San Jose Sharks Acquire Center Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins

Joe Thornton with 2004 World Cup Trophy ©Photofile

A press release from the San Jose Sharks:


Defenseman Brad Stuart and Forwards Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau Sent to Boston in Exchange for 1997 NHL First Overall Selection

SAN JOSE - Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has acquired three-time NHL All-Star center Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins in exchange for defenseman Brad Stuart and forwards Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau.

Thornton, 26, has scored 33 points (9 goals, 24 assists) in 23 games this season, ranking first on Boston and (entering tonight's games) tied for 11th in league scoring. Thornton is signed through the 2007-08 season.

"Joe Thornton is the whole package and we think is one of the top players in the game. This is a player that I would have acquired at any time. When a player of this caliber becomes available, you have to step up. We think he will be a great addition to this hockey club."

Selected by Boston with the first overall pick in 1997, he was named the 17th captain in Bruins history on October 8, 2002, Thornton has reached the 20+ goal mark in five consecutive seasons and led Boston in 2003-04 in assists (50) and points (73) for the third time in his career. He recorded his 400th NHL/Bruins point with an assist February 5, 2004 at Buffalo.

Entering tonight's game, Thornton has scored the most career points (354) among all NHL players 26 and younger, ahead of Marian Hossa (418), Sergei Samsonov (362) and Patrick Marleau (350).

He has played in three NHL All-Star games (2004, 2003, 2002), including being named a starter for the Eastern Conference Team at the 2004 NHL All-Star Game in Minnesota.

The six-foot-four, 225-pound native of London, Ontario spent the 2004-05 season with Davos in Switzerland, leading that team and finishing seventh overall in league scoring with 54 points (10 goals, 44 assists) and 80 PIM in 40 games. During the postseason, he led the league in playoff scoring with 14 points (4 goals, 20 assists) in 14 games as Davos won the Swiss League Championship.

In 2002-03, finished third overall in the League's Art Ross scoring race as one of just three NHL players to hit the 100+ point mark and was second overall in the League in assists. He became just the third player in Boston history to score 100 points with 100+ penalty minutes, joining Bobby Orr (1960-70, 1971-72 and 1974-75) and Ken Hodge (1971-72)...

Prior to making his mark in the NHL, Thornton played two seasons of junior hockey in Sault Ste. Marie/OHL scoring 198 points (71 goals, 127 assists) and 174 PIM in 125 career games. He was named the top rookie in all of Canadian major junior hockey in 1995-96 and earned a spot on the CHL All-Rookie Team. He finished second in the OHL in scoring in 1996-97 with 122 points in 59 games and earned OHL Second Team All-Star honors that season.

Thornton was the youngest member of Team Canada that won the Gold medal in the 1997 World Junior Championships, scoring four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in seven games. He played in the 2001 World Championships with Team Canada scoring two points (1 goal, 1 assist) in six games. In addition, Thornton won a gold medal with Team Canada in the 2004 World Cup, posting six points (1-5=6) in six games.

He is a cousin of current Sharks winger Scott Thornton and has played with Kyle McLaren (in Boston) and Marleau and Scott Hannan on various squads for Team Canada.

Stuart, the Sharks first round selection (3rd overall) in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, has posted 153 points (36 goals, 117 assists) in 377 NHL games, all with San Jose. This season, Stuart posted two goals and ten assists for 12 points in 23 games. Stuart leaves tied for second with Marcus Ragnarsson on the Sharks all-time points list among defensemen, just two points shy of Mike Rathje's 155.

Sturm, selected by San Jose in the first round (21st overall) in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, has posted 273 points (128 goals, 145 assists) in 553 NHL games, all with San Jose. This season, he had 16 points (six goals, ten assists) in 23 games. Sturm leaves as the fifth leading scorer on the Sharks all-time points list.

Primeau, acquired from Pittsburgh on March 11, 2003 in exchange for Matt Bradley, played in 100 games for San Jose, posting 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists). In 520 NHL games, Primeau has 136 points (47 goals, 89 assists).

"These three individuals are not only outstanding hockey players but quality people as well," said Wilson. "We wish them the best and thank them for their contributions to the San Jose Sharks."

Joe Thornton's career summary from Hockey Forecaster. A scouting report on Super Joe:

ASSETS: Possesses great on-ice vision and creates numerous scoring chances for his linemates. Uses his reach to make things happen. Has terrific size and strength with the puck.

FLAWS: Can be undisciplined at times and take foolish penalties. Has yet to come up big in the postseason. His mental game needs work.

CAREER POTENTIAL: Franchise center.

The redoubtable but nattily attired Barry Melrose commented on the trade for Sportscenter with Steve Levy. Here are few rough quotes:

[Steve Levy] Does the team that gets the best player win, in this case the Sharks with Joe Thornton?

[A] The Bruins were in trouble. The coaches were going to get fired, the players were going to get fired... No one thought it was going to be Thornton...

We all love Joe Thornton, but he has not got it done in the playoffs. Joe Thornton is one of the highest paid players today and he hasnt been one of the best players in the playoffs. He is still young. This is a wake up call for Joe. He will use this as a motivating factor... It will be a great start for Thornton on the West Coast, not as much media.

Dont forget they get Thornton and Marleau. Marleau was the second player chosen in the draft, Thornton went first. Now they have Thornton and Marleau 1, 2. No one has better centerman than that.

More from Melrose courtesy of Sabre Rattling can be found here: Sabres are the hottest team in hockey. Even more from Melrose, thanks to Jason for sending this in: Thornton didn't live up to Bruins' expectations - ESPN.

Joe Thornton is 26 years old, and was drafted first overall by the Boston Bruins in 1997. Patrick Marleau was drafted second overall by the San Jose Sharks. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Thornton signed a 3-year $20 million deal with Boston in August. Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart, and Wayne Primeau made $2 million, $1.9 million, and $1,1 million respectively this season according to NHLPA.com.

Trade Rumors --- Sharks land Joe Thornton for Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau

[Sharkspage Wire5] Sharks GM Doug Wilson interviewed on FSBA from Dallas:

[Q] What are your thoughts behind this trade?

[DW] It was a difficult decision. It is a player that rarely becomes available. We are getting a player who is one of the top players in the game. Boston is getting three very good players who are amazing people. All we can do is thank them for what they have done for us.

Blockbuster deal: Sharks get Thornton from Boston - SJ Mercury News.

Kukla's Korner has more.

[Sharkspage Wire4] More details are starting to hit the net. From the Boston Bruins, all 3 newly acquired players will be in the lineup for Boston on Thursday. Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail declares this the biggest blockbuster trade of the year. He also points out that Thornton was selected just ahead of Patrick Marleau first overall in 1997.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson is quoted describing Thornton on sjsharks.com "He is a leader who scores points and makes other players around him better". The Sharks also mention that Joe Thornton will join his cousin Scott Thornton with the Sharks. Super Joe will make his debut with San Jose Friday at 5PM against Buffalo.

[Sharkspage Wire3] From Sportsnet.ca:

Bruins pull off blockbuster

Sportsnet has learned the San Jose Sharks have traded Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau to Boston for Joe Thornton.

Sportsnet.ca -- In an effort to shake up their struggling franchise, the Boston Bruins have dealt away their star player.

Sportsnet has learned the San Jose Sharks have traded Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau to Boston for Joe Thornton.

Details to follow.

[Sharkspage Wire2] Spector Reports:



More on this shortly.

[Sharkspage Wire] Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm, and Wayne Primeau are scratches just before game time at Dallas, all participated in the pregame warmups. Jim Fahey and Niko Dimitrakos were the expected scratches. Sharks are skating against Dallas tonight one man short, with only 11 forwards and 6 defenseman. Begin trade speculation now...

Before taking a look at the current crop of rumors, you have to take a look at the Sharks current situation. How did this team fall from Pacific Division Champions to a sub .500 team with a 9 game losing streak?

Mike Chen nails it with his post, Anatomy of a losing team.

[Doug] Wilson claims that Ottawa, Tampa Bay, and Calgary -- three teams that the Sharks theoretically resemble -- all stood pat. That is false. Ottawa made the move to get Dany Heatley, who brings a completely different style of game than Marian Hossa, a style that new coach Bryan Murray wanted the team to emphasize. Ottawa also recognized a flaw in Patrick Lalime and made a conscious gamble by signing Dominik Hasek. Tampa Bay lost Cory Stillman and replaced him by bringing back Vaclav Prospal. Calgary signed Roman Hamrlik, Tony Amonte, and Darren McCarty.

When the Sharks lost Mike Ricci, it made sense to give the minutes to up-and-coming center Marcel Goc. But to pencil in Vincent Damphousse's minutes to a rookie who hadn't played in over two years due to injuries (Milan Michalek) was a high-wire act without a safety net. Dangerous winger Alex Korolyuk's minutes were to be allocated to second year forward Niko Dimitrakos. Dimitrakos has shown some good hands, like Korolyuk; however, unlike Korolyuk, Dimitrakos is neither fast nor shifty nor possessing a good shot. Likewise, minute-munching blueliner Mike Rathje departed and the Sharks made an all-or-nothing pitch for Scott Niedermayer...and no one else. Now, the defense is struggling and no one is available.

The San Jose 2005 marketing slogan says that Sharks returned "with most of the same team as the Pacific Champions in 2004".

Vincent Damphousse and Alexander Korolyuk were players who made their linemates better by creating scoring chances with stickhandling, speed and an uncanny hockey sense. Both are gone. Mike Ricci and Scott Thornton struggled offensively in 2003-04, but were able to absorb bodies and still dish the puck to linemate Jonathan Cheechoo, who had a career season with 28 goals and 19 assists. Ricci is gone, along with the motivational 4th liner Todd Harvey.

Mike Rathje, gone (but not forgotten?). Jason Marshall, gone. Curtis Brown, gone. This is a different team than 2003-04.

San Jose started this season with rookies Marcel Goc, Milan Michalek, and Ryan Clowe on the roster. Second year players Christian Ehrhoff, Tom Preissing, Niko Dimitrakos, Josh Langfeld [played parts of 3 seasons with Ottawa] are being relied on to provide significant contributions. Two months into the season, the Sharks have called up three more rookies: Nolan Schaefer, Grant Stevenson, and Steve Bernier.

It has been a conscious move to San Jose GM Doug Wilson to go with youth in the organization to fill holes as veterans left during the lockout and the preseason. To date, the strategy has had mixed results. The gaps on this team are plenty. Starting goaltending is struggling [Nabokov 3.30GAA, SV%.865; Toskala 5.07GAA, SV%.815], and an ineffective offense [2.65 GFA, 25th] and power play [14.4%, 24th] only compound the problem.

The reality is, adding only one player will not solve the Sharks problems. A goal scoring veteran should be looked at to smooth over some of the rough spots with the inconsistent production of young forwards. A PP quarterback needs to be found because Brad Stuart, Jim Fahey, or Christian Ehrhoff are simply not getting the job done. I agree with Mike Chen that losing Mike Rathje lessened the Sharks margin for error defensively, but even with him San Jose would have struggled to score goals.

Now, show me the rumors:

- San Jose Mercury News columnist Dave Pollak reports that trades are a possibility for the struggling Sharks.

The G.M. - who acknowledged he might have been more active in last summer's free-agent market if he knew some players wouldn't meet expectations - refused to identify who may be on the block. But he did indicate that very few players were untouchable.

Sharks management has talked consistently about keeping its core group of players together in pursuit of the Stanley Cup, and has made it clear the group included goalie Evgeni Nabokov, defensemen Scott Hannan, Brad Stuart and Kyle McLaren, and forwards Patrick Marleau and Marco Sturm.

But Wilson said that new rules and a new economic structure have made the NHL a new league, "and sometimes the definition of a core player can be altered."

- From Bruce Garrioch in the Ottawa Sun on Sunday:

The Sharks are looking to deal D Brad Stuart, LW Marco Sturm and LW Nils Ekman. It's believed GM Doug Wilson would like to shake up his struggling team.

A week earlier the rumor du jour from the Ottawa Sun was that the Sharks were interested in Ottawa forward Martin Havlat. Havlat suffered a possible dislocated right shoulder after being checked in the third period against Montreal.

- The Prince of Pucks notes:

A Toronto sports radio station recently suggested the Maple Leafs might become San Jose's trade partner. As usual, the Leafs are believed to be shopping for affordable blue-line depth, something the Sharks have in abundance. Apparently the Leafs were interested in Stuart or veteran Scott Hannan, tempting the Sharks by offering up one or two of the Leafs' younger forwards in return.

Toronto has become the rumor capitol of the hockey world of late so how much truth there is to this one remains to be seen.

- Florida Panthers general manager Mike Keenan is at it again. All world goaltender Roberto Luongo and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was the rumored tradees, for Vancouver Canucks Cloutier, Bertuzzi, and Jovanovski. The reports were quickly denied by the Vancouver, and later by Keenan himself.

- Offwing and Puck Update speculate on what it might take to pry goaltender Rick DiPietro from the New York Islanders.

- Mile High Movement: Luongo to Lanche - Larry Brooks.

- Boston Left Wing Shawn McEachern [2 goals, 4 assists, -10] and Pittsburgh starting goaltender Jocelyn Thibault [1-7, 12GP, 4.38GAA, .880SV%], were placed on NHL waivers Tuesday November 30th. McEachern was slated to make $1,000,000 this season, Thibault $1,500,000.00 according to NHLPA.com.

- Florida Panters forward Kristian Huselius [5G, 3A, 24GP, -11] was also placed on waivers. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Minnesota Wild and Boston Bruins expressed interest in Huselius who makes this $1,216,000 this season. Winger Niklas Hagman and defenseman Alexander Karpovtsev were also reportedly available.

[Update] The Mercury News sports blog reports that Evgeni Nabokov will start tonight against the Dallas Stars.

Nabokov responded to criticism in the Mercury News yesterday:

"To be honest, I don't want to get on my defense or anything, but I don't think that except for the Calgary game that I gave up any bad goals," Nabokov said. "I was making saves in the first period, and unfortunately I wasn't able to make saves in the third period when it seems like it'd kind of be the key save."

Earlier in the losing streak, I would agree with Evgeni Nabokov. Three incidents in the last three games convinced me that rookie goaltender Nolan Schaefer deserves a shot at playing time: A flubbed save on a shot floated in by Robyn Regehr gave Calgary a goal on Wednesday [the Sharks lost by one goal], a misplay of the puck from the goaltender to Brad Stuart led directly to a Vancouver goal on Thursday [the Sharks lost by one goal], two late third period goals by Brendan Shanahan from wrist shots high in the slot to put Detroit ahead in the third on Saturday [the Sharks lost by one goal].

Sharks head coach Ron Wilson can not be blamed for riding Nabokov through the losing streak, giving the star goaltender every opportunity to right himself. When Evgeni went down with an injury in 2003-04, backup Vesa Toskala came in with an impressive 5-2-1 relief performance. Nabokov was challenged by the play of a hot backup, and the competition brought playoff intensity to games played in December.

[Update] One last option, I will just throw it out there:

Owen Nolan

From Scott Cullen of TSN:

[Q] ...What is going on with the Owen Nolan situation right now?

[A] Nolan awaits an arbitrator's decision on the validity of the Leafs' decision to release him in the summer, but even if he wins that hearing, the Leafs have filed the paperwork with the league to take advantage of the CBA amnesty rule that would allow them to buy out Nolan. Last month, the rumblings were that the Flames and Coyotes might be interested in Nolan's services, though it will probably be February before he's even ready to go.

Many wrote off San Jose as a destination for Owen Nolan's return, citing speed and building from within as reasons not to bring him back. Without the pressure of being Captain, without the pressure of having to be leadingscorer/enforcer every night, and with a significant amount of time to heal nagging abdominal injuries, Nolan may surprise a few of the more jaded among yee.

The Sharks are on a budget, but they are in desperate need of offense. Teams will be wary of Nolan's health, after a knee injury suffered last year in Ottawa. Both sides will have to make concessions for it to work. But hey, when the NHLPA is in your corner, you can't lose!

San Jose Skyrockets down Fresno Heatwave 114-105, start season 3-1

San Jose Skyrockets ABA basketball

San Jose Skyrockets ABA basketball

Skyrockets vs Heatwave photo gallery.

After suffering their first loss to the SoCal Legends 118-108 at the San Jose Civic Auditorium on Sunday, the San Jose Skyrockets came out strong and held on for a 114-105 win over the Fresno Heatwave on Tuesday. A #23 Lamar Castile lead San Jose with 24 points, and Lorenzo Trudo added 20. The win improved the Skyrockets record to 3-1.

Recording artist "the Game" will be in attendance and on the bench as the 11th man when Inglewood travels to San Jose on December 2nd.

Initial impression: It was hard not to be desensitized after about a dozen monster dunks during the pre-game warmups. The game began after a slight delay, but the up-tempo ABA action and quick ball movement was noticeable.

Last week the Mercury News quoted Skyrockets owners Kazumi Hasegawa and her brother James Hasegawa on why they selected San Jose to start an ABA franchise:

"We chose San Jose because it's such a diverse community," Kazumi Hasegawa said. "It's so integrated, not like L.A. I love that about San Jose. L.A. has a lot of different ethnicities, different backgrounds, but they're all segregated. Here, everybody's mixed together, and that's really good."

According to the Rochester City Newspaper, the ABA re-launched in 2001 twenty five years after Indiana, New Jersey, Denver, and San Antonio merged with the NBA. The new American Basketball Association has grown from 8 teams to 48 teams in 5 seasons, with franchises in far flung locales such as the Beijing [Aoshen Olympian] *based in Los Angeles, Tijuana [Dragons], Hawaii [Mega Force], and Montreal [Matrix].

In addition to playing with the red, white and blue stripped ball, the ABA instituted the "3-D" rule which adds a point to any shot made after a turnover. The ABA also has the 11th Man Rule, which allows the team to invite one invididual to suit up in a team jersey and be eligible to play in a game. The 11th man for the inaugural Sky Rockets game on November 18th was ex-49er Jamie Williams.

San Francisco also was awarded an ABA franchise this season, the San Francisco Pilots. Owned by Parimal Rohit, the Pilots play at the Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle quotes Rohit on why he thinks the Pilots will be successful:

In the meantime, he said, "People who want to see a pro game don't have to drive to the East Bay to see the Warriors."


[Update] A press release from the American Basketball Association:


Los Angeles, CA -- Derrick Pearson, host of ABALIVETALK, announced that the ABA Player of the Week for last week was former NBA great and now player/coach of the Florida Pit Bulls, Tim Hardaway.

"It was a very tough decision because there were some huge outstanding performances league-wide - and it could have gone to a half dozen players. We selected Tim because of his 36 point, 9 rebound, 9 assist performance against a very tough Orange County Buzz team in their home opener before nearly 5,000 people. Tim certainly showed his NBA All-Star qualities...and we felt it should be recognized."

Previous winners included Indiana Alley Cats Chandler Thompson, Maryland Nighthawks Randy Gill and Strong Island Sounds Charles Jones.

Run TMC is now Florida Pit Bulls Coach/Player/Owner Tim Hardaway, Golden State Warrior Special Assistant Mitch Richmond, and Golden State Warriors Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Mullin.

Also, Santa Clara beat San Jose State on a last second basket by Travis Niesen at the Event Center.

[Update2] Morning Buzz dishes, Enquiring minds want to know more.


USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll Released For Nov. 28 - Dec. 4

A press release from USAhockey.com:

Wisconsin Leaps To No. 1 On USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The University of Wisconsin garnered all 34 first-place votes and rose to No. 1 for the first time this season in this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll. The Badgers knocked off Michigan State University and then-No. 1 University of Michigan last weekend in the 13th annual College Hockey Showcase.

Also rising as a result of a strong weekend against Michigan and Michigan State was the University of Minnesota. The Golden Gophers defeated the Wolverines and tied the Spartans to climb three spots on the poll to No. 4. Minnesota and Wisconsin will face off for a pair of games this weekend.

This Week's Top-15 Match-ups

Friday, December 2:

No. 1 U. of Wisconsin @ No. 4 U. of Minnesota
No. 15 U. of Denver @ No. 2 Colorado College
No. 3 U. of Michigan @ No. 8 Miami (Ohio) U.
No. 10 U. of New Hampshire @ No. 5 U. of Vermont

Saturday, December 3:

No. 1 U. of Wisconsin @ No. 4 U. of Minnesota
No. 2 Colorado College @ No. 15 U. of Denver
No. 3 U. of Michigan @ No. 8 Miami (Ohio) U.
No. 10 U. of New Hampshire @ No. 12 St. Lawrence U.

ABOUT THE POLL: The 11th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the American Hockey Coaches Association and USA Hockey Magazine, the official publication of USA Hockey.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll -- #9

(first-place votes in parentheses, Last Week, Record, Weeks In Top 15)

1. University of Wisconsin, 510 (34), 2, 11-1-2, 9
2. Colorado College, 446, 3, 12-3-1, 9
3. University of Michigan, 419, 1, 9-3-1, 9
4. University of Minnesota, 377, 7, 7-3-4, 9
5. University of Vermont, 364, 5, 10-3-0 7
6. Boston College, 342, 6, 6-3-1, 9
7. University of Maine, 309, 4, 9-4-0, 9
8. Miami (Ohio) University, 294, 10, 9-2-1, 5
9. University of North Dakota, 234, 8, 8-5-1, 9
10. University of New Hampshire, 206, 9, 7-4-2, 9
11. Cornell University, 151, 11, 6-3-1, 9
12. St. Lawrence University, 110, 12, 10-4-0, 3
13. Colgate University, 109, 15, 8-2-3, 2
14. Harvard University, 72, 14, 7-3-1, 4
15. University of Denver, 58, 13, 6-6-2, 9

Others receiving votes: The Ohio State University, 18; University of Alaska Fairbanks, 17; Bemidji State University, 17; Clarkson University, 13; Ferris State University, 9; Boston University, 3; Holy Cross, 1.

Local sports links added

Added local sports links to Athletics Nation, Soccer Silicon Valley's Save the Quakes blog, the Bay Area Sports blog from the Mercury News, and the new San Jose Skyrockets ABA franchise among others.

A few general links including sports gossip blog Deadspin, Blog Maverick from Dallas Maverick's owner Mark Cuban, and Sportsfilter [the /. for sports] were also added.

Scroll down to the right for the links.


Bonus New York photos

Two bonus New York photos:

Ice rink in Central Park

The first Madison Square Garden, on Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street, opened in 1879. The fourth Garden moved to its current location on Seventh Avenue and 33rd Street in 1968. It has been the home to the New York Rangers since 1926-27, the New York Knicks, and hosted boxing greats from John L. Sullivan, Joe Louis, and Sugar Ray Robinson to the first Ali vs Frazier fight in 1971.

Madison Square Garden

A video of nighttime ice skating at the Rockefeller Center in NYC will be available on Google Video shortly. Thanks to Sharkspage video correspondent Ketch for the video.

Photos were taken with a Canon PowerShot s500.

Real World Czech Republic, Stanley Cup edition

Stanley Cup

The Poynter Institute, a school for journalists, published an excellent feature on 10 stories that reaffirmed journalists devotion to their work.

The third journalist featured is Dirk Shadd, a photographer for the St. Petersburg Times. He describes covering the Tampa Bay Lightning when they were the worst team in hockey, and their rise to a Stanley Cup Championship.

Tampa defenseman Pavel Kubina asked Dirk Shadd if he could photograph his "Cup Day" in the Czech Republic. What followed was a memorable experience for Shadd.

Our time in the Czech Republic was the most challenging for me; not only did I not speak the language, but as an African-American, I definitely stood out. On one occasion, as I was photographing two members of the team signing autographs, a line of kids seeking autographs began forming behind me. "No hockey," I protested; "Me afraid of puck-o!" My efforts failed, and I started signing. I realized that for these kids, seeing me was an experience as unique as meeting an NHL champion.

The Stanley Cup is the most revered championship trophy in professional sports. Shadd stumbles across defenseman Stan Neckar and gets a glimpse of its significance to the players.

I think the real significance of this story hit me after one all-nighter in the Czech town of Pisek. As dawn approached, I found Lightning player Stan Neckar lying on his back on the cobblestone sidewalk near a 14th-century bridge, the oldest in the Czech Republic. Two baguettes served as pillows beneath his head; he was hugging the Cup to his chest.

Dirk Shadd posted a gallery of 10 photos from the trip at Picture of the Year International. It is an impressive gallery with dogs drinking out of the cup, the cup on a golf cart, the cup giving a baby a bath, the cup chilling by the pool alongside Charlottetown Harbour, the cup going to church and to the disco.

[Update] Back in July, Tampa Bay Lightning team photographer Scott Audette released his book Winning Ways - The Making of a Championship Heart. Scott Audette also displayed a gallery of his photos at the Tampa Museum of Art in September of 2004.

[Update2] The latest Stanley Cup Journal from the Hockey Hall of fame is here.

[Update3] This would all be well and good, if the Tampa Bay Lightning actually won the Stanley Cup. The smoking gun has a scan of a Tampa Tribune editorial "saluting the Tampa Bay Lightning's valiant--but unsuccessful--bid to best the Calgary Flames for hockey's Stanley Cup". Tampa Bay actually defeated the Calgary Flames 2-1.

Also, a press release last Wednesday from the ECHL:

PRINCETON, N.J. - The Stanley Cup Tour of the ECHL visits the Utah Grizzlies on Thanksgiving, the Las Vegas Wranglers on Friday, the Phoenix RoadRunners on Saturday and the Long Beach Ice Dogs on Sunday. The National Hockey League and the Hockey Hall of Fame are touring the Stanley Cup to 20 teams in the ECHL from Oct. 26 to Dec. 17 to help raise awareness and money for hurricane relief efforts.

The Tour has already visited Johnstown, Wheeling, Toledo, Dayton, Trenton, Reading and Pensacola. Mississippi and Texas of the ECHL were both unable to play in 2005-06 as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Florida Everblades had to postpone their season opener for a week because of Hurricane Wilma. Every ECHL team was given the opportunity to host the Stanley Cup Tour and only three teams who submitted requests are not included in the schedule. The NHL continues to work on visits to San Diego and Stockton in conjunction with the Stanley Cup's annual visit to the ECHL All-Star Game, being hosted by the Fresno Falcons on January 25 at Save Mart Center.

Proceeds benefit charities assisting in hurricane relief efforts including, but not limited to, the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and the United Way. The Tour is another addition to the National Hockey League's charitable efforts which have included a joint donation with the NHL Players' Association of $1 million to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina relief. The ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL and there is one head coach (Peter Laviolette), 12 assistant coaches, 13 referees and five linesmen working in the NHL in 2005-06 who have ECHL experience. There have been 277 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL.

Remaining Stops On Stanley Cup Tour of ECHL Cities:

Nov 24 Utah (West Valley City) Grizzlies
Nov 25 Las Vegas Wranglers - Affiliate of the Calgary Flames
Nov 26 Phoenix RoadRunners
Nov 27 Long Beach (California) Ice Dogs - Affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens
Nov 30 Bakersfield (California) Condors
Dec 2 Victoria (British Columbia) Salmon Kings
Dec 7 Idaho (Boise) Steelheads - Affiliate of the Dallas Stars
Dec 10 Columbia (South Carolina) Inferno - Affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks
Dec 11 South Carolina (North Charleston) Stingrays - Affiliate of the Washington Capitals
Dec 13 Gwinnett (Georgia) Gladiators - Affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers
Dec 14 Augusta (Georgia) Lynx
Dec 16 Charlotte (North Carolina) Checkers - Affiliate of the New York Rangers
Dec 17 Greenville (South Carolina) Grrrowl - Affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers


Sharks on the scoresheet, not off the schnied - 9 game San Jose losing streak after 7-6 loss to Wings

In front of a sellout crowd of 17,496 teal faithful and Michigan transplants, the San Jose Sharks came from behind four times and gave up the lead twice to the Detroit Red Wings in an offensive turkeyshoot.

Prior to Saturday's game, the Sharks were the third least penalized team in the NHL, averaging 13 penalty minutes a game. Both teams combined for 15 penalties, equaling 24 minutes in power play time, 5 power play goals, and four 2-man advantage power plays.

Robert Lang earned the Sharkspage first star of the game with 5 assists for the Detroit Red Wings. Brendan Shanahan scored twice, Mathieu Schneider added a hat trick with an assist chaser. Jason Williams and Mikael Samuelsson also scored for Detroit. Alyn McCauley lead the Sharks with a goal and two assists. Wayne Primeau, Mark Smith, Marco Sturm, Scott Thornton, and Marcel Goc also scored for San Jose.

Chris Osgood, filling in after Manny Legace's injury the day before in Anaheim, made 27 saves on 33 shots to earn the win. Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves on 30 shots for the 10th loss in his last 10 starts [3 in overtime]. Evgeni Nabokov was placed on the injured reserve October 27th with upper body soreness, and activated on November 5th.

Brendan Shanahan, the all-time leading scorer in the Sharks-Wings series [31G,29A,60PTS], scored the deciding two goals in the third period. At 15:50, Shanahan scored on the power play with assists by Jason Williams and Robert Lang to tie the game at 6-6. Less than 2 minutes later, at 17:00 in the third, Brendan Shanahan put the Wings ahead for good 7-6 on a goal assisted by Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.

San Jose's slump can be examined from an individual perspective with help from last nights score sheet, recent columns by the Mercury News and the SF Chronicle, and statistics from NHL.com.

1st - Alyn McCauley (Power Play). Assists: Scott Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo.

Alyn McCauley registered his first assist in 18 games, power forward Scott Thornton scored his first point in 7 games.

2nd - Marco Sturm. Unassisted.

Sturm, tied for the lead in Sharks scoring in 2002-03 with 28 goals, scored his first goal in 12 games. Sturm missed 18 games in 2003-04 with an ankle injury, but was still able to post his third consecutive 20 goal season. This year Marco has 6 goals and 10 assists in 23 games played.

2nd - Mark Smith. Assists: Alyn McCauley, Brad Stuart.

Smith's goal came from crashing the net after a puck was stopped, but not controlled, in the crease. Give the third assist to momentum.

3rd - Scott Thornton. Assists: Nils Ekman.

Thornton breaks a 7 game scoreless streak with a goal, Ekman breaks a scoreless streak of 12 games with an assist.

3rd - Wayne Primeau (Shorthanded). Assists: Alyn McCauley.

The Sharks have scored shorthanded only three times this season. Patrick Marleau has 6 power play goals in 23 games. The San Jose Sharks are 24th in the NHL with a 14.4% [22/152] conversion rate on the power play, with 2 shorthanded goals against. San Jose is also ranked 24th with a 80.1% penalty kill percentage [22/111]. 111 power plays against is behind only Buffalo with 110, Chicago leads the NHL with 181.

3rd - Marcel Goc (Power Play). Assists: Grant Stevenson, Tom Preissing.

Rookie Marcel Goc has 2 goals and an assist in his last 3 games, rookie Grant Stevenson has a goal and 3 assists in his last 3 games. 2nd year defenseman Tom Preissing has 5 points in the last five games [2G, 3A].

Honorable mention: Scott Hannan is last in the NHL, 245th, with a -17 +/- rating, but 23rd overall in total ice time [24:21]. Kyle McLaren leads the Sharks with an average of 31 shifts per game, 8th in the NHL.

Note: Patrick Marleau's assist on the goal by Wayne Primeau tied him with Jeff Friesen for 2nd overall in total points with 350 as a San Jose Shark. Trivia Question: Who is first? Owen Nolan leads the team with 206 goals [1st] and 245 assists [1st] for 451 points [1st] in seven and a half season as a Shark.

[Update] Steve Yzerman was a scratch for the game. The Mercury News reported on an errant newspaper report on the cause of Sharks forward Wayne Primeau's two black eyes. He received them from blocking a shot against Phoenix, not from a fight with Tyson Nash.

[Update2] Rookie Grant Stevenson commented to SJsharks.com about what it was like to play in front of his first home crowd at the HP Pavilion in San Jose:

Coming here, it was great having the fans cheer for us. They are really impressive. When the puck moves up ice, they are loud, but when Primeau scored, I thought the roof was going to come off. It just fires everyone up.

San Jose's lines for the game:



[Update2] Ross McKeon of the SF Chronicle looks in the crease for warning signs contributing to the Sharks 9 game losing streak: No luck for Sharks in a wild 13-goal game.

Detroit was the first opponent to put more than 25 shots on goal against San Jose in its last 13 games. While the Sharks have been stingy to allow shots, their goaltending has underachieved in terms of save percentage.

Aside from Chicago, the Sharks brought the worst save percentage of .875 into Saturday night's action. And it bit the Sharks again. Nabokov, making his seventh straight start after returning from a shoulder injury that shelved him for three weeks, remains winless since Oct. 15. He declined comment.

The team should be able to count on the goaltender making the first save. All to often of late, it is not getting done. With Nabokov struggling, Vesa Toskala on IR retroactive to November 8th after a failed return from a groin injury, and rookie goaltender Nolan Schaefer putting up a 5-1 record in relief, a plot point for the Sharks season looms on the horizon.

SJ faces a goaltending controversy of Nabokov-Kiprusoff-Toskala proportions, with the team desperately needing a hot goalie to save the Sharks bacon.

[Update3] Shanahan strikes twice late to keep Sharks reeling - Sportsticker.

"We got our presence going to the net and the game-winner for (Shanahan) was a great effort on guys to drive the net. That's how we've had success... It was nuts, that's the only way to describe it. You talk about the new NHL, that was a perfect example tonight." - Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mathieu Schneider

[Update4] A Sharks fan emails to ask where the word "schnied" comes from. According to word-detective.com:

To be "on the schneid" means to be on a losing streak, racking up a series of losing, and especially scoreless, games. "Schneid" is actually short for "schneider," a term originally used in the card game of gin, meaning to prevent an opponent from scoring any points. "Schneider" entered the vocabulary of gin from German (probably via Yiddish), where it means "tailor." Apparently the original sense was that if you were "schneidered" in gin you were "cut" (as if by a tailor) from contention in the game. "Schneider" first appeared in the literature of card-playing about 1886, but the shortened form "schneid" used in other sports is probably of fairly recent vintage.

Speaking of slang terms for losing, teams who fail to score even a single point in a game (especially in baseball) are often said to have been "shut out," but "shut out" actually comes from the world of horse racing. A tardy bettor who arrives at the betting window at the last possible moment before a race may well find that the clerk has lowered the window shutter, literally "shutting him out."

Technically, the Sharks are off the schnieder but shut out on the shootout.


Sharks recall forward Grant Stevenson from the Cleveland Barons

Grant Stevenson

A press release from the San Jose Sharks:


SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has recalled center Grant Stevenson from the Cleveland Barons, the Sharks top development affiliate of the American Hockey League.

In 17 games with the Barons this season, Stevenson has posted a team-leading 16 points (eight goals, eight assists), along with eight penalty minutes.

Last season, Stevenson was tied for fourth on the Barons in scoring (39 points) and third in assists (25). In 2003-04, his first season with Cleveland, Stevenson finished 13th among all AHL rookies with 39 points (13-26=39) in 71 games.

In 2002-03, Stevenson was T-fifth in NCAA scoring with Minnesota State-Mankato (WCHA), posting 27 goals and 36 assists for 63 points in only 38 games, as well as T-second among all NCAA goal scorers. He was named to the JOFA Division I All-American Team and All-WCHA First Team.

The native of Spruce Grove, Alberta, was signed by San Jose as a free agent on April 18, 2003. His grandfather is the legendary NHL goaltender Glenn Hall.

More "Big Freeze" photos

Cal Berkeley Stanford Big Freeze hockey

A few readers requested more photos of the Stanford vs Cal Big Freeze finale at Belmont last Friday. Ask and yee shall receive. There is also a video here and another here.

A. Sheldon sent in a report on the 2-game series, Bears sweep the 2005 ‘Big Freeze’, Win 13-1 in Berkeley, 9-7 in Belmont.

Only the Stanford Cardinal hockey team wore red... The bleachers at Berkeley Iceland were blanketed in a tapestry of blue and gold, as thousands of CAL fans tolerated the chilly air to cheer on their Golden Bears to a 13-1 rout of rival Stanford on Nov. 17. Roughly 150 members of the CAL band were on hand – consuming one-third of the home team stands. Nearly 80% of the 'Pride of California' was present said conductor Patrick Flynn.

"This has been one of our biggest turnouts, but it's not that hard to motivate members to participate because it's Big Game week," Flynn said, referring to the 108th gridiron battle set for Saturday.

[Update] Three local players are in the top 25 in ACHA D2 scoring: Sean Haq [10G, 35A] and Amir Moazeni [23G, 20A] for Berkeley, and Sean Scarbrough [23G, 15A] for San Jose State. Adam Dekeyral [#27, 19G, 13A] of San Jose State and Christopher Moulton [#31, 13G, 17A] are just outside of the top 25.


Defenseman Jiri Fischer collapses during Detroit-Nashville game

Detroit Fans

Last night during the first period of the Red Wings vs Predators game, Detroit defenseman Jiri Fischer suffered a seizure and collapsed on the bench. Fischer was given CPR by the team physician and carried off on a stretcher.

From NHL.com:

Detroit Red Wings defenceman Jiri Fischer collapsed on the team's bench after suffering a seizure during the first period of an NHL game against the Nashville Predators on Monday night.

The 25-year-old Czech defenceman was taken to a local hospital where he was listed as stable. It was not immediately clear exactly what caused the seizure. "He's breathing on his own, he's responsive," Red Wings spokesman John Hahn said. "It looks like he's going to be OK."

An update on Fischer's condition from the Detroit Red Wings:

DETROIT -- Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer remains in stable condition at Detroit Medical Center after suffering a seizure during the first period of Monday night's contest against the Nashville Predators.

Fischer has met with his teammates and coaches and was described as jovial and in good spirits. He will remain in the hospital for further testing over the next two days.

The team will hold a press conference on Tuesday, a 1:00 pm at Joe Louis Arena with updated information.

The teams were sent to their respective locker rooms, and then the game was called off. From TSN:

"It was obvious to everybody involved that it was the right decision," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "It was very disturbing to both sides and I think the NHL recognized it, the players recognized it. To be quite honest, the game became very secondary. When a friend or a teammate was in danger like Jiri was in, then the decision was made for everybody to reschedule it."

It was not immediately clear whether the game would be played in its entirety or resume from the point of the stoppage.

"Our primary objective is that Jiri is taken care of," Trotz said.

Matt from OntheWings described what lead up to that point:

The Predators scored to take a 1-0 lead at 11:28 with Jiri Fischer, Johan Franzen, Mathieu Schneider, Brendan Shanahan, and Robert Lang on the ice. Those five went to the bench after the goal, all seemingly fine. Less than a minute later, however, Fischer collapsed on the bench. It took a few seconds for anyone to really notice, since at first he was just bent over sitting down. Soon, though, Mike Babcock began yelling frantically and waving for medical help.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, as well as Kukla's Korner, OntheWings, and 360vrwc have more updates on the story.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll Released For Nov. 21-27

A press release from USAhockey.com:

Michigan Holds No. 1 Position On USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The University of Michigan maintained its position atop the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll. The Wolverines have amassed a 9-1-1 record in 11 games this season, and were off last weekend.

This Week's Top-15 Match-ups:

Friday, November 25
No. 7 Minnesota @ No. 1 Michigan

Saturday, November 26
No. 2 Wisconsin @ No. 1 Michigan
No. 14 Harvard@ No. 12 St. Lawrence

Sunday, November 27
No. 5 Vermont @ No. 4 Maine

The University of Vermont jumped four places to No. 5 following a 3-0 shutout of Merrimack College last Friday (Nov. 18). It is Vermont's highest position on the poll since the 1996-97 season when the Catamounts climbed as high as No. 1.

Meanwhile, Harvard University rejoined the poll on the heels of a four-game winning streak and victories against No. 6 Boston College, Yale University and Brown University last week. Entering the poll for the first time this year is Colgate University, which tied Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and defeated Union College last week.

ABOUT THE POLL: The 11th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the American Hockey Coaches Association and USA Hockey Magazine, the official publication of USA Hockey.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll -- #8 (first-place votes in parentheses, last week, record, weeks in top 15)

1. University of Michigan, 506(31, 1, 9-1-1, 8
2. University of Wisconsin, 477(3), 2, 9-1-2, 8
3. Colorado College, 445, 3, 11-2-1, 8
4. University of Maine, 408, 4, 9-3-0, 8
5. University of Vermont, 346, 9, 9-2-0, 6
6. Boston College, 314, 5, 5-3-1, 8
7. University of Minnesota, 285, 10, 6-3-3, 8
8. University of North Dakota, 258, 8, 8-5-1, 8
9. University of New Hampshire, 233, 7, 7-4-1, 8
10. Miami (Ohio) University, 228, 11, 7-2-1, 4
11. Cornell University, 160, 6, 4-3-1, 8
12. St. Lawrence University, 139, 15, 9-3-0, 2
13. University of Denver, 96, 12, 5-5-2, 8
14. Harvard University, 82, NR, 6-2-0, 3
15. Colgate University, 35, NR, 7-2-2, 1

Others receiving votes: University of Alaska Fairbanks, 29; Clarkson University, 12; Bemidji State University, 11; Mercyhurst College, 6; The Ohio State University, 4; Boston University, 3; Michigan State University, 3.

Badgers withstand test - The Capital Times.

Nothing coming easy for defending champs - Minneapolis Star Times.

Weekend Update

Stanford Cal Big Freeze hockey

Stanford Cal Big Freeze hockey

After losing the first game in Berkeley Thursday, Stanford came out strong the next night at Belmont Iceland. With the game tied 7-7 late in the third, Cal scored two goals to put the game away 9-7. More soon.


Steve Bernier and Ryane Clowe assigned to the AHL Cleveland Barons

A press release from the San Jose Sharks:


SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has reassigned right wing Steve Bernier and left wing Ryane Clowe to the Cleveland Barons, the Sharks top development affiliate of the American Hockey League.

Clowe began the season with San Jose, making his NHL debut on Oct. 5 at Nashville, after finishing T-third on the team in goals (3) and T-third in points (4) in six preseason games. In 15 games with San Jose this season, Clowe posted two assists and nine penalty minutes, along with a +1 rating. He notched his first two NHL points on Oct. 8 at St. Louis.

The six-foot-two, 225-pound native of St. John's Newfoundland, was originally selected by San Jose in the sixth round (175th overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Last season, he led the Barons in goals (27, assists (35), points (62) and plus/minus (+19) en route to being named the team's most valuable player.

Bernier was recalled by San Jose on Nov. 4 after opening the season with Cleveland, where he led the team in goals (4), assists (6) and points (10) in nine games at the time of his recall.

He made his NHL debut on Nov. 4 at Anaheim and collected his first NHL goal/point on Nov. 12 vs. Dallas. In five games, he posted one goal and was even.

The six-foot-two, 230-pound power forward from Quebec City, Quebec was selected by San Jose in the first round (16th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

The Cleveland Barons are currently 6th in the 7th team North Division. Grant Stevenson leads Cleveland with 8 goals, Patrick Rissmiller and Josh Hennessy are tied with 9 assists each, and Grant Stevenson leads the team with 16 total points. Fresno Falcons callup Jamie Holden [2.95GAA, .910SV%] is tied for 13th in the AHL, with 5 wins for the Cleveland Barons.

Top 5 hockey videos on Google Video

Here is my short list for the top 5 hockey videos on Google Video. Make sure to turn the sound down on your computer.

1. This hockey highlight video has been around for a few years. The soundtrack is Walla Walla by Offspring. The editing is spectacular, but the last check through the glass highlight is the best.

2. This is my goto move whenever I have to take part in a shootout. The San Jose Sharks could have used this in the overtime shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes last night. The video of Rob Hisey is from the Barrie Colts Skills Competition.

3. Have to have at least one hockey fight in the list, this one comes from the Bakersfield Condors opening night October 22, 2005. Dennis Shiryaev faces Joel Andresen. Nice background music, sounds familiar.

4. This archive highlight video of Russia vs USA at the World Juniors Hockey Championships shows a brief glimpse of the Alexander Ovechkin to come.

5. Here is a clip of EA's NHL 06 starring the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens.

One non-hockey video that I would also recommend is this street band performing on the Stroget, the pedestrian walking district in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Roskilde Music Festival, also in Denmark, is one of the largest festivals in Europe. After Roskilde, the streets of Copenhagen are flooded with street bands big and small.


A message to Montreal Canadiens fans, from Toronto

Montreal Canadiens Toronto Maple Leafs fans

Thanks to Jes Golbez for the link to the photo.

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis hosts blogger Eric McErlain for a game

Captials owner Ted Leonsis invited blogger Eric McErlain of Offwing to the owner's box for the Washington Capitals vs Tampa Bay Lightning game Tuesday. Read his recap of the evening here and here.

Leonsis has long been one of the most progressive owners in the NHL, creating a fan-first environment, and being honest and up front about how the franchise is run. Until a recent re-design, there was a number of audio interviews, and the periodic Ted Leonsis owner's corner available from the Washington Capitals website.

The Capitals owner explained to McErlain how he felt about missing the playoffs after signing Jaromir Jagr, how Alexander Ovechkin affects the Capitals rebuilding phase, the Capitals financial condition, his target attendance figures, and his reaction to an on-ice example of the new NHL rules.

Oh, and the game? Alexander Ovechkin scored late to send the game into overtime, and then scored the deciding goal in the overtime shootout.

Julio Gonzalez wins title elimination bout with Jason DeLisle in Fight Night Finale

Miller Lite Fight Night at the Tank

Miller Lite Fight Night at the Tank

Miller Lite Fight Night at the Tank

Julio Gonzalez [39-3, 23 KOs] ran into a very tough light heavyweight in Jason DeLisle [18-4-2, 9 KOs], for the finale of the Miller Lite Fight Night boxing series at HP Pavilion. The former WBO Light Heavyweight Champion Gonzalez came out flat against IBF Pan Pacific Light Heavyweight Champion DeLisle, who began the fight connecting with intermittent bombs. Gonzalez picked up the pace in the later rounds, using superior speed and technical ability to out punch the game Australian, dropping him to the mat in the 10th round.

Julio Gonzalez won a unanimous decision 116-111, 118-109, 117-110, earning the #2 IBF Light Heavyweight ranking. Gonzalez might face the winner of Glen Johnson vs Clinton Woods for the IBF title.

[Update] Gonzalez wins decision - SJ Mercury News.


Light Heavyweight Julio Gonzalez heads the final Miller Lite Fight Night at the Tank season finale

A press release from fightnightatthetank.com has the fight card for the season finale tonight at the HP Pavilion.


Miller Lite Fight Night at the Tank returns to HP Pavilion for the season finale and with it returns the same hard-hitting action that Bay Area boxing fans have come to enjoy. The action is scheduled for Thursday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m. In the main event, former WBO Light Heavyweight World Champion Julio Gonzalez (38-3, 23 KO’s) takes on tough-as-nails Aussie Jason Delisle (18-3-2, 9 KO’s). The match is scheduled as a 12-round IBF light heavyweight world title elimination bout.

The undercard is as follows:

8 Round Lightweight Bout
Arturo Quintere (14-3, 9KO’s) vs. Silverio Ortiz (12-7, 6KO’s)

6 Round Heavyweight Bout
Raphael Butler (15-1, 11KO’s) vs. John Clark (11-7-1, 6 KO’s)

6/4 Round Bout

4 Round Welterweight Bout
Francisco Santana (Pro Debut) vs. Alex Ramirez (0-2, 0KO’s)


Adding to the top-notch quality of an already outstanding fight card, Al Bernstein will attend the season finale of Miller Lite Fight Night at the Tank as a special guest. One of the most respected and recognizable boxing broadcasters of all time, Bernstein has played a role in virtually every major fight for the last 25 years. In 1990, he was the only sportscaster in Sport Magazine’s “Best 100 in Sports.” The versatile, award-winning sports legend is experienced in television, radio and even published a book named “Boxing For Beginners”. Bernstein is currently the lead analyst for Showtime Boxing. He also hosts the daily Al Bernstein Sports Party on ESPN Radio out of his home in Las Vegas.


Liveblogging Vancouver vs San Jose

[9:55] The Canucks collapse around Cloutier on the penalty kill as San Jose skates around the outside and tries to get a puck in deep. Every shot is blocked fairly easily. Game over, Canucks defeat the San Jose Sharks 3-1.

[9:52] The Sharks try a Wayne Gretzky pass from behind the net to a Shark at the side of the crease. Cloutier just gets a piece of the puck under the business end of his goalie pads, but the puck is loose between his legs. He closes them just as San Jose's Brad Stuart skates in to try to jab it home. Vancouver's Bryan Allen loses it and goes commando on Stuart, tackling him to the ice. Penalty to Vancouver.

[9:51] Bertuzzi ices the puck. San Jose pulls Nabokov for a 6-5 with a 1:10 left in the third. Canucks still up 3-1. Ohlund checks Sturm head first into the boards and takes a penalty.

[9:45] Marleau given the hit of the game, delivering a solid check earlier on Bertuzzi. Many around the league are just starting to notice this part of his game. Marleau's hit on Bryan Marchment a few weeks ago also had a few people talking.

[9:43] Vancouver scores again on the power play. Sharks announcers are upset that it was another bad call, this time on San Jose forward Alyn McCauley for obstruction. The Canucks spread wide on the power play, and move the puck well, before wristing the puck in on Nabokov. Evgeni makes the first save, but the puck drops right to Anson Carter who puts it home for the second power play goal of the period. Canucks lead 3-1 with under 5 left in the third period.

[9:39] Sami Salo fires the puck from the blueline low to the right of Nabokov for a goal. The referees call off the goal, saying Jarkko Ruutu was in the crease. Pretty controversial call that could go either way because the video was not conclusive. Both of the Sharks television announcers, Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda, are describing it as a bad call.

[9:38] Puck down low in the Canucks offensive zone. The shot is fired in the crease and Nabokov goes down to make the save, puck deflects to Jovanovski as Vancouver outnumbers San Jose in the crease. Puck is tapped home for a PP goal. 2-1 Canucks with less than 10 minutes to play in the third period.

[9:36] No shots on goal, no scoring chances on the power play. The fans are booing the power play now, not Bertuzzi. I don't blame them.

[9:34] Bertuzzi takes a grabbing the stick penalty in the Sharks offensive zone. Hannan gets the puck at the point and makes a nice reverse of direction deke around a Vancouver forward, but the play stopped after a Canuck deflected the shot on goal.

[9:30] Ohlund dropped McCauley to the ice with a hit in the Vancouver defensive zone.

[9:20] Great job by Tom Preissing to seperate Anson Carter from the puck in the Sharks defensive zone. The top Sharks line of Dimitrakos-Marleau-Sturm is struggling to create offensive chances. I would still like to see Sturm-Marleau-Cheechoo, even if it is just for the power play. Brookbank is back, and he rides Mark Smith into the boards long after the whistle.

[9:10] Note to self. Don't start Berkhoel in net for Atlanta because Dunham is down [stats: loss, 7 goals against, 32 saves, .821 save%]. Start Fleury for Pittsburgh even if he is not going to get the start [stats: win, 2 goals against, 45 saves, .957 save%].

The two 20 person blogger challenge Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues are going strong. There are 33 bloggers, a few people playing twice, and 4 non-blogger scrubs who squeaked in at the last minute. If anyone at Yahoo reads this, besides sending me Yahoo Marketing Solutions mail for Bob Goodenow, get me into the Yahoo company store so I can buy two tshirts for the winners.

[9:05] The crowd is not booing, they are saying Bertuzzi. Ok, maybe they are booing.

[8:57] I missed it, but both Hannan and Goc went to the locker room with injuries. It looks like it was Hannan's ankle. Vancouver is on the power play with an obstruction call against San Jose. Salo takes a one-timer in the Vancouver offensive zone with Bertuzzi parked in front of the crease. Nabokov makes the glove save and then holds it up long enough to make sure every Canuck gets a good look at it.

[8:50] It could be me, but whenever I see Todd Bertuzzi I think of unfrozen caveman lawyer. Fire bad. A few months before the Bertuzzi incident in 2004, he played a telling game against the San Jose Sharks.

[8:43] Sharks rookie Steve Bernier is on fire. He took the puck behind the net and then shot a wrap around off of Cloutier's pad. After a Shark held the puck in at the blueline, Bernier gathered the puck up against the boards and then was hammered by Jovanovski. Power play to San Jose.

[8:37] Marcel Goc and Milan Michalek break in 2-on-1 on Cloutier. Goc looks left to Michalek, and then fires the puck past Cloutier. The score is tied at 1-1. Josh Langfeld started the breakout poking the puck out of the defensive zone.

[8:30] Canucks Corner's Tom Benjamin picks Vancouver over Detroit, but not over Calgary in the West. Interesting.

The reason I believe more journalists and bloggers do not pick Nashville is that they have not seen enough of Tomas Vokoun. Adding Paul Kariya gives the Predators depth and charisma up front, but their blue line raises a red flag for me in a 7 game series. After Markov, Timonen, and Zidlicky, the Predators ice Mark Eaton, rookie Ryan Suter, and Dan Hamhuis.

Vancouver Canucks Op-ed also points to another Canucks blogger, Jennifer Good. Jennifer likes Cloutier, but I always thought le goalie was better.

[8:15] Enough with the radio feed for the game. The four second delay from the radio broadcast to the television broadcast is distracting. First period stats: 8 Shots by Vancouver in the first period, 5 by San Jose, Vancouver 0-1 on the PP, San Jose 0-2, Vancouver 39% on faceoffs [7-11] San jose 61% [11-7].

[8:10] Penalty on Brendan Morrison. The Canucks are able to kill it off. San Jose is spending too much time controlling the puck after a pass, and Vancouver is able to challenge the player and disrupt the offensive momentum. It looked like hot potato instead of an NHL power play.

[8:02] Scott Thornton ran into Wade Brookbank shortly after the play was stopped in Vancouver's defensive zone. Brookbank pawed with his left at Thornton's face, and both dropped the gloves. Brookbank came out with 4 shots, taking advantage of a slightly better hold he had on Thornton. Two punches landed, two missed. Thornton wrestled free and landed one hard left and missed with another. Brookbank threw one last punch while the referees were moving in to stop the fight. Total fight time: 15 seconds. Someone call hockeyfights.com.

This is Thornton's first game back after suffering a groin injury earlier in the season.

[7:54] Sedin takes a penalty to put San Jose on the power play. San Jose lost the puck in the offensive zone, Vancouver cleared the puck, gained control, and broke in on Nabokov 2-1. Goal by Richard Park on a wrist shot low and right. Vancouver up 1-0.

Thanks to NHL.com's live statistics, more on the Vancouver short-handed goal: "SH 18 PARK, A: 2 OHLUND, Wrist, 18 ft" and a penalty summary: "S.J, K. MCLAREN, 05:13 - Hooking, VAN, D. SEDIN, 07:50 - Cross check".

[7:45] On the penalty kill, Marcel Goc drives the Vancouver net and fires a shot off Cloutier's pads. The rebound bounced out to the point and was quickly shot on net. The Sharks came out with intensity in the first half of the first period.

[7:35] The Warriors are on Fox Sports now. Sharks are playing on Fox Sports Plus, channel 77 in my area.

Starting lineups: Michalek-McCauley-Cheechoo, Fahey-Hannan, Nabokov for San Jose. Naslund-Morrison-Bertuzzi, Allen-Jovanovski, Cloutier for Vancouver.

Mexico vs Bulgaria is on Telemundo.

[7:30] A new Tank Talk podcast, and a video pre-game preview are available from sjsharks.com. Nothing is up on the Vancouver Canucks blog, or glog [gamelog], yet.

[7:15] From KNBR, Scott Thornton was interviewed about coming back from injury to join the lineup tonight. He told KNBR "It was really a frustrating injury. I thought I was in great shape to prevent this kind of thing. I am excited to get back out." FSBA is taking fan questions for Sharks players here.

[7:00] The Vancouver Province reports on Canucks forward Brendan Morrison's offensive slump. Mo has no goals in his last six games. Ben Kuzma of the Province believes that Morrison's increased penalty kill time may be the root cause.

Canucks look to California - SLAM. How many California cliches can you fit into one hockey preview?

The USA Today game preview points to an ominous stat for Vancouver goaltender Dan Cloutier on the road: Canucks-Sharks Preview.

Cloutier is 5-0 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .926 save percentage at home. On the road, though, he's 1-2-1 with a 4.66 GAA and .828 save percentage.

[6:55] Sharks make switch for speed - SJ Mercury News. Victor Chi reports that Nils Ekman is out and Niko Dimitrakos is in for tonight's Vancouver game. KNBR's Dan Rusanowsky reports that Evgeni Nabokov will start in goal, with Nolan Schaefer in reserve and Vesa Toskala out with an injury.

The SF Chronicle's Ross McKeon points to an early season trend for the San Jose Sharks:

So far, the only identity the team has created is to fall behind early, work its way back into games and win late. That's a vast departure from last season when the Sharks led the league in first-period goal differential, and made teams come at them for the final two periods.

Late comebacks this season might have only masked the problem. For instance, at the end of a five-game winning streak, the Sharks beat Calgary, Nashville and Anaheim in succession. The total amount of time they led during play was 0:00. When San Jose scored the deciding goal, it was either in a shootout (Calgary) or overtime (Nashville and Anaheim) and it had not led beforehand.

In 2003-04, the Sharks would either give up an early lead, or come from behind to notch an inordinate amount of ties. This season, sandwiched between two brief losing streaks, the Sharks ran off a string of last second, overtime, and shootout come from behind wins. San Jose has always relied on talented, but streaky, offensive players. The loss of veteran leadership [Damphousse, Ricci, and yes, Mike Rathje] and the combined struggle of two perceived San Jose strengths, defense and goaltending, gives the impression that this team is still searching for an identity.

Weekend Update

CAL vs USC hockey

CAL vs USC hockey

The photos above are from a 2-1 Cal loss to to USC on Saturday night. Brandon Krikorian and Brent Ozaki scored for USC, #2 Kiel Fitzgerald scored the lone goal for Berkeley. Cal also lost 6-2 on Friday night, with 6 different Trojans scoring goals. Sunday the Stanford Cardinals lost to USC 7-1 at Belmont Iceland.

Click here for a photo gallery, or a video gallery. Radio archives of the USC trojans ACHA games are available at hockeyradioonline.com.

On Friday, a 4 goal San Jose State lead nearly evaporated in the third period against Weber State. Greg Scheffer scored twice and T.J. Nykiel scored once to bring Weber to 4-3. Nykiel took a five-minute major penalty with 4 minutes left, allowing Adam Dekeyrel to give the Spartans an insurance goal. SJSU goaltender Ryan Lowe made 29 saves on 32 shots to earn the 5-3 win.

On Saturday, the SJSU Spartans downed Weber State 8-0. From SJSUhockey.com:

It was the first shutout of the season for SJSU. Senior wing Aaron Scott led the Spartan scoring attack with his second hat-trick of the season.

"(Friday) was a real wake-up call for this team," Lowe said of the 13-0-1 Spartans. "Tonight we knew we needed to come out flying because this is our last tune-up before Colorado. Everyone rested today and came in focused."

Lowe was quick to point out that the shutout was definitely a group effort. "The defense and the goalie are one unit," he said. "They made it tonight. I only had to make 26 saves which shows (Weber State) didn't get a lot of scoring chances, that is great defense."

[Update] A. Sheldon sent in a report on the poor start from Berkeley this season, Bad News for Bears.

It’s been a bleak start to the CAL Golden Bears 2005-06 campaign – capturing just two road wins amid 11 devastating losing decisions during the month of October.

With a couple key departures from the blue line and the loss of full-time goaltender Brad Buss, the Bears seasoned veterans expressed a shadow of uncertainty about the shake-up, but also exuded optimism regarding the new ranks.


CAL vs Stanford Big Freeze

CAL vs Stanford Big Freeze

Berkeley faces Stanford Thursday at 8:30PM for the first game of the home-at-home "Big Freeze" series. There will be a few thousand Cal fans in attendance at Berkeley Iceland. Friday's 8:00PM game at Belmont Iceland, otherwise known as the meat locker, will need a little more support from the Cardinal faithful.

Visit calicehockey.com or stanfordhockey.com for more information. If either game makes the local or student papers, send me a copy or an email.

[Update3] Spartans ice Weber State University - Spartandaily.com.

Back to Blogging

Took a week off from the blog to finish a side project, will catch up today with the latest local hockey, boxing and soccer news.

During the down time I added a wide angle SLR lens and a point-and-shoot digicam that can take up to 5 minute quicktime videos. The videos will be hosted here until they are verified and hosted permanently at Google Video. When they are verified, they will be accessible through Google Search. Give me a video or two to figure it out and they will no longer be jerky. Either way, I think I am now qualified to be a cameraman on OLN.

The hosting at Sharkspage was also upgraded from 100mb to 1gb, with bandwidth increased from 3gb a month to 10gb a month.


USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll Released For Nov. 14-20

A press release from USAhockey.com:

Michigan Reclaims No. 1 Position on USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The University of Michigan returned to the No. 1 position on this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll following a pair of victories over the University of Alaska Anchorage. Michigan last occupied the top spot on Oct. 24.

This Weeks' Top-15 Match-Ups

Friday, November 18
No. 10 Minnesota @ No. 12 Denver

Saturday, November 19
No. 10 Minnesota @ No. 12 Denver

The University of Wisconsin jumped three spots to No. 2 after a three-point weekend against former-No. 1 Colorado College. The University of New Hampshire moved up five places to No. 7 after wins over then-No. 14 Boston University and No. 4 University of Maine. Meanwhile, St. Lawrence University climbed into the poll for the first time this season at No. 15.

ABOUT THE POLL: The 11th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the American Hockey Coaches Association and USA Hockey Magazine, the official publication of USA Hockey.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll -- #7
(first-place votes in parentheses, last week, record, weeks in top 15)

1. University of Michigan, 505(29), 2, 9-1-1, 7
2. University of Wisconsin, 477(5), 5, 7-1-2, 7
3. Colorado College, 451, 1, 9-2-1, 7
4. University of Maine, 378, 4, 9-3-0, 7
5. Boston College, 331, 9, 4-2-1, 7
6. Cornell University, 325, 3, 4-2-0, 7
7. University of New Hampshire, 259, 12, 6-3-1, 7
8. University of North Dakota, 258, 11, 7-4-1, 7
9. University of Vermont, 255, 8, 8-2-0, 5
10. University of Minnesota, 223, 13, 5-3-2, 7
11. Miami (Ohio) University, 172, 10, 6-2-0, 3
12. University of Denver, 147, 7, 5-4-1, 7
13. Michigan State University, 110, 6, 5-3-1, 6
14. University of Alaska Fairbanks, 58, 15, 4-2-2, 2
15. St. Lawrence University, 49, NR, 7-3-0, 1

Others receiving votes: Bemidji State University, 43; Colgate University, 21; Mercyhurst College, 9; Boston University, 4; Ferris State University, 2; Northern Michigan University, 2; Clarkson University, 1.

The 2003, 2004 NCAA champion University of Denver Pioneers (5-4-1) are struggling after a two game set with Minnesota State-Mankato over the weekend. Denver tied Mankato 3-3 on Friday, and was shutout 4-0 on Saturday. Three Denver players were injured in the first game, defenseman Julian Marcuzzi, forward J.D. Corbin, and forward Gabe Gauthier.

Sharks 2003 2nd round selection, defenseman Matt Carle (Jr), has 4 goals and 6 assists in 10 games played for Denver. Carle was in attendance for the 5-2 Sharks loss to the Avalanche in Colorado on Tuesday.

Denver dropped from 7th to 12th in this weeks USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings, and faces 10th ranked University of Minnesota on Friday and Saturday. Visit the Denver Pioneers official website, or the NCAA Mens Ice Hockey website for more information.

Pioneers' depth will be tested after injuries pile up - Rocky Mountain News.


The Cam Neely file: Neely, Kharlamov, Costello inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame

Cam Neely Ray Bourque Photofile

Cam Neely, Valeri Kharlamov, and Murray Costello were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday, November 7th.

Cam Neely was the prototypical power forward, a player who took as much pride in making a big hit as he did scoring the big goal. Neely scoring 50 goals 3 times in his career, including 50 goals in 44 games during the striked shortened 1993-94 season. Neely led the Bruins in goal scoring 7 of 10 seasons, and leads the all-time Bruins playoff goal scoring list with 55.

Valeri Kharlamov played 13 seasons with the Central Red Army hockey team and won eleven league championships, eight European Championship gold medals (two silver, one bronze), and was a member of the Army Line with Boris Mikhailov (RW) and Vladimir Petrov (C), one of the best lines to ever play the game. Valeri Kharlamov and his wife died on August 27, 1981 in a car accident while on vacation. His HHOF nomination was accepted by his son Alexander Kharlamov, who is reportedly working to create a Russian hockey players association.

According to the HHOF: Hockey Hall of Fame Announces 2005 Inductees.

Costello began his professional hockey career playing parts of two seasons with the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings from 1954 - 55 to 1956 - 57. He left hockey for law school and later returned to work in several capacities in the Western Hockey League. He became President of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (now Hockey Canada) in 1979, holding that position until his retirement in 1998.

All I can say about Cam Neely is that he was the only NHL player I have seen stiff arm a defenseman, then skate around him to score a goal. At the time, Earl Campbell was running over everything that moved in the NFL, and Neely brought a similar work ethic to the National Hockey League.

Ben Wright, of The Net Files and now the web guy for the Atlanta Thrashers, had a little more to say about Neely's effect on the game: The One and Only Cam Neely - Ben Wright.

The term 'power-forward' is thrown around a lot these days in hockey and it's used to describe guys like Todd Bertuzzi, Brendan Shananhan, John Leclair (before he wrecked his back), and occasionally centres like Forsberg and Thornton. What you have to realize is that the term wasn't a part of the hockey lexicon until Cam Neely became the perfect combination of grit, size, strength and skill. As Terry O'Reilly said in the Boston Globe, "He fought, he shot, and he checked, and it was utterly impossible to stop him."

Neely still holds the Bruins records for goals in a season (54), career playoff goals (55), and playoff goals in a season (16), as well as points in one game (3 goals, 4 assists, 7pts).

I have three regrets as a hockey fan- never going to a game at the Boston Garden, never getting to see Ray Bourque play, and never getting to see Cam in person. That last one is the real kicker.

There will never, ever, be another Cam.

The HHOF has a Cam Neely biography, photo gallery, statistics page, and an induction weekend photo gallery. There is also a quote from former Bruins captain Wayne Cashman.

"If you are going to write the description of a power forward, you just put down Cam Neely. You don't need to put anything else."
- Former Bruins Captain Wayne Cashman

Neely makes his grand entrance, A reflective, gracious Neely joins Hall elite - Boston Globe.

Upon reporting to the Bruins in the summer of '86, Neely hoped to wear sweater No. 21. As a kid, he preferred No. 12, but someone else had that number when he reported to his junior team, the Portland Winter Hawks, so he opted for No. 21. He kept the number when he entered the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks, but when he reported to Boston, the equipment staff handed him No. 8. His lucky 21 was already taken.

"When No. 21 finally became available, I asked the trainers if I could make the switch," recalled Neely. "They said they'd check. They came back a couple of days later and said, 'Sorry, Cam, Harry [Sinden] likes you in No. 8 -- you'll have to stay in No. 8.'"

Neely checks in Hall - Boston Herald.

"Blue-collar city, blue-collar fans," Neely said. "They’re great sports fans. They understand the game. They know if you’re working hard or not. The way I played, they loved a solid body check as much as a pretty goal. I just had that great connection (with the B’s fans) right from the early going."

"For me, it was never strictly about goals and assists. It meant as much to give a big hit as to score a big goal. I knew the impact that had on a game, for my team and for the other team."

NHL Media Conference Call with Cam Neely - BostonBruins.com.

Q. I wanted to ask if you've had in retirement occasion to renew acquaintances or make friends with guys would have been bitter enemies from the Canadiens in those days?

CAM NEELY: Actually Russ Courtnall. I played with Geoff; Geoff was my first roommate here in Boston. And I couldn't stand Russ, playing against him, obviously.

And the way I had to play the game, I never really liked getting to know anybody on other teams because most guys, as everybody knows, are good guys and I just didn't feel comfortable to get to know anybody on the other team. I played with John Kordic when I played junior hockey in Portland, so I knew him, but it was ver y difficult to have any kind of a relationship with anybody on the Montreal Canadiens when you're playing the Boston Bruins.

Cam also described playing the Edmonton Oilers in the 1988 Stanley Cup finals.

Q. What do you remember about playing the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final, and probably not great memories, you had a heck of a team, and so did they; they had Tikkanen, Steve Smith, just want to know what your memories of that are?

CAM NEELY: Well, in '88, I think a lot of us in Boston, it was our first time ever in the Stanley Cup Finals. And I know that a lot of us, we were so excited to be in the Finals, we kind of probably lost a little bit focus, of, okay, there's four more games to win. Plus, quite honestly, Edmonton was a much better hockey club in '88 than we were.

But moving in '90, I thought that we had a good opportunity to beat the Oilers. We had that triple-overtime game that everybody remembers. Wesley had an opportunity, unfortunately shot it over the net. And then (Petr) Klima comes out and scores and kind of took the wind out of our sails.

Opening up in Boston the first two games, you really feel like you've got to jump on them, because going back to Edmonton, the way they played and the style that they have and the guys that can skate the way they did, we knew it was going to be a little tougher battle going into Edmonton.

But you're right, it was difficult. Certainly, Steve and I, every time I hopped over the board, so did he, and constant battles in front of the net in the corners. With Craig (Janney), really that year, we had basically the one offensive line, and if we got shot down during the even strength, we really had to contribute on the power play, because they were really were all over us. And they had a great game plan in shutting down Craig and myself. You know, obviously everybody knows the type of players the Oilers had in those years, and it was just -- you know, it was a battle for us to get through those guys.

A questionable hit by Ulf Samuelsson in 1991 led to futhur knee, thigh and hip problems that ultimately cut short Neely's career. After the NHL, Cam Neely became involved with cancer related charities, created the Neely house for cancer patients, and has pursued acting in bit parts on television and the big screen.

About the discussion of power forwards and the NHL, just once I would like someone to mention Owen Nolan. Years of playing on the West coast, before Tivo, left him out of view for much of the East coast media. He scored 44 goals in 1999-2000 while serving as the leading scorer, captain, and as the primary enforcer. With the way the trap and obstruction were part of the game, it was in every way as impressive as 50 goal seasons in eras past.


San Jose Sharks activate goaltender Evgeni Nabokov

A press release from the San Jose Sharks:


SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has activated goaltender Evgeni Nabokov from the Injured Reserve List.

On the season, Nabokov owns a 3-2-1 record with a 3.52 goals-against average and a .866 save percentage. He was placed on the Injured Reserve List due to upper body stiffness as a result of a collision suffered against Columbus on October 21 in a 4-1 loss to the Blue Jackets. He missed seven games.

Nabokov is the Sharks all-time leader in wins (124), shutouts (26) and games played (266). In the midst of his sixth NHL season, he has posted three 30+ win seasons in his career.

The six-foot, 205-pound goaltender from Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan was originally selected by San Jose in the ninth round (219th overall) in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.

To make room for the goaltender on the 23-man roster, left wing Scott Thornton was placed on the Injured Reserve List retroactive to October 29.


Earthquakes future in San Jose uncertain part II

San Jose Earthquakes last goal

Last week, Ann Killion wondered if fans will look back on the 2005 San Jose Earthquakes season and wonder what could have been. Will Quakes fans sigh, `Oh, what a team we had'? - SJ Mercury News.

Of course, AEG controls the league. But anyone with the ability to think independently could see the passion in the stands at Spartan Stadium, along with the number of bodies. The Earthquakes had the second-largest playoff crowd in the league, and it was a crowd that was into the game, all over Donovan, all over the referees.

Someone in charge has to realize that the team is functioning at an incredibly high level, despite having only 19 staff employees. That season-ticket sales held steady, despite AEG constantly undermining the process. Despite the fact the Earthquakes lost their ticket-sales director midway through the season (mysteriously departed for AEG's other favorite team, the New York-New Jersey MetroStars).

When I look back on the team, I will remember playing soccer under the bleachers with a ball of crumpled tape when Pele came to visit, the shoot a ball through a hole to win free tickets promotion in the 70's, watching Lalas, Meola and Agoos in the MLS for the first time after seeing them in the World Cup vs Brazil on July 4th, the two Earthquakes championships in 2001 and 2003, including one rain soaked playoff game that had to be the coldest ever played at Spartan Stadium, the 5 goal comeback against the Galaxy, Donavan's rise to soccer stardom and then fall to so-Cal villan, going undefeated at home in 2005 and winning the Supporters Shield, and I will remember the last goal scored on a header from Brian Ching.

Last week David Pollak also interviewed AEG president Tim Leiweke on the prospects for the Earthquakes remaining in San Jose: Odds for Quakes move 50-50, team's owner says - SJ Mercury News.

Leiweke, who was in the Bay Area this week to announce details of cycling's Tour of California in February, said AEG has said from the beginning that it was the short-term solution to keeping the Earthquakes in San Jose. Short-term, he added, "turned out to be longer than we thought".

"We've been doing this for four years. We put $20 million into it," Leiweke said. "I know people like to kick us and say we haven't treated the city well, but the reality is we saved the franchise here and we've stuck by it."

The San Jose Sharks and AEG both stepped in to keep the team in San Jose. Leiweke has a point, if owners for the team can not be found, no one should expect the team to remain under the artificial AEG-MLS setup. It may be as fun to label AEG the Anti-Earthquakes Group as it is to boo Landon Donovan, but one has to begrudgingly pay them respect for their MLS efforts. To be honest, no one should hold AEG responsible if the team eventually moves from San Jose.

Tim Leiweke also commented on the departure of Landon Donovan and GM Alexi Lalas.

The AEG executive said he knows that Earthquakes fans hold his company responsible for Landon Donovan's defection to the Los Angeles Galaxy and the move of former president and general manager Alexi Lalas to the New York-New Jersey MetroStars.

"Despite how people feel, everything ultimately is a stand-alone decision," Leiweke said. "If Landon was coming back from Germany, he was going to L.A. That's where he lives. It has nothing to do with San Jose one way or the other. And Alexi is a free spirit who wanted to be in New York and we gave him that opportunity."

This is a valid grudge held by fans. At the very minimum, a compensation draft pick should have been given to the Earthquakes for both individuals. Losing both for nothing is what got under the fans skin, and rightly so.

Stay tuned to soccersiliconvalley.com, the SSV blog, or SJearthquakes.com for more information. My post following the SJ-LA game is here, and a recap of the final 1-1 tie is here.

[Update] Alan emailed me this interview Grant Wahl did with Tim Leiweke back in July: The guy behind the guy, AEG honcho Tim Leiweke discusses his goals for MLS - Sports Illustrated.

From the introduction:

As the president of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, Leiweke is the public voice on sports matters for Phil Anschutz, the reclusive billionaire who owns (among other things) the Staples Center, the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and five of MLS' 12 teams (soon to be four with the upcoming sale of D.C. United).

For that reason, many observers consider Leiweke to be the most powerful figure in MLS. Leiweke has big dreams for American soccer, to say nothing of a budget to try and make it happen.

And one question on his future goals for Major League Soccer:

SI.com: Tell me about your big-picture vision for MLS. Once you've achieved what you want to with this league in however many years from now, what do you see?

Leiweke: If within 10 years from today Major League Soccer is not top four and hopefully top two or three in the conscience and the minds and the hearts and the pocketbooks of the sports community in this country, we will have failed. It's the world's most popular sport with the world's most popular athletes, and it is emerging quickly within the United States. I believe we have been given a lot of the ingredients to be successful, and I think in the next 10 years, whether it be our quality of play, our level of play or the kind of players that we put on that pitch, that's our challenge. What you're going to see out of us in the near future is a vision for the next 10 years that will allow us to take ourselves to the next level.

[Update2] San Jose Inside on what should be included in a new San Jose soccer specific stadium.

Piling on ESPN

Phil Mushnick of the NY Post is not happy with ESPN.

What's there not to hate? ESPN is now MTV-Sports, so immersed in the sale of social desensitization - commerce rooted in the encouragement and growth of the young, remorseless, wise-guy - that all subtlety and pretense have been removed. How can anyone at ESPN deny or defend the self-evident?

Might I be so bold as to offer a suggestion. Stream the Hockey Night on ESPN segment from ESPNnews online. It would fit perfectly with this ESPN agreement with the NHL.

Booya! Cool as the other side of the pillow. Jumanji! With Authority! Peace, out.


ESPN, NHL reach agreement for highlights

An agreement has been reached by the NHL and ESPN with regards to highlights, interviews, data, archive games on ESPN classic, content for ESPN 360, ESPN mobile, and ESPNdeportes.com.

ESPN, NHL reach agreement for new media and classic games

ESPN will provide National Hockey League fans coverage of the league across a wide-range of its media assets as part of an agreement announced by ESPN and the NHL today. The agreement includes rights for new media platforms, including highlights for Mobile ESPN, data rights, the re-airing of recent and archival games on ESPN Classic and more.

"Hockey fans want to be connected to their favorite teams and players wherever and whenever they want," said John Skipper, executive vice president, content, ESPN. "This deal allows ESPN and the NHL to further extend the game to fans whether they are watching television, logging onto their computer, or flipping open their mobile phone."

"With all the excitement in the game this season, NHL fans are interested in the latest news and information from around the League," said Doug Perlman, NHL senior vice president, television and media ventures. "These ESPN platforms will provide additional outlets for sports fans to see highlights of the incredible action taking place in our arenas every night."

ESPN Classic, in 58.3 million homes nationwide, will re-air one archival NHL game each week, and will be allowed to re-air select games throughout the season as Instant Classics.

The agreement provides extensive video and data rights to ESPN's new media assets, including:

- ESPN.com, the leading sports site;
- Mobile ESPN, the forthcoming mobile phone service;
- ESPN360, the company's customized broadband service;
- Mobile ESPN Publishing, ESPN's wireless content licensing business; and
- ESPNDeportes.com, a leading Spanish-language sports site.

Each of the platforms will now be able to deliver video highlights, interviews and more, and, with the exception of Mobile ESPN Publishing, will have access to the NHL's real-time data feeds for scores, stats and information.

John Buccigross commented on the problem in his October 26th column.

Sadly, the NHL informed ESPN that we can't show in-progress highlights of NHL games. All this does, throughout the course of a long season, is take away hundreds of highlights off the biggest sports network in the world. How does this make ANY sense? TNT and the NBA lets ESPN (SportsCenter/ESPNEWS) show first-half NBA highlights. As the NHL tries to embed itself into the mind of sports fans again, it seems all of its decisions are counterproductive to that. Sports highlights are the best advertising for sports networks because they are repetitive and FREE.

The latest from Buccigross, including comments from Steven Walkom on the new rules, and details of his appearance on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada: New rules ... same ol' 'Hockey Night in Canada'.

Last night, watching the 90 minute Sunday version of ESPN Sports Center, I did not see a single note on the 4 NHL games played that evening; no highlights, no interview, no scores. Maybe I missed it.

[Update] Sharkspage is on Behind the Jersey's behind the blog feature this week. Up next she hosts the 13th Carnival of the NHL, #12 is up here.

[Update2] Fans will be able to watch highlights on cell phones - ESPN.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll Released For Nov. 7-13

A press release from USAhockey.com:

Colorado College Remains No. 1 on USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado College earned a series sweep of St. Cloud State University last weekend to retain the No. 1 spot on this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll.

This Week's Top-15 Match-ups

Friday, November 11
No. 1 Colorado College @ No. 5 Wisconsin
No. 12 New Hampshire @ No. 14 Boston University

Saturday, November 12
No. 1 Colorado College @ No. 5 Wisconsin
No. 4 Maine @ No. 12 New Hampshire

Sunday, November 13
No. 9 Boston College @ No. 8 Vermont

The University of Wisconsin climbed five spots to No. 5 following a pair of victories over then No. 5 University of North Dakota. Miami (Ohio) University also jumped five places with two wins over then No. 14 The Ohio State University. Finally, the University of Alaska Fairbanks cracked the top 15 for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

ABOUT THE POLL: The eleventh annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the American Hockey Coaches Association and USA Hockey Magazine, the official publication of USA Hockey.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll -- #6
(first-place votes in parentheses, Last Week, Record, Weeks In Top 15)

1. Colorado College, 502 (30), 1, 9-1-0, 6
2. University of Michigan, 474(2), 3, 7-1-1, 6
3. Cornell University, 408(2), 4, 3-1-0, 6
4. University of Maine, 392, 2, 8-2-0, 6
5. University of Wisconsin, 369, 10, 6-1-1, 6
6. Michigan State University, 353, 8, 5-1-1, 5
7. University of Denver, 282, 9, 5-3-0, 6
8. University of Vermont, 250, 7, 7-1-0, 4
9. Boston College, 197, 11, 3-2-1, 6
10. Miami (Ohio) University, 186, 15, 5-1-0, 2
11. University of North Dakota, 148, 5, 5-4-1, 6
12. University of New Hampshire, 138, 12, 4-3-1, 6
13. University of Minnesota, 136, 6, 3-3-2, 6
14. Boston University, 59, NR, 3-2-0, 4
15. University of Alaska Fairbanks, 50, NR, 4-2-2, 1

Others receiving votes: St. Lawrence University, 36; Colgate University, 32; Providence College, 22; Bemidji State University, 19; Quinnipiac University, 16; Mercyhurst College, 9; The Ohio State University, 2.

Johnson Named National Rookie of the Month by CSTV - MgoBlue.com.

Inside College Hockey releaseed their latest podcast November 1st. For the latest college news roundup, visit the INCH blog. A monster prospect looms on the horizon for the Manchester Monarchs, and eventually the Los Angeles Kings.

For the first time in San Jose State history, the team was ranked #1 in the West in the ACHA second division. SJSU took apart BYU 11-4, and defeated 10th ranked Utah State in a come from behind 4-3 win over the weekend. ACHA D2 rankings can be found here.


Raising the level of the Goon debate

Fighting in the NHL is down, but it is also taking a beating from the media and those who do not believe it is a part of the game. In one exhibit touring Canada, several artists have dropped the gloves artistically for Hockey Goons everywhere.

Art exhibit reclaims and celebrates much-maligned hockey goon - CJAD 800AM.

A quote from the gallery's website on the purpose behind the Drop the Mitts exhibit.

Drop the Mitts is a vision long overdue. Consider it what you want, but our intended goal is to honor the sport, the culture and a few of the characters that make hockey entertaining. We will keep updating the art and showcasing new characters as we move forward. (For the record, Bertuzzi is blackballed - he screwed us all during his idiotic meltdown and doesn't "represent." Hockey warrants much more than all the stomach-turning publicity he created.)

Drop the Mitts, a collection of art featuring Dave "Cement Head" Semenko, Marty McSorely, Ken Daneyko, Tie Domi, Don Cherry and Ron McLean, toured cities in Calgary, New York, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. The exhibit was featured Oct 28-30th at the Shine nightclub in Vancouver.

A sampling of the works on display:

slapshots drop the mitts gallery

slapshots drop the mitts gallery

slapshots drop the mitts gallery

Thanks to Sportshooligan.com for the link. When is this coming to San Jose?

[Update] An update from the Anaheim-Minnesota game, and details of the bout between Trevor Gilles (ANA) and Derek Boogaard (MIN) from goonblog.com. Thanks for the email.

Trevor Gilles (ANA) and Derek Boogaard (MIN) got into it right in front of the Ducks bench about halfway through the first period. The fight started OK for Trevor, as he handled himself nicely against the bigger Boogaard. The boys traded some hard rights and lefts. Then, Boogaard caught Trevor with a very hard right that bent him over. As he was coming back up, Boogie lowered the boom on Gillies sending him right to the ice. Trevor wound up on his back, and was clearly stunned. They took him right to the dressing room, and he has yet to return. I would say he probably has at the very least, a concussion. Oh, well. I guess you can’t win em all. In the business of enforcing, it is a win some lose some game. Right now, Gillies is 0-1. But he’ll be back for more.

Also from GB, The Instigator cartoon is back on CBC. PuckUpdate and a Save the Instigator site started by The Feeder were two blogs that created a grassroots effort to bring him back. Nice work.

[Update2] A 30-team 2005-06 NHL toughness preview from hockeyfights.com.

San Jose Sharks The Sharks will be relying on "The Sheriff" Scott Parker to provide them with their protection. Parker came into the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche on the back of a huge reputation from the AHL but has yet to really live up to his potential. San Jose fans will be hoping this is the year he finally does. Parker possesses a huge right hand but lacks consistency. Brad Stuart and Rob Davison bring an element of toughness from the blueline while Ryane Clowe has kept his place with the big club and will look to make a name for himself while he has the chance. Should he fail, waiting in the wings in the minors will be Jonathan Tremblay, who will be eager for a chance to impress, though his lack of hockey skills will hold him back. Jim Fahey and Mark Smith will answer the bell if the need arises.

Additions: Ryane Clowe
Subtractions: None

Scott Parker is out indefinitely, placed on the injured reserve Oct 03, 2005 with a facial laceration.

More on the Gillies vs Boogaard fight is available from the hockeyfights.com fight log. Thanks to "blank" for sending that in.

[Update3] The Morning Buzz delivers legal precedent for the Mercury News.

The Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that a former minor league player who injured his shoulder in a fight he claimed his coach told him to start is entitled to workers' compensation. The court upheld a Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission finding that "fighting is an integral part of the game of hockey" and that Ty A. Jones' injury arose in the course of his employment as an "enforcer".

More on Norfolk Admirals enforcer Ty A. Jones from The Virginian-Pilot, Worker's Comp covers hockey fights, court rules.

Jeremy Roenick interviewed by Chris Myers

Chris Meyers interviewed Jeremy Roenick in his home for the latest edition of CMI: The Chris Myers Interview on Fox Sports.

Roenick (on former coach Mike Keenan): "He was nine cents short of a dime when he coached us in Chicago, but I really got along with him. He taught me how to be a gritty player. He taught me how to have heart, how to be a winner and a competitor."

Roenick (an outspoken critic of the NHL Players' Association, on the association): "I have a love for the game, and they do too, but I had a different opinion. I am part of the union and other guys are part of the union that have an opinion. If we can't state our opinion for lack of screwing up what their goal is, then what kind of union, what kind of world do we live in where you can't say, 'Listen, maybe the game is more important than us, guys'? "

Roenick (on fighting in hockey): "Our game definitely caters to a certain breed of people that love the contact, that love the fights, that love to see somebody's blood get splattered on the floor. They seem to come around and when those gloves drop, boy, those people are standing up and they're cheering harder than when the goal goes in."

It is Roenick, so you can expect fireworks and a few well placed barbs, but one exchange about a past controversy was notable.

Speaking at a press conference after a Mario Lemieux charity golf tournament in June, Roenick was quoted making very incendiary remarks towards NHL fans.

We're going to try to make it better for everybody, period, end of subject. And if you don't realize that, then don't come.

We don't want you at the rink, we don't want you in the stadium, we don't want you to watch hockey.

I say personally, to everybody who called us 'spoiled,' you guys are just jealous ... We have tried so, so hard to get this game back on the ice... If people are going to chastise professional athletes who are making a lot of money, they need to look at the deal we are probably going to end up signing in the next three weeks.

This was smack in the middle of bitter negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA conducted through the media instead of face to face. But the negative comments about fans was very out of character for someone who has been involved in promoting the sport for many years. OntheWings posted about a followup interview Roenick gave with Rod Smith of TSN shortly after this erupted into a scandal.

"The fans are the #1 most important entity in professional sports. It would go totally against my nature, totally against my nature, to tell the fans not to come and watch. I love the fans. I'm a hot dog left and right for the fans. I love it. I love throwing pucks and winking and all that stuff. In my answer, when I was very riled, and I'm sorry I get very heated, I get very animated, I'm a passionate person. But I was referring to a very, very very small percentage of people, that I've even encountered that have a gripe against me, against hockey players - not the hockey fan. At all. I'd never do that...and all you fans: come back, cause I love you, we love you. And we need you."

On ESPN, the night after the comments broke, Roenick claimed that he was misquoted, and that his comments were taken out of context.

On the Chris Myers interview, Roenick said that he answered all the questions at length, and gave honest and forthright responses about a number of different issues. At the end of the press conference, one question was asked about those who would consider NHL players spoiled for not coming to an agreement sooner. Roenick gave an emotional response. Then, naturally, only that response was cut and replayed in news highlights and reports.

This paragraph at the end of the CMI Roenick preview was mildly amusing considering the circumstances that lead to this "scandal".

CMI: THE CHRIS MYERS INTERVIEW features Myers sitting down one-on-one with the most compelling, captivating and controversial figures in the sports world. Unlike most interview shows, each of Myers' interviews airs in its raw form, with little editing, allowing viewers to see the interviews in the natural flow in which they happened.

Here is another quote from Roenick, discussing the difference between fans in Chicago, Philadelphia and Phoenix with USA Today in 2002:

Malvern, PA: Jeremy, How do the fans in Philadelphia differ from those in Phoenix or Chicago? Do you prepare differently?

Jeremy Roenick: They're like a zoo here in Philly. They take their sports very, very serious. They demand hard work and they demand a winning team. Arizona is more laid back. They like to just watch the game. They cheer both teams. Chicago is more like Philly, except they don't jump on their players as quick or as hard. Very rabid fans in Philadelphia.

I want to know if Los Angeles Kings fans arrive at the end of the first period and leave at the start of the third.

In Phoenix, Roenick was very involved with the community, volunteering with the Arizona Special Olympics program, serving as Honorary Captain for Arizona State University Sun Devils Ice Hockey Club, held an annual Jeremy Roenick Celebrity Golf Classic to raise money for Goals for Kids, and was the honorary captain for the Street Coyotes hockey program. In Chicago, Roenick started J.R. & Cheli's Children Foundation to raise money for underprivileged children with teammate Chris Chelios, and was named "Humanitarian of the Year" by the Chicago Sports Profiles in 1994.

With the Kings this season, Roenick has alreay been a "boon" for the NHL and the community in Los Angeles. Watch out for Roenick, Hollywood - CP.

"He's been absolutely tremendous for us, what he's done in the community," said Kings GM Dave Taylor. "He's been busy and he never says no as far as making an appearance or going on a radio show or a TV show. He's really helped raise our profile here in Los Angeles, which we obviously need coming off a lockout"...

"And I'll be on it again tonight," Roenick said. "I'll be doing a little skit with them, some surfing thing. I did Carson Daly (a talk show) the other day and that airs Thursday. And next week I'm doing Party at the Palms with Jenny McCarthy (former Playboy Playmate's TV show on E! network). Somebody's got to do it and I volunteered.

"But seriously," Roenick continued, "I love doing all this stuff and I try to do as much for the team as I can. Like tomorrow, we're going on a few lunch dates with some guys to renew their season tickets. Hopefully my being there can help sell a few season tickets. I want to do as much as I can to promote our team."

In addition to the television appearances and print media, Roenick also made time for a small promo for letsgokings.com [wmv file]. He missed a perfect opportunity. If you are going to crack on NHL fans, do it on blogs. You will be quoted fully, and getting them riled up makes for entertaining reading.

Roenick has 3 goals, 2 assists, and 22 PIMs in 14 games for the Los Angeles Kings so far this season.


San Jose Sharks release first ever podcast

Radio announcer Dan Rusanowsky, television announcers Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda, broadcast director Frank Albin, and former NHL player and current developer Dave Maley contribute to the first ever hockey podcast from sjsharks.com. The MP3 file is 18.6mb, with a length of 20:21.

The topics range from the lack of physical play in front of the net under the new rules, whether we are seeing the beginning of the end of fighting in the NHL, are rivalries overrated and overhyped, and does fighting inhibit the growth of the sport in developing and non-traditional markets in the South and the West.

I would be more than interested to hear David Singer and Scott Parker's reaction to a few of the thoughts discussed in this podcast. Bleacherguy Radio and AOL Sports Bloggers Live are two other podcasts I would recommend. Both focus on general sports but often touch on the NHL.

In other Sharks news, goaltender Vesa Toskala was activated and Dmitri Patzold was sent back to the Cleveland Barons of the AHL. A press release from the San Jose Sharks:

Toskala Activated, Patzold Reassigned

SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced late Friday night that the club has activated goaltender Vesa Toskala from the Injured Reserve list and reassigned goaltender Dimitri Patzold to the Cleveland Barons, the Sharks top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.

Toskala suffered an injury on Oct. 26 at Dallas, leaving the game in the second period. On the season, he has a 0-3-0 record with a 5.07 goals against average and an .826 save percentage.

The five-foot-ten, 195-pound goaltender from Tampere, Finland was originally selected in the fourth round (90th overall) in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.

Patzold dressed, but did not appear, in three games for the Sharks. He will return to Cleveland where he posted a 1-2-0 record with a 4.67 goals-against average before his recall on Oct. 27.

The six-foot, 195-pound goaltender from Kamengorsk, Kazakhstan was originally selected by San Jose in the fourth round (107th overall) in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

Jamie Holden, a callup from Fresno with Schaefer and Patzold in San Jose, made 30 saves on 32 shots for a 4-2 Cleveland Barons win against at Rochester on Friday, 35 saves on 37 shots for a 3-2 win against Hershey on Tuesday, and 30 saves on 35 shots for a 5-4 loss at Manitoba last Thursday.


NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at National Press Club

Gary Bettman Speaks gave a speech on "Recapturing the Fans" today at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. According to a press release for the event:

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman will speak about professional hockey's attempt to regain its fan base after labor disputes forced the cancellation of the 2004/2005 season. The National Press Club luncheon will take place on Friday, Nov. 4.

Before the lockout, the league was losing money and did not command the lucrative television deals that are the staple of the NBA, NFL and major league baseball. Since returning to action, the NHL set an all-time attendance record for the month of October, adopted rules changes that have led to more offense in the game, and is working to broaden its fan base. Commissioner Bettman will address these and other issues at the NPC luncheon.

Eric McErlain at Offwing attended the luncheon, and noted that several general business publications were represented in the audience. Eric touched on a few of the highlights from Commissioner Bettman.

*Acknowledged that it was in the plan from the beginning to completely engage the fans over the course of the lockout, which was what led to their work with NHLCBA.com.

*Denied the Buffalo Sabres were going to move, and that the league was committed to keeping all 30 franchises right where they are. Ruled out expansion for the forseeable future (Sorry Winnipeg, Quebec City and Hamilton).

* Said that sudden death OT was an integral part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and that the shootout will never be used in the postseason. Despite this, he said that it was clear that the shootout has been an unqualified success.

* Got a big laugh from the crowd when in answering a question about the drop in fighting. After being asked if goons were being pushed out of the game, Bettman said, "It's a bonus if you can fight," but that the league now puts a premium on skill.

* Said "Congress decides to regulate, we will cooperate," on the question of steroids, but admitted that he doesn't think the league has a problem, and that implementing such a plan would be a unique burden on a league where one-third of players are based in Europe.

NB: The Press Club official moderating the event actually admitted that he liked the combination of Bill Clement and Keith Jones on the OLN studio show. I'm thinking he's the only one.

PS, I like Bill Clement and Keith Jones on the OLN studio show as well. They just need a color analyst who is not Neil Smith or PJ Stock. Drew Remenda, an animated television color analyst and former assistant coach for San Jose, would make a perfect fit. Although it would be a big loss for the Sharks.

[Update] Gary Bettman went to Washington, to speak to Congressional representatives about steriods and the NHL. CBS Sportsline reports on the National Press Club luncheon and the congressional meeting:

"We had a candid dialogue," Bettman told the Associated Press before watching the Washington Capitals host the Atlanta Thrashers. "We made sure the lines of communications were open. ... If Congress, because of what's going on in some other sports, thinks we need to do more, then we'll work with Congress."

NPC luncheon, meeting with Congress, Capitals-Thrashers game, sounds like a busy Friday.

Commissioner meets with Davis, Waxman - ESPN.

After delivering what amounted to a rosy state-of-the-sport speech at the National Press Club -- goals, attendance and TV ratings are up while fighting is down in the NHL's first post-lockout month -- and before catching a game, Bettman went to Capitol Hill. He met with Reps. Tom Davis, R-Va., and Henry Waxman, D-Calif., for a half-hour, Davis spokesman Rob White said.

[Update2] More from NHL.com, Buoyant Bettman says new NHL season "remarkable" given year away. That article is so positive, even for an optimist like myself, that I had to go back to the liveblog I posted here on the day the season was cancelled to get a frame of reference for how troubled the sport was.

The article detailed more quotes from Gary Bettman at the National Press Club appearance:

"Oh, do I love Canada," Bettman told a National Press Club lunch crowd, noting that ratings have risen 50 per cent on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada and a whopping 200 per cent on TSN since the 2003-04 season.

"Who ever believed it could come back this strong? Actually we did," said Bettman, who also credited avid, knowledgeable fans and a total overhaul of the league's economic system which features a salary cap.

"Now the team's ability to compete is based upon its hockey, front office and team-building skills, not on the team's ability to pay," he said. "We have emerged as partners with our players and our fans."

How about a Commonwealth Club appearance in SF for the West Coast? I would also be interested to hear his thoughts on the proposed EAHL European Hockey League headed by Slava Fetisov, what ideas he has to improve television broadcasts of the game and possible online streaming, and if keeping ticket prices affordable will remain a priority for the league.

[Update3] Don Cherry and Ron MacLean return to the Coach's Corner and the Satellite Hotstove on CBC after a long absence.

Sharks recall RW Steve Bernier from Cleveland

A press release from the San Jose Sharks:


Vesa Toskala Placed On Injured Reserve

SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has recalled right wing Steve Bernier from the Cleveland Barons, the Sharks top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.

Appearing in nine games this season, Bernier leads the Barons in goals (4), assists (6), points (6-4-10), game-winning goals (2), and shooting percentage (26.7). His seven-game point streak from Oct. 8 - Oct. 27 is tied for the fourth longest point streak in the AHL this season. In addition, he is tied for fifth among all rookies in points. The six-foot-two, 230-pound right wing from Quebec City, Quebec was originally selected by San Jose in the first round (16th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He will report in Anaheim for tonight's game against the Mighty Ducks at 7:30 p.m.

In related news, the Sharks placed goaltender Vesa Toskala on Injured Reserve retroactive to October 26.

[Update] Cleveland right winger Steve Bernier was also nominated for the AHL rookie of the month honors for October, which were given to Portland Pirates center Ryan Shannon.

Injury and transaction notes from today's SJ Mercury News: Vesa Toskala was placed on injured reserve, Steve Bernier was called up from Cleveland, Scott Thornton and Wayne Primeau did not travel with the team to Anaheim for tonight's game, Scott Parker and Evgeni Nabokov are also out.

Kicksology.net ceases publication


Kicksology.net, the design inspiration, basketball blog, and shoe reviewer, ceased publication on October 23rd. Professor K, the man behind Ko, interviewed Professor K on ending the site after over 150 basketball shoe reviews.

[Imaginary Person] Okay, you talked about shoes that surprised you — was there anything about running the site overall that really surprised you?

[Professor K] I guess the thing that surprised me most overall was how much the people I interacted with at the manufacturers really cared about making great products. As consumers, I think a lot of us tend to see the manufacturers as faceless monoliths bent on screwing us over for a quick buck. But my time testing and reviewing shoes woke me up to the reality that these companies, at least the ones I interacted with — which included adidas, AND 1, Avia, DaDa, Fila, Jordan, k1x, New Balance, Nike, Oakley and Salomon — are all made up of flesh-and-blood human beings who work hard and are driven to deliver products that will perform and make people happy. Sometimes marketing considerations or cost constraints could throw a wrench into the works, but I found that the people on the ground really do care and really do want to do right by the customer.

Ko interviewed shoe designers behind many of the top selling brands:

Jumpman Team FBI, Air Jordan XVII, Air Jordan XVI, Air Much Uptempo, Air More Uptempo, Air Modify Force, Air Flare, Shox VC I, 2 & III, Air Pippen I, II, III, IV & V, Air Signature Player, Air Ultraposite, Air Zoom Ultraflight, Air Payton IV, Air Max Elite, Shox Stunner, Jordan Nu' Retro 2, Air Jordan 18.5, Boxer "Roy Jones Jr. boot", Jordan LX2, Jordan Team Elite 2, Jordan Carmelo 1.5, Air Jordan IV, Air Max 95, Air Flight 89, Zoom E-Cue, Air Force 180 Mid, Holistic Uptempo, Break U Down Uptempo, Air Force Powermatic, Air Effectivity Max, Air Max Chosen, Zoom Flight Turbine, Air Flight Wings, Shox Limitless, Air Max Finisher, Shox Status, Shox Elite, Shox Explosive, Air Zoom Drive, Shox Elevate, and Zoom LeBron II among others.

Sorry to see Ko retire, but it makes you wonder what made his site successful on so many different levels? It has to be the shoes.


Sports Map of NHL fans in California

NHL fan map of California

Commsoncensus.org created a collection of maps detailing the "sphere of influence" for the 4 major sports leagues in the United States. The data from the maps improves in accuracy with the number of fans who contribute information. The number of fans currently contributing to the CC sports data: NFL 12979 fans, MLB 12826 fans, NBA 9588 fans, NHL 8692 fans (SJ-336), NCAA I-A 11979 fans.

Here is the Common Census sports map of the NHL. San Jose has blotches of light blue in the Bay Area, Northern California, Nevada, Northern Oregon, and one small area just south of Seattle. The Dallas Stars look to be leading the NHL sphere of influence, with tan blobs in 7 different states.

Thanks to Boltsmag for the link.

The 2003-04 Sharks vs the 2005-06 Sharks

When the Sharks were struggling earlier in October, comparisons were made to the slow start in 2003-04 and the subsequent turnaround. Now that San Jose has put together a string of last second comebacks and overtime wins, a comparison to find out how the seasons started differently is in order.

2003-04 [first 13 games: 2-5-5-1 (W-L-T-OL)]

1. at Edmonton, L 5-2. Edmonton scores 3 goals in the last 6 minutes of the third period to break a 2-2 tie and win on opening night.

2. at Calgary, L 3-2. Former Shark Shean Donovan scores a power play goal early in the third to break a 2-2 tie and give the Flames the win.

3. at Minnesota, W 3-2. Three goals in the first, including two on the power play, are enough to put the Sharks ahead of the Wild.

4. Philadelphia, T 0-0. No goals on opening night at the Tank. The Flyers took 26 shots on net with Nabokov stopping all of them. Jeff Hackett made 27 saves on 27 shots.

5. Ottawa, L 4-1. Marian Hossa scores two, including one on a penalty shot, to power the Senators past the Sharks.

6. Anaheim, L 2-0. Ozolinsh and Sykora score in the first period, Ducks win.

7. Chicago, T 3-3. Up by two goals, San Jose allows three goals by the Blackhawks in the second period. A late power play conversion in the middle of the third period by Tom Preissing earns the tie.

8. Phoenix, T 4-4. Up 3-2 heading into the third period, San Jose allows goals by Mara and Sillinger in the third. A goal by Scott Thornton with five minutes left earns the tie.

9. at Carolina, L 3-0. A hat trick by Josef Vasicek, including one goal on the power play, sinks the Sharks. Vasicek's nickname is the "Czech Condor" for the curious. Does the Czech Republic have Condors?

10. at Tampa Bay, T 2-2. Dave Andreychuk scores a power play goal 5 minutes into the third period to earn a tie.

11. at Florida, W 6-2. Three first period goals, two second period goals, and a lone third period goal give the Sharks the win. Steve Shields made 14 saves on 20 shots for the Florida Panthers.

12. at Atlanta, T 2-2. Marco Sturm scored with less than 3 minutes left in regulation to give the Sharks a tie.

13. at New Jersey, L (OT) 3-2. Jamie Langenbrunner scores with 42.7 seconds left in overtime to give the New Jersey Devils the win.

Home attendance: 17,167, 14,807, 14,362, 14,441, 14,551. Sharks PP 8-55. Sharks PK 57-68.

Note: The point I was trying to make, that the Sharks gave up late leads and came back enough to earn several ties in 2003-04, played out more in the month of November than in October. Before a 5 game winning streak at the end of November, the Sharks struggled with 1 win, 4 ties, 1 loss, and 2 overtime losses from November 2-18th. San Jose defeated Florida 6-2 on the road November 1st.

2005-06 [first 13 games: 7-5-1 (W-L-OL)]

1. at Nashville, L 3-2. Patrick Marleau [SH] and Nils Ekman score for San Jose, and Scott Walker puts one in for the Predators to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead heading into the third period. Paul Kariya and Scott Hartnell score in the third to give Nashville a come from behind win to open the NHL season.

2. at Chicago, L 6-3. Chicago scored 3 in the first period, 2 in the second, and a goal in the third to earn the home win. Pavel Vorobiev scored twice, and Chicago scored 3 power play goals to San Jose's two. Nikolai Khabibulin made 21 saves on 24 shots for his first Blackhawks win.

3. at St. Louis, W 7-6. This was the poster child game for the new NHL. 5 total goals in the first and third periods, and 3 more in the second. At the 30 minute mark, St Louis was leading 4-2. Both teams traded goals to end the second 5-3, but the third period was all Sharks. Tom Preissing, Niko Dimitrakos, Brad Stuart [PP], and Jonathan Cheechoo [1:54 left] scored to make it 7 for San Jose, and Jamal Mayers added a 6th goal for St Louis.

4. Columbus, W 4-1. Two first period, and two second period goals, put the Sharks in front of Columbus early, and they never looked back.

5. Chicago, W 4-3. Two Patrick Marleau power play goals in the second period, and first period goals by Marco Sturm and Jonathan Cheechoo, give the Sharks the win over the Blackhawks.

6. at Detroit, L (OT) 3-2. Jiri Fischer scored with 50.9 seconds left in overtime to give a hard fought home win to the Detroit Red Wings.

7. at Minnesota, L 6-1. Manny Fernandez was strong in goal for the Wild, making 34 saves on 35 shots, and San Jose gave up 5 third period goals to give Minnesota the win.

8. at Columbus, L 4-1. Evgeni Nabokov was injured in the second period. Vesa Toskala enters and has a rough day at the office, making 12 saves on 15 shots. Adam Foote's insurance goal in the second came with 1 second left in the period.

9. at Nashville, L 2-1. Tomas Vokoun made 37 saves on 38 shots, and Scott Hartnell scored halfway through the third period to give the Predators the win.

10. at Dallas, W (OT) 5-4. Marco Sturm scored a power play goal with 20 seconds left in the third, and Patrick Marleau put in an overtime goal to end the Sharks 4 game road losing streak.

11. at Los Angeles, W 5-4. Jonathan Cheechoo, with assists by Milan Michalek and Patrick Marleau, scored with 4 seconds left in regulation to give San Jose the win.

12. Calgary, W (OT) 3-2. After a long 6 game road trip, Brad Stuart scores with 22,4 seconds left in the third period at home. Nils Ekman scored the deciding goal in the overtime shootout to give the Sharks the win. Nolan Schaefer made 23 saves on 25 shots for his second NHL win. Miikka Kiprusoff made 19 saves on 21 shots for Calgary.

13. Nashville, W (OT) 3-2. Alyn McCauley scored a short handed goal with an assist by Brad Stuart, to give the Sharks another OT win, the third in the last four games.

Home attendance: 3 home sellouts (17,496), 16,651. Sharks PP 13-82. Sharks PK 58-70.

Note: The Sharks struggled on the road in October. San Jose dropped the first two games of a three game road trip, before picking up a win in St Louis. The Sharks also lost the first 4 games of a marathon 6 game roadtrip, before finishing with an OT win in Dallas and a last second win in Los Angeles. With injuries to starting goaltenders Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala, Nolan Schaefer has played well and contributed 4 wins. Patrick Marleau [7G,9A,12PTS] is tied for 12th with 6 others in overall NHL scoring.

Penalty kills have remained relatively constant: 58-70 [05-06] vs 57-68 [03-04], but the power play has seen a noticeable change: 13-82 [05-06] vs 8-55 [03-04].

Stats: ESPN, NHL.


Kyle McLaren named "Sharks Player of the Month"

A press release from the San Jose Sharks named defenseman Kyle McLaren the "Sharks Player of the Month" for October. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a brief transcript of McLaren's 5PM interview on KNBR.

Defenseman Kyle McLaren Earns Honor For October

SAN JOSE - The San Jose Sharks announced today that defenseman Kyle McLaren has been selected as the Seagate Technology "Sharks Player of the Month" for the month of October 2005. The award will be presented prior to the Sharks game against the Nashville Predators tonight.

In 12 games during October, McLaren led all Sharks defensemen with five assists and six points (1-5=6). He also led the Sharks with 30 hits (11th in the NHL) and 22 blocked shots (T-27th in the NHL). His even plus/minus rating is tied for the second best mark among Sharks defensemen in October.

The six-foot-five, 230-pound native of Humboldt, Saskatchewan is entering his tenth NHL season and has become a mainstay on the Sharks blueline, ranking second on the team in average ice time (23:26). One of ten first round draft picks on the roster, McLaren earned an assist in his 100th career game as a Shark on October 8 in a 7-6 victory against St. Louis.

During the off-season, McLaren became the first player in the NHL to sign a contract extension since the inception of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. A first-time Seagate Technology "Sharks Player of the Month" recipient, he is signed through the 2009 season and was named to Team Canada's long list for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

Established in the 1996-97 season, the Seagate Technology "Sharks Player of the Month" program honors the Sharks player(s) who have contributed most to the team's success each month. Seagate Technology will donate $2,500 on behalf of the player(s) to The Sharks Foundation. In addition, one player will be selected as the Seagate Technology "Sharks Player of the Year" at the conclusion of the season, and Seagate Technology will donate $5,000 on his behalf to The Sharks Foundation. Seagate Technology has donated more than $180,000 to The Sharks Foundation since the program's inception.

"Seagate has made social responsibility one of the values that forms the foundation of our business, and we take pride in the thousands of Seagate employees who convert our social responsibility beliefs into action," said Bill Watkins, President and CEO, Seagate Technology. "The more than 2,000 Bay Area employees of Seagate understand and appreciate the commitment of like-minded organizations such as The Sharks Foundation; whose programming platform touches lives throughout Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. As a long time partner of the team we are proud to continue our support as they continue to offer timely and meaningful solutions for those in need."

About Seagate
Seagate is the worldwide leader in the design, manufacturing and marketing of hard disc drives, providing products for a wide-range of Enterprise, Desktop, Mobile Computing, and Consumer Electronics applications. Seagate's business model leverages technology leadership and world-class manufacturing to deliver industry-leading innovation and quality to its global customers, and to be the low cost producer in all markets in which it participates. The company is committed to providing award-winning products, customer support and reliability to meet the world's growing demand for information storage. Seagate can be found around the globe and at www.seagate.com.


October 1997 Bill Houlder
November 1997 Marco Sturm
December 1997 Mike Vernon
January 1998 Mike Rathje
February 1998 None - Olympics
March 1998 Jeff Friesen

October 1998 Marco Sturm
November 1998 Jeff Friesen
December 1998 Mike Ricci
January 1999 Owen Nolan
February 1999 Mike Vernon
March 1999 Steve Shields

October 1999 Owen Nolan, Steve Shields
November 1999 Vincent Damphousse
December 1999 Owen Nolan
January 2000 Mike Ricci
February 2000 Brad Stuart
March 2000 Vincent Damphousse

October 2000 Evgeni Nabokov
November 2000 Vincent Damphousse
December 2000 Evgeni Nabokov
January 2001 Owen Nolan
February 2001 Niklas Sundstrom
March 2001 Mike Ricci

October 2001 Vincent Damphousse
November 2001 Evgeni Nabokov
December 2001 Mike Ricci
January 2002 Brad Stuart
February 2002 Evgeni Nabokov
March 2002 Scott Thornton

October 2002 Vincent Damphousse
November 2002 Patrick Marleau
December 2002 Teemu Selanne
January 2003 Owen Nolan
February 2003 Scott Hannan

October 2003 Scott Hannan
November 2003 Vesa Toskala
December 2003 Patrick Marleau
Evgeni Nabokov
January 2004 Mike Rathje
February 2004 Marco Sturm
March 2004 Jonathan Cheechoo

October 2005 Kyle McLaren

KNBR's Ralph Barbieri and a guest host interviewed Kyle McLaren for a drive-time segment on the Razor and Mr T show. The Sharks face the Nashville Predators tonight.

[What is different about the new rules.] It is harder to play in front of the net now... They call everything.

[Has it been hard with Nabokov injured.] Nolan Schaefer has played outstanding. He gives us a chance to win every night.

[About the number of come from behind wins for San Jose this year.] We have a great group of guys and we don't quit. We have a chance to come back and win each and every night.

[What did you do during the lockout.] I played dad for a year. I took a year off from hockey, worked out, tried to stay in shape, and played with my kids.

[Do bigger guys have an advantage when hitting.] The bigger they are, the harder they fall. A big guy has an advantage a little, but not much.

[About signing a contract extention with San Jose.] I told them to get it done and lock it in so I can spend four more years here. This is where I want to be.

[You are a big hitter, did the year off help you heal.] I stayed in SJ for most of the year. A year off helped heal the little and big injuries.

[What about your segment with television color analyst Drew Remenda, where he suited up and took a few Kyle McLaren hip checks.] That was fun. I asked to do it again every time I see him and he declines every time.

[About the size of players in the NHL now.] There are bigger guys than me. We have big guys nowadays. 5,10 used to be big back in the day. Hall Gill of Boston is 6,7 250.

[About the playoff loss to Calgary] We have some unfinished business... we have a team built to go all the way.

[Does it hurt to hear some people say Calgary outplayed San Jose physically in the playoffs.] Calgary took it to us. We didn't play our best hockey. We learn from our mistakes and hopefully we don't do it again.

[What about tonight.] Nashville is one of the top teams in the league now.

Rough quotes, but it was a pretty interesting interview.

Weekend College Update

Off to a 7-0 record to start the 2005-06 season, San Jose State faced a difficult test over the weekend. Colorado State, the #1 seed in the West, traveled to Logitech Ice for two games.

"Colorado State has been a well-known and respected power in the West for the past couple of years," SJSU junior goalie Ryan Lowe said. "They are a hardnosed, big, and fast team that loves to throw the pressure on down low and really make teams pay with their physical intensity."

SJSU center Adam Dekeyrel lead SJSU with 2 goals in a 10-1 win over Colorado State on Friday night. Jonathan King, Sean Scarbrough, Aaron Scott, Kelly Spain, Ian Fazzi, John Garcia, Andy Whiteside, and Skyler Yu also scored for the Spartans with Mason Nave adding 3 assists. Tim Stiller scored the lone goal for Colorado State. SJSU goaltender Ryan Lowe made 36 saves on 37 shots.

Spartan crush No. 1 Colorado State 10-1 - SJSUspartans.com.

On Saturday, Colorado State and San Jose State battled to a 1-1 tie. CSU goaltender Brian Minor made 26 saves on 27 shots, and a busy SJSU goaltender Ryan Lowe made 38 saves on the 39 shots he faced. Mason Nave scored the lone goal for San Jose. Tommy Owens scored for Colorado State.

Spartan on Top of West after Tie with C.S.U. - SJSUspartans.com.

The first ACHA D2 rankings released will cover games played up until October 30th, 2005.

The California Bears [2-9-0 (ACHA), 2-6 (Pac8)] traveled to southern California for 2 games against UCLA, and a Sunday match at high noon with Long Beach State. Berkeley lost the first two games to UCLA 6-1 and 4-2. Cal fell to Long Beach State 4-3 on Sunday.

Cal's Sean Haq notes that Berkeley is off to a rough start this year. Berkeley faces Stanford for the Big Freeze on Thursday Nov 17th at Berkeley Iceland, and Friday Nov. 19th at Belmont Iceland. Both games should be well attended.

Stanford is winless in 7 games so far this season. Up next are two road games against USC on the 4th and the 5th, and 3 home games against UCLA and USC at Belmont Iceland from the 11th through the 13th. More on Stanford is available from the official site.

AHL auctions jerseys for hurricane relief

A press release from the AHL:


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League has begun a special jersey auction to raise funds in the wake of the recent hurricanes that struck the southern United States.

For the first regular-season home game of each of the AHL’s 27 teams, the home team’s captain wore a jersey featuring a specially created Red Cross patch positioned next to the “C” or “A” on the front of his sweater. These autographed jerseys are now being auctioned off on the official Web site of the American Hockey League, theahl.com, in conjunction with The MeiGray Group. All proceeds from these 27 auctions will go to the American Red Cross in support of their Disaster Relief Fund.

· Alex Brooks, Albany
· Denis Hamel, Binghamton
· Kevin Colley, Bridgeport
· Derek MacKenzie, Chicago
· Matt Carkner, Cleveland
· Matt Ellis, Grand Rapids
· Ron Hainsey, Hamilton
· Chad Wiseman, Hartford
· Boyd Kane, Hershey
· Kirby Law, Houston
· Dan Jancevski, Iowa
· Paul Healey, Lowell
· Jeff Giuliano, Manchester
· Josh Green, Manitoba
· Darren Haydar, Milwaukee
· Ajay Baines, Norfolk
· Craig MacDonald, Omaha
· Brendan Buckley, Peoria
· John Slaney, Philadelphia
· Aaron Gavey, Portland
· Jay Leach, Providence
· Chris Taylor, Rochester
· Martin Sonnenberg, San Antonio
· Ryan Craig, Springfield
· Jamie Pushor, Syracuse
· Marc Moro, Toronto
· Alain Nasreddine, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

You can help the victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, as well as other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. For more information, please call 1-800-HELP-NOW or visit www.redcross.org. In Canada, the Canadian Red Cross can be reached at 1-800-418-1111, or on-line at www.redcross.ca.

In operation since 1936, the AHL is celebrating its historic 70th anniversary this season, and continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 80 percent of NHL players in 2003-04 were AHL graduates, and in 2004-05, more than 7.1 million fans – an all-time league record – attended AHL games across North America.