Sunday, November 29, 2009

Max Giese: First Quarter Prospect Report

William Wrenn, RD, Denver University (NCAA), 6'1"/200lbs - Has been rock solid as a freshman defenseman and is getting better with every game. A very good four-way skater that is more skilled with the puck than he was given credit for at the draft, although he doesn't project to run the powerplay in the pro's because he lacks the creativity to do so. Seeing some time on the PP with Denver and has a hard shot. Plays a physical game and is showing signs of developing a mean streak. His ability to defend and erase his man remains his chief asset. Denver lost their stud defenseman Patrick Wiercioch (Ottawa draft pick) to injury early in the year and Wrenn elevated his play with the increased ice-time.

Taylor Doherty, RD, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL), 6'8"/230lbs - Long term project with vast potential; has amazing size and great skating ability for such a tall player. Receiving a ton of ice-time and is playing in all-situations (PP and PK). Matched against the opposition's top offensive threats every night. Defense first type of defenseman but still is a serviceable offensive contributor. Decision making is still inconsistent but he does his impress with his ability to shield and skate the puck away from the forecheck before making the first pass. Has a great reach but he's still suffering from some balance issues. Progressing well.

Marek Viedensky, C, Prince George Cougars (WHL), 6'3"/193lbs. - Leads the Cougars in scoring but what's most encouraging is Viedensky has been playing a more up-and-down North American style of play this year. His motor is running high and he's finishing his checks, although he still needs to get stronger on his feet as his hits are rather weak for a guy his size. Feet are getting quicker but his skating still needs work, especially his balance and ability to execute turns at speed. Asserting his size in front of the opponents net and is staying there lately to score some garbage goals. Will represent Slovakia at this years' World Junior Championships and that will be a good measuring stick for this promising prospect.

Thomas Heemskerk, G, Everett Silvertips (WHL), 6'0"/182lbs. - Consistently in the top-five in the WHL in most goaltending categories and gives Everett a chance to win every night despite limited goal support. Splitting the starts with 2010 eligible goaltender Kent Simpson. Sharks covet goaltenders that are strong skaters and Heemskerk is no exception. He's quick side-to-side and up-and-down. Shows good instincts and character for the position. Never gives up on a puck and has the athleticism to make sprawling saves. Has been impressive and continues to get better and better.

Tony Lucia, C/W, Minnesota Gophers (NCAA), 6'0"/195lbs - A senior captain that has really turned into a player this year. Similar to where John McCarthy was a year ago, Lucia entered this season as a fringe prospect but has arrived as a senior with better physical tools and is now worth an NHL contract. A smart, competitive all-around player who contributes over the whole sheet of the ice. His offensive vision and finishing have advanced smart, but it's his savvy and competitive two-way game that will make him a pro.

Patrick White, C/W, Minnesota Gophers (NCAA), 6'1"/195lbs - Has all the physical tools you look for: size, skating, skill, and he's a smart player. But, White still needs to compete harder in one-on-one situations. He's an effective player when he's using his strength and strong stick to lean on opponents but he doesn't do so consistently. Too often gives up on a lose puck. From a mental standpoint the game is beginning to slow down for him and he's been much better defensively. The talent is here: he has a strong stick, supple hands, and an NHL caliber shot. But, is he the next Lukas Kaspar?

Julien Demers, LD, Ottawa 67s (OHL), 6'1"/215lbs. - Focusing on being a defensive defenseman that takes care of his own end first. A big, thick, and strong rearguard that establishes inside d-zone positioning and boxes out opponents away from his net. Does a solid job gapping his man off to the wall and activating his stick while defending the rush. Will join the offensive attack when it's appropriate but he doesn't have the pure smarts/skills to project as an offensive contributor in the pro's. He's slow footed and his skating is the main area of concern.

Phil Varone, C, London Knights (OHL), 5'10"/187lbs - Has been a disappointment early in the season. Receiving secondary minutes but is still on the PP and PK. Has been in an offensive slump. A creative playmaker in the offensive zone, but he needs to shoot more as he's been passing up scoring opportunities looking for the pretty play. Quick, smallish and goes into traffic but isn't the agitator he was advertised to be. A quality penalty-killer although he still needs to polish his defensive awareness. Needs to get his game going and begin to play his role instead of trying to awe the fans with the pretty stuff.

Darryl Hunt: Stalock, WorSharks Silence Sound Tigers, 4-1

The Worcester Sharks used multiple point nights from four players and another solid outing by rookie goaltender Alex Stalock to defeat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 4-1 at the DCU Center Saturday night in front of 3,175 fans.

The WorSharks would get on the scoreboard first after a great play by defenseman Danny Groulx. With Worcester swarming the Bridgeport zone, Groulx took a Nick Petrecki feed and skated to the top of the face-off circle to the right of Sound Tigers netminder Nathan Lawson. Groulx saw a small opening in a scrum of players in front of the net leading right to Andrew Desjardins, who was standing all alone at the far post behind Lawson. A great fake shot/slap pass down the open lane and an easy deflection gave Worcester a 1-0 lead at 6:06.

With about three minutes to go in the first, and in the span of about 5 seconds, Worcester had a chance to extend its lead and Bridgeport had a breakaway chance to knot the score. After playing give and go with Dan DaSilva, John McCarthy skated into the Bridgeport zone and hit the post to the left of Lawson. The Sound Tigers defense would corral the rebound and send Sean Bentivoglio in on Stalock behind the WorSharks defense. Stalock would make the pad save to keep the score 1-0 after one period.

Worcester would come out in the second period firing on all cylinders, and were just inches away from taking a two goal lead very early in the period when a bouncing puck found its way past Bentivoglio and on to the goal line. A Bridgeport defender swept the puck away as referee Chris Brown emphatically waived "no goal". The video replay shown on Sharksvision, while not the best angle, seemed to confirm the call.

The WorSharks would grab that second goal just a couple of minutes later when Ryan Vesce feed Logan Couture streaking across the slot. Couture beat Bentivoglio to the far post for the 2-0 lead at 6:00 of period number two. Steven Zalewski had the second helper on the play.

The rest of the second period was the Alex Stalock Show, as the rookie netminder made several high quality saves to keep Worcester ahead by two. With just over twelve minutes to go in the period Bridgeport left winger Trevor Smith found himself all alone in front of Stalock. Smith hesitated just enough for Stalock to square himself in front of Smith, and the winger found himself with very little net to shoot at.

Bridgeport also had another golden chance with just under five minutes to go in the stanza when Justin DiBenedetto broke in alone down the right side. Stalock came all the way out to the hash marks between the circles to challenge the onrushing winger, giving the forward absolutely no opening to shoot at. DiBenedetto shot anyway, and Mike Moore was there to tuck the rebound back under Stalock to kill the threat.

The Sound Tigers would manage to beat Stalock while shorthanded when Tyler Haskins broke in on Stalock with defenseman Joe Callahan draped over his back. Stalock went for the poke check, but Haskins got enough of the puck to flip it over Stalock and just under the crossbar at 11:19 of the third. Had Haskins not scored he may have been given another chance on a penalty shot as Referee Brown had his arm up to call a penalty on Callahan before the shot was taken.

The WorSharks would get their two goal lead back just 39 seconds later when Groulx one-timed a Vesce feed and almost blasted the puck through the net over the left shoulder of Bentivoglio. Zalewski had the other assist on the goal.

Vesce would add an empty net goal at 18:56 to seal the deal, and if there was any questions about why he wears the captain's "C", those questions were answered on that play. Vesce only put the puck in the net after trying to fight off Bridgeport defenseman Dustin Kohn to allow the original three zone attempt by Zalewski to make it to the net. He was unable to as Kohn swept the rolling puck away, so Vesce wheeled the net with the loose puck and buried it for the 4-1.

The Sound Tigers arrived at the DCU Center about about an hour later than usual because of post-Thanksgiving Mass Turnpike traffic. But even though the Bridgeport bus was late, they still beat Jason Demers and Benn Ferriero to the game. Both played despite arriving after warm-ups were over because of equipment issues at Logan Airport in Boston.

With the arrival of Ferriero and Demers, the WorSharks assigned forward Matt Jones to Kalamazoo(ECHL). Worcester's healthy scratches were Will Colbert, Joe Loprieno, and Dean Strong. Unfortunately, Ferriero left the game with an upper body injury after being hit into the boards behind the Bridgeport net in the first period. He did come back to play one shift without missing one, and was on the bench to start the second period. He was not on the bench to start the third period.

In the past two games the WorSharks seemed to have found a cure for their abysmal special teams play--don't put them on the ice. In Friday night's 2-1 win at Providence, Worcester had only one power play and only had to kill a single penalty. During Saturday night's contest those numbers doubled, with the WorSharks having two power plays and being shorthanded twice.

Alex Stalock debuted his "W6" mask during the game. The mask is in tribute to the six firefighters that died fighting the Worcester Cold Storage warehouse fire on December 3, 1999. More information about the mask, or about the Heroes Night – A Tribute to the Worcester 6 during the December 6th home game against Portland can be found by clicking the links provided.

The three stars of the game were
1. Alex Stalock (29 saves)
2. Danny Groulx (g,a)
3. Steven Zalewski (3a)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Ryan Vesce.

Even Strength Lines


Penalty Kill Lines


Power Play Lines


Bridgeport 0 0 1 - 1
Worcester 1 1 2 - 4

1st Period-1, Worcester, Desjardins 6 (Petrecki, Groulx), 6:06. Penalties-Mashinter Wor (tripping), 2:03.

2nd Period-2, Worcester, Couture 7 (Zalewski, Vesce), 6:00. Penalties-Quirk Wor (hooking), 6:13; Haley Bri (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:11.

3rd Period-3, Bridgeport, Haskins 2 (Katic), 10:40 (sh). 4, Worcester, Groulx 3 (Vesce, Zalewski), 11:19 (pp). 5, Worcester, Vesce 4 (Couture, Zalewski), 18:56 (en). Penalties-Westgarth Bri (roughing, roughing), 9:21; Petrecki Wor (roughing), 9:21.

Shots on Goal
Bridgeport 12-11-7-30
Worcester 17-9-9-35.

Power Play Opportunities
Bridgeport 0 of 2
Worcester 1 of 2.

Bridgeport, Lawson 5-6-0 (34 shots-31 saves)
Worcester, Stalock 11-6-1 (30 shots-29 saves).

A-3,175. Referee-Chris Brown (86). Linesmen-Todd Whittemore (70), Brian MacDonald (72).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Win In Providence, 2-1

The Worcester Sharks took a post-Thanksgiving drive down Route 146 and extended their current winning streak to four games after a 2-1 victory over the Providence Bruins Friday night at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

Providence notched the first marker of the game on a controversial goal. Worcester goaltender Alex Stalock made the initial save on Andy Wozniewski's blast from the point, but the rebound popped in the air. Zach Hamill and Stalock both went for the puck, with the puck hitting Hamill and going into the net. Stalock immediately protested to referee Chris Cozzan that Hamill had knocked the puck in with his hand, but Cozzan would have none of it and it was 1-0 Baby-Bs at 7:16 of the first.

The WorSharks would tie the game 1-1 at 15:39 of the opening stanza when Dan DaSilva pounced on the rebound of John MaCarthy's shot from the left boards and blasted it by Providence netminder Dany Sabourin. Worcester would outshoot the Baby-Bs 17-6 in the opening period.

The second period belonged to the goaltenders as Stalock and Sabourin made timely saves to keep the game knotted at 1-1. The WorSharks would have the edge in shots 14-9 in the middle stanza.

With both goaltenders playing near their very best it looked like only a great individual play or a lucky bounce to beat one of them. It turned out to be a lucky bounce, and it went in the WorSharks favor. Kevin Henderson, streaking into the Providence zone down the left side, tried to throw a centering pass to Joe Callahan. The puck never reached Callahan, and instead deflected off Providence defenseman Brad Marchand and into the net for the 2-1 lead at 8:16. Dean Strong would have the only assist on the play.

From that point on it was all about Stalock and the Worcester defense, and with Providence unable to pull Sabourin for an extra attacker until very late in the third period because of a tenacious forecheck the WorSharks were able to ride out the storm. Providence had the edge in shots during the third period at 9-8, with the WorSharks having a 39-25 overall advantage.

With Dean Strong's return to the line-up after missing a dozen games, that leaves just T.J. Trevelyan (jaw) on the injured list. Matt Jones and Joe Loprieno were the healthy scratches for Worcester, and Trent Campbell has been released from his PTO. Tyson Sexsmith was the backup goaltender.

The three stars of the game were
1. Dan DaSilva (g)
2. Dany Sabourin (37 saves)
3. Alex Stalock (24 saves)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Alex Stalock.

Worcester 1 0 1 - 2
Providence 1 0 0 - 1

1st Period-1, Providence, Hamill 2 (Wozniewski, Arniel), 7:16. 2, Worcester, DaSilva 4 (McCarthy), 15:39. Penalties-Wilson Wor (tripping), 1:17; Lefebvre Pro (roughing), 17:44.

2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Couture Wor (roughing), 12:44; Marchand Pro (roughing), 12:44.

3rd Period-3, Worcester, Henderson 1 (Strong), 8:16. Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal
Worcester 17-14-8-39
Providence 6-9-10-25.

Power Play Opportunities
Worcester 0 of 1
Providence 0 of 1.

Worcester, Stalock 10-6-1 (25 shots-24 saves)
Providence, Sabourin 10-7-0 (39 shots-37 saves).

A-5,871. Referee-Chris Cozzan (68). Linesmen-Bob Paquette (18), Mark Messier (12).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks At The Quarter Pole

The Worcester Sharks hit the Thanksgiving holiday with just a little over a quarter of their season over. Worcester’s 11-10-0-1 record and 23 points puts them in a tie for fifth in the Atlantic Division, but is actually good enough for sixth in the Eastern Conference. Based on the playoff format in the AHL this season, should the fifth place team in the Atlantic division have more points than the fourth place team in the East division, that team would cross over and make the divisional playoffs in that division.

So as we’ve done in past seasons at the quarter pole, we’ll take a look at the WorSharks by position.

Offensively Worcester has had some issues putting the puck in the net, and their 2.64 goals per game puts them just into the bottom half of the AHL in 15th place tied with Albany. Recalls have been the primary reason, with front line players like Ryan Vesce and Logan Couture logging significant games in San Jose. Add to that an injury to T.J. Trevelyan that will keep him out for another month, and Worcester’s offensive woes don’t look to get better any time soon.

Defensively the WorSharks forwards are good in their own zone and on the forecheck, but because many of the defensive minded players are being forced into offensive roles both aspects of their game are starting to suffer.

Grade: C

Again, recalls have been an issue for Worcester on their blueline. With Derek Joslin spending time in San Jose due to Rob Blake’s injury, and second year pro Mike Moore battling a hamstring injury the WorSharks have had to rely on several rookies getting prime time minutes. For the most part, those rookies have played very well, and with Michael Wilson suddenly blooming into a solid two-way defenseman Worcester has been able to pretty much weather the storm.

The big issue has actually been the veterans on defense, who simply haven’t performed as expected. The players that were expected to anchor this defense have had lots of issues in their own end, often times making more "rookie" type errors than the true rookies on the squad. This team’s chances of winning rest on the performance on the blue line; the defense has a good game and the WorSharks usually win, when they play poorly it’s an uphill battle to get the two points.

Grade: C

Don’t let the near .500 record and 3.18 goals against per game fool you, the goaltending for the Worcester Sharks has been extremely solid. Despite both being pro rookies Alex Stalock and Tyson Sexsmith have both played very well for the most part. Both have had shaky moments, but that is to be expected from two young netminders. Stalock, who is a little further along in his development than Sexsmith, already has a shutout on his resume and is getting the bulk of the work. But Sexsmith, after a nervous first couple of games, is also starting to show why he is as highly regarded as Stalock. The best part of the WorSharks goaltending situation? It’s already pretty good and it’s going to get better.

Grade: B

The one word that best describes the Worcester Sharks power play and penalty kill is "terrible". Worcester has the worst home power play in the AHL at just 7% (4 for 57), and the 20th ranked over all at 13.7% (14 for 102). The head scratching stat is the WorSharks have the third best road power play in the league at 22.2% (10 for 45), so Worcester does seem to have some sort of idea how to score a power play goal. Why they can’t do it at home is anyone’s guess.

The penalty kill isn’t much better, with Worcester being in the bottom third of the league in both home and away kills. At home Worcester is ranked 21st at just 82.4%, and is a woeful 77.1% on the road. Their 22nd overall ranking at under 80% is surprising considering many of the WorSharks primary penalty killing forwards haven’t been recalled to San Jose. To many, it’s the penalty kill that’s the more worrisome of the two areas.

Grade: D

There’s still a lot of hockey to go, and as the injury and salary cap situations in San Jose straighten out it will only bring more consistency to the Worcester roster. With the players that were penciled into the Worcester line-up the WorSharks could be the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference of the AHL. Time will tell if that can happen with whoever ends up here come Clear Day in March.

Star of the quarter: Logan Couture’s 15 points (6,9a) in 10 games would be good enough had he played more games, but we’ll go with defenseman Michael Wilson. Wilson went from being one of--if not the--worst player to ever wear a pro hockey uniform in Worcester to become a solid two-way defenseman that sees time in all three aspects of the game.

Goat of the quarter: Despite all the issues Worcester has had, no player really deserves this tag. There are a few players that could certainly pick up their play, but with so many players playing outside their normal roles it wouldn’t be fair to tag anyone as a "goat".

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Gobble Up Falcons, 3-2

The Worcester Sharks extended their winning streak to three games after a 3-2 victory over the Springfield Falcons Wednesday night at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts in front of an announced crowd of 2,536.

The trip from Worcester to Springfield is usually just an hour ride down the Mass Turnpike, but on the day before Thanksgiving that trip can take as long as three hours. The WorSharks bus took an alternate route to the game, but for the first period it looked like the team has still taken the pike as Worcester came out very flat. The Falcons outshot Worcester 12-8 in the opening 20 minutes despite being shorthanded four times to the WorSharks once.

And it was Springfield's single power play opportunity of the period that lead to the first goal of the game. Charles Linglet fed the puck to Colton Fretter, who found Theo Peckham all alone in the slot. Peckham blasted the puck on net, but his laser hit the post to the left of WorSharks goaltender Alex Stalock. Fretter was there to put the rebound into the net at 10:02 for the 1-0 lead.

The WorSharks would even the score at 9:36 of the second period, just two seconds after the Falcons Cody Wild returned to the ice after serving a minor for hooking. Dan DaSilva found Trent Campbell in the right face-off circle, and Campbell's one timer just broke through Falcons netminder Aaron Sorochan to knot the game 1-1. Mike Moore had the second helper.

Ryan Vesce would make it 2-1 while Worcester was skating with a two man advantage. Vesce would take a shot from the top of the faceoff circles that found its way into the net at 14:40. Moore and Danny Groulx had the assists on the play.

The Falcons looked like they had knotted the game 2-2 at 16:17 of the second period when the puck, Fretter, and Stalock all ended up in the net. But referee Mark Lemelin, who at times seemed to be watching a different game than the fans, ruled it was no goal because Fretter pushed Stalock and the puck into the net after being tripped by WorSharks defenseman Michael Wilson. Fretter would have his revenge, however, when he scored on the ensuing five on three power play to officially make it a tie game at 17:58.

Logan Couture would have the eventual game winner on, what else, a power play goal at 3:40 of the third period. Couture took a Vesce feed and broke into the Springfield zone, firing a forty foot laser that beat Sorochan and snuck under the crossbar to send the WorSharks home winners.

Prior to the game Joe Callahan, Benn Ferriero, and Steven Zalewski were all recalled to San Jose, and Louis Liotti was loaned to Kalamazoo (ECHL). Mathieu Curadeau was released from his PTO, and has subsequently been signed to another PTO by the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens). Dean Strong (groin) and T.J. Trevelyan (jaw) were the only scratches for the game. Tyson Sexsmith was the backup netminder.

The three stars of the game were
1. Ryan Vesce (g,a)
2. Colton Fretter (2g)
3. Mike Moore (2a)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Mike Moore.

Worcester 0 2 1 - 3
Springfield 1 1 0 - 2

1st Period-1, Springfield, Fretter 7 (Linglet, Peckham), 10:02 (pp). Penalties-Plante Spr (interference), 6:19; Paukovich Spr (goaltender interference), 7:32; Campbell Wor (holding), 9:14; McDonald Spr (hooking), 11:37; MacMurchy Spr (tripping), 16:56.

2nd Period-2, Worcester, Campbell 1 (Moore, DaSilva), 9:36. 3, Worcester, Vesce 3 (Groulx, Moore), 14:40 (pp). 4, Springfield, Fretter 8 (Wild), 17:58 (pp). Penalties-Moore Wor (holding), 5:28; Wild Spr (hooking), 7:34; Trukhno Spr (hooking), 10:47; McCauley Wor (roughing), 13:33; Plante Spr (roughing), 13:33; McDonald Spr (hooking), 14:17; Petrecki Wor (roughing, roughing, misconduct), 15:58; Peckham Spr (roughing), 15:58; Wilson Wor (tripping), 16:17; McCarthy Wor (roughing), 18:59; Thomas Spr (roughing), 18:59.

3rd Period-5, Worcester, Couture 6 (Vesce), 3:40 (pp). Penalties-Linglet Spr (high-sticking), 3:20; Loprieno Wor (fighting), 6:38; Brennan Spr (fighting), 6:38; Groulx Wor (hooking), 7:23; Mashinter Wor (hooking), 10:11; MacMurchy Spr (holding the stick), 10:11.

Shots on Goal
Worcester 8-15-9-32
Springfield 12-8-7-27.

Power Play Opportunities
Worcester 2 of 8
Springfield 2 of 5.

Worcester, Stalock 9-6-1 (27 shots-25 saves)
Springfield, Sorochan 1-2-0 (32 shots-29 saves).

A-2,536. Referees-Mark Lemelin (84). Linesmen-Robert St. Lawrence (10), Rich Patry (52).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Andre Ward earns WBA Super Middleweight title on a historic night in Oakland, 11th round TD win over Super Six tournament favorite Mikkel Kessler

World Boxing Classic Super Six Tournament Andre Ward defeats Mikkel Kessler for WBA Super Middleweight title packed ring
World Boxing Classic Super Six Tournament press conference bloodied stitched Mikkel Kessler Andre Ward answer questions from media on Super Six
Mikkel Kessler Andre Ward World Boxing Classic Super Six Tournament punchstats compubox

Full Andre Ward vs Mikkel Kessler fight recap coming soon.

Sharks close out Anaheim Ducks with 3-2 win on the road

Seven months after an abrupt playoff exit to the Anaheim Ducks, the San Jose Sharks closed out a tight 3-2 win on the road at the Honda Center for their league leading 16th win of the season. The Murderer's Row line of Heatley-Thornton-Marleau dominated the Ducks top line of Ryan-Getzlaf-Perry, outscoring them 5 points (2G,3A) to 2 (2A), and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov got the better of Jonas Hiller stopping 28 of 30 shots against.

According to SJ Mercury News beat writer David Pollak, Evgeni Nabokov bristled when he was asked by an Anaheim reporter after the game if the Sharks should feel a small measure of satisfaction earning 2 points against the team that knocked them out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "Honestly, I don’t like those questions. To me, we went through this – we lost to Dallas, we lost to Calgary, we lost to Anaheim – you think we as players, every time we step on the ice we think about what happened two years ago or last year or three years ago? Honestly? No. You don’t think about that, you just want to win that particular game no matter what."

Like last season, the Sharks are going to be subject to questions about the playoffs from the start of October on. Many players will offer variations on the "one game at a time" theme, but regular season games against Dallas, Calgary and Anaheim should mean more. All 3 could be potential playoff opponents this season, and if you can get them thinking about games played in November and December during playoff games in April or May, your team is better off for it. The Sharks are a team that has occasionally played down to the level of its opponent instead of fighting for each and every advantage on or off the ice. That fight began in training camp, and it should continue in each of 82 regular season games.

Pollak pressed Nabokov furthur with a different question on the same topic. Nabokov replied, "Do you think we’re really satisfied if we win these two games for last year? I don’t think so. As players, you just play game after game, you don’t think like that. Which is why I don’t like those questions." Of course the Sharks are not going to be satisfied with 2 points in the regular season, but the team has dug itself into its current position. All of the pre-season media fixation on Dany Heatley aside, the Sharks organization has 5 straight underwhelming postseason exits to answer for. Players have to stand and answer for only 6-7 playing up to their potential in previous playoff years, only 2 against Anaheim last April according to Doug Wilson.

From a top down perspective, maybe there could be a benefit to burning a game and sending a loud and a direct message to Anaheim and the rest of the NHL. Edmonton came into San Jose last year and focused almost exclusively on dumping the puck in, hammering the defenseman along the end boards, and creating several borderline rugby scrums in front of the net. Former Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke wanted to create an element of fear on the ice for his opponents, and he delivered. The Detroit Red Wings play with an aura of elitism against San Jose, confident in their ability to mount a comeback against the Sharks anytime, anyplace.

Again, for possibly the third straight season, the Sharks ice their most talented lineup in the history of the franchise. Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle are playing an intimidating brand of hockey, from ice level you can notice the intensity change from opponents when the puck is on their stick. ESPN analyst E.J. Hradek quoted Sharks GM Doug Wilson on NHL on the Fly Saturday night, he mentioned that Joe Thornton is in the best shape of his life. Thornton is on pace for 20 points in 14 games for "Movember", and was recently named NHL's first star of the week. Talent and a mix of veteran grit offer Sharks fans another tantalizing look forward to the postseason.

But the identity question remains. When GM Doug Wilson took over the team in May 2003, he stated that he wanted to build a young, up-tempo, offensive minded and entertaining team. He succeeded with a 256-120-12-47 record in 435 regular season games played over 5 and a quarter seasons, but the playoffs remained a challenge unmet. Last year adding Stanley Cup experience was unsuccessful against Anaheim, this year Wilson has said he wants a hard working team that can find ways to win.

Is that enough? If the regular season is a prelude to the playoffs, are the Sharks going to develop an identity that physical challenges will be answered immediately and in kind (especially when made against a former or current team captain)? When the action intensifies in the playoffs, are the Sharks going to be able tighten up and close out 1 and 2 goal games? Are the Sharks capable of arguing calls and plays with refs, getting into opponents heads, and using the media to create storylines instead of being hammered over the head with the same playoff questions?

The answers will be learned "one game at a time", and that began Saturday night at the Pond. Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller and Evgeni Nabokov were solid early. Hiller showed the same quality bufferfly on display last year in the playoffs, but the defense in front of him sorely misses Chris Pronger's 25+ minutes a game. Pronger leaving the Ducks has a bigger impact on the Western Conference than any new addition made this season, Dany Heatley and Craig Anderson included. Ducks defenseman James Wisniewski opened the scoring on an early second period power play. He uncorked an big slapshot from the point that Evgeni Nabokov let in uncontested on an attempted kick save.

Ryane Clowe, scoreless in his first 13 games of the season, scored his second in back-to-back games 8:08 into the period. Ryane Clowe snapped a shot from the left boards with heavy traffic in front. 2 Sharks and 3 Ducks watched as Clowe's shot beat Hiller and tied the game at 1-1. Less than 3 minutes later, three quick passes set up Joe Thornton for a slapshot at the top of the faceoff circle. Jonas Hiller made the intial stop down low, but an unchecked Dany Heatley beat Scott Niedermayer to the rebound for his league leading 18th goal of the season.

The Ducks battled back to tie the game on a 5-on-3 power play with 22 seconds left in the second. Getzlaf won a clean faceoff against Manny Malhotra, an anomoly as the Sharks center won 7 of 9 draws on the night in his own defensive zone (78%). Anaheim finished 23-54 overall on faceoffs, a meager 43%. Corey "Pears" Perry fired a quick shot on the doorstep, and the puck trickled out to Ryan Whitney. Whitney buried a hard slap shot over a prone Bobby Ryan and the glove hand of Evgeni Nabokov. Whitney's second goal of the season, assisted by Perry and Niedermayer, tied the game at 2-2.

The O.C. Register's Eric Stephens noted that a fundamental mistake lead to Joe Thornton's go-ahead goal in the third period.

Big things and little things that the Ducks have not mastered one-quarter of the way into the season continue to hurt them in the worst possible way. This time it was something as basic as failing to clear the puck out of their zone at the end of a successful penalty kill that haunted them Saturday night in a tight battle between two rivals at opposite ends of the Western Conference.

Joe Thornton's goal was the price for that mistake near the midpoint of the third period and it gave the San Jose Sharks a 3-2 victory over the Ducks in front of 15,066 at Honda Center.

As the 2 minute hooking penalty on Teemu Selanne expired, Heatley took the puck behind the net and fed a driving Joe Thornton. Defenseman Ryan Whitney and James Wisniewski covered the posts and left Jonas Hiller alone to handle Thornton's point blank one-timer. That is not the fundamental mistake Stephens was referring to. Hiller, with explosive speed shutting down the wide 5-hole, deflected the shot into the corner. Bobby Ryan took a look up ice, and instead of clearing it all the way down shot the puck to a wide open Joe Thornton on the blueline. Thornton dished it to Heatley, who turned up ice and forced 4 Ducks to him. Another fundamental error.

Thornton took the soft pass from Heatley, one that was almost disrupted by a Teemu Selanne stick check, and rifled a knuckball shot that beat Hiller cleanly gloveside. "We didn't get the puck all the way down the ice," Anaheim Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle told the O.C. Register. "I think the puck actually deflected off our goaltender's stick and went into the top corner of the net. It looked from the video like it was going wide." Upon furthur review, it looks like the shot that was almost batted off the ice by Thornton actually deflected in off the stick handle of Hiller. "We shot ourselves in the foot by not being able to clear that puck in that situation," Carlyle continued. It is easy to focus on one player and one mistake, but the fundamental errors that lead to the goal were a team effort. The only 2 Anaheim Ducks you can't blame on the play were Jonas Hiller and Teemu Selanne.

On a night with a major boxing title on the line in Northern California, rookie left wing Frazer McLaren dropped the gloves for an early first period fight against Anaheim heavyweight George Parros. According to, Parros has 88 fights over the last 5 NHL seasons. Frazer McLaren has 3 this season, two previously against smaller wingers Derek Dorsett (CBJ) and Daniel Carcillo (PHI), and 21 last season with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL.

McLaren landed a quality right hand that dropped Parros early, but the veteran Ducks enforcer got to his feet and gained a better hold on McLaren's jersey. Parros finished with a barrage of lefts, and McLaren hit the ice after a scramble for position. Parros may have got the better of McLaren in his first heavyweight NHL tussle, but Parros better be wary. Frazer McLaren shows signs of Scott Parker (sans goatee) in him, an opponent Parros struggled mightily against.

[Update] Ducks lose fourth straight at home to the Sharks 3-2, The loss comes down to what winger Ryan Getzlaf calls 'little mistakes that cost us in the end.' - Los Angeles Times.

[Update2] Stick giveaways continue in light of incident - OC Register Ducks Blog.

The Ducks will continue to giveaway sticks to fans at home games for the time being if a player is selected in the “three stars of the game” presentation following a victory, a club spokesman said.

Started by the club this season, the stick giveaways came under scrutiny following Thursday’s 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay after a fight broke out among spectators as Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer tried to hand his stick over the glass to a girl sitting in the front row.

Great decision by the Anaheim Ducks. I have seen a number of young fans smile and proudly show off pucks handed to them by players or referees for an entire night. With a new high school hockey league, college hockey and junior teams soldiering on, the 2010 ECHL Allstar Game, and recent success for Anaheim and Los Angeles, hockey is experiencing a slow but grassroots growth in socal. Handing young fans autographed sticks after games will only help to create more dented walls and garage doors, or as in Sidney Crosby's case, dryers.

[Update3] Mitchell back from Worcester — but not automatic for Chicago game - David Pollak's Working the Corners blog.

[Update4] Would the Ducks actually trade Bobby Ryan? - Greg Wyshynski for Yahoo's Puck Daddy.

[Update5] Off the Post November 22 - Fear the Fin.

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Sink Admirals, 3-2

The Worcester Sharks used solid play and some timely goaltending to defeat the Norfolk Admirals 3-2 in a Sunday afternoon matinee at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 2,444 thankful fans.

The WorSharks would control much of the opening period, sending several high quality shots at Norfolk netminder Dustin Tokarski. Just when it looked like the Admirals would escape the opening period unscathed a good defensive play by Worcester would get the home town team on the board.

Steven Zalewski forced a bad pass by the Norfolk defense while forechecking, and Brandon Mashinter picked up the loose puck. Mashinter tried to pass the puck back over to Zalewski, but it was just tipped out of Zalewski's reach. John McCarthy swooped in and blasted the loose puck by Tokarski at 18:06 for the 1-0 lead.

Norfolk would even the score at 16:11 of the second on a shot that WorSharks goaltender Alex Stalock most certainly would like another chance at stopping. Matt Syroczynski would fire a wrist shot from the top of the face-off circles that Stalock looked to have a bead on, but the puck broke through Stalock and into the net.

Worcester would retake the lead on a nice goal off a face-off win by Cory Quirk. Quirk won the draw cleanly back to Joe Callahan, who fired a quick shot on net. Both Quirk and left winger Matt Jones had skated directly into the slot after the draw win, and Quirk was able to deflected the puck past Tokarski for the 2-1 lead.

Mathieu Curadeau, playing for Worcester on a PTO contract, would make it 3-1 on a pure goalscorer's move at 4:12. Curadeau and Dennis McCauley would break into the Norfolk zone two on one against Admiral's defenseman Vladimir Mihalik. Curadeau held the puck until Mihalik went to the ice to block the cross ice pass to McCauley, and then banked the puck off the sliding defenseman an into the net to light the lamp.

The goal was originally called unassisted, but assists were later added to Danny Groulx for the clearing attempt that Curadeau grabbed at the red line, and to Stalock for the kick save he made just prior to Groulx's clear.

Norfolk would get within one at 3-2 after a bouncing puck ended up on the stick of Blair Jones in the slot to the right of Stalock. The rookie netminder couldn't get over to the post in time as Jones buried the puck into the yawning net at 16:01.

Norfolk would pressure the WorSharks over the last four minutes of the contest, but Stalock and the Worcester defense would stand tall against the onslaught for the 3-2 final.

Worcester's scratches were Louis Liotti (healthy), Mike Moore (hamstring), Dean Strong (groin), and T.J. Trevelyan (jaw). Torrey Mitchell is still transactionally in Worcester, although his name was missing from the line-up sheet handed out prior to the game by the WorSharks. Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up goaltender.

In the span of about one minute in the third period it looked like Worcester might lose two players to lower body injuries. Nick Petrecki blocked a shot while killing John McCarthy's hooking minor, and fell very hard to the ice. He got to his feet slowly as play continued around him, and hobbled into the slot while Worcester essentially played five on three. Petecki was eventually able to get to the bench, and was limping badly as he went down the tunnel toward the Worcester locker room. Petrecki missed just a couple of shifts, and looked no worse for wear on his return. While Petrecki was in the locker room area, Matt Jones went hard into the boards to the left of Norfolk goaltender Dustin Tokarski and had problems getting off the ice. Jones did eventually return to play later in the period.

Alex Stalock became the first goaltender in Worcester Sharks history to record a point and get a penalty in the same game. He was called for a delay of game minor at 11:59 of the second period for shooting the puck over the glass.

The three stars of the game were:
1. Cory Quirk (g)
2. John McCarthy (g)
3. Blair Jones (g)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Mathieu Curadeau.

Even strength lines


Penalty kill lines


Power play lines


Norfolk 0 1 1 - 2
Worcester 1 0 2 - 3

1st Period-1, Worcester, McCarthy 2 (Zalewski, Mashinter), 18:08. Penalties-Loprieno Wor (tripping), 4:14; Craig Nor (tripping), 10:18.

2nd Period-2, Norfolk, Syroczynski 3 (Smolenak), 16:11. Penalties-Lawrence Nor (slashing), 4:09; Stalock Wor (delay of game), 11:58.

3rd Period-3, Worcester, Quirk 1 (Callahan), 1:10. 4, Worcester, Curadeau 1 (Groulx, Stalock), 4:12. 5, Norfolk, Jones 5 (Smolenak, Graham), 16:01. Penalties-Petrecki Wor (interference), 9:00; McCarthy Wor (hooking), 11:48; Bochenski Nor (slashing), 13:05.

Shots on Goal
Norfolk 5-13-12-30
Worcester 13-9-5-27.

Power Play Opportunities
Norfolk 0 of 4
Worcester 0 of 3.

Norfolk, Tokarski 6-7-0 (27 shots-24 saves)
Worcester, Stalock 8-6-1 (30 shots-28 saves).

A-2,444. Referee-Francis Charron (46). Linesmen-Bob Bernard (4), Chris Libett (19).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Darryl Hunt: Callahan, Stalock Lead Worcester Over Providence 3-2

The Worcester Sharks used two third period goals against the Providence Bruins to defeat their Route 146 rivals 3-2 Saturday night at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island in front of an announced crowd of 5,728. The win snapped the WorSharks franchise record seven game losing streak.

The WorSharks have had issues for most of the season killing penalties, and that continued Saturday night as Providence jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a power play goal when Matt Marquardt threw a tape to tape feed at center Jamie Arniel, who was streaking toward the Worcester net. WorSharks goaltender Alex Stalock made a good effort on the quick snapshot at 6:27 of the first, but was unable to keep the puck out of the net.

Worcester was able to pull even with the Baby-Bs at 10:05 of the opening stanza when Danny Groulx fired a blast from the blue line that Brandon Mashinter tipped past Providence netminder Dany Sabourin to light the lamp. Steven Zalewski had the second helper on the play.

Providence would retake the lead just 13 seconds into the second period when Zach Hamill would take a feed from his own end into the Worcester zone and wheel the WorSharks net. Hamill would find Kirk MacDonald in the slot, who buried it for the 2-1 lead. Providence would continue to press for the entirety of the second period and most of the third, but some great saves by Stalock and a couple of bounces in favor of Worcester kept the Baby-Bs from adding to their lead.

It was another favorable bounce that got Worcester even at 11:35 of the third period. With the WorSharks swarming the net Dwight Helminen would corral a loose puck that had bounced off his head and fire a shot on Sabourin that just found the near post and bounded in for his third marker of the season. Will Colbert had the only assist on the goal.

Worcester would take the lead at 18:02 of the third when Mashinter gathered in a clearing attempt by Providence penalty killer Adam McQuaid and fed a pass to WorSharks defenseman Joe Callahan. Callahan fired a blast on net just trying to keep the puck in the attacking zone, but Sabourin was not able to make a clean save on the shot as it deflected off him to give Worcester a 3-2 victory.

Before the game the SJ/WOR shuttle had another passenger as Ryan Vesce was recalled to San Jose due to Devin Setoguchi being added to the IR list and Logan Couture, who was recalled from Worcester early Friday, having flu-like symptoms. Trent Campbell was signed to a PTO to take Vesce's spot, and was reunited with Andrew Desjardins and Dan DaSilva to reform last season's "E-line".

Worcester's scratches were Kevin Henderson, Louis Liotti, Torrey Mitchell, Dean Strong, and T.J. Trevelyan. Defenseman Joe Loprieno was used at forward in place of Mitchell as Mitchell has been held back from playing in back-to-back games during his injury rehab stint. Mitchell's stint here in Worcester could be over as early as today. Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up goaltender.

The three stars of the game were:
1. Joe Callahan (gwg)
2. Kirk MacDonald (g)
3. Brandon Mashinter (g,a)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Alex Stalock.

Worcester 1 0 2 - 3
Providence 1 1 0 - 2

1st Period-1, Providence, Arniel 5 (Marquardt, Lehtonen), 6:27 (pp). 2, Worcester, Mashinter 5 (Groulx, Zalewski), 10:05. Penalties-Petrecki Wor (fighting), 0:55; Lefebvre Pro (fighting), 0:55; Wilson Wor (delay of game), 2:29; Curadeau Wor (hooking), 5:58; Hamill Pro (goaltender interference), 7:09.

2nd Period-3, Providence, MacDonald 4 (Hamill, McQuaid), 0:13. Penalties-Groulx Wor (holding), 7:36; Marquardt Pro (tripping), 10:23.

3rd Period-4, Worcester, Helminen 3 (Colbert), 11:35. 5, Worcester, Callahan 1 (Mashinter), 18:02 (pp). Penalties-MacDonald Pro (holding), 16:27.

Shots on Goal
Worcester 14-11-6-31
Providence 11-13-9-33.

Power Play Opportunities
Worcester 1 of 3
Providence 1 of 3.

Worcester, Stalock 7-6-1 (33 shots-31 saves)
Providence, Sabourin 8-6-0 (31 shots-28 saves).

A-5,728. Referee-Chris Brown (86). Linesmen-Chris Millea (33), Mark Messier (12).

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sharks dismantle Philadelphia Flyers 6-3 on hat trick from Dany Heatley and 4 assists from Joe Thornton

The San Jose Sharks played a tight checking game for 40 minutes, but then poured on the offense with a 3-goal third period to earn a measuring stick 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Dany Heatley recorded his second hat trick of the season, mixing it up with even strength, shorthanded and power play goals. Radio broadcasters Dan Rusanowsky and Jamie Baker started a discussion of the Mario Lemieux hat trick (ES, SH, PP, EN, SO), but it was not meant to be.

The Sharks would have to settle for Heatley bumping his league leading goal scoring mark to 17, he has scored 6 goals in his last 5 games, and a 4-assist night from linemate Joe Thornton. After the game Thornton appeared non-plussed by registering his 600th assist in the National Hockey League. "You don't really look at milestones like that. I have never looked at them before, you just look at the win," he said. Thornton leads Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks for the NHL assist lead with 24. For good measure, goaltender Evgeni Nabokov stopped 26 of 29 shots against to break the logjam atop the NHL with his 13th win of the season.

The ice was chippy, with Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger and a linesman hitting the deck twice early in the game. Less than a minute into the second period, Pronger caught an edge along the boards and planted himself face first on the ice again. Dany Heatley jumped on the gift turnover to create a 2-on-1 with Joe Thornton. As Thornton held on to the puck just outside the right faceoff circle, Heatley glided to the far post and waited for Thornton to thread a pass through a prone Matt Carle for his first tally of the night.

Shorthanded in the third period, Heatley pressured Jeff Carter into a turnover in the Sharks end. Thornton and Heatley immediately turned up ice and started accelerating through the neutral zone. Heatley gained the blueline with defenseman Braydon Coburn trying to play the pass and Richards trying to get back into the play. Thornton skated to and accepted a pass at the right faceoff dot, the part of the ice with his name on it. As Carter floundered to block the pass, Thornton threaded another laser pass before 3 seperate Flyers could close on the play. Heatley hammered it home for his second of the night.

On a power play later in the third, Joe Thornton won a clean faceoff against center Jeff Carter. Thornton dominated Carter on the night, winning 6-of-8 against him as the Sharks team won 42 of 69 overall (61%). Dan Boyle danced with the puck on his stick switching back and forth between a forehand and backhand posture on the point. He slid to the center to open a shooting lane, and dished to Kent Huskins on the right wing. Huskins shot the puck off of Thornton's blade, and it ricocheted off traffic until it trickled to Dany Heatley on the doorstep. Heatley shoveled home his third goal of the night. "I just kicked it up to my stick and one timed it from there," Heatley said of his third goal.

It was Heatley's 9th career hat trick, second in 24 games played as a Shark according to Comcast Sportsnet California. Hats rained down on the ice. "As a guy receiving the pass, you just have to trust that it will get through, and it always does," Dany Heatley said of playing with assist king Joe Thornton. "You know he is going to find a lane."

Prior to the third intermission, assistant coach Jay Woodcroft was asked about using Heatley-Thornton-Marleay on the top line. For those counting at home, Marleau has switched from center to left wing, back to center, then from left wing, to center, to right wing in less than one season. Woodcroft said that when you put three superstars together on the ice, expect magic. What was impressive was not the offensive explosion, but the patience San Jose showed early in an intense matchup against a top Eastern Conference team. The Sharks were patient, squeezing off the neutral zone and forcing Philedelphia to play from the perimeter.

Frazer McLaren introduced himself to noted agitator Daniel Carcillo in a brutal second period hockey fight. At one point McLaren was holding Carcillo up with his left hand while pounding on him with his right. 6-foot-4, 225-pound McLaren is quietly being groomed in Worcester as a 4th liner with penalty killing potential, but make no mistake he can throw like an NHL heavyweight. 6-foot-0, 205-pound Carcillo is as tough as it gets in the NHL, but at one point he tried a single leg takedown to end the fight. "That was a good MMA sprawl to prevent the takedown," Drew Remenda said.

Two of the least likely candidates to drop the gloves, defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (4PIMs) and 5-foot-10, 179-pound Daniel Briere, squared off later in the second. Vlasic pinned Briere up against the boards as the played moved up ice, and an apparent elbow by Briere started the fight.

Afterwards, head coach Todd McLellan said it was not up to individuals to stand up for each other physically on the ice, it was up to the entire team. "The key word that you used is team. That doesn't mean that just 7 or 8 guys do it. That means everyone is involved," McLellan said. "We stand our ground, we compete as hard as we can, in as many areas as we can. It might not be the thing you do best, it might not be the thing you do often, but there will be times when you stand your ground. (Vlasic) did a good job there."

Manny Malhotra (PP), Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe also scored for San Jose. Daniel Briere, and Claude Giroux (2) scored for Philadelphia. With the win the Sharks bumped their lead over Colorado to 5 points for first in the Western Conference, their lead over Los Angeles to 6 points for first in the Pacific Division, and their lead over Washington to four points for the top record in the NHL. Three stars of the game: 1 - Joe Thornton, 2 - Dany Heatley, 3 - Manny Malhotra.

[Update] San Jose Sharks defeat Flyers - SJ Mercury News.

All of Heatley's goals came from close range, but in a variety of circumstances — one at even strength, one short-handed and one on the power play. And the first two came after identical plays where he fed the puck to Thornton for a clear shot, but Thornton patiently waited before threading the puck back to Heatley for easy tap-ins.

[Update2] There is a great roundtable discussion with video of recent borderline hits on the hockey hotstove with Dan Rusanowsky, Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda on Sharks TV. "There is a fine line between dirty and perilous" - Randy Hahn.

[Update3] Flyers can’t solve Sharks - Philadelphia Inquirer.

Hockey Notes - 11/21


1 Toronto Maple $470M
2 New York Rangers $416M
3 Montreal Canadiens $339M
4 Detroit Red Wings $337M
5 Philadelphia Flyers $273M

19 San Jose Sharks $184M

26 Florida Panthers $159M
27 Nashville Predators $156M
28 New York Islanders $149M
29 Atlanta Thrashers $143M
30 Phoenix Coyotes $138M

source: Forbes

Forbes released its annual franchise valuations earlier this month ranking the Sharks 19th out of 30 NHL teams with a valuation of $184 million (up $6 million). Revenues were listed at $84 million and operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was listed at a loss of $5 million. James Mirtle tracked the Forbes figures over the last 4 seasons, and noted that San Jose's revenues have increased $10 million from 2003-04.

The major depature from this year's version of the valuations is that the magazine actually spoke with the Sharks this time around. In a cover article by Peter J. Schwartz, Forbes looked at the San Jose Sharks and their efforts to build a profitable franchise in Silicon Valley: Silicon Valley Learns How To Play Hockey, What makes the San Jose Sharks smarter than the NHL's other warm-weather expansion teams?

There have been unconfirmed reports of a $9 million loss, of two $7 million losses, and a $5 million loss in recent years, but the perception locally was that the Sharks were moving towards profitability. San Jose stacked talented team upon talented team, spent near the salary cap acquiring a pair of blueline allstars, but they only had a meager 20 home playoff dates in 7 post-lockout playoff series. Expectations for long playoff runs to the Conference Finals or Stanley Cup Finals have not materialized. Last season the Sharks hockey operations lost approximately $5 million according to Forbes, but profits from other sources cut that to $2 million.

According to Schwartz, venture capitalist Kevin Compton lead an investment group who paid $80 million and assumed $45 million in debt when previous owner George Gund put 85% of the team up for sale in 2002 (Compton disputed the figure). Forbes labeled the San Jose Sharks "one of the best-managed teams in the sport" since the 1990's expansion, and noted that non-hockey revenues may surpass hockey revenues by 2010. The non-hockey diversification included management of local hockey rinks, expansion of SVSE's merchandising and publishing platforms, up to 130 non-hockey events hosted at HP Pavilion (dropping from 3rd to 4th busiest concert venue in the country), investments in the San Jose Earthquakes, a 50% stake in the Strikeforce mixed martial arts promotion, development of the China Sharks, and the operation of 3 tennis tournaments among other business ventures.

Hockey remains the backbone of SVSE's efforts, and according to Greg Jamison in an interview earlier this season the Sharks retained 93% of season ticket holders (14,000) even as the tech economy and housing markets in Silicon Valley experienced a sustained and dramatic freefall. Prior to the NHL lockout, then San Jose mayor Ron Gonzales sent a letter to several league officials and the mayors of 29 other cities on the impact of an NHL team in San Jose. The numbers circulating unofficially at the time was that the Sharks had a $100 million impact on the city of San Jose, either directly with fans traveling to games or indirectly with fans traveling downtown during game nights. That figure may be much larger. The Sharks remain the biggest draw in the South Bay, and the transformation of downtown San Jose over the last 15-20 years might not have taken place without their residence at HP Pavilion.

Last year the Sharks ranked 19th out of 30 NHL teams with a $179 million valuation according to Forbes, although there was a significant debate about the provenance of the numbers. For that report, Forbes did not contact the Sharks for its research. According to former Mercury News columnist John Ryan, last year's $2.4 million profit estimate clashed with the $2-3 million loss estimate given by CEO Greg Jamison.

- The latest DOH podcast is available for download here. Mike and Doug discuss the recent games in Nashville, Dallas and St. Louis, the alleged curse of the Chicago Blackhawks, and offer interesting analysis of the busy San Jose Sharks transaction wire (aka the Worcester shuttle). With information available at the time of the broadcast, the Sharks had round tripped 17 players dwarfing the number of movements made by other Pacific Division teams. Players sent to Worcester and recalled by San Jose: McGinn 5, Callahan 1, McLaren 1, Joslin 2, Zalewski 1, Vesce 1, Couture 5, Ferriero 1.

The latest Globe and Mail podcast offers a little more insight on recent comments made by San Jose Sharks co-owner Kevin Compton. According to an article in the Sports Business Daily, Compton called the Phoenix Coyotes fiasco a "joke" and said that he was "100%" certain Jim Balsillie would be an NHL owner in the future. "Jim loves hockey. Jim's got a lot of money. Jim's got a lot of passion," Compton told SBD. David Shoalts notes in an article on the Globe and Mail that the field of potential owners for Phoenix is slim, and Eric Duhatschek notes in the podcast that this could be the first potential crack in the solidarity of the owners.

- The NHL's leading goal scorer, San Jose Sharks left wing Dany Heatley, was interviewed Thursday on KNBR 680AM's Fitz and Brooks radio show:

"(A hat trick on opening night) worked out well. I didn't expect that to happen, but we had a good night and the puck was going into the net."

(On University of Wisconsin football tailgating) "It is a pretty good Saturday. We always played on Friday and Saturday, so while we were at home our Saturday night crowd was usually a little more thin because everyone was partyied up for the football game. They moved kickoffs up to 11 in the morning so people did not get too crazy before... If the made it to the (hockey) game, they were battling through the day."

"(The college experience) worked for me, not only on the ice but off the ice growing up a little bit. For me, at 18 it was the first time away from home as a freshman. You are thrown right in the mix."

(How do you like being in Northern California) "I love it. Obviously the weather is great, it is nice driving to the rink in the morning, it automatically puts you in a good mood. The people have treated me well, the fans are unbelievable in the Shark tank, the organization and all my teammates have been great so far. It is a really place to just go out and play hockey."

"(Joe Thornton) is one of the best passers in the game for a reason, Seto is playing well. If you look at our roster from top to bottom, Patrick Marleau, especially offensively, teams can't... we have 3 or 4 lines. Our 3rd and 4th lines are scoring goals. We got all lines going, and with all the lines going good we are tough to stop."

(Do you like being known as a sniper) "I don't think you ever want to go into a game just thinking you are the scorer, you are just going to score goals. I think for me, the goals happen when you are focues on other things, when you are skating well and trying to forecheck. When that happens, the goals will eventually come."

"I think (I am going to the net more). With Todd's system, with the coaching staff's system, it is a little more skating for the wingers coming accross a little more and getting a little more speed. It is a fun system to play. It is tough to defend against a team that comes on you on the forecheck like we do all the time. Offensively it is going to create a lot of chances." "You can feel it in the room, there is a good energy in the room. We all know what happened last year, we all know we have a good team. We have to go out and get better every day, every game throughout the season and get ready for another shot at the playoffs. Everybody is going to talk about the playoffs, and we have to get there. Our job is to focus on the season and we will get ready from there."

"(Patrick Marleau) is a great player. He has great speed, he can do it all. He can score goals, he can make plays and kill penalties. He has been a great player for us so far, and he is going to be for the rest of the year. He did a great job of putting that stuff behind him, moving on and only worrying about playing hockey. He has been great for us."

- NHL's next great rivalry: Barry Trotz vs. arena game clock - Yahoo's Puck Daddy. Due to the exclusive Versus television window, the last NSH-SJ game was not televised in either Nashville or San Jose. Last night Sharks radio play-by-play broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky called late game clock stoppages "two free unofficial timeouts."

- This fight between 2 Ducks fans over a stick Scott Niedermayer was trying to give a young girl has been picked up by several general sports sites and non-sports sites, and unfortunately many comments are being made about Anaheim fans and hockey fans as a result.

Parents in San Jose hoist kids up to the top of the glass, and the 3 stars of the game are able to hand autographed sticks directly to the crowd. In Anaheim, Scott Niedermayer pointed to the intended recepient, then tossed the stick over the glass. With 3 people holding the stick at the same time, one was butt ended in the face and a scrum ensued.

According to Yahoo's Greg Wyshynski, pro skater and an occasional blogger on the Ducks website Mike V. was arrested for his part in the fight. Wyshynski posted a note that the girl originally intended to receive the stick was Mike Vallely's daughter. The OC Register's Curtis Zupke reported that the team severed ties with Vallely, and he confirmed that Mike V. was cited by the Anaheim Police for fighting in public.

This incident is one of circumstance, and one that should not reflect on Anaheim or Anaheim Ducks fans. In nearly a dozen visits under the cover of darkness to the Pond, fans were friendly and cordial (before booing San Jose mercilessly when the puck dropped as they should). Crack on them for having to wear purple, for the 10-15 foot Corey Perry flop zone around opposing goaltenders, or for their mascot catching on fire, but not for this. Hopefully the stick tradition continues.

- Dane makes impressive NHL debut, Lars Eller’s successful debut last night makes him the fifth Dane currently playing in the National Hockey League - Copenhangen Post.

- The Interview: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Canada, the ‘covenant’ with fans, Gretzky and on trying to do the right things -

Q: We want to give you a chance to respond to the broad perception here in Canada that you feel the future of the game lies in the United States—and that the real reason the NHL was in court this summer was to keep Canada from getting more teams.

A: I’ve got to ask you a question about your question. Where does that perception come from? What is it based on? Give me any factual basis and I’ll answer the question.

Q: Well, we could start by pointing you to some of the public opinion polls that emerged during the court process.

A: That’s based on the coverage, not necessarily the reality.

Q: So you’re saying the negative perception of you is the media’s fault?

A: No, I’m not. I’m saying it’s not based on anything. Look, what was going on in Phoenix was an attempt to, not just circumvent, but eviscerate all of our rules and procedures as to the two most important decisions that any sports league has to make: one, who’s going to own franchises and be partners in the league; two, where your franchises are going to be located. That was what Phoenix was about.

Q: Based on feedback from our readers, it’s safe to say most Canadians don’t see it that way. A lot of them saw a struggling franchise in Phoenix, a willing owner in a proven hockey market and the league actually buying the team to stop that prospective Canadian owner from getting control of it.

A: Okay, let’s look at a little history. When Edmonton and Calgary were struggling and there were other places that perceived they could do better because the dollar was stronger, we fought to keep them. Ottawa and Buffalo and Pittsburgh were all struggling and other places felt that they could do better. But we believe we have a covenant with our fans, who make an emotional and financial investment in us. If you run out on them in one place then you’re delivering a message that maybe you don’t take that covenant seriously anywhere. There was a point in the early 1990s when some said there was only going to be one team left in Canada. We never believed that, and everything we did with the Canadian Assistance Program, and with the new collective bargaining agreement, was to ensure that small-market teams—particularly small-market Canadian teams—not only could survive but could be fully competitive. And that’s what you have.

A lot of topics are covered in the interview, thanks to Paul Kukla for the link.

[Update] San Jose Sharks' newcomers jelling on third line - David Pollak for the San Jose Mercury News.

Which is why the biggest thing that stands out when comparing the present Sharks with last season's team may be the third-line work of Manny Malhotra, Scott Nichol and Jed Ortmeyer — all of whom are newcomers to San Jose, but brought a combined 1,281 NHL games with them.

"They seem to be coming together real quick. They've jelled real well," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "They are determined enough to not be outworked, and as a result, they're effective."

The biggest story of the Sharks season to date has not been the play of Dany Heatley, or the resurgance of two of the most controversial players in the offseason in Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov. The biggest story has been the development of third and fourth lines.

Absent for stretches last season, this year head coach Todd McLellan has been able to use the third and fourth lines in critical situtions late in a games, after a goal, and they have been able to play a physical brand of hockey to wear down opponents. The turning point may have been the 4-1 win at Philadelphia on the back end of a 6-game road trip in October. Manny Malhotra scored his first 2 goals of the season, and Jed Ortmeyer also scored, but the Sharks third and fourth liners (lineees according radio analyst to Jamie Baker) built an identity. They gained confidence in their ability to shut down a game, and it has been gradually building ever since.

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Losing Streak Reaches Seven After 3-1 Loss To Portland

The Worcester Sharks dropped their seventh game in a row after a 3-1 loss to the Portland Pirates Friday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine in front of an announced crowd of 3,822.

Despite Worcester controlling large parts of the opening period it was the Pirates that would grab the first goal of the contest while on the first power play of the game. Nathan Gerbe fired a shot from the right circle that broke through WorSharks goaltender Tyson Sexsmith for the 1-0 Portland lead at 17:13.

Worcester would tally a power play goal of their own at 7:09 of the second period while skating five on three. Ryan Vesce found Torrey Mitchell all alone to the left of Portland netminder Jean-Philippe Lamoureux. Mitchell didn't miss the yawning net to knot the game 1-1. Steven Zalewski had the second assist on the play.

Pirates left winger Jeff Cowan would get the eventual game winner on a highlight reel goal when he stick handled past WorSharks defenseman Joe Callahan and roofed a backhand over Sexsmith at 17:56 of the second for the 2-1 Pirates lead. Portland would grab an insurance marker late in the third on the power play when Philip Gogulla beat Sexsmith at 16:45 of the third with the Pirates third power play goal of the contest.

Worcester's scratches were Kevin Henderson, Louis Liotti, Joe Loprieno, Dean Strong, T.J. Trevelyan. With the San Jose/Worcester shuttle running at full speed, Logan Couture, Benn Ferriero and Jamie McGinn were all recalled to San Jose early Friday. To take their place, Worcester signed Mathieu Curadeau to a PTO. Curadeau played one game for Worcester in 2007-08, and had three points in 18 games with Norfolk (AHL) last season. Alex Stalock was the back-up goaltender.

There were two fights in the contest, with Mike Moore and Kyle Wanvig going at it just three seconds into the game in what was most certainly a carry over from Wednesday night's loss at the DCU Center against these same Pirates. Steven Zalewski picked up his first fighting major of his pro career when he dropped the gloves with Mark Mancari after Mancari took Moore to the boards with a high hit early in the second stanza. The major was also the first penalty called against Zalewski this season.

The three stars of the game were:
1. Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (32 saves)
2. Nathan Gerbe (g,a)
3. Tyler Ennis (2a)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Steven Zalewski

Worcester 0 1 0 - 1
Portland 1 1 1 - 3

1st Period-1, Portland, Gerbe 4 (Ennis, Mancari), 17:13 (pp). Penalties-Moore Wor (fighting), 0:03; Wanvig Por (fighting), 0:03; McCarthy Wor (tripping), 15:48.

2nd Period-2, Worcester, Mitchell 1 (Zalewski, Vesce), 7:09 (pp). 3, Portland, Cowan 9 (Ennis, Gerbe), 17:56 (pp). Penalties-Zalewski Wor (fighting), 0:26; Mancari Por (fighting), 0:26; Byron Por (cross-checking), 0:40; Weber Por (cross-checking), 6:00; served by Gogulla Por (bench minor - unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:18; DaSilva Wor (tripping), 16:03.

3rd Period-4, Portland, Gogulla 4 (Byron, McCormick), 16:45 (pp). Penalties-Petrecki Wor (high-sticking), 7:32; Vesce Wor (roughing), 10:33; Weber Por (roughing), 10:33; Desjardins Wor (goaltender interference), 13:25; Mitchell Wor (delay of game), 15:16; Weber Por (misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:02.

Shots on Goal
Worcester 12-9-12-33
Portland 7-6-8-21

Power Play Opportunities
Worcester 1 of 3
Portland 3 of 5.

Worcester, Sexsmith 2-4-0 (21 shots-18 saves)
Portland, Lamoureux 4-4-0 (33 shots-32 saves).

A-3,822. Referee-Francis Charron (46). Linesmen-Jeremy Lovett (78), Joe Andrews (32).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Andre Ward vs Mikkel Kessler - World Boxing Classic open workout photo gallery and quotes

Andre Ward Mikkel Kessler World Boxing Classic open workout at Kings Gym in Oakland
World Boxing Classic open workout boxing photo Andre Ward Kings Gym
2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward answers questions from the media

A block off of Interstate 880 in a nondescript section of East Oakland sits one of the classic boxing gyms in the country. King's Gym, owned by Charles A. King, trains nearly 300 local amateur and professional boxers. Among them is 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward. Ward (20-0, 13KOs), trainer Virgil Hunter and promoter Dan Goossen hosted a collection of North American and Danish media Monday afternoon at King's for a World Boxing Classic open workout.

The Oakland native will face his most difficult test as a professional Saturday night at Oracle Arena against Danish-born WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler (42-1, 32KOs). After Andre Dirrell (Flint, Michigan) and Jermain Taylor (Little Rock, Arkansas) were dispatched a month ago by England's Carl Froch and Germany's Arthur Abraham, Andre Ward remains the U.S.A.'s last opportunity for a win in the first round of the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament.

A preview of the fight, hopefully posted in Danish and English, will be posted on Sharkspage later this week. A black and white photo gallery from Monday's open workout at King's Gym is available here.

Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward open workout quotes
Monday, Nov. 16;
King’s Gym, Oakland, California


"People are often surprised when they fight me. You see one thing and get in the ring and see something different. (Edison) Miranda told me in the locker room after the fight that he thought I would be a lot easier than I was and I’ve heard that a lot during my career, even going back to the amateurs. I have no idea what it is about my style, but they would hear I was the No. 1 guy and see me fight and say ‘that’s Ward?’ We do it in such a way that it looks easy until they get in the ring with me."

"This is what it’s all about, I’ve been at the highest level as an amateur and now I’m preparing for my first world title fight as a professional. I see all you guys (media on hand) and I know what a big fight is all about. I’m ready."

(On fighting at home)

"It’s incredible to have this fight at home and the support here has been outstanding. A lot of people say that boxing is dead in Oakland. There used to be two or three gyms full of boxers here. Boxing was a huge thing and to see the excitement for this fight here in Oakland and in the Bay Area and to give them something positive to support, I’m excited about that."

"As the fight gets closer, I draw into myself more. I envision what it would feel like to leave the arena with the belt and what it would feel like to leave without the belt. I’m doing everything I can to leave the Oracle Arena with the WBA strap on Saturday night."

"We’ve had a game plan for the past nine weeks, since the last fight. We have a general plan but at the end of the day, it’s going to be about getting in there and being myself, being Andre Ward. The days that you go in there and try to be perfect are usually your worst days, but the days that you go in there and say I’m going to have fun and do what I do are generally your best."

(In response to Kessler’s trainer saying Andre doesn’t like to get hit)

"I don’t think anybody likes to get hit. Miranda hit me more than I would have liked in my last fight. but I responded and came right back. Who has hit Mikkel Kessler clean? Who has really caught him so we could see what his chin is really like? Joe Calzaghe isn’t a puncher."

Andre Ward's promoter Dan Goossen, of Goossen Tutor Promotions:

"This is just like Andre Ward’s run to the gold medal, but in the pro ranks. On his path to gold, no one gave him a shot, everyone else was the favorite, and this is the same situation. They are all picking Kessler and for good reason -- he’s a great, experienced champion. We have all the confidence in the world that Saturday night will make history."

“He’s (Ward) very smart in the ring. He knows when to jab, he knows when to move and he does it with speed. Experience is great against someone who hasn’t experienced everything Andre learned at the Olympics."

WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler:

"Ward is a real gentleman. He doesn’t talk trash. The best fighters I have fought are like him. It’s going to be a great fight on Saturday night."

"He’s a great, young fighter. He reminds me a lot of myself when I was his age. I won my first world title at 24, but I’m more experienced in a lot of different ways. I can see that he is hungry, has good speed and good technique. He’s a good fighter."

"I think my strengths are also speed and my experience. I have double the fights he has and I have had a lot of big fights."

"You can pick things up from all kinds of bouts. We all have different skills. I don’t see all of the big fights (in the United States) because I am busy and it’s more difficult (to see them) in Europe, but we have good fights in Europe, too."

Mikkel Kessler's promoter Wilfried Sauerland of Sauerland Event:

"For me there are three favorites to win the Super Six World Boxing Classic – Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Andre Ward. It will be important to start the group stages with a victory. Obviously, Ward has the tremendous advantage of fighting at home – that is a big help."

"Ward has a tremendous unbeaten run. His Olympic gold medal as well as his professional record speak volumes about his class. He is certainly a very special fighter but one does not know where his boundaries are. He has never been tested and he has never fought someone like Mikkel, so Saturday will be Ward´s first big test."

"In my opinion the difference between the two fighters is Mikkel´s huge experience and also his well-known punching power. So for me Kessler is the favorite but only just as you cannot be too sure because we don´t know where Ward is at and what his limits are."

[Update] Ward Meets Kessler In Oakland's First World Title Fight in 42 Years -

[Update2] Kings Gym's 300 Members All Know Ward Will Beat Kessler - Robert Mladinich for

"The gym is old-school, and I don’t ever plan on changing it," said owner Charles A. King, a retired railroad engineer. "We might not be the biggest, but we’re the best by far. You won’t see any red carpets, and our trainers will tell you the truth. If you want to learn how to box, regardless of your age or condition, this is the place to be. You’re not going to get hurt, and you’re going to learn according to your own personal timetable."

Over the years area pros like Jauquin Gallardo, 'Irish' Pat Lawlor, Andy Nance, Paul Nave, and Tommy Evans were as much at home at Kings as such visiting luminaries as George Foreman, James 'Bonecrusher' Smith and Marvis Frazier.

[Update3] The always reliable Danish Jyllands Posten newspaper posted an extensive photo gallery from photographer Lars Krabbe, a video report from the event (in Danish), a report on Kessler's training camp in Sacramento (google translation), and an event preview here (google translation).

Miami Retains No. 1 Ranking in USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

A press release from

Miami University Retains No. 1 Ranking in USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Miami University retains the No. 1 ranking in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll for the seventh consecutive poll. The RedHawks, who improved to 8-1-3 on the season, collected 507 points and 31 of 34 first-place votes.

This Week's Top-15 Match-ups:

Thursday, November 19
No. 14 Notre Dame at No. 6 Michigan State
No. 11 Massachusetts at No. 9 Yale

Friday, November 20
No. 2 North Dakota at No. 3 Denver

Saturday, November 21
No. 2 North Dakota at No. 3 Denver
No. 13 Quinnipiac at No. 5 Cornell

Sunday, November 22
No. 6 Michigan State at No. 14 Notre Dame

The No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the poll remain the same for the fourth straight week, with the University of North Dakota (448) staying at No. 2 and the University of Denver (429) holding at No. 3. The Fighting Sioux and Pioneers both also received one first-place vote. The University of Massachusetts Lowell (405), which collected the final first-place vote, moves up one position to No. 4, while Cornell University (342) slides to No. 5. Quinnipiac University (102), which improved to 8-1-0 on the season after victories against Harvard University and Dartmouth College, makes its 2009-10 debut in the poll this week at No. 13. Highlighting this upcoming weekend's games are six top-15 match-ups, including No. 2 North Dakota traveling to No. 3 Denver for two games.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll - #7

(Rank, School, First-place votes in parenthesis, Last Poll's Ranking, 2009-10 Record, Weeks in Top-15)

1 Miami U., 507 (31), 1, 8-1-3, 7
2 U. of North Dakota, 448 (1), 2, 7-2-1, 7
3 U. of Denver, 429 (1), 3, 6-3-1, 7
4 U. of Massachusetts Lowell, 405 (1), 5, 7-2-1, 7
5 Cornell U., 342, 4, 4-1-0, 7
6 Michigan State U., 329, 14, 9-2-1, 2
7 Colorado College, 311, 13, 7-2-1, 4
8 Bemidji State U., 271, 7, 8-1-1, 4
9 Yale U., 218, 11, 2-1-2, 7
10 U. of Alaska, 176, 9, 7-2-1, 3
11 U. of Massachusetts, 141, 10, 7-2-0, 2
12 U. of Nebraska Omaha, 107, 12, 5-2-3, 6
13 Quinnipiac U., 102, NR, 8-1-0, 1
14 U. of Notre Dame, 54, 8, 5-5-2, 7
15 U. of Michigan, 52, 6, 4-6-0, 7

Others receiving votes: University of Wisconsin, 47; University of Vermont, 34; Boston College, 30; Ferris State University, 24; Princeton University, 22; University of Minnesota Duluth, 15; Colgate University, 4; Lake Superior State University, 4; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 3; Merrimack College, 2; Rochester Institute of Technology, 2; Boston University, 1.

NOTES: The Central Collegiate Hockey Association boasts six ranked teams. ECAC Hockey and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association each have three ranked teams, while the Hockey East Association claims two ranked teams. Bemidji State University is the only ranked College Hockey America team ... A total of 27 teams received votes.

ABOUT THE POLL: The 15th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the AHCA and USA Hockey Magazine, the most widely distributed hockey magazine in the world.

[Update] ISS Top 30 2010 prospects, November -

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Blanked by Hartford, 4-0

The Worcester Sharks losing streak reached four games after a 4-0 loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack Saturday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 5,107 clearly disappointed fans.

After a scoreless first period where Worcester outplayed the Wolf Pack for large portions of the stanza, Hartford would grab the eventual game winner just 49 seconds into the second period. Ilkka Heikkinen and Corey Locke would exchange passes just inside the WorSharks blueline, with Heikkinen finding a seam and beating Worcester goaltender Alex Stalock high to the glove side for the 1-0 Wolf Pack lead.

Hartford would make it 2-0 at 3:16 of the third period just after killing a double minor to Dale Weise. Wolf Pack winger Jordan Owens would skate into the Worcester zone and beat Steven Zalewski, who was in as a defenseman on the power play, and skate across the front of the net. Stalock would make the original save, but Brodie Dupont would pounce on the loose puck and fire it into the yawning net.

The Wolf Pack would add two more goals, one on a Ryan Garlock tip of a Corey Potter blast at at 5:27, and the second on a laser from the right faceoff dot by Bobby Sanguinetti at 17:15 on the power play, for the 4-0 final.

Hartford netminder Chad Johnson had 35 saves in the shutout.

Worcester's scratches were Louis Liotti (healthy), Mike Moore (hamstring), Dean Strong (groin), T.J. Trevelyan (broken jaw). Dan DaSilva, who has a history of concussions, is being held out for precautionary reasons after crashing into the boards Wednesday. Torrey Mitchell, who is in Worcester on a rehab assignment, had the night off as San Jose wanted to avoid him playing on consecutive nights. He is expected to play Sunday afternoon against Providence.

Alex Stalock became the first WorSharks goaltender called for playing the puck in the restricted area when he was whistled for delay of game at 10:35 of the third period. With the talk of removing the trapezoid at the NHL level he may also be the last.

The three stars of the game were
1. Chad Johnson (35 saves)
2. Ilkka Heikkinen (gwg)
3. Brodie Dupont (g,a)

Even strength lines


Penalty kill lines


Power play lines
v Callahan/Groulx

Hartford 0 1 3 - 4
Worcester 0 0 0 - 0

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Groulx Wor (slashing), 4:31; Locke Hfd (slashing), 5:16; Williams Hfd (hooking), 16:40; Couture Hfd (roughing), 20:00; Desjardins Wor (roughing), 20:00.

2nd Period-1, Hartford, Heikkinen 4 (Locke, Dupont), 0:49. Penalties-Weise Hfd (hooking), 6:52; Owens Hfd (tripping), 11:03; Desjardins Wor (tripping), 17:29; Petrecki Wor (cross-checking), 19:09; Weise Hfd (hooking, unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:14.

3rd Period-2, Hartford, Dupont 4 (Owens), 3:16. 3, Hartford, Garlock 1 (Potter, Byers), 5:27. 4, Hartford, Sanguinetti 6 (Weise, Locke), 17:15 (pp). Penalties-Stalock Wor (delay of game - restricted area), 10:35; Couture Hfd (tripping), 13:16; Mashinter Wor (hooking), 15:13; McLaren Wor (high-sticking), 16:36; Groulx Wor (hooking), 18:30.

Shots on Goal
Hartford 8-10-6-24
Worcester 14-14-7-35.

Power Play Opportunities
Hartford 1 of 7
Worcester 0 of 7.

Hartford, Johnson 8-4-0 (35 shots-35 saves)
Worcester, Stalock 6-4-1 (24 shots-20 saves).

A-5,107. Referees-Ghislain Hebert (49). Linesmen-Bob Paquette (18), Brian MacDonald (72).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Andre Ward-Mikkel Kessler World Boxing Classic conference call quotes and transcript, 'the Viking boats have landed'

World Boxing Classic Super Six Tournament press conference Mikkel Kessler Andre Ward stare down photo

Earlier this week current WBC Super Middleweight champion Mikkel "the Viking Warrior" Kessler (42-1-0, 32KOs) and 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist and current NABF/NABO Super Middleweight champion Andre "S.O.G." Ward (20-0, 13KOs) held a conference call with the local, national and international media. The Danish-born Kessler will travel to Ward's home town November 21st to complete the first round of the 6-man World Boxing Classic Super Six tournament at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

The second edition of Fight Camp 360's World Boxing Classic preview show debuts tonight on Showtime, and is available for viewing online here. Tickets for Ward-Kessler November 21st are available via

Conference call comments from Andre Ward:

"I am mentally and physically prepared, I just can’t wait. I’m 11 days away and I’m counting my fingers every single day because I’m ready for war.

(You started off your career with a gold medal, and you are undefeated. It has been a little of a slow process getting to a world title fight, can you talk a little about the position you are in?)

"I'm just getting ready to approach this with great anticipation, it’s something you dream about. To me, the best words I can give you is that I’m very impatient, I’m ready to fight. I’ve haven’t been through training for five weeks, I haven't been training for six weeks. I’ve been training for this for most of my life since I was 9 years old, I am 25 now, it’s time. It’s time to go after this world championship... I don’t think my road up to this point has been slow. I don’t know who the barometer is or who sets the standard, but one thing you have to keep in mind is that some of the former gold medalists like Sugar Ray Leonard, who did it in three years, and guys like that they fought without head gear. The acclimation process to the pros was a lot easier for those guys, amongst a lot of other reasons. So I don’t think our road up to this point has been slow, I don't think it has been stagnant. I think it has been right on time."

"Nazim Richardson, a decorated trainer, used to always tell us in the amateurs that you may have right now what it takes to beat the champion, but to win a championship and also keep it, I’m man enough now and I feel that I have not only the intelligence in the ring, but the physical strength to not only win it but to keep it for a very long time. We were just waiting for the right time, I don’t think it’s been slow at all."

(There are going to be two more fights for each of you in the tournament after this one, how much are each of you thinking about getting the knockout to get the extra point in the tournament?)

"Just the win. Obviously you look at different things and different strategies that may lead to a knockout, but I don’t go in there looking for it. If you look for it it never comes, so absolutely it’s just about winning first and foremost."

(During the Olympics you were the first to enter the gym and the last to leave, and you spent hours looking over film. Have you done similar preperations for Mikkel Kessler, and how critical is that type of preperation?)

"I think it is just a testament to my personality and how seriously I take my job. You know I think the main thing is that I love to win. I’m very, very competitive and I know there are some ingredients that come with winning, and part of that is in the gym and in the ring. As far as physical preparation goes, it's the mental preparation, and just watching film and that kind of thing. It’s the same approach that I took as an amateur, at the highest level as an amateur, and it’s the same approach I take now. That's just who I am. My thing is I want to maximize my potential in training camp, so when the fight comes it’s just time to perform. You don’t have to second-guess it. I've done my homework like I always do."

(This is only your second time fighting in your home town, Oracle Arena. What did you take away from that Edison Miranda fight? What did you take away from that in terms of energy, in terms of pressure, how do you think that is going to help you in this much bigger fight?)

"Everything was pretty much the way I thought it was going to be. I’m the type of person who, I live my life in the middle. Because people are going to be screaming and yelling, trying to get your attention 2 week’s before the fight, even the night of the fight they’re yelling your name. Some people are saying good things and bad things. I just try to stay focused and stay in the middle. I try to stay focused and keep my eye on the fight at hand. This is a long time coming, more than a decade of preparation. Me fighting at home, I won’t allow it to be a distraction. And if anything just like the Miranda fight I will use the crowd as motivation... They were very excited for the last fight, and they are extremely excited for this fight with a lot of energy already. I’m definitely going to use it to my advantage, but at the end of the day it comes down to two men fighting and who comes out on top, that's what it boils down to. Who’s going to focus and who’s going to execute the game plan. If you go in there thinking just about the home-field advantage , it is going to be a long night. To answer your question, it’s just focus whether you’re fighting at home or fighting abroad."

(Is Mikkel Kessler the most skilled fighter you will have ever faced?)

"Absolutely. Absolutely without a shadow of a doubt, he’s the champion. He’s the most skilled. Take away nothing from Mikkel Kessler. At the same time, this is what it is all about. It is about rising to (the challenge), and I plan on doing that."

(Where there any lessons you could draw on from the first two fights in the opening round?)

"No. Not really. If anything, when you fight a champion, my whole thing for this fight is that you have to believe. What I’m saying is there were certain instances in the Dirrell fight with body language as such to where some of the close rounds could have gone to Froch, even though I feel like Dirrell won the fight. That’s something that you have to be aware of, you have to been in command at all times. If anything, that is what you take. Kessler-Ward are two different fighters, this is going to be our night. Those two fights are not going to effect what we do in the ring."

(With the World Boxing Classic points system, is this going to affect your fight?)

"It's different for you guys in the media, because you guys have to break it down, you guys have to anticipate. Me personally, when you fight a fight like this, this is it. This is all you think about, this is what you sleep, this is what you drink. Other details, you approach them as they come. You sit there and talk about what if this happens, what if that happens. It just happens. It's all about this fight right here."

(In 5 years as a pro you have said you have gotten a lot stronger. You have one of the larger frames in this tournament. What kind of obstacles is the 168-pound limit going to pose over the next year and a half?)

"I don't think it will be a problem. I live a clean life. I don’t really have any extremes when I’m not fighting. I’ve only had 20 fights and I’m always training, I don't think it will be a problem over the next 2 years. I think if there was a tournament or not, I would be in the super middleweight division anyhow. I don’t think it’ll be a problem at all. I am close to my weight right now."

(What kind of fight do you expect against Mikkel Kessler? Why do you think you can beat Mikkel Kessler?)

"I expect a very, very, very tough fight. I will just put it like that. I don’t want to get into many details but I expect to see the best Mikkel Kessler. I expect a better Mikkel Kessler than I saw against Pedromo. I expect a better Mikkel Kessler than I saw against Calzaghe. Why do I think I can beat Mikkel Kessler? If I didn’t feel that way, if I didn't expect to beat every man in this tournament, I shouldn’t be in this tournament."

(What are you going to bring to the fight?)

"It's about bringing the total package. I don't know how you perceive me as a fighter, or how Mikkel perceives me as a fighter, but I plan on bringing the total package November 21st, a little bit of everything. Not just speed, not just foot work. The total package."

(After the first two fights of the World Boxing Classic, do you feel the pressure from the American public has increased after Dirrell and Taylor lost their fights?)

"I don't look at it like pressure. I look at it like it's a privilege. I’ve been here before with the Olympics, and it's something that I relish. There's always going to be pressure, it just depends on how you deal with the pressure. It was unfortunate that both the Americans lost their fights, obviously it wasn't something I was looking at. It's just added more motivation. It just really motivates me for November 21st. I do take it personally, because that's how everyone expected it to be. I think Carl Froch summed it up with his comment when he said said everything is going as scheduled. I take that personal because I'm a proud American. I am definitely using that as motivation. It's time for the super middleweight division to have an American champion. They've dominated over there for a long, long time. They have had some great champions, but I want to do my part to bring back the belt here on American soil."

(You have fought more than twice as many professional fights as he has, how do you think you are going to overcome his experience advantage?)

"I've been fighting for a long time. I've been fighting a long, long time. This isn't my first big fight. This isn’t my first big stage. I've been here before in terms of the pressure. This is just my time to shine. If you look at a lot of the great fighters, do your homework in the sport, when you have the determination, when you have the skill and the hunger, records don’t mean anything. If you look at Floyd Mayweather Jr. when he fought Genaro Hernandez, he wasn’t supposed to win that fight. Muhammad Ali when he beat Sonny Liston, he wasn’t supposed to win that fight. Sugar Ray Leonard and Wilfredo Benitez, Benitez was a guy who had a similar amount of fights, but he was a more decorated fighter. Leonard wasn’t supposed to win that fight. That’s how I look at it. When you have the heart of a champion and you work hard, a guy who has more fights than you is not going to stop you from fulfilling your goal."

(With Taylor and Dirrell going down in their first fights, is this an opportunity to become the shining American in the tournament?)

"I don't want to be the shining American. I'm not necessarily looking to be the man. I just want to do my part as an American to represent us well. I’ve always been the type of person that always stuck up for the guy getting bullied. To a degree, I don’t want to say the Americans are getting bullied by the media or anything, I’m not going to go that far, but we haven’t been given much of a chance. I take that, and I use it as fuel, as motivation."

(Do you have a hunger for this fight that Kessler doesn't have?)

"I think we’re both hungry, I just think I have a different kind of hunger. He has a hunger to keep what he has, and I have a hunger to want to take what he has. It’s hunger none the less, but it’s just slightly different that’s all."

(Is maintaining focus easier said than done, when fighting in your hometown you have so many friends and family?)

"I think it depends on the individual. It depends on the experience you have had fighting at home. I have fought 1 fight here, but I have fought close to home. I have fought in San Jose, same types of fans and same types of individuals that I will deal with here. I don't have a problem telling people no. I try not just to look at myself as a fighter, but also as a businessman. I have people in place to take care of tickets, people in place to take care of credentials and all those types of things. I just try to make sure that everything is in order long before the fight. When the fight draws near, tickets and that kind of thing is a non-issue."

(Do you think if you beat Kessler, you would be the favorite in the tournament from then on?)

"I think I would. If I beat Mikkel Kessler it will send shock waves into the tournament, and throughout the boxing world, because people can not just fathom that happening. They just don’t see it happening. They won’t believe it until it happens. I think people’s minds will change after this for sure. Absolutely."

Conference call comments from Mikkel Kessler:

“It’s nice to be over here in the States. I don’t think I’ve been in better shape ever. I’ve done a lot of sparring, and I’m ready to come over here and fight. I have no injuries or anything. Everything’s been great."

(How long have you been in California, and are you acclimated to the West Coast?)

"I’ve been here for two weeks now, and everything is going good at camp. The time change for me is very good. Of course it took me 3-4 days to get used to it but as I said before, my condition has never been better. I sparred eight rounds today, and it was eight of the best rounds of my life. I’m looking forward to Ward and I’m ready for war."

(Was it the plan all along to come here early, and can you talk about your confidence in your ability to get a decision over here?)

“I told my promoter, I said before that I don’t care where I fight. you always want to be on your home field, I want to fight in Denmark. Hopefully next time, maybe. A fight is a fight, and a ring is a ring, so it doesn't matter to me where it is. Obviously if it’s a decision you have one more point if it’s your home field, but I’m not that kind of boxer. I’m the kind of fighter who makes his points through the rounds, of course I am pretty confident in myself coming over here. I’ve tried it three or four times before and I know how it is. I’m not afraid of that."

"I made my travel schedule before the other fights. I know 10 days before Taylor and Dirrell arrived, and it wasn’t long enough. You have to be there at least three weeks before so you can adapt to the time change."

(A lot of people have made you the favorite in the tournament, how do you feel about the fact that you have been labeled the favorite?)

"It is always good to be a favorite. As a fighter you always want to be the underdog, and go in there with no one believing in you. I’m very happy that people have seen my skills as a fighter, and that I can show them that I am the champ."

(There are going to be two more fights for each of you in the tournament after this one, how much are each of you thinking about getting the knockout to get the extra point in the tournament?)

"I don’t think about knockouts. If it’s there, it's there, but I don't think about the knockout. I have to think about one fight at a time, and I think the knockout rule will come in when some guys have 1 or 2 fights. Then they will have to knockout a guy to get to the semifinal. It is going to be interesting I think, but right now I only have to think about the win."

(This is only your second time fighting in America, are you looking forward to showcasing your skills in front of American fans?)

"Yes, of course. I think after this fight, people will recognize me better and I will show them how my boxing style is. I am ready for that, I am ready to push all of the American boxing fans. When I fight, it’s difficult for me being a Danish guy to get known in the U.S, so here’s my big chance for it. I am going to do a good fight."

(What did you learn from the Calzaghe experience, what did you take away from that fight?)

"You have to control the fight. Of course I fought my heart out. I learned a lot from the experience, it was my first loss and I thought, ‘Oh no, everything’s over now.’ It has only made me stronger. I also had a broken bone in my (left) hand."

(Where there any lessons you could draw on from the first two fights in the opening round?)

"Of course I saw the fights, I don't think I can use anything from those fights for my fight because I am not fighting those opponents. I'm going to fight another guy... I’m going to take it like all my other fights, one fight at a time. I will think about this fight in the U.S. and that is it."

(With the World Boxing Classic points system, is this going to affect your fight?)

"No, not at all... When this fight is over with, then you can start thinking about the next fight. I am training for this fight, not Carl Froch."

(Do you think there is more respect between Ward-Kessler than there was between Froch-Dirrell and Abraham-Taylor?)

"Yes. Ward is a nice guy and a fighter like I am. Why should we fight outside the ring when in a number of days we are going to fight inside it. That is why I do not understand all the trash talking from the other ones."

(After watching the first two matches of the tournament, are you still confident you are going to win the whole thing?)

"Yes, of course. I believe in myself 150%, but I will take every fight in this tournament one fight at a time."

Conference call comments from Andre Ward's promoter Dan Goossen:

"There are some big fights coming up this weekend, but more than Pacquiao-Cotto I’m looking forward to Ward- Kessler. I believe it is going to be a great fight, a can’t miss. Andre Ward is an exciting and offensive- minded, very intelligent fighter inside of the ring. Mikkel Kessler is a proud champ. Obviously we felt from the first round through the twelth round, in his only losing effort, he was still trying to get that fight turned around. We know it’s going to be a great fight, thanks to Showtime and Ken Hershman. The Golden State Warriors are a great host over at the Oracle Arena. On November 21st... all of the fighters in the first stage of the Super Six will be ringside. We are going to be looking to introduce them to the media... When you talk to a prize fighter, one who is destined for greatness, few have the mentality of Andre Ward. He is a great family man, a great man outside those ropes, but his preperation inside the ring, he is one of the meanest fighters I have ever been associated with, and we’ve been associated with some great fighters throughout the years. I believe the world stage he conquered in Greece, he is also going to conquer at Oracle Arena in his hometown November 21st."

Conference call comments from Mikkel Kessler promoter Kalle Sauerland:

"We’re very excited coming into this big fight. Obviously, it’s going to be a massive event next weekend. Andre unbeaten professional, gold medalist for the U.S.A., a massive challenge for Mikkel here. Mikkel Kessler is a man who has been there before, having boxed against people like Joe Calzaghe in front of 55,000 Welsh fans. So we’re going into the Lion’s Den, which is something that I think speaks a lot to Mikkel's mentality. He has prepared for this tournament, to go away for his first fight, to box in front of 19,000 fans in Oakland. So it’s obviously going to be a massive stadium, and a massive setting for this Super Six event. Everyone will get to see the Viking Warrior coming into the States and making a statement about what he wants to do in this tournament."

"The Viking boats have landed, get ready for war next Saturday... look over the Golden Gate bridge, they just landed."

Notes and photos from the Ward-Kessler September press conference in Oakland are available on Sharkspage here.

[Update] The Marin City Boxing Club will hold a live amateur boxing event Sunday, November 15th at the Redwood High School gymnasium (395 Doherty Drive, Larkspur, CA). CBS-5 broadcaster Dana King will be the ring announcer for the North Bay fight night. Tickets are available from Edward 'Boone' Green at 415-879-0129.

[Update2] Ana 'The Hurricane' Julaton (5-1-1, 1 KOs) returns to American Metal and Iron Fight Night at the Tank to take on Donna Biggers (19-8-1, 16 KOs) for the WBO Super Bantamweight title -

[Update3] Mikkel Kessler Update -

Sacramento (Nov. 9, 2009) -- Dear fans, I have been in Sacramento for one week now and so far everything is working out the way it should. The training facilities are great – and I am also very happy about the level of my sparring partners in the ring. I truly believe that the level of the sparring is one of the key elements for a good performance and proper preparation. The more your sparring resembles your actual opponent, the better the chance that you will actually beat him in the ring.

Previously in my career I have experienced some bad sparring partners before important bouts – fighters who didn’t have the skills in the ring. Therefore my team and I have worked hard on finding some tough fighters with similar boxing skills and tactics as Andre Ward. Fortunately Otis Griffin, Eric Regan and Mike Alexander have so far shown really good skills in the ring – and they have all been great sparring partners...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

ESPN panel debates whether this is the 'Year of the Shark'

E.J. Hradek, Barry Melrose and Matthew Barnaby discuss whether this year is the Year of the Shark in a panel discussion on ESPN. One problem with Barnaby's analysis, if you do not want to see another regular season game out of the Sharks this year you are going to miss some very good hockey.

There are no more 'Big 4' or 'Big 2' teams in the Western Conference as parity has come abruptly to the fore. Eleven teams are within 10 points of first place almost a quarter of the way into the season. That being said, the return from injury of Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi and Ryan Vesce add more speed and firepower to the San Jose lineup. With defenseman Rob Blake sidelined with an upper body injury, and center Torrey Mitchell on a conditioning assignment in Worcester of the AHL, the Sharks are only going to get better.

[Update] Mailbag: The year of the Sharks? - E.J. Hradek for (subscription only).

Fedor Emelianenko KO's Brett Rogers in Strikeforce primetime network television debut on CBS

Strikeforce m1 Global Fedor  Emelianenko vs Brett Rogers CBS Chicago
Strikeforce m1 Global Fedor  Emelianenko vs Brett Rogers CBS Chicago
Strikeforce m1 Global Fedor  Emelianenko vs Brett Rogers CBS Chicago

If the Heavyweight division used to be the "glamour" division in boxing, in mixed martial arts a large portion of that glamour was witnessed abroad. The greatest competitor in MMA to date, Fedor Emelianenko, tore through the Heavyweight divisions in a pair of Japanese promotions before traveling to the U.S. to brutally stop a pair of former UFC Heavyweight champions in Affliction. Saturday night in Strikeforce's national television debut on CBS, Emelianenko faced 265-pound undefeated knockout artist Brett Rogers (10-1, 9KOs, 1sub).

Many have made the Mike Tyson analogy with regards to 'the baddest man on the planet' Fedor Emelianenko (31- 1-1, 8KOs, 16subs), but the comparison goes deeper. In addition to being a devestatingly efficient counter-puncher, Fedor is also a Russian 'Master of Sport' in combat Sambo and Judo, and he has a ground game honed against many of the biggest names in the division. Like Tyson, he won many fights before he stepped into the ring. Against Rogers, his first fight inside a cage, he would face his sternest test in several years.

Despite a standing ovation for Fedor Emelianenko upon his cageside entrance, local support for Brett Rogers was strong inside the Sears Centre. Much was made pre-fight of Rogers' humble upbringing, his work at a Sam's Club tire repair center and growing up in a poor Chicago housing development. That workmanlike ethic paid dividends early. Rogers stepped inside a looping Fedor right hand, and bloodied the Russian with his first straight jab of the night.

Fedor used a quick burst of speed to close the distance on Rogers, and quickly tripped him to the canvas. Rogers suprised many, using his size and power to initiate in the scramble. Rogers powered himself back into a clinch, and landed several knees to the inside leg of Fedor. The 28-year old Rogers planted his shoulder under the chin, and pinned his opponent up against the cage to take away his speed and mobility. Fedor was laboring to breathe, dealing with a copious amount of blood flowing from his nose.

Fundamentals came into play in the next sequence. A lighter, more explosive Fedor was bouncing on his toes as a flat footed Rogers was planting his feet more. Rogers ducked another long looping right hand by Fedor, but a followup left staggered 'The Grim' back to the cage. Fedor sprung into finish the fight mode, unloading several flurries before a disjointed takedown attempt again planted Rogers on his back. Brett ate a series of short left hands while he grabbed a leg, gained half guard, and then spun into top control as Fedor went for an unsuccessful kimura.

It was Rogers who flashed into finish the fight mode, raining down a series of heavy blows the bounced Fedor's head off the canvas. Emelianenko spun himself into a armbar attempt, but Rogers displayed excellent movement and spun out of the hold. Rogers remained on top briefly, but Fedor bridged and then capitalized as Rogers stumbled trying to get to his feet. Rogers fought off a side choke to get out of the first round.

Fedor Emelianenko stalked forward at the start of the second round. Brett Rogers fought off another takedown attempt, but was caught with a quick left hand as he covered up against the cage. Fedor fired thirteen punches trying to find an opening, but most were blocked by Rogers. After a short bout of dirty boxing, both competitors backed into the center of the ring.

Fedor bounced on his feet, trying to get more life into his legs. A tired Rogers was slower, appearing more heavy on his feet. His footwork took longer to plant, and each step took longer to move forward. Emelianenko loaded up on his back foot, waited for Rogers to transfer his weight to his lead foot, then uncoiled a monstrous looping right that for all intents and purposes ended the fight. Fedor landed 3 quick strikes to the prone Rogers, and referee 'Big' John McCarthy stepped in and stopped the main event.

According to Compustrike statistics, Rogers landed 21-of-34 strikes (62%) in the fight to 20-of-29 (69%) for Fedor. Emelianenko scored 2 takedowns and earned a submission attempt as well. Fedor scored his 8th career KO 1:48 into the second round. Brett Rogers registered 2 reversals, and denied 3 submission attempts against.

Fedor Emelianenko could face Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem in the next fight of his 3-fight Strikeforce deal, possibly as part of a Strikeforce/M1-Global/Dream co-promotion rumored for 2010 in Japan. He could also face top-10 contender Fabricio Werdum, who earned a razor thin 3-round decision over Antonio 'Giant' Silva in the opening televised bout. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker hinted at the acquisition of 2 new heavyweights to be announced soon, possibilities include wrestler Bobby Lashley, Judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii, or former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski.

CBS aired several 10-second 'Fedor vs. Rogers' spots during NFL coverage and delivered a highly anticipated Fightcamp 360 preview show in the leadup to November 7th, but at times the promotion for Strikeforce's debut on primetime network television appeared incomplete. In Strikeforce's home market of San Jose, there were gaps in major radio and television coverage, and the San Jose Mercury News offered an interesting but someone surface profile of Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker.

According to Chicago Sun-Times assistant managing editor John Silver, coverage was strong in the Chicago area for the event hosted in the Hoffman Estates suburb. He noted that several of the competitors and CBS/Showtime analyst Frank Shamrock made the rounds on local sportstalk radio, and a local rock station partnered with Strikeforce to host the weigh-ins. In the Chicago Sun-Times, the coverage was dialed up significantly. "Starting Wednesday we had six straight days of coverage. Fedor was on the back cover (the front page of sports in a tabloid) on Wednesday, which was a first for us," Silver told Sharkspage. He added that many readers were surprised to see the prominence given to MMA, but many wrote and emailed in to thank the paper for the coverage.

Silver believes the media buildup for Saturday night was larger than the buildup for UFC 90 held last October in nearby Rosemont. "The sport has really grown in the (last) year since the UFC was here... local media awareness has increased as well," he said. On how quickly Strikeforce could return to Chicago, Silver noted several compatable venues in the Sears Centre (12,000), the Allstate Arena in Rosemont (18,000), and the United Center (20,000+). On whether or not fans would be interested in a return, "Fedor and Strikeforce made a lot of fans here in Chicago," Silver said. "I’ve talked to a lot of people that weren’t necessarily MMA fans that tuned in and enjoyed what they saw."

The 'Fedor vs. Rogers' main event reached 5.46 million viewers, while the entire Strikeforce/M1-Global card averaged 4.04 million viewers and a 2.5 overall household rating according to figures released by CBS. The television numbers fell below the 6.51 million ceiling and 4.85 million viewer average Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson drew on CBS for EliteXC's 'Primetime' event in New Jersey last year, the most watched mixed martial arts broadcast on U.S. television. The inaugural Strikeforce edition of 'Saturday Night Fights' on CBS still remains the 9th most watched MMA fight in U.S. history according to the esteemed people at

UFC President Dana White made his routine post-event remarks to the media. After a long, contentious and unsuccessful pursuit of Fedor Emelianenko, White called Strikeforce a "rinky-dink" promotion and questioned Fedor's ability to withstand the UFC's Heavyweight Division.

The UFC is struggling to get a handle on its own problems with Quinton Jackson vs Rashad Evans off of the TUF finale so 'Rampage' can reprise the role of B.A. Baracus in the 2010 film A-Team. Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar vs Shane Carwin was pulled from UFC 106 due to Lesnar's extended bout with mononucleosis, and a rumored BJ Penn vs Diego Sanchez headline fight for UFC 105 also never materialized. Middleweight champion Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfort in a title fight is off due to an injury to Silva. Light Heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida had surgery on his left hand after a title defense against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and will not be able to start training until mid-January according to Machida's manager Ed Soares.

"We've had to deal with sickness and injuries at a level we never have before," UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta recently told the LA Times. Injuries and illness are difficult to prepare for in a brutal contact sport, but the UFC also may be starting to bend under the weight of its own prodigous fight schedule. In the first 6 years of the promotion from 1993-98 the UFC put on 21 events. Last year the UFC held 20 events from January 19th to December 27th.

It offers San Jose-based Strikeforce an opportunity it can capitalize on if it continues to deliver a quality product inside the cage. A stacked December 19th Strikeforce 'Evolution' card at HP Pavilion will feature the return of former Middleweight titlist Cung Le, a fight of the night candidate between Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza and Matt Lindland, heavy hitting Robbie Lawler, and the debut of flamboyant acquisition Muhammed 'King Mo' Lawal. A late January card possibly in Miami, and a rumored co-promotion with Japanese partner Dream in Japan also could place Strikeforce permanently in the Heavyweight division of MMA promotions.

An online replay of Strikeforce's Saturday Night Fights can be streamed at, event highlights are available here. An event photo gallery is available from Video above courtesy of For more information on the event visit

Event results:

'Fedor vs Rogers' Strikeforce/M1-Global results
November 7th, 2009
Sears Centre, Chicago

Fedor Emelianenko def Brett Rogers
TKO, Round 2: 1:48

Strikeforce World Middleweight Title
Jake Shields def Jason Miller
Unanimous Decision (5 Rounds)

Gegard Mousasi def Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
TKO (Strikes), Round 2: 3:43

Fabricio Werdum def Antonio Silva
Unanimous Decision (3 Rounds)

Marloes Coenen def Roxanne Modafferi
Submission (Armbar), Round 1: 1:05

Jeff Curran def Dustin Neace
Submission, Round 1: 1:39

Shamar Bailey def John Kolosci
Unanimous Decision (3 Rounds)

Nate Moore def Louis Taylor
Submission (Strikes), Round 2: 3:24

Christian Uflacker def Jonatas Novaes
Unanimous Decision (3 Rounds)

[Update] Rogers Reacts to Loss, Emelianenko Praises Effort - Another note from Sherdog's most recent MMA Rankings: #6 ranked Josh Barnett received a second extention on a hearing with the CSAC regarding his positive drug test prior to an Affliction bout with Fedor Emelianenko. The new date for his hearing is December 8th.

[Update2] Fight Biz: Fedor, Strikeforce deliver for CBS with solid ratings -

[Update3] A Fedor in Chicago's cap, Strikeforce CEO praises fan base after exciting show - Chicago Sun-Times.

Throughout the week, the media questioned the marketability of a media-shy, non-English-speaking Russian. But the crowd -- very young, very male and very excited -- was there to see Emelianenko, who energized the Sears Centre.

From the moment he appeared from the dressing room and walked down the Strikeforce runway, Russian and Ukrainian flags waved, numerous Fedor T-shirts and pro-Fedor signs dotted the crowd and fans snapped photos and chanted his name. At the start of the second round, a ''USA'' chant rang out but was quickly reversed into reverence by Emelianenko's right hook.

And it wasn't only Emelianenko whom the fans were excited to see. They clamored to get each fighter's autograph, showing there's a hunger for big-time MMA events in Chicago.

[Update4] Interview with radio host Jordan Breen on Strikeforce's Fedor-Rogers CBS broadcast and Showtime's Super Six boxing tournament -

[Update5] Fedor's popularity soars, but CBS has sights on much more - Sports Illustrated.

Viewership for the card in Russia, Korea and other countries, which was engineered by M-1 and is responsible for much of its take of the co-promotion, is expected to easily trump the 4.04 million overall number CBS pulled in the U.S., they said.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dan Boyle's goal with 59.4 seconds left gives Sharks last minute 4-3 win over Nashville Predators

Devin Setoguchi goal San Jose Sharks Nashville Predators NHL hockey photo
Joe Pavelski Dan Ellis San Jose Sharks Nashville Predators NHL hockey photo
Patrick Marleau Jerred Smithson NHL faceoff photo

More notes from the San Jose Sharks 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators will be posted soon. A photo gallery from the event is available here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NHL veteran Rene Corbet joins Frisk Asker Tigers of the Norwegian GET hockey league

Norway hockey Frisk Asker Tigers sign NHL veteran Rene Corbet photo Espen Hildrup
Norway hockey Frisk Asker Tigers vs Stavanger Oilers Norway GET hockey league

Eight year NHL veteran Rene Corbet recently joined the Frisk Asker Tigers hockey club of the GET-League in Norway. An 8-year veteran of Quebec, Colorado, Calgary and Pittsburgh, Corbet registered 132 points in 362 games played from 1993-2001. The Quebec native also played 8 seasons for Adler Mannheim in the German DEL before joining the Tigers.

Corbet will have his work cut out for him as Frisk Asker is currently mired in last place in the Norwegian GET with only 2 wins in regulation and 11 total points 16 games into the season. In only his second game, Corbet registered 4 assists and 3 shots on goal en route to a 4-2 win over the third placed Stavanger Oilers. A photo gallery of the game from friend of the blog Espen Hildrup is available here.

As a non-traditional hockey country, Norway competes in the top division of the IIHF World Championships and finished 11th out of 16 teams in the 2009 WC tournament according to Wikipedia. The Norwegian Men's hockey team qualified for the 2010 Winter Olympics and will compete in Group A against Canada, the United States and Switzerland.

Sharks send center Torrey Mitchell to Worcester to complete rehab assignment in AHL

San Jose Sharks center Torrey Mitchell

San Jose Sharks EVP/GM Doug Wilson announced Tuesday that center Torrey Mitchell would be sent to the AHL affiliate Worcester Sharks on a conditioning assignment. Mitchell missed the entire 2008-09 regular season after an awkward fall into a goal post in the second practice of training camp resulted in a broken leg. He reinjured the leg 2 games into a conditioning assignment in Worcester, but he returned to the Sharks in time to play 4 games during the Western Conference Quarterfinal playoff series with the Anaheim Ducks.

The quick skating third line center registered 10 goals, 10 assists and 50 PIMs in 82 games played and was named the Sharks rookie of the year in 2007-08. This season he experienced tendonitis in his injured leg, and was held out of the lineup until he could return at 100%.

Center Joe Pavelski returned after missing 15 games to score a goal and an assist Saturday night against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Pavelski broke his foot blocking a shot at Anaheim on October 3rd. According to, the Sharks will get more reinforcements tonight against Nashville. Winger Devin Setoguchi and Ryan Vesce will return after missing 7 games each. "Seto will be right up in his regular position, no wading in at all. We'll see how his stamina is and how much rust is on the hands and legs," head coach Todd McLellan said regarding Setoguchi's return.

According to David Pollak on his Working the Corners blog, backup goaltender Thomas Greiss will see his second start of the season tonight at HP Pavilion. Expected lines for tonight according to Pollak: Heatley-Thornton-Setoguchi, Pavelski-Marleau-Clowe, Ortmeyer-Nichol-Malhotra and Staubitz-Vesce-McGinn.

[Update] The Sharks assigned forwards Logan Couture and Benn Ferriero to Worcester on Sunday. Captain Rob Blake was placed on the IR last week and is expected to be out "a couple of weeks" with an upper body injury according to head coach Todd McLellan. Blake underwent an MRI and CT scan last Friday. The veteran defenseman suffered the injury during a collision with R.J. Umberger November 4th against Columbus.

[Update2] Ortmeyer's toughest foe isn't on the ice, San Jose Sharks forward battled back from life-threatening blood clotting disorder - SJ Mercury News.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Iced by Penguins 2-1

For the first time all season the Worcester Sharks were totally outplayed by an opponent, but some key saves by rookie netminder Alex Stalock kept the WorSharks in the game all night. Unfortunately the offense couldn't keep up with the goaltending as Worcester dropped a 2-1 decision to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins Saturday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 3,597 fans.

The Penguins would get all the offense they needed while Dan DaSilva served a well deserved two minute minor for boarding in the opening period. While skating four on four Pens defenseman Ben Lovejoy would take a feed at the blueline and skate to the left face-off circle, where he fired an absolute laser off the far post and past Stalock for the 1-0 lead at 16:36 of the first.

Mark Letestu, who had been serving his own boarding minor, made it a 2-0 lead for the Pens at 18:15 after Wilkes-Barre threw a barrage of shots at Stalock. The rookie stood tall and made several saves in a row, but when the puck ended up on Letestu's stick Stalock could do little more than hope the shot hit him. It didn't, as Letestu wristed the puck just under the crossbar to light the lamp for the power play tally.

The WorSharks would show some signs of life in the second period when Steven Zalewski stuffed a loose puck under Penguins goaltender John Curry to make it 2-1 at 7:44 of the second. With the WorSharks on the power play, Danny Groulx fired a blast wide that rebounded off the backboards right on to T.J. Trevelyan stick. Trevelyan wasted no time putting the puck back on net, and Zalewski stuffed the bouncing puck in as Curry fell backwards trying to make the save.

Wilkes-Barre stifling defense took control of the game from that point and Worcester would have very few quality scoring chances afterward, and were it not for several big saves by Stalock the game would have been totally out of reach. Even with Stalock pulled late in the game the WorSharks just couldn't generate anything close to a decent chance as Worcester dropped its fourth game in five tries against the Pens all time.

With the addition of Dennis McCauley to the injured list Worcester had no healthy scratches. Officially McCauley has a "lower body injury", but despite a very noticeable limp he indicated it wasn't a serious injury and he would be back on the ice soon. Mike Moore and Dean Strong are both still out with their own "lower body injuries". With no spare forwards in house the WorSharks went with 11 forwards and seven defenseman. Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up goaltender.

The game saw two fights with Brandon Mashinter taking on Wade Brookbank, and John McCarthy and Keven Veilleux tangling in what was the first pro fight for both. Mashinter was originally going to go with Pens forward Zach Sill on the face-off after Letestu's goal, but as play continued around them Brookbank skated in to take on Mashinter. Mashinter leveled Brookbank with huge right, but Brookbank was able to get to his feet and back at Mashinter before the linesmen could intervene. From that point on it was pretty even, so Mashinter gets the edge for the original knockdown. The best thing that can be said of the McCarthy/Veilleux tilt, where McCarthy was giving up 5 inches and 20 pounds, was McCarthy didn't get hurt.

In a pregame ceremony Worcester Sharks President & CEO Mike Lehr presented head coach Roy Sommer with a plaque commemorating Sommer's 400th AHL win. Sommer received a standing ovation not only from his own team, but also from the Penguins.

The three stars of the game were
1. Mark Letestum (gwg)
2. Steven Zalewski (g)
3. John Curry (30 saves)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Alex Stalock.

W-B/Scranton 2 0 0 - 2
Worcester 0 1 0 - 1

1st Period-1, W-B/Scranton, Lovejoy 2 (Lee, Jeffrey), 16:36. 2, W-B/Scranton, Letestu 3 (Smith, Veilleux), 18:15 (pp). Penalties-Bortuzzo Wbs (slashing), 1:44; Henderson Wor (hooking), 3:42; Petrecki Wor (slashing), 4:02; Wilson Wor (interference), 9:31; Letestu Wbs (boarding), 14:56; DaSilva Wor (boarding), 16:23; Brookbank Wbs (fighting), 18:23; Mashinter Wor (fighting), 18:23; D'Aversa Wbs (roughing), 20:00.

2nd Period-3, Worcester, Zalewski 5 (Groulx, Trevelyan), 7:44 (pp). Penalties-Strait Wbs (hooking), 6:30; Veilleux Wbs (fighting), 7:46; McCarthy Wor (fighting), 7:46; Groulx Wor (hooking), 11:07; Guenin Wbs (hooking), 15:54.

3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Caputi Wbs (hooking), 9:48.

Shots on Goal
W-B/Scranton 10-18-6-34
Worcester 7-10-14-31.

Power Play Opportunities
W-B/Scranton 1 of 5
Worcester 1 of 6.

W-B/Scranton, Curry 6-3-1 (31 shots-30 saves)
Worcester, Stalock 6-2-1 (34 shots-32 saves).

A-3,597. Referees-David Banfield (44). Linesmen-John Costello (24), Todd Whittemore (70).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Darryl Hunt: Groulx, Stalock Lead Worcester To 2-1 Shootout Win Over Manchester

The Worcester Sharks, continuing to play with four of their key players in San Jose on recall, defeated the first place Manchester Monarchs 2-1 in a shootout at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts Friday night.

Just like in last Saturday's meeting, with so many front line players not in the line-up for the WorSharks and Manchester having allowed the fewest goals in the AHL so far this season, it would be important for Worcester to not fall behind early. And just like in last Saturday's loss, the WorSharks would give up the first goal of the game.

With Nick Petrecki off for tripping, Manchester defender David Kolomatis would connect for his first professional goal when he fired a wrist shot through traffic that beat WorSharks goaltender Alex Stalock over the left shoulder for a 1-0 Monarchs lead 4:22 into the contest.

Worcester would get the equalizer at 4:25 of the second period just after failing to connect on a power play chance. The WorSharks kept the pressure on the tiring Monarch defenders, and would finally light the lamp when Dwight Helminen tipped a Petrecki blast over Manchester netminder Jonathan Bernier to make it 1-1. Matt Jones grabbed the second assist with a nice feed to Petrecki.

Stalock and Bernier would both make some incredible saves along the way to keep the game 1-1 through regulation. Bernier would get a little help from the posts too, with Brandon Mashinter hitting the near post while looking at a yawning open net in the first period, and Dan DaSilva hitting the post to the left of Bernier in overtime.

After a scoreless overtime, which included a very anemic Worcester power play, the teams would head to the shootout. Helminen would connect for Worcester in the second round, and Manchester's Trevor Lewis would get the equalizer in the fifth round. The teams would reach the ninth round, and Danny Groulx's wrister over Bernier's glove gave the WorSharks the 2-1 shootout lead. Stalock would make a pad save on Marc-Andre Cliche's low shot for the 2-1 final score.

With Derek Joslin being recalled to take Rob Blake's spot on the San Jose roster, Worcester's only healthy scratch was Louis Liotti. Mike Moore and Dean Strong remain on the injured list with lower body injuries. Because Joe Callahan was recalled for Thursday's San Jose game, defenseman Will Colbert was recalled to Worcester from Kalamazoo(ECHL). Callahan was reassigned to Worcester in time for Friday's game.

Most hockey fans are familiar with the so called "Sean Avery rule", the rule that prevents an offensive player from facing the goaltender in an attempt to screen him. Well, we may eventually hear of the "Alex Stalock rule", as several times during the game Stalock was making jumping jack like motions and waving his arms while standing in the crease in front of fore-checkers standing in front of him as Worcester defenders stood behind the net with the puck. It didn't appear to be very effective, but it was humorous to watch.

The three stars of the game were
1. Alex Stalock (win, 29 saves)
2. Jonathan Bernier (45 saves)
3. Danny Groulx (shootout game winner)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Dwight Helminen.

Even strength lines


Penalty kill lines


Power play lines


W: Trevelyan; shoot high glove, save
M: Holloway; shoot wide right
W: Helminen; deke 5-hole, GOAL
M: Moller; misfired
W: Zalewski; shoot 5-hole, save
M: Elkins; shoot glove, save
W: Mashinter; deke high glove, save
M: Mikus; poke checked
W: Jones; deke low glove, wide
M: Lewis; shoot low stick, GOAL
W: Quirk; shoot low stick, save
M: Segal; shoot glove, save
W: Henderson; deke 5-hole, save
M: Meckler; shoot 5-hole, save
W: DaSilva; deke low stick, wide
M: Gauthier; shoot 5-hole, save
W: Groulx; shoot high glove, GOAL
M: Cliche; shoot low glove, save

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

1st Period-1, Manchester, Kolomatis 1 (Meckler, Elkins), 4:22 (pp). Penalties-Petrecki Wor (tripping), 2:35; Callahan Wor (interference), 6:28; McCarthy Wor (hooking), 12:49.

2nd Period-2, Worcester, Helminen 2 (Petrecki, Jones), 4:25. Penalties-Lewis Mch (goaltender interference), 0:16; Campbell Mch (hooking), 2:04; Loprieno Wor (slashing), 5:52; McLaren Wor (slashing), 7:26; Desjardins Wor (goaltender interference), 17:18.

3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Westgarth Mch (roughing), 4:31; Segal Mch (tripping), 12:30; Piskula Mch (delay of game), 13:58.

OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Mikus Mch (hooking), 1:38.

Shots on Goal
Manchester 8-10-10-2-0-30
Worcester 14-10-14-8-1-47.

Power Play Opportunities
Manchester 1 of 6
Worcester 0 of 6.

Manchester, Bernier 6-2-1 (46 shots-45 saves)
Worcester, Stalock 6-1-1 (30 shots-29 saves).

A-2,214. Referee-David Banfield (44). Linesmen-Chris Aughe (74), Tim Low (68).

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fight Camp 360: Fedor Emelianenko vs Brett Rogers preview

Debuting on my birthday Tuesday was Strikeforce's initial Fedor vs Rogers Fight Camp 360 preview show. This episode will replay tonight on Showtime at 10PM ET/PT, and Saturday night at 4:30PM ET/PT. In a similar vein to HBO's Pacquaio-Cotto 24-7 and Showtime's previous World Boxing Classic Fightcamp 360, this Fedor vs Rogers episode takes a general look at the life and training each fighter undertakes in the leadup to their November 7th meeting on CBS.

Also on tap later tonight, HDnet will air a special 90-minute episode of Inside MMA live from the Fedor-Rogers weigh-ins in Chicago. Hosts Kenny Rice and Bas Rutten, along with reporter Ron Kruck, will join a trio of Strikeforce guests in Heavyweight Bobby Lashley, "King Mo" Lawal and former Strikeforce Champion and San Jose native Frank Shamrock to breakdown the fight card and the latest news of the sport.

HDnet will also air Sengoku 11 live from Japan tonight at 11PM (PT). A Strikeforce Challengers card featuring Sharkspage favorite Billy Evangelista (9-0) and Jorge Gurgel (13-5) will air tonight on Showtime at 8PM. Tickets are available via here.

[Update] Episode 2 of Fight Camp 360: World Boxing Classic will air on Showtime November 14th.

Interview with radio host Jordan Breen on Strikeforce's Fedor-Rogers CBS broadcast and Showtime's Super Six boxing tournament

Longtime writer and radio host Jordan Breen answered several questions about Saturday night's Fedor Emelianenko vs Brett Rogers Strikeforce debut on CBS (9PM PT), about Strikeforce's matchmaking for Fedor, on Brett Rogers' prospects against a top pound-for-pound MMA athlete, different factors leading to layoffs for Strikeforce champions, on Strikeforce's plan for 16-20 MMA events in 2010, the state of new media coverage and mixed martial arts, and what issues the mainstream media and new media will facing covering MMA moving forward. Breen also discussed the Froch-Dirrell Showtime Super Six boxing tournament opening bout, and previewed Andre Ward's matchup with Mikkel Kesseler November 21st at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Along with Josh Gross of Sports Illustrated (formerly of Sherdog), Dann Stupp of and Ariel Helwani of AOL Fanhouse, 22-year old Halifax native Jordan Breen is one of the four most influential new media figures covering mixed martial arts today. He hosts a 2-hour online radio show along with producer T.J. Desantis on every Tuesday and Thursday at 12PM (PT), and can be followed on twitter at After many major MMA events, TJ and Jordan host a live 'Beatdown After the Bell" postfight show (call-in phone #: 952-470-2369).

The phone interview sounded as if it was conducted through a Burger King speakerbox 3000 miles away, so any transcription errors are most assuredly mine. Get your head in the game Verizon.

[Q] How big is this upcoming event for Strikeforce with the CBS broadcast, the Fedor-Rogers heavyweight showcase, the Middleweight Shields-Miller title fight? Do you think this will be their biggest mixed martial arts event to date?

[JB] I would say this is the biggest card to date because it is on a new platform, in addition to the fact they are debuting Fedor Emelianenko... they guy they have built not just their directional angle around, but also their financial stake is tied up in Fedor Emelianenko as well. I guess it is the biggest card when you combine all the factors involved. It was their biggest card earlier this year when they debuted Carano-Cyborg on showtime, how on earth two months later with them being on CBS, with Fedor Emeilenko debuting on the card, another title fight, how could that not be a top appearance?

[Q] Do you think Strikeforce has to meet expectations, or the bar that EliteXC previously set on CBS, or are they rebooting on a broadcast network with a clean slate?

[JB] I think there are definitely expectations. They wouldn't want to, I believe the Robbie Lawler Scott vs Smith match on CBS got a 1.9 rating or something like that, that is not territory they would like to tread in. I don't think they have to top out the way Kimbo Slice vs James Thompson did, really no one kind of knows what to expect in terms of the popularity of Fedor Emelianenko as a network television commodity. I don't know that there is a direct tie to EliteXC numbers, but there is definitely a baseline established. If they went below that, it would be pretty well disasterous. To do a 3.0, 3.1 or 3.2 would be considered a success. I don't think that would be an ideal situation for them, but I do not think there is one number that they have to obtain.

[Q] Here in the Bay Area there is a blend of casual fan and hardcore, longtime viewer. Fedor-Rogers is kind of a statement on the Strikeforce Heavyweight Division. Would you have matched up Fedor with Rogers first, or do you think that might have been a better match 1-2 fights from now, after Overeem or Werdum or another contender for example? What do you think about the matchmaking, throwing Rogers to a Top 3 pound-for-pound MMA fighter so early in his career?

[JB] I think it cuts two ways. One thing you can say about MMA, maybe not prize fighting in general, but in MMA is that you don't want to squander a potential fight you can get people interested in. I think as an example you can look at how quickly Zuffa (parent company of UFC) wanted to make the Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfort matchup. You are saying, why is Vitor Belfort getting a title shot? Certainly with Dan Henderson's contract negotiations outstanding, maybe Nathan Marquardt is a better option. But Zuffa knows that Dan Henderson and Nathan Marquardt are two elite warriors who are going to win fights for a long time.

Vitor Belfort's entire career is built on the fact that he is unrivaled and flaky, and that he certainly can't be counted on to beat a whole string of top middleweights. He beat a Rich Franklin and a Matt Lindland, and he has started that twist where he makes people believe a fight with Anderson Silva would be interesting. With Brett Rogers... after he beat Andrei Arlovski I see nothing wrong with Strikeforce striking while the iron is hot. Brett Rogers is as good an option as any of the top heavyweights they have, it is somewhat unfortunate because you don't want to see prospects in MMA treated like that. The previous thing about Brett Rogers you could see coming from a mile away with the Arlovski fight, when you step up in competition you want a prospect to have ringtime rounds and experience at every level, incrementally on the way up.

It was clear when he stepped up against Arlovski, not only did he step up, but based on style the way he was going to win the fight, it was going to be quick and he wasn't going to have a whole lot of competition, just as it was. You could see from a mile away, if he did that they weren't going to say 'You beat Arlovski, but clearly you have some more developing to do, you need to fight some more Abongo Humphrey's'. They were going to say, 'Hey, you beat Andre Arlovski, time to fight a top 5 heavyweight'. That is the cruel nature of the sport, but I don't know that it is poor matchmaking. I don't know that having Brett Rogers lose to another top 10, top 15 heavyweight against someone fans are less excited about, someone like a Fabricio Werdum, would be better at this point in time. So I think that having Brett Rogers at possibly his most believable stage as a contender against Fedor Emelianenko is not neccissarily a bad idea.

[Q] About the fight itself, on your radio show you recently knocked down the oft said 'you have to beat the champ, to beat the champ' saying, but do you think 'punchers chance' really applies in this fight or is it going to be a blowout? With Rogers string of flash knockouts, and Fedor looking a little tentative against Arlovski, do you think 'punchers chance' applies, or how do you see Rogers chances in this fight?

[JB] I think it depends on how you mean, does it apply. I don't know if there is a more pure instance of when you will see punchers chance apply, because technically in every aspect of clinchwork and on the ground Fedor is better.

If there is a chance, definitely it will be a punchers chance. Does it really apply in that it is an actual possibility? No, I don't think it is a huge chance. If you look at the fight, honestly I think picking Rogers is sincerly irrational. He is not as good a striker at range as Fedor Emelianenko is, he has got longer limbs. I wouldn't say that Fedor looked necessarily tentative against Arlovski, I would say he was looking instead to counter. Also another thing you see if you watch that fight again, basically for all of Arlovski's punches Fedor is just off the end of them. Arlovski landed virtually nothing, and then when Fedor Emelianenko threw his hands, he completely obliterated him.

Rogers has skill for a really big heavyweight, he always throws combinations he never throws single shots. It is clearly very natural for him. It is not like he throws with brilliant, blinding handspeed or quickness, or that his combos are especially poetic. Even though he is a big guy with a long reach, where his real skill lies comes in the clinch where he can control the guys, knee and punch inside and mix it up that way. You can't do that against Fedor Emelianenko. If he tries to clinch, he is going to get beaten up and taken down. That will pretty much be the end of that story. Stylisitically it is a really bitter pill for him to swallow.

[Q] Strikeforce has received criticism of late for the lengths with which their champions have gone without defending their title. Do you think some of that has played a part with the acquisition of assests from EliteXC and Affliction, injuries, and also negotiating the television contract with Showtime/CBS?

[JB] They have been caught between a rock and a hard place. A guy like Cung Le, they were able to build the product on, really wasn't as interested as being a mixed martial artist so much as he was at being successful in acting. Alistair Overeem obviously has other issues. They do want their champions to fight rather actively, they had injury issues with Josh Thomson and Cristiane 'Cyborg' Santos, they got nicked up in competition and training. I think one of the problems with Strikeforce is that when they went from a regional product to something larger, they are a very quick realization that a lot of the product they had was unreliable for one reason or another. Alistar Overeem was more interested in success in K-1, Josh Thomson is often injured, Gina Carano is still up in the air with regard to what her level of involvement in MMA is going to be going forward. Nick Diaz is as unreliable as it gets.

It is very clear that the people they put on cards, the people they had headlining cards weren't people they could rely on every 3-4 months. That is definitely a perspective, maybe if you thought real hard about it you could see it coming, but it would be really difficult to envision the problems and the circumstances ahead of time as the company expanded and tried to run major shows every 3-4 months.

[Q] Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said he was expecting 16-20 events in 2010, do you think that is sustainable 1 year out or is that something they need to build up towards?

[JB] It is a challenge, but I really do not think that is too many... I don't think 16-20 events is that much of a stretch if they get the logisitical side ironed out. The biggest thing with Strikeforce is not whether they can or will fill up that many cards, but more importantly how they fill them up. My biggest thing with Strikeforce at this point is the talent they have used, you see it on some of the (SHOMMA) Challengers cards, I still question their ability to book proper prospects, and put themselves in a position to reap the benefits where they are going to develop, and develop quickly, new and interesting faces who are really Strikeforce born-and-bred talent. Even if you go back to their regional days, they really haven't developed too many prospects. Many guys they have shown interest in have not panned out. Is Luke Stewart really going to be a contender for Strikeforce?

I think they really need to focus overall, top to bottom, on upgrading the quality of the cards. Then the thing becomes, they are trying at that point to develop prospects, they are trying to develop a Zuffa level card without using Zuffa level resources. If you are putting on 16-20 cards, and you want to develop prospects, it is even more difficult because people aren't getting to see them on the undercard... It becomes extremely difficult for them to find a way where the best and most important fights are being shown, the fights that people to see. They also need to pick their spots with quality talent on the undercards, and knowing when to book them and when to put them on television. These are all fundamental question they have struggled with so far.

It is not just Strikeforce, they have also struggled because there is a direct impact from Showtime, and Showtime Sports in determining what goes on the card. I don't think Showtime knows MMA that well. I think a lot of their opinions are woefully misguided. That is why you get Kevin Randleman and Mike Whitehead on a Showtime card. Anyone who watches MMA, knows this fight is going to be absolutely brutal.

[Q] MMA has blazed new ground with new media coverage before most of the other sports and leagues got on board. How do you think old school MMA websites have established a reputation for coverage and pushed boundries, developed new resources for fans like the Sherdog Radio Network or the Fight Finder for two examples... we are just starting to see these the last few years in other sports. What do you think other sports can learn from how MMA has treated new media?

[JB] One thing, I don't know that I would say mixed martial arts coverage has been better than other sports but it has been effective... I will say that one of the most important things is that MMA enjoys a close relationship, because it was one of the first sports that was born and sustained by new media, competitors and fans are intimately connected in a way that other sports aren't.

It is tough because the nature of the media, and one thing the MMA media benefits from is the fact that it is new media, but it is not the kind of berrating, 24-7 cable news network style of dissection. The kind of coverage stick and ball league's face. For fighters involved, and for other parties, the nature of the way MMA discourse happens, even though it is often far more personal and intimate for them because they are actively reading blogs and what fans and writers think more provacatively than other sports, I don't think it is as grating and overbearing as if it was the NBA and everywhere you go there is something written about you. An ability to, even though you are closer to the discourse, to not feel intently overwhelmed by it, or aggravated or annoyed by it, is a strength.

I think that is important, but the biggest issue is that it really is a sport born of new media. As a result, it is always going to have this level of closeness with promoters and fighters reading blogs, reading forums. Having discourse made that way is different... (In the NBA) the level of bureaucracy and the way that decisions are made are far more internal, far more technocratic. There is definitely much more of a democracy in MMA which is extremely refreshing.

[Q] There is also a downside for new media coverage, the UFC banned and other major MMA websites for unclear reasons, do you think there are any lasting implications from that incident? Was that just a blip, or if you still just report the facts, do you still have to deal with the consequences of that. How do you think that impacts coverage as a whole because in some of the other major sports you can report on negative stories or negative situations and you are not going to be held to account as long as you are accurate and reporting the truth. In mixed martial arts sometimes you have promoters who weild power, that can significantly impact a website or a blog if you write something they do not like. Is there a negative side where a blog or a website does not have the backing, the editorial staff or the reputation, so some websites may tilt their coverage towards the positive. They won't be as critical?

[JB] That definitely happens, there are plenty of websites who (adapt reporting) or minimize coverage of competitors to get access. I think ultimately it is that other side of what I mentioned about the sport's closeness. First of all there is a difference because conventional media go through teams and major sports leagues, not the sport itself. Imagine if a major team in any of the stick and ball leagues started denying media credentials, they would be absolutely crucified. The nature of the reporting that followed would neccesitate that it never happen... the nature of the MMA media, and one of the ways you saw how embryonic it is, was when a lot of the websites got banned. Then you saw a sort of free-for-all as those websites tried to get their credentials back because it was every man for themself.

A lot of people want to equate going mainstream with coverage on network television or getting results aired on ESPN, I think if you really want to look at what constitutes the mainstream American sports image, truely part and parcel of the sporting discourse is the politics of it... With the NFL you constantly hear about whether there is going to be a labor stoppage, the bargaining agreement, this player signed here, this GM said this. When you get coverage on ESPN or a similar network for MMA, it is a really superficial feature story or it is 'hey these guys are fighting, how about that fight?'. The difference is enormous to say the very, very least. The true question is whether the sport is honestly part of the mainstream, or whether it has crossover appeal from time to time.

[Q] Carl Froch vs Andre Dirrell in the opening round of the Showtime Super Six World Boxing Classic, I understand several members of the media took issue with Dirrell's style, if you make someone miss and do not make them pay it looks like you are running, but Dirrell made Froch look slow and pedestrian inside the ring. The biggest left hook Froch landed, Dirrell was rolling his head with the blow, even the British broadcasters calling the fight gave it cleanly for Dirrell. What did you think of the decision?

[JB] I don't think it was a hometown decision because there wasn't one single British judge there. I had Dirrell winning, with the one point deduction, 116-112 but the major problem is if you are going to fight like Henry Akinwande, you are not going to score with the judges. That is just the way it is. If he wants to be a counter puncher, you can't constantly grab and clinch at every turn and look diametrically opposed to engaging your opponent. It is not going to work.

You can see how alienating his style is because if you look at the actually judges cards for the fight, there is absolutely no unanimity between the rounds. There are virtually no rounds that all 3 judges thought 1 guy won. It was either Froch or Dirrell. It is clear there was no major consensus on whether Dirrell was effective. If anything, the real story is the fact that Andre Dirrell fought in a way that, here's what bothers me is that late in the fight when he fought like he might have thought he was behind, he wanted to fight. He started to beat the (bleep) out of Carl Froch. When he wanted to throw punches, he could beat him down. Yet he fought timidly and passively, and he like a giant (bleep) for 10 rounds, throwing only 3 punches a round. Froch never got near him. In that situation, should he have won the decision? Yes, I think so, but at the same time the major story coming out of it is for the first 10 rounds he fought in a way that tried to make it as easy as possible for himself while trying to win throwing 4 punches a round. That is not even measured risk.

[Q] There are similar elements to the Andre Ward vs Mikkel Kessler fight November 21st in Oakland. Kessler is a more complete fighter, but a lot of people are underratting Andre Ward's chances in the fight. How do you see that playing out?

[JB] I think it is going to be difficult for Andre Ward. His ability, it is one thing to be a better technical boxer and beating Edison Miranda, who is questionable as an actual boxer. Mikkel Kessler possibly has the best jab in boxing, best double jab in boxing, and even the best triple jab in boxing. Technically you are not going to find a boxer who puts everything together more effectively, and on top of that he is able to wear down opponents and beat them up. It is not that I expect Andre Ward not to win rounds, I think he will find some rounds to win, but Kessler is a unique prototype. There is nothing he does not do well. I don't think he is outstanding in a whole lot of categories, maybe his jab and combination punching aside, but I think it comes down to one guy is a really good boxer, and one guy is a REALLY good boxer. I can not see how Kessler does not end up the winner, his technical proficency, the fact that he is the more talented puncher, the fact that he is the more diverse combination puncher, and I think he can dominate Andre with his jab alone. It will be a humbling experience for Andre Ward, who as a former Olympic competitor tends to be a better technical fighter in most cases.

[Q] After a crushing last second knockout loss to Arthur Abraham, do you see Jermain Taylor going to Round 2? With that many knockout losses, in that short a timespan, do you think he can continue?

[JB] I am really not too concerned to be honest. I didn't think he deserved to be there in the first place. He has no real Super Middleweight wins anyway, he beat Jeff Lacey. So what. I got a lot of emails after the Abraham knockout, people asking if Jermain Taylor could not go on who I would like to see go in. Find me any quality Super Middleweight. Find me a guy who has actually won fights in the division. Taylor has done virtually nothing at Super Middleweight. That said, it has its merits because the Super Middleweight division has a whole lot of talent but not a lot of name value. Obviously adding a guy like Jermain Taylor adds that name value. I would rather have several Super Middleweights over Taylor, whether it be Lucian Bute (#2 Ring Magazine), Librado Andrade (#4 Ring Magazine), Allan Green (#7 Ring Magazine) or Robert Stieglitz (#8 Ring Magazine).

Thanks very much for taking the time to answer a handful of questions. Tune in to Jordan "the mastermind" Breen on every Tuesday and Thursday at 12PM (PT).

[Update] San Jose's Strikeforce goes prime time in mixed martial arts - Mark Purdy for the San Jose Mercury News.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shark Notes - November 5th

- The Sharks earned their 6th straight win, 4th straight on the road, with a tight checking 3-2 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night. Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley (PP) scored in regulation, and Dan Boyle scored the lone OT shootout goal to pad the Sharks lead for first place in the Pacific Division. San Jose trails Colorado by 1 point for the best record in the Western Conference.

There was a fascinating bout of pregame coachmanship from Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock and San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. Last season Hitchcock offered a pointed compliment to San Jose. Hitchcock said the Sharks were the best team in the NHL playing without the puck. That trend continued prior to Wednesday's game when Hitchcock said, "There's a reason they win, it's not because they have a lock on the talent. It's because they play the game the right way." He continued, "They go to the hard areas to check, they go to the hard areas to score. We’re always trying to get our players to fight for space rather than look for space. They’re where we want to get to." McLellan's response, according to the Sharks radio broadcast, was to note that this may have been an effort to inspire the Columbus roster more than complimenting the opponent.

Center Joe Thornton banked a hard angle shot off traffic to open the scoring 6:32 into the first. Its was Thornton's 4th goal and 20th point of the season. The Sharks failed to clear a rebound less than 3 minutes later, and a heavy shot/pass by Samuel Pahlsson left the puck pinballing in the slot. With 5 Sharks collapsed down low in front of the net, a quick outlet pass to Anton Stralman on the point, and a quick d-to-d pass to Fedor Tyutin gave the veteran Russian 15-20 feet of open space to work with. Tyutin tee'd up a heavy, low slapshot that was tipped past Nabokov by Jason Chimera.

Defenseman Kent Huskins dropped the gloves with enforcer Jared Boll to stick up for a teammate at the end of the first, but a series of right hands dropped him to the ice. Checking winger Brad Staubitz challenged Boll to another longer fight in the second period, but Staubitz's aggression lead to a Columbus power play goal. McLellan limited Staubitz's ice time for the remainder of the game.

A Fedor Tyutin 2 minute minor for tripping early in the second period opened the door for the Sharks power play (1st in the NHL on the road), and it took all of 10 second to capitalize for Dany Heatley's 10th goal of the season. A clean faceoff win by Thornton started the scoring sequence, and a fake/snap shot by Marleau was stopped by goaltender Steve Mason but left in front of the crease. Defenseman Jan Hejda moved over to cover Joe Thornton on the right side, and Dany Heatley beat R.J. Umberger to the rebound.

The Columbus Blue Jackets were given an opportunity to tie the game on Brad Staubitz's instigator penalty, and it was captain Rick Nash who scored his 10th to tie the game at 2-2. Evgeni Nabokov went down to stop Stralman's point shot, but Umberger shoveled the puck to a wide open Rick Nash on the goal line. With Nabokov on the ice, Nash was able to tuck a shot just inside the post from a hard angle.

Evgeni Nabokov stopped 26 of 28 shots to earn his NHL leading 10th win of the season, but he was the strongest with critical stops in OT and in the shootout. Nabokov picked off a shot labeled top shelf late in overtime, and used a poke check on Nikita Filatov and solid position on Anton Stralman to put pressure on Blue Jackets Rick Nash in the final CBJ shootout attempt. Nash stickhandled back and forth down the center of the ice, but Nabokov closed off the 5-hole and forced him wide. A leg pad tight against the post gave Nash no room to shoot, and the Sharks their 8th win of the season. Three stars of the game: Nabokov, Mason, Nash.

- Saving the Jackets, Unless relief can be provided from a problematic lease and other financial burdens, Columbus eventually could lose its NHL team, consultant's report says - Columbus Post Dispatch. H/T Slapshots hockey blog.

- Sharks head coach Todd McLellan recently discussed injured forwards Joe Pavelski, Torrey Mitchell, Ryan Vesce and Devin Setoguchi, "My gut was telling me these guys would be a little further long today but unfortunately they're not". All 4 were reportedly skating during a recent pregame practice, Pavelski may be the closest to returning according to head coach Todd McLellan.

After averaging 160 man games lost to injury in the previous 3 seasons, the Sharks at one point lost 9 roster players as that figure ballooned to 336 in 2008-09. With early injuries to Setoguchi, Mitchell, Pavelski and Vesce, the Sharks have unofficially registered 40 man games lost to injury only 16 games in. That sets an unfortunate pace for 205 man games lost this season, and it will increase with the absence of captain Rob Blake.

Defenseman Rob Blake was injured on the sequence that lead to Rick Nash's goal in the second period. Blake was unable to come off the ice on the penalty kill, and unable to switch with a more mobile forward on the point. According to the Canadian Press, the Sharks place Blake on injured reserve with an "upper body" injury and recalled defenseman Derek Joslin from Worcester. Blake registered 1 assist in 11:52 of ice time (15 shifts).

- Ottawa owner's trivial pursuit of Heatley’s $4 million bonus - Greg Wyshynski for Yahoo's Puck Daddy.

News is just trickling out now that Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk filed a grievance with the NHL against former Senator Dany Heatley, seeking to reclaim the $4 million signing bonus Heatley snagged after refusing a trade to the Edmonton Oilers over the summer.

More from the Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek: Trying to make sense of Sens' grievance.

- The latest DOH podcast is available here. Mike and Doug discuss how San Jose's lines will shift when players return from injury, the Columbus television broadcast of Wednesday's game, and note that they will take over the 2-hour December 6th radio broadcast on 1220AM. The latest Globe Sports (10-29) and The Hockey News (10-30) podcasts are available here and here. The latest Rink Podcast and AOL Pucktalk will help you fill up your ipod if you are looking in vain for hockey on local radio.

- Sharks Team Report -

Last season, the Sharks took off immediately after virtually every road game and practiced the next day at their next stop on the tour. This season, coach Todd McLellan and the coaching staff decided to try something different, staying overnight after games whenever possible and practicing before the next flight out. It wasn't a casually made decision. "I think it breaks up a trip a little bit. It gives you an opportunity to rest a little more," McLellan said. "We weren't happy at the end of last year with where we were fatigue-wise, and we had to look at some of the things we were doing as an organization and try to make some changes."

- After USA Hockey announced a January 1st Winter Classic unveiling for the 2010 roster, ESPN blogger Joy Russo detailed the roster announcement dates for each participating Men's Olympic team: Belarus Dec-23, Russia Dec-25, Sweden Dec-27, Latvia Dec-29, Norway Dec-29, Slovakia Dec-29, Czech Republic Dec-30, Finland Dec-30, Germany Dec-30, Switzerland Dec-30 and Canada Dec-31.

Several Sharks are expected to be in contention for the Team Canada and Team USA Olympic rosters. Center Joe Pavelski for Team USA, and any one of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Dan Boyle are competing for roster spots on Team Canada. In a Wednesday musing on Team Canada, Pierre McGuire offered his updated thoughts on Team Canada's roster. Dan Boyle joined a very deep defense, and Patrick Marleau was slotted as a fourth line left wing with Jordan Staal and Jarome Iginla. Dany Heatley was noted on Pierre's watchlist.

Q: Patrick Marleau was considered by many a player on the bubble in the summer. Why do you have him on the team at this point.

"I think what we're seeing right now is Patrick Marleau is not very comfortable in a leadership position but he is very comfortable in a follower position where all he's counted on is to show up at the rink and score goals. He doesn't have to be the spokesman for the team, he has to be a big body that can skate and distribute the puck and when he has a chance to shoot it, shoot it. He's made a big difference for the San Jose Sharks. Everybody's talking about all these great players in San Jose, he's been the very best player on that team this year and if its not for him, San Jose's not at the top of the Pacific Division."

Marleau registered a career best 38 goals last year despite having his season cut short with a knee injury. He returned and registered 2 game winning goals in the playoffs against Anaheim despite looking about 60%. All of that is worthy of mention, but what made it a career season for him was adapting a more physical role around the net and emerging as a standout 2-way player. Teams changed the way they approached the power play with Marleau on the penalty kill. Add in the fact that he took shifts on each of the top three lines, and moved from center to left wing and back, and he has a versatility that should be valuable in a compressed Olympic schedule. A few comments have been made that he is more comfortable as a follower after being removed as captain, but as an outsider looking in his leadership appears to be as strong or stronger than it was last year on the ice and in the lockerroom.

A Western Conference line of Marleau-Thornton-Iginla could be one of the most dangerous scoring threats in the Olympics, but an all-Sharks line of Marleau-Thornton-Heatley combines three different playing styles that could prove even more effective. The problem for Team Canada is that for every player you add, you have to drop a James Neal, Steven Stamkos or Patrick Sharp. Quite a good problem to have.

In a similar vein, the Sharks also have to be concerned about a NHL hangover for its Olympic participants. While general manager Doug Wilson said there is no greater honor than representing one's country, Joe Thornton had 3 points in 7 post-Allstar games last year, Marleau had 2 points in 5 post-Allstar games, and Dan Boyle suffered an upper body injury at his first career Allstar game and missed 3 starts.

Goaltenders Evgeni Nabokov and Thomas Greiss are locks for Team Russia and Team Germany respectively, on a smaller North American rink defenseman Douglas Murray should get strong consideration for Team Sweden. Former San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson will manage the U.S. team, with NYI head coach Scott Gordon and NYR head coach John Tortorella serving as assistants. The XXI Winter Olympics will be held February 12-28, 2009 in Vancouver, Canada.

- San Jose Mercury News beat writer David Pollak reported that Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman was in Columbus scouting for the 2010 roster. Pollak noted that 5 of the 6 candidates for Team Canada showed up on the score sheet, regulation goals by Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Rick Nash, and assists by Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle. Boyle also scored the decisive OT shootout against possible starter Steve Mason.

- It's possibly NHL's Greatest disgrace yet - Larry Brooks for the NY Post.

The relationship with Wayne Gretzky that the NHL claims to hold near and dear has become so strained in the wake of the league's decision last week not to guarantee even a nickel of the $8.2 million in deferred money owed to No. 99 for his last three seasons behind the Phoenix bench, that Gretzky might cancel plans to attend next Monday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Toronto, Slap Shots has learned.

We're told by a well-placed source that Gretzky is livid that the NHL refused to amend its purchase proposal to include him as a guaranteed creditor even after the commissioner's office and league attorneys studied the issue for three days following its presentation to the court at the beginning of last week.

The fallout over the Phoenix Coyotes is not over, but with Monday's court approval of a sale to the NHL for $140 million it should begin to cool slightly. Attendance issues, corporate advertising and lease negotiations with the City of Glendale are problems without easy answers, but the team on the ice is performing well (9-6-0, 3rd Pacific, 5th West) and captain Shane Doan remains a constant source of strength for the franchise.

San Jose Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss Goalies World Magazine rookie of the week

- San Jose Sharks backup goaltender Thomas Greiss was named Goalies World Magazine's NHL rookie of the week with a 37 save effort leading to a 4-1 road win over the Philadelphis Flyers. It was the first NHL win for the German-born goaltender. Starter Evgeni Nabokov (15GP) is tied with Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury (12GP) and Colorado's Craig Anderson (15GP) for the NHL lead with 10 wins. Nabokov is also tied for 10th in goals against average (2.38) and save percentage (.916). With 2 wins and 1 loss this season, Nabokov is 15-16 alltime in the NHL shootout (0.484) with 63 saves on 107 total shootout attempts against (0.589).

- November 1st was the 50th anniversary of the first goalie mask worn in the NHL. Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante forced the issue with head coach Toe Blake, and donned a mask against the New York Rangers November 1st, 1959. Sports Illustrated takes a team-by-team, goaltender-by-goaltender look at each goalie mask in the NHL with this photo gallery.

- Former Globe and Mail media analyst William Houston took a look at last week's television ratins in Canada on According to Houston, Hockey Night in Canada drew 2.453M viewers for Toronto-Montreal (up almost 1 million), and 809,000 viewers for Detroit-Calgary. Sportsnet Ontario also drew 692,000 for Toronto-Buffalo, and Sportsnet Pacific drew 345,000 for Vancouver-Anaheim.

Steve Lepore has been doing similar yeoman's work on the American side at Puck the Media detailing the October viewership on Versus:

OCT-1: 7PM WAS-BOS 501,000 viewers
OCT-1: 10PM SJ-COL 332,000 viewers
OCT-2: 12PM FLA-CHI 100,000 viewers
OCT-2: 3PM STL-DET 278,000 viewers
OCT-5: 7PM NYR-NJ 269,000 viewers
OCT-6: 7PM WAS-PHI 405,000 viewers
OCT-12: 8PM CAL-CHI 177,000 viewers
OCT-13: 7PM DET-BUF 467,000 viewers
OCT-19: 7PM SJ-NYR 195,000 viewers
OCT-20: 7PM STL-PIT 362,000 viewers
OCT-27: 7PM PHI-WAS 477,000 viewers

Steve takes a similar look at CBC's ratings for hockey in October here.

- Comcast must make the right calls on sports in any NBC deal - Sports Business Journal.

It’s looking more likely that Comcast will be successful in its attempt to take control of NBC, judging by a series of meetings the two sides have had over the past few weeks. Toward the end of October, the top executives from NBC and Comcast — including NBC’s Jeff Zucker and Dick Ebersol and Comcast’s Steve Burke and Jeff Shell — gathered for two days of secret meetings in New York, sources told me.

- Interesting post on detailing major newspapers who did not send a reporter to cover the World Series. On the list are several Northern California newspapers including the SF Chronicle, SJ Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Sac Bee and Oakland Tribune. More from here.

- UAH program standing alone - The Huntsville Times.

- I have been under the weather for the better part of week, look for 2 interviews and a period-by-period analysis of the Sharks (trying to gauge slow starts). Thanks for the handful of birthday emails and facebook notes.

[Update] That 5-1 victory over the Hurricane, but first a closer look at the damage inside Joe Thornton’s mouth - David Pollak's Working the Corners blog.

"The three top are gone and the three bottom are cut in half," said Thornton, who missed only one or two shifts, then had to spend an hour with team dentist Donald Goudy once Friday’s game ended...

The back of his mouth guard, Thronton said, "got shattered off. I thought my teeth were all good up top, then I took out the mouth guard and the teeth came right with it."

The badly damaged bottom teeth have been rebuilt some, but Thornton has reverted to using an old bridge — something he thought he wouldn’t have to do when he had “permanent” teeth constructed last summer.

Exhibit A, B and C why hockey is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world.

[Update2] Pacific: Sharks in familiar spot -- first place - John Kreiser for

Roy Sommer, coach of San Jose's AHL affiliate in Worcester, became only the fourth bench boss in league history to reach 400 wins when Worcester beat Springfield last Saturday, The other three are Bun Cook, Fred Mathers and John Paddock. The win improved his AHL record to 400-380-54-57. ... Ray Tufts, the Sharks' head athletic trainer, reached the 1,000-game milestone Wednesday when the Sharks visited Columbus.

[Update3] Illegal Curve, Faceoffs and Games Won - Puck Prospectus.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

O'neill Cold Water Classic series finale began Monday at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz

2009 ASP WQS O'neill Santa Cruz Cold Water Classic surf contest

The 2009 O'Neill Cold Water Classic surfing contest kicked off Monday with 4-5 foot waves at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz. Kilauea, Hawaii's Gavin Gillette earned the highest heat total with 16.23 points in the opening Round of 128. Gillette also scored the highest wave of the day with a 9.40 out of 10.

Last year's defending champion, 18-year old Santa Cruz native Nat Young, was eliminated after his first heat of the contest on Monday. Young finished fourth behind Granger Larsen, Nathaniel Curran and Noi Kalukukui. Only the top 2 surfers in each heat advance.

The longtime Northern California surf contest began as a local affair in 1987. In 2005, the Cold Water Classic became a 4-star lower tier ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) event, part of the Macy's California Trifecta Surf Series along with contests at Trestles and Newport Beach.

This year the ASP launched the inaugural O’Neill Cold Water Classic Series. The 5-event series traveled to Tasmania, Scotland, South Africa and Vancouver before finishing the schedule in Santa Cruz. In addition to the $145,000 prize purse, the California finale was elevated to a 6-star WQS event, boosting its profile as a 2010 ASP World Tour qualifier. For more information on the ASP WQS O’Neill Cold Water Classic California or the Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships visit

[Update] Cold Water Classic: Santa Cruz's Smith, Freitas advance out of local trials, get bounced in Round of 128 - Santa Cruz Sentinel.

The Association of Surfing Professionals elevated the Cold Water Classic to six-star status this year, meaning an increased purse of $145,000, more crucial World Qualifying Series points, and an all-star cast of big league professional surfers looking to improve their standings and win some cash.

In the past, when the contest was rated lower, there were more slots open for local surfers in the main event. Now, not only is it tougher for local WQS competitors to attain a seeded spot in the contest, there are only two spots available for county surfers, awarded to the first and second place finishers of the local trials finals.

[Update2] Mavericks Surf Contest opens competition window early, awaits winter swells - LA Times blog.

[Update3] This Powerline Productions video from December 2007 documented one of the heaviest swells to ever hit Northern California. Big Tuesday also resulted in front page San Francisco Chronicle coverage of a harrowing wipeout by Santa Cruz native Darryl "Flea" Virostko on a 30+ foot wave at Mavericks.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Darryl Hunt: Jones, WorSharks Win 4-1 Over Springfield In Fight Filled Contest

The Worcester Sharks used three special teams goals to defeat the Springfield Falcons 4-1 Sunday afternoon in a fight filled contest at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 2,356 fans.

The WorSharks’ special teams were put to the task early when Michael Wilson was called for a high sticking double minor, and Worcester rose to the occasion by grabbing a shorthanded goal just 13 seconds into the penalty. John McCarthy broke out of the Worcester zone down the left side and fired a shot on Springfield goaltender Devan Dubnyk that Dubnyk pinned between his right pad and the goal post. As Falcons center Ryan Potulny tried to move the puck out of harm’s way Andrew Desjardins jumped on the loose puck and flipped it over Dubnyk for the 1-0 lead just 37 second into the contest.

Worcester would increase their lead to 2-0 on a power play goal with 47 seconds remaining in the opening period when Matt Jones, who was recalled Sunday morning from Kalamazoo (ECHL), tipped home a blast from the blue line by Danny Groulx.

The first period set the tone for the rest of the game as both squads were very physical in their play. At the 7:20 mark tempers boiled over as Springfield’s Kip Brennan jumped Frazer McLaren in the corner to the left of Dubnyk. McLaren, who is nursing s sore hand, didn’t throw a punch in the battle but was still given a fighting major misconduct by referee Ryan Frasier, who actually had his back turned for most of the altercation. It was not the last time in the game Frasier would even up penalties despite one player being the clear aggressor.

Springfield would grab a shorthanded goal of their own at 3:30 of the second period when Charles Linglet outworked the Worcester defenders deep in the WorSharks zone and wheeled the net, firing a wrister that beat Worcester netminder Tyson Sexsmith to make it 2-1.

Worcester would notch their second shorthanded goal of the game at 8:05 of the second when Nick Petrecki sent Steven Zalewski in all alone down the right side. Zalewski fired a laser over the glove of Dubnyk and just inside the corner for the 3-1 lead.

Referee Frasier would again have his hands full at 15:01 of the second when Falcons defenseman Jake Taylor jumped McLaren. Again McLaren, trying to protect his hand, didn’t throw a punch. WorSharks forward Dennis McCauley tried to come to McLaren’s rescue, but he was tackled by Brennan before he could get close. Once order was restored Worcester would get a power play on Brennan’s extra minor for roughing, but inexplicably the linesmen didn’t escort McLaren and Taylor to the locker room despite there being less than five minutes left in the period.

And that would lead to an almost full brawl between the teams.

As the second period ended the WorSharks headed to their locker room through the tunnel connected to their bench. Springfield, on the other hand, had to skate off their bench to get to their tunnel. When the linesmen let McLaren out of the box, several Falcons players were still in their bench area, and words were exchanged. McLaren decided he’d had enough and tried to go a Falcons player. Springfield defenseman Dean Arsene several times used his stick to spear at McLaren, who returned the favor.

At that point, with just McLaren and Derek Joslin on the ice for Worcester against several Falcons players, many WorShark players began to return to the ice in defense of their team mates. Worcester assistant coach David Cunniff helped avert a full blown donnybrook by grabbing Worcester players and keeping them on their side of the red line.

McLaren would rack up another 24 minutes in penalties, including the rest of the night off, for a WorSharks single game record 46 on the night. McLaren’s extra two for unsportsmanlike conduct would give Springfield a power play to start the third, but they were unable to convert.

Tempers would flare again at 8:25 of the third after Cody Wild crosschecked Joe Loprieno in the back after the whistle. Loprieno turned around and immediately began on Wild. While that fight was going on, McCauley took that time to jump Brennan but looked to injure himself in the process. With Brennan on top of McCauley getting ready to start throwing bombs, Michael Wilson jumped in to protect his team mate by wrapping up Brennan. Once order was restored both McCauley and Brennan were expelled for the night, but Wilson escaped without a potential third man in penalty.

Worcester would grab an empty netter at 18:26 when Dan DaSilva and Brandon Mashinter broke out of the zone, with DaSilva grabbing the goal from just outside the Falcons blueline. Sexsmith became the first Worcester goaltender with a point this season with the kick save that sent Worcester out of the zone.

Tempers would flare a third time with 50 seconds remaining after Loprieno was called for a crosscheck as the Falcons crashed the net, but there were no additional penalties called.

Defenseman Louis Liotti was Worcester's only healthy scratch. Both Mike Moore and Dean Strong didn't dress due to lower body injuries. Matt Jones was recalled from Kalamazoo for the game, and saw time on the first power play unit. Alex Stalock was the back-up goaltender.

The win was Roy Sommer's 400th regular season victory, making him only the fourth AHL head coach to reach that milestone.

The three stars of the game were:
1. Andrew Desjardins (shg)
2. Steven Zalewski (shg)
3. Matt Jones (gwg)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Matt Jones.

Even Strength lines


Penalty Kill lines


Power Play lines


Springfield 0 1 0 - 1
Worcester 2 1 1 - 4

1st Period-1, Worcester, Desjardins 5 (Callahan, McCarthy), 0:37 (sh). 2, Worcester, Jones 1 (Trevelyan, Groulx), 19:13 (pp). Penalties-Wilson Wor (double minor - high-sticking), 0:24; Taylor Spr (interference), 4:36; Brennan Spr (fighting, misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:20; McLaren Wor (fighting, misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:20; Lerg Spr (hooking), 17:54.

2nd Period-3, Springfield, Linglet 5 (Taylor), 3:30 (sh). 4, Worcester, Zalewski 4 (Petrecki), 8:05 (sh). Penalties-Armstrong Spr (goaltender interference), 1:30; Henderson Wor (tripping), 6:27; Wiseman Spr (hooking), 11:07; Brennan Spr (roughing, roughing), 15:01; Taylor Spr (fighting), 15:01; McCauley Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:01; McLaren Wor (fighting), 15:01; Arsene Spr (double minor - spearing (attempt)), 20:00; Nickerson Spr (misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00; McLaren Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct, double minor - spearing (attempt, game misconduct - persisting a fight, game misconduct - persisting a fight), game misconduct - persisting a fight, game misconduct - persisting a fight), 20:00.

3rd Period-5, Worcester, DaSilva 2 (Mashinter, Sexsmith), 18:26 (en). Penalties-Brennan Spr (fighting, game misconduct - secondary altercation), 8:25; Paukovich Spr (fighting), 8:25; Wild Spr (roughing), 8:25; Henderson Wor (roughing), 8:25; Loprieno Wor (fighting), 8:25; McCauley Wor (fighting, game misconduct - secondary altercation), 8:25; Loprieno Wor (cross-checking), 19:10.

Shots on Goal
Springfield 6-3-6-15
Worcester 16-10-8-34.

Power Play Opportunities
Springfield 0 of 5
Worcester 1 of 5.

Springfield, Dubnyk 4-6-1 (33 shots-30 saves)
Worcester, Sexsmith 2-2-0 (15 shots-14 saves).

A-2,356. Referee-Ryan Fraser (14). Linesmen-Scott Whittemore (96), Brian MacDonald (72).

Darryl Hunt: No Treats For WorSharks In Halloween Loss To Manchester

The Worcester Sharks continued their shots on goal barrage but couldn't manage more than a single goal in a 4-1 loss to the Manchester Monarchs Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire in front of 3,162 fans.

The Monarchs came into the game with the AHL's stingiest defense, allowing just 13 goals in 10 games, so the last thing Worcester wanted to do was fall behind because of a mental mistake. But that's exactly what they did.

With Worcester skating with the man advantage, Monarchs center Corey Elkins broke into the Worcester zone leading an odd man rush, and beat Worcester netminder Alex Stalock to the far side for the 1-0 Manchester lead at 7:41 of the second period.

Friday night Worcester answered an opponent's goal very quickly, and it was the same Saturday when just 55 seconds later after Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff made a save of a Corey Quirk shot but couldn't control the rebound. Dean Strong banged home the lose puck while falling to the ice to draw the WorSharks even at 1-1. Dwight Helminen had the second assist for Worcester.

Monarchs center Justin Azevedo would make it 2-1 at 15:55 of the second when he put a shot on net to Stalock's glove side that the rookie seemed to misplay, and the puck bounced off his glove and into the net.

Worcester didn't roll over however, and continued to pressure the Monarchs, but Zatkoff kept them at bay. Viatcheslav Voynov would get the back breaker for Manchester at 15:47 of the third period, and Brandon Segal would grab an empty netter for the 4-1 final.

After missing the last two periods of Friday night's contest Mike Moore was, as expected, not dressed for Saturday night's contest. Worcester's only healthy scratch was Louis Liotti. Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up goaltender, and if the rotation continues as it has is expected to get the start Sunday against Springfield.

In a statistical oddity, despite having allowed the fewest goals in the AHL Manchester has been outshot in ten of their 11 games. The goaltending duo of Zatkoff (.978) and Jonathan Bernier (.963) are number one and two in the AHL for save percentage. Zatkoff also leads in goals against average at 0.75. No, that is not a typo, Zatkoff has allowed just three goals in four games.

The three stars of the game were:
1. Jeff Zatkoff (44 saves)
2. Justin Azevedo (gwg)
3. Dean Strong (g)

The Sharkspage player of the game was, for the second game in a row, Dean Strong.

Worcester 0 1 0 - 1
Manchester 0 2 2 - 4

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Henderson Wor (hooking), 2:44; Segal Mch (hooking), 17:48.

2nd Period-1, Manchester, Elkins 3 (Hickey, Zeiler), 7:41 (sh). 2, Worcester, Strong 2 (Quirk, Helminen), 8:36. 3, Manchester, Azevedo 1 (Holloway, Gauthier), 15:55. Penalties-Loprieno Wor (interference), 2:46; Campbell Mch (tripping), 6:33; Mashinter Wor (fighting), 19:14; Bagnall Mch (fighting), 19:14.

3rd Period-4, Manchester, Voynov 2 (Loktionov, Campbell), 15:47. 5, Manchester, Segal 3 18:26 (en). Penalties-McCarthy Wor (holding), 7:05; Segal Mch (high-sticking), 12:06.

Shots on Goal
Worcester 11-21-13-45
Manchester 13-10-8-31.

Power Play Opportunities
Worcester 0 of 3
Manchester 0 of 3.

Worcester, Stalock 5-1-1 (30 shots-27 saves)
Manchester, Zatkoff 3-1-0 (45 shots-44 saves).

A-3,162. Referee-Francis Charron (46). Linesmen-Jeremy Lovett (78), Landon Bathe (80).