Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rob Blake named as 10th captain in San Jose Sharks history, Dan Boyle and Joe Thornton will serve as alternates

San Jose Sharks defenseman Rob Blake named the 10th captain in franchise history
San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan names Rob Blake as captain Dan Boyle and Joe Thornton alternates
San Jose Sharks former captain Patrick Marleau

The San Jose Sharks named defenseman Rob Blake as the 10th captain in franchise history Wednesday afternoon. Blake joins past captains Doug Wilson (91–93), Bob Errery (93-95), Jeff Odgers (95-96), Todd Gill (96-98), Owen Nolan (98-03), Ricci-Damphousse-McCauley (03-04) and Patrick Marleau (04-09) in the pursuit to bring a Stanley Cup to the Bay Area.

"I welcome the challenge, first of all it is a tremendous honor," Blake said of being named captian. "It is something I had years ago. I took a lot of pride in it, and that doesn't change." The 39-year old was a former captain of the Los Angeles Kings from 1998-2001 after the trade of forward Wayne Gretzky to St. Louis. After being traded himself and winning at Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, Blake returned to the Kings in 2006 and served as alternate captain and captain in successive seasons. "I am going to take what I learned, from some of the things that didn't go right in Los Angeles, make those try to go better, you learn from those experiences," Blake said on the differences of being a captain in LA and San Jose. "As far as what I will try to do, it is probably not much different from what I did in LA."

The Sharks signaled that a change in the official leadership structure was needed in the offseason after another early playoff exit. Along with several new additions up front and on the blueline, Blake noted that in order for the Sharks to get over the hump they will need contributions from everyone, including former captain Patrick Marleau. "One of the things we talked about was to make sure Patty is a huge part of this team," Blake said. "The way he came into training camp, and the way he performed in preseason, everyone noticed that and for that we are very thankful."

Many envision Marleau taking a page from former Dallas Stars captain Mike Modano. Modano stepped back to allow Brenden Morrow to assume the captaincy while still contributing to the on-ice development of several younger players, off-ice in the community and with promotional efforts, and in his unique role as a clutch goal scorer. In short, Modano put the team ahead of himself. Patrick Marleau expressed a similar sentiment this offseason when after being removed as captain he said he would do whatever it takes to help the team win.

The decision to name Rob Blake captain came with a small measure of surprise as he took a $1.5M pay cut to sign a second 1-year contract with the San Jose Sharks this offseason. With 4 years left on his contract, an expressed desire to assume a leadership role and impassioned play on the ice, Dan Boyle was expected by more than a few to assume the captaincy. "Of course it's a honor to be a captain and it would have been great, but it's certainly not a disappointment to be an assistant," Boyle said of the decision. "You can't go wrong with a guy like that."

Another candidate for the captaincy was young centerman Joe Pavelski. "They are really good leaders, but when it comes down to it, it's important for everyone to give more," Pavelski told the assembled media. Blake should be considered a first ballot Hall of Famer when the time comes, but he has repeatedly mentioned taking his career one season at a time with regards to retirement.

His international experience includes 1 Norris Trophy in 1998, 3 Canadian Olympic Teams including 1 gold medal and 1 award as the best defenseman in the tournament, 5 World Championships and 1 World Cup. Seven all-star games and seven 50+ point seasons dot his 19-year NHL resume. Blake is a throwback to the cannon point shots of past blueliners like Al MacInnis and Al Iafrate. Even as time and space closes down in the modern NHL, Blake finds a way to uncork enormous slapshots that make opposing forwards think twice about dropping down to block them.

In addition to 10 goals and 45 points with the Sharks in 2008-09, Rob Blake also registered 110 PIMs for the first 100+ penalty minute year in 7 seasons. It has almost become a cliche when a player or a coach mentions accountability inside the lockerroom. What Blake most brings to the San Jose table is the ability to hold opposing players accountable in front of the Sharks net on every shift. As teams like Anaheim, Edmonton and Calgary routinely challenge San Jose physically, Blake's actions and leadership can help inspire a more old school response.

[Update] San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan on naming Rob Blake, Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle captain and alternate captains:

Rob Blake will be our captain, Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle will wear our A's. The important thing is yes they have letters, they glue them on their shoulders, and they are expected to lead but we are looking for secondary leadership from a lot of players. If we don't have it from everybody at some specific point during the season, then we really don't have it at all. Just because we have identified three doesn't mean we have let anybody else off the hook.

I am excited about the opportunity for us to go out and perform. We are in a different place right now than maybe we were at the beginning of last season, for a lot of different reasons, the mixture of players old and new. Everybody is at a different point. The fact that Dany Healtey came in a little later, and he is still finding his way with his new linemates, I think the team is constructed a little different than it was last year with our third and fourth liners. Perhaps a little more grit, and a little more grinding ability from them. Overall we are excited about starting as a group, we worked hard in training camp. We will see where we are a week from now and evaluate from there.

(Rob Blake) 100% accepted this responsibility. We as an organization picked him, the teammates supported him, and they are ready to go.

I think Dany (Heatley) is a special player. What I mean by that is that his mind works a little bit different than the everyday ordinary player. I would put Joe Thornton in that category as well. Special players have a tendency to find their own niche at a specific time. I believe the two have to become comfortable, to read off each other, to learn each other's tendencies. It will take a little while. Dany is gifted, he works very hard, he has tried to fit in.

We opened it up in the summer. We wanted to see who would step up. Some of our players did a tremendous job. Rob Blake has experience as a team captain before, I think he will give us everything he absolutely has knowing where he is in his career. He will not pull any punches or let anything ride right now. I think he has a great supporting crew, with Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and even through Patrick Marleau in there. He has been tremendous in training camp. (Blake) felt like a very comfortable choice for me as a coach, for us as an organization... I really believe both him and Dan Boyle have a lot to offer this year. They don't have to stand back and be as repectful as they were last year. They can step up and express themselves.

(On the season start in Colorado) Joe Sakic night, they will have a new head coach. I really believe we will have our hands full. I don't know if anyone is picking them to end up at the top of the league, but they will play that way tomorrow. Their commitment level has been extremely high. We are going to have to get into the game early and play for a full 60.

[Update] Blake Not Showing Any Signs of Age, Rob Blake turns 40 this year but the Sharks defenseman doesn't see himself retiring anytime soon -

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Florida Panthers lose 3-2 to Tappara Tampere in Finland, Chicago Blackhawks crush HC Davos in Switzerland with 9-2 win

In preperation for the NHL's 2009-10 European debut, the Florida Panthers met the Finnish club Tappara Tampere and the Chicago Blackhawks faced off against Swiss League Champions HC Davos in Monday exhibition action. Tappara, currently in 6th place in the SM-liiga standings, downed the Panthers 3-2 on goals by Tomi Peltonen, Jyri Junnila and the OT shootout game winner by former Shark Ville Nieminen. 6,203 fans watched Tappara become the first European team to beat an NHL team in the post-Soviet era according to the IIHF.

NYT Slapshots blogger Jeff Z. Klein noted that the Panthers OT problems last season may have cost them the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. San Jose Sharks 2008 fourth round draft pick Harri Sateri and longtime Tappara netminder Mika Lehto combined to make 48 saves on 50 shots. "We are now probably a bit like the NHL level," Sateri said in a roughly translated article on Scott Clemmensen stopped 43 of 45 shots in a losing effort for Florida.

"The fans were into the game, it was a great atmosphere and I thought the competition was good," Florida Panthers head coach Pete DeBoer said in a press conference after the game. "That team played hard, they played deseperate and it was a great test for us, it will really help in our preperation for (the season opener) on Friday night." Forward Steven Wiess left the ice in the second with a groin tweak. Miami Herald beat writer George Richards notes that the bad news may continue with today's deadline to sign rookie defenseman Dmitry Kulikov. A photo gallery of the game is available from the Florida Panthers here. A Finnish news segment on the game is available here.

Swiss League champs HC Davos tried to pysche themselves up before Monday's exhibition game with the Chicago Blackhawks at the Hallenstadion in Zurich, they called this their most important game of the year. Unfortunately a Chicago lineup sprinkled with a number of bubble prospects trying to make the team out of training camp took control of the game early. Davos was skating hard, but the size and skill advantage for the Blackhawks resulted in a shooting gallery on the opposite end of the rink.

Patrick Kane (2), Radek Smolenak (2), Evan Brophey, Brian Campbell, Patrick Sharp, Troy Brouwer and Keith Duncan scored in the 9-2 Blackhawks win. Swedish Elite League veteran and former Nashville Predators draft pick Daniel Widing (2000, 2nd), created the most consistent scoring opportunities for HC Davos of which there were few. A forehand backhand move by Widing resulted in a shot off the blocker of Anti Niemi in the second. Later in the period 2 quick passes set up Widing for the first HC Davos goal of the game as Niemi could not get over.

Davos forward Peter Guggisberg showed excellent speed in the third, including a play where stickhandled around Keith Duncan, John Madden and Aaron Johnson. HC Davos repeatedly tried a long breakout pass of the wall to the middle of the ice, but the Chicago defense was smothering. Guggisberg finally connected with the second HC Davos goal later in the period.

Longtime HC Davos head coach Arno Del Curto called the performance our worst game of the year. "Our players were paralyzed. We had the wrong kind of respect for them, and our forechecking was bad," Del Curto said of his team's performance in the loss. Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane had a different perspective. "It was a good game all around, Niemi made big saves to change the complexion of the game and then we took off," Kane said. "I don't know if the score reflected the game, you don't know what to expect against a team you have never seen before and a league you have never seen before."

Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenville was pleased with his team's performance, "I thought it was our best preseason game to date." Several Blackhawks were guest commentators on the stream including Cristobal Huet, Cam Barker, and the eloquent Dave Bolland. ZSC Zurich Lions head coach and former Chicago draft pick Sean Simpson offered a scouting report of HC Davos (up-tempo) and of the Swiss League in general. On tomorrow's Victoria Cup match with the Blackhawks he said his team would play hard and try to enjoy the experience. The inaugural 2008 Victoria Cup was awarded to the New York Rangers after they defeated the 2008 European Champions League winner Metallurg Magnitogorsk. will also stream today's Blackhawks vs European Champions League winner ZSC Zurich Lions Victoria Cup game at 11:15AM PT. There will be a 5PM PT rebroadcast on the NHL Network. The Chicago Blackhawks open the season against the Florida Panthers with a home-at-home in Helsinki, Finland (Oct 2-3). The Detroit Red Wings open the season with a home-at-home against the St. Louis Blues in Stockholm, Sweden (Oct 2-3).

[Update] Panthers lose 3-2 on penalties in Finland - AP.

[Update2] Blackhawks feel ready to play for real - Shawn P. Roarke for

[Update3] Victoria Cup: Niemi eyes a roster spot -

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sharks cut 2 from training camp roster, Dan Hinote released from tryout, Alex Stalock assigned to Worcester

- The San Jose Sharks announced 2 more training camp roster cuts on Sunday. Veteran Dan Hinote was released from his professional tryout contract and goaltender Alex Stalock was assigned to San Jose's AHL affiliate in Worcester.

Hinote played in 3 preseason games and registered a goal in a 6-2 loss to Vancouver at HP Pavilion. Unfortunately he took a cross-checking penalty with 19.4 seconds left in the exhibition opener against Los Angeles, allowing Kings captain Dustin Brown to tie the game on the power play. The Sharks were able to emerge with a 2-1 shootout win, but head coach Todd McLellan said of the late penalty, "Everything was under control and it wasn't a good penalty to take". Hinote earned a long look on the fourth line with center Scott Nichol and Jody Shelley, but the speed and consistent play was not where it needed to be. Internal competition from younger prospects also resulted in the release of veteran defenseman/winger Mathieu Dandenault on Friday.

Goaltender Alex Stalock impressed in training camp, and will be a player to focus on in Worcester for the 2009-10 season. He stopped 11 of 12 shots coming off the bench to replace Thomas Griess in the third period against Vancouver. With the pair of roster cuts, the Sharks training camp roster sits at 26 with three days left until the season opener at Colorado. There are no mandatory cutdown dates in the NHL, but clubs can start the season with no more than 23 roster players.

- This salary cap chart from shows the Sharks have very little wiggle room furthur down the lineup after taking on Dany Heatley's $7.5M cap hit.

- The Sharks have no practice Monday in order to participate in the annual charity golf tournament, the Sharks Foundation Golf Classic at the Cinnabar Hills Golf Club in San Jose. According to the official Sharks blog, furthur roster cuts are not expected until Tuesday. San Jose Mercury News beat writer David Pollak noted that Manny Malhotra and Benn Ferriero may have minor health issues that held them off the ice for Sunday's practice. "I don’t know if we’re too concerned about it as far as Thursday’s opening night goes, but we’re concerned enough that we didn’t send any extra bodies out," McLellan told Pollak. Center Torrey Mitchell is still recovering from tendinitis, but he was recently seen without crutches.

- is streaming the Chicago Blackhawks vs HC Davos exhibition match (11:15AM PT, NHL Network replay 5PM PT), and tomorrow's Chicago game with the ZSC Zurich Lions (11:15AM PT) as part of the 2009 Victoria Cup. On Wednesday the Detroit Red Wings play an exhibition game vs Farjestads BK of the Swedish Elite League (10AM PT), also streamed on The Chicago Blackhawks open the season against the Florida Panthers with a home-at-home in Helsinki, Finland (Oct 2-3). The Detroit Red Wings open the season with a home-at-home against the St. Louis Blues in Stockholm, Sweden (Oct 2-3).

- The San Jose Sharks ceased their affiliation with the China Sharks of the ALIH. The Chinese team was renamed the China Dragons, and they will proceed with former Belarusian national team player Andrei Kovalev as head coach. The 2009-10 ALIH season opened September 19th.

- The Sharks finished out the preseason with a 2-0 loss at Phoenix. Martin Hanzal and former Calgary Flames center Matthew Lombardi (PP) scored in the third period, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov stopped all 27 shots against. Right wing Jed Ortmeyer led all Sharks with 4 shots on goal, and Thomas Griess made 29 saves on 31 shots against. Head coach Todd McLellan noted that the top line of Heatley-Thornton-Setoguchi was still working on getting their timing down, but late in the game a line of Heatley-Marleau-Clowe was used briefly for the second time this preseason. Attendance for the game was listed at 6,483.

The Sharks finish preseason with a 3-3-1 record.

- Reader Alan from Nevada asked what my line combinations would be at this point, and which players would be named captain or alternate captain. That is a question that should be directed to the coaching staff, but from what I have seen possible lines could shake out like this:

McGinn-Malhotra-Ferriero (Mitchell)



More on the roster battles:

This lineup would result in defenseman Mike Moore and Joe Callahan being assigned to Worcester or released. McLellan noted that Moore played his best game of training camp in the 6-0 win over Anaheim on Friday. Moore is a very aggressive player, and very mobile in his own zone which is a solid combinaton. He was the most impressive defensive prospect at last year's training camp, but stacked up against 6 NHL veterans he was not going to crack that lineup (7 including Alexei Semenov).

This year Joslin and Demers have each impressed in different ways. Joslin with his solid all around game (although in practice he can go end-to-end and roof a shot), and Demers with his confidence and poise with the puck on the point. When comparing Demers and Callahan, McLellan said they were complete opposites. Callahan is more of a steady, stay at home defensive type. A former Yale defenseman (Murray-Cornell, Moore-Princeton), Callahan has 6 full seasons of AHL experience and an 18 game stint with the New York Rangers to draw on.

Tying Patrick Marleau for the preseason scoring lead, Benn Ferriero may have earned a spot on the third line in Torrey Mitchell's absence with his versatility and work ethic. Malhotra may spark more offense and shutdown defense than the third line has produced over the last 2 seasons. Paired with Malhotra in recent preseason starts, Ortmeyer may be a bit of a coach's decision. He is defensively responsible and can win 1-on-1 battles, but he needs to keep his feet moving and skate harder when he does not have the puck.

The fourth line may see the biggest roster battle between wingers Frazer McLaren, Jody Shelley, Brad Staubitz and Jed Ortmeyer. From the start of preseason, Shelley and center Scott Nichol have been skating with intensity on every shift. At times last season, Shelley was effective using his body in the corners and getting to the front of the net. An unquestioned leadership figure in Columbus and San Jose, there were questions about the contributions Shelley and the entire fourth line could make on the ice during the 2009-10 season. The Sharks leadership and roster changes signal a move towards a more competitive, more hungry team. That has to trickle down to the fourth line. Whether that means Frazer McLaren can earn a roster spot on the opening night remains to be seen, but what is certain is that the players on the ice will have earned it over strong competition.

The captain and alternate captain issue is one that will be resolved in the near future. Earlier this summer Dan Boyle, Rob Blake, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were named as possibilities, and those are still the most likely candidates after preseason.

- TSN released its San Jose Sharks preview and Scott Cullen's fantasy analysis is available here. Another Sharks preview from SBN NHL editor James Mirtle is available here. CBS Sportsline NHL columnist Wes Goldstein and Lauren Shehadi offer a video preview of the Sharks. "(Last year) was a disaster for the lack of a better term... they are a team that has earned a reputation as not being able to do it in the playoffs, last year they lived up to it." The lack of a personnel change comment is a puzzling one. Thirteen players are gone from 2008-09, players who registered 34 seasons and 1991 regular season games in teal. A 2-time 50 goal scorer was added, the leading goal scorer from last year may move to the second line, the third and fourth lines added veteran centers Malhotra and Nichol. Add changes on defense and to the backup in goal, and the lineup has a different edge to it than last season.

- The new ESPN youtube channel is available here. Barry Melrose and Matthew Barnaby discuss offseason player movement in a recent video segment. Melrose believes Chris Pronger to Philadelphia is the biggest player move in the offseason. Of Heatley to San Jose, Melrose says that San Jose is "probably the most talented team in the NHL", but that it is also an underachieving one. He will not repeat his San Jose Stanley Cup prediction this year. "It is very tough for me to believe in San Jose, they have let me down too many times," Melrose said.

[Update] The Morning Skate: Hawks Defend N.H.L. Supremacy, Lighthouse Deadline Approaches - NYT Slapshots blog.

[Update2] Preview: Introducing the 2009-10 San Jose Sharks! -'s Puck Daddy.

[Update3] Gretzky Adds ‘But Not At Coaching’ Qualifier to His Nickname - Puck Update. More from Steven Ovadia here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Douglas Murray drops the goal hammer on Anaheim Ducks, scores hat trick in 6-0 route

Douglas Murray hat trick San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks preseason goal hammer
San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks preseason Marc Edouard Vlasic
Vancouver Canucks center Kyle Wellwood raiser a reader program

Defenseman Douglas Murray shined on both sides of the ice as he racked up 3 goals and 1 assist en route to a 6-0 Sharks win over the Anaheim Ducks in Friday night preseason action at HP Pavilion. The win bumps the Sharks to 3-2-1 with 1 game remaining on the preseason schedule against Phoenix tonight.

"A lot of things open up when you play with a player like Danny Boyle, you get a lot more time and space," Murray said after the game. "He creates that for you, it is not only the other team trying to focus on him." The first goal of the hat trick came from 44 feet out after Anaheim Ducks goaltender Justin Pogge gave up a juicy rebound on a Dan Boyle point shot. The second came as Murray split a pair of forwards, then snapped a shot stickside as a defenseman played off him. He added a goal in each period by burying a Scott Nichol pass from the left faceoff circle in the 3rd. Hats rained down on the ice from the 16,237 strong preseason crowd. According to Murray, the last time he scored a hat trick was in juniors. Last year he scored 0 goals and 7 assists in 75 games played, and in his entire 4 year NHL career his lone goal came against Calgary in a 4-3 loss on April 13th, 2008.

Many teams focus on the physical aspect of Murray's game, but the Cornell grad plays a well rounded and intelligent defensive game. "The three goals is a great reward for him, but the other things he is more accustomed to doing is what concerns us," head coach Todd McLellan noted. Murray registered 5 hits, 4 blocked shots, and remained perfect on the PK with 3:02 of short handed duty. "He played physical, won a lot of puck battles, he showed great leadership skills," McLellan continued. Murray was paired briefly with Dan Boyle at the end of the 2008-09. He could return to the top pair to start 2009-10.

New third line center Manny Malhotra also made his HP Pavilion debut. A hard forecheck by left wing Jamie McGinn created a turnover behind the Ducks net, and Malhotra buried the point blank opportunity. Asked why he turned down larger offers to sign a 1-year deal in San Jose, Malhotra replied, "There is definitely a formula, and aura of confidence in this room. If you look at the names, there is obviously the offensive ability, offensive production, more importantly the team concept, the way the systems are executed, thats what really makes this team." San Jose Mercury News beat writer David Pollak spoke with Malhotra after the contract was announced, and he added that he wanted to come to a team with a quality opportunity to win. Malhotra centered a line with Jamie McGinn and Jed Ortmeyer, a line that showed glimpses of the shutdown role they would be asked to perform in the regular season.

Center Torrey Mitchell was initially slated to anchor that third line, but he has been out of the lineup with tendinitis in his previously injured leg. Asked for an update, head coach Todd McLellan offered, "Torrey will be back playing with us when he can continuously play. What we don't want is him back for 3 games then a week off, when we are told by the training and medical staff that Torrey is good and he can continuously play, he will be back." Torrey, who the Sharks hope will add an injection of speed to the bottom 6 forward group, was seen without crutches in the press box during the game.

The preseason performance was woeful by the Anaheim Ducks, who basically hung former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending prospect Justin Pogge out to dry. The defense did not pressure the Sharks forwards entering the zone, and did not respond well to a strong forecheck. In the first KFROX 98.5FM radio broadcast of the season, analyst Jamie Baker said that even the veterans on the ice underwhelmed. The Ducks skated without approximately 9 regulars, including Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Joffery Lupul, Ryan Getzlaf, Erik Christensen, Scott Niedermayer, James Wisniewski, Jonas Hiller and J.S. Giguere (bench). The Sharks training camp on the otherhand has increased the pressure as solid battles have emerged for positions on the 3rd and 4th lines, and for the 5th through 7th defensive slots.

Jamie Baker also noted in the pregame that several newer Sharks were being forced to quickly adapt to new offensive and defensive systems. The area of play where that was most noticeable according to Baker, was on the penalty kill. Where some teams play off the puck carrier, the Sharks are aggressive on the points and getting back to clear pucks from in front of the net. "As a coaching staff, we are in a bit of a catch-22, because there is a large group that understands what we want to do, and maybe wants a little bit more right now and there is another group that is learning how, and we have to make sure they catch up," Todd McLellan said after the game. "Some players are going to have to be patient, others are going to have to catch up, it will all come together at some point."


Jonathan Cheechoo, 6 seasons, 440GP
Christian Ehrhoff, 5 seasons, 341GP
Milan Michalek, 4 seasons, 317GP
Marcel Goc, 4 seasons, 265GP
Mike Grier, 3 seasons, 221GP
Jeremy Roenick, 2 seasons, 111GP
Tomas Plihal, 2 seasons, 89GP
Alexei Semenov, 2 seasons, 69GP
Brian Boucher, 2 seasons, 27GP
Brad Lukowich, 1 season, 58GP
Travis Moen, 1 season, 19GP
Claude Lemieux, 1 season, 18GP
Lukas Kaspar, 1 season, 16GP

Totals: 13 players, 34 seasons, 1991 games played (in SJ)

A year after the Sharks turned over more than 50% of the defense by acquiring Dan Boyle, Brad Lukowich, Rob Blake and Kent Huskins, the Sharks will turn over almost 50% of the entire lineup for 2009-10. Several of the players are late signees (Dany Heatley, Manny Malhotra), who will need to work into game shape as well as build chemistry with linemates and learn new systems under McLellan. Other veterans have been in training camp or in pre-camp practices for several weeks battling for a quickly shrinking amount of roster spots.

David Pollak in his Working the Corners blog noted yesterday that training camp tryout Mathieu Dandenault ended without a contract. A 2-time Stanley Cup veteran capable of playing right wing or defensive was in the middle of a strong competition on the blueline between Derek Joslin, Jason Demers, Mike Moore, Nick Petrecki and Joe Callahan. Petrecki has already been assigned to AHL Worster. Derek Joslin has looked steady in training camp and during 12 games of NHL duty in San Jose last season. Jason Demers played his best game of the preseason last weekend against Phoenix, and Mike Moore according to head coach Todd McLellan, "played his best game of training camp" against Anaheim. "It's the Moore we have been waiting for, he is starting to relax and just play his game."

More game notes:

"San Jose is not Ottawa," was one unintentionally funny quote heard from a fan discussion of the Dany Heatley trade and its repercussions at Saturday's preseason game. The invective towards Anaheim among Sharks fans is real, several normally calm fixtures at the Tank were seen hurling insults during the Ryane Clowe fight with Sheldon Brookbank late in the third period. Brookbank kept hammering Clowe with crosschecks after the Sharks built up a 5-0 lead on Murray's hat trick. The Newfoundland native finally relented and served up a serious beating in front of J.S. Giguere's backup seat position off-ice in the corner. Dany Heatley recorded his first point as a Sharks, an assist on Douglas Murray's first period goal, and earned his first penalty on a 2nd period roughing call. Several members of the Sharks staff marveled at how quickly Dany Heatley can get off a shot, and how often he is looking to unload it. Heatley missed a backhand on the doorstep in the first period. Nabokov came out to challenge a shooter in the second, and had to make a diving reaction save to his left along the post. Later in the game a shot deflected over his shoulder and he made a diving save to keep it off the goalline. Nabokov finished with 15 saves on all 15 shots he faced. Corey Perry was a minor irritant, registering a -3 and only 1 SOG in the game. In the second he parked in front of the net while 2 Ducks battled for possession along the blueline. Perry deflected a quick shot/pass on Nabokov and took several whacks before Rob Blake forceably removed him from the crease area.

A photo gallery from the game is available here.

[Update] Looking back at Douglas Murray’s hat trick — and ahead to tonight’s exhibition finale - David Pollak's Working the Corners blog.

[Update2] Sharks 6, Ducks 0 - OC Register Ducks blog.

[Update3] Sharks drown Ducks - SLAM sports.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vancouver Canucks score 3 goals in third en route to 4-3 OT shootout win over San Jose, remain unbeaten in preseason

Vancouver Canucks center Kyle Wellwood raiser a reader program

The Canucks remained unbeaten during the preseason with a 4-3 OT shootout win over San Jose Wednesday night at GM Place in Vancouver. Mason Raymond, Alexander Edler and Tanner Glass scored in the 3rd period to erase a 2-0 Sharks lead. Edler (pulled up behind the goal line) and Raymond (spin-o-rama) convereted trick shootout goals, and Roberto Luongo stopped 24 of 27 shots to give Vancouver back-to-back OT shootout wins and a 6-0 start on the 2009-10 preseason.

San Jose Sharks prospect Benn Ferriero, who won an NCAA title in 2008 with Boston College, opened the scoring 1:54 into the second period with assists by Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound right wing was skating on the top line in Dany Heatley's absence. Ferriero is making a strong push for one of the few remaining roster spots in San Jose. He looked quick on his skates, demonstrated good hands around the net, and constantly put himself in a position to make plays. Second year head coach Todd McLellan gave Ferriero the third and final shootout opportunity with a 2-1 deficit, but his snap shot could not find space under Luongo's glove.

Several Vancouver Canucks players participated in Wednesday's Raise-a-Reader event in cooperation with the Vancouver Sun newspaper. There was a donation booth in the concourse during the game, and several players greeted fans outside of GM Place. RAR was created by the Sun in 1997 to help raise money for children's literacy programs in British Columbia, to date they have raised over $5 million for charity according to a press release. A special Raise-A-Reader news section is available on here.

More VAN-SJ game notes:

First Period: The non-televised, no local radio Wednesday night Sharks game in Vancouver will be followed by a Friday home game vs Anaheim (7:30PM) and a Saturday road game at Phoenix (6PM) both on KFOX 98.5FM. Wednesday afternoon the Sharks announced the 1-year signing of center Manny Malhotra (11G, 24A, 35PTS, 77GP) for a reported $700K salary. #27 Malhotra started on a line with #41 Jed Ortmeyer and #68 Frazer McLaren. According to the Vancouver broadcast, 3 out of the first 4 shots in a dreadful 6-2 loss to the Canucks at HP Pavilion on Sept. 18th were goals. San Jose struggled to get a shot on goal early in the first period, but Benn Ferriero did not look out of place on the top line with Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi. Chasing down a puck carrying Alex Burrows behind the net, Thornton got his stick up into the face of Roberto Luongo who dropped to the ice trying to draw a penalty. Play continued, Thornton semi-tripped Burrows, then lifted his stick, stole the puck, and snapped a shot on a still prone Luongo. For the second straight game Patrick Marleau looks like the best player in Teal on both ends of the ice, Pavelski and Clowe are a little slow along the boards and getting to the net.

Second period: Benn Ferriero opened the scoring at 1:54, assist by Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi. Ferriero leads the Sharks with 3 preseason goals. Vancouver broadcast compared him to Ryan Shannon. Patrick Marleau exploded around defenseman Kevin Bieksa on the right wing but was tripped up and slammed into the end boards. His pass across the crease did not connect. The Vancouver Canucks carried the play in the middle of the 2nd period, but the Sharks tightened up and made it difficult to skate through the neutral zone. On the power play, Joe Pavelski set up directly in front of Roberto Luongo and slid to his right in several short steps as the puck moved at the point. It was Marleau in front of the net at the end of the period. A long cross ice pass by Jason Demers, who had his best preseason game as a Shark against Phoenix, fed a long cross ice pass to Joe Thornton who snapped a quick shot on goal. Kent Huskins buried the rebound for a 2-0 lead. The Malhotra-Ortmeyer line was on directly after the goal, an important shift that could translate to their regular season role. They got the puck deep in the Vancouver zone, but could not maintain possession. Defenseman Derek Joslin looks calm with the puck at the point.

Third period: Quick Devin Setoguchi rush up the wing to start the period. Roberto Luongo uses every inch of his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame to deflect the shot into the corner with his right shoulder. The Sharks are pressuring Luongo early. Thornton receives a homerun pass at the blueline and snaps a quick shot over the Luongo's glove. Vancouver begins to rally as Mason Raymond beats Evgeni Nabokov with a wrist shot at 7:22 to make it 2-1. Joe Thornton creates another breakaway with one hand on the stick and one hand stiffarming a Canucks defenseman. He forces Evan Oberg to take a holding penalty on the play, but did not get much of a shovel attempt on goal in the process. Sharks can not convert, remain 1-4 on the power play. Luongo stoned Manny Malhotra with 30 seconds left on the power play. An initial shot left a rebound on the doorstep for Malhotra, but Luongo got over with an athletic left pad save. The Sharks are chipping it in deep, but they are not reaching the puck first or winning 1-on-1 battles late in the third. Alexander Edler ties the game at 2-2 with a slapshot from the point. His initial fake shot freezes a defenseman, he slides to his right and finds a hole 5-hole through traffic. A clean faceoff win by Burrows started the play. 42 seconds later, the game has completely titled in the Canucks favor as Tanner Glass scores to give them a 3-2 lead. Huskins turned the puck over at the Vancouver blueline to former Shark Steve Bernier. Quick rush into the Sharks zone, Bernier pulls up hard, spins and nails Glass with a backhand pass on his tape. 3 unanswered goals in the 3rd period for Vancouver. Defenseman Kevin Bieksa hands the Sharks an opportunity late in the 3rd to come back with a puck shot over the glass. After an initial offsides, Demers passes to Rob Blake on the left point. Blake hammers home a point shot with Benn Ferriero set up in front of Luongo. The goal is initially credited to Ferriero, but replays show it was a clean goal for Blake.

Overtime: 4-on-4 to start OT, Marleau chips the puck int he corner then skates around a defenseman to get to it first. Clowe recieves a pass behind the net, and all 4 Canucks skaters on the ice have their eyes on him. Marleau drives the net with his stick on the ice and hammers a 1-timer on net. Luongo pad save. Jason Demers point shot, rebound to Ferriero stopped by Luongo. If the second goal was credited to him, this would have been his bid for a preseason hat trick. Center Joe Pavelski can not control the rebound. Jason Demers takes a critical tripping penalty on Kessler. Initially he switched off with his defensive partner to take Kessler behind the net, then battled with him hard against the wall. Later in the shift Kessler spins around as Demers gets his stick in the waist drawing the OT penalty. Canucks 0-2, 3 shots on the PP up to this point. Pavelski, Joslin, Blake on the 3-man PK unit. Nabokov comes up big with a clutch save.

OT Shootout
VAN: Burrows - miss (5-hole)
SAN: Pavelski - goal (stop, pop, gloveside)
VAN: Edler - goal (pulls up left side of Nabokov, scores with long reach with skates behind the goalline)
SAN: Clowe - miss (forehand to backhand)
VAN: Raymond - goal (spin-o-rama)
SAN: Ferriero - miss (snap shot, Luongo glove save)

San Jose Earthquakes unveil new soccer stadium design

new San Jose Earthquakes soccer stadium design
new San Jose Earthquakes soccer stadium design

SJ Earthquakes and Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff unveiled designs for the new San Jose stadium this Saturday at the Soccer Silicon Valley Community Foundation's annual dinner. If financial and sponsorship requirements can be met, the intimate 15,000+ seat venue would be located at Coleman and Newhall just west of the San Jose Mineta International Airport.

According to the presentation, the horeshoe design would include a high definition video board viewable from inside the stadium as well as from outside on Coleman Avenue. A beer garden would be located at the base of the scoreboard, and a grass berm would be available for seated viewing. The stadium seats are tight on the field, and the "European style" roof would multiply the crowd noise and add a distinctive visual feature.'s Jay Hipps believes that the time is now for a soccer stadium in the South Bay. Hipps notes that soccer fans in the Bay Area have been willing to support the team through two expansion seasons, but that support is not open-ended like the stadium. "People seem willing to endure these years in the proverbial wilderness, but only if they know their discomfort is going towards a greater good — a permanent home for the team," Hipps said.

An expected opening date of 2012 was pushed back by Wolff in an August interview with Elliott Almond of the San Jose Mercury News: Lew Wolff preaches patience, admits frustration with Quakes' situation. "This has to be a marathon, not a sprint," Wolff told Almond. "There's no sense building a stadium unless you have some flow of revenue."

The Earthquakes can benefit by drawing on aspects of stadiums that work well in the South Bay. The new stadium design seems to capture the on-the-field fan experience of the newly remodled Stanford Stadium. The open ended horseshoe design would also allow a measure of versatility to host concerts and other events. Add a massive HD video board and that sounds a lot like HP Pavilion, one of the top 5 busiest arenas in the country.

[Update] San Jose Earthquakes unveil illustrations for proposed soccer stadium - SJ Mercury News.

[Update2] Civic Lesson, Can a multimillion-dollar renovation and a new promoter put a venerable San Jose venue back on the radar of big-name touring acts? - Gary Singh for the San Jose Metro.

Jay McCabe became the first manager of the (Civic) auditorium, a position he held for two decades until he retired. Under his tenure, the venue grew into a force to be reckoned with. Entertainers like Gene Krupa, Duke Ellington, Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDonald performed on the main stage. Legendary boxers like Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis and Max Baer competed. National figures who appeared included Eleanor Roosevelt, Admiral Byrd and President Herbert Hoover.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hockey Notes - 9/23

- This Joe Thornton is a bad ventriloquist but a good hockey player commercial by the Canal Street Studios agency in South San Francisco is subversively funny, but a little unusual when viewed in a crowded sportsbar with the sound off. It may have also inadvertently lead to a "bean burrito line" nickname for Heatley-Thornton-Setoguchi among a few fans. Canal Street has worked for the Oakland A's, Boston Bruins, SJ Stealth, and Miami Dolphins among several other non-sports clients.

- The San Jose Sharks (2-2-0) travel to Vancouver (5-0-0) for the 5th of 7 preseason games tonight at 7PM (PT). There will be no Sharks television broadcast or radio coverage of the game according to this preseason schedule. The game will be televised on Rogers Sportsnet, and will offer a livestream of the game for local Canadian viewers only. A preview of the game from Vancouver is available here. According to the Canucks a radio broadcast of the game will be available on

David Pollak writes on the Mercury News Working the Corners blog that Dany Heatley will not be making the trip up to Vancouver, Benn Ferriero will join the top line with Setoguchi and Thornton, Frazer McLaren and Jed Ortmeyer will be centered by Manny Malhotra, Shelley-Nichol-Staubitz will make up the 4th line, and 3 prospects will be paired with 3 defensive regulars on the blueline (Murray-Demers, Joslin-Blake, Huskins-Callahan).

There is a liveblog of the game from J.J. Guerrero at Canucks Hockey Blog.

- Sweating for a Roster Spot, Jamie McGinn has to play consistent if he wants to stay in San Jose -

“The one thing I want is be here at the end of camp and to stay here all year long,” McGinn said. “I’m just trying to play hockey and do the things that got me called up last year.”

There are a lot of talents McGinn possesses that have put him on Head Coach Todd McLellan’s radar. However, with the depth, there still isn’t even a guarantee he’ll get to play in 35 games.

“I need to be an energy player and help us win,” McGinn said. “I’m not guaranteed a spot. I’m going to compete until the last day and stick to the game plan. I can’t control what the other players do, but I don’t want to give them a reason to send me home.”

- Note: Sharkspage had server and mail server problems at the start of the week. Everything should be up and running as normal. If there are any problems loading or viewing the website, please send an email. Thanks.

- Notes from the preseason 3-2 loss to Anaheim on Monday:

former OC Register Dan Wood was in the radio booth calling the game, Scott Nichol earned a fighting major and a 10min. misconduct for a first period fight with Mike Brown, Koivu-Selanne-Perry were on an early first period power play unit for Anaheim but Koivu-Selanne-Lupul make a strong second line, Benn Ferriero scored with 1.2 seconds left in the first period after Niedermayer could not control the puck behind the net, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle on Luca Sbisa, "his ability to skate is the thing that stands out... walk the puck off the line, he needs to find his niche on the team, skate if you have open ice but do not force in areas... young players confidence is an issue, no buffer zone in the NHL", leading ice time for SJ: Callahan 16:30, Vlasic 16:05, Huskins 15:24, Petrecki 15:11, Demers 14:55, Moore 13:35, Anaheim broadcasters "it doesn't matter what San Jose does in the regular season".

A Nabokov-Mike Brown collision behind the net came "after he was barely touched" according to the Anaheim broadcast. It appeared "as if he was shot by a sniper, right place to get a job just up the street in Hollywood, doing his best Dwayne Roloson impersonation (zing!), watching the Emmy's last night." The Anaheim radio tandem were in postseason form, they sent a definite challenge to San Jose for the return preseason visit Friday. Jamie McGinn also drew the ire of several Ducks with a hit on Correy Perry, and was subsequently challenged by Bobby Ryan. Both were given fighting majors at 13:31 in the third. Jody Shelley and George Parros were on the ice for the very next shift, but both decided against taking the issue any furthur. The Ducks lose an enormous intimidation figure on the blueline with Chris Pronger in Philadelphia, but 6-foot-5, 270-pound Evgeny Artyukhin can play physical and skate well for a player the size of 2 normal humans.

Vlasic scored on a snap shot with 16 seconds left in the game to bring the Sharks within 1. The Ducks earned a 3-2 preseason win with goals by Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne and James Wisniewski. J.S. Giguere stopped 23 of 25 shots against, Nabokov stopped 20 of 23. Announced attendance was 14,300. Full box score available from the NHL here.

- The Sharks assigned 2007 1st round draft pick Logan Couture, Dwight Helminen, Brandon Mashinter, Ryan Vesce, and defenseman Danny Groulx and Nick Petrecki to Worcester on Tuesday for training camp. On Sunday the Sharks sent down goaltender Tyson Sexsmith, defenseman Joe Loprieno, Andrew Desjardins, Stephen Zalewski, Kevin Henderson and John McCarthy.

Of the assignments, Nick Petrecki, Logan Couture and Kevin Henderson could have a big impact on the AHL roster in 2009-10. Ryan Vesce is a favorite to lead the team in scoring for the second straight season, and Tyson Sexsmith will benefit from his first full year of professional hockey.

Nick Petrecki video highlight from one of the Sharks rookie games against Anaheim.

- Latest rumors from Lyle "Spector" Richardson on Jason Chimera may continue to be on the trading block in Columbus, the Vancouver Canucks have moved on from Mats Sundin, the New York Rangers may be in the market for a defenseman if the blueline falters, and the Washington Capitals coule be looking to move center Michael Nylander at the first opportunity.

On a separate column at, Spector noted that veteran defenseman/winger Mathieu Dandenault is in San Jose on a professional tryout contract competing to land one of the final defensive spots. The 2-time Stanley Cup winner with Detroit (1998, 2002), can add veteran playoff experience and versatility according to Richardson:

Dandenault was part of two Red Wings Stanley Cup championship teams (1998 and 2002) and was able to carve out a career as a reliable multi-purpose player, capable of playing right wing and defense. But the 33-year-old Dandenault wasn't able to land a contract with another NHL team until getting an invite to the Sharks camp.

With his playoff experience and versatility, Dandenault could be a good addition to the Sharks but that depends on whether or not he can beat out younger, hungrier talent.

Dandenault, Derek Joslin, Mike Moore, Joe Callahan and Jason Demers are battling for the 6th and 7th defensive positions in San Jose.

- There was a little bit of buzz online surrounding this erratic THN blog post by former Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning GM Jay Feaster: Trading for Heatley a mistake by San Jose.

According to Feaster, the Senators landed two glasses of lemonade for a sour lemon, the acquisition of Heatley frames GM Doug Wilson as a "mad scientist", and head coach Todd McLellan needs to name Heatley captain to keep him happy in San Jose. The points sound as if they were made from 2-3000 miles away. Michalek and Cheechoo were character players with talent, but there were issues related to consistency and health. There have been mentions locally of Doug Wilson's tenure facing more pressure this season, but given the situation the pressure has to fall mostly on the players themselves. Two words that should never be used to describe Doug Wilson: mad scientist. As for Heatley, the Sharks are going to let him simply focus on playing the game.

- The latest Dudes on Hockey podcast was posted this morning. Mike and Doug examine the addition of Manny Malhotra as a 3rd line center, flush out their line combinations and defensive pairs heading into opening day, label Alex Stalock as the "crown jewel" of the Sharks development system (aka The Goaltending Factory), and offer a Western Conference team-by-team preview.

In last week's Globe Sports podcast (will be added to the podcast sidebar soon), Eric Duhatschek, Sean Gordon and James Mirtle commented on the Dany Heatley trade and San Jose. Duhatschek said there were rumors of an 11th-hour offer from Chicago that might have included Patrick Sharp and Dustin Byfuglien. He also makes an interesting point that Dany Heatley gives the Sharks something they have never had, a pure sniper. He noted that the Sharks first round loss to Anaheim exposed the fact that the Sharks needed a finisher (or a healthy Marleau, a healthy Clowe, a healthy Cheechoo, etc). "A lot of times San Jose territorially had the advantage, but they couldn't get that goal when they needed it," Duhatschek said.

A third podcast option to fill up your ipod, Tom Luongo returns from offseason hibernation to join the Rink Podcast with James Gralain. They discuss the Boston Bruins, the Phoenix Coyotes, the NHLPA and the always pertinent topic of NHL officiating.

- Islanders One Step Closer to Hiring Moving Vans - Christopher Botta for AOL Fanhouse.

- Yahoo's Puck Daddy takes a look at Vegas odds for the upcoming NHL season. According to a report on the Las Vegas Sun, the Sharks are expected to repeat as Presidents' Trophy champions during the regular season. Top 10 predicted finish according to the Sun: NHL predicted finish San Jose, Detroit, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia (t-5th), Pittsburgh (t-5th), Boston, Anaheim (t-8th), Calgary (t-8th), New Jersey (t-8th).

- TSN fantasy guru Scott Cullen has yet to profile the San Jose Sharks, but he did discuss Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley from a fantasy perspective in a recent online chat:

Question from Chris Hyatt in Chatham, Ontario: Hi Scott, Last year I made the massive mistake of trading Malkin for Eric Staal and a 1st round pick in my keeper pool. This season, I have kept Crosby, Nash, Franzen and traded for Marleau in the off season. I'm a tad concerned about Marleau now that Heatley is in SJ. Should I be? Thanks ever so much Scott, Big fan. Chris Hyatt

Scott Cullen: Chris, I wouldn't be overly concerned about Marleau, since it's possible that Heatley could play right wing on the first line (leaving Marleau to play the left) or, even if Marleau moves to the second line, San Jose's second line was one of the more productive second lines in hockey last year and Marleau would still get power play time on top of that. Add in the fact that it's a contract year for him and Marleau should be motivated to be productive.

Question from Robert in Glace Bay, NS: How will Dany Heatley's trade to San Jose affect his fantasy value? Would he be a top ten fantasy draft choice?

Scott Cullen: Robert, I wrote about the trade in a Numbers Game column the day the trade was made and I do think it's a good move for Heatley. As the second-ranked left winger, I'd have no trouble taking him in the Top Ten, probably around seven or so.

It's all good, except that Heatley should line up on the left side of Thornton and Setoguchi. Also take a look at Cullen's top 250 player rankings and top 250 point projections for 2009-10 before you make your fantasy draft.

- Heatley ready to turn the page in San Jose - TSN.

In a city where he'll be cheered on the ice and then left alone off it, it looks like new San Jose Sharks winger Dany Heatley is where he wants to be.

"It's a very easy room to come into, and everyone has made me feel really welcome," Heatley told TSN. "It's a great city with a great rink."

Heatley has said he doesn't want to discuss his ugly departure from Ottawa and claims that he's said all that he's going to say about his reasons for wanting to be dealt.

One issue with TSN's Ryan Rishaug, if you are going to comment on the media contingent in San Jose make sure you do so after attending a televised game with radio coverage. Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area, and CSN California this season, account for almost 50% of the San Jose media horde with pre-game and post-game shows and game coverage. Local radio coverage is also minimal in the preseason outside of the Sharks radio network.

- Big announcement for those Sharks fans that live in the East Bay: Sharks Radio Now in Walnut Creek-Concord, KKDV 92.1FM Joins 11-Station Sharks Radio Network Lineup.

Also add Antioch, Berkeley and parts of central California that can pick up 92.1FM. The Sharks flagship KFOX 98.5FM signal had problems right around the Concord area with the mountains and the strong KRXQ 98.5FM signal out of Sacramento. According to the press release, 92.1FM (the "3000-watt flamethrower") will air 50 regular season games and select playoff games in the Diablo Valley area. "At KKDV, we strive to provide programming relevant to the lives of our listeners in the Diablo Valley," Coast Radio President/GM John Levitt said. "Based on the significant Sharks fan base in this region, we feel that becoming part of the Sharks radio network is clearly serving the interests of the community. Go Sharks!".

This is big news for fans in the East Bay. Bookmark

- Another major media issue regarding the Sharks in the Bay Area: Sharks Move to CSN California, Team Announces CSN-CA Partnership and 2009-10 TV Schedule.

It was well known that this switch would take place since early last season, but the move to CSN-California should increase the coverage area throughout the state. According to the press release, 50 games are scheduled to air in HD (a 16% increase), and 75 exclusive regular definition games will also be aired. Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda will return as the longstanding television broadcast team, and pre-game and post-game shows will be aired from the new Comcast Sportsnet studio. Games will also be available on-demand for up to 24 hours on Comcast Digital Cable channel 1.

A printable game schedule for Comcast California is available here, and a CSN-California cable company channel list has been added to the SAN JOSE SHARKS sidebar. The CSN-California Sharks website appears to still be a part of, but there are several exclusive clips and web segments available.

There are going to be a few problems with the move. CSN-California is not going to be on the most basic cable tier, as Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area is on many cable systems. That was more of an issue before Comcast made every channel above 33 digital. There are also gaps in the North Bay and parts of Northern California, Tahoe, and Nevada where the channel is not carried according to several customers. Charter Communications is a problem, and there is the continuing impass between Versus and Direct TV.

In a perfect world, the NHL and the San Jose Sharks should work to reduce or eliminate blackouts on Center Ice or NHL GameCenter Online if at all possible. 1) to ensure a smoother transition. 2) to make sure that every fan can pay to watch the games.

- On Inside Hockey, Glen Miller takes a look at the Corsi rating named after current Buffalo Sabres Goaltending Coach Jim Corsi. The Corsi numbers include shots, blocked shots and missed shots 5-on-5, and subtracts shots on empty net goals. That figure is tallied with the shots, blocked shots and missed shots against to come up with the Corsi rating. Miller notes that 3 of the top 5 Corsi ratings all belong to Detroit Red Wings (Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Samuelsson), as well as 7 Red Wings in the top 9. Full Corsi statistics are available at

- Prospect Development a Test of Patience; SharksBuzz Postgame Show - Ryan Garner for Tune in after the Canucks game for a live online radio show with Garner.

- Host Greg Papa, and Mercury News columnists Tim Kawakami and Mark Purdy discuss the Dany Heatley trade, the loss of Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo's tenure in San Jose, how Patrick Marleau responds to the offseason criticism and loss of the captaincy, who will be the Sharks next captain and more on Tuesday's episode of Chronicle Live. Video clip available at the link.

[Update] Canucks coach Vigneault getting two sides to Mathieu Schneider story - Vancouver Sun.

There appears to be something lost in translation between Canuck defenceman Mathieu Schneider and the team’s medical staff even though they all speak English.

The 40-year-old defenceman is still recovering from off-season surgery to his right shoulder. He has been participating in full practices the last few days but is not yet cleared for full contact.

[Update2] Letter of the law: In hockey, the captain's 'C' really does mean something - Mark Emmons for the San Jose Mercury News.

[Update3] Rich Hammond Says Goodbye to LA Daily News, hello to -

Hey everyone... This note marks the start of a new, exciting venture. Beginning next Thursday, Oct. 1, I will no longer write and blog for the Los Angeles Daily News. I will be taking my trade to I understand that this will raise some immediate, significant questions, so I'm here to explain, but also to express my excitement about this exciting change in my career.

To put it as plainly and simply as possible, I will draw a salary from the Kings, but none of the stories and/or blogs I write will be reviewed for approval by any member of the Kings' staff. Topics will not need approval and interviews will not have any additional supervision. I have been hired to blog, write stories -- including coverage of home and road games -- and produce other content for the website. This is not public relations. I have been told, pointedly, by the highest levels of Kings management, that I should continue to report and write as normal.

Be certain of two things: I will not "go easy" on the Kings out of any fear of retribution, just as I will not take gratuitous shots at the team and the organization simply because I have retained the right to be critical. Things will continue on course. Praise and criticism, to the extent I feel either is warranted, will continue to be distributed fairly.

[Update4] Manny's Our Man, 29-year-old Manny Malhotra will don teal in his 13th NHL season -

San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the team has signed center Manny Malhotra to a one-year contract. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Malhotra, 29, recently finished his 12th NHL season, posting a career-high 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) and as a plus-nine with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He also finished fourth in the NHL in faceoff percentage among those who took at least 700 face-offs) at 58.0%. He took 1380 face-offs last season, 13th most in the NHL.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dany Heatley debuts in San Jose, Patrick Marleau steals the show with 2 goals in 5-4 OT win

Dany Heatley debuts with the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion
Brad Staubitz Chris Frank San Jose Sharks Phoenix Coyotes NHL hockey fight
San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov diving stick save third period

The San Jose Sharks earned a 5-4 OT win over the Phoenix Coyotes Saturday night at HP Pavilion in Dany Heatley's debut, but it was Patrick Marleau who stole the show. The Sharks built up a 3-0 lead on goals by Ryane Clowe, Devin Setoguchi and Jamie McGinn before the Coyotes stormed back with 4 unanswered tallies. Patrick Marleau, who had his captaincy stripped in the offseason, scored the game tying goal 16:58 into the third period, and notched the game winner 2:29 into overtime.

Dany Heatley garnered the biggest reaction from the fans at HP Pavilion. One day after his introduction to the media and his first practice, he took the ice on the top line with Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi. A "Dan-y, Dan-y, Dan-y" chant was started by the crowd early in the first period. Phoenix defenseman Jeff May hit left wing Jamie McGinn ackwardly along the boards, and a turnover in the neutral zone led to a quick shot on Evgeni Nabokov.

With UFC and boxing pay-per-view events on tap for the same evening, three simultaneous fights broke out at 5:42. The hostilities may have started with Scott Nichol taking a tripping penalty, but soon 8 players were in a tight scrum and 6 squared off to drop the gloves. Nick Petrecki, Frazer McLaren and Brad Staubitz earned fighting majors for San Jose, McLaren earned a 10 minute misconduct and Petrecki a game misconduct. Vernon Fiddler, Mitch Fritz and Shuan Heskha earned fighting majors for Phoenix, Fritz earned a 10 minute misconduct and Fiddler earned a game misconduct. One note about Frazer McLaren: he fights in a dominating fashion similar to Scott Parker, and he can contribute in more areas on the ice.

Heatley-Marleau-Clowe took a shift briefly in the first period, and that could easily make a solid first line. In one shift, Marleau cleared a rebound from in front of Nabokov and started the rush up ice with a check on Scottie Upshall in the corner. Derek Joslin took a hooking penalty, and Logan Couture and Joe Thornton combine for hard PK work on the point. On a subsequent power play, Jason Demers looks confident with the puck on his stick on the point. With the loss of Ehrhoff, the Sharks lose a measure of versatility on the point and the ability to have a puck moving dman on all 3 defensive pairs.

The second power play unit is out on the ice, and Joe Pavelski threads a pass through the legs of Zbynek Michalek directly to the stick of Ryane Clowe. Clowe taps the backdoor pass into an open net. 1-0 Sharks. A big Phoenix check sparks a retaliation by left wing Brandon Mashinter on defenseman Chris Frank. Dany Heatley threw his body around in the first period, but his timing is a little off. He mentioned in the press conference that he had been practicing with his father on his own while he was held out of the Ottawa Senators training camp.

Zbynek Michalek took a tripping penalty 18 seconds into the second period. Heatley-Thornton-Setoguchi are buzzing around the net with the puck. A Derek Joslin shot missed the net, but was picked up by Thornton. He narrowly missed punching home a goal. Heatley rebound to Setoguchi, who hammered home the second goal of the game. Jamie McGinn followed with the Sharks third goal of the game less than a minute later. Looking to build on the 3-0 lead, Thornton sprints up ice on a breakaway and lifts a touch backhand just over Bryzgalov. After the play, Thornton backchecked hard towards the center of the ice. After practicing with several Sharks in offseason "Captain's Ice" sessions, former South Bay native Viktor Tikhonov received a welcome home message in the former of a thunderous body check from Douglas Murray.

The wheels start to come off for the Sharks a little bit in the final 20 minutes. Stephan Meyer scored with 1:21 left in the second, and less than 10 minutes into the third Phoenix built up a 4-3 lead on goals by Justin Bernhardt, Zbynek Michalek and Kyle Turris (PP). A scrum in front of the Phoenix net set up Patrick Marleau's game tying goal with 3:02 left in the third. As Logan Couture was upended in front, Marleau settled the puck on his stick and lifted what looked like a sand wedge shot to tie the game at 4-4. He followed that with a game winning goal that defelected off Zbynek Michalek 2:29 into overtime. Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves on 30 shots, Ilya Byrzgalov stopped 19 of 22, and Jason Labarbera stopped 8 of 10. Three stars of game: Marleau, McGinn, Z. Michalek.

A photo gallery from SJ-PHO is available here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dany Heatley joins the San Jose Sharks

Dany Heatley press conference San Jose Sharks
Dany Heatley dons a #15 jersey for the San Jose Sharks
Dany Heatley joins the San Jose Sharks jersey Doug Wilson

Newly acquired left wing Dany Heatley joined the San Jose Sharks at practice this morning, then settled in for a subdued press conference that was carried live locally and on the NHL Network.

More notes on Heatley and the Sharks will be posted soon.

San Jose Sharks GM/EVP Doug Wilson's opening comments:

It's an exciting day for the San Jose Sharks organization. To add a player of Dany's skills and talents is really a rare thing. Without going into the stats, I think they speak for themselves. I think this is a player we feel very, very fortunate to add to this hockey team.

We made a move to give up two wonderful, character people that meant a lot to this organization, but the team comes first. We made ourselves a better hockey team by adding this type of player.

I think what is really important for Dany and for all of us, is that this is really an easy entry for him into our team. He has played with many of our players. He just came back from the Olympic camp with Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Patrick Marleau. I think he has played with Rob Blake. He has played under our coach, I think he played for Todd McLellan in the World Juniors in Sweden.

That is important for us, because this is about hockey. This may be one of the last press conferences like this we deal with, but we do respect the media's needs and the opportunity to ask and answer questions.

I guess as a GM I will share a little something with you too, this is part of the business. It is not a rare occurance to have players who have requested a trade, especially when it is in everyone's best interests for all parties. The ones I have dealt with have all played out privately, and worked out fairly seamlessly whether the player was moved or not. This one unfortunately for all parties, did not. That is not to lay blame, or point fingers, or anything like that. That is what lead to a lot of the attention on this deal, that and the level of player that Dany is.

As a hockey player, a former player myself when I had a lot more body parts working better than they do today, as a Canadian one of the greatest honors is to represent your country. Dany has represented his country more and better than any other player in the history of international hockey. He is the leading scorer from the country of Canada. That means a lot to me because it comes in the form of pressure, attention, and an environment where you want to win.

It is an honor to play best on best. That is another element of his game that makes us feel very fortunate to have him. The other part of it is, when we acquire a player and look into these types of opportunities we do a lot of reasearch. Dany was probably the easiest guy I have ever had to do research on.

He was playing in my hometown of Ottawa. When he was playing for Team Canada he was playing for Steve Yzerman and Bob Nicholson. Two very close friends. Two people I have as much respect for as anybody in the world of hockey. Peter Chiarelli, who is the GM of Boston, was in Ottawa when Dany was there.

You look at people and say does this guy fit in as a hockey player? Absolutely. As a person? Absolutely. One of my staff members, Wayne Thomas, has known Dany since he was a young boy. All of the players that have played with Dany, some of our players and other players around the league.

When we sit here and say we go forward. We do it with great pride. I can tell you that I am very proud to introduce Dany Heatley as a member of the San Jose Sharks organization.

World Boxing Classic Super Six Tournament Mikkel Kessler-Andre Ward Oakland press conference quotes and photos

World Boxing Classic Super Six Tournament press conference Mikkel Kessler Andre Ward quotes and photos
World Boxing Classic Super Six Tournament press conference Mikkel Kessler Andre Ward stare down photo
World Boxing Classic Super Six Tournament press conference Mikkel Kessler Andre Ward press conference photo
World Boxing Classic Super Six Tournament press conference Mikkel Kessler WBA Super Middleweight Champion photo

Thursday's Mikkel Kessler (42-1-0, 32KOs, #1 Ring Magazine) vs Andre Ward (20-0-0, 13KOs, #9 Ring Magazine) World Boxing Classic Super Six Tournament press conference in Oakland set the stage for one of the largest and most compelling bouts in Bay Area history.

The fight will take place as part of a rare 6-boxer round robin tournament that includes WBC Super Middleweight Champion Mikkel "Viking Warrior" Kessler, 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward, undefeated WBC Super Middleweight Champion Carl Froch (25-0-0, 20KOs), undefeated 2004 Olympic Bronze Medalist Andre Dirrell (18-0-0, 13KOs), former undisputed Middleweight Champion Jermain Taylor (28-3-1, 17KOs) and undefeated IBF Middleweight Champion Arthur Abraham (30-0-0, 24KOs). Each will fight 3 times against different opponents in the group stage, with 2 points awarded for a win, 1 point awarded for a draw, and 1 point awarded for a KO/TKO bonus. The top 4 point scorers will move on to the semis, and the finalists will compete for the WBC and WBA world titles.

After Andre Ward's first professional win in the Bay Area against Christopher Holt in 2005, he mentioned not just fighting for the East Bay, but fighting for the North Bay and South Bay as well. Now he is trying to bring boxing back into the mainstream in Oakland. A tough May contest against hard punching Columbian Super Middleweight Edison Miranda drew 7,818 fans to Oracle Arena. Ward earned a 12-round unanimous decision as well as respect from the boxing media by outclassing Miranda inside where he was strongest. In a subsequent bout against Shelby Pudwill last Saturday night in Temecula, Ward coupled his explosive speed with heavy power punches en route to a decisive third round TKO. He truely looks like a man on a mission.

The Danish Mikkel Kessler has been a fixture at the top of the division for many years. The only mark on his record came against one of the top alltime pound-for-pound boxers in the sport in Joe Calzaghe. An undefeated Kessler met an undefeated Calzaghe in front of 55,000 chanting Welch fans on November 3, 2007. Kessler remained tight in the pocket, but Calzaghe withstood his power and slowly pulled away with flamboyant ring generalship. Since that loss, Kessler has only fought 3 times in Denmark and Germany. The Super Six World Boxing Classic serves as a unique inspirational opportunity for Kessler, who for much of his career peformed on a plane far above his competition. How many viking clad Danmark followers will make the trek to Oakland to cheer on that nation's most popular athlete?

Select quotes from Andre Ward:

People are getting excited. I like some of the words people are using when describing this fight. It is not just 'we have a boxing match', or 'we have a fight', they are already calling it an event. I like that. I was getting my haircut yesterday and the young man asked me how the last fight went, the turnout, were people excited. He asked me if there was any violence after the fight. I was please to tell him it was a peacful atmosphere. No one was rowdy, people were excited about the fight...

Those are the kind of things I am excited about for this fight. People are excited to see the Bay Area getting excited about this. There are a lot of airwaves, on the internet, twitter, facebook, you get different responses from people and they are excited. You fly in here to watch this great event, and the fact that it is not just a single fight but is a part of the Super Six World Boxing Classic, it is just the icing on the cake.

Pressure? Yes, there is a lot more pressure. You fight in your hometown. You fight a guy that many regard, and who I regard, as the best Super Middleweight at this point right now other than myself. He has been the reigning champion, he lost to one other champion, pound-for-pound best Joe Calzaghe. He retained his title right away. Very skillful, very determined, very tough. He is in great shape, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Some people look at this situation like it is bittersweet. 'It is great you are in the tournament, but wow you pulled Kessler the first fight." I wouldn't want it any other way. I think from my personal standpoint, God does this a lot with me. If I look at my National Tournament, I always got the toughest draw right from the bat. I went to the Olympics. I got what you would call a warmup against Italy, and then I went right to the 2-time World Champion. The third fight, another medalist from a previous Olympics. Obviously we were in the finals after that. It is no surprise, I relish the moment, I relish fighting the best because I desire to be the best.

I have been at this since I was 9 years old. I have given up a lot, I sacrificed a lot, my family sacrificed a lot for this moment right here... Oakland, I will be ready. I embrace the pressure... Great fighters, or potentially great fighters, that pressure calls you to the occasion as my dad used to say, and take your game to another level. Mikkel Kessler is going to cause me to take my game to another level. I know he is going to bring his best. We are going to continue to have a classy, professional promotion for this event. Then we are going to have fireworks November 21st.

I believe that I am going to get the hardware. I am going to bring it back to the city of Oakland, and represent the city well.

Select quotes from Mikkel Kessler:

Andre Ward is a great fighter, I have watched a couple of his fights, I need to watch a few more. He is a strong fighter, fast. He can change his style from right foot to left foot. He is a confident fighter like myself. That's what makes a good fight. We are both confident, we both want to win this.

It is like this is a final for me. People say, 'you are the favorite'. I always see myself as not the favorite. I always see my opponent as the favorite because then I am going to be stronger at the fight. I know I have a strong fight here against Ward. I know he is going to come strong, but I am going to swing for it. I always have. I am ready for a great fight here. I am going to show everyone I am the champ.

I have been asked before, 'you come all the way over here with the WBA belt'. I want to fight in Denmark, but I also want to show everybody I am not afraid to fight (outside) my hometown. The first time I defended my WBA title was in Sydney, Australia against 50,000 people. It was hard. I fought Joe Calzaghe against 55,000 people. I am ready to get a big fight going on over here. I am ready to win.

From Andre Ward's trainer Virgil Hunter:

This is a journey as much as it is a career. Sometimes you get this feeling, it is hard to explain it. You get this feeling, you get this explanation that it is there because it is meant to be there. The situation is meant to be here. Three years ago when I first saw Kessler fight Andrade I just had this feeling that this fight would come about, and now it is here.

We are very thankful for it. We deserve the fight, we worked hard to get it. We very much belong. When I say we belong, I believe that we are the best. It is going to be a great night, a great event. All of the doubters of Andre Ward, tune in. Nothing personal, but you will see another Andre Ward.

You will see another Andre Ward... you have never seen the same fighter. When you see Andre Ward fight, you will never know who you going to see fight that night, you will never see the same guy twice... whatever it takes on November 21st will be on display. If we don't want to get hit, we won't get hit. If we want to hit, we will hit. If we want to go inside, we going to go inside. If we want to counter punch, we will counter punch. That's the way its going to be.

That is no disrespect to Mikkel Kessler, this is a great, great fighter. His technique is great, his approach is great, his counter punching is great. His inside is great. He has got great people behind him, and he is very confident. But there is one level above greatness, and that is the chosen level. We fly on that, that night. Greatness against chosen, we will see how the outcome comes.

A full breakdown of the fight, available in English and Danish, will be posted in the next few weeks. A small photo gallery from the press conference is available here. Rough audio of the press conference is available here. Tickets for the November 21st bout at Oracle Arena in Oakland can be purchased via

[Update] Ana Julaton captures IBA Super Bantamweight title with win over Kelsey Jeffries at Fight Night at the Tank boxing in San Jose - Sharkspage.

[Update2] Seeing Ward, Kessler in same room makes Oakland, Oracle the focal point for Super Six excitement - SF Boxing Examiner.

[Update3] Boxing Gets a B-12 Shot--No Swine Flu Vaccine Needed! - The Sweet Science.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2009 Teal and White Game notes, center Manny Malhotra might know the way to San Jose

San Jose Sharks 2009 Teal and White game Joe Thornton Alex Stalock
San Jose Sharks 2009 Teal and White game goaltender Tyson Sexsmith
San Jose Sharks 2009 Teal and White game Nick Petrecki goal

It wasn't the big guns who put Team White on the board in the 5th annual Teal and White season ticket holder exhibition game at HP Pavilion on Wednesday night, it was the big bodies in 6-foot-4, 235-pound left wing Frazer McLaren and 6-foot-3, 235-pound left wing Brandon Mashinter. McLaren set up shop in front of goaltender Thomas Greiss and created enough traffic to score the opening goal 20 seconds into the first half. McLaren was difficult to move from the crease all night, despite being 2-on-1'd by defenseman Joe Loprieno and Joe Callahan later in the game. "Mash" scored on a breakaway after a turnover in the second.

Team Teal received a goal from standout defensive prospect Nick Petrecki. The former Boston College NCAA Champion continues to impress in training camp. He rifled a shot top corner with Braud Staubitz providing a screen late in the second half, and as usual registered several large checks. Petrecki was also picked for the end of game shootout by a fan. He scored after a stick and shoulder fake.

The season ticket holder only event consisted of two 30-minute running clock halfs, with a 7 minute power play for each team at the 10 minute mark. Each team went 0-1 on the extended power play. A 5-round shootout was held after the exhibition, with season ticket holders on the ice choosing a player to participate, then receiving an autographed item after the shot. There were several other events scheduled, including a Sharks auction for charity, a photo booth to take photos with the Presidents' Trophy, several kid-related activities, and 5 groups of players positioned around the concourse to sign autographs.

In goal was Thomas Greiss and Alex Stalock for Team Teal, and Tyson Sexmith for Team White. Sexsmith came up big at the end of the first as Teal crashed the net and had several quality point blank opportunities. The game was played at a little slower pace than the competitive rookie tournament games and intra-squad scrimmages earlier in training camp.

The most intense performance on the ice came from players battling to make the 3rd and 4th lines. Shelley-Nichol-Hinote were playing hard, and it was obvious those individuals are making a push to become the de facto 4th line. Left wing Jamie McGinn continues to stand out on the ice, and with news of the rumored acquisition of center Manny Malhotra a McGinn-Malhotra-Mitchell 3rd line could be a distinct possibility. Worcester Sharks center Ryan Vesce could play on that line while Mitchell recovers from tendinitis in his knee.

Battling for a spot on that 3rd or 4th line are constantly improving 6-foot-3, 210-pound left wing Kevin Henderson and previously mentioned mass of humanity Frazer McLaren. Henderson is quick for his size and uses his body well. McLaren plays a complete game and could also contribute on the penalty kill. Energy winger Brad Staubitz will also battle for a spot. He was introduced by broadcaster Drew Remenda with: "I got two words for you, Jordan Tootoo". Center Logan Couture also made a few slick plays on a line with Jamie McGinn and Brad Staubitz.

On defense, Nick Petrecki is challenging Derek Joslin for the 6th defensive position alongside Douglas Murray. Joslin is a mature and steady defenseman capable of carrying the puck up ice, but Petrecki is a player you have to keep an eye on because of his game-breaking talent. Whether the Sharks decide he needs more seasoning in the AHL or not, it is hard to believe he would even spend half of a season down there before forcing the team to call him up with his play. Mathieu Dandenault, Jason Demers and Mike Moore need to treat every subsequent start as a playoff game because the competition will be fierce for those last 2 defensive positions.

Shootout results:

T Marleau - miss (hit post)
W Thornton - miss (wide)
T Pavelski - goal (Pavelski move)
W Boyle - miss (deke to forehand)
T Clowe - goal (backhand gloveside)
W Setoguchi - miss (over)
T Staubitz - goal
W Shelley - goal (hesitation)
T Petrecki - goal (stick fake)
W Nichol - goal (snap shot)

4-2 Teal

A photo gallery from the Teal and White game is available here. More reviews of the Teal and White exhibition game are available from Fear the Fin and Sharks Hockey Analysis. No Sharkspage in socal tonight for the preseason game with LA at Citizens Bank Arena, but if a friend covers the game I will post photos.

[Update] The Sharks announced that Dany Heatley may arrive in the Bay Area tonight, and that he may be available for a media press conference tomorrow.

[Update2] David Pollak reported in the Mercury News that according to his sources former Columbus Blue Jackets center Manny Malhotra may be on his way to San Jose. Malhotra is possibly the top faceoff center/defensive forward remaining in the free agency market. Along with former teammate Antoine Vermette, Malhotra (4th, 801/1380, 58%) and Vermette (6th, 642/1112, 57.7%) were two of the best faceoff specialists in the league last year (With Joe Thornton and Scott Nichol, SJ could have 3 centerman with top 10 faceoff finishes over the last few seasons). Vermette recently signed a 5-year, $18.75M contract extention which may not have left enough room for Malhotra in Columbus. The Sharks have less than a million in cap space available to them according to, another salary cap maneuver may have to be made prior to the start of the season.

[Update3] Malhotra Looks Likely For Camp -

[Update4] According to Columbus Dispatch reporter Tom Reed, Malhotra reportedly turned down free agent offers from the Atlanta Thrashers and Florida Panthers to come to San Jose. According to a livechat with beat writer Aaron Portzline, the Blue Jackets did not speak with Malhotra after July 1st and signed Sammy Pahlsson in his place. Pahlsson, a former Anaheim Duck, is very familiar to fans in San Jose.

[Update5] According to the Sharks, 3 more players have been released from San Jose training camp and assigned to the Worcester Sharks training camp: right wing Dan DaSilva, center Dean Strong and left wing T.J. Trevelyan.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dany Heatley's introduction to the Bay Area media is a slightly unusual one

After a tumultuous summer where Dany Heatley's trade demand was THE major story in the Canadian media, the largest local sportstalk radio show landed the first interview with him after news of the blockbuster Monday trade broke.

KNBR 680AM's Razor and Mr T show with Ralph Barbieri and former Golden State Warrior/NBA analyst Tom Tolbert asked Heatley about wanting to play in California, his previous experience with Sharks players, the relief of being traded one day before on-ice sessions of training camp started, the factors that went into his trade demand, which teams were on his approved trade list, what the criteria was for his approval of teams, what the book on San Jose was coming in to HP Pavilion as an opponent, what it is like acclimating to a new team and several other topics.

A few selected quotes from the interview:

"It is a great team. I have played with a lot of the guys internationally. Different Team Canada's, and I know a few of the guys through Wisconsin. I obviously played for Todd (McLellan) at the World Junior Championships. I feel comfortable with a lot of those guys. I look forward to getting down there again."

"It wasn't the best summer, it definately went on and dragged on quite a bit. I was confident that eventually something would get done, and it did. It was tough on a lot of things, but right now it is worth and and I am excited to be a San Jose Shark."

"I think there were a lot of different things (that lead to the trade request). I am not really going to get into specific things. There were a few things that I thought had built up over a little bit of time. I thought about it for a long time, and I thought a change would not only be good for me but for the organization in Ottawa."

"I definately gave them a group of teams. Teams that I would definately go to, and the Edmonton thing was not discussed up until that point. That just kind of came out of the blue. They knew which teams I gave them, that I gave them permission to do something with. Edmonton wasn't on there... I'll say San Jose was at the top of the list, they are a great team. I am excited to try to help this team win a Championship. As far as what I was looking for, I wanted a good situation, a good team, and a place where I can be the best player I can be. I think San Jose fits all of those categories."

"In the past, (San Jose) has always been a tough team. Obviously the Presidents' Trophy last year. You look at the roster top to bottom, and on paper you don't see a better team in the league. You have Joe and Patty up front along with a lot of other great forwards, Danny Boyle and Rob Blake, the list goes on. It is a great roster and a great team. I just hope I can come in and help the team take the next step."

"It is not an easy league. There are a lot of factors that go into it. They have been close a few times and done well in the regular season, and had some success at times in the playoffs. I think to win a Championship in this league it takes more than just talent and skill on paper. I think everyone realizes that, and I think we are ready to go."

"You come in and be yourself (to acclimate to a new lockerroom), that is the best thing to do. We talked about it earlier, I am comfortable there and I know a lot of those guys. As far as the system goes, I don't think a lot of the systems in the league change that much. There is definately some differences, but overall I think some team's play a little more offensive, a little more up-tempo. Other team's try to slow it down a little more. San Jose is an up-tempo team, an offensive team. I am excited to be a part of that."

The fact that Heatley will leave the firing line of the Canadian hockey media to a much more player friendly environment in California became readily apparent later in the interview. Tolbert asked Heatley if sumo goaltenders would ever work in the NHL, a cause celebre for both hosts (ahem, look what blog shows up first in an image search for Mushashimaru). Heatley was also asked about spelling his name with only one N. Minor missteps, Ralph and Tom also asked basic but insightful questions about how a goal scorer picks quandrants of the net when shooting a 1-timer, and how difficult it is to tip a slapshot on net.

The same KNBR show ran a little too early with a Thursday rumor by ESPN Sportscenter host John Buccigross that Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley were part of a 3-team trade between San Jose, Ottawa and Los Angeles.

Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area's Chronicle Live Monday interview with Heatley offered a rogue's gallery of mainstream journalists that have a somewhat checkered history covering the sport. Ray Ratto, the Chronicle "Sharks guy" almost by default due to staffing cuts, asked Heatley about what role he would have in San Jose. "We'll see how I fit in when I get there... whatever is the best situation for them and me, that is where I will be," Heatley replied.

In a chat with Mercury News beat writer David Pollak after a Monday practice, head coach Todd McLellan said Heatley would most likely play on the top line Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi. With 68 power play goals over the last 4 seasons, expect Heatley to become a fixture on the first power play unit. Thornton-Marleau, or Thornton-Setoguchi with Marleau at the point could also be power play options. Dan Boyle and Rob Blake are offensive defenseman who are scary good up top.

NFL and NBA writer Tim Kawakami asked Heatley about his chemistry with Joe Thornton after skating on a line with him and Patrick Marleau in Team Canada's Olympic evaluation camp. "That's what part of being an offensive guy is, being able to find chemistry with different guys," Heatley said. "I have played with Joe Thornton a little bit on different Team Canada's." Heatley had success with Ilya Kovalchuk in Atlanta, and on a line with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson in Ottawa, but pairing one of the NHL's top shoot-first snipers with a former Art Ross winning pass-first setup player could lead to a career season from both. Considering Thornton has registered 125 points, and Heatley has reached the 50-goal plateau twice, that is a bold prediction for 2009-10.

Sharkspage asked Mercury News beat writer David Pollak Monday if he has been in contact with Heatley's agent Stacey McAlpine, and Pollak noted that it hadn't happened at that point. As the most senior journalist covering the Sharks, and the only one traveling with the team, any in-depth postmorterm on the trade request should go through him first. McAlpine was a guest today on Toronto's Fan 590AM with Daren Millard, Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean (audio available here). "Sometime this week," was McAlpine's answer for when Heatley would arrive in the San Jose/Sacramento area. "I think it is a win for everybody. I will agree with you when you say we got what we wanted, what we wanted was a happy resolution," McAlpine added on the trade being finalized.

On an unrelated topic, with the launch of and it should be noted that ESPN also reportedly has the rights to,,, and several other similar domains.

I was interviewed about the trade Tuesday on the CBC Radio-1 All in a Day program hosted by Adrian Harewood. He asked about the media coverage of the Heatley trade in the Bay Area, how he might fit in on the Sharks lineup, and about what Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek will bring to the Senators. On Cheechoo and Michalek, I noted they were both quality characters as well as players, and both had the offensive upside to make this a very successful trade for Ottawa. I also said that many fans in San Jose were very sophisticated when it comes to hockey, reading many Canadian columnists and listening to Canadian radio programs online to get more information. The same is true in Southern California. One producer of the show noted that Cheechoo would now play closer to Moose Factory, but it was still a 5-hour train ride and an 8-hour flight north.

I was also interviewed about the trade by a Russian magazine and I could not find the magazine on an internet search in English. AOL Fanhouse's Kevin Schultz, of Barry Melrose Rocks blog fame, asked several bloggers for their reaction to the trade including myself and Mike Chen. Also mentioned in the post below this one, I was a guest on the latest episode of the Dudes on Hockey podcast.

[Update] The Sharks announced 13 training camp roster cuts: William Colbert, Louis Liotti, Matt Jones, Corey Quirk, Michael Wilson, Ryan Nie were cut. Carter Bancks, Marc Cantin, Michael D'Orazio, Taylor Doherty, Samuel Groulx, Thomas Heemskerk, and Luke Judson were returned to their junior teams.

[Update2] Finally time to move on, Heatley trade was best for team, Senators say - Ottawa Citizen.

Even among those who could call Dany Heatley a friend, the universal sentiment among Ottawa Senators players on the day after was one of relief. Trading Heatley to the San Jose Sharks allowed everyone to begin breathing again. It was the best that could have happened.

Without the spectacle of Heatley returning to join the team, centre Mike Fisher joked, "We've gone from about 80 reporters (Saturday) to about four (Sunday)."

[Update3] Sens, Sharks do well in Heatley trade - The Hockey News/

Interview with the Dudes on Hockey, Mike Peattie and Doug Santana

The Dudes on Hockey, Mike Peattie and Doug Santana, were kind enough to answer a couple of pressing San Jose Sharks questions prior to the start of pre-season. Hosts of a lighthearted and informative podcast, you can also follow them on the blog Sharks Hockey Analysis and via the Chomptalk radio show on KDOW 1220AM during the season.

I was also a guest on their most recent podcast, the Derek Joslin episode #65 here. Mike and Doug can contain themselves about a minute and twenty seconds before exploding over the Dany Heatley trade.

[Q] Other than goal scoring, what playoff defenciencies will Dany Heatley best address? The Sharks did not respond to physical challenges well enough in both playoff series against Calgary, they had trouble locking down leads late in periods and late in games against Detroit, and they started slow and lacked enough intensity the last 2 postseasons. Head coach Todd McLellan also said this team did not respond well to pressure. Can Heatley impact any of those problems?

[Mike] Only indirectly. Heatley is a proven playoff producer (35 points in 34 games) which is a nice change of pace for the Sharks. Last year the Sharks were horrid on the PP in the playoffs, and Heatley will definitely help in that department as well.

[Doug] Given that Heatley isn't terribly physical, so he's not going to help in that department - but he will take a large amount of pressure off of Jumbo Joe and Marleau and allow them to be even more productive. There's a big difference between having to gameplan for Dany Heatley and having to gameplan for...well, I don't think Randy Carlyle had the "Cheechoo Stopper" play, do you?

[Q] Dan Boyle challenged fellow defenseman Rob Blake and Marc-Edouard Vlasic shortly after the loss to Anaheim, and in the State of the Sharks event he said the team needed better play from Evgeni Nabokov as well as himself. How would Boyle perform as a captain, and how would that affect the team? What would be different?

[Doug] I think having an outspoken captain will be a major culture adjustment for this team since they've been so used to quiet public, and from all accounts private, leadership from Marleau. Boyle strikes me as the type of captain who will constantly be reminding the players of their goal and using the regular season to prepare themselves to achieve that goal. When you look at a great team like the Detroit Red Wings, they don't change their style of play for anyone - and the Sharks need to have a leader who reminds the team that they should make the opposition adjust to them.

[Mike] A captain's job is twofold- to be the public face of the players on a team, and to be an example in the locker room. Patty certainly took the criticism with aplomb, but it might be time for a bit more fire at the microphone. Given Boyle's candor at State of the Sharks and elsewhere, I think we can count on some more pressure being applied both publicly and privately.

[Q] Patrick Marleau was removed as captain, and Evgeni Nabokov endured the most criticism in his tenure as a Shark after the loss to Anaheim. How do both players respond in 2009-10? Do you see both coming back after their contracts are up? What are the chances of Marleau registering more goals or points than Heatley in 2009-10, and what kind of betting line would Vegas produce for that?

[Mike] This, more than anything other than the obvious playoff uncertainty, is the $64,000 question of the season. Marleau famously did not have a good year after Ron Wilson called him out in the press after the Detroit loss, and Patty needs to find a way to step up better this time. My guess is he will for two reasons- he's a couple of years older and wiser, and he's in a contract year. I think it's actually likely that neither will come back for 2010, and almost a 0% chance both will come back, given that both Pavelski and Seto need new contracts next summer. If only one can be re-signed, I pick Patty. The Sharks are rich in goalies, and any Nabokov deal next summer will count as a 35+ contract, meaning it counts against the cap even if Nabby sucks or retires. I'd say Marleau has a 15% chance of scoring more than Heatley, and that's only because Heatley could throw a tantrum and move to Barbados. Vegas odds: 20-to-1.

[Doug] Vegas odds: 89-to-1 because Heatley is going to score over 89 points for the fourth time in his career. Patrick Marleau has never scored 89 points in an NHL season.

[Q] Even with the Ehrhoff-Lukowich salary cap move and the Michalek-Cheechoo trade package for Heatley, the Sharks are still tight against the $56.8M salary cap. How will that impact the 3rd and 4th lines? At this early juncture, who do you pencil in for the last 6 forward positions and last 2 defensive spots. Is there a big contract down the line that might not fit into the Sharks salary structure after this year?

[Doug] I think that the Ehrhoff and Luko is the key here for their combined salaries of $4.65M is going to pay for potentially five to six players on this roster. My best guess at the bottom six forwards will be Grier, Plihal, Goc, Marisa Tomei, Boz and Skaggs. On the blueline I think Dandenault is going to make it due to pure versatility and my head tells me Joslin but my heart tells me that the team is going to reward the best player, and that appears to be Nick Petrecki.

[Mike] Assuming Mitchell is healthy, I have to go Mitchell, McGinn, Nichol, Shelley, Staubitz, and Ortmeyer. There will be a lot of competition amongst the league-minimum guys to produce, because there are several, such as Hinote and Vesce, that could step in anytime for roughly the same money. On D, I'm going with Joslin and Dandenault as the #7 for money reasons, and I don't think you want Petrecki playing only 14 minutes a night. I think he needs to get some seasoning in Worchester for at least a year.

[Q] Dan Boyle said in a post-game interview at the end of the regular season that the Sharks were asked questions about the playoffs all year long. Other players have said there is nothing you can do about the playoffs during the regular season, you just play one game at a time. Is there something you can do during the regular season to impact the playoffs? Can a team build an identity that bleeds over, can you make statements in games against Anaheim or Detroit? Can you take a pound of flesh with you in a loss, establishing the fact that this is a tough team to play against and not just an offensive one?

[Mike] I'd say there's just about nothing you can do on the ice to impact the playoffs. As I've heard Jamie Baker say before, players at this level just don't get that intimidated. I believe there are things that can be done during the season mentally and physically to prepare for the playoffs, but all that stuff will happen behind the scenes. Of course the players will still need to spout that "one day at a time", but they know just as well as we do that the regular season is barely more than a series of exhibitions this year.

The real key is playing like they should in the playoffs. That means stepping it up physically, and having that never-quit attitude we heard Boyle talk about. That's the only statement that's worth a hill of beans.

[Doug] No one is going to go 16-0 on a run to the Cup - play your game and play hard - we didn't see that from the Sharks players last year or honestly from the coaching staff. Don't adjust to anyone, make them adjust to you. You'll take some losses but learn from them. I hope the Sharks from top to bottom have learned this lesson- learn from your mistakes. I think Doug Wilson has by cutting ties with lots of players he cared about that just couldn't get it done.

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions. There are a lot of difficult questions facing the Sharks this season, and most likely the team will not have an opportunity to answer them until April.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

San Jose Sharks 2009 Training Camp scrimmage, Team A vs Team B

San Jose Sharks open training camp at Sharks Ice in San Jose, scrimmage
San Jose Sharks open training camp at Sharks Ice in San Jose, Douglas Murray Ryan Vesce

A short video of Team A's 2-1 win over Team B is available here. You can add your own annotations on the video with this link, but please only list player names. Joe Pavelski and left wing Dwight Helminen scored for team White. Logan Couture chipped a puck over the poke check from Nabokov to put team Teal on the board. Evgeni Nabokov and Thomas Heemskerk were in goal for Team White (A), Tyson Sexmith and Thomas Greiss were in goal for Team Teal (B).

In the early practice Todd McLellan and the coaching staff had players split time between cycling in offensive zone, and proper positioning in the defensive zone. Left wing Kevin Henderson uncorked a wicked wrist shot in practice, and he had a solid scrimmage with hits on Couture and another forward in quick succession. 6-foot-3, 235-pound Brandon "Mash" Mashinter hammered 6-foot-3, 240 pound Douglas Murray, but Murray was able to dodge the brunt of the check.

In 35 games with San Jose last season, Jamie McGinn did not look out of place against quality competition. Instinctively he provided support in the corners and drove the front of the net. He needs to add size to provide a buffer from the wear and tear of a full NHL season. McGinn had a good view of Jonathan Cheechoo and Ryane Clowe last year, excellent role models for developing a quick release and being heavy on his stick. With an already impressive skill set, that is the area he needs to excel at to become an NHL goal scorer. At the Tuesday morning scrimmage he used his speed and stick to make several excellent defensive plays. Tracking down one puck behind the net, battling with Kent Huskins in front, and blocking a shot on the other side of the ice in the second half were a couple of his highlights.

The White team had a goal by right wing Luke Judson waived off with traffic in front of Thomas Greiss. Not sure the reason, but the Sharks staff had an argument back and forth on whether it was good or not. The White team dominated possession the last 10 minutes of the first half, team Teal controlled large chunks of the second. Defensive prospect Nick Petrecki leveled T.J. Treveleyan with a check along the boards late in the scrimmage (3:34 into the video).

San Jose Mercury News beat writer David Pollak noted that former Shark Igor Larionov is in San Jose for training camp to consult on the team and check in on his winery in Napa. A photo gallery from the scrimmage is available.

[Update] Ortmeyer Hopes to Make Strong Impression - Roger Ross for

New forward Dany Heatley was still in Canada working on immigration issues, but has been in contact with McLellan. "I talked to him yesterday and he’s excited to get here," McLellan said. "As soon as his visa issues are done, he’ll be here."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sharks open training camp on-ice sessions Sunday in San Jose, Heatley expected mid-week

San Jose Sharks open training camp at Sharks Ice in San Jose, Patrick Marleau
San Jose Sharks open training camp at Sharks Ice in San Jose, Patrick Marleau
San Jose Sharks open training camp at Sharks Ice in San Jose, Couture, Staubitz, Player Hinote

Very limited notes from the first day of on-ice sessions at the training camp in San Jose: The training camp groups and scrimmage schedules were changed by by the trade of Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek for Dany Heatley. The initial camp schedule subject to change is available from here.

Fans lined up outside and the parking lot was full at Sharks Ice in San Jose as the on-ice portion of the Sharks training camp began on Sunday. According to team photographer Rocky Widner, Cheechoo and Michalek found out about the trade about halfway through the Saturday's photo and video session.

The camp was split into two groups, A and B, with about 7 prospects forming a supplemental clinic group. Announced lines for Group A: Marleau-Pavelski-Clowe, Shelley-Nichol-Ortmeyer, Henderson-Desjardins-Jones, McCarthy-Helminen-Ferriero, Huskins-Boyle, Petrecki-Demers, Murray-Joslin, Cantin-Loprieno, Nabokov-Heemskerk. Announced lines for Group B: McLaren-Thornton-Setoguchi, Mashinter-Vesce-DaSilva, Treveleyan-Couture-Hinote, McGinn-Zalewski-Staubitz, Moore-Blake, Vlasic-Dandenault, Groulx-Callahan, Liotti-Doherty, Greiss-Stalock-Sexsmith. Clinic Group: Wilson, Colbert, Judson, Bancks, Strong, Quirk, Nie.

Not an enormous amount of information available from the first practice. Marleau was on the ice first in Group A, Thornton on the ice first in Group B. The Sharks staff ran through a series of drills, on-ice instruction, and then held a light skate. One example was the coaches working on proper stick and body positioning on the penalty kill with Nick Petrecki and Joe Loprieno. Asked Sharks television analyst Drew Remenda about training camp invitee Mathieu Dandenault. Remenda noted that he was versatile and smart. A 13-year veteran with Detroit and Montreal, Dandenault has spent time as a forward and as a defenseman. He was paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic early. Sharkspage has been touting Derek Joslin as the frontrunner among Jason Demers, Nick Petrecki and Mike Moore for the 6th defensive slot, but do not be surprised if Dandenault makes an impression.

The Sharks reported that center Torrey Mitchell will miss a few days of training camp with tendonitis. Along with the departure of Jonathan Cheechoo, that opens up more competition for positions on the third and fourth lines. There will be a mix of veterans and prospects vying for jobs, and another surprise might be 5-foot-8, 175-pound center Ryan Vesce. Earning 10 starts in San Jose, Vesce also registered 24 goals and a team high 71 points in 67 games played for the Worcester Sharks. San Jose Sharks Media Relations Manager Tom Holy called Vesce upbeat in the locker room. "He has never had a bad day in his life."

In an interview with, second year head coach Todd McLellan noted that there will be new ideas and new combinations exercised in training camp but many of the established principles should remain the same. He also added that a second tier group of players, referencing Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, have to assume more responsibility.

In the Mercury News, beat writer David Pollak reports that newly acquired wing Dany Heatley is not expected to report for training camp until mid-week due to visa issues. Several Sharks players commented on the Heatley trade. ""Obviously this is going to be a new system for him, but it's an offensive-minded system which I think he'll thrive in. And we've got some pretty good setup guys to get him the puck," defenseman Dan Boyle told Pollak. Joe Thornton also predicted he would be come a fan favorite in San Jose.

One correction about the television/radio positions moving up to the press box. According to TV play-by-play commentator Randy Hahn, the TV broadcast would be moving to a position closer to the Sharks staff. One that is seperate from the press box. Note: I won't be at training camp Monday.

[Update] First scrimmage set for 9:50 a.m. Monday, but there’s no chance Heatley will be there - David Pollak's Working the Corners blog.

[Update2] The Big Trade - Dan Boyle's official blog.

On Dany Heatley, I know “Heater” from previous Olympic and world championship teams. He is a bona fide goal scorer. This guys knows what to do with a puck and knows how to bury it. I know he is coming into a team where he does not need to be “the man,” but more importantly just be one of the pieces of the puzzle in our attempt to bring the Cup home. There has been a lot of negative publicity and media coverage on his desire to leave Ottawa. He has stated that he has his reasons, and we will give him the benefit of the doubt. He is coming to San Jose and we would like to turn the page and focus on our team and our future.

[Update3] San Jose, Heatley both get chances to remake images - Eric Duhatschek for the Globe and Mail.

Ana Julaton captures IBA Super Bantamweight title with win over Kelsey Jeffries at Fight Night at the Tank boxing in San Jose

Fight Night at the Tank boxing at HP Pavilion in San Jose Ana Julaton Kelsey Jeffries IBA Women's Super Bantamweight title
Fight Night at the Tank boxing at HP Pavilion in San Jose Jonathan Alcantara Juan Topoz
Fight Night at the Tank boxing at HP Pavilion in San Jose Clint Coronel Herman Scott

Saturday's Fight Night at the Tank event was a memorable one. Daly City's Ana Julaton overcame a veteran Kelsey Jefferies to earn her first world title. Juan Topoz and Jonathan Alcantara built on their fight of the night effort in July with another spirited performance. Berkeley's Pedro Rios and San Jose's Clint Coronel put on entertaining fights, and an up-and-coming Tony Johnson registered 3 knockdowns en route to a first round KO.

The buzz surrounding Ana Julaton centered around the Philippine media prior to the fight. In a pre-fight profile on Adobo Nation, Julaton noted there is an overemphasis on looks in women's boxing. "There are a lot of stereotypes involved," she said. "It is hard for some people to accept." She also noted that as a female boxer, you have to back up your looks with skills inside the ring. Her opponent, Gilroy native Kelsey Jefferies, the reigning GBU/IFBA Featherweight World Champion is a 10-year veteran with over 50 fights to her credit. She would be Julaton's toughest challenge as a professional to date.

The crowd inside HP Pavilon was chanting Hur-i-cane, Hur-i-cane early in the first round, but a small and vocal Gilroy contingent represented Jefferies. Julaton started the first two rounds peppering the jab as Kelsey stalked. In a recent Strikeforce headline event Gina Carano and Cris Cyborg petitioned the CSAC to fight in 5 minute rounds, but for this main event 2 minute rounds were scheduled. Ana Julaton used speed to connect with lunging jabs in the third round, but did not follow up enough with the right hand. A short counter right hand landed flush from Jefferies, a dangerous blow moving forward.

A toe-to-toe flurry at the start of the fourth round forced Kelsey Jefferies to tie up in close. Defensively Ana Julaton is solid with her hands up high, but Jefferies repeatedly hits her behind the head in the clinch. Julaton raises her arms at the end of the round in part to mock the hits behind the head, and in part to show they are not having an effect. More dirty boxing by Jefferies results in a cut on the left temple for Julaton in the fifth, but by the eigth round Julaton is getting the clear speed and accuracy advantage inside.

Kelsey Jefferies registers her best round of the fight in the ninth. A short counter punch catches Julaton awkwardly, but there is not enough power behind it to stop the fight. The crowd is chanting Jul-a-ton, Jul-a-ton as "The Hurricane" displays good movement around the ring. Three successive jabs land by Jefferies, but Ana smirks and shakes her head. She raises her arms at the end of the ninth and blows a kiss to the crowd. One problem with Julaton is focus. At times in the clinch she is focused outside the ring or looking at her corner. Against a different opponent, one punch could end the fight. You need to be prepared to defend yourself at all times.

The crowd continues to chant in the tenth and final round, as Jefferies and Julaton trade toe-to-toe at the opening bell. Her head down moving forward, Jefferies connects with several punches inside but Julaton is in control creating distance and moving around the ring. The referees award her a 96-94, 95-95, 98-92 decision, and an emotional Julaton embraces her team as they award her the IBA Female Super Bantamweight belt.

Highly regarded San Jose cruiserweight Tony Johnson earned quickest knockout of the night and American Metal and Iron fight of the night bonuses with a first round stoppage over Artis Walker. Walker tried to press the action early but was floored by a short counter punch. Surprisingly the referee let the fight continue despite the fact that Walker was wobbly on his feet. Attempting to tie up Johnson Walker ate another left to the head and hit the mat. The third knockdown was a formality, and the fight was stopped at 1:17. Johnson's first two professional bouts came against a game Henry Wells. The second "brawl" on an ESPN Friday Night Fight undercard from San Jose kept ESPN broadcaster Joe Tessatore ringside after the televised portion of the event was over.

Also deserving of a rematch after an entertaining up-and-down fight in July was Juan Topoz and Jonathan Alcantara. A little more polished without the wild knockdowns this time, both fighters were all business inside the ring. A non-mohawked Alcantara and a bowl cut wearing Topoz started right where the last fight left off, there was no feeling out process. Topoz tried to pile up power punches inside, Alcantara used movement to get in, land, and get out. Alca punctuated the first with a quick flurry.

Alcantara continued lunging forward to land combinations in the second. With excellent body and head movement, he is an elusive prospect inside the ring. Topoz is charging forward, but Alca is actually catching his punches then countering with shots of his own. In the third round, Topoz is starting to connect with power punches inside but Alcantara staggers him against the ropes briefly with a punch flush to the chin. Alca starts standing toe-to-toe with Topoz at the end of the third round, each time he is playing with fire. That is not his fight. A solid 5 punch combo by Alcantara backs off Topoz to finish the third round.

Inexplicably Alcantara stands toe-to-toe with Topoz to start the fourth and final round. The crowd is really into this fight. Alca is handing Topoz an opportunity, but he can not take advantage of it. Alcantara starts to circle around the ring, and lands a big flurry at the end of the round to cap off a 40-36, 39-37, 39-37 unanimous decision win. Given the first two fights between these two boxers were split 1-1, this matchup is deserving of a trilogy.

Berkeley's Pedro Rios earned his first professional win despite a height and reach disadvantage to Mike Alexander. Rios was active throughout the fight, and limited movement from Alexander made him a stationary target. Rios had the crowd chanting his name in 3 of the 4 rounds. Popular San Jose boxer and former Strikeforce competitor Clint Coronel earned a controversial decision over Herman Scott in an unrefined slugfest. With Frank Shamrock in his corner, Coronel threw an enormous amount of looping body shots in the third and fourth rounds. Scott, with his back to the ropes, covered up and tried to counter when he found an opening. The problem for Scott was that he waited far too long. He let Coronel pile up punches, and it resulted in a split decision 4 round win for the San Jose native. Coronel was deduced a point in the third for losing a mouthpiece a second time. Both boxers landed punches after the bell in the final two rounds. In the third, one of those punches landed squarely on the jaw of veteran referee Marty Sammon. Prior to the professional fights, a 3-round amateur bout between nationally ranked Randy Guerrero (Gilroy High School) and Andy Vences (Lincoln High School) was held. Vences scored a knockdown in the second, but it was ruled a slip. Vences earned the judges decision. Tried to ask the amateur officials if there would be another NCBA college boxing tournament in the South Bay, but they were not sure. Check for future updates.

A photo gallery from the event is available here.

[Update] Results from Saturday:

Fight Night at the Tank Results
September 12, 2009
HP Pavilion, San Jose

Ana Julaton 5-1-1 UD Kelsey Jeffries 41-10-1 (122 pounds)
IBA Female Super Bantamweight Title
96-94, 95-95, 98-92

Tony Johnson 3-0 KO Artis Walker 0-1 (192 pounds)
1st round

Oscar Gadoy 1-0 SD Eduardo Herrera 1-2 (144 pounds)
39-37, 37-39, 39-37

Jonathan Alcantara 1-1-1 UD Juan Topoz 2-2 (122 pounds)
40-36, 39-37, 39-37

Clint Coronel 2-0-1 SD Herman Scott 2-2 (154 pounds)
38-37, 37-38, 38-37

Jason Montgomery 1-0 UD Paul Mendez 2-2 (160 pounds)
40-36, 40-36, 40-36

Pedro Rios 1-1 UD Mike Alexander 1-4-2 (160 pounds)
40-35, 40-35, 39-36

Amateur Bout:
Randy Guerrero (Gilroy high) def Andy Vences (Lincoln high)

[Update2] Ana Julaton scores upset to win IBA Title, 'The Hurricane' batters 'The Road Warrior' - The Phillipine Inquirer.

[Update3] Julaton Topples Jeffries, Wins IBA Title in San Jose - Mario Ortega Jr. for

Saturday, September 12, 2009

San Jose Sharks acquire LW Dany Heatley and 5th from Ottawa Senators for Jonathan Cheechoo, Milan Michalek and 2nd

San Jose Sharks blockbuster trade acquire Dany Heatley for Jonathan Cheechoo Milan Michalek

The San Jose Sharks acquired left wing Dany Heatley and a 2010 5th round draft pick from the Ottawa Senators for wingers Jonathan Cheechoo, Milan Michalek and a 2010 2nd round draft pick. Two days after an unconfirmed trade report surrounding Patrick Marleau was lent credence by ESPN, an official Sharks press release announced the specifics of this trade.

The 28-year old Heatley registered 39 goals and 72 points for Ottawa in 2008-09, and has twice hit the 50-goal 100-point plateau in 05-06 (50G, 103PTS) and 06-07 (50G, 105PTS). A 3-time Allstar (03, 07, 09) and the 2002 Calder Trophy recepient, Heatley has been a fixture on the Canadian National Team participating in 6 World Championships (2 golds, 3 silvers), the 2006 Olympics, the 2004 World Cup (gold) and 2 WJC tournaments (2 bronzes).

This summer, despite completing only the first year of a 6-year $45 million contract, Heatley requested a trade. The news shocked Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray. As teams tightened up against the $56.8 million NHL salary cap, trade options for Heatley narrowed. Prior to the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Murray apparently worked out a package with the Edmonton Oilers that included forwards Andrew Cogliano, Dustin Penner and defenseman Ladislav Smid. Bryan Murray was under time constraints because Heatley's contract afforded him an upfront $4 million payment of his $8 million 2009-10 salary on July 1st. Heatley, who has a no-movement clause in his contract, veto'd the trade.

At August's Team Canada 2010 Olympic orientation camp he discussed the reasons for the trade request via a conference call. He cited a "diminished role" on the team and that his issues were not soley with head coach Cory Clouston. He also said that he turned down the trade to Edmonton in order to create more trade options, and that his initial request was not made public.

The Jonathan Cheechoo ($3M) and Milan Michalek ($4.333M) cap hits allow San Jose General Manager/EVP Doug Wilson to add Dany Heatley ($7.5M) and still remain $700K under the $56.8M NHL salary cap according to While the top 6 forward roles can be assumed by a combination of Thornton, Marleau, Heatley, Setoguchi, Pavelski and Clowe, the 3rd and 4th lines in San Jose will be almost completely remade from 2008-09. The salary cap move of defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to Vancouver also opens up competition for the 6th and 7th defensive slots.

There are fan favorites in every sport, and then there are players that cross boundries between sports fans and non-sports fans alike. Jonathan Cheechoo's breakout season on the ice came his second year in the NHL when he scored 28 goals and 47 points on a line with veterans Scott Thornton and Mike Ricci. While Ricci and Thornton struggled to light the lamp, Cheechoo buried goals from impossible angles. A year later his breakout season came off the ice when paired with Joe Thornton. The Moose Factory native registered a league best 56 goals and earned the Maurice Rocket Richard trophy given to the top scorer in the NHL. Fans weren't boo'ing inside HP Pavilion, they were saying Chee-choooo. Train whistles, moose paraphernalia and #14 jerseys became de rigueur in the Bay Area.

A double hernia surgery and a reduced role limited his production in subsequent seasons, but he remains a deadly power play option and he dedicated himself to contributing on both ends of the ice. On the trade, Cheechoo told San Jose Mercury News beat writer David Pollak, "It’s a no-brainer for them (the Sharks), That’s somebody they targeted and you’re going to have to give up things to get things." He also mentioned a desire to prove to the Ottawa Senators that they did not make the wrong choice. Cheechoo said he learned of the trade Saturday morning, but Friday morning he was spotted leaving the informal Captain's Ice practice in San Jose early.

6-foot-2, 225-pound left wing Milan Michalek was originally drafted by the Sharks 6th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. With excellent speed and good size, Michalek is one of several homegrown players that have only shown a tantalizing glimpse of their offensive potential in San Jose. Along with forward Steve Bernier and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, Michalek will have to achieve that potential with another team. Playing on a second line with Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe, Michalek finished 5th on the Sharks in scoring last season with 23 goals and 57 points. One game displayed a vivid contrast between Patrick Marleau and Michalek, two of the fastest skaters on the Sharks. While Marleau smoothly accelerated around one wing to score on a breakaway, Michalek looked like a churning freight train en route to a breakaway goal on the other side.

Ottawa was put in a difficult position this summer after Edmonton and the New York Rangers went in another direction. The lone destination for Heatley came down to San Jose and San Jose alone. The Sharks were a team that won the Presidents' Trophy in the regular season, but bowed out of the playoffs prematurely against Anaheim. Repeated leaks and trade rumors, most likely attempted to put pressure on San Jose, did not budge GM Doug Wilson. The fact that Ottawa accepted a deal without Marleau, and without a first round draft pick, means that possibly the last offer on the table was accepted one day before players report for on-ice sessions at training camp. Marleau has said he was never asked to waive his no-trade clause, and the Sharks were not forced to give up a 1st round draft pick for the third straight year.

Win-win Sharks is the final report card on the trade. Yet again they will enter the regular season as a prohibitive Stanley Cup favorite, yet one critics and skeptics will be wary of given their postseason track record. They have as good an opportunity as any to prove them all wrong.

[Update] Sens deal Heatley to Sharks for Michalek, Cheechoo - TSN.

[Update2] Heatley traded to Sharks - Eric Duhatschek for the Globe and Mail.

Heatley said he knew a number of players on the Sharks’ roster from previous Canadian national teams. In fact, last month, during the orientation camp for Canada’s Olympic team, coach Mike Babcock put Heatley on a line with the Sharks’ Thornton and Marleau. In addition, he’d also played previously in the Olympics with defencemen Rob Blake and Dan Boyle and in college with second-line centre Joe Pavelski.

Heatley acknowledged that he, Thornton and Marleau discussed the possibility that they might be reunited with the Sharks in a trade, a deal that came to fruition. “There was talk about San Jose at the time,” said Heatley, “and it was fun to get on the ice with those guys and play the (scrimmage) game.”

[Update3] Heatley is a Shark - Bruce Garrioch for the Ottawa Sun.

[Update4] Heatley happy to land in San Jose -

"I've been there a few times, other than playing, I know it's a great team, a great city," Heatley said during a conference call. "I know a few of the players on the team and I'm excited to be with those guys and play for the Sharks.

"It was tough. It wasn't the greatest summer, no question. The way it went down, obviously I don't think anybody wanted. I'm relieved, definitely. I'm excited to be going to San Jose and glad it's come to a resolution."

[Update5] Sharks comfortable with making Heatley deal, There are no rose-colored glasses for the Sharks in getting Dany Heatley, Ottawa gets rid of a disgruntled player for two skilled if slumping forwards - Craig Custance for the Sporting News.

[Update6] More on the trade from The 6th Sens, San Jose's Mike Chen, Sharks Hockey Analysis, Ryan Garner, Fear the Fin, Illegal Curve, and Yahoo Puck Daddy's Sean Leahy. More links will be posted after I get back from Fight Night at the Tank boxing at HP Pavilion. Bouts start at 7:30PM.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sharks-Ducks Rookie Tournament Game 3 Report

San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks NHL rookie tournament Kevin Henderson
San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks NHL rookie tournament goaltender Thomas Heemskerk save NHL
San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks NHL rookie tournament defenseman Marc Cantin Gordie Howe hat trick

The Sharks rookies earned a clean 3 game sweep of the Anaheim rookies with a 5-2 win in the final game of the rookie tournament on Wednesday night. London Knights (OHL) winger Daniel "Rudy" Erlich made the most of his final opportunity in San Jose with a goal and 3 assists to lead all scorers with 4 points. Goaltender Thomas Heemskerk registered 25 saves on 27 shots to earn his second win of the tournament despite the lack of the 'Heems-kerk, Heems-kerk, Heems-kerk' chants he garnered from the SJSU fans on Labor Day.

Many of the top prospects were scratched so Day 3 of the rookie tournament was an opportunity for other tryouts and invitees to make an impression. The scoring came in quick succession in the first period. More disciplined than Tuesday night, 6 of Anaheim's 8 penalties were fighting majors. The San Jose Sharks capitalized on their first power play. Boston University alum John McCarthy carried the puck behind the net and set up Michael D'Orazio for the opening goal. Nearly two minutes later Daniel Erlich slid a nice pass to defenseman Marc Cantin who beat goaltender Sebastian Stefaniszin gloveside for a 2-0 lead.

Dan Sexton got the Ducks on the board with a rebound goal at the end of the first period, assists by Josh Brittain and Stefan Warg. Heemskerk was overcommited after the initial save and the Ducks outnumbered SJ 3-to-1 for the rebound. The fight log was not pretty in the first, 6-foot-4, 225-pound Frazer McLaren offered up a severe beatdown to Mike Stuart. San Jose's Bugart was handled by #73 Matt Clark with a quick series of punches.

Sharks defensive prospect Michael D'Orazio apparently sprained a groin in the second period and had to be helped off the ice. Daniel Erlich scored on a breakaway, and Max Macenauer responded for Anaheim giving the Sharks a 3-2 lead heading into the third. Goals by Corey Quirk and Joe Loprieno quickly sucked the life out of the Ducks en route to the eventual 5-2 loss. “Winning is the best thing, no matter what level,” Daniel Erlich told the official Sharks website. “We came in a few days ago with a bunch of guys we didn’t know and we win and everyone is happy.”

As the seconds ticked down on the final period it was time for the "best player on the ice discussion with several fans, bloggers and Jr Sharks rinkside. Daniel Erlich was flying on the ice, his quick stutter step acceleration and sheer speed set up opportunities for teammates. What should have scouts focused on him in the future is his fearless play. His hit on Luca Sbisa in the final 30 seconds of game 2 was a highlight of the tournament. Even more than Erlich, San Jose defensive tryout Marc Cantin (6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Belleville OHL) was a player that forced you to pay attention to him. Obviously he was pushing hard given the situation committing a couple of mistakes, but that was mostly due to the fact he was making several qualities plays each shift. A crushing first period hit directly after a faceoff, a stolen puck at center ice in the second, and checking a forward off the puck in front of his own net in the third are only a few examples. Very alert and intelligent player.

Max Giese pointed to Anaheim center ad 2009 draft pick Peter Holland, but 5-foot-10, 170-pound right wing Dan Sexton was also in the mix for most of the night on Wednesday for the Ducks. He flashed blazing speed going wide left around a pair of Sharks defenseman in the second period, snapping a shot up high off the goaltender. Earlier at the informal Sharks ice practice on a different rink, South Bay native and Phoenix Coyotes forward Viktor Tikhonov threaded a goal up high through a space narrower than the width of a puck. The talent these prospects are going to compete against if they make it to the NHL level is intense. Forward MacGregor Sharp was also drilled into the boards in the second and third periods. The first time he used the recoil to beat Bugart cleanly to the front of the net. The second time he beat a different Sharks forward to the front of the net to attempt a screen.

Ducks assistant coach Dave Farrish told the offical Anaheim website, "Tonight was certainly the best game for our group and it gave us a better idea of what we have here. I thought all the players played well tonight". Anaheim assistant director of amateur scouting had a differing opinion with OC Register Ducks blogger Curtis Zupke noting that the rookie team looked out of sync and tired. Zupke was impressed by defenseman Luca Sbisa. “He’s a strong kid... He skates well and competes. The way he handled the pressure was impressive,” Zupke told the Register.

San Jose lines:




Anaheim Lines:


Clark-de Gray


A photo gallery from Jon Swenson and Chelsea Rohl is available here. The Dudes on Hockey posted a podcast following the rookie tournament, and provided a Game 2 liveblog here. It was surprising to find out that the excellent ECHL news website had contributors based out of Stockton. The report from Shellie Lima with photos by Jack Lima is available here. California Rubber magazine notes that Irvine, CA native C.J. Stretch was returned to his junior team as part of 7 cuts the Sharks made to their training roster yesterday.

[Update] Sharks Sweep Ducks Rookies -

[Update2] Game notes from Max Giese:

- Out of the free agents who were are at camp on a try-out basis, Marc Cantin was the most impressive and he deserves an NHL contract. He's just so solid in every aspect of the game and he's an especially tough defender. Very intelligent with encompassing mobility, Cantin could provide strong defensive play to an NHL team down the road. He also makes a good first pass and his hard/accurate shot caught me off guard. Cantin is due to return to the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League this season and possibly with an NHL contract in hand from San Jose, or at the least he's a player the Sharks will want to draft come next June if he continues to play as well as he did at the rookie camp.

- Former Merrimack defenseman Joe Loprieno impressed with his size, physicality, and mature two-way performance. He was clearly a leader on defense and is futher along in his development than anticipated. Incorporating Coach Todd McLellan’s system into his game, Loprieno made smart decisions with the puck and showed off his accurate, heavy right-handed shot that he did a great job at getting through traffic and on net. He looks like could develop into a strong, physical stay-at-home defenseman in the NHL. Loprieno will become that caliber of a defenseman once he fixes some skating flaws, as while he's quite nimble on his feet heading north, he does struggle skating backwards and moving laterally.

- It’s quickly evident that Henderson has pro potential with his enticing blend of size, physicality, and great skating ability. He provided strong board work and a physical presence .. goal scoring ability, big frame is hard to move in front of the net, has a long reach.quick hands.

Taylor Doherty, D, #77: A polar bear on skates, Doherty is a massive physical specimen that skates remarkably well for a player of his height .. an ideal defenseman to be given an assignment and he will shut them down .. his strength is his ability to defend and he consistently shut down the Ducks top offensive threats in one-on-one situations .. 2009 first round pick Peter Holland simply couldn’t get around him and Doherty’s reach is incredible in previous viewings Doherty’s hockey sense was sub par, but here he did a nice job making safe decisions with the puck and positioning himself defensively .. supports his defensive partner well and was very aware about staying proactive with healthy positioning .. handles the puck fairly dexterously and jumped into the offensive rush when appropriate .. Doherty is a physical player but he needs to strengthen his core and improve his balance .. must do a better job at taking away the pass in two-on-one situations .. still quite raw and years away, but with some work he could be a very mobile version of Hal Gill .. focus dipped in game 2, you give him an assignment he’s fine, focus dips the concerns about his hockey sense begin to arise again.

Frazer McLaren, LW, #65: Frazer McLaren played on the top line and mostly played a skilled game, but you can see his potential to screen goalies and when Logan Couture was getting bullied in the corners after a whistle, McLaren came to his aide and instantly squashed the Ducks advances on Couture .east up a lot of ice .. great fighter, really kicked butt .. shot/hands are fine, not his physical self played more of a skill game, but still showed his potential of a fighter that can also play.

Samuel Groulx, D, #57: Clearly a very smart defenseman and he provided more of an offensive punch than was expected .. was solid working the point on the powerplay and was active pushing the puck and pinching deep into the offensive zone .. his bread and butter will be shutting down the opposition, as he’s very solid in all defensive aspects .. skating is still funny as his stride is a bit loose and while he readily takes the body he lacks the strength to finish his man .. not developing as quickly as hoped, still has good upside as a potential 3rd pairing defensive defenseman, skating/strength.

Brodie Melnychuk, D, #80: Has some size but he needs to get lower in his skating stride and bend his knees more .. lacks quickness and agility .. also needs to soften up his hands and improve on his puck protection .. made some erroneous errors with the puck .. got better in each game, so raw though, made better decisions played within limits.

Daniel Erlich, RW, #70: Was the most impressive free-agent player of the night, as this undersized pepper pot was fearless and threw his childish frame around with reckless abandonment .. it was impressive to see that this moment wasn’t too big for him and he made plays with confidence .. might have a future in this game as the type of player that gets under opponents skin and provides periodical offense .. scored a crucial goal in the shoot-out to keep the Sharks arrive and instantly became a fan favorite .. premo skills, deft moves, exciting and creative, in game two he was too hot doggish but after a talk from the scouts, Erlich was more direct with the puck and had a 3 point night in game 3. cut immediately after but became a fan favorite and made a positive impression.

Thomas Heemskerk, G, #33: Played a strong game in goal and came up huge in late in the third when the Ducks had multiple powerplays including a two-man advantage, but Heemskerk held the fort .. displayed good instincts for the position and moves well in his crease .. was a bit scrambly at times overexerting himself and tended to go down a bit early, but the Ducks shooters never successfully exposed this .. thrived in pressure cooker situations and was dominant in the shoot-out only giving up one goal after going several rounds deep .. second game, rebound control, loses puck in heavy traffic.

Luke Judson, RW, #67: His work-ethic and defensive play impressed .. every time he was on the ice he gave that second effort and was a valued penalty-killer .. fought the larger Scott Valentine and did well. Luke Judson impressed with his character, penalty-killing, and crafty board work .. intelligent, defensive minded forward, can move the puck up ice with passes, good character/toughness.

John McCarthy, LW, #43: A smart hockey player with good character .. John McCarthy was much better Tuesday night and was a gritty penalty-killer that will do the grunt work for his team .. fought didn’t do well but the character .. showed the ability to move the puck but he needs to work on his finishing ability offensively.

Dean Strong, C, #73: Vertically challenged but very thick and his defensive awareness will make him a valuable player for Worcester this year .. he’s a disciplined penalty-killer that is courageous in the trenches and showed some decent playmaking ability in the offensive zone .. doesn’t look like an NHL prospect but will be a solid AHLer.

Louis Liotti, D, #79: Will be a steady-eddy type of defenseman for Worcester this year .. isn’t a dynamic player but he’s a healthy skater and a quick thinker that provides dependable defensive play and solid offensive help.

[Update3] Left defenseman Kent Huskins off the chart of projected defensive starters in the 2009-10 Training Camp Preview but mentioned him in the text. Added him to the chart. Thanks to reader Alan for the email.

[Update4] editor/producer Aaron Brenner sent in a link to watch video of the Los Angeles-Phoenix rookie game from Thursday (game 2). Photos of the games taken by friend of the blog Michael Zampelli are available at (traffic on the site is heavy). San Jose hockey blogger and Versus/Fox Sports writer Mike Chen also interviewed Phoenix Coyotes general manager Don Maloney here.

Sharks on TV: Dan Boyle on Comcast's Chronicle Live, Sharks call NBC KNTV-11, Sportscenter?

- San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle appeared on Comcast Bay Area's Chronicle Live hourlong sports talkshow on Tuesday. Hosted by Greg Papa, Boyle covered a wide range of topics from the vacant Sharks captaincy, what went wrong against the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, his personal knowledge of Dany Heatley, his potential defensive partner for 2009-10, and his hockey idols growing up.

When asked by Papa if he would accept the Sharks captaincy, Boyle replied, "of course." He added the decision was up to coaches and management, and that he would support whoever was selected. He noted the last time he was captain was in college with Miami of Ohio University. Asked about what went wrong against Anaheim, Boyle had to check himself then replied that it was a "missing attitude". He said that the Sharks need to build a whatever it takes mentality.

On a potential defensive partner after the trade of Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to Vancouver, Boyle speculated that it might be Kent Huskins. Despite being from the same hometown of Ottawa, he said he did not know too much about him.

Defenseman Rob Blake and forward Ryane Clowe will be guests on Comcast Bay Area's Chronicle Live broadcast at 5PM and at 11PM Friday (corrected). A direct link to the Dan Boyle interview is available here.

- Cycling through the Bay Area evening sports telecasts, only caught one mention of the Patrick Marleau for Dany Heatley trade rumor. The only San Jose based broadcast, NBC KNTV-11, touched on the as yet unconfirmed/flatly denied rumor. Host Raj Mathai said that the Sharks called him to deny the trade had taken place. The signoff was: "The trade is not official, at least not right now." Someone posted a video of the segment on youtube here.

- Despite being reported earlier this morning by Ottawa Sun rumormeister Bruce Garrioch, the Marleau-Heatley frenzy did not start until it was announced as a finalized trade by former NHL2nite and current Sportscenter anchor John Buccigross. A subsequent article on ESPN backtracked somewhat with denials from all 3 general managers allegedly involved in the trade (San Jose, Ottawa and Los Angeles).

Given that a major ESPN personality allegedly broke the news of the biggest summer trade this offseason, coverage on ESPN properties like Sportscenter and ESPNews should be a given. Drop me a line if you see a mention of the trade/denials on either.

[Update] Nothing on the trade rumor/denails was reported on ESPN Sportscenter this morning.

[Update2] It's ESPN's Heatley story, and Buccigross is sticking to it - Yahoo's Puck Daddy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Marleau for Heatley 3-team trade with Ottawa and Los Angeles not confirmed, initial ESPN and KNBR reports cited a done deal

ESPN John Buccigross reported a 3 team trade with Patrick Marleau Dany Heatley Alexander Frolov Jarret Stoll KNBR

Former NHL2nite host and current Sportscenter anchor John Buccigross tweeted (frolov and stoll to Ottawa..Marleau to LA) earlier today that a 3-team trade including former Sharks captain Patrick Marleau, 2-time 50 goal scorer Dany Heatley, and forwards Alexander Frolov and Jarret Stoll was completed.

A subsequent ESPN article repeated the trade rumor published by Buccigross, and also reported that San Jose Sharks GM/EVP Doug Wilson, Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray, and former Sharks GM and current Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi denied the trade was made.

The Ottawa Senators have reached an agreement to send Dany Heatley to the San Jose Sharks, NHL sources told ESPN's John Buccigross. The 28-year-old forward is set to be part of a three-team deal that would send the Sharks' Patrick Marleau to the Los Angeles Kings and the Kings' Alexander Frolov and Jarret Stoll to the Senators.

According to ESPN, Dean Lombardi replied with a text that the rumor, "is complete bull". Also added was a text message response from GM Doug Wilson, "It is an absolute fabrication". The latest tweet from Buccigross notes: (Dany Heatley will probably be a Shark tonight or tomorrow).

According to, Patrick Marleau's no trade clause and Dany Heatley's no movement clause complicate any potential multi-team deal. A no-trade clause requires a player's consent for a trade to be completed. A no-movement clause requires a player's consent before he can be traded, waived, or assigned to the minors (but the player can be bought out).

Also complicating matters are a constant stream of leaks apparently from the Ottawa side of the negotiations. Earlier this summer the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch noted that Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray turned down a trade package of Jonathan Cheechoo, Christian Ehrhoff and a 1st round pick. The news has rankled San Jose GM Doug Wilson, who as a policy declines to speak about players under contract to other teams.

Where there is smoke, there is fire. Two potential trade rumors preceeded the salary dump of Ehrhoff and Lukowich to Vancouver. An Ottawa Citizen blog noted that Dany Heatley dropped out of a team sponsored golf tournament this weekend. The Sharks hold their annual Golf Classic for charity on September 28th.

There is also smoke on the San Jose side. In an interview with KNBR 680AM this summer San Jose GM/EVP Doug Wilson listed 5 or 6 Sharks who had leadership qualities, naming them as possible candidates for the as of now vacant Sharks captaincy. Patrick Marleau's name was not mentioned. Responding to questions from fans and season ticket holders at this years State of the Sharks event, Wilson listed only Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle as players who were "untouchable". Marleau, despite returning early from the first knee injury of his career and skating 60-70%, scored 2 game winning goals in the Anaheim series. Stripped of the captaincy and asked to respond, Marleau said he was willing to accept any move that would benefit the team.

A full rundown of potential roster issues, 4-year scoring trends, and a top down look at Patrick Marleau's situation in San Jose was published on Sharkspage earlier this week.

A request this summer to interview Marleau prior to the NHL Entry Draft was denied by his agent Don Baizley. Sharkspage has another call into Baizley tonight. San Jose Mercury News beat writer David Pollak also mentioned that his sources told him the deal was not completed. The largest sportstalk radio show in the Bay Area, the Razor and Mr. T show on KNBR 680AM, reported the deal as complete for 30-45 minutes tonight. They clarified the news item at the end of the program. They said that the ESPN report of a done deal was not confirmed by their internal sources.

[Update] No truth to reports that Heatley has been traded - Bob McKenzie for TSN.

In fact, sources tell TSN that not only is the report of a three-way deal being done not true, but the Senators are no closer to trading Heatley now than they have been for most of the summer.

[Update2] In addition to reporting the "complete bull" response from Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi, LA Daily News reporter and Inside the Kings blogger Rich Hammond had to deal with a bomb scare at his building (corrected).

[Update3] A couple of readers have emailed and said the twitter account linked to above is a fake account. The fact that the ESPN article attributes the rumor as coming from Buccigross suggests otherwise. ESPN also introduced new rules for employees using social media this summer.

According to the NY Times:

The guidelines say that on-air talent, reporters and writers are prohibited from having sports-related blogs or Web sites and that they will need a supervisor’s approval to discuss sports on any social networking sites. They will also be restricted from discussing internal policies or detailing how stories are “reported, written, edited or produced.”

The guide that Bucher focused on reads, “The first and only priority is to serve ESPN-sanctioned efforts, including sports news, information and content.” Violating the new guidelines could lead to suspension or dismissal.

The initial tweet was removed, but Buccigross was referenced in the ESPN report. Seems to fit the new policy. This was a good day to learn about twitter. The Sharkspage twitter account now has 3 contributors (PJ, MG, GJB).

[Update4] Nabokov, Marleau snubbed in promo letter; Sharks respond - Greg Wyshynski for Yahoo's Puck Daddy. More from Wysh on the Heatley-Marleau trade rumors here.

[Update5] Sharks Reduce Camp Roster by Seven: Ju. Demers, Varone, Viedensky, Burgart, Erlich, Melnychuk, Stretch cut -

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sharks-Ducks Rookie Tournament Game 2 Report

San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks NHL rookie tournament
San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks NHL rookie tournament Dan Sexton
San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks NHL rookie tournament goaltender Alex Stalock

The Tuesday night configuration of Sharks rookies was too much for the Anaheim rookies to handle en route to a 5-0 shutout by San Jose goaltending prospect Alex Stalock. The play was lopsided in the first two periods, but similar to the first game the intensity picked up in the third.

Irvine, California native C.J. Stretch (1G, 1A) tied Dean Strong (1G, 1A), defenseman Nick Petrecki (1G, 1A), Kevin Henderson (2G), and defenseman Marc Cantin (2A) for the scoring lead with 2 points each. Stalock stopped all 17 shots he faced, and remained composed despite several rugby scrums in front of and on top of his net. The Anaheim prospects established a revolving door at the penalty box, piling up 12 minor penalties, 4 fighting majors and 1 unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for 54 PIMs.

Hockey fans in San Jose received their first look at physical 6-foot-4, 220-pound former Boston College defenseman Nick Petrecki. He made an impression early. Seconds after the opening faceoff Petrecki missed an attempted check along the half boards, then took several strides and pasted an opposing forward up against the glass behind the net. He added an assist on the second power play of the game. Dean Strong scored 11 seconds in, with assists by Stretch and Petrecki.

The Sharks added a first period goal by #71 Kevin Henderson. Anaheim goaltender Marco Cousineau gave up a rebound on a point shot by defenseman Marc Cantin. Planted in front of the net, Henderson quickly buried the rebound. He scored again from a similar area in the third period, this time on the power play.

There was an nice battle between Benn Ferrerio (#78) and Anaheim's Dan Sexton (#42) at the end of the first. With both players accelerating to get to a loose puck along the boards, Ferrerio bailed out at the last minute to prevent a collision with one of the ECHL lineseman manning the game. Along with left wing Mattew Belesky, Sexton was the Duck causing the most problems in the neutral and offensive zones.

Early in the second Petrecki registered a monster hit on Maxime Macenauer. This was only a single prospect exhibition game, but when he was on the ice the opposition knew where he was at all times. Four-on-four halfway through the second, Petrecki trails the play and snaps home his first goal of the tournament from the slot. All he needed to complete the Gordie Howe hat trick was a fight, and it would not take long for multiple Duck prospects to oblige him.

Petrecki upended center Peter Holand (#74), then was immediately challenged by 2 opponents. He squared off with 6-foot-4, 210-pound defenseman Stu Bickel, who was given an instigator and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty along with his fighting major. Video of the initial hit and the aftermath was posted on youtube here.

At the end of the second period Logan Couture won a 2-on-1 battle behind the Anaheim net, then had a centering pass intercepted. A handful of fans in San Jose mentioned Couture's skating, it has looked better. North/south he can get quicker. In the defensive zone, it is apparent he is a product of the Sharks system. Along with another Sharks prospect, Couture was taking a hard stride to close the gap on the point. He also registered a blocked and deflected shot. Listed as 6-foot-1, 195-pounds there is a lot of pressure on the 2007 first round draft pick to develop into an impact player. With his "hockey IQ" it will happen, but preaching a year or two of patience to Sharks fans may fall on deaf ears.

The vibe was a little different for the ANA-SJ rookie games from the previous 4-team Pacific Division rookie tournaments. With 4 teams, prospects playing in front of that many scouts and hockey departments started each game at a frenetic pace, one that continued until the final horn. The ANA-SJ games took a little time to build up to that level, but by the third period the prospects were flying.

Fiting the script, Petrecki started the third period with another big hit in his own zone. There was silence from the crowd as both players fell somewhat ackwardly. Mattew Beleskey and Petrecki jabbered at each other for a few seconds before play resumed. Defenseman Luca Sbisa (#5) tried to send a message, but may have gone a little low with the biggest hit of the tournament at center ice near the stands. Petrecki was skating full speed down the right side when a barreling Sbisa slightly missed a high velocity check. Luca was given a 2 minute delay of game penalty.

Sbisa, who registered 39 games with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2008-09 and was traded to Anaheim along with Joffrey Lupul and 2 first round picks for Chris Pronger, also tried to line up 5-foot-6, 160-pound Daniel Erlich with 30 seconds left in the game. Sbisa had momentum and 40+ pounds in his favor, but it was Erlich that sent the much larger defenseman to the ice. San Jose fans started chanting Ruuu-dy, Ruuu-dy, Ruuu-dy for Erlich. He was a fan favorite.

Devin Setoguchi, Derek Joslin, and Mike Moore were spotted watching the second rookie game. Ryane Clowe and Douglas Murray observed the first rookie game rinkside. A photo gallery from the second game of the ANA-SJ rookie tournament is available here.

[Update] Sharks Rout Ducks 5-0 in Game 2 -

[Update2] Game Notes from Max Giese:

Nick Petrecki, D, #54: With a Gordie Howe hat trick to his credit, Nick Petrecki stole the show and became an instant fan favorite with his violent physical play, dynamic athleticism, and offensive revelation .. brings a presence to the ice that opens things up for his teammates and puts a sense of fear in the opposition .. just a monster and is as physical of a defenseman as you will find .. closes gaps with authority and shook the whole building with devastating body checks that left Ducks' forwards hearing foot steps coming through the neutral zone as they were afraid to test him coming down the wing .. can definitely fight, as proof when two Ducks jumped him and Petrecki assaulted one of them to the ground .. the knock on Nick used to be his decision making and while he did make a bad pinch in the third period looking for retribution from a hit Sbisa delivered on him, overall Nick make astute decisions .. gets his head on a swivel and surveys the ice early while retrieving pucks, then his swift acceleration and strong puck-protection allows him to evade the forechecking pressure before making a hard tape-to-tape pass coming out of his own zone .. his hands impressed as did his coast-to-coast offensive raids .. scored a goal when he timed jumping into the rush perfectly and wired a one timer top shelf from the top of the slot .. a natural leader and was one of the three alternate captains – stands up for his guys, knocks the opposition off of their game, and is intensely vocal .. if this game as of any indication, Petrecki is going to be a great NHL defenseman.

Taylor Doherty, D, #77: A polar bear on skates, Doherty is a massive physical specimen that skates remarkably well for a player of his height .. an ideal defenseman to be given an assignment and he will shut them down .. his strength is his ability to defend and he consistently shut down the Ducks top offensive threats in one-on-one situations .. 2009 first round pick Peter Holland couldn’t beat him and Doherty’s reach is incredibally long .. in previous viewings Doherty’s hockey sense was sub par but here he did a nice job making safe decisions with the puck, defensively he proactively positioned himself healthily, and supported his defensive partner well .. handles the puck fairly dexterously and jumped into the offensive rush when appropriate .. Doherty is a physical player but he needs to strengthen his core and improve his balance .. must do a better job at taking away the pass in odd-man situations .. still quite raw and years away, but with some work he could be a very mobile version of Hal Gill.

Alex Stalock, G, #30: An studious goaltender with great skating and puck handling ability, Stalock had a flawless performance in which he earned a shut-out thanks to his several timely saves .. not a larger goaltender but because he’s positionally sound and gets set early he plays big between the pipes .. did a good job challenging and being patient against shooters in tight while coming up with multiple breakaway stops .. competitive and athletic, Stalock can make sprawling saves .. has some unique qualities to him such as stacking the pads to make the save and utilizing paddle down techniques to stop shots on the ice .. rebound control was very strong and didn’t give the Ducks any second opportunities.

Scouting Notes: Kevin Henderson scored two goals because he planted his big body in front of the net and his quick hands/long reach vacuumed up lose rebounds which he scored on, he also got into a fight and has good pro potential with his size, speed, and physical play .. John McCarthy was much better Tuesday night and was a gritty penalty-killer that will do the grunt work for his team .. Frazer McLaren played on the top line and mostly played a skilled game, but you can see his potential to screen goalies and when Logan Couture was getting bullied in the corners after a whistle, McLaren came to his aide and instantly squashed the Ducks advances on Couture .. speaking of Couture, he looked a bit nervous but overall played a solid game, he needs to find a way to score though in game three .. free-agent Luke Judson impressed with his character, penalty-killing, and crafty board work .. Brodie Melnychuk was better but with the puck but he’s still such a bad skater .. defenseman Marc Cantin is a very solid defender that also moved the puck well, same goes for Louis Liotti .. Corey Quirk was better in game two, more involved and effective in traffic areas .. Ferriero was sporting a black eye from Monday nights fight, he does a good job taking on bigger guys and has good offensive vision .. Philip Varone has a ways to go yet but he’s a player to watch because of his offensive instincts .. Daniel Erlich is shifty/sturdy on his feet for such a little guy and has some moxie to his game but despite his impressive performance thus far, he overhandles the puck and must begin to make more direct plays in the offensive zone if he stands a chance at receiving an NHL contract someday .. Rigby Burgart was better in game two, he was a pest and hit everything that moved, plus he got into a fight .. C.J. Stretch was better in this game and also showed some character in the way he stood up for his teammates .. all of the Sharks prospects coming out of the NCAA have showed great character and have willingly proven themselves to the pro-game by dropping the gloves.

Hockey Notes - 9/9

San Jose Sharks Captains Ice practice Tuesday Joe Thornton, Milan Michalek, Brad Staubitz
San Jose Sharks Captains Ice practice defenseman Kent Huskins
San Jose Sharks Captains Ice practice center Scott Nichol
San Jose Sharks Captains Ice practice defenseman Jason Demers

- Lines for the informal Captain's Ice practice at the Sharks practice facility on Tuesday; Team White: Marleau, Thornton, Murray, Boyle, Nichol, Tikonov, Moore, Blake, Cheechoo, Zalewski, Clowe. Team Teal: Joslin, Vlasic, McGinn, Huskins, Ja. Demers, Shelley, Setoguchi, Staubitz, Vesce. Two local goalies and tryout goaltender Thomas Heemskerk rotated in goal. Heemskerk earned a win for SJ in the first rookie game Monday night.

No news on when forward Jed Ortmeyer will make an appearance, but he will wear #41. Veterans will officially open training camp at Sharks Ice on Sunday, September 13th. The Teal and White intra-squad game for season ticket holders will take place Wednesday September 16th at 7PM. The preseason opens on the road against Los Angeles Thursday September 17th at the Citizens Bank Areana (home of the ECHL Ontario Reign and the 2010 ECHL Allstar Game), the preseason opens at home against the Vancouver Canucks Friday September 18th.

- Devils may try Elias at center - Mark Everson for the NY Post.

That hole at center remains the center of intrigue among the Devils.

Even as Jacques Lemaire said yesterday that he'll 'probably' try Patrik Elias as the second-line center, the potential acquisition of Patrick Marleau or Mike Comrie remained the buzz among Devils players golfing at their alumni tournament yesterday.

Comrie, the former Islander, is an unrestricted free agent whose opportunities may be dwindling with camps opening this weekend. Marleau has been removed as Sharks captain, and has long been rumored to be the San Jose component of a three-way deal with Ottawa, for Dany Heatley, with New Jersey shipping out more youth.

- According to, the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks are among the teams interested in Boston Bruins RFA Phil Kessel. Kessel registered a career high 36 goals and 60 points for the Bruins in 2008-09. Lyle Richardson reported that the compensation for Boston, if San Jose successfully signed Kessel, would be a 2010 1st and 2nd round draft picks. Considering the fact that the Sharks have zero 1st round draft picks the last two seasons, consistently mortgaging the future year after year becomes increasingly risky.

After the salary cap moves of Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to the Vancouver Canucks, lists the Sharks as $857,504 under the $56.8 NHL salary cap with 22 players signed.

- Dan Boyle posted a blog item after the trade of his defensive partner Brad Lukowich to the Vancouver Canucks: Goodbye to a Friend.

I’m very saddened to see one of my best friends go. Unfortunately, it’s part of the business we are in.

Brad landed in a great city in Vancouver and I hope that he has an amazing season (except against us) and finds a little stability in his life. The moving around is taking a toll on him and his family.

He is a great father and a great friend and I wish him the best.

Brad has played with 4 teams over the last 4 seasons (Tampa Bay, NYI, New Jersey, Tampa Bay and San Jose), 5 teams in the last 5 seasons if you count his brief 16 game lockout stint with the CHL Fort Worth Brahmas.

- The Globe and Mail's Bruce Dowbiggin notes that TSN's Darren Dreger was in the fortuitous position of being in Chicago when the NHLPA fired executive director Paul Kelly after a board meeting at the Drake Hotel.

Dowbiggin also quoted Dreger quoting a Jeremy Roenick interview on the NHLPA's firing that aired on Toronto's 640AM. "The education of those players is going to be very low... I would say that most of them have high-school educations, not college educations, and, not to put athletes down, but they are not the brightest bulbs in the box. That being said, they are really influenced by the smarter people – the lawyers, and the guys who seem to have gone to college and wear the suits and ties and represent themselves as being the smart people... and sometimes they shouldn’t do that," Roenick said.

- Former Sharks defenseman Kyle McLaren was given a training camp tryout by the New York Rangers. According to Blueshirt Banter, McLaren and Mike Moore proved to be an effective defensive tandem for the Worcester Sharks in the first round of the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs against Hartford. McLaren was effectively a salary cap casualty after the acquisition of Dan Boyle, Rob Blake and Brad Lukowich, but injuries hampered his return to the NHL and a trade deadline deal to Philadelphia was scuttled after he failed a physical. McLaren could be an effective and affordable steal for the Rangers.

- Sharks ouster fine by (Ron) Wilson - Steve Simmons for the Toronto Sun.

The coach of the Maple Leafs admitted in an interview the other day that when his former team, the San Jose Sharks, was eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs this past spring by the Anaheim Ducks, he took solace in the fact he wasn't to blame for the massive disappointment.

"I can't say I was rooting against them, although there was a part of me that was," said Wilson, who watched each game of the series on TV. "To be perfectly honest with you, though, I did feel good when they failed miserably in the playoffs. You work with players for so long you want them to succeed, so I was disappointed for some of the guys, the guys I really liked.

"The worst thing in the world as a coach is to be led to believe it's your fault (when a team fails). You're the one who totally effed it up. I never felt that way in San Jose but, when everybody is telling you that you did or implying that it's your fault, it does shake you up a bit. It takes a long time to get over that.

- The popular gaming website Kotaku took an in-depth look at San Jose Sharks radio play by play announcer Randy Hahn working on NHL 2K10: The Art of Calling an Unseen Game. Hahn discusses the difficult proposition of creating enthusiasm without an arena atmosphere, how he deals with the repetitive nature of calling each sequence for 30 different teams with several different variations, how color analyst Drew Remenda was free to ad lib and be more creative, and providing the answering machine message for 2K.

- Andrew's Starspage chronicled each NHL team's yearly attendance dating back to the 1989-90 season. Throwing out the first two seasons at the Cow Palace in San Francisco (10,888, 11,045), where folding chairs were acceptable lower bowl seating in the corners, the San Jose Sharks have dipped below the NHL attendance average only twice in franchise history (2003-04, and a post lockout 2005-06).

- Happy Birthday Mom!

[Update] Heatley's career now running on empty - Scott Burnside with an excellent late August column on Dany Heatley.

Beyond the Vancouver Olympics, Heatley must at some point confront the fact his career, once so promising, has been forever tarnished, not by the accident that cost Snyder his life, but by how Heatley lived his life in the months and years that followed.

[Update2] Thirty bloggers were asked what they were looking forward to from each individual team in the September 7th issue of The Hockey News. San Jose joined Philadelphia as the only teams with angry responses. In Philadelphia's case "Not Everybody Hates Chris", Kristin Shaw of said "Flyers fans love winning, but even more, we love seeing Stanley Cup-winning cross-state captains get crushed." Not exactly a sentiment worthy of the city that boo'd Santa Claus.

On San Jose's "Maddened Men", "Fans want more of an old-school mentality from San Jose in 2009-10: mean in front of the net and in the corners, point blank garbage goals, treating every game against Anaheim and Detroit as statement games. The Sharks need to get mad," someone named Jon Swenson for said.

[Update3] There are new rules from the NHL with regards to bloggers (unaffiliated with media outlets) covering games in 2009-10: verification or authentication of traffic and subscriber data may be required, verification the site has been in operation greater than 6 months may be required, no live audio or video coverage of pre or post game press conferences will be allowed, and no game action may be captured on video by any means.

There are also going to be changes for the media in San Jose, the broadcast position will be moved up from the seating area to the press box, and the media entrance will change from "Media Entrance A" to the general Security Entrance on the corner of St. John/Montgomery Street at the rear of HP Pavilion.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ROSTER PREVIEW: Will the San Jose Sharks have a net gain or a net loss on the ice for opening day?

San Jose Sharks top 6 forwads offensive production 2009-10

TOP-6 FORWARDS: Two potent offensive lines powered the Sharks to the 3rd best offense in the Western Conference (257GF) and the 3rd best power play in the NHL last season (24.2%, 87-360). Barring any trades, that should continue without significant changes for the 2009-10 season. One noticeable item on the top-6 forward chart is the fact that 7 players are listed. Despite being slotted as a 3rd line winger in one offseason depth chart, Devin Setoguchi could garner another spot on the top line with Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton. Jonathan Cheechoo should battle for first line duty in training camp and will remain a primary option for an in-season adjustment if a player falters.

The big offseason news was the removal of Patrick Marleau's captaincy and Joe Thornton's alternate captain role. This immediately lead to several rounds of Patrick Marleau trade rumors, some more substantive than others. Both players will have the opportunity to regain their leadership positions in training camp, but the team and the coaching staff must consider whether a change of direction is needed. Ryan Garner on a recent Hockeybuzz podcast noted that over the last 5 years Patrick Marleau has registered 19 goals and 30 points (28GP) in 5 series wins. In 5 playoff series losses, Marleau registered 7 goals and 13 points (30GP). Sharks EVP/GM Doug Wilson has repeatedly stressed a need for this team to find ways to win playoff games. That starts with Marleau.

A knee injury limited him severely against Anaheim, but the troubling playoff history dating back several years almost demands that a change be made. Veteran defenseman Dan Boyle and Rob Blake, and forwards Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau could be options for captain in 2009-10. A rotating captaincy the Sharks adopted after Owen Nolan departed in 2003 would only serve as a distraction.

If Marleau is not named captain, it may actually reduce the pressure on him and have a net positive impact on his game. When asked if he considered losing the captaincy an insult, Marleau was quoted by the Mercury News "I've told Doug (Wilson) that I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get this team to the next level." Career regular season and playoff goal scoring marks notwithstanding, it is often overlooked that Marleau finished 9th in the Selke voting last year (for the best defensive forward), finished 2nd in the NHL in shorthanded goals (5) with significant penalty kill duty, and with only 18 PIMS and 21 drawn penalties finished 4th in Lady Byng voting.

In an interview with KNBR 680AM's Ralph Barbieri this summer Wilson said, "The letters will be decided in training camp and how people perform and how the players respond. Leadership, nobody is going to be let off the hook with regards to leadership. Whether it be Joe, Nabber, Danny Boyle, Robby Blake, and another group of guys, the Clowe's, Michalek's, Pavelski's, Setoguchi's, Murray's, all accross the board. Leadership is there." Wilson said. "A guy like Joe (Thornton), he can't avoid it. He shouldn't, he should welcome the opportunity. I like what he has already done. He has come back a month early, he sent a message to his teammates he is in the best shape of his life." A name not mentioned with regards to leadership was Patrick Marleau. Whether that was unintentional or by design should become clear in training camp.

Many in the national/Canadian hockey media pointed to Doug Wilson's "big changes" comment after the postseason loss to Anaheim (direct quote: "There will be some decisions made, and some big ones"). It was a comment that many interpreted to mean that a blockbuster trade of Marleau and Thornton was in the works. More damning was a comment from Wilson that only 2 San Jose Sharks players gave more than a 75% effort in the playoffs (direct quote: "I don't think we had one or two players that gave us more than 75% of their capability, that pissed us off then, and we are still frustrated by it.") More of an issue than who will be captain or who will battle for roster spots is what kind of team identity this team wants to have for itself in 2009-10? As Doug Wilson said at the State of the Sharks Q-and-A with season ticket holders, "is this the final time that we have to get kicked in the ass to realize that we are going to commit to do whatever it takes to get to the next level?".

A more demanding coaching staff, stiff competition for roster spots, new leadership roles and remodled 3rd and 4th lines are all significant changes the Sharks are expected to make moving forward. Whether that will impact the Sharks second line (Clowe-Pavelski-Michalek), which combined for 22 points and 4 game winning goals in the 2008 playoffs, remains to be seen. After registering 70 regular season goals in the 2008-09 regular season, only 2 were scored in the postseason against Anaheim (both on the power play).

Joe Pavelski impressed at last month's Team USA Olympic Camp. ESPN's Scott Burnside opined that Team USA is in "put up or shut up" mode. "As a player, that's what you want," Pavelski told Burnside. That should help his transition into the Sharks similarly fashioned training camp. When asked by Craig Custance of the Sporting News about Marleau, Pavelski said he blames the playoff loss to Anaheim on himself as much as anyone else. "Everybody needs to step up," he said.

Ryane Clowe signed a new 4-year contract on July 6th, locking him up for the foreseeable future. A prototypical power forward for the Todd McLellan offense, Clowe will be looking to put past injury problems behind him and continue his effective work in front of the crease. Signed until 2013-14, next season will also be a make or break one for left wing Milan Michalek. After blossoming in 2007 with 26 goals and 66 points, Michalek has taken small steps back in each of the 2 subsequent seasons. In 2008-09 he began to take more liberties in the corners and in front of the net that his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame allows him. Those liberties need to start equaling goals. San Jose needs a breakout season from the quick skating Czech native, or he could be the next player surfacing in trade deadline or offseason trade rumors.

San Jose Sharks incoming 3rd 4th lines offensive production
San Jose Sharks outgoing 3rd 4th lines offensive production

THIRD/FOURTH LINES: The most significant on-ice changes the Sharks have made to date have taken place on the 3rd/4th lines and on defense. Gone will be veterans Mike Grier, Travis Moen, Jeremy Roenick, Claude Lemieux, and homegrown forwards Marcel Goc, Tomas Plihal and Lukas Kaspar. The return of center Torrey Mitchell from a leg injuries suffered in training camp will add an injection of speed to the 3rd line. Possibly flanked by Jonathan Cheechoo and Jamie McGinn, secondary scoring could get a boost from that setup although many combinations will get a look in training camp. Defensive reponsibility and situational awareness will be key as late period and late game mistakes have plagued this team for several years.

Recently signed Scott Nichol adds sandpaper and a solid faceoff specialist to the lineup. Possibly anchoring the 4th line, Nichol could be joined by defensively sound 6-foot-1, 200-pound right wing Jed Ortmeyer. On Saturday, San Jose Mercury News columnist reported that 9-year veteran Dan Hinote would also be invited to the Sharks training camp. A relentless but undersized forechecker, it is unclear if Hinote was offered a contract of if he will be a pro tryout.

All 4th lines in San Jose will be compared to the Stephane Matteau-Ron Sutter-Ron Stern line under former head coach Darry Sutter. It was a veteran shutdown checking line that could absorb late game minutes and also intelligently answer physical challenges. Jody Shelley and Braud Staubitz will be battling to provide that physical element. In the State of the Sharks Q-and-A, Wilson complimented Staubitz's passion and work ethic. 2007 1st round draft pick Logan Couture and 6-foot-4, 225 pound left wing Frazer McLaren are also forwards to look out for heading into training camp.

San Jose Sharks incoming defensive offensive production
San Jose Sharks outgoing defensive offensive production

DEFENSE: All good things must come to an end, and for the Sharks that means one elite puck moving defenseman had to be sacrificed on the altar of the NHL salary cap. The Sharks traded defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to the Vancouver Canucks for 2007 1st round draft pick Patrick White and Swedish defenseman Daniel Rahimi. The move opened up enough salary cap space to immediately resign Torrey Mitchell and Brad Staubitz, and left room for possible future deals. San Jose was blessed with an elite puck moving defenseman on every pairing in 2008-09 (Boyle, Blake-Vlasic, Ehrhoff). The end result was 4 defenseman registering 30 assists or more (Boyle 41, Blake 35, Ehrhoff 34, Vlasic 30), only the fourth time that has happened in NHL history.

Many in San Jose are suggesting that defenseman Dan Boyle is the front runner for the captaincy in 2009-10. Boyle was easily the most blunt and honest player after the disappointing playoff exit to Anaheim, but a Boyle-led team would not be a subtle change from the internal leadership of a Patrick Marleau or even a Craig Rivet. He would become a more challenging figure at the top, one who demands peak performance. Twice when asked how to shut down the Ducks top line of Getzlaf-Perry-Ryan (once by this blog), Boyle said that the defenseman out there against them need to play better. Rob Blake and Marc-Edouard Vlasic were on the ice for 6 of the line's 9 total goals in the series, Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich were on the ice for 1. During the State of the Sharks Q-and-A session, Boyle matter of factly said that the team needed better goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov in the series. He added that the team also needed to be better, as well as himself. One could envision him leading the Sharks as he leads the power play, pressing forward and taking neccessary chances in order to win.

Rob Blake is another strong contender for the Sharks captaincy. Playing a little under the radar in San Jose compared to his role in Los Angeles, on the ice Blake makes sure his presence is felt by forwards around the Sharks net with an elbow or a hard check on almost every play. He adds a much needed dose of old school hockey to a team that needs it. He has slowed down slightly after 19 seasons in the league, but he wisely uses his long reach and 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame to cut down angles and clog up lanes. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun broke the news this summer that Blake would return with a 1-year deal. "It's almost unfinished business kind of thing... I think one needs to have that kind of approach; 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."

In a radio interview last season, his defensive partner Marc-Edouard Vlasic noted that he used to watch Blake play when he was growing up. Vlasic marveled at the fact that he now had the opportunity to play with him. There is a solid chemistry between Blake and Vlasic, they check off opponents well and can quickly move the puck up ice. After 3 solid regular seasons, Vlasic trailed off in the postseason against Anaheim registering 1 point and a -6 in 6 games. An intelligent defenseman, Vlasic has the tools to succeed in a variety of different situations. The Sharks have a plethora of young players with talent, but that talent needs to exert itself in crunchtime. With the departure of Ehrhoff, it remains to be seen if Blake will move up to the top power play unit with Boyle or if he will stay on the second unit with Vlasic.

One offseason depth chart had Dan Boyle paired with Kent Huskins on the top defensive unit. Acquired at the trade deadline from Anaheim along with Travis Moen, Huskins remained sidelined for the remainder of the season with a foot injury. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound defenseman raised eyebrows when he signed a 2-year, $3.4 million contract in the offseason. General Manager Doug Wilson described Huskins as a tenacious player who brings a physical element to the game in the mould of a Rob Scuderi.

Battling Huskins for a spot on the top defensive pair will be enormous 240-pound Swedish defenseman Douglas Murray. "The Crankshaft" quickly earned a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the game. Murray is not possessed of the quickest skating stride, but takes the proper angles, makes smart intelligent passes, and uses proper positioning in his own zone to maximize his defensive play. He also has a high compete level around his own net that inspires teammates. Derek Joslin, Mike Moore, Nick Petrecki and Jason Demers are young defenseman looking to compete in training camp for the 6th and 7th defensive slots in 2009-10.

San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov Brian Boucher Thomas Greiss expected save percentage expected goals against average Delta
2001 to 2007 Behind the Net shot quality methodology goaltender performance

GOALTENDING: The questions surrounding the Sharks early exit against Anaheim also focused heavily on the goaltending of Evgeni Nabokov. The 9-year NHL veteran came off a Vezina runner-up campaign in 2007-08 to register a 41-12-8 record, 2.44GAA, and a .910SV% in 2008-09. Nabokov helped power the Sharks to the best regular season home record in the NHL, and the first ever Presidents' Trophy in franchise history. Then came the postseason.

Nabokov struggled behind a team that struggled. Tied after 2 periods in Game 1 and Game 2, it was the Anaheim Ducks who found a way to win. The Sharks did not give Nabokov much offensive support, starting the series with a mystifying 0-12 streak on the power play. After a power play goal in Game 1 by Scott Niedermayer with Corey Perry on the doorstep, and Ryan Getzlaf scoring seconds after leaving the penalty box, Nabokov rankled fans in San Jose noting in a postgame interview that he did not see a problem with either goal.

In a summer interview with KNBR 680AM's Tom Tolbert, GM Doug Wilson said that Nabokov should have stepped up and taken responsibility for the goals. He added that there was enough blame to go around up and down the lineup. "I just want people to forget about all of the excuses, forget about all of the other outside influences, does it really upset you that we didn't get to where we wanted to get to," Wilson added. In the same interview, Wilson also characterised a couple of offseason discussions with Nabokov as "heated". Elaborating to David Pollak of the Mercury News, Nabokov described the conversations as a mix of criticism and positive reinforcement.

Later in the Anaheim series, Hockey Night in Canada analyst and former Sharks goaltender Kelly Hrudey broke down individual plays by Evgeni Nabokov and said it looked like he was fighting the puck while making saves. On the other side of the ice, a flawless butterfly by Jonas Hiller was making difficult saves look effortless. There were questions about Nabokov's 5-hole, but his success is built around mental focus, anticipation and confidence. The last quarter of the regular season when an injury tsunami affected 9-10 roster players, the Sharks backed into survival mode and it was solid goaltending by Evgeni Nabokov that gave them opportunities to win games. What changed from the end of the regular season to the playoffs was one question that went unasked and unanswered by the media in San Jose.

The criticism after the loss to Anaheim may have been the most Evgeni Nabokov has experienced as a Shark. He reportedly told Doug Wilson this offseason, "If the organization wants me to leave, I will leave... I would never stay with an organization that didn’t want me." Last season in an interview with friend of the blog Mikhail Bykov (republished on Yahoo), Nabokov said players in San Jose are used to the playoff pressure. "I think every player is used to it now," Nabokov added.

In the final year of a 4-year, $21,5 million contract extention, this is most assuredly a make or break year for Evgeni Nabokov as well. One local hockey podcast speculated that the pressure applied to Nabokov this season could also impact the tenure of GM Doug Wilson. Whether the 2009-10 load is shouldered exclusively by Evgeni Nabokov, who has started an average of nearly 70 games the last 2 regular seasons, or whether athletic German netminder Thomas Greiss can create a competition in goal, the Sharks need improvement.

In an interview with Sharks development goaltending coach Corey Schwab, Greiss was described as NHL ready. "Last year he got to play a lot of games in Worcester and in the last 15 games or so of the season he played very well and carried that team to the playoffs," Schwab said. He also answered questions about the mental aspect of the game with regards to Greiss, "When a guy comes up to the NHL he needs to believe in himself that he deserves to be in the NHL and that he can win games there." Greiss finished with a 30-24-2 record in the AHL (.907SV%, 2.47GAA), setting franchise records for wins and GAA in the process.

Gabriel Desjardins created a strength of shot methodology using 2001-2007 shot chart data from the NHL. Creating rough data for goaltending performance 5-on-5, Desjardins shows the numbers of goals allowed by each goaltender and the expected number of goals allowed by the average NHL goaltender. DeltaGAA shows how much lower or higher a goaltender's GAA compared given the shots he faced. Desjardins' expected SV% and expected GAA methodology is available here, 2008-09 data is available here.

Sharks-Ducks Rookie Tournament Game 1 Report

San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks NHL rookie tournament
San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks NHL rookie tournament
San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks NHL rookie tournament

Logan Couture, C, #39: The kids a hockey player and his hockey sense is elite .. besides Luca Sbisa, Couture was the most polished player on the ice Monday evening doing all the little things well .. was one of the three alternate captains and his leadership qualities were evident in the way he was communicating with his mates and directing them every shift .. will receive heavy minutes in Worcester this year, as he's clearly trusted by Coach Sommer and was the first center over the boards in every situation .. unselfish almost to a fault and fearlessly took abuse for the benefit of the team .. was an ace on the penalty-kill and quarterbacked the powerplay .. a clever playmaker that stripped larger opponents off of the puck on the forecheck prior to making a heads up pass to a teammate in scoring position .. will never be Patrick Marleau, but his skating has progressed over the summer and his stride is a bit longer/stronger .. his shot has also improved – release is quicker, has more velocity, and his shots are well placed.

Benn Ferriero, LW, #78: Second only to his linemate Logan Couture in the top-forward of the night category .. anticipates the game well and was an opportunistic defender that created several turn overs that he manufactured good offensive opportunities from .. an energetic penalty-killer .. quick and clever offensively, Ferriero also stood out for his grit as he drove the net hard and fought the much larger (6-foot-5) Matt McCue .. needs to get his shot off quicker as it was blocked too often.

Joe Loprieno, D, #42: Futher along in his development than expected .. was one of the three alternate captains and was clearly the leader on defense .. incorporated Coach Todd McLellan’s system into his game and initiated plays like the hook breakout .. made smart decisions with the puck even while under heavy pressure - either made a clean first pass, used his partner as an outlet, or chipped it high off of the glass .. has good size/strength and plays a physical brand of hockey .. stay-at-home type that controlled tight gaps and finished his checks hard .. still needs to work on his quickness and footwork out of his pivots.

Samuel Groulx, D, #57: Clearly a very smart defenseman and he provided more of an offensive punch than was expected .. was solid working the point on the powerplay and was active pushing the puck and pinching deep into the offensive zone .. his bread and butter is shutting down the opposition and he was very solid in all defensive aspects .. skating is still funny as his stride is a bit loose and while he readily takes the body he lacks the strength to finish his man.

Daniel Erlich, RW, #70: Was the most impressive free-agent player of the night, as this undersized pepper pot was fearless and threw his diminutive frame around with reckless abandonment .. it was impressive to see that the moment wasn’t too big for him and he made plays with confidence .. might have a future in this game as the type of player that gets under opponents skin and provides periodical offense .. scored a crucial goal in the shoot-out to keep the Sharks arrive and instantly became a fan favorite.

Kevin Henderson, LW, #71: It’s quickly evident that Henderson has pro potential, but he lacks the hand skill to be a dynamic offensive threat in the NHL .. looks like a good third-liner in the making with great size and athletic skating ability .. provided strong board work and a physical presence.

Philip Varone, C, #74: Impressed with his smart play at both ends of the rink and his hand-eye co-oridnation .. has a feisty side to him which is great but he needs to channel his emotions better as he did lose his temper and take a dumb penalty after being ran by Scott Valentine in the third period.

Marek Viedenskey, RW, #58: Tall, gangly forward that makes an intelligent three-zone player .. detailed defensively and did the little things that most kids his age don’t, such as providing early outlets to his defenders on the breakout .. has some natural agility but he still suffers from co-oridnation issues and he lacks separation gear.

Marc Cantin, D, #56: Out of the three free-agents playing on defense Monday, Cantin impressed the most with his tough, smart, and proactive defensive play .. made a good penalty-killer and his good stick positioning prevented a goal against late in the third.

Michael D’Orazio, D, #51: Has some offensive skills and agility with the puck while quarterbacking the point, but he also made some bad decisions while under pressure in his own zone and coughed over the puck.

Dean Strong, C, #73: Looked small playing for Vermont last year and looked even smaller here .. still, he will be a solid asset in Worcester this season because of his intelligent defensive play and disciplined penalty-killing .. scored the game winner in the shoot-out.

Brodie Melnychuk, D, #80: Has some size but he needs to get lower in his skating stride and bend his knees more .. lacks quickness and agility .. also needs to soften up his hands and improve on his puck protection .. was error prone with the puck.

Thomas Heemskerk, G, #33: Played a strong game in goal and came up big late in the third when the Ducks had multiple powerplays including a two-man advantage, but Heemskerk held the fort .. displayed good instincts for the position and moves well in his crease .. was a bit scrambly at times overexerting himself and tended to go down a bit early, but the Ducks shooters never successfully exposed this .. thrived in pressure cooker situations and was dominant in the shoot-out only giving up one goal despite going several rounds deep.

Luke Judson, RW, #67: His work-ethic and defensive play impressed .. every time he was on the ice he gave that second effort and was a valued penalty-killer .. fought the larger Scott Valentine and did well.

John McCarthy, LW, #43: One of the three alternate captains Monday night, McCarthy is a smart hockey player with good character .. nothing special in terms of skills and looked behind the other graduated NCAA seniors Benn Ferriero and Joe Loprieno .. needs to show more in camp.

Rigby Burgart, RW, #75: Was invisible and only showed up when it was obvious that he needs to work on his skating and has no hand skill .. also did a poor job in the defensive zone .. needs to stir it up more to make an impact.

C.J. Stretch, RW, #62: Stretch was a disappointment and was invisible despite being on the teams top line .. while his linemates Ferriero and Couture stole the show, Stretch blended into the periphery.

The lines were the following.
Benn Ferriero - Logan Couture – C.J. Stretch
Kevin Henderson – Philip Varone – Daniel Erlich
John McCarthy – Dean Strong – Marek Viedenskey
Rigby Burgart – Corey Quirk – Luke Judson
Joe Loprieno – Samuel Groulx
Brodie Melnychuk – Marc Cantin
Michael D’Orazio
Thomas Heemskerk

Max Giese and Jon Swenson contributed to this report. A photo gallery from the tournament is available here. According to several readers, defenseman Julien Demers was injured early in the first period.

[Update] Sharks Rookies Win in Shootout, 2-1 -

San Jose and Anaheim took to the ice for the first game of their three-day rookie tournament Monday night and the Sharks prevailed with a 2-1 shootout victory. The story ended up being the shootout itself as it not only decided the contest, but it went eight rounds before the Sharks closed it out. The winning shot was delivered by Dean Strong (a free agent signee) who was the hero for the night as he also set up the Sharks opening tally.

[Update2] Ducks rookies fall to San Jose, 2-1 (SO) - OC Register Ducks Blog.

[Update3] Ducks Rookies Fall to Sharks in Series Opener -

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Max Giese: Sharks Rookie Camp Try-outs

C.J. Stretch, F #62, Kamloops (WHL)
The consummate professional hockey player, Stretch will either be an excellent overage player in the WHL this season or a solid fit in the Sharks minor league system. He's a poised and polished stick-handler with good vision. More of a playmaker than a finisher, Stretch is a tireless worker with some grit.

Carter Bancks, F #76, Lethbridge (WHL)
A cerebral two-way centerman, Bancks has good hockey smarts, a decent shot, and will finish his checks. However, he's a hair undersized and he lacks quickness in his skating. Must improve his sluggish first step.

Rigby Burgart, F #75, Calgary (WHL) He's as tough and as hard-working of a kid as you will find. He's a bruising, physical menace that can drop the gloves with the heavy weights. Built like a fire hydrant, Burgart skates rather well but has stone hands and no finishing ability around the net.

Dean Strong, F #73, Vermont (NCAA) This former Vermont captain will remind Sharks fans of Ryan Vesce, who Strong will be playing with this year in Worcester. Strong has great hockey-sense and is a two-way player who is very mature defensively. Great back-checker that acts as a third defenseman in his own end. He also has some playmaking ability offensively and despite his diminutive size, he is courageous.

Corey Quirk, F #49, Massachusetts (NCAA)
An undersized but skilled and crafty offensive forward, Quirk is a quick and creative player that can score and pass equally well. His slight frame could hinder his ability to play in traffic at the next level.

Luke Judson, F #67, Belleville (OHL) An honest worker that plays with energy and anticipates the game well, Judson has average skills and adequate skating ability. He tends to get out muscled on the puck and while he makes a good teammate, he's not an exciting offensive player.

Daniel Erlich, F #70, London (OHL) A very small but super skilled forward that can score. Despite his pint-sized frame, Erlich is a feisty combatant that gets under the opponents skin. Besides his size, the biggest knock on Erlich is his lack of maturity and he's been labeled as an arrogant kid with off ice issues.

Loui Liotti, D #79, Northeastern (NCAA) Liotti is a very mature and polished defensive defenseman that is ready to contribute for Worcester this year. He won't wow you but his defensive awareness is terrific and he's a steady-eddy type of player.

Marc Cantin, D #56, Belleville (OHL)
A stay at home defender who is capable of making a good first pass, Cantin has yet to see his offensive skills develop but he is a good match up partner for an offensive defenseman. He won't hurt the team but he is not high end in any category and he's very thin for a player that is 6'1".

Brodie Melnychuk, D #80, Brandon (WHL)
A tall, stay-at-home defenseman, Melnychuk uses his size well and tries to play a physical punishing game. In order to play at the next level he needs to work on his mobility and skating. Can be utilized on the penalty-kill and in defensive situations but lacks an offensive punch.

Michael D'Orazio, D #51, Owen Sound (OHL) An offensive defenseman that has good physical tools, D'Orazio is an encompassing skater that seems to lack the hockey sense and competitiveness to pull his enticing athletic package together. Tends to panic and make poor-decisions under pressure. Off the ice his character has been questioned as he has a entitlement sense about him.

Thomas Heemskerk, G #33, Everett (WHL)
Bit of a throwback in style, Heemskerk is a stand-up goaltender with good lateral movement and a great glove hand. He tends to overexert his movements at times and must improve on his rebound control. Likely to get a pro-contract, but not from the Sharks because of their strong goaltending depth.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

GJ Berg: Circus in the Desert (9/2 update)

Well, the hearing that we've been waiting for has finally happened, and.... we're still waiting for decisions.

It was hoped that a number of things would be decided today by bankruptcy Judge Redfield T Baum, including whether Balsilile/PSE was still a valid bidder after being rejected by the NHL Board of Governors by a 26-0 vote.

And while there was a lot of discussion, nothing has been decided.

Although it appeared that Judge Baum may be on the side of the NHL regarding Balsillie as a bidder, as there is no precedence for a judge forcing a sports league to accept someone they don't want as an owner, the judge seems reluctant to dissuade any bidder at present.

There was also discussion of the near impossibility of being able to relocate a franchise in part due to the impact to 29 other teams. Balsillie even conceded that he could play part of a season in Phoenix before relocating to Hamilton.

The judge also asked Balsillie to reconsider his "deadline" of 9/14 as it could take the judge nearly two weeks to finish all the paperwork after a 9/10 auction and call it "done."

The judge requested "full" depositions on certain parties (of which he only received a subset of the pages) by Friday evening. He may not rule on some issues until 9/10 or 9/11 (after the auction).

Part of Baum's modus operandi is to not make precedence setting decisions that could be overturned on appeal. As such, a lot of non-decisions have been made.

However, the season is fast approaching, and Baum would like to resolve this before the start of the season.

But for now, we wait.