Joshua Hennessy featured on McKeen's Hockey

McKeen's Hockey author Chris McCluskey wrote a feature on San Jose Sharks QMJHL prospect Joshua Hennessy.

Here is a brief preview of the article posted with permission:

Joshua Hennessy, C - QMJHL Quebec Remparts, 6-2, 194 lbs, 61GP, 33G [9th], 43A [15th], 76PTS [9th].

An underrated player who doesn't get the respect he deserves, continues to develop at a steady and progressive rate, possesses one of the best combinations of smooth skating and creative stickhandling in the league, boasts excellent speed and plays a focused and determined game, helps out and is effective defensively, sees time on both the powerplay and penalty-kill, not overly aggressive, isn't one to crash the net, instead prefers a more cerebral approach, very disciplined as well, never hurts his team by taking bad penalties, still needs to work on getting stronger on the puck, sound at both ends though his pro upside is slightly leaning more towards the offensive end, was the sixth player chosen from the 'Q' in 2003, but would likely go higher if the draft was redone today.

McKeen's Hockey has published an annual hockey preview magazine since 1994 [McKeen's Hockey Pool Yearbook], and the website focuses on original content, news, draft previews, and prospect coverage. Subscribe to Mckeen's Online and get full access to the Top 100 Prospect Rankings, scouting reports, and individual player profiles for less than $5 a month.

[Update] From Russia, with Jaromir. The WNBA's Sue Bird writes in her personal journal about going to see Jagr play during one of the coldest nights she spent in Moscow. Thanks to Offwing for the link.

[Update2] A look at next steps on ice: Hockey's sides plan to dig in; Time favors one - SJ Mercury.

[Update3] First Ad Age details the NHL's marketing struggles: NHL season cancellation cost $400 million in ad revenue, Corporate sponsors reassess long-term commitments.

"For sure you would see sponsors walk away," Mr. McIntyre said. "And once a company cuts ties, it won't be easy for the NHL to try to win them back. The reason a company sponsors is to tap into that emotion that the fan brings. We're already seeing some of our larger clients buying elsewhere."

The NHL has 20 corporate partners, including Ford Motor Co. of Canada and LaBatt's beer, whose advertising appears only in Canada; Anheuser-Busch and Southwest Airlines, whose sponsorships are U.S.-exclusive; and Nike, Coca-Cola and MasterCard, whose sponsorships cover both countries.

Then Brandweek piles on: Top of Mind: A Dose Of CPR To Help The NHL.

Contrary to popular reports, the National Hockey League is far from dead. And what will ultimately determine the viability of the nearly 90-year-old league will not be labor issues, but a marketing challenge more formidable than the most feared NHL "enforcer."

Six to 18 months from now, hockey will emerge from its self-imposed coma with a new collective bargaining agreement, fewer stars and far fewer fans. That's when the game clock will really start to count down, with commissioner Gary Bettman and the 30 NHL teams having precious little time to lure back fans, lock in sponsors and make the new numbers work.

Thanks go out to the NHL Gong Show for the link.


SJSU Ice Hockey Team Off to ACHA National Championships

SJSU hockey

Press Release from SJSU captain #4 Ray Kellam:

SJSU Ice Hockey Team Off to ACHA National Championships

Next week, the San Jose State Ice Hockey Team travels to Detroit, MI where it will compete in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) National Championship Tournament being held from March 2-5, 2005. The club qualified for the tournament by posting an overall record of 22-4-2, and finished the season ranked 3rd in the ACHA Division II Western Region. Key victories over rivals Stanford, Cal, USC, Colorado, Utah State and others propelled to Spartans to their best regular season record in the history of the program, as well as their 6th ACHA National Tournament Bid.

Of the 113 teams who compete in ACHA Division II play nationwide, only the top 16 clubs (four from each of the four national divisions) are selected to compete in the National Championship Tournament. This year’s event consists of a round-robin format and sets the Spartans against the following clubs:

Wed., March 2:
v. Penn State University (Northeast Div., ranked #2)

Thurs., March 3:
v. Michigan State University (Central Div., ranked #1)

Fri., March 4:
v. Miami (OH) University (Southeast Div., ranked #4)

Should the Spartans emerge as winners of their pool (Pool D), they will compete in the Tournament Semifinals on Saturday, March 5. Winners of the semifinal games play in the Championship game later that same evening. For more information on this year’s tournament, including up to the minute scores and standings, please visit the official ACHA D2 website at www.achahockey.org.

"Sendoff Scrimmage" Fundraiser
To help defer the costs of traveling to the Nationals, SJSU will be holding an inter-squad scrimmage on Sunday, February 27, 2005 from 3:15-4:30pm at Logitech Ice at San Jose (South rink). Fans are encouraged to attend the game and wish the Spartans well in their attempt to secure their first National Championship title. Admission to the event is FREE, though attendees are encouraged to give a donation to the club at the door.

The official ACHA D2 tournament website can be found here. Visit sjsuhockey.com for more information on Spartans hockey. All 27 games of the National Tournament will be broadcast online at hockeysportsradio.com.

[Update] From the Logitech Ice Center:

California Amateur Hockey State Championships Feb. 24-27

Logitech Ice will be hosting the CAHA State Championships for Tier 1 and 2 beginning February 24 and concluding on the 27th. Divisions from PW to Midget AAA will be competing with hopes to qualify for the Pacific District Tournament.

All games will be held at Logitech Ice and are free of admission.

Call 408-279-6000 for more information.


Hockey Notes - everyone is undefeated edition

- There was a blip on the radar over the weekend that the NHL may still have some life left in it this season. The NHLPA released information on a meeting with the league scheduled for last Saturday. Former players/current owners Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux entered the fray to try to salvage a season. Then the Hockey News broke a report saying the NHL might be saved Saturday.

Rumors of the NHL's non-demise were premature.

While I was busy with the Pac8 tournament in Berkeley, blogger Eric McErlain followed the post-cancellation commotion intently here, here, and here.

Blogger Tom Benjamin called for THN to name its source that led to the season saving mis-report. His posts on the subject can be read here, here, here, and here.

The Hockey News responded with a column, The Scoop that Wasnt. Rumors and gossip have been all that remains of the NHL this year, so I hardly fault THN for running with the story. If anything, they should have qualified their source a little better. What was reported was blown out of proportion, but I believe no apology was necessary.

- The LA Times speculates that ESPN does not really care that the NHL season was cancelled, and this NY Times article on ESPN and the NHL television contract lends some credibility to that view. [Note: when I said the picture is fuzzy for the NHL a few weeks back, at least I supplied an appropriate photo.]

- On WFAN AM radio from New York, host Mike Francesa interviewed a very animated NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. The non-cancellation rumors were discussed prominently. Scroll to February 21st for the audio link.

- From Germany, Ecco emails about the recent success of Marco Sturm and Team Ingolstadt:

Ingolstadt won the German Eishockey Cup! ERC Ingolstadt-Düsseldorf EG Metro Stars 4:3 after shootout. Shootout goals: Ingolstadt by Marco Sturm and Doug Ast. [DEL All Star Match] Fastest skater (big rink): 3. Marco Sturm (14.09 sec).

Down 3-2 late in the game, Ingolstadt pulled their goaltender and scored to put the game into overtime. Both Ingolstadt and Dusseldorf could not score in a ten minute overtime period. Marco Sturm and Doug Ast scored twice during a shootout to give Ingolstadt a 2-0 OT win.

German Hockey Cup, Final: Ingolstadt wins in shootout - Yahoo Deutschland. Visit the official Ingolstadt website to follow Sturm for the remainder of the season.

- The San Jose Sharks posted back-to-back articles on the San Jose Jr Sharks quarterfinal run during a hockey tournament in Quebec, and San Jose State's upcoming appearance in the ACHA National Tournament in Michigan.

- Terry Frei writes for ESPN about what to do with the Stanley Cup:

Here's my choice: Award the Stanley Cup to the same team that wins Canada's Allan Cup, the trophy brought into existence in 1908 as an acknowledgement that the Stanley Cup had been transformed into a prize for professionals. If the Free Stanley movement wants to salute Lord Stanley's original intent and the tradition of the trophy, it should go to Canadian amateurs. Not to major-junior players who receive significant stipends or can still play in the CHL after being drafted and signing pro contracts. Not to U.S. college players who receive lucrative scholarships. Not even to pro minor-leaguers who aspire to reach the NHL.

FreeStanley.com gets a long plug as more of a movement than a website. The movement so far has generated over 400 letters to the Trustees of the Stanley Cup.

Creating an amateur hockey tournament in Canada, as Terry Frei suggests, is an interesting idea. But why not have an open tournament after most of the professional and amateur seasons finish? Open it up to the champions from the European, Asian, and Russian leagues [similar to the IIHF Champions Cup]. Open it up to the AHL and ECHL champions, not just Canadian amateurs. Make it single elimination between professional and amateur teams, and etch the names on the cup after the final.

Maybe an amateur team would face off against a professional team in the finals? It would be a not-so-subtle nod to the "Miracle on Ice" USA team that won a gold medal 25 years ago today if the amateur team won.

- Ross McKeon of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote an excellent column on the loss of the NHL for Calgary. Leaving Canada Dry: canceled season affects economy, morale of country - SF Chronicle.

The almighty dollar is starting to disappear, and the absence of the NHL appears to shoulder most of the blame. Statistics Canada predicts cancellation of the season could result in a $170 million drop in spending by Canadian consumers. The firm announced an unexpected loss of 5,700 jobs last month is being attributed to faltering business in restaurants and bars that rely on hockey to draw customers.

At all the Sharks-Flames games in San Jose last year, Calgary fans were almost too nice to a fault. It was hard to cheer against them when they drove 23 hours to see a playoff game, and when even the plaid one made an appearance at the HP Pavilion.

- The 2005 IIHF World Championships in Austria has been added to the hockey calendar on the right. The World Championships will take place in Vienna and Innsbruck from April 30th to May 15th. The NHL released a statement that management personnel are free to participate, and NHL players are expected to stack the lineups of many countries with the season cancelled.

[Update] David Singer's The Ice Block has been redesigned. Go ye to that website, for it is good. On DS's other website, Hockeyfights.com, Martin DesRosiers just posted an interview with Sharks assistant coach Tim Hunter.

[MDR] Early in your career, '82-83, you fought the legendary Nick Fotiu. Do you recall this fight? And can you describe the events that transpired?

[TH] I fought Nick in MSG late in the game after I had beaten up Don Maloney. He speared me at the face-off and then dropped his gloves and stepped back. I dropped mine after thinking this would be a tough fight. I took a small step and he reached out and drilled me on top of my helmet and I was thankful I had one on, or I would have had a serious head ache. That was about it, my helmet exploded and I just held on. I learned not to walk into a punch.

[MDR] Over the years you've had some intense rivalries against certain players. Most noticeably being Dave Semenko who you fought 6 times. Could you comment on your rivalry with Semenko? And are there any other players you had a fighting rivalry with?

[TH] Well I fought Dave Semenko more than 6 times, maybe 10 times. He was very crafty and big, and yes I remember the punch he hit me in the forehead and learned from that incident that, "there is no code." I had a number of other guys I had many fights with including McSorley, Kyte, Brown and Cronin. You had to be ready to be at your best or you were in trouble with any of these guys.

[MDR] A lot of people include you in their top 10 fighters of all time. Where do you see yourself from an ‘all-time' perspective?

[TH] I don't know about a number place but I think pound for pound I was one of the best fighters. I fought everyone and held my own, I was never knocked out, and didn't go down too many times from a punch.

[MDR] What is your take on the fighters/enforcers of today?

[TH] The fighters today are bigger and tougher, but it is harder to get the job done these days. There is less respect today than there once was. I have never believed there was or is a code. I have been sucker punched a number of times, jumped from behind, had my eye nearly gouged out, and kick-kneed. Saying that, today's players seem to be under greater pressure and the stakes are so high they are reckless and have no respect for the damage they can do. The day is coming where a player is going to be killed in a fight.

There are a few video clips to the incidents mentioned above in the forum link at the end of that article. To see an earlier interview with San Jose's Scott Parker, click here.

[Update2] Sharks prospect Steve Bernier tied the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats record for career goals with 148. Bernier will have the opportunity to surpass that mark against Sidney Crosby and Rimouski Friday. Also take a look at the backyard rink contest sponsored by Moncton.

[Update3] Halifax vs Drummondville is the free Eastlink.ca streaming game-of-the-week. The game is being rebroadcast at 7PM. I am not sure if Sharks goaltending prospect Jason Churchill [#31] is in net for Halifax, but he is 6,5 so it should become apparent soon.

Interview with San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson

GM Doug Wilson

A. Sheldon spoke with San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson after the team held a press conference last week to discuss the cancellation of the 2004-05 NHL season.

[AS] How will the Sharks be able to remain on the minds of fans now that the entire season is lost? Without constant reminders, many fans could start to fade away.

[DW] A lot of our guys live here and I think that's a good thing because they’re connected here. It's not like they leave here, then don't understand the feelings of the fans. Our guys have got to walk down the street and see the looks on the Season Ticket Holders faces and there's frustration.

I know for a lot of our players, to not build on last year's success is really frustrating. It’s kind of a shared thing - we're in this together. Fans have supported us through thick and thin – going through this, it's stressful and it stretches the relationship. It's not easy. We're going to have to be better coming out of this thing.

[AS] Are there going to be more programs or events to keep connected with the fans, such as the 'Skate at the Tank' event?

[DW] Hopefully. I know Malcolm Bordelon (Executive VP of Business Operations) and his guys have been really involved in looking at worst case scenarios and things we can get involved with – and we will, there's no doubt. We have a responsibility to give back. We're building another rink at Logitech and there's the youth programs we have. Those things help. They're things we would do whether we had a work stoppage or not.

[AS] It's going to be tough for the Bay Area without NCAA and other local pro hockey teams in general - for hockey to be able to stay on the radar. The ACHA is the top college level that we have out this way.

[DW] At this point, but that might change in the future. But who knows.

[AS] The San Jose State Spartans are currently No. 3 in the west in that club level and are going to Detroit for the nationals in March and I saw a lot of season ticket holders and such that have been backing the Spartans. As far as college hockey, how involved is this organization with supporting college teams such as Cal and Stanford?

[DW] We look at anybody that plays hockey, whether it's organized teams or guys that just play the game of hockey. Obviously we're over at the rinks we've been involved with such as Logitech and Fremont, but we need to broaden that even more. Though we've been kind of busy trying to build this team and build facilities. We're hosting the Bantam Regionals, the states are going to be here. Most of us either have kids that are involved or good friends with kids involved and I personally think we're involved for the right reasons. I have fun watching five-year-old kids play, or adults. I mean, it's one thing about all these people – they love the game of hockey.

It's frustrating because a lot of people have a pride and ownership in our team and they know our guys. They see them in the rink or in the community. It's good and bad. It's bad because it's frustrating that we're not playing, but good that you know our guys are there and they care.

[AS] Especially for the young kids who look up to them.

[DW] Yeah. We've got good guys, but I'm biased.

Executive VP & GM Doug Wilson was a first round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1977 [6th overall]. According to the official team bio, Wilson holds the single season points record for a Chicago Blackhawks defenseman [85], played in 7 NHL allstar games, played in over 1000 NHL games [1024], and was awarded the James Norris Trophy given to the league's top defenseman in 1982. After 5 seasons as Director of Pro Development, Doug Wilson was named Sharks Executive Vice President & General Manager on May 13, 2003.


When a commercial is a good lure


A lot of fans sent in email last week after the cancellation of the NHL season. The notes came from young and old, from San Jose to Europe, and even from Russia and Japan. Posting a few of the comments or responses here would only compound the negative feelings many already have.

Before San Jose got an NHL franchise, and before the old Dumbarton bridge burned down, I was an avid pier fisherman both in the Bay and in Santa Cruz. Hopefully this Rapala commercial will make you laugh a little.

Like the fish in the commercial, the NHL season got away.


Oregon wins 2005 Pac8 hockey championship

Oregon defeated Washington 3-2 for their first Pac8 hockey championship Saturday night. UCLA downed host CAL in the earlier consolation round. More on this tournament, with photos and an interview later tonight.

From the Pac8 website:

Oregon Ducks are Champions!

Winning their 1st PAC 8 championship, the Oregon Ducks were led by Ted Martin, Tournament MVP Nate King, and the strong goaltending of Matt Nuernberg. Oregon scored 2 goals in the first period and held off the Washington Huskies, led by Lee Watterson and Sean O'Brien, to win the Championship game, 3-2.

In the Consolation Game, UCLA took 3rd place by beating Cal, 2-1.

From the Pac8 tournament website:

Mighty Ducks. Congratulation to the University of Oregon Ducks for their first ever Pac 8 title by defeating Washington 3-2. This marks an amazing turn around from their last place finish the league last season. Coach Scott McCallum was named Pac 8 Coach of the Year and veteran captain Mike Tournabenee was named to the 1st Team All Pac 8.

[Update] The gallery of Pac8 tournament photos available for printing online will be uploaded here today. A list of galleries for all the ACHA photos taken this year will be posted here in a few days.

Scroll down for an interview with UCLA forward Martin Galstyan, and a note about a H&S feature on Cal's #55 Sean Haq.

[Update 2] All Pac-8 Honors were awarded Saturday night:

Pac-8 Coach of the Year:
OREGON, Scott McCallum

All Pac-8 Team, 1st-Team:
Goal: CAL, Brad Buss
Defense: OREGON, Mike Roley; CAL, Chris Dang
Forwards: CAL, Amir Moazeni; UCLA, Martin Galstyan; OREGON, Mike Tornabene

All Pac-8 Team, 2nd-Team:
Goal: OREGON, Matt Nuernberg
Defense: WASH., Matt Ringstad; UCLA, Niki Kollar
Fowards: USC, Remy Bickoff; WASH., Lee Watterson; OREGON, Ryan Jones

All Pac-8 Team, Honorable Mention:
Goal: UCLA, Matthew Miller
Defense: UCLA, Stu Szuch; USC, Brett Cohen
Fowards: UCLA, Paul Medina; CAL, Chris Moulton; CAL, Sean Haq

[Note] Thanks go out to the tournament planning committee; Director Michael Boot, Flora Kang, Jay Nathan, Michael Sagar Joyce, William Tsai, Amir Moazeni, Sam Libeu, Chris Dang, and James Yim, and to the Pac8 commmisoner Roger Kulpa and the officials that helped put on a very professional hockey tournament.

Interview with UCLA forward Martin Galstyan, CAL forward Sean Haq featured in H&S magazine

Martin Galstyan

A. Sheldon interviewed UCLA forward Martin Galstyan before the Bruins opened the Pac8 tournament against Washington on Friday. With 41 goals and 19 assists this season, Galstyan is the top point scorer in the ACHA D2 West region.

Galstyan talked about playing in the USHL, winning the Clark Cup, joining the UCLA Bruins, and the USC-UCLA rivalry. Read the full interview here.

[AS] What was the transition like, going from Midget AAA to the USHL?

[MG] It was a difficult transition. The players drafted into that league – a lot were headed into the NHL and had Division-1 scholarships. It was a faster pace with bigger and stronger players. I didn’t pick it up as quick as I would have liked and I didn’t play as much, till I was traded. I had worked harder over the summer (after my first season) and figured out what it takes to contend in that league, so I was given another chance with another team.

[AS] Tell me about the USHL postseason with the Musketeers and the match on April 12th, 2002, when you tallied the game-winning goal against your former team, the Sioux Falls Stampede.

[MG] I was out with an ankle injury for the second half of that year. It was a high ankle sprain that I suffered in a game when I fell on it wrong. In the playoffs I figured it was my last year in the league with a good team that had a good chance at the championship, so I decided I’d play through it either way. It wasn’t fully healed, so I played with a soft cast. In the first round we played my former team and in the second game of the series I scored the game-winning goal – the only goal of the game. And in the third period, I re-injured my ankle. I didn’t get to play in the next game when we actually knocked them out of the playoffs.

Next we played Green Bay and swept them, so there was a pretty good gap before the next round. It’s a best-of-five and the teams we were waiting for played all five, which gave me two weeks to heal, so I could play on my ankle again.

In the finals we beat Omaha in the fifth and deciding game – in overtime. I was able to play in that game and within the first 6-7 minutes of overtime, we scored.

[AS] How was that moment for you – winning the Clark Cup?

[MG] It was extra special for me because my dad flew out from California to attend that game and it was the first game he had been to all year. I didn?t know he was there till I was skating around with the cup and saw him in the stands. It was emotional.

Hockey and Skating magazine

In a timely article for Hockey and Skating Magazine, Cal forward #55 Sean Haq was featured this month as Berkeley hosted the Pac8 Tournament; Despite obstacles, Cal's Haq follows his dream.

Last year, the Cal Bears upset both the University of Washington and the University of Southern California to win the Pac8 trophy.

"The 3-2 win over USC in the championship game was one of the best moments of my life" Haq said. "The game was tied 2-2, and there were four minutes left and our D-man James Yim passed to Jason Katzen in our own zone. The USC defenseman pinched in to keep the puck and Jason passed it off the boards to me. I went down the ice on a 2-on-1 with Chris (Moulton). I was on the right, he was on the left, and I took a shot that went five-hole."

A. Sheldon wrote the feature, and I supplied a few photos. The article is not online, but H&S is available at every ice skating rink I have been to in California. Call 415-898-5414 or email hockyskate[at]aol.com for a subscription [$18/yr].


Back-to-back upsets, Washington downs UCLA 6-4, Oregon defeats CAL 7-3


In the first game of the Pac8 tournament, the University of Washington defeated top-ranked UCLA 6-4. Jamie O'Brien, Sean O'Brien and Lee Watterson each contributed a pair of goals for Washington. Martin Galstyan, soon to be featured on Sharkspage, scored a hat trick for UCLA. Ryan Samec also had a goal for the Bruins. Matt Harrow [#35] started in goal for UW, Matt Miller [#32] for UCLA.

A small temporary photo gallery from the Pac8 can be found here. A permanent gallery where you can purchase tournament photos from an online photo lab will be up later tonight.


The tournament host Berkeley fell 7-3 to an Oregon team that applied constant pressure for 60 minutes. Nate King had a hat trick for the Ducks. Cal Brackin scored 2 goals, and Scott Tedrick and Ted Martin each added 1. Amir Moazeni notched a hat trick for the California Golden Bears. Matt Nuernberg [#35] started in goal for Oregon, Brad Buss [#17] for Cal.

UCLA will face Berkeley today at 1PM in the consolation round. Oregon will face Washington in the battle of I-5, for the PAC8 Championship at 5PM. Visit the tournament website for more information.


PAC 8 Hockey Tournament starts today in Berkeley, Washington vs UCLA at 1PM, CAL vs Oregon at 5PM

Pac 8 Hockey Tournament flyer

The Pac8 hockey tournament starts today at 1PM with the University of Washington facing UCLA at 1PM, and the host Cal Berkeley facing the University of Oregon at 5PM. The consolation game will be held tomorrow at 1PM, with the Pac 8 Championship at 5PM.

From the official Pac8 website:

Game 1: Washington v. UCLA - 1:00pm
The Huskies rebounded from a 2-8 Pac 8 record in 2004, going 6-0 with key sweeps of Oregon, USC, and WSU to edge USC out of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Bruins have a made a huge turnaround from their 2004 season. Led by Martin Galstyan, the Bruins posted an 11-5 conference record and look to back that up with a championship.

Game 2: Oregon v. Cal - 5:00pm
Battle of the Brick Walls. Oregon, led by rookie goaltender Matt Nuernberg, went from tied from last in the Pac 8 to a solid contender. Nuernberg has the conference's lowest GAA (2.72) of starters. On the other end, Cal looks to its backstop, Brad Buss, to carry the Bears to a repeat. Leading the league and the division in shots (1,497) and saves (1,346), he hopes to have another stellar post-season.

From the Pac8 tournament website:

With two wins over WSU, (6-2,8-2) the Huskies just edged out Trojans for the last spot in the tournament. Meanwhile, the Bruins and Bears split their series, 8-4 and 5-3 respectively. This year's tournament marks and end to the 4 year post-season drought of UCLA and the first that USC has missed.

All games will be held at Berkeley Iceland. Audio from the games will be available online from sportsjuice.com. Click here to print a map from yahoo for driving directions.

Team websites:


Deadline NHL lockout newswire


Stanley Cup unawarded 1919

The first Stanley Cup to go unawarded in 112 years was a somber reaction to the 1919 influenza pandemic that killed over 20 million people worldwide. Technically, the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association could have taken the cup after almost the entire Montreal Canadiens team of the National Hockey League fell ill. Seattle declined to take the championship under those circumstances.

In 2005 the Stanley Cup will not be awarded because the players and owners, the NHL and NHLPA, Bob Goodenow and Gary Bettman, could not come to an agreement when splitting an estimated $2.1 billion in revenue.

No spin. No rhetorical flourish. That is the simple truth, and it is embarassing.

[LATE] Uncertainty, bitterness linger - Ross McKeon, SF Chronicle.

NHL season ends before it starts - Victor Chi, SJ Mercury News.

[10:00PM] An Open Letter To Sharks Fans.

[8:50PM] From the Montreal Gazette's Red Fisher, life goes on (subscription only). NHL season put in a deep freeze - Tim Panaccio. The Prince of Pucks: The NHL will never be the same.

[7:30PM] The latest from Ray Ratto on ESPN: After five months, the obvious becomes official. It is hard to write something that leaves you less informed than when you started, but Ratto accomplishes that and more. The Bay Area media has been abysmal so far today.

[7PM] A full transcript of Bob Goodenow's press conference this afternoon is available on NHLPA.com.

[Q] Most fans would -- let's play devil's advocate here. Most fans would kill for these salaries. What do you say to the ones who think this is all about greed?

[A] Well, fan interest in the sport is one thing that's obviously going to be an issue going forward. I believe that the sport itself is, you know, the best sport, best spectator sport, best team spectator sport in the world, and I believe the gentlemen that are sitting up here that play it and perform for all of us will again be able to provide a top level product that will draw the fans back.

Your reference to greed, it's indeed unfortunate, during the course of these negotiations, that the league has tried, through multiple PR initiatives, to paint the players as being greedy, et cetera, et cetera. As you know from my comments, it's very clear. The players have never asked for one thing. Every step of the way, every proposal has been in response to the owners' concerns. They set player values, and then the owner -- the players have responded to their issues and their concerns.

This is not about greed. This is about a fair deal, and that's what this has all been about for everybody sitting up here since the outset. If you want to talk about greed, I could suggest to you that you maybe ask that question to the other side.

[Q] In his opening comments this afternoon, Gary Bettman made an apology to the fans. Does the NHLPA have any apology to the fans at all or owe them one?

[A] Absolutely an apology to all the fans, and speaking on behalf of all the players up here, they didn't want to be locked out. They didn't want to be not allowed to entertain the fans. Gary owes an apology because he started the lock out. He put all this in motion, and the proposals that these players have put forward, in particular, the roll back, which would have made the league successful in one fell swoop, very serious steps were taken, and, you know, yes, we apologize to the fans for this situation, this circumstance, and the fans can say, what are you going to do about it? Well, we've done awful lot, we feel, to get to a fair resolution, and unfortunately, it's the other side that we haven't been able to make a contact with, and it's unfortunate that this situation will continue. That's all I can say.

[Q] Do you think it's possible that you and Gary Bettman could ever get a deal done, thinking of your relationship?

[A] Absolutely. I don't know what you mean by thinking of our relationship, but Gary's doing his job on behalf of the owners and I'm representing the players. When you've seen the negotiations and you've seen what's happened in the past, is there an opportunity for a deal? Most absolutely. We just haven't been able to find that right spot.

[6:55PM] The NHL has a Frequently Asked Questions page about the cancellation of the 2004-05 NHL season.

[Q] Will the League lose teams as a result of the lost season?

[A] No. As the League has said repeatedly during this process, we are committed to maintaining 30 healthy, viable, competitive franchises in the markets where they are presently located.

[Q] Even though the season is cancelled, will the League continue in its efforts to negotiate for a new CBA?

[A] Yes.

[Q] Will the League create a 2005-06 schedule?

[A] Yes.

[Q] Will there be a Draft this year?

[A] In the absence of a collective bargaining agreement, the 2005 NHL Entry Draft will not be held.

[Q] How will the League attempt to win back fans?

[A] As the NHL emerges with a new economic partnership with its players, its primary mission will be to restore interest in the game and to demonstrate to our fans, business partners and the media that the revitalized NHL is more entertaining than ever and worthy of their time, dollars and attention. To achieve this objective, the League and the Member Clubs will work together to execute a well-developed marketing and promotional Re-launch Plan, which will incorporate advertising, promotional and public relations initiatives.

[4:50PM] "My own criticism of the union, is where are we going? Linkage is now on the table. I think the revenues are not going to drop from $2.1 to $1.6 billion, they might even drop below a billion dollars" - Brian Burke on TSN.

"We dont know where we are going, we are headed into darkness" - Bob McKenzie on TSN.

[4PM] This is what passes for a hockey article in San Jose on the day the first major sports league in North America cancelled an entire season: Why should anyone care if the NHL doesn't - Mark Purdy. During the early years, hockey fans in San Jose had to deal with a lot of this type of fan bashing.

I would write a lengthy response to this, but the answer is simple. Two years ago when the A's lost to Boston in Game 5 of the opening round of the playoffs, the last time I wandered into the Oakland Raider Black Hole cheering for the opposing team, the hordes of Giants fans who painted their faces and entire bodies at the last World Series, the lone Golden State Warrior fan who still believes... what do they all have in common? They all support their local teams with a passion.

Hockey is no different, and trying to make it so embarrasses you and your publication. Leave it to Victor Chi, David Pollak or Ann Killion to write a hockey article worth reading in your paper.

[2:30PM] I asked 2 questions during the Jamison press conference, hopefully this is how they came out:

(1) You mentioned earlier that the Sharks lost a little over $6 million last season, after 9 home playoff dates, and after Nolan and Selanne were no longer on the payroll ($6.5 million salary each), why were the losses so significant, and what do the Sharks need from a new collective bargaining agreement?

(2) The last NHLPA proposal posted last night mentioned that the players wanted to receive 55% of playoff revenue, what are your thoughts on that?

Greg Jamison's answers should be available later tonight after I can check the video or audio.


Sharks president Greg Jamison

[2:10PM] From Greg Jamison: I am disappointed that we could not build a partnership with the players to take the game to a higher level, and get fans more involved. I believe we will be playing next year.

[2:05PM] Greg Jamison starts his press conference, and answers questions from the local media about the cancellation of the 2004-05 NHL season. He goes into great detail about how it effects the Sharks organization.

[1:59PM] The San Jose HP Pavilion in its current non-hockey state:

San Jose HP Pavilion arena

[1:45PM] Sharks President and CEO Greg Jamison will hold a press conference at 2PM.

[1:30PM] On ESPNnews, Darren Pang says that an extraordinary number of players are trying to get ahold of NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow, and they are not getting through. He says that he has heard the phrase "sold down the river" by a number of players after hearing of the NHLPA salary cap proposal.

[1:25PM] [Gary Bettman apologized, does the NHLPA owe the fans an apology?] On behalf of all the players, they didnt want to be locked out, they did not want to not have the opportunity to entertain the fans. We apologize to the fans for this situation. It is unfortunate that the situation will continue. As far as anything happening this afternoon, nothing is going to happen.

[1:20PM] More Goodenow: The owners set player value. This is not about greed, it is about fair market value. Until we get to the table, we dont know what the next step is. It is a fresh start, everything is off the table. We will have to start all over again.

[1:14PM] More Goodenow: Fan interest in the sport is an issue. The sport itself is the best team sport in the world. It is unfortunate the league tried to paint the players as greedy.

[1:10PM] Watching the press conference on ESPNnews from the North Club of the HP Pavilion.

[1:06PM] Goodenow says: Players dont want to make a dollar more than their worth. [Salaries are trending down] as referenced by recent signings. The NHL did not want to negotiate.

[1PM] Bob Goodenow press conference starts. No streaming video online, so Starbucks is no longer an option. There are 3 TV trucks outside of Owen Nolan's bar in downtown SJ, and 2 TV trucks across the street. If it bleeds, it leads. And the NHL is definitely bleeding. No sound at the bar, so I head to the arena.

[12:05PM] If this website is down or hard to reach, there are way too many visitors.

[11:05AM] SJsharks.com has a partial transcript from the press conference that is a little more accurate than the rough notes I have been posting here.

[10:59AM] Photo gallery from the Bettman press conference. Thanks to theFeeder.com for this link.

[10:55AM] More Bettman: We reached out the last 3 times with final offers. There are only so many times you can beat your head against the wall. It was incumbent upon them to let us know what it would have taken to get a deal done. They did not.

[10:45AM] More Bettman: We were too far apart to get a deal done, we were not as close as everyone thinks. After we got Bob's second fax last night saying there would be no further communication, he kept his word.

[10:40AM] More Bettman: We think all teams will be back when we start next year, at one point all 30 teams have demonstrated good fan support. We are looking into all options for next year [including replacement players], but under this agreement we would have lost money for the first two years. It is easy to say split the middle to make an agreement, but we needed to meet the financial objectives set out by the owners.

[10:30AM] More Bettman: I feel terrible about what I have had to say today. There is no animosity between the league and its players. They are the best in the world, and we want them back. There is also no animosity between the league and the union. They are doing what they think is best, although I often dont understand them.

[10:25AM] More Bettman: We are going to have to earn our place back with fans. This negotiation was about the future of the league, and that is what we are committed to.

[10:15AM] More from the Bettman press conference: The NHL will require linkage between revenues and a salary cap in the next CBA offer to the NHLPA. Moving off linkage was an effort to get a deal done.

[10:03AM] NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman starts his press conference. Opens with a statement that every professional sports league owes its existence to its fans, that the NHL owed an apology to its fans, and that he was truly sorry. Then my video dropped out. Based on the first question, there will be no 2004-05 NHL season.

[9:00AM] NHLPA schedules a press conference for 1PM (4ET) at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto.

[8:00AM] NHL deadline passes, no word on if an agreement has been reached between the NHL and NHLPA.

[7:30AM] NHL will stream the press conference to determine the fate of the season at 10AM (1PM ET). The video will be available on NHL.com and NHLcbanews.com.

[7:00AM] Sharkspage NHL newswire.


NHL's final letter to the NHLPA, NHLPA responds, plus followup correspondence

Here is a letter detailing the NHL's final offer from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman:

Dear Bob,

We attempted to reach out to you with yesterday's offer of a team maximum cap of $42.2M ($40M in salary and $2.2M in benefits) which was not linked to League-wide revenues. As Bill told Ted, "de-linking" a maximum team salary cap from League revenues and total League-wide player compensation has always been problematic for us, especially since we cannot now quantify the damage to the League from the lockout. This presents the risk we will pay out more than we can afford. As you know, if all 30 teams were to spend to the maximum we proposed, and if the damage to our business is as we discussed at our meetings in New York, then the League would continue to lose money.

I know, as do you, that the "deal" we can make will only get worse for the players if we cancel the season -- whatever damage we have suffered to date will pale in comparison to the damage from a cancelled season and we will certainly not be able to afford what is presently on the table. Accordingly, I am making one final effort to reach out to make a deal that will let us play this season.

We are increasing our offer of yesterday by increasing the maximum individual team cap to $44.7M ($42.5M in salary and $2.2M in benefits). This offer is not an invitation to begin negotiations -- it's too late for that. This is our last effort to make a deal that's fair to the players and one that the Clubs (hopefully) can afford. We have no more flexibility and there is no time for further negotiation.

If this offer is acceptable, please let me know by 11:00 A.M. tomorrow, in advance of my scheduled press conference. Hopefully, the press conference will not be necessary.


Gary B. Bettman

NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow responds [PDF]:

Dear Gary,

Yesterday afternoon, Bill Daly presented us with an offer from the League that, for the first time, was not linked to League-wide revenues. We appreciated your willingness to adjust your position and we worked to respond in kind. By evening, we had fashioned and reached out to you with an offer from the PA that included, for the first time, a team maximum cap. This offer built upon the 24% rollback and other changes in favour of clubs, which were presented by the Players on December 9, 2004.

As you know, and as Ted told Bill, our offer of a team cap represented a radical step for the PA. We took this step because we too believe that our sport will be damaged greatly by the cancellation of this season and the continuation of the lockout through next season.

We wish that the NHL had offered a "no linkage" proposal before yesterday so that negotiations in that arena could have commenced sooner. However, we recognize that they did not and we agree that time is short.

In that spirit, and in a final attempt to reach an agreement, we are adjusting our offer of yesterday in two respects. First, we are reducing the maximum individual team cap to $49 million in salary, which does not include the $2.2 million per team in benefits due.

Second, we will adjust our exception provision so that it is available to teams only twice during the six year term and for up to only 10% over the limit of $49 million (to $53.9 million), at the tax rate of 150%. The exception provision is important so that a successful team does not have to arbitrarily dismantle its roster after it has achieved particular success or is in a unique phase of its player roster cycle.

I have attached a short summary of the main deal points discussed by Bill and Ted yesterday, as modified above.

I can be reached at the usual phone numbers.


Robert W. Goodenow
Executive Director & General Counsel

Gary Bettman responds to Bob Goodenow's response:

Dear Bob,

It was disappointing to receive the fax of your "final" offer. We would have been prepared to propose and negotiate over a "de-linked" maximum team salary sooner, but the NHLPA had been consistent in stating that the players would never accept a salary cap. We only learned in the mediation process on Sunday that you would entertain such an offer, which is why we asked for a meeting yesterday and made the "de-linked" proposal.

If every team spent to the $49 million level you have proposed, total player compensation would exceed what we spent last season and, assuming for discussion purposes, there was no damage to the game, our player compensation costs would exceed 75% of revenues. We cannot afford your proposal.

Our offer of earlier today was a $75 million increase over the offer we made yesterday. I hope you will accept it, and that we can move forward and negotiate the myriad of other issues that need to be addressed.

Gary B. Bettman

Bob Goodenow responds [PDF] to Bettman's response to his initial response:

Dear Gary,

This is in reply to your most recent letter.

1. Your claim that the Clubs "cannot afford" our proposal is based on your hypothetical fear of what would happen "if every team spent to the $49 million level the Players have proposed". The notion that "every Club" will spend at the $49 million level is contradicted by years of actual payroll experience under the old CBA system and by Exhibit 12 of your December 14 document (attached for your recollection), in which you projected 24 teams well below the $49 million level after the rollback. Further, this experience is based on an environment without revenue sharing, taxes on team payrolls and the numerous new system restrictions.

2. Based on your own calculations from Exhibit 12, over 21 Clubs are spending significantly less than your team payroll limit number of $42.5 million. I am at a loss to understand how you suggest your offer earlier today represents a $75 million dollar increase when it only impacts the spending of nine teams!

You will receive nothing further from us.


Robert W. Goodenow
Executive Director & General Counsel

Sharkspage President and CEO Jon Swenson responds to Bettman and Goodenow's responses:

Dear Gary and Bob,

Thanks for at least talking before the end of season deadline approaches tomorrow. I would have liked this type of intense negotiation to take place before a single game was lost, but fans will take what they can get.

I believe both sides have made significant concessions over the last few days, and I would like to thank both sides for making sincere attempts to save the 2004-05 NHL season. The fact that the NHL is a business first, and a game second, has become all too apparent over the last few years.

Try to split the difference during the final hours of negotiation, and move on with whatever can be salvaged. Declaring a labor impasse, breaking the union, and playing with replacement players is the next logical step in this march towards league oblivion. Come to an agreement tomorrow because no one wants to go there.

The Stanley Cup is the leagues biggest ambassador to the fans. Use it daily, and sprinkle liberally with player autograph sessions and pickup street hockey, and try to express your appreciation for the fans that do return. Speaking for myself, I believe a larger ice surface is the only solution to many of the problems the game is facing, even if it requires the loss of a few of the most lucrative seats in the building.

Good luck tomorrow.


Jon Swenson
Sharkspage President and CEO

Visit NHLcbanews.com, NHLPA.com, and TSN.ca to keep up with the lockout developments as they happen.

[Update] Using a link I found here, there are 14 out of 30 NHL teams that exceeded the $42.5 million salary cap using last seasons payroll figures.

According to the payroll totals compiled by Hockeyzoneplus, the teams were: Anaheim [54.4], Boston [45.8], Colorado [60.9], Dallas [67.6], Detroit [77.8], Los Angeles [46.1], Montreal [42.7], New Jersey [48.1], NY Islanders [43.8], NY Rangers [77], Philadelphia [65.1], St Louis [61.2], Toronto [61.8], Washington [51.1].

All payroll figures are in millions. Keep in mind that several sources dispute different numbers for total payroll, and that payroll totals fluctuate from year to year. At some point in the future I will create a chart with all the figures side-by-side. The San Jose Sharks came in at $34.8 million for 2003-04 according to those numbers.

[Update2] New CBA deal points from the latest NHLPA offer, from NHLPA.com.

A few of the notable items: 6 year term (through 9-15-11), 24% rollback included, revised arbitration, cap on player bonuses, replace NHLPA revenue sharing plan with NHL revenue sharing plan, $49 million salary limit (aka $49 million salary cap), minimum team payroll of $25 million, $300k minimum player salary, payroll taxes, 55% of playoff revenues to be paid to Players for the 2005 playoffs (ouch).

NHL Notes - deadline eve edition

- From Vodkafish, arrangements are being made by the NHL for tomorrow's press conference which may cancel the season:

The National Hockey League will conduct a news conference with Commissioner Gary Bettman Wednesday, February 16, at the Westin New York at Times Square.

Media outside New York may participate via conference call. The press conference also will be available live on satellite and will be streamed live on www.NHLCBANews.com and www.NHL.com.

Date: Wednesday, February 16

Time: 1 p.m., ET

- NHLPA statement following CBA meeting - NHLPA.com.

TORONTO (February 15, 2005): On Monday, the League presented the NHLPA with a proposal that included a significant move in the Players’ direction. The League abandoned its demand for “linkage” for the first time by agreeing that the League would no longer insist that League-wide compensation be limited to a percentage of declared League-wide revenues. However, the League continued to demand a team payroll cap of $40 million.

In response, the Players made a counter-proposal that featured an unprecedented move of their own. Specifically, for the first time ever, the Players included an upper limit on team payrolls. The Players’ payroll limit was set at $52 million. The Players’ counter-proposal also featured more aggressive tax thresholds and tax rates on team payrolls.

The League rejected the Players’ proposal.

NHLPA Senior Director Ted Saskin released the following statement:

“It is indeed unfortunate that with the major steps taken by both sides today we were unable to build enough momentum to reach an agreement.”

- TSN is reporting that the NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin made a proposal last night that included a $52-million salary cap. The NHL rejected the proposal, which also included the 24% rollback of player salaries across the board.

During the intermission of last nights AHL allstar game on ESPN2 [Planet USA came back from 0-4 to win in a shootout], EJ Hradek reported an NHL offer of $40 million, with no linkage to revenues, and the possibility of including players in playoff revenue.

- Philadelphia Flyers captain Keith Primeau told the Canadian Press:

I'm extremely concerned. The biggest thing that disturbs me is everyone's true misunderstanding of the fan base. You hear how certain people believe that the hard-core fan will definitely return, that the damage isn't irreparable.

I think that's a huge miscalculation or judgment in error of who and what your fan base is. That, I think, is going to alarm a lot of people when the doors are re-opened.

Amen. While I agree with his sentiment, I disagree with his belief that fans will not return when the doors open. What they return to is a different story.

- Here is a rough quote of an interview with Nashville Predators forward and player representative Scott Walker:

I have a 2-year-old son and I try to get him to eat broccoli for dinner. I asked him 3 different ways and he still doesnt want it. The players are the same way. You can ask them 50 different ways, and they still dont want a salary cap.

Interesting comparison, except that broccoli is good for you. Even though a mention of a salary cap is the kiss of death for the NHLPA, it may help save the league from itself. Players, agents and owners included.

- From the latest USA Today lockout log:

ONE YEAR AGO: Marco Sturm scored with 16 seconds left in overtime as the San Jose Sharks snapped a four-game road losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jackets.

- A cup goes unclaimed, in 1919. From the Toronto Star:

Only the worldwide outbreak of influenza could stop the Stanley Cup from being awarded in 1919. It was one of the most anticipated and hard fought finals in the history of hockey.

The finals began between the National Hockey League Montreal Canadiens and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association Seattle Metropolitans. Tied 2-2, the two teams skated to a scoreless draw in the deciding 5th game after two 10 minute overtime periods. Before the 6th game, several players were hospitalized due to the outbreak of influenza.

The Seattle team declined to accept the Cup under those circumstances. It was the only Stanley Cup not to have been awarded in 112 years.

- BU freshman Chris Bourque scored the game-winning goal in a 3-2 Boston University OT victory over Northeastern last night. Inside College Hockey had coverage of the semifinal games. I also highly recommend the INCH blog for following college hockey down the stretch.

According to SJsharks.com, San Jose had the most prospects in the annual Beanpot, and was the only NHL team to have one playing for each college in the tournament.

The SJ prospects were: Brian O’Hanley [D-Boston-2003-9th], Dan Spang [D-BostonU-2003-2nd], Tom Cavanagh [C-Harvard-2001-6th], Tom Walsh [D-Harvard-2002-5th], David McDonald [D-Harvard-2004-7th], Mike Morris [RW-Northeastern-2002-1st], Carter Lee [RW-Northeastern-2003-9th].

There was a very detailed article on SJ Sharks Director of Amateur Scouting Tim Burke in the last online publication for season ticket holders.

- Hockeys Future's Courtney Wagner has a review of the San Jose Sharks prospects playing in the CHL.

[Update] John Buccigross has a new column up on ESPN: While the NHL struggles, the game lives on. Some of the fan letters he posted are hard to read.

Pac8 Tournament features 4 college hockey teams this weekend


From the 2005 Pac8 Tournament website:

The Pac 8 Tournament is a single elimination tournament to determine the conference champion. The post-season competitors consist of the host team [Berkeley] and the remaining top 3 teams of the conference [UCLA, Oregon, Washington].

Listen Live Online. For those of you who will not be able to make the games, but would like still like to catch exciting tournament action, you can listen live via online broadcast provided by SportsJuice.com. Robert McPherson and Danny Page will be broadcasting all four games live from Berkeley. Pac 8 fans maybe familiar with them as the voice of USC Ice Hockey throughout the 2004-5 season.

Washington will face UCLA at 1PM, and Oregon will play Cal at 5PM Friday, Feb. 18th. The Consolation game will be held Saturday at 1PM, with the Championship game starting at 5PM.

The games will be held at the cavernous Berkeley Iceland, which held 1000+ fans for the last Cal-Stanford hockey game. Click here to print a map to the rink before making the trip.

[Update] Thanks to Puck Update for the link to this ESPN2 feature on the history of goalie masks by Paul Lukas: Masked Marvels. The article finishes with an interesting note on the University of Michigan logo design.


Stick a fork in the NHL, for it is done

There are only three things that are certain in this world, death, taxes, and the fact that there will be no 2004-05 NHL season.

With unequivocal absolute certitude, I can almost guarantee that after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reads his daily dose of Sharkspage this morning, he will call for a press conference tomorrow in New York to cancel the season. His second call will be to his lawyers to discuss declaring a labor impass. Soon, there will be nothing left but to quibble over the details, and that is our specialty.

[Breaking News] From the Sharkspage newswire, it looks like it is official: NHL will cancel season Tuesday - MSNBC.com.

[Breaking News2] Update from Bob McKenzie on TSN: Both sides are still negotiating, the NHLPA may make one final proposal, and a Goodenow sighting in NY looks to be false.

[Breaking News3] Update from John Buccigross during intermission of the AHL allstar game on ESPN2: Press conference pushed back to Wednesday at 1PM ET, there might be a $45 million hard salary cap that is NOT tied directly to revenues [from EJ Hradek], owners may split some of the playoff money with players, both Buccigross and Melrose want NHLPA to have a full vote of all NHLPA players, and Chicken Parm does not age like a normal human. Meetings are also in Buffalo [EJ].

Scott Burnside lays out what led to this point over the last few days for ESPN:

After the NHLPA rejected the NHL's last proposal on Wednesday, commissioner Gary Bettman said if the two sides weren't putting a deal into writing by this weekend the season would be canceled. A four-hour session on Thursday ended without any progress and both sides saying they were done negotiating. A meeting in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, which was requested by the U.S. Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service, also yielded no progress.

Representatives from the NHL and the NHLPA met with Acting Director of the U.S. Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service [FMCS] Scot B. Beckenbaugh, to try to find a resolution Sunday. Thanks to Offwing for the link.

After the meeting, NHL executive VP and Chief Legal Officer Bill Daly said "No progress in the collective bargaining process resulted from the meeting. We have no further comment."

After the meeting, NHLPA Senior Director Ted Saskin said, “Today, the parties met for the third time with FMCS officials. There was no progress to report as a result of this meeting, and in fairness to the process it would serve no purpose to comment further.”

Not good. At least they both agree on something.

The NHLPA rejected an NHL proposal on Wednesday. The proposal repackaged NHLPA's Dec. 9th offer with 4 triggers that if met, would revert the agreement back to a salary cap. According to TSN, the four triggers were:

- If the league pays out more than 55 per cent of its revenues in salaries.

- If any three teams have a payroll of more than $42 million US.

- If the average payroll of the three highest-spending teams is more than 33 per cent higher than the average of the three lowest spending teams.

- If average team compensation exceeds $36.5 million.

A brief NHL memo about how the triggers work can be found here.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman held a press conference to discuss the offer with reporters. Here he discussed the NHL proposal:

[Q] When you say that the system would switch from their proposal to your offer from last week, in a way that you defined it in terms of when it doesn't work any more, can you explain a bit more about that?

[Bettman] There were four possible triggers. One was if we paid out too much as a League, if we paid out more than 55% of our revenues. Second was if there were more than three teams that had a payroll of over $42 million. The third way was if you took the average compensation paid to the players on the three highest-spending teams, and you compared the average of the three lowest-spending teams, and that differential was more than 33%. The last way was if the average team compensation exceeded $36.5 million.

Any one of those triggers would indicate that we were spending too much, more than we could afford, or that the disparities among teams was too great.

[Q] You think that's what obviously led to the rejection, they couldn't digest that?

[Bettman] It could have been that, and it could have been the fact that under no circumstances would the Union agree to an economic partnership with cost certainty. But having said that, I don't want to characterize it. You have to get an answer from them on that.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman also answered questions about setting a drop-dead of Sunday [yesterday], after which the 2004-05 NHL season would be cancelled:

[Q] Would you begin by saying if nothing happens this weekend, that Monday is a drop-dead date?

[Bettman] You know, I think people make too much out of the term "drop-dead date." In our context, it's not the same. When a Union traditionally goes on strike at the expiration of a Collective Bargaining Agreement and services stop, that's a drop-dead point, a drop-dead date.

In our case, when you're doing a schedule, whether or not the season or portion of the season is a day more or a day less, you can deal with that. But at some point, as a practical matter, it's clear that there isn't enough time left. As we've said, for us it's always been about making the right deal. The time frame is not relevant.

Now, having said that, we had a discussion last week. I gave the Union a candid assessment of where we stood. My belief is that if we're not drafting documents this weekend, there's no way that we can do everything we need to do in time to have any semblance of a season.

So some of you may characterize that as a hard drop-dead date. As a practical matter it is. But whether or not it's Friday night, Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon, the fact is if we're not actively engaged in drafting documents this weekend, I don't see how we can have a season.

Gary Bettman also discussed what kind of season 2004-05 would look like if an agreement was reached and play started:

[Q] In order to play a semblance of a season, what kind of schedule model are we looking at, the number of games?

[Bettman] The model we were looking at that's created this timing is 28 games. Would have been two games per team in your conference.

[Q] And the playoff structure stays the same?

[Bettman] Yes. You can do the math. When you look at having training camp and getting everything done that has to be done, as I said, if we're not at least working on an agreement this weekend, there's no way you can squeeze that in. I'm not going to have the players play five games in a row without a break. There has to be a reality to this. Frankly, as terrible as it would be not to have a season, you can only have one if it makes sense.

[Q] When would that start?

[Bettman] If you're not starting it in February, it doesn't work. So back it up. Would you have a seven-day training camp, signing players who are unsigned under a new system, doing everything the lawyers would obviously have to do? That's why I'm saying, if we're not working on the text, the document, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement this weekend, there's no way it's going to get done.

We said all along we weren't going to set a drop-dead date. I get a sense that people at least want to have an understanding as to what we're thinking makes sense or doesn't make sense going forward.

NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow labeled the latest NHL proposal a triple-cap:

The league's proposal today was a transparent attempt to impose on our Dec. 9 proposal the effects of their twice-rejected Feb. 2 triple-cap proposal. The NHL knows our Dec. 9 proposal was never designed to meet the effects of their triple-cap proposal and at least one of the stipulated events would be immediately triggered.

Is that three times worse than a regular salary cap?

Given the current financial situation of the league, the triggers would kick into effect immediately. After two days of negotiations without progress in Toronto, talks broke down Thursday between the NHL and NHLPA.

Offwing has an NHL lockout digest containing a rough transcript of NHL VP Bill Daly's conference call with reporters after the NHL proposal was declined by the NHLPA. One ominous question came from Mark Everson of the New York Post:

[Q-Everson] What of Bettman's contention that negotiations will only get rougher one this season is cancelled?

[A-Saskin] Completely unacceptable position, we fail to see how it can get much worse.

San Jose Mercury News columnist David Pollak has a very informative breakdown of the player contracts that helped exacerbate the leagues financial situation, although it looks like the guts of the article was only available in the print version. After reading the headline, Bobby Holik, Jose Theodore, and Joe Sakic immediately popped into my head.

freestyle snowboarding

[Update] Sharkspage sponsored its first freestyle snowboarder over the weekend, Eric Swenson. No relation. Well, actually he is my cousin. He did not make the final 6 out of 300 at the Sierra Freestyle Competition, but his biggest air off the railing was in practice. He also had one grind with the same position over three sections of railing. The photo above was his second biggest air of the day, taken with a disposable camera.

True story, the first minute I was on the super bunnyhill snowboarding lesson area at Sierra Ski Ranch in Lake Tahoe I heard this from a young snowboarder in a jester hat: "You are the guy from Sharkspage?" Yes. You are not going to the SJSU game tonight? "No." What do you think of the site, thumbs up or thumbs down? [Thumbs up]. Cool.

If you go to evidencephoto.com, select Sierra and February 12th, you might be able to see photos of all the snowboarders. They are not up as of this morning.

SJSU alumni game

[Update2] I missed the SJSU vs SJSU alumni game Saturday night. Visit SJSUhockey.com for updates and information on how you can help the team as they travel to compete in the National Tournament in Michigan.

[Update3] TheFeeder.com has a new lockout website featuring commentary from several different weblogs across the country. It was nice to see they added soveryobsessed for Bruins coverage, but sad to see the latest article noting a possible move for the Cleveland Barons AHL franchise.

The Barons have struggled offensively since losing Boyes and Zalesak, and the attendance has suffered as a result. Cleveland is not a traditional market, but there are more than enough hockey fans to support an AHL franchise. After Sharks prospects Steve Bernier and Joshua Hennessy finish play with their respective junior teams, they will be eligible to play with the Barons. Success in the postseason will be crucial for keeping the team in Cleveland.


Hockey Notes - covering local college hockey edition

- Still no NHL season. Surprised? If you want the short version, the owners are trying to change the fundamental dynamics of the league. Which, for them, includes a salary cap. But the public has no clear way to see how they account for revenues and losses. The NHL is in trouble, but in how much trouble is the debate currently raging between the NHL and NHLPA.

If the players agree to a cap, it will be a part of the game forever. There will be no taking it off the table later after it is agreed to now. It will be a paradigm shift for the NHL.

The players are clinging to a false representation of a free market, and are seen by many fans as holding out for more money. Holding out while the league ratings plummet, television revenues evaporate, many rinks are half empty, the major NHL show in the US is cancelled, and the quality of the game on the ice suffers. I appreciate the committee Brendan Shanahan created trying to look at some of the problems, but I honestly believe it was a token effort. Where was the concern for the last 3 seasons?

The players made a huge proposal to move along negotiations with their 24% salary rollback, among other cost cutting measures. This offer was a tacit admission that the last 2 years of their public message [the NHL is exaggerating losses to get a better deal] was false. The NHL response was so lacking in compromise that after reading it, I knew the season was over. A hard line was taken so an impasse could be declared, and the fate of the league can be determined by the courts.

There have been a half dozen articles over the weekend all repeating the meme that this lockout is the owners fault for writing the checks. That is wrong on so many levels that I can barely even muster a response. Both sides are equally to blame for this fiasco. The big market owners for blowing the curve for the rest of the league, to the NHLPA score system for maximizing salary for mid-to-low level players also blowing the curve, to the NHL's marketing wasteland, to player holdouts that last well into the season.

I have one big lockout post left in me, one that I have been working on for a few months, but at this point I feel like there is no point in even writing. If the game comes back, remove 2 rows of seats from all 4 sides. It will open up the flow of the game and give players room to skate, and the NHL might pique my interest again.

- From Stanford Ice Hockey president Andy Meyerson:


First off, thanks for covering our games this season. Like Stragis said, the pictures and scores on your site are one of the only ways for my family back in Maryland to see me play. Your site is awesome, and everyone on the team appreciates the work you put into it. Also, the last Big Freeze at Belmont was one of the best hockey games I've ever played. We lost 5-4 in OT. We were up 4-2 in the 2nd period, until numerous questionable calls from the officials gave Cal the opportunity to score two power play goals and tie up the game. I have to say, I've been in very few buildings louder than Belmont was last Saturday. It was by far the biggest crowd we've gotten all season. Not only were the fans boisterous, but the infamous Stanford Band came out en masse and played/screamed pretty much nonstop for 60+ minutes. Also, they performed a "halftime show" on the ice in the 2nd intermission, a reenactment of the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding incident. I think we gave everyone that came out an excellent hockey game, and I am confident that we can take Cal next year.

That said, here are some of my comments on the season:

All in all, I think it was a successful year for the program. We played some unbelievable games, especially in the Cal series, and fan attendance at our home games increased astronomically from October to January. We definitely stepped it up from last season, and I think we are going to improve even more for next year. We are going to surprise a lot of people in 05-06; we have a solid core of young players and arguably the best goalie in the conference in John Stragis. I know we're not very far from bringing the Pac 8 title back to Palo Alto.

Thanks for the kind words. I hope they do not mind my stream-of-consciousness reporting style. Stanford's home rink, Belmont Iceland, is by far the coldest of any I have been to this year. And now that he mentions it, Stragis for Stanford, Niedzwiecki for Davis, Buss for Cal, and Best and Lowe for San Jose have given local fans very good goaltending to watch this year.

[Note from AS] And Kevin Bruinsma of Palmer?

Based on that recap, it looks like it was another electric Big Freeze matchup. The first BF game in Berkeley I missed the Cal band, who did not make it out to the second game up north. I made it to the first BF game in Belmont sans Stanford marching band, who did make it out to the second one. Great timing.

- That note on Stanford brings me to this question asked of SJ Mercury News beat writer Victor Chi:

[Q] Why doesn't the Merc support SJSU Hockey? Why isn't there even a mention of the ACHA in the papers? It's time SJ Mercury be a little more attentive to the bay area hockey fans and its teams.

[VC] I don't wish to come across as being callous, rude, harsh or unsympathetic because nobody at our paper has more passion for hockey than I do, and I have great respect for the hard work and the sacrifice of teams like SJSU hockey ... but it is simply unrealistic for us to devote regular space to a club sport.

Victor Chi has forgotten more about the NHL than most fans know, but this is an interesting question. I have been asked this somewhere around 40-50 times if you substitute AHL and Cleveland, or ECHL and Fresno, or DEL and Hamburg Freezers [j/k], for SJSU and ACHA in the above question.

Club sports in most cases do not warrant attention outside of a few interested parties, but the local ACHA college hockey teams are a different story. They are the highest level of hockey being played in the Bay Area right now, and they have been the highest level of hockey at their respective universities since they began play. Most of the hockey media comes from Canada, the North and the East, where there is an abundance of hockey at all levels. In the Bay Area right now, and possibly in the future, this is it.

Chi does mention this feature that was done on SJSU by the Merc's David Pollak. And there was also a comprehensive article on the Fresno Falcons that was very well written. This SF Chronicle feature on Berkeley complete with photo gallery shows that even newspaper photographers struggle with the poor lighting at these college rinks. But the reality is that each paper has to cater to its audience. And in this market, they are choosing to direct their resources elsewhere.

I would have covered the ACHA and SJSU/Cal/Stanford this year for a number of reasons [the players, the game, alumni, I could hang from the ceiling and take photos], but there was one major reason. It is a long shot, but eventually I would like to see NCAA hockey on the West Coast. One fan mentioned that it would probably take many years, 16 viable teams, and a much larger fan base to create a conference. It starts by having each school ice 4 solid lines, enough to sustain competitive rivalries, and then trying to build a lasting support for the teams.

After seeing SJSU fill every available seat at home, pack people 3 deep around the rink, and still turn away fans, I have to say that is more than a small step forward. If the 1000+ fans that show up in what is best described as a carnival atmosphere for the Cal-Stanford game show up for the Cal-SJSU game, it would also be big. If I have to quote an SJSU player taunting Cal for that to happen, so be it.

There are similar comments by Victor Chi on the ECHL Fresno Falcons and the new ECHL franchise in Stockton. All I can say about those two teams is that they will be covered on Sharkspage. Japanese goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji plays with Bakersfield against Fresno tonight, and Scott Gomez will play with the Alaska Aces against Fresno March 15th. Contribute with the paypal or amazon donation links to the right and you will see me attend and photograph a few more, and possibly post a bonus interview.

- Just posted a 2005 Hockey calendar [scroll down to the right], feel free to submit any events you think should be listed. I will leave the one from 2004 online.

- Finally, someone went through and posted each wild rumor promoted by hockey rumor blogger Eklund. It looks like he is batting around 2 for 60. There are inanimate objects on my desk that are more accurate than that. Thanks to Offwing and Tasca for the link. It was obvious that website was a fake after reading his first post, but this is absolutely true.

- Thanks to Jes Golbez for this note on the Danish hockey league playoffs, written by Fredrik Palsson for Eurohockey.Net:

The top Danish league has finished. Quarter finals to start February 18.

Herning Blue Fox won the Danish Oddset Ligaen 11 points ahead of AaB Ishockey. Tomorrow the four best teams of the regular season, Herning, AaB, Herlev and Nordsjaelland will in that order pick their quarter final opponents among Rodovre, Frederikshavn, Odense and SonderjyskE. Esbjerg Oilers is the only team that didn't qualify for the quarter finals.

Posted with permission. I received a note earlier this year that the Danish league was changing its name. No longer called the Danish Super Best league [a great name], it looks like they are now going by something equally indecipherable, but not as cool. The Herning Blue Fox lead the Danish league with a 26-10 overall record.

Soon there might be a separate page on this site with all of the Danish league teams, contact information, and a calendar. And FYI, I am dropping two Danish girls off now to see San Francisco for the first time.

- I am not a big fan of the media hyping a teenage athlete to the point of absurdity, but it has happened again to 15 year old tennis phenom Donald Young. He lost in his first pro match at the SAP Open yesterday in San Jose. Naturally, it is front page news on ESPN. Let him be a teenager, instead of making him out to be the Tiger Woods of tennis at age 15 and waiting for him to fail. But that is the state of sports journalism today.

Visit SAPopentennis.com for more information on the ATP tour stop in San Jose. Andre Agassi (2) plays tonight at 7PM vs Bobby Renoylds, Tommy Haas (3) follows up against Gregory Carraz. Wednesday night Andy Roddick (1) faces off against the feared TBD at 7PM, Thomas Enqvist and Mardy Fish will make for an interesting nightcap.

The SAP Open matches Saturday and Sunday will be televised locally on Fox Sports Bay Area, with a repeat on Monday. The Tennis Channel will air the games nationally from Thursday to Sunday.

[Update] The dissenting opinion, providing a detailed look at the Law of Unintended Consequences as it relates to the NHL proposal, is respectfully provided by Tom Benjamin.

[Update2] How is this for timing? Ross McKeon writes an excellent article on the Fresno Falcons, their players and fans; California Hockey: Low-cost, high-energy fun in ... Fresno - SF Chronicle.

This passage should warm the hearts of a lot of hockey fans burned by the lockout:

"With the fans, once you build a relationship, they not only care about the players on the ice but off the ice as well" said Sutter, one of seven Fresno players originally drafted by an NHL team. "Maintaining those kinds of relationships is important, especially in California where hockey might not be as popular as other sports."

McKeon also notes a few of the NHL players who have taken a turn this year on ECHL ice:

A few locked-out NHL players have joined the ECHL ranks. Among them: Sharks forward Mark Smith (Victoria), New Jersey's Scott Gomez (Alaska) and Chicago's Curtis Brown (San Diego), who, after coming to San Jose at the trade deadline last spring, departed via free agency in the offseason.

Visit this photo gallery to see pictures from the Alaska Aces 2-1 win over Fresno on November 6th, featuring Scott Gomez. Another Fresno report is on the way in the coming weeks.

I sat in front of Falcons head coach Greg Spenrath at the NHL rookie tournament as he was scouting prospects in the organization for Fresno, along with another member of the San Diego Gulls front office. It makes too much sense to have a Sharks prospect playing in Northern California during the lockout. That is probably why it did not happen, but it was not for a lack of Fresno trying.

[Email from J] Another update on the probable Bakersfield goaltender facing the Fresno Falcons tonight, Yutaka Fukufuji. Condors Fukufuji Named CCM Vector ECHL Rookie of the Month - ECHL.com.


SJSU wins final game of the regular season 7-1 over USC


San Jose State defeated former ACHA power USC 7-1 on Saturday Night. The final game of the regular season was seen by a packed house, and the Spartans did not disappoint. After pulling away early, the game became decidedly more physical in the third period.

The highlight of the night came after a quick faceoff in the USC zone. During a sprint for the puck, Lonny Lovins dove and tipped it passed the USC goaltender a second after his legs were taken out from under him.

Forward Sean Scarbrough had a hat trick to lead the Spartans, and defenseman Andy Whiteside contributed 4 assists on the night. Bryan Price scored the lone goal for USC. Joe Best made 22 saves on 23 goals for the win. USC goaltender Richard Dyer made 35 saves on 42 shots.

Visit here for the photo gallery from the game. Also visit the 15-4 Friday SJSU-USC box score from ACHAhockey, and the 7-1 SJSU-USC box score from last night.


Assistant captain Jon Barney [#55] told The Spartan Daily:

I'm willing to break every bone in my body to make sure my team is safe. Broken shoulder, broken hand, shattered elbows - the pain is only temporary.

SJSU Hockey

The players, coaches and staff all joined together at center ice after the game. In addition to a pair of 15-4, 7-1 wins over USC to solidify a berth in the National Tournament, SJSU was celebrating the final regular season home game for 7 seniors [Ray Kellam, Nate Panek, Adam Dekeyral, Mason Nave, Lonny Lovins, Joe Best, Jon Barney]. The team enjoyed its last few moments on the ice, gathering together as a team, as linemates, as seniors, as freshman.

I mention that SJSU has solidified a Tournament berth, but it has not clinched one. The top teams in the ACHA D2 West still have a few games left, while SJSU is done for the regular season. The remaining games: #1 - Colorado [Moosehead, Moosehead], #2 - Colorado College [Wyoming, Wyoming, Wyoming], #5 - BYU [USU, USU, Weber, USU], #4 - USU [BYU, BYU, Weber, BYU, Weber], #6 - EWU [WWU, WWU, BSU, BSU]. Based on the last ranking, and the three lopsided wins over USC and USU, it is almost beyond the realm of possibility that SJSU could be knocked out of the tournament slot given to the top 4 teams. Links to all of the opponent team websites have been added to the bottom of this SJSU page.

[Note: The Sharkspage internal rankings, consisting of too many statistics and algorithms to discuss here, has BYU at #4, EWU at #5, and USU at #6.]

Thanks go out to the team for a great season, the coaching staff, and to the fans for all their support. Also a big thanks go out to A. Sheldon for all the write-ups she has done on this website, and for the Spartan Daily. A number of former players and students have contacted me saying they appreciated the articles she posted about SJSU this year.

[Update] Here was my motivational speech before the San Jose Sharks 3rd game in the Western Conference finals: Stanley Cups are for closers only. Someone needs to give that speech to the SJSU team in Michigan. Maybe I will be there to give it in person.

[Update2] Spartans crush USC in season finale - The Spartan Daily.

The San Jose Sate University men's hockey club finished out the 2004-05 regular season on a high note, outscoring the University of Southern California by 17 points.

On Friday night, the Spartans handed the Trojans a 15-4 decision, bolstered by hat tricks from seniors Max Ramsey and Lonny Lovins.

The following evening, SJSU dominated once again, putting seven pucks in the USC net while surrendering just one goal late in the third.

[Update3] Cal swept the second half of the Big Freeze, picking up a 6-5 win in Belmont Saturday to go along with the 4-2 win at Cal Friday. Six different players scored a goal for Cal: Jeff Murphy, Jonathan Krieger, Christopher Moulton, Samuel Libeu, Amir Moazeni, and Francois Pellerin. Berkeley goaltender Brad Buss made 30 saves on 35 shots.

[Update4] Pro lacrosse league benefits from NHL lockout - ESPN.


Berkeley downs Stanford 4-2, San Jose dominates in a 15-4 win over USC

Stanford Cal Hockey

Made a mistake shooting this Stanford team photo, shot it with the ISO I used for the game instead of for a portrait. So this is grainy. I took 4 so I might be able to save 1, and email Stanford goaltender John Straigis a file good enough to print 8x10s.

From now on when taking a team photo, instead of saying cheese, yell 200 ISO at me. I can't stay for tomorrow's game, but I could show up at 7:15 or 7:30 if everyone is there.

In order to make up for that, I did take this photo:

Stanford Cal hockey

Mini box score:

Cal Berkeley 4, Stanford 2

Period 1: Berkeley 1:53, Dang (Polchinsky, Bansal). Stanford 9:46, Jaros.

Period 2: Berkeley 15:51, Haq (Moazeni, Yim). Berkeley 16:52, Pellerin [Polchinsky, Moulton}.

Period 3: Stanford 0:58, Jaros (Noble). Berkeley 9:39, Polchinsky (Murphy, Gougherty).

Goaltenders: Berkeley, Brad Buss. Stanford, John Straigis.

For the CAL faithful:
Stanford Cal hockey

And for me:
Stanford Cal hockey

San Jose destroyed USC 15-4. I received a phone call, text message, and 3 emails about the outcome. Thanks for the updates.

From SJSUhockey.com:

Spartans Trounce the Trojans...

Continuing their dominating performance with their most productive scoring onslaught of the season, the San Jose State Spartans demolished the No. 12 USC Trojans 15-4 Friday at Logitech Ice. Seniors Max Ramsey and Lonny Lovins each scored a hat-trick as the No. 3 Spartans upped their season record to 21-4-2. The Spartans outshot USC 50-20.

Visit the photo gallery from the first Stanford-CAL game. If you are a player/coach/fan going to any of the weekend games, send me a note.

[Update] The San Jose State webpage on this site has been updated. A list of photo galleries, sjsu links, and opponent team websites was added.

[Update2] If you are interested, I just sold my Nikon d100, and ordered a Nikon d70. The d100 metal body is sturdy, but the d70 has improved metering, a much better flash exposure, and a 1/500 flash sync which should freeze action and lower the washed out flash look. There is a $100 rebate [PDF] available on the d70 body from Nikon, a $200 rebate available for the d70 body+lens kit, and a $200 rebate on the d100.


Local Hockey Update - last weekend of the regular season

SJSU Hockey

SJSU Hockey

Eight Spartan veterans hit the ice one last time - A. Sheldon in The Spartan Daily.

Head coach Ron Glasow has been the behind the bench since the inception of the San Jose State University men's hockey club. He has witnessed the metamorphosis of the team and its players for nearly 15 years.

This year, the Spartans will wrap up the 2004-05 regular season against the University of Southern California at the Logitech Ice Center on Friday and Saturday night.

When the final horn sounds, Glasow will watch eight key veterans raise their sticks in the air to salute the hometown fans for one last time.

From SJSUhockey.com

Final Regular Season Series Set for this Weekend... Coming off important wins over Utah State and Colorado, the San Jose State Spartan hockey team awaits Friday's release of the updated ACHA West Region rankings. The Spartans are almost assured of at least holding on to their No. 4 ranking, and may move up. SJSU carries a 20-4-2 record into this weekend's showdown with USC at Logitech Ice. Game time Friday is 7:45 p.m., with Saturday's face off at 8:00 p.m.

From Berkeley goaltender William Tsai on the Big Freeze home-at-home with Stanford:

The Bears hope to use these two games to fine tune their game and gain momentum going into the Pac 8 Tournament being hosted in Berkeley. In addition, they are looking to revenge their embarrassing 4-1 loss in the 1st Big Freeze game at home, in front of a crowd of over 1,000 [editor note: And the marching band!].

Meanwhile, Stanford is playing for pride and to win back the Golden Skate by sweeping Cal this weekend. The Cardinal look to their stars, Bobby Jarros and #15 known as "Green Pants", to lead their team to another win at Berkeley Iceland.

Beware of Green Pants, he can skate.

I will be in Berkeley tonight for the first game of the Big Freeze against Stanford, and I will be in San Jose tomorrow night for the finale against USC. Please, no autographs.

Click here for more information on the 4-team Pac 8 tournament that will be held in Berkeley on Feb 18-19th, click here for the official 2005 ACHA D2 National Tournament website [of which SJSU should be a participant].

At the request of the team, I should have a website set up after the Pac 8 tournament where players and family can buy photos from the game. Give me about 24-48 hours after game time. With the lighting at Berkeley Iceland, I might make a few black and white.

[Update] The rankings were released for ACHA D2 games up until January 30th. SJSU moved from 4th to 3rd in the West, USU dropped from 3rd to 4th, and BYU stayed at 5th. BYU should be in the top 4 on talent alone.

[Update2] NHL lockout talks have ended. It is only a matter of time before this smouldering shell of a 2004-05 NHL season crashes and burns. And I was one of the optimists.

Fight Night photo gallery

Montell Griffin

You can see a few pictures from last nights Fight Night at the Tank in this photo gallery.


Fight Notes - news and updates

- The article for this Fight Night will be up on another website tomorrow. Scroll down for news and photos taken from the Arena. I will post a link to the photo gallery later.

Montell Griffin

- The first fight was local San Jose Jr Middleweight Jesse Martinez against Santos Rodriguez. Jesse Martinez took too many heavy blows from Santos in the first round. He resorted to almost a complete bob-and-weave and no-punch strategy. In the later rounds, the bob-and-weave left. Santos wins a unanimous decision.

Montell Griffin

- The second Heavyweight bout was former WBC champ Pat Lawlor against Paul Vasquez. Lawlor looks like a beer delivery man, and had the Irish cap on to prove it. Pat charged in early with his head down, and threw a lot of wild combinations. Few landed. Vasquez controlled the remaining rounds, but it was ruled a draw.

During the main event I sat down next to someone ringside and said "can you believe that second fight, how did they call it a draw?" That person turned out to be one of the judges. He said he would explain it to me, and he did [not enough punches thrown].

According to Dylan Hernandez in today's Mercury News, 41 year old Pat Lawlor is in line for an Evander Holyfield comeback fight. After the weigh-in Paul Vasquez told me Lawlor had once beaten Roberto Duran. When asked what he thought would happen Thursday night, Vasques said "I will end the comeback." Given Lawlor's future plans, the outcome should not have been a surprise.

- Sergio Rios dominated the first round against Jr Middleweight Calvin Odem in the third fight. If Rios is on the card, you can expect a good fight, except for this one. Sergio was cut over the left eye. Too deep to continue. TKO to Odem.

- The Hula Networks contingent [my friends from college], pared itself down from 10 to about 3 for this event. Hula Networks is one of the main sponsors of the Fight Night at the Tank. I checked, and they were personally supporting another sponsor of the event, Miller Lite.

Joy Iring Mia St John

- Mia St John may have been the semi-main event, but she and Joy Irving put on the best fight of the night. From the first bell, both stood toe-to-toe and traded blows. Joy was not hesitant, even though she was matched against a much more experienced opponent [39-4-2]. Mia staggered Joy early in the second, and the crowd at the HP Pavilion was louder than I have heard it for a fight. St John cornered Irving, and delivered a long series of uncontested head shots. Irving could no longer defend herself, she looked at the ref, shook her head, and the fight was over.

Montell Griffin

- The fifth fight of the night, the only match where I was ringside, was between Light Heavyweight Montell Griffin and Sam Reese. Reese was not going to back down, but this fight was Griffin's to lose. He used his speed, and counter punched effectively. Both fighters bogged down in the middle rounds.

Griffin turned it on in the 9th and 10th rounds. One Montell right late in the 9th was so solid, it sounded like someone slapping a 500 pound tuna against a wall. The reporter next to me murmured "best punch of the night". Reese tripped and fell once, but Griffin was never able to put him to the mat. The decision, and the Miller Lite Championship, went to Montell Griffin.

- My wireless laptop connection rinkside at the HP Pavilion was at 80%. Not bad. Had to check up on the NHL lockout talks, which are on hold until tomorrow. A number of fans behind me also asked for lockout updates.

Joy Irving Fight Night at the Tank

- The fight card has been updated. Fights will start a little after 7:30 at the HP Pavilion. I will post notes as the night goes on, and a few photos later tonight.

Fight Card for Thursday Feb 3, 2005

Light Heavyweights [10 rounds]:
Montel Griffin (46-5, 30 KO's) vs. Sam Reese (16-11-4, 6 KO's)
Lightweights [4 rounds]
Mia St. John (39-4-2, 16 KO's) vs. Joy Irving (6-0, 6 KO's)
Jr Middleweights [8 rounds]
Sergio Rios (5-0-0, 4 KO's) vs. Calvin Odem (13-6)
Heavyweights [4 rounds]
Pat Lawlor (23-16, 7 KO's) vs. Paul Vasquez (3-0, 1 KO)
Jr Middleweights [4 rounds]
Jesse Martinez (1-0) vs. Santos Rodriguez (2-0-1)

Visit millerlitefightnight.com for more information.

The Sharkspage Enquirer, all the Hockey Rumors fit to print

The Sharkspage Enquirer

The first edition of the Sharkspage Enquirer is set to hit the shelves shortly. The biggest story, according to my sources, is that this website is bogus. Sharkspage East Coast correspondent, Eric McErlain, has more breaking news.

This is about as much as I can force myself to write about the lockout today, on a day when there are rumblings that the season may be canceled.

[Update] Its over, playing now would be a huge mistake - SF Chronicle.

[Update2] NHLPA rejects NHL's latest offer - CBC Sports.

[Update3] Announcement could come as early as today, anonymous owner says season will be canceled - ESPN.


Miller Lite Fight Night at the tank on tap for Thursday

Montel Griffin Fight Night at the Tank


Former WBA and WBC Light Heavyweight champion Montel Griffin (46-5, 30 KO's) takes on Sam Reese (16-11-4) in the main event Thursday night at the HP Pavilion. Griffin shocked the boxing world with a win against Roy Jones Jr earlier in his career, and has added key wins against James Toney and Jose Rivera. In the rankings updated January 22nd, Montel was listed as the 3rd-ranked Light Heavyweight contender by the IBF.

Former playmate Mia St John (39-4-2, 16 KO's) brings an 8-fight winning steak up against Joy Irving. Irving has 6 wins in 6 fights. The lightest moment of the prefight weigh-in came when Mia said she was from San Francisco, the crowd became deathly silent. Then she mentioned San Jose and everyone cheered. My type of crowd.

Visit millerlitefightnight.com for more information on the event.

Fight Card for Thursday Feb 3, 2005

Light Heavyweights [10 rounds]:
Montel Griffin (46-5, 30 KO's) vs. Sam Reese (16-11-4, 6 KO's)
[4 rounds]
Mia St. John (39-4-2, 16 KO's) vs. Joy Irving (6-0, 6 KO's)
Jr Middleweights [8 rounds]
Sergio Rios (5-0-0, 4 KO's) vs. Calvin Odem (13-6)
Heavyweights [4 rounds]
Pat Lawlor (23-16, 7 KO's) vs. Paul Vasquez (3-0, 1 KO)
Jr Middleweights [4 rounds]
Jesse Martinez (1-0) vs. Santos Rodriguez (2-0-1)

Mia St John

Mia St John was interviewed on Morning Buzz:

[Q] Don King is suing ESPN for calling him a "snake oil salesman" and a "shameless huckster." Did that make you laugh?

[A] Yeah. It is kind of funny. I went through my own legal battles with him. When you're trying to sue Don King, it's like you can't find an attorney willing to take that on.

Sergio Rios

On the undercard, Sergio Rios makes his 4th Miller Lite Fight Night career appearance. The heavily-tattooed Rios had the most entertaining fight November 18th against Alvaro Ayala.

My recap of the Rios-Ayala fight:

A six rounder Welterweight bout between Sergio Rios and Alvaro Ayala was up next on the card. Rios was a shorter, slightly stockier opponent. Alvaro Ayala was long and lanky, and tried to use that to land from outside early. Both fighters came out hard in the first round, with almost the entire 3 minutes spent toe-to-toe trading blows. The strategy for Rios became apparent early, he would try to get inside Ayala jabs and land hard combinations to the body and head. The pace slowed down considerably in the third round. Rios threw a string of hard lefts to the head of Ayala eliciting oooh's from the crowd as the bell rang.

Rios started to firmly take control of the bout in the fourth round. Not content just to land from inside, he would duck to the side to avoid an Ayala jab and try to land an overhand right to end the fight. Rios was not able to put away Alvaro in the fifth. In the final round, Ayala got a cut over his left eye halfway through the period, and hit the mat 2 punches later. Sergio Rios pressed hard after the knockdown, and the ref called the third TKO of the evening.

He looks a little angry in that photo.

ALIH Asia League Ice Hockey update - Korea, Japan, and Russia

Asia League Ice Hockey

Asia League Ice Hockey is an emerging professional hockey league with 8 teams in 4 different countries [Japan, Korea, Russia, China]. From an earlier email sent to me by ALIH headquarters prior to the start of the season:

About the Asia League Ice Hockey [ALIH], the Asia League Ice Hockey started in the 2003-2004 season with total 5 teams, with 4 Japanese teams and 1 Korean team. It aims is to develop ice hockey as a very popular and longed for sport, and also to make the venue full of spectators.

The league became bigger this season as there are total 8 teams composed with 4 Japanese teams, 1 Korean team, 2 Chinese teams and 1 Russian team. The guideline of the Asia League is as follows: alhockey.com/outline/index.html.

Please refer the following URL if you would like to see more information about the Asia League Ice Hockey, such as the schedules and team profiles: www.alhockey.com.

The Kokudo club from Japan is in first place by a large margin, with a 29-3-6 record. The Nippon Paper Cranes of Japan are in second place, and Golden Amur from Russia round out the top 3.

Masatoshi Ito leads the league in goals with 26, while Darcy Mitani leads the league with 56 overall points. In 11 games played, Martin Kariya [brother of Paul Kariya] has 4 goals and 11 assists.

The first ALIH allstar game was held January 23rd in the Kushiro Ice Arena in Kushiro, Hokkaido. This is the hometown of the Nippon Paper Cranes, who were the champions of the Asia League last year. Dont quote me on this, but it looks like the Red Orion allstar team beat the Blue Antares 12-8.

Esa Tikkanen Halla Winnia

Esa Tikkanen Halla Winnia

This note on Esa Tikkanen's current exploits comes from Canadian Jayson Justin in Korea. The views and opinions expressed by fans on this website does not necessarily represent those of Sharkspage, but usually they are close.

I've been to see quite a few games this season in Anyang. It's pretty good hockey considering I'm in Asia. I've seen each of the other 7 teams play Halla Winia and there's quite a wide array of quality. Kokudo is by far the most talented team, with quite a few foreigners. Apparently, they've been able to get around the import quota because some Canadian players have Japanese relatives. If you take away the 4 foreign players on Kokudo, they'd be a much different team. That Prpic is a monster, who I might add doesn't take too kindly to the heckling, especially when he visits Korea.

As for Halla Winia, they've got a few talented Korean players. Their goaltender has carried them through quite a few games because their defense has been quite weak. Tikkanen is one of the most talented players but he has been extremely inconsistent. He missed two very important games this season against Oji because he was on vacation in Thailand. I think that should give you a good perspective where his heart is. To his credit when he's on his game he can make a big difference. But he's been too distracted this season to make a difference.

The other two Finnish foreigners on the team, Ponto and Poulsen, are decent. Ponto is big defensivemen but prone to defensive lapses and giveaways. Poulsen is pretty talented, he's surprised us a few times with some amazing moves. But he's been plagued by an injury to his hand this season, hopefully it'll heal soon enough for them to make a run for the playoffs.

The season is pretty well over for us in Korea, as Halla Winia has embarked on a two month roadtrip. We get to see the top teams play one more time at the end of February. I must say the scheduling could use some improvement but I do understand their goal of reducing travel costs.

From the official team profile I learned that Halla Winia was originally established in 1994 as the Mando Winia hockey club. Mando was a large machinery company at the time, and Winia was Mando's brand name of air-conditioner [not to be confused with the Hamburg Freezers of the German Elite League].

Halla Winia won a total of 5 titles in the Korean Hockey League, and placed third in the inaugural ALIH season last year.

yoyogi arena japan

I contacted LGK regular stnlycupla before he made the trip to Japan to see hockey during the NHL lockout. He watched the HC Nikko Ice Bucks in the finale of a 3-game exhibition at Yoyogi arena in Tokyo.

Went to a 3-game event yesterday in Tokyo for the Asian hockey league. It served as a reminder of how great the game is that we all love and also how frustrating the NHL lockout is. The guys in the Asian Hockey League make next to nothing yet play with 1980 American Olympic heart which makes me wonder if compassion is exclusive to players without pay. The league is picking up fans and has lured a few former AHLers into the mix. The level of hockey was probably that of our ECHL although they do not have the goon element that the ECHL does.

The hockey fans here are quit knowledgeable. It was a trip a few times to have complete silence in a hockey arena! This changed by the time the third match arrived since it featured the Nikko Icebucks which are the closest team to Tokyo. For that game, the letsgoicebucks section chanted and cheered their team on. One thing that I found interesting was that they cheer when the opposing team gets called for icing. Not just cheer, but also chant "Icing". Pretty funny but to me it indicated an understanding of the games flow and how Icing was often times admitting that things were not going your way. Icing was no touch by the way.

Photographer Igor Saranchin from Eastern Russia emailed me about hockey in the Russian High-League [second below the Russian Superleague]. He has also been out to see the Asia League Ice Hockey team located in Khabarovsk City [eastern Russia], the Golden Amur.

Click here for Igor Saranchin's gallery of photos from the Russian High-League. It is his first link, and I believe his photos are for sale. Be patient when loading the gallery. Hopefully Igor will pass something along about the ALIH in Russia.

For a full list of teams in both of the Russian Leagues, and a good selection of Russian Hockey news, visit Russianprospects.com.

I also contacted a few other players and officials from the ALIH league but I have not received their responses as of this post. Check back with this link for future updates. I will probably make this post a seperate article.

[Update] This was an email written to ESPN's John Buccigross. I am posting it here without permission because it was a brief note about the development of hockey in Japan.

Dear John,
I read that letter in your e-mail bag about advising Shjon Podein not to buy a Japanese team. My son plays for a junior team here in Yokohama, Japan, and he has a tournament in January. The host team is the junior Nikko team, the senior team being the Ice Bucks, the team Mr. Podein is in the market for. There will be 20 teams or so competing in this junior tournament. To say there is no interest here in Japan is really shortsighted and extremely negative. I hope Mr. Podein does buy the team, and try to bring attention to hockey. A person like Shjon Podein would be a great ambassador for the sport of hockey in Japan.

Martin Kariya, You Know Who's younger brother, has just signed to play with Nikko. I believe any positive influence would be great for the sport, and perhaps Mr. Podein's intentions are not purely financial. If Mr. Podein's involvement produced the first NHL-caliber player born in Japan wouldn't that just skyrocket interest here?

Naoki Sakai

[Update2] Japanese-born goaltender Yutaka Fujifuki, the second Japanese player ever drafted in the NHL [Kings], is playing in California for the ECHL Bakersfield Condors. Yutaka is 16-5 this season, with a 2.49 GAA, .918sv%, and 1 shutout. The Condors, who play in Fresno Feb 8th, are 2 points behind Long Beach for the top spot in the Western Division. Click here or here for photos of Fujifuki during the NHL rookie tournament last year in Anaheim.


2004-05 San Jose Sharks season preview?

Reading this 2004-05 San Jose Sharks season preview makes me sad:

My prediction for next season? A top 4 finish in the Western Conference, another appearance in the Western Conference finals, another Pacific division banner [not so fast Phoenix], and the first 40+ goal scorer in San Jose since Nolan [if the season starts on time].

If there is no NHL season? I predict I will attend a lot of San Jose State Spartans hockey games, and photograph a number of other local sports.

Although I am surprised at how much I thought there would be a season at the time, at least those lockout predictions were dead on.

This Bob Goodenow rookie card is kind of humorous.

[Update] Former Sharks defensive prospect David Cloutier signed with Vaasa Sport in Finland [fin|eng]. The 6,2 205 pound Quebec native spent 2 seasons with the AHL Cleveland Barons. Vaasa is also home to forward Aniket Dhadphale, who was selected by the Sharks in the 10th round of the 1994 entry draft.

Pasi, who wrote the above press release, emails:

Thanks for allowing www.jatkoaika.com to use your photos, they have been a great help for us!

Finland has been far behind the rest of Europe and even Asia in hockey fan coverage during the NHL lockout [on this website]. If your cellphone has a camera on it, feel free to send me a photo from the SM-Liiga.

Pac 8 hockey tournament

Berkeley finishes their regular season with the last two home-at-home games with Stanford. The Big Freeze is tied at 1-1 for season. The first Cal-Stanford game this year drew the Berkeley band and over 1000 fans. Here is a photo gallery from the second game in meatlocker cold Belmont.

The Pac-8 tournament will be held this year in Berkeley from February 18-19. The seedings for the tournament: 1-UCLA, 2-CAL, 3-Oregon, 4-Washington.

San Jose State plays the final two games of their regular season schedule against USC. Game start times are 7:45 on Friday night, 8:15 on Saturday night at the Logitech Ice Center. It should be a packed house.

San Jose split games last weekend with the first and second ranked teams in the ACHA D2 Western Conference. SJSU downed 2nd-ranked Colorado last Friday 2-0, and lost to 1st-ranked Colorado College 3-1 on Saturday. The performance along with an earlier 8-0 drubbing over 3rd-ranked USU should guarantee a spot for San Jose in the ACHA D2 National Tournament. The tourney will be held in Detroit, Michigan March 2-5th.