfield, August 1st will culminate in a fight that many fans have waited years to see. The enormous catch wrestler vs the supremely confident sambo legend, Pride Open Weight Grand Prix Tournament finalist vs Pride Grand Prix Tournament winner, a ground master vs a knockout artist. Emelianenko has the added incentive to avenge his brother Aleksander's submission loss to Barnett in 2006.

On paper, Emelianenko vs Barnett has the possibility of being a Top 10 all-time MMA contest. Fedor vs Mirko 'Crocop' Filipovic is on that last, a highly anticipated meeting between the two top strikers on the planet. Barnett's tournament performance against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (W-SD) and Mirko 'Crocop' Filipovic (L-SUB) on the same night in 2006 may go down as one of the most incredible individual performances in the history of the sport. They have a chance to make history again.

The Afflication Trilogy will be split between an undercard aired nationally on HDnet, and a PPV main event broadcast. Renato Sobral will meet Gegard Mousasi on the PPV card along with Vitor Belfort vs Jorge Santiago, Gilbert Yvel vs San Jose's Paul Buentello, and former pound for pound candidate Takanori Gomi vs Rafaello Oliveira.

- Fedor Emelianenko vs. Josh Barnett Video: Best MMA Fight of the Summer? - AOL Fanhouse.

[Update] Boxing seeks boost from tournament, Super middleweight tourney unveiled - ESPN.

The tournament, featuring two current champions, two former middleweight champions and two up-and-coming U.S. Olympians, was announced Monday at Madison Square Garden. It will begin this fall and conclude with a seeded semifinals and championship in early 2011.

"The beauty of this is that at the end, there'll be one winner," said Hershman, the senior vice president in charge of boxing at Showtime. "He'll be the best in his weight division."

Hershman began putting the concept together in May, first pitching the idea directly to the fighters: WBC champion Carl Froch, WBA titleholder Mikkel Kessler, former middleweight champs Arthur Abraham and Jermain Taylor, and former Olympians Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell.

More details of the 6-boxer round robin tournament are available from Showtime here. Former USA gold medalist Andre Ward will meet Denmark's Mikkel Kessler for Kessler's WBA championship November 7th at the Oakland Arena. According to the Mercury News report, Ward will face an undetermined opponent September 7th before beginning the tournament, and he could face Jermain Taylor February in Oakland in the second round.

[Update2] Fight Night at the Fox 2 Results - California Muay Thai.

[Update3] reported that Billy Evangelista, Poppies Martinez and Erin Toughill are rumored to be on the Strikeforce August 15th Carano-Cyborg undercard. Heavyweight Roger Gracie allegedly bowed out to take care of a newborn son.

[Update4] World Champion Muay Thai fighter Michael Mananquil to make MMA professional debut at Cage Combat Fighting Championship's 'RUSH' event on Saturday July 18th at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco -

Max Giese: Sharks invite Luke Judson to Rookie Tournament

The San Jose Sharks have invited Luke Judson, an 18 year old forward from the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League, to participate in their September rookie camp and the rookie tournament against the Anaheim Ducks' prospects. “I got a call right after the draft from scout Bryan Marchment with San Jose, and he gave me an invite to their rookie camp in September,” Judson told the Fort Frances Times. A Thunder Bay native with decent size, Judson is a hard worker with fair skills and adequate skating ability. "He's just not sexy or exciting, an average player in my books" a scout from Ontario told Sharkspage.

This past season Judson played in all but one of the Bulls' 68 regular season games, plus all 17 in the playoffs. He recorded 10 goals and 14 assists in his first full regular season in the OHL while adding six assists in the post-season. This coming season he should see much bigger ice time as Belleville is going to be a team in rebuild mode, so scouts will be looking to see if that translates into increased offensive production. "I bet he gets around 20 goals and 40 points" says the scout. Judson was ranked 129th among 210 North American skaters listed in the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s player rankings released prior to this year’s draft, and had generated interest from several teams prior to the selection process. Nothing is guaranteed, but obviously the Sharks see some upside in Judson and if he continues to progress to their liking he could either receive an entry-level contract or the Sharks could still draft him in either 2010 or 2011.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sharks sign center Scott Nichol

San Jose Sharks sign former Nashville Predators checking line agitator Scott Nichol
San Jose Sharks sign Scott Nichol center

The San Jose Sharks signed 34-year old center Scott Nichol according to the Associated Press. Nichol registered 10 points for the Nashville Predators in a 2008-09 season that was limited to 43 games played due to a concussion.

Expected to add feistiness to the fourth line and possibly on the penalty kill, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound center has postseason experience against the Sharks as Nashville lost to San Jose in consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff opening rounds in 2006 and 2007. He has 0 points and 19 penalty minutes in 10 postseason appearances.

Nichol dropped the gloves against San Jose Sharks assistant captain Joe Thornton last season in a fight filled November 17th affair in Nashville. According to, he has registered 30 fighting majors in 8 NHL seasons. The Edmonton, Alberta native was suspended for 9 games in 2006 after a hit to the head of Jaroslav Spacek, and was labeled a "repeat offender" and suspended for 5 games in 2007 after a brutal crosscheck to the head of Patrice Brisebois.

"Scott is an ultra-competitive by nature," San Jose Sharks general manager Wilson said in a statement confirming the signing. "He utilizes his speed and compete-factor to be involved every time he steps on the ice. We're very familiar with his game and we're happy to have him on our team as opposed to playing against him."

An excellent offseason free agent profile of Nichol by Dirk Hoag took a deeper look at his on ice contributions in Nashville. Nichol posted respectable goals against figures 5-on-5 in an admittedly injury shortened season. Nicol continued to be a solid penalty kill forward for the Predators (2:40 shtoi/gm), and was an effective centerman at the faceoff dot. According to Hoag Nichol registered a 54.6% winning percentage last season, and he lead the NHL in 2007-08 with a 59.8% figure.

[Update] Sharks add veteran forward Nichol - TSN.

[Update2] “It’s an emotional game and sometimes my emotions get the best of me,” says newest Shark Scott Nichol - David Pollak's Working the Corners blog.

"The way the game is now, the athletes are so big and so strong and so very talented that there’s not a lot of room out there," he said. "You’ve got to take every inch you can and create opportunities to score. I don’t care if you’re first or fourth line, you want to chip in. You don’t want to just go out there and be an energy guy."

The Sharks signed him for 1 year at $750,000 according to Pollak.

[Update3] Radio broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky posted highlights of Nichol's conference call with local media on the official website here. On Nichol's move to San Jose, "He could do pretty well in San Jose, doing some of the dirty work that sets up guys like Thornton and Marleau to succeed," Predators blogger Dirk Hoag said. "You certainly won’t have to wonder about the effort level or intensity that he’ll bring each night."

[Update4] According to the Predators media guide, Nichol lead the NHL in 2007-08 in faceoff percentage (441-297, 59.8%) among forwards taking more than 500 draws. In 2006-09, he lead Nashville with a 57.9% faceoff percentage and finished 5th in the NHL among forwards with more than 100 draws. In 2005-06, Nichol finished second on the Preds with a 58.3% mark. Slated to replace faceoff specialist Marcel Goc, Scott Nichol adds an agitating and penalty killing element that neither Goc or Thomas Plihal possessed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mineta San Jose International Airport unveils new Terminal B and 'Sharks Cage' restaurant

San Jose Sharks themed Sharks Cage restaurant Mineta San Jose International Airport
San Jose Sharks themed Sharks Cage restaurant Mineta San Jose International Airport
Faceoff circle inside the Sharks Cage
San Jose Sharks Cage restaurant Terminal B Southwest

San Jose is growing up. The $1.3 billion modernization project to bring the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport into the 21st century is scheduled for a working rollout. Southwest Airlines will open 6 gates at the new 380,000-square-foot Terminal B tomorrow, while construction on the south side continues. More terminals, a massive parking structure, and a revised traffic flow will all contribute to a much improved experience for passengers flying into San Jose.

That is all well and good, and Asst. Director of Aviation Kim Becker called it the biggest public works project for San Jose in some time, but this is a hockey and local sports blog. Also unveiled this afternoon was the "Sharks Cage" San Jose Sharks themed restaurant, along with a C.J. Olson's Cherry stand, the Sunglass Icon, and a Sunset News convenience store. Run by HMS Host general manager Broskin Stickland, the Sharks Cage features teal and wood fixtures complimented by several hockey photographs and flat screen televisions. A glass enclosed faux-ice surface is set on the other side, with a full bar inbetween.

"We knew the airport was building a new terminal and they wanted restaurants and retails shops that had a lot of local flavor," HMS Host VP of Business Development Patrick Banducci told "The first thing we thought was what's more emblematic of San Jose than the San Jose Sharks. We reached out to the Sharks marketing people and put together a deal to design a restaurant with the Sharks and our designers. It's great to see it become a reality."

Sharks forwards Torrey Mitchell and Devin Setoguchi were on hand to sign autographs and take pictures, along with broadcasters Randy Hahn and Dan Rusanowsky. Mitchell and Setoguchi are working with a number of San Jose prospects at the private development camp held this week at Sharks Ice.

A photo gallery from the unveiling is available here.

[Update] Sean Avery introduces Warren 77 New York restaurant and sports bar to fans - Rangers on Demand video.

[Update2] New retail, food purveyors approaching takeoff at San Jose airport - San Jose Business Journal.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson turned down earlier Columbus Jason Chimera for Christian Ehrhoff trade proposal

San Jose Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff trade rumor Columbus Blue Jackets Jason Chimera

San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson turned down a trade offer earlier this summer from Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson that would have included offensive defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (77GP, 8G, 42PTS, -12, 63PIM) for grinding left wing Jason Chimera (49GP, 8G, 14PTS, +8, 41PIM). According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, Howson targeted San Jose because of the glut of defenseman under contract and a tight salary cap situation with several positions left to fill.

"For us to be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, we have to improve our defense," Howson told the Dispatch. "We have to spend less time in our own zone and more time with the puck." The Blue Jackets had the second worst offense (226 goals for) in a top-heavy Central Division that saw 4 teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Fedor Tyutin (9G, 25A) was the only defenseman to register more than 30 points for Columbus last year. 5-foot-10, 180-pound Kris Russell is expected to fulfill a puck moving role, but at that size he is going to be challenged often. The Sharks were the fourth team in NHL history to have a quartet of defenseman reach the 30 assist mark (Boyle 41, Blake 35, Ehrhoff 34, Vlasic 30).

Chimera was held off the scoresheet at HP Pavilion last season, but he registered a goal, an assist, and a fighting major against Craig Rivet in 2 games played at the Shark Tank in 2007-08. He uses his speed well, and plays an aggressive game above his 215-pound size. Aaron Portzline believes that Columbus could be interested in the 9-player surplus on the Toronto blueline, with offensive defenseman Tomas Kaberle being actively shopped.

Of the Ehrhoff for Chimera offer, Wilson passed noting that he was not in a hurry to make a deal. The Sharks have been a featured player in the offseason rumor mill, but to date they have been quiet. Earlier this summer, Wilson stated that the team may make any needed changes at the trade deadline instead of overpaying in the offseason free agency market. Given the rash of injuries that engulfed 9 roster players near the end of the regular season, a targeted adjustment may be wiser than a blockbuster trade. There will need to be financial wrangling just to get the team under the salary cap by the start of the regular season.

A recent 2-year, $3.4 million contract given to depth defenseman Kent Huskins, and a 1-year renewal of Rob Blake at a significant discount, results in roughly $21.7 million in salary locked up in 7 San Jose Sharks defenseman. With 8 roster forwards under contract (along with promising prospect Jamie McGinn) for roughly $28 million, and Evgeni Nabokov slated for a cap hit of $6 million, that leaves $1.1 million for at least 3 forwards and a backup goaltender. Qualifying offers were made earlier this summer to goaltender Thomas Greiss (07-08 salary: $725,000), center Torrey Mitchell (07-08 salary: $725,000), and agitating winger Brad Staubitz (07-08 salary: $475,000). All are scheduled for a raise (QO over $1M no raise, under $1M 5% raise, under $660,000 10% raise), giving the Sharks $2.045M in additional salary if the QO offers are accepted.

That would leave the Sharks with 11 forwards, 7 defenseman and 2 goaltenders under contract with a cap hit of $57.745M (55.7M + 2.045M). The San Jose Sharks would be $945,000 over the $56.8M salary cap with one forward left to sign. NHL teams are allowed a 10% overage until the regular season starts.

Like Aaron Portzline said, something has got to give. Rough salary information obtained via and Original link via Illegal Curve.

[Update] Bob Hunter commentary: Rumblings - Columbus Dispatch.

The Blue Jackets have depth forwards to trade and can offer cap relief; a player such as San Jose defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who makes $3.1 million, would fill the need here. One possible complication to this scenario is that Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has a reputation for overvaluing his players. So until Wilson believes he absolutely has to make a deal, coming to terms with the Sharks might prove difficult.

The entire Western Conference has overvalued offensive defenseman, and rightfully so. The simple fact is that reduced time and space in the offensive zone magnifies the ability of a defenseman to carry the puck up ice, and the ability to create offense at the point. The top teams in the West all have something Columbus does not, and it should take more for Wilson to pull the trigger.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Travis Moen disappointed San Jose did not make contract offer, signs reported 3 year deal with Montreal Canadiens

former San Jose Sharks left wing Travis Moen signs 3 year contract with Montreal Canadiens

Left wing Travis Moen signed a 3-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens according to a late report today from "Travis Moen is a character player. He is versatile, and he plays hard. His size and style will contribute to adding physicality to our team," Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey told the official league website.

The rugged 6-foot-2, 215-pound winger was acquired on March 4th from the Anaheim Ducks along with veteran defenseman Kent Huskins for prospects Nick Bonino and Timo Pielmeier. Moen registered 3 goals and 2 assists in 19 regular season games played on the third line for the San Jose Sharks, while scoring 4 goals and 7 assists in 63 games played for the Anaheim Ducks.

According to Moen's agent Craig Oster, he was disappointed the San Jose Sharks did not make him a contract offer after suggesting they would do so in offseason player meetings. His agent said that Moen described Todd McLellan, a Jack Adams coach of the year finalist, as a "tremendous coach" to play for. When commenting on his future role with the Canadiens, Oster noted that Moen is a "strong, physical, 2-way presence that has had some success in a shutdown role." He also noted that his track record of winning, and his character in the lockerroom would compliment Montreal's talented forward corps.

Moen's reputation preceeded him in San Jose. During his first game on home ice against Los Angeles he drew a hooking penalty on a Kings forward while driving the net. On the same play he followed through by flattening a defenseman at the side of the crease, only then turning around to see who the call was on. Injuries severely depleted the third line down the stretch, and Moen-Goc-Grier were thrown together with little time to develop any chemistry. Moen struggled with 0 points, a -4, 4 shots on goal and 22 hits as the Sharks were dispatched in the WCQF by Moen's former team in 6 games.

Moen registered 9 fights in 2008-09 according to, including a pair of scraps as a Shark with Daniel Winnick and Todd Fedoruk of Phoenix. Terms of his 3 year contract have not been offically released, but TSN reports a $4.5 million contract with a $1.5M/year average. The Canadians also signed veteran defenseman Paul Mara Friday.

[Update] Gainey's plan comming together - Ottawa Citizen.

"There's disappointment every year you don't win the Cup," he said from Calgary, his attendance at a Kenny Chesney concert bound to earn him points from country music-loving goalie Carey Price. "I'm coming to Montreal because I think there's a good chance."

Moen offers Canadiens fans this scouting report: "I'm a physical guy, finish my checks, stick up for teammates, am good defensively, do a lot of (penalty-killing) and try to chip in offensively when I can.

[Update2] Look for Nashville's Scott Nichol to become the Sharks fourth-line center - David Pollak's Working the Corners blog.

[Update3] Nashville Predators free agent profile: Scott Nichol - Dirk Hoag for SBN's On the Forecheck.

All in all, Nichol provides heady, responsible defensive work and has the ability to pop in the occasional goal or assist when the opportunity presents itself. The ideal fit for him would be a team that already has decent forward depth but needs to shore up its penalty killing. That might include his hometown of Edmonton, Dallas, or perhaps New Jersey. No matter where he ends up, his never-say-die style of play and affable personality are sure to make him a fan favorite.

Hoag also mentions a December 9th concussion at the hands of former Sharks defenseman Rob Davison in Vancouver. The lingering effects of the injury limited his playing time in the second half of the season.

No Pacific Division Rookie Tournament this season, Anaheim vs Sharks prospect exhibition could be in San Jose, prospect camp notes, Moen to Montreal

Fans wondering what happened to the 4-team Pacific Division Rookie Tournament between San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Phoenix received an answer this week from Los Angeles Kings beat writer Rich Hammond. On the excellent Inside the Kings blog, Hammond said that there was a disagreement among the teams, with Phoenix and Los Angeles splitting off to hold their own prospect head-to-head competition.

It was a mistake for a pair of franchises with attendance issues, as the Rookie Tournament was a fantastic gathering place for hardcore fans and hockey insiders. It could have been an annual lead-in to the NHL preseason and regular season. The games between high caliber prospects often reached a feverish pitch on the ice, as they were competing in front of nearly 4 entire scouting departments. Hammond notes that there were "concerns about opposing scouts getting a good look at what the Kings have." There were also a number of invites and tryouts who could have been gauged against quality opposition. Many minor league scouts also used the tournament to evaluate roster possibilities.

There are rumors the Rookie Tournament could reboot with new teams joining San Jose and Anaheim, one possibility being Vancouver. The Sharks are expected to host the Anaheim rookies in a pair of exhibition games held in San Jose Sep. 7-9, although that has not been officially confirmed by the team or local media. The Kings rookies will face the Phoenix rookies Sep. 9-10 at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. Carolina is reportedly joining the Traverse City Rookie Tournament, where Detroit, Columbus, Dallas, Tampa and Atlanta have played in the past according to Max Giese. Last year, Ottawa hosted Florida, Pittsburgh and Toronto prospects in Kitchener.

The Sharks prospect camp will be take place sometime between July 13-18, but it will be held privately without fans or media in attendance to lessen the distractions. Joe Pavelski, Torrey Mitchell, and Devin Setoguchi are expected to participate to help mentor the younger players. 2007 first round draft selection Logan Couture is scheduled to stay in San Jose an extra week to spend more time working with the Sharks training staff.

Sharkspage also has calls in to Travis Moen's agent Craig Oster on his offseason status, and goaltender Thomas Greiss, who is in Germany. There is also word that former 2004 first round draft selection Lukas Kaspar may be close to signing with the Philadelphia Flyers. On his latest blog post, San Jose Mercury News beat writer David Pollak notes that the Sharks could be in line to sign a fourth line center as soon as today, and no later than next week. "The goal is to bring in someone with a much grittier style of play than Marcel Goc or Tomas Plihal. Let the speculation begin," Pollak said. Let the speculation begin here with Manny Malhotra or Blair Betts, salary cap issues permitting.

[Update] Rich Hammond also offered a preseason note for the San Jose Sharks when discussing the Los Angeles Kings preseason schedule. The Sharks will travel to the 1-year old Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario on Sep. 17. The arena housed the ECHL Ontario Reign in their inaugural season last year.

[Update2] The San Jose Sharks released their preseason schedule today at noon. According to a press release, the last two games against Anaheim and Phoenix on September 25th and 26th will be covered on the radio broadcast at 98.5 KFOX-FM.


SEP-17 AT LOS ANGELES (in Ontario), 7:30PM

[Update3] Why Tanguay is still on the market, the latest on Heatley and what's next for Tavares - Pierre LeBrun for ESPN.

The San Jose Sharks had some talks with the Senators a few weeks ago. At this point, Sharks GM Doug Wilson has yet to make the kind of moves we've been anticipating to shake up that roster. Mind you, there's a lot of time before camp opens in September and I've believed all along Wilson has viewed this as a summer-long project.

Still, San Jose just looks like the most promising option for everyone concerned in the Heatley affair. Sharks assistant GM Wayne Thomas is a good friend of the Heatley family, and imagine having Joe Thornton with 50-goal man Heatley at his side? Yikes. But again, Melnyk is angry he had to pay out a $4 million bonus to Heatley earlier this month. Somehow, the Sharks would have to eat a couple of Sens contracts going the other way and that's an issue right now. The re-signings of Ryane Clowe, Rob Blake and Kent Huskins put the Sharks close to the $58.6 million salary cap as we type.

This would be a massive trade if GM Doug Wilson pulled the trigger, but it contrasts with the issues of leadership and character Wilson has been stressing in the offseason. More roster speculation will be posted soon while evaluating the Sharks salary cap situation.

[Update4] Canadiens sign Moen to three-year deal -

Montreal Canadiens General Manager Bob Gainey announced today the signing of forward Travis Moen to a three-year contract (2009-10 to 2011-12). As per Club policy, financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Max Giese: Sharks future in goal bright with Thomas Greiss, Alex Stalock, Tyson Sexsmith and Harri Sateri

San Jose Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss Teal and White game
San Jose Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss up next for the goaltending factory

Coveted free-agent Swedish goaltender Jonas Gustavsson chose to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs this week, but that doesn't mean the future isn't bright in goal for the San Jose Sharks. Thomas Greiss (30-24-2, .907SV%, 2.47GAA), last season's starting goaltender for the AHL affiliate Worcester Sharks, is expected to spend his first full season in the NHL after making 3 appearances between the pipes in 2007-2008. He will be slotted to backup Evgeni Nabokov, who himself is one year removed from finishing as a Vezina Trophy finalist.

An aggressive butterfly goaltender with fast lateral movement, Greiss has a unique skill set that could translate into a #1 goaltender potential down the line. "Greiss has taken a lot of positive steps in his development and is ready for the NHL now," San Jose Sharks Director of Scouting Tim Burke said. Greiss saw his stock rise last season by helping Worcester upset the Hartford Wolfpack in the first round of the 2009 Calder Cup playoffs. His play in goal also ignited a late season drive just to make the postseason. Griess has always been notable for his skating and athleticism, but he has also improved in the mental discipline the position dictates at the NHL level. "Goaltending is so much about dealing with adversity, Greiss now has the calmness and ability to overcome that," said Burke.

While a bit furthur down the NHL pipeline, goaltender Alex Stalock might be the most promising goaltender in the Sharks system. He has been compared to a young Marty Turco because he is a natural-born leader, with brilliant puck handling ability and god-given athletic gifts that are rare to find at the position. Stalock had a terrific season last year with Minnesota Duluth (21-13-8, .924SV%, 2.13GAA, 5SO), and his ability to steal games on his own allowed the offensively starved Bulldogs to upset several teams on their way to winning the WCHA Championship. After his junior year with the Bulldogs, the Sharks signed him to his first pro-contract and assigned him to Worcester. He didn't start initially, but he did impress the coaching staff while backing up Greiss.

"He's ready to play in Worcester, and our guys that have worked with him have raved about him," says Burke, who concluded "he's a student of the game and simply loves hockey". The Sharks scouting staff loves the fact that Stalock is a leader on the ice, and it visibly inspires the teammates playing in front of him. "We are very happy with his progress, not only as a hockey player but as a leader also," says San Jose Sharks scout Pat Funk. He also noted, "Stalock is a really good athlete and he's cocky but in the right way, his mentality is if you beat me once you're not going to beat me again".

Joining Stalock this year in Worcester will be Tyson Sexsmith, the 91st overall selection (3rd round) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Sexsmith enters his rookie AHL season after earning a Memorial Cup Championship with the Vancouver Giants (39-9-4, 2.26GAA, .898SV%). Boasting a wealth of experience in the WHL, he registered 176 regular season games played and 50 games played over the last 4 seasons. "We have another pretty good goalie coming in Sexsmith," Pat Funk quickly noted after being asked about Stalock. Sexsmith has incredible mental toughness and is mechanically polished. He is the type of goaltender that will remain composed in tense situations, and his athleticism has really blossomed since the Sharks drafted him. Sexsmith has shattered records during the last four seasons in the WHL, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to the new challenge of the American Hockey league this year.

The Sharks also have another blue chip prospect developing in Finland, Tappara goaltender Harri Sateri. The Sharks have been very high on Sateri for a few years, and were pleasantly surprised last summer when he dropped down to the fourth round. Sateri's style of play shows glimpses of past San Jose Finns Miikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala, in that his abilities are centered around his superb quickness. There is no rush to bring Sateri over to North America, and he is already playing against men in the Finnish Elite League. "He doesn't get enough credit for the year he had, he played in a top men's league on a poor team and put up good numbers," Tim Burke said of Sateri. The young netminder also represented Finland in the U-18 World Championships, and the World Junior Championships in successive seasons.

While it would have been another arrow in the quiver if the Sharks had enticed Swedish sensation Jonas "the Monster" Gustavsson to choose Silicon Valley, the fact that he opted for Toronto doesn't detract from the promising stable of talent accumulated between the pipes. Expect Greiss to be the beneficiary of a more increased role than backup goaltenders over the past 2 seasons have garnered. Evgeni Nabokov is in a contract year, but the odds are lopsided in favor of him remaining a Sharks for the foreseeable future as opposed to being the centerpiece of a blockbuster trade. If Greiss can return a sense of competition to the Sharks net, it would be a welcome boost for both Sharks goaltenders.

Promising rookies Alex Stalock and Tyson Sexsmith will get their first taste of the pro-game this coming AHL season, and both will benefit from the daily tutelage of Sharks goaltending coach Corey Schwab. Harri Sateri is already playing at a level comparable to the AHL, polishing his technique while playing against talented veterans. His experience in the SM Liiga could allow for a smoother tranistion to the North American ice surface when the Sharks decide to bring him over.

[Update] Max Giese: Goaltending prospect Alex Stalock scouting report - Sharkspage, January 2009.

[Update2] Max Giese: Finnish goaltending prospect profile Harri Sateri - Sharkspage, December 2008.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

2009 NPC Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships and Expo returning to San Jose Saturday

2007 NPC Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships in San Jose

After the Chelsea-Club America exhibition at Stanford and the Riot Boxing event at the San Jose Civic Auditorium two years ago, I stumbled across the 2007 NPC Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships. It was a very entertaining show.

The 2009 NPC Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships returns to San Jose Saturday, July 11th. 8-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman, and IFBB Fitness Champion Tanji Johnson will be guests of honor. The competition and Expo will be held at the Parkside Hall in San Jose (180 Park Ave). Doors open at 5:15PM, the finals start at 6:30PM.

For more information or tickets visit or The photo above shows a light heavyweight competitor on the right reacting to a third place finish.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hockey Notes - July 8th

San Jose Sharks defenseman Sandis Ozolins signs with KHL Dinamo Riga
San Jose Sharks defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh signs with Dinamo Riga

- The big news Tuesday, at least in Republika Latvijas, was the return of former San Jose Sharks defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh to the professional team where his career began in 1990. Dinamo Riga, now a part of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), signed the 37 year old Ozolinsh after a 1 year absence from hockey.

In an open letter on the team's website Ozolinsh noted that the best and most productive years of his career may be behind him, but that he can use his experience to help Dinamo Riga become a better team. "I'm sure that we will be able to fulfill your hopes. I don't know if there will be miracles but my heart will be on the ice," he said in the letter as translated by the IIHF.

The 7-time NHL Allstar and former Norris Trophy Finalist won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996. He registered 167 goals and 564 points in 875 games played for 6 different teams over his 16-year NHL career. Ozolinsh represented Latvia in two Olympic competitions and two World Championships.

He was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the second round (30th overall) in 1991, where he played two seasons before being part of the blockbuster trade that acquired Owen Nolan in 1995. The Sharks signed "Ozone" for a return engagement in November 2008 to add defensive depth. He finished with 3 goals and 13 assists in 38 games played, and added a measure of stability on the back end before then head coach Ron Wilson relegated him to reserve duty. He came into the season in tremendous physical condition after straightening out off-ice problems, but skating was an issue.

With the return of Ozolinsh to Riga the Bay Area loses the most popular athlete in Latvia, but it does retain another. 6-foot-11 Latvian Andris Biedrins is a center/forward for the Golden State Warriors, and he was occasionally spotted in the stands at HP Pavilion. Another member of the 2006 Latvian Olympic Hockey Team, center Maris Ziedins, played less than an hour away from San Jose for the ECHL Stockton Thunder in 2005-06.

- Sandis Ozolinsh returns to the San Jose Sharks - November 2008 Sharkspage video.

- The "other" news Tuesday was that free agent Swedish goaltender Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson decided to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Maple Leafs posted video highlights of the press conference online:

"Jonas is considered by many to be the best goaltender not playing in the NHL today. He has a unique combination of size and agility and we’re excited to add a player with his potential to our roster." - Brian Burke

"He's not coming in trying to unseat a guy who has been here a long time, has a long-term contract and has had a lot of success. That being said, we were very frank with Jonas that we feel Vesa is going to have a big-time, bounce-back year now that he's healthy. Don't think you're going to walk in here and knock this kid out of the net. You're going to have to do something to do that." - Brian Burke

"I want to thank Brian Burke and his staff for giving me the opportunity to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is truly an honor and privilege and I feel very fortunate to wear the Blue and White sweater. Toronto is a great city, with tremendous fan support, and I am very excited about the future." - Jonas Gustavsson

He will reportedly make an entry-level maximum $810,000, with a possible $90K in bonuses according to TFP. Gustavsson's agent Joe Resnick told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun that "This wasn't a one-year decision. This was for years three and four. We were looking at the long term, that was a major factor in the decision."

Gustavsson was profiled here on Sharkspage.

He will play behind starting goaltender Vesa Toskala, ostensibly the team's #1, but Gustavsson is expected to push him for playing time and be a legitimate option if he falters. On the official Leafs website, Mike Ulmer noted that calls from Borje Salming and Mats Sundin on the tradition and history of Toronto helped land the Swedish goaltender. Playing with one of the top goaltending coaches, newly hired Francois Allaire, and playing in the top hockey market on the planet may have played a little bit of a factor as well.

Colorado opted out of the Monster sweepstakes signing solid free agent goaltender Craig Anderson to backup a streaky Peter Budaj. San Jose had a pair of non-monster options for a backup to Evgeni Nabokov in Brian Boucher and Thomas Greiss. The Sharks have been grooming athletic German goaltender Thomas Greiss for a year and a half as the #1 in Worcester. Passing on Brian Boucher, who signed a 2-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, could signal that the organization feels the time is right for Greiss.

Left out in the cold are the Dallas Stars, and many are not happy with either Gustavsson or Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. Dallas Morning News beat writer Mike Heika lead with Swedish goalie's snub stings Dallas Stars. Heika, one of the most respected writers covering the NHL, gauges the fan reaction in Dallas and it may signal turbulent times ahead.

Brandon Worley of SBN's Defending Big D writes that the short and long term future in goal for Dallas remains in question. Marty Turco will be in a contract year, and there have been recent issues with his large workload and problems with goaltending coach Andy Moog.

"Turco has been a horse for this team and has consistently been one of the top ten goalies in the NHL. He's proven that last two seasons (06-07, 07-08) that he is able to be dominant in the playoffs," Worley noted. "While the Stars won't be adverse to re-signing him next summer, the chances are good that Turco feels he is worth more than the team is willing to spend. Faced with the departure of a franchise goaltender, what direction can the team go?"

Mark Stepneski of Andrews Starspage looks at the free agent goaltenders available to back up Marty Turco. Martin Biron, Antero Niittymaki and Curtis Sanford are listed as a few of the best remaining options.

- Toronto vs. Dallas: For Gustavsson, Never a Hard Choice - Jeff Z. Klein.

Contract money was not a factor. Gustavsson is eliglible only for an entry-level deal, so no bidding war was involved, and that means the only considerations were where he fit in with the team and the city he was moving to. It helped, of course, that Toronto is practically Stockholm West in attitude, atmosphere and hockey pedigree — and that two of the most beloved Leafs of the last 35 years are Börje Salming and Mats Sundin.

That’s why Gustavsson nixed San Jose fairly early in the bidding process; it didn’t feel to him like that much of a hockey locale (Ontarian Brian Campbell felt the same way after he was dealt there from Buffalo and got out after only four months). And Gustavsson found Colorado in complete organizational disarray, having just fired the entire management and coaching staffs. That left the Stars and Maple Leafs, and when Gustavsson’s Dallas suitors trotted him out to a Texas Rangers baseball game and had him throw the first pitch, that probably sealed it. Ten to one he went back to his hotel room for a Web search of airfares, Stockholm-to-Pearson Airport.

Klein also takes issue with some of the criticism surrounding Nieuwendyk, but the problems are deeper than either the pursuit of Gustavsson or Tom Hicks' financial situation. Regarding San Jose being nixed early in the bidding process, Gustavsson himself and his agent said as late as last week the Sharks were still on the table. Either you take them at their word or you don't. His agent Joe Resnick told David Pollak of the Mercury News yesterday that it was a gut decision to go to Toronto.

About San Jose not being much of a hockey locale, the 10th largest metropolitan area of the U.S. is fairly spread out. You have to travel 5 minutes from downtown to get to the largest hockey facility on the West Coast at Sharks Ice in San Jose. The Sharks play to near capacity in San Jose, Stockton has lead the ECHL in attendance for 4 years less than an hour away. Hockey video games, fantasy hockey, message boards, team websites and blogs all started in the Bay Area.

San Jose might be the most non-traditional of the "non-traditional" markets in the NHL, but the hockey is there if you know where to find it. No comment on Brian Campbell.

- Burke also directly refuted one of the negatives I placed on playing in Toronto, the heavy media pressure players face. "Some of the other teams involved in all these free agents, that is one of the negatives (media pressure players face) that other teams threw at Toronto. The media, the negativity, the scrutiny. I told him, I don't feel that way," Burke said. "When our team struggles, they give it more to the coach and the GM more than they give it to the players. I think the goaltenders here last year escaped real serious beatings no matter how poorly we played. I said to Jonas, I don't feel that goaltenders are picked on here at all, I don't think our players are picked on in Toronto. I think when things go wrongly they throw bricks at the coach and the GM, which is perfect. Keep it that way."

Playing for GM Brian Burke or Ron Wilson would be a selling point for any NHL player, and under them you would know exactly where you stand. The NHL is looking into Ron Wilson for tampering after he made comments regarding the Sedin twins on a Toronto radio program, but hopefully it results in nothing more than a warning or a slap on the wrist. Honestly, it should not even go that far. The league needs Wilson and Burke front and center as much as possible.

That being said, it is hard not to acknowledge the whithering criticism from the Toronto media and fans Toskala endured until they had time to see what he could bring to the table. Head coach Ron Wilson went from a small group of reporters covering him in San Jose, to an entertaining but confrontational relationship with the Toronto media horde that began before the start of the season. The spotlight the Leafs are under can be tremendously beneficial, or it can be the Sword of Damocles hanging over a struggling player.

Bringing in Francois Beauchemin, Garnet Exelby and Mike Komisarek to bolster the blueline in Toronto will also have a significant impact on Toskala and Gustavsson. Toskala, the more patient of the two, will benefit more from the crease clearing and the reduction of rebound opportunities. Highlights of Gustavsson from the Swedish league show a near endless succession of tremendously acrobatic saves on breakaways and 2-on-1 opportunities. Maple Leaf fans hope he does not have to mine that experience too often in Toronto.

- Another Burke rumor came on the Globe and Mail's NHL podcast from Eric Duhatschek (auto spellcheck keeps changing it to Eic Duatschek). Duhatschek said that he had heard from one general manager that Burke wanted to make a run at free agent winger Travis Moen. Moen registered 7 goals and 9 assists in 82 games played for the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks last season. Moen won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007 with Burke as the general manager.

San Jose has room for Moen on the third line, possibly with Jonathan Cheechoo and speedy center Torrey Mitchell, but salary cap issues may be a hinderance and will almost assuredly necessitate a trade before the start of the regular season.

San Jose Sharks forward Claude Lemieux retires

- Toronto's Globe and Mail broke news of the retirement of San Jose Sharks forward Claude Lemieux: Lemieux calls it quits, again. Lemieux registered only 1 assist in 18 games last season in a comeback tour that included stops with the ALIH China Sharks, the AHL Worcester Sharks and the NHL San Jose Sharks.

"Many people will think the main highlights of my career will be the Stanley Cups, the Conn Smythe Trophy and Canada Cup, but to me and my family, coming back and playing in my first game in San Jose (last season) will be remembered as one the great highlights of my career."

"I want to thank the Arizona Sun Dogs for letting me train with them, the China Sharks for the opportunity to play there and the Worcester Sharks organization for helping making this dream possible. I cannot say enough to thank Doug Wilson, my Sharks teammates and the entire San Jose organization for giving me the opportunity to bring this dream to fruition. In my heart, I will forever be a San Jose Shark."

The Sharks made him work his way throughout the organization, but he earned his spot on the roster despite numerous objections and guffaws at the time from the national hockey press. During a string of injuries that sidelined as many as 9 roster players, Lemieux helped the team in a 4th line depth role before eventually succumbing to a jaw injury himself. He was not able to deliver enough in an offensive or agitating capacity.

One of the highlights of his encore NHL season may be an awkward fight with journeyman Edmonton defenseman Theo Peckham. It may not have been the best display of fisticuffs, but it energized the team and made for a more entertaining game. A highlight off of the ice, Lemieux became an American citizen in July.

The Sharks have a habit of absorbing character veterans into the organization after their playing days, see Mike Ricci and Bryan Marchment. There is an assistant coaching vacancy in San Jose after Minnesota-born Todd Richards departed to become the head coach of the Wild. There was a no comment from the Sharks on possible candidates for the position. Lemieux was a former president of the Phoenix Roadrunners, which later became the Sharks ECHL affiliate and closed after last season. There is also no new news on a possible San Jose ECHL affiliate for 2009-10.

- Avalanche's Sakic to retire from the NHL on Thursday - Adrian Dater for the Denver Post.

The news that Avalanche fans had hoped never to hear is nevertheless official: Joe Sakic has decided to retire from the Avalanche. The Denver Post has confirmed that the Avalanche captain will retire Thursday at a 1 p.m. news conference at the Inverness Hotel.

After a 20-season career that is sure to land him in the Hockey Hall of Fame, Sakic had mulled a 21st. Instead, he'll walk away as the Avalanche's all-time leading scorer with 625 goals and 1,641 points in 1,378 games — all with the same franchise.

"He'll go down as one of the best to ever play the game," Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky said.

- No Hockey on ESPN Listings - The Ice Block.

Bowling, check. Hockey, no.

- The Sharks received the Dick Dillman Award as the top media relations staff in the Western Conference. It is their 3rd straight award, and 4th in the last 5 seasons. Director of Media Relations Scott Emmert, Media Relations Manager Tom Holy of bobblehead fame, Ryan Stenn and VP of Communications Ken Arnold head a staff that works hard to provide access and information to the local, national and international media. Many of the media relations assistants in San Jose, including one fellow Mountain View high graduate, are just as dedicated and helpful as those at the top.

"It's a pleasure to be recognized by the PHWA for our efforts but most of the thanks must go to our team executives, coaches and players," Scott Emmert said of receiving the award. "If they are not so gracious with their time towards the media, we would not be able to do our jobs successfully."

The Washington Capitals earned another Dick Dillman award as the top media relations staff in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals have also earned three straight awards. "This is a special honor and something in which we take a great deal of pride," Capitals Director of Media Relations Nate Ewell told the official website. "It is a pleasure to work with the membership of the PHWA and the rest of the media every day. Their coverage is instrumental to the success of this great game, and we are happy to do whatever we can to help make that possible. We owe thanks to the leadership of our owners, George McPhee and Bruce Boudreau, as well as charismatic and cooperative players like Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Brooks Laich, just to name three."

The award is given annually to honor late Minnesota Wild media relations representative Dick Dillman.

- The Sharks have cycled off many of the local radio shows in the summer news cycle, but the Dudes on Hockey podcast with Mike Peattie and Doug Santana has been solid of late. Recent guests include ESPN's E.J. Hradek, TSN's Scott Burnside, San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy, and the television voice of the San Jose Sharks in Randy Hahn. The latest episode takes a look at the Free Agency deadline.

Sharks left wing Ryane Clowe joined Ralph Barbieri and Tim Roye on KNBR 680AM after signing a 4-year contract. When asked what it took to set up in front of an NHL crease, Clowe said it was not always his mission to score from in close. He also wanted to be a "bad goalie", screening the opposing goaltender while at the same time letting the puck reach the net. "It was something coach Todd McLellan ingrained in us," Clowe told Barbieri.

[Update] The experiment comes to official end with Claude Lemieux’s retirement — and thoughts on playoff exit - Working the Corners.

[Update2] Dallas Stars acquire G Alex Auld - USA Today.

The Dallas Stars have acquired goaltender Alex Auld from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2010 NHL draft. That pick was previously acquired from the San Jose Sharks.

The 6-foot-4, 223-pound goalie has played in 183 NHL games in his career with Vancouver, Florida, Phoenix, Boston and Ottawa. He has a 74-75-25 career mark with six shutouts, a .905 save percentage and a 2.76 goals-against average.

[Update3] Lemieux’s ‘adventure’ comes to an end - Ross McKeon for Yahoo Sports.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Interview with Fox Sports, The Hockey News and Spectors Hockey trade rumor expert Lyle Richardson

San Jose Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau vs Dallas Stars goaltender Marty Turco

Spector's Hockey founder, Fox Sports and TheHockeyNews contributor Lyle Richardson was kind enough to answer an onslaught of San Jose Sharks related free agency and trade rumor questions from across several time zones in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Lyle also contributes to a regular Wednesday trade rumor live chat (10AM, PT) along with David Pagnotta and Yahoo's Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy, and to the Wednesday (6PM, PT) Face Off Hockey Show.

Below are his full responses and my heavily pared down questions:

[Q] The Sharks were quiet at the opening of NHL Free Agency. Was there any word of negotiations or rumors tying San Jose to free agents that signed elsewhere? In your opinion, what does Doug Wilson need to tweak on the roster prior to the start of the 2009-10 season?

[LR] The Sharks were believed interested in Dany Heatley but not in acquiring him prior to July 1st as that's when he was due a $4 million bonus from the Senators, which Wilson rightly didn't want on his books. It's been reported by the Mercury News the Sharks could have more interest in Heatley now. The Senators puzzling addition of Alex Kovalev on July 6 suggests Heatley could be moved soon, but whether it's the Sharks, Edmonton Oilers or another club remains to be seen.

As for free agents, I hadn't heard or seen anything regarding Wilson and free agents who've now been signed by other clubs. Apparently he's considering shaking things up via trade, not free agency where he'd be taking on salary rather than shuffling assets.

[Q] Ryane Clowe told Robin Short of The Telegram that he was "shocked and surprised" when his name hit the rumor mill prior to the NHL Entry Draft. TSN reported that Montreal, Toronto and Philadelphia expressed interest among other teams. Clowe's agent Paul Corbeil told David Pollak that he thought Doug Wilson floated Clowe's name to gauge the value of the rugged winger. Clowe fits the mould of head coach Todd McLellan's fire-the-puck-drive-the-net offense perfectly, and he reportedly signed a 4-year, $14 million deal at less than market value to remain with the team the drafted him. Do you think the Clowe rumors were initiated from Doug Wilson, or were they born of the active imaginations of the East Coast and Canadian media?

[LR] I heard the Clowe rumors while at the Entry draft and in casual talks with some of the reporters and bloggers there the consensus was Wilson was both measuring Clowe's value on the trade market and trying to put a bit of a scare into the Clowe camp. I'm not sure how much validity there was to the latter but I think Wilson was serious about gauging what was available in the trade market should efforts to re-sign Clowe stall. Fortunately things worked out for both sides.

[Q] Sharks captain Patrick Marleau has been the target of near constant trade rumors since midway through the 2007-08 season. A quiet leader, his actions on the ice spoke volumes in 2008-09 as the Sharks tore through the best the NHL had to offer over the first 40 games.

San Jose was beseiged by injuries after the trade deadline, with as many as 9 or 10 roster players out at one time. There were warning signs with listless 6-0 and 5-2 losses at Detroit and Calgary, and a late season 5-2 loss on home ice where the Sharks turned in a preseason performance against division rival Anaheim. The final three games against the three worst teams in the Western Conference resulted in a 1-0 shootout win over Colorado, and being outscored by Phoenix and LA 8-4. Marleau returned from the first knee injury of his career to score 2 game winning goals in the first round WCQF series while looking about 50-60%, but the lack of intensity and lack of emotion from his team to start the series was palpable.

General Manager Doug Wilson notably left Marleau's name absent this offseason when he talked about untouchable players like Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle. In a contract year, how do you see Marleau's future playing out with San Jose? Possibly the most underrated 2-way forward in the game, what kind of offers do you think other teams would be willing to put together for Marleau? It is a tough question for anyone outside the lockerroom to ask or answer, but do you think the team needs a change in leadership or can you see Marleau retiring as a lifetime Shark in 10 years?

[LR] No offense to Marleau but I think the Sharks record over the past four seasons speaks for itself. The club needs a leadership shakeup and that means Marleau should be shopped. That being said, his reputation has taken a bit of a beating over the past couple of years and of course his salary, even for just one more season, is tough to move with the cap flat-lining for next season. Still, I think there's a market for him and he could fetch a good return, provided of course he's willing to waive his no-trade clause.

[Q] Rumors surrounding the destination of free agent Swedish goaltender Jonas "the Monster" Gustavsson are still in heavy circulation in some hockey circles despite lasting several weeks. Do you think each of the four teams he cited (San Jose, Dallas, Colorado, Toronto) are still in play? Do you agree with the label "best goaltender outside of the NHL" a handful of reporters have given him?

[LR] I think the Sharks, Leafs and Stars are very much in play right now for Gustavsson. The Avs are out of it as their re-signing of Budaj and signing of Anderson last week means he's not signing with them. I think however there's a danger in overhyping this guy before he's even played a single NHL game. Too often players who've earned the tag "best player not in the NHL" usually ends up struggling to adjust to the NHL game. Remember Fabian Brunstrom last season with Dallas? Now I think he's got the potential to be a good NHL forward but he was overhyped and unprepared for the NHL game.

[Q] How do you see the Dany Heatley situation playing out? Kings assistant GM Ron Hextall lowered the boom on Heatley noting that he had problems with three past coaches, one in Atlanta and Craig Hartsburg and Cory Clouston in Ottawa. This is his second time demanding a trade, the latest blindsiding the Ottawa management and fans after he signed a 6-year, $45 million contract extention, and he has a troubled past with the death of Dan Snyder in a car accident. The Sharks have been intently focused on bringing character players into the San Jose locker room. What would Heatley bring on and off the ice to the San Jose Sharks?

[LR] I think the Senators will trade Heatley and I believe the Oilers and Sharks are in play, although he's clearly indicated he doesn't wish to go to the former while the latter is on his now-shrinking list of preferred destinations. For all the bad press he's getting about his decision to leave the Senators we cannot forget he's a two-time fifty-goal scorer, and the claim that he scores only "empty goals" and doesn't play well in pressure situations doesn't hold up well to scrutiny. I think he'd be a terrific match with Joe Thornton but of course there's that salary ($7.5 million per season) to consider plus the baggage that'll come with him. Fact is, he played very well for the Senators for most of the past four seasons and perhaps playing in a city where he's not under so much scrutiny as he is in Ottawa could be just what he needs.

[Q] Tight against the cap after recent contracts to Blake, Clowe and defenseman Kent Huskins, many are speculating one forward and one defenseman might be moved for salary cap reasons. Who are the most likely candidates?

[LR] If they need to dump some salary I'd say Cheechoo and/or Michalek could get shopped, although they wouldn't have the same value as Marleau in my opinion. As for defensemen the only real trade candidate I can see is Ehrhoff ($3.1 million) but I'm not sure Wilson would move out a blueliner.

Thanks very much for taking the time to answer a few questions. Lyle Richardson's latest report at is available here: Rumor Roundup: Dany saga rages on.

[Update] Jeremy Roenick on the Sharks, Retirement and Phoenix - Susan Slusser for the NHL Fanhouse.

[Update2] GMs flex their intelligence in draft's later rounds, SFU professor finds gap between good and bad drafting teams widens during the third round when teams like San Jose and Buffalo shine - Iain MacIntyre for the Vancouver Sun.

His study, which assessed the draft success rates of teams over the last 30 years, awarded an A-plus to only the San Jose Sharks and Buffalo Sabres. The Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Phoenix Coyotes received the worst mark -- a D. Tingling ranks the Canucks 14th among 30 teams and gave them a B.

On average, 40 per cent of players in any draft play at least one game in the NHL. Only 19 per cent play more than 150 games.

[Update3] Leaked names, deleted posts, over-enthusiastic reporters and various weird stuff about the Dany Heatley fiasco - David Staples for the Edmonton Journal. Thanks to Puck Daddy for the link.

Dust settles on NHL free agency frenzy, Sharks stay in house re-signing Blake, Clowe and Huskins

Defenseman Rob Blake resigns with San Jose Sharks
Goaltender Brian Boucher signed with the Philadelphia Flyers NHL Free Agency
Ryane Clowe signed a 4 year, $14 million contract with the San Jose Sharks

According to the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle, NHL teams spent a record $406 million on 46 players during last Wednesday's start of free agency. The Sharks were more active before and after the July 1st bonanza, reportedly re-signing cornerstone defenseman Rob Blake to a 1-year, $3.5 million contract plus bonuses on Tuesday, and locking up restricted free agent Ryane Clowe with a reported 4-year, $14 million deal on Thursday. Defenseman Kent Huskins was the only San Jose player to come across the wire on July 1st, signing for 2 years with an average of $1.7 million each season.

The contracts were not immediately confirmed by the Sharks, although an official announcement on Ryane Clowe's 3-year contract came Monday afternoon. "We believe Ryane is entering the prime of his career and can be a dominant player in this League for years to come," general manager Doug Wilson said in a press release. "We feel he is an important piece to this team as his hard-nosed play, passion for the game and commitment to succeed are all part of his make-up."

The Sharks as a policy do not make official announcements until the contracts have been approved by the NHL, but there has been an unusual delay in news regarding defenseman Rob Blake and Kent Huskins with the July 4th holiday weekend. On the official website, Clowe is listed at $3.5M, Blake is listed at $3.5M, and Huskins is listed as unsigned (as of this blog post).

The Newfoundland-born Ryane Clowe registered a career best 22 goals and 52 points in 71 games played this season on the second line with Joe Pavelski and Milan Michalek. Clowe was a significant contributor on the second power play unit with 11 power play goals (tied for first) and 13 power play assists. The rugged 6-foot-2, 225 pound winger does his best work in the corners and in front of the crease, complimenting the blue collar offensive system utilized by head coach Todd McLellan. For a Sharks team looking to add toughness and grit, it was essential to lock up Clowe even though he has had to battle through injury problems in two consective seasons.

According to Clowe registered more fighting majors in 2008-09 (5) than he had in the two previous seasons combined, with the lone misstep coming via a hard left hand from Ryan Malone in Tampa Bay. Heavy on his stick and hard to knock off his skates, Clowe came into his own offensively this season. Clowe-Pavelski-Michalek effectively became the top scoring unit late in the season as the Sharks juggled the lineup to adjust to an injury tsunami that affected as many as 9 roster players. Unfortunately the second line struggled in the postseason against Anaheim. After scoring 70 goals in the regular season, the second line contributed only 2 in the WCQF, both on the power play.

Prior to the NHL Entry Draft, TSN's Darren Dreger reported that the Sharks were in discussions with several teams about the restricted free agent Clowe. Robin Short of the St John's Telegram noted that he was "shocked and surprised" at his name making the trade rumor rounds, with Toronto and Philadelphia being tabbed as two potential suitors. "My No. 1 goal is to stay in San Jose," Clowe told the Telegram. The Sharks are not only the team that drafted and developed him, but they are a talented team geared to his style of play, and one playing in a forgiving media market. Calling Clowe "a rare physical presence amongst the team's forward units" may be stretching the postseason collapse a little far. Setoguchi, Marleau, Pavelski, Roenick and Moen at times threw their bodies around with abandon, but few did it as often or with as much of a mean streak as Clowe.

The most important addition the Sharks made prior to the FA deadline may have been addition by non-subtraction. Returning 39-year old Rob Blake into the defensive fold keeps a potent offensive blueline (4 defenseman registered 30+ assists) together for the time being. It was a shock to the system of many a Sharks fan when the 6-foot-4, 225-pound former Los Angeles captain was signed last year, he was boo'd only slightly less than uber-villian Chris Pronger at HP Pavilion. After a disappointing 31 point, -19 season with a rebuilding Kings squad in 2007-08, Blake rebounded with 10 goals and 45 points with San Jose in 2008-09. Paired with a 22-year old defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic that grew up watching him play, Blake contributed a much needed veteran presence on the ice and candor off of it. He also added a toughness and hostility in front of the net that contributed to his first 100 PIM season in 8 years.

Effective at playing the body or the puck, Blake developed a chemistry with Vlasic that allowed them to check off on reads and more often than not make a strong first pass out of their own zone. Called "puck management" by the coaching staff in San Jose, that first pass became harder to make as the season progressed and was another reason (along with injuries) the offense slowed down. Blake often followed that first pass with a hard legal or sometimes non-legal check against forechecking opponents. While that may be one element of the game he does not pass on to Vlasic, situational awareness and confidence are two of Blake's attributes that are going to benefit his defensive partner long-term.

Another attribute is resiliency. When asked what adding Stanley Cup winning veterans meant to the Sharks in a radio interview during the season, Blake noted that they were players who had dealt with a loss but knew how to come back and play harder the next game. Despite scoring a goal and 3 assists against Anaheim in the WCQF, Rob Blake was on the ice for 9 of 18 goals against. The Blake-Vlasic pairing had a difficult time matched up against Anaheim's top line of Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan. The Sharks had to answer 6-7 months of questions about playoff failure during the regular season last year. Having Blake front and center in the locker room, and as a significant contributor on the ice, gives the Sharks that much more confidence they can use the situation as a stepping stone for a deeper playoff run.

"It's almost unfinished business kind of thing, and I think one needs to have that kind of approach," Blake told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun after news of his contract broke. "You're only going to be able to be together as a group for a few years, and when you have that much talent you have to make the most of it. We've got some big, big strides to take there."

One intriguing move the Sharks made at the FA deadline was to sign 6-foot-3, 210-pound defensive defenseman Kent Huskins to a 2-year, $3.4 million contract. A foot injury limited Huskins to 6 points in 33 games played with Anaheim last season. He was acquired at the trade deadline along with Travis Moen for prospects Nick Bonino and Timo Pielmeier. A conditional draft pick did not change hands as Huskins did not suit up in a game for San Jose. Listed by Hockey Forecaster as a "durable" commodity who plays a safe brand of defense, Huskins played mostly on a third defensive unit in Anaheim behind the minute eating Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer.

An interesting post by the Sharks Hockey Analysis blog declares July 1st "Kent Huskins Day", and compares Huskins to the Minnesota Wild's pursuit of shot blocking defenseman Greg Zanon. The intriguing aspect of Huskins' contract is not just the term and the length, but the fact that San Jose could have 6 other defenseman ahead of him on the depth chart, and Derek Joslin, Mike Moore and Nick Petrecki all climbing the ranks behind him. This signing could be a portent of a signifant deal to come, and many are speculating at least 1 forward and 1 defenseman will be moved before the puck drops in October.

According to, San Jose has 9 roster forwards ($27.925M), 7 roster defenseman ($21.717M), and Evgeni Nabokov ($6M) signed for a $55.6 million 2009-10 cap hit. The salary cap increased $100,000 to $56.8M for next season, with a $40.8 million salary floor. In addition to Joslin, Moore and Petrecki on the blueline, forwards Jamie McGinn and agitator Brad Staubitz were given a vote of confidence by the front office at the annual State of the Sharks question and answer session in May. 2007 first round draft pick Logan Couture should get a long look in training camp, although he should be slated for his first full season with San Jose's AHL affiliate in Worcester.

Center Torrey Mitchell, Brad Staubitz, and goaltender Thomas Greiss were issued qualifying offers last Monday. The Sharks decided to part ways with veteran Mike Grier, centers Marcel Goc and Tomas Plihal, backup goaltender Brian Boucher, Alexei Semenov and Claude Lemieux. Prospects Riley Armstrong, T.J. Fox, Taylor Dakers and Ashton Rome also were not given qualifying offers.

Brian Boucher signed a 2-year, $1.85M contract with Philadelphia on Wednesday, allowing him to return to the team that drafted him in 1995. He travels east along with former Anaheim Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger and Colorado agitator Ian Laperriere to bolster an imposing Flyers squad. "For me, my expectations are not so grand as far as my ambition just being an asset to that club in any way. If that means playing a lot of games, I'll do that. If it means spot duty, I'll do that. If it means to be ready at all times, I'll do that. If it means being good in the locker room and supportive, I'll do that. Winning is paramount for me right now in my career. I feel I can be a real asset to the Flyers going forward and give them a chance to be a winner," Boucher told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun when asked about his role alongside goaltender Ray Emery.

On the Sharks early postseason exit, Boucher told Lebrun that the team was competing for NHL records over the first 50 games, but that they could not handle the 2-3 months of adversity at the end of the season. An excellent article by Lebrun earlier in the season asked former Flyer goaltenders Brian Boucher, Ron Hextall, John Vanbiesbrouck, Sean Burke, Roman Cechmanek, Robert Esche, and Martin Biron to profile one of the most difficult NHL markets to be a #1 goaltender. Former Flyers general manager Bob Clarke said the biggest issue was getting the goaltenders to work together instead of competing against each other. In Brian Boucher, the Flyers added a consumate team guy with the talent to push Ray Emery on the ice, and the character to keep him loose off of it.

Described as a "wrecking ball" by one Buffalo reporter when he first came to San Jose, veteran right wing Mike Grier registered 16 goals and 33 points in 81 games played for the Sharks in 2006-07. Grier could not match that offensive performance or durability in two subsequent seasons, and he was slowed by injury for two consecutive playoff runs. Head coach Todd McLellan described Grier as a captain of the penalty kill, and along with Patrick Marleau he used speed and anticipation to force opponents into drawing penalties. He was brought in as a character player to bolster the supporting cast around Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton. Recent moves by general manager Doug Wilson signal a dissatisfaction with that group of players and a desire to move in another direction.

Third/fourth line center Marcel Goc also will not return to the San Jose Sharks next season. Goc, a 1st round selection in 2001, joins two other first rounders who will not return next season (Mike Morris - 2002, Lukas Kaspar - 2004). General manager Doug Wilson complimented Goc's character when news of his departure was made public, but said that his game had leveled off and that the Sharks needed "a different mix". The German center could be seen as somewhat of a tweener in San Jose, a faceoff specialist who was given a defensive or checking line center role. At times Goc tried too hard to deliver offensively. Then there were times that Goc had a clear shooting or skating lane towards the net, and he chose to make a safe dump in the corner. Somewhat undersized even while listed at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, Goc could also benefit with a different but clearer role on a new team. If a team pairs the intelligent center with offensive minded wingers he could succeed in a third line role, but if he remains with checking line duty something needs to be added to his game for him to remain in the league long term.

[Update] This Time, the Flyers Have a More Mature Boucher - Tim Panaccio for

[Update2] Clowe heard those trade rumors, but they weren’t something he worried about - David Pollak's Working the Corners blog.

Still, he said Monday, he wasn’t really worried about leaving San Jose — a place he wants to stay badly enough to have just given up could have been his first three years as an unrestricted free agent. This year, Clowe was a restricted free agent after July 1 and other teams could have tried to lure him away with deals that the Sharks would have been forced to match or lose him for future draft picks. But things never came to that.

“When teams start bidding on you, you never know how much you can make,” Clowe, 26, said by phone from Newfoundland. “But I’m happy in San Jose. Obviously there’s some unfinished business because we wanted to go further in the playoffs, but it’s a great team with great fans and a great organization.”

[Update3] Sharks Team Report -

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Max Giese: Prospects Notes

Sharkspage recently caught up with San Jose Sharks scout Pat Funk to get his thoughts on a couple of the teams' recent draft picks. The Sharks selected defenseman William Wrenn with their first pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, 43rd overall "He's a solid two-way defenseman that showed us good leadership qualities" said Funk who likes the fact that he is going to Denver next fall where he will receive excellent coaching "he makes smart decisions with the puck" concluded Funk. The Sharks second selection, 57th overall was defenseman Taylor Doherty "He has great size and mobility" says Funk. There are some questions about what role Doherty will fill in the NHL, but Funk was direct in his projection "he uses his size well and will be a solid shut-down defenseman that moves pucks well and does great work with his long reach".

The San Jose Sharks have invited Irvine, California native C.J. Stretch to their prospects camp on a try-out. Stretch, a 5-foot-11 195 pound centerman from the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL is eligible to play in the AHL this fall and enjoyed a breakout season with the Blazers last year where he more than tripled his offensive production over previous career high totals. A mobile pivot that needs to improve on his first step, Stretch is a playmaker with maturing vision and the ability to thread a pass through traffic to find an open teammate. He's generally a smart player in his decision making and his defensive game has progressed over the previous seasons. He's not all that great physically, however he does a nice job positioning himself and his touch passing skills are his most distinguishable attribute.

July 13th-20th the Sharks will have their prospects come to San Jose for the development camp. Logan Couture, one of the Sharks top prospects who will be in attendance, is even staying an extra week after that for more hands on training with the Sharks staff.