The day in Photos

Sharks vs Penguins:

Cheechoo hit Cheechoo driving for the puck Andy Chiodo Andy Chiodo

Surfers vs Mavericks:

Mavericks 2004 big wave surfing contest Mavericks 2004 big wave surfing contest Mavericks 2004 big wave surfing contest


Playoff Preview? San Jose loses 2-3 in overtime to Vancouver

This was one of the best games I have seen all year, and both teams approached it with playoff intensity. After losing such a hard fought game in overtime, I almost feel bad for the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins tonight.

Game Notes:

Bertuzzi is a dirty player, pretty much common knowledge, but I respect his attempt to take over the game early in the third period. It reminded me of Forsberg dominating late in games 6 and 7 against the Sharks in the 2002 playoffs. San Jose is going to have 3 lines creating offense in the postseason. It will probably come down to one player taking over the game at a critical time. Bertuzzi tried to do his thing early in the third and the result was a fired up Canucks squad skating with a sense of urgency.

Scott Parker only had 3 minutes and 3 seconds of ice time in the entire game. If I am Sharks coach Ron Wilson, I introduce Parker to Bertuzzi and squelch any ideas of game dominance before they start. Self-preservation would be more appropriate.

SJ has to play more offense in the later stages of the game. When Vancouver carried the play down by a goal in the third, the Sharks were almost exclusively reacting to what the Canucks were doing. The result was a number of quality Vancouver scoring chances and the Sharks playing on their heels.

Hello Vancouver, remember Vesa Toskala? Now tell me how many teams had three legitimate #1 goaltenders [Nabokov, Kiprusoff, Toskala] at one time during the season? Miikka Kiprusoff is leading the league in GAA [1.49], but has missed starts due to the logjam in San Jose, and an injury with Calgary. The secret most outside of San Jose do not know is that Vesa Toskala might have the brightest future of all three.

After San Jose rides Nabokov to a cup this season, of course.


2004 Mavericks big wave surfing contest

This is not hockey related, but bear with me.

For the first time in three seasons, the Mavericks big wave surfing contest will be held on Friday February 27th. The best big wave surfers in the world have been given 24-hour notice as an intense storm has created giant surf along the Pacific.

I read this quote in the San Jose Mercury and realized I have never heard this mentioned about the California coast before.
More showery weather is forecast today in the unstable air following the system's cold front. And storm-spawned 40-foot waves are expected to batter the central coast.

Forecasters warned that a few rogue waves could reach 50 feet high, and the National Weather Service has issued a coastal flood watch for today.
The Monterey County Herald quotes a local surfer who believes the Mavericks break in Half Moon Bay rivals Waimea Bay in Hawaii. In fact, many professional big wave surfers believe the Mavericks break is more difficult.
When it's breaking at 20 to 25 feet, detonating over the reef like a hydrogen bomb, there are only a few people in the world capable of being out there.

And if the right swell comes through this season, the whole nation is going to find out exactly who they are.
The size of the wave and the rocky shoreline overshadow another natural danger. From contestant Grant Washburn:
�It�s frightening to think about all the sharks out there. Usually, they rank about sixth or seventh on the things you have to worry about. I�m not sure that is the case now.�
For more information:

Maverickssurf.com official website.

Mavsurfer.com live webcam. Also make sure to visit the numerous photo galleries on this website.

Weather.com local weather conditions.


Photo Links

Thanks to those who keep sending in the hockey photography links. All of the best links will be archived on this photo links page.

Hockeylegend has an amazing collection of historic NHL team photos for sale. I have a few similar to these from turn of the century basketball teams, but these hockey photos are well worth a look.

After I posted about the 1980 Russian Olympic team and the later KLM line, Vitali sent in a link to this Igor Larionov tribute page. He also found the actual roster of the 1980 Olympic Soviet team. Since I could not find it anywhere else, I will add it to my last Miracle movie post.

Russian KLM hockey unit
Photo posted with permission from ILAS.

Igor Larionov has 0 goals and 10 assists in 40 games with the New Jersey Devils this season.


For whom the trade winds blow

SALE 2 WEEKS ONLY! Trade for one high priced contract, get the second one at half off.

There is really only one way to describe the frenzy leading up to the trade deadline on March 9th. Teams with a legitimate shot at a Stanley Cup are making deals, teams with no shot are dumping salary before an uncertain financial landscape.

A partial recap of the deadline deals from TSN's trade tracker:
COL - Skoula for Sauer.
COL - Boughner.
PHI - Zhamnov.
OTT - Laich for Bondra.
NAS - Sullivan.
A few of the names rumored to still be on the market:
CHI - Berard.
CLS - LaChance.
EDM - Smyth.
FLA - V. Bure.
NYR - Kovalev, Leetch?
PIT - Tarnstrom.
WAS - Gonchar, Kolzig.
To get your fill of all the rumors from Larry Brooks and the Toronto press among others, visit Spectors.

Looking at this from a San Jose perspective, Sharks GM Doug Wilson has to be concerned about the defense and the PP. San Jose usually brings a tight defensive unit into the playoffs, and struggles to score enough goals to get past a 7 game series.

This season the Sharks have solid top 4 defenseman, but are wondering if rotating Preissing/Davison/Fahey and Ehrhoff for the last two defensive slots will work.

Adding a defensive defenseman [LaChance] or an offensive defenseman to help the PP [Gonchar, Tarnstrom, Leetch] would go a long way towards addressing the Sharks problems. More importantly, it would keep said player from Detroit, Vancouver or Dallas. The Colorado Avalanche, or Yankees-lite as I like to call them, might take a premiere player off the market for just this reason.

The other concern is simply scoring enough to get past a 7 game playoff series. The Sharks are currently getting points from all 4 lines. Marleau and Sturm are clicking with Primeau. McCauley, Ekman and Korolyuk remind me of the Conehead line in the new Miracle movie. Cheechoo, Ricci, and Thornton are trying to reclaim the title of "the best 3rd line in the NHL". Damphousse and Dimitrakos are paired with Harvey, but are often mixed into the top three lines.

ESPN's Jim Kelly said goals are harder to come by in the playoffs, something I mentioned a few weeks back. Adding a winger who can finish only adds to the arsenal and increases the chances that the goals will come a little easier.

The most likely outcome will be not making a trade at all. The Sharks are rolling, changing the lineup might disrupt that.

Milan Michalek had a season ending knee injury in Cleveland, but AHL leading scorer Miroslav Zalesak, AHL's 4th leading scorer Brad Boyes, and Christian Ehrhoff [recently sent down] all could add depth to a postseason roster.


Site Updates

Added a few pages to the site, a useful sitemap, a local hockey rink directory [feel free to send in links], a list of hockey photography links, and small Stanford and San Jose State team pages. I also added a reference list of all NHL Stanley Cup Champions.

New weblogs have been added to the massive link list created by myself and KevinB. Tasca's Take has fine analysis of what is happening in the NHL, OntheWings covers the only sports team I hate more than the 49ers, Ottawa Sports blog follows the Senators, and hopefully Ben Wright will cover the Bruins impending world domination. About **** time.

I had to kill Google Images ability to view most of the images on this site. Normally I would not mind who views what dark and blurry image, but the numbers lately have been ridiculous. SP has been clocking a couple of thousand of people a day, so I had to turn it off to save some bandwidth. They will just have to visit the site by clicking on a link like normal people.

More coming later on the trade deadline.


Shark Notes

- Mike Ricci scored his 100th goal for San Jose two games after notching his 1000th career game.

- Jennifer emailed in a link to the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Crew. That has to be a cool job. I have been laughing at the Captain Morgan picture all morning. A full list of NHL Ice Girls is here. Thanks for sending them in.

- Ross McKeon gives original Shark Jeff Hackett some well deserved kind words after his retirement. I forgot that while he was in goal during the first two years when the Sharks played in San Francisco, he left before the two first round playoff upsets in San Jose.

Congratulations on surviving your stint in SJ, and having a great career. Get well soon - from a Cow Palace fan.

- For the person who asked about the Craig MacTavish vs Harvey the Hound imbroglio, someone emailed me this link to the Hockey humor video archive.

- This CNN article about NHL ticket prices last year was incorrect. Ticket prices in San Jose remained the same for season ticket holders, but were raised in a few sections for single game purchases.

- Toronto defenseman Bryan McCabe told reporters two weeks ago:
"The bottom line is, if they want a hard (salary) cap, we'll sit out for the rest of our lives... If they're not going to budge off of that, there's really nowhere to go."
After such an inflammatory statement, I was surprised to read thoughtful responses from Bryan to two hockey fans at On the Wings and Tasca's Take.

Listen Bryan, I like your play and your blue Mohawk as much as the next fan, but statements like this **** me off. Maybe a salary cap is not the answer, but at least acknoweldge that ticket prices have risen yearly in many markets for 10+ years. Many teams have priced themselves out of a regular following by many diehard fans, and now players are threatening the loss of a whole season on top of that?

Nice way to grow the game.

- Another quote that ****** me off, from Miroslav Satan:
"It's like the housing market. If somebody will give you what you are asking for, I'm not sure that is being overpaid. It's what clubs are willing to pay players."
Tip for Miro, don't bring up the housing market to anyone in the Bay Area.


Miracle :: then and now

Kurt Russel - 1980 Miracle on ice movie

A few friends and I went to see Miracle last week. The on-ice sequences, Kurt Russel's excellent portrayal of Herb Brooks, and creating the political context of the 1980 Olympic game were all highlights. My initial complaint was the lack of endless super slo-mo replays that ESPN has taught me must follow any hockey hit.

Off Wing Opinion has his thoughts on the movie and a good roundup of reviews here and here. Ebert and Roeper gave this film two thumbs up.

What surprised me was that I had much the same reaction to this movie as I did to the actual game. Except for a few brief film clips, not much was shown about the Russians the US team was playing against. Boris Mikhailov and Vladislav Tretiak were painted as the best in the world, but not much more was developed other than an "us vs them" scenario.

Although I think former Shark Igor Larionov joined after the 1980 loss [forming the "KLM Line"], this film should have included more about the other members of the so-called greatest unit ever to play the game: Viacheslav Fetisov, Alexei Kasatonov, Vladimir Krutov, and former Shark Sergei Makarov.

It would have made this film special if it showed us the background of both teams that played this historic game, instead of just one.

[Update: Photographer Chris Large's Miracle photo gallery captures the look of the movie.]

[Update 2: 2nd week in release and this movie has already grossed $40,050,545.]

[Update 3: from Vitali and SFRp's hockey archive.]
Soviet Union 1980 Olympic Roster:
Vladislav Tretiak
Vladimir My�kin
Viacheslav Fetisov
Alexei Kasatonov
Valerij Vasiliev
Vasilij Pervuchin
Sergej Starikov
Zinetulla Biljaledtinov
Boris Michajlov
Vladimir Petrov
Valerij Charlamov
Alexander Malcev
Sergei Makarov
Vladimir Krutov
Helmut Balderis
Viktor �luktov
Jurij Lebedev
Alexander Skvorcov
Alexander Golikov
Vladimir Golikov
Coach: Viktor Tikhonov

Team USA 1980 Olympic Roster:
James Craig
Steve Janszak
William Baker
Kenneth Morrow
Michale Ramsey
Bob Suter
John O'Calahan
David Christian
Eric Strobel
Mark Johnson
Robert McClanahan
Neal Broten
Steve Christoff
Michael Eruzione
Mark Pavelich
John Harrington
William Schneider
Philip Verchota
Mark Wells
David Silk
Coach: Herb Brooks


Hockey is not a crime

no skating or hockey allowed

Ross McKeon of the SF Chronic believes that the NHL is broken.

If I may respond, the attendance problems are mostly due to high ticket prices that increase annually. At some point in time the players will realize this and address it in terms other than "you will pry a salary cap from my cold dead hands". At some point in time the owners will realize that they can not argue about numbers that are not available for anyone to examine.

The fact that the league has expanded into non-hockey markets does not help, but the real problem is television ratings that alternate being dominated by the WNBA and armadillo racing.

The game itself is fine. I have brought over 25 people to their first NHL game. Almost all have enjoyed it. As long as you can sit close and see the speed and the action, you will have a good time.

The problem with the NHL on television is that it is not compelling. The end-to-end rushes, glove saves, and thank-god-that-is-not-me body checks do not translate well to current broadcasts.

The NHL is not broken, the NHL on television is.


King of all hockey photo blogs

Off Wing Opinion may be king of all sports blog media, but I now claim my title of king of all hockey photoblogs. Behold the selection of quality hockey photo links culled for your viewing pleasure.

From the king of all Sports blog media, NY Post writer Phil Mushnick describes how a single hockey picture has shaped him as a person.
I first saw the photo when I was about 10, which would be 10 years after it was taken. It grabbed me, held on and has never let go. Rosebud.
I remember seeing this photo in an old book, but it did not have the same affect on me. This one is my current favorite.

From Canucks Op-Ed, Vancouver Canucks photographer Jeff Vinnick displays several NHL photos on his online portfolio. The goalcam shots are a highlight.

Via an email from season ticket holder Karen, Sharks co-photographer Don Smith [along with Rocky Widner] writes an article about shooting in in San Jose; High Sticking in the NHL: how to shoot hockey.


Marketing for dummies

In his latest article NHL's appeal on thin ice, Mike Heika says the following:
ESPN has heavily promoted its Thursday night hockey series, featuring ice-level sound and such innovations as "cable cam," a camera the slides on a rail just above the glass. And yet, league officials believe the network could still do more.
Heavily marketed? ESPN's Ice Picks are heavily marketed, games on Thursday night are not.

If they played every Thursday night at 5PM [pacific], renamed it "Hockey Night in America", broadcast a small 2 inch by 4 inch video feed of the game online, the ratings would rise, more people would subscribe to Center Ice, and more people would pay the ginourmous ticket prices just to sit in the nosebleed seats.

The game is fine. It does not need changing. Fans just need to know when the game is on.

[Update: Kevin emails to tell us that the game is on Thursday night. Thanks for that.]


Shark Notes

Miracle, opening night this week.

Low ratings may lead to pro hockey being banished to cable. I was unaware they aired hockey on network television.

Sharks coach Ron Wilson is the new head coach of Team USA? If you are selected, tell JR to go easy on the chairs this time.

Hard to believe almost a year ago the sky was falling according to Ray Ratto. What are the chances Ray will write a followup column praising the new owners for their fiscal responsibility, keeping the knowledgeable hockey staff, and stepping aside to let them do their job?

Oh, and this "extended stay on the couch" lasted all of 1 season.

According to the Mercury News, the San Jose City council approved a new $350k dehumidification system to help the poor ice at the Tank. Slightly less expensive, how about keeping the inside doors of the arena closed and turning up the AC?

An online study [found on Off Wing Opinion], ranked the official San Jose Sharks website 1st in fan interactivity, and 8th in content out of all NHL websites. More impressive, they found sjsharks.com first in fan interactivity out of all 131 NHL, MLB, MLS, NFL, and NBA team websites examined. Design and commerce rankings were lower.

To help with the poor design ranking, contact either Second Story, Switch Interactive or 2Advanced.

To help with the content ranking, contact me. Content is king.


San Jose State and Stanford hockey photos

SJSU goalie Joe Best

SJSU Jon Barney SJSU shot on goal
SJSU Adam Toomey USU scores on a penalty shot
UCU and former SJSU goalie SJSU slapshot on net

San Jose State lost the last home game of the season 11-5 to Utah State, but it was a very entertaining game. Jon Barney [#55] hit everything that moved.

I highly recommend watching a SJSU hockey game next season at Logitech Ice.

Stanford hockey goaltender

player driving the net Stanford forward

Stanford was winning 4-2 at the end of the 2nd period against Oregon. This game was not as intense as the SJSU game, but the goaltending was excellent.

Both teams fielded about half a squad so the players got a workout. Stanford plays its last home game against Cal Feb. 7 at Logitech Ice.

Berkeley figureskater at Logitech ice

Thought I would throw in a bonus figure skating picture.