Reviewing the NHL Media Guide Covers

Below is a small gallery of the best NHL media guide covers released this week, and one comment from inside each.

Vancouver Canucks media guide

Putting together a montage that looks professional is difficult. Creating one that includes a goal celebration, fans cheering, your building and two logos puts the best foot forward to start the season.

From the Vancouver Canucks media guide:

Ryan Kesler, C, 6'2", 205lbs

Personal: Oldest piece of hockey equipment is his shoulder pads, which he has had for eight years. Lists his dad and Mike Modano as his mentors.

Washington Capitals media guide

You can not go wrong with "the franchise" and Godzilla. Using this photo of Ovechkin would have obscured his face, and the Caps logo, but it would have raised the intimidation factor to another level. Using this photo of Kolzig would have done the same.

From the Washington Capitals media guide:

Alex Ovechkin, LW, 6'2", 220lbs

Personal: Purchases eight season tickets to the Capitals home games and donates them to soldiers and needy children as part of Alex Ovechkin's Crazy 8s program. Cover athlete on EA Sports NHL 07 video game. Idolized former Soviet great Alexander Maltsev while growing up

Los Angeles Kings media guide

This media guide cover was created with a sense of humor. Rob Blake and captain Mattias Norstrom would form the most underrated defensive pairing in the league if they play together. Lombardi's trade for Michigan defenseman Jack Johnson was a shot across the bow for the Pacific Division.

From the Los Angeles Kings media guide:

Dan Cloutier, G, 6'1", 195lbs

Career: 2003-04: Matched his career high with 33 wins giving him three consecutive 30-plus win seasons. Personal: favorite TV shows are Ultimate Fighter and The Sopranos. Childhood hockey idol was Patrick Roy.

Calgary Flames media guide

Flanking Kiprusoff on the cover with his NHL hardware was a nice touch. This cover was reminiscent of Detroit owner Mike Ilitch framing his post-lockout letter with 10 Stanley Cups.

From the Calgary Flames media guide:

Miika Kiprusoff, G, 6'1", 185lbs

2005-06 Highlights: Played in his second season with the Flames capturing the William Jennings Trophy for the team allowing the fewest goals against. Won the Vezina trophy as the NHL's top goaltender. Was a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s regular season MVP.

[Update] Flyers GM a Shark Feeder? With Nittymaki out of action, Clarke may go get help for No. 1 Esche - Ottawa Sun.

Last day to sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey


There are still spots open for the Blogger Challenge 20-person Yahoo fantasy league. The winner will get a Yahoo tshirt, a link on this webpage, and a stat-tracker subscription for next year.

The draft for the league is on Saturday, September 30th at 2:00pm [PDT].

[Update] Yahoo! Developer Network sponsors Hack Day. More here.

[Update2] An email from CCM Sports points to the 2006-07 CCM Hockey Pool. Free to play, the prizes will include an XBOX360 and 8 EA games for the winner, head-to-toe equipment for the playoff winner, and monthly prizes of EA NHL 07 and a replica NHL team jersey. The game is available in 4 languages: English, French (Francais), Swedish (Svenska), and Finnish (Suomi).


Hockey Notes - September 27th

OLN changes to Versus NHL

On Monday, the OLN television network officially re-named itself Versus. The sports network added the NHL and Stanley Cup Playoffs to a roster that includes cycling (Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a Espana, Tour de Georgia), the America's Cup, Professional Boxing by Top Rank, NLL, the Dakar Rally, the Davis Cup, the Boston Marathon, and AMA Motocross among others.

Larry Stewart reported in the Los Angeles Times that the 2-year, $135 million television deal the network signed with the NHL last year includes options which could lead to 6 years. According to a press release on the name change, Versus is now available to over 70 million homes.

OLN Switches to 'Versus', The sports network, which picked up the NHL last year, changes to its new name today to convey that its reach goes beyond outdoors - Los Angeles Times.

"It has a range that can suit everything from stick and ball sports to bull riding to field sports," said network president Gavin Harvey... "Versus captures the essence of our brand," Harvey said. "We felt it was a slam dunk, and sports fans we talked to all agreed.

Name change at OLN was inside job - Boston Globe.

One problem the network encountered is covered by this article in the Media Post:

Versus has done research on 21 million TV viewers who are competitive, but don't watch OLN. "For some reason, they aren't watching us. They may watch reality shows, ESPN or local TV hockey games. But not national TV hockey games on OLN," he says. To get the word out, Versus will purchase spots in print, radio, local and national cable networks, as well as late-night broadcast programs that target young men. For print, Versus will be buying FHM, Sports Illustrated, Maxim, Men's Health, USA Today, and local newspapers, especially in NHL markets.

Guerilla Marketing is good, some of it can be inspired. More exposure on the air, in print, and in bars will help. Another option is to simply air the best content. The inaugural Tour of California cycling race had to pay ESPN for abbreviated coverage.

The Mavericks Big Wave Surfing Competition had a national telecast, but it was brief and tape delayed several months. There is an annual contest by Billabong XXL with dual awards for the surfer who rides the largest wave, and the photographer who captures it. Watch this youtube video of Mike Parsons at the 2005 Tow In World Cup from Peahi, Maui (aka Jaws). Man vs 70 foot wall of water. Sells itself, doesn't it?

Mixed martial arts has taken off with a UFC reality show, and a UFC highlight show on SpikeTv. Fox Sports is in the second year of broadcasting a Pride FC highlight show, which strips out a lot of the drama and entertainment from the main PPV events. ESPN airs kickboxing.

There are literally a dozen non-televised MMA events Versus could chose from and draw a respectable younger audience (Abu Dhabi, Sambo, Pancrase, Judo, Sumo). Or they could put together a regular highlight show once a week and cover all of them. Look at the events currently selling out arenas.

Versus was the first network I have seen stream an entire boxing event online. With the addition of Legends of the Ring, and Soul of a Champion features on past boxing champions, Versus is delivering compelling boxing content. They just need to get the word out.

Stream hockey online, you can measure the audience with a much higher precision, reach a larger audience, and it will draw more eyeballs to the television broadcasts. Take a chance on more non-tradional sports, jump on the bandwagon with Versus Poker, and publish a blog that can tie together all of the disparate sporting threads with links, photos, and videos.

- Preview of the new NHL.com website, from Vancouver Canucks Op-Ed.

- Compare this article on NHL coverage in the Toronto Star with this blog post.

Here is a 6-month trend graph I posted that details sports coverage on blogs. It would be nice to have a 6-month or 5-year graph for newspaper coverage. I submitted NHL Blogs to Technorati. This page now details the frequency of their posts, who they link out to, and who links back to them.

Nils Ekman

- Left wing Nils Ekman was traded from a line with two scoring champions, to a line in Pittsburgh with a possible future scoring champion?

Just for kicks, preseason stats for all 4 from CBS Sportsline:

Crosby (3GP,2G,5A,7PTS)
Ekman (3GP,1G,1A,2PTS)
Thornton (3GP,1G,0A,1PTS)
Cheechoo (2GP,1G,1A,2PTS).

- Crosby, Ovechkin have hard act to follow — their own - Globe and Mail.

- In a post today from Dan Steinberg's excellent DC Sports blog, he covers the Washington Capitals, Washington Nationals, and D.C. United's convergance on RFK stadium for batting practice.

- Pittsburgh rookie phenom Evgeni Malkin was diagnosed with a dislocated left shoulder, but he will not need surgery after being re-evaluated Monday. Are there any owners who can take his place in the lineup until he returns?

- The NHL exhibition game between the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers in Puerto Rico featured Al Montoya, the NHL's first Cuban-American player according to Vanessa Bauza of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The game also featured Jamaican-Canadian Anthony Stewart.

- Rangers icing in the tropics - NY Newsday.

- NHL crashes in as Sharks clip Ducks, Fans and Falcons officials ring in the hockey season at Save Mart exhibition - Fresno Bee.

For Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, it was a chance to connect with fans of his team's ECHL affiliate, the Fresno Falcons.

But truly, an NHL game in Fresno is made for the fans -- guys like Mark Haywood and Heath Baylis. Haywood, an ardent backer of both the Sharks and the Falcons, sat in the upper deck Saturday with group of family members -- all wearing Sharks jerseys.

"My team came to see me," Haywood said.

The Fresno Falcons, backstopped by former Sharks goaltending prospect Jamie Holden, came one overtime goal away from making the ECHL finals last season. Here is a photo of the ECHL Kelly Cup alongside its older brother Stanley and a post from the ECHL Allstar Game hosted by Fresno in January.

From my experience last season, the Sharks actually have a big fan base in Fresno, Stockton and Bakersfield. The Kings were the most popular NHL jersey at the Long Beach Arena. Maybe the now defunct San Diego Gulls favored Anaheim.

- Nice blogroll from AOL:

Offwing, Hockeybird, Hockey Rodent, Canucks Corner.

The Washington Capitals also have a nice list of local blogs on the front page, but you have to give credit where credit is due. The St Louis Blues have been supporting "fan" websites for some time. If anyone links to or references Sharkspage in the future, please use the term "blog" or "website", not "fan site", "fan blog", or "blog site". Thank you.

- Blogs that should be added to this blogroll shortly: Predspage (nice name), The Pens Blog, Phead, and Hello Hockey Fans. Submit your blog here, if there is no room on the front page you will be added on the links section. Individual posts can be forwarded at any time, but not all can be discussed or linked to.

- From Bruins Legends: Adam Oates.

"As far as I'm concerned, he's the second best playmaking center behind Wayne Gretzky in hockey," said Brett Hull. Hull should know. Considered to be one of the greatest goal scorers in the history of the game, Hull enjoyed his finest years in the three seasons Hull and Oates made fine music in St. Louis. Hull scored 72, 86 and 70 goals in those three seasons, an unthinkable total of 228 goals in 231 games.

Hull may be Oates' most famous recipient, but not his only. Oates is the only player to center three 50-goal scorers - Peter Bondra, Cam Neely and Hull. He is also the only one to center two players , Neely and Hull, who scored 50 goals in 50 games.

He ranks 6th all time in career assists, with 1079 in 1337 games, trailing Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque, Mark Messier Ron Francis, and Wayne Gretzky, all of who played more games. His career assists per game ratio of 0.85 is only outdone by Bobby Orr (0.98), Mario Lemieux (1.13) and Gretzky (1.32).

- From TheAHL.com and Kuklas Korner:

The American Hockey League and B2 Networks announced today the introduction of B2 Power Play, a new service that will provide complete coverage of AHL action to fans on a worldwide basis.

Included in the B2 Power Play package are access to watch every regular-season game of your favorite AHL team, free access to the AHL Game of the Week and exclusive weekly highlights. And in addition to broadband viewing on personal computers, B2 Power Play will also be available on the new B2toGO network, allowing fans to watch American Hockey League games on cell phones and other wireless devices.

More from b2Networks and the AHL can be found here.

- Still mighty: Brian Burke now a small fish in a big pond - Vancouver Sun.

"Anonymity is nice". Unless you are selling a non-tradional sport in a saturated market to a youth segment of the public that is for the most part unmotivated.

With Pronger-Niedermayer being one of the top defensive pairings in NHL history (at least on the power play), a colorful quote machine in GM Brian Burke (I didn't know Sedin was Swedish for punch me), and an offensive-laden crop of forwards lead by a veteran who likes to score goals as well as do donuts in the parking lot, the Ducks should do fine at the box office. Whether they can draw a significant percentage of television eyeballs will be something to keep an eye on.

Iain MacIntyre finishes his column in the Vancouver Sun with a top 5 list of Burke moves that turned the franchise around: 1. Niedermayer, 2. Selanne, 3. Moving Fedorov for Francois Beauchemin, 4. Trading Sykora, Ozolinsh and Carney, 5. Chris Pronger. Nice list, but after this season Pronger will move up 4 slots to #1.

- For some reason the Chris Pronger image search on Google Images has been driving a lot of traffic to this blog. Not sure why [#9].

- New video news search feature from TVeyes.com: National Hockey League.

- Sharkspage was user #1000 on ArmchairGM.com. Unfortunately the email I received telling me this also told me I did not win anything. Armchair GM looks to be a directory of blogs, with a news archive, and the ability to submit your own articles and opinions as well.

A review of ArmchairGM was sent in by co-founder Dan Lewis:

ArmchairGM is where sports fans go to write and read about sports. You can read and write a news article about anything sport related, add an opinion to any news article already written, vote and comment on any story. Readers determine which stories are placed on the front page by votes casted on the story. The site is also a wiki, like Wikipedia, and allows fans to fact check and add facts to the website's directory thereby giving the site a validation system for sport readers and writers to verify information against.

- ESPN2 author, Kansas City Star columnist, and frequent ESPN television commentator Jason Whitlock gave a jaw droppingly honest interview with the blog at Thebiglead.com. After several frank comments on race and sports journalism, Whitlock's critique of Mike Lupica raised concerns with ESPN.

Jason Whitlock later wrote in The Star that he was fired for the interview. Whitlock neither retracted his comments nor did he back away or clarify them as others have done in similar situations. He stood by his opinions, and accepted the consequences.

- An email from the Oakland Athletics:

A's Win the West ======
The A's jumped out to an early lead with Frank Thomas' RBI single and homers from Nick Swisher and Milton Bradley. Oakland never let up, and defeated Seattle, 12-3. The victory, combined with the Angels' loss, clinched the AL West title for the A's on Tuesday night. Full Story.

- Note from Chelsea's game today against Levski Sofia in the UEFA Championships League: Didier Drogba's 2006 salary = $37 million euros, Andrei Shevchenko's 2006 salary = $45 million euros. The NHL salary cap this season? $44 million U.S. dollars. Chelsea won 3-0 with a hat trick scored by Drogba.

- I want to take photos like these. Gallery from the 2005 MotoGP race at Laguna Seca by Jules Cisek. Next year with my new 400mm lens, I will give it a shot.

- Blog Note: Most of the non-hockey related content on this blog will move shortly to another general sports blog I am shopping around. Details will be posted in the next week or two.

- Welcome to two new Sharkspage European advertisers: soldouteventtickets.com and 1st4footballtickets.com. Hopefully I can take advantage of your Premiership Soccer and F1 Monaco ticket services next year.

[Update] 'They want a Cup': Falling short last year has only made the Sharks hungrier. This time around, very little will stand in their way - National Post.

The San Jose Sharks are that other good team from California. Not the one with Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer on its blue line. The Sharks are the ones in teal. The team that is ready -- finally -- to win the Stanley Cup this season.

In the last two playoffs, the end has come to San Jose, not the other way around. The Sharks have been that team that pushed Alberta's Cinderella teams to their limit, but in the end a Joe Thornton goal post, a Martin Gelinas winner or a Dwayne Roloson overtime robbery stood between the Sharks and their chum.


Wisconsin born product Joe Pavelski impresses with the Sharks

Joe Pavelski

Joe Pavelski's stint in a Sharks jersey may happen sooner than most people think. Earning an assist and scoring a goal with a nice individual effort in his first pre-season game, Pavelski continues to prove the critics wrong as he embarks on playing hockey at a professional level. The Sharks reassigned 2004 first round draft pick Lukas Kaspar before Pavelski, showing that a difficult decision remains for San Jose.

"He has been very strong on faceoffs all week long. That gets him out on the ice in key situations and getting that experience will help him grow. His game in all areas of the ice is very well-rounded." - Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson said of Pavelski after the NHL Rookie Tournament

In Wisconsin, there has been a buzz about Pavelski ever since he scored the game winning goal at the state high school tournament. With an end-to-end rush, Joe displayed some sick dangle. Joe Pavelski also was a star for Team Wisconsin, and was viewed as the most talented player in the state. The name Pavelski became even more widely known when he was drafted by the Waterloo Blackhawks of the United States Hockey League, where he was slated to play his senior year. Along with buzz, many said he could not handle the USHL, and that he should not have left to go play for Waterloo.

Joe has always battled a bad rap of being a poor skater and being too small. Those two negatives didn't stop Pavelski from working hard to prove everyone wrong. He made the critics eat crow by scoring 36 goals and leading the Blackhawks with 69 points, and was named the USHL's rookie of the year. The San Jose Sharks then called his name on draft day in 2003 during the seventh round. At that time not much was known of Pavelski outside of the state of Wisconsin. Many NHL teams looked at it as a wasted draft choice because of his lack of skating ability.

In his second year with the USHL, Pavelski captained the Blackhawks as they won the Clarkson Cup. His play matured nicely, and he learned to become more of a leader on the ice. After two years of the USHL, it was time for Joe to play college hockey for the Wisconsin Badgers, and he had to prove himself yet again. Some scouts felt that Joe couldn't handle the NCAA game because of his skating issues, a repeat of the comments made when he entered the USHL.

Pavelski again silenced the critics by leading the Badgers in scoring during his freshman and sophomore seasons. He also proved to be a winner again by leading the Badgers to the National Championship. Not just noticeable on the statsheet, Pavelski impressed with his leadership, his hockey sense, and two-way game which included leading the Badgers forwards in blocked shots. Joe Pavelski has always met critics head-on when advancing in his hockey career, but he seems to thrive in situations where the odds are stacked against him.

Joe Pavelski

Now as Pavelski moves on to the pro game, he starts out with a very lucrative deal the Sharks offered for a seventh round draft choice. Pavelski once again is met with those who criticize his skating and his small size for the NHL. After scoring three goals at the Pacific Division Rookie tournament, Pavelski is already making a name for himself in the pre-season with a strong offensive game and his skill in the face-off circle. Some even described Pavelski as a fine skater (Jon called him dynamic, with bursts of speed), which demonstrate that he has improved that aspect of his game over the summer.

Unfortunately for Joe, the Sharks are stocked at the center position. With Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau forming the most dominant 1-2 punch up the middle in the NHL, and Marcel Goc being solid on the third line, there isn't much room for Pavelski at the moment. I expect him to start the season in the AHL, but he will force the issue and be a Shark by years end. In fact, if Marcel Goc does not regain his offensive touch within the next two years, he will be on the trade block in favor of Pavelski on the third line.

I know better than to doubt Joe Pavelski. After watching him play for Stevens Point High School, or better known around here as SPASH, I have seen what a skilled player he is. I have seen how intuitive on the ice Pavelski can be, how well he plays at both ends of the ice, and have found that he is simply a winner wherever he plays. It is no mistake that at every level, his teams have won a championships. With a guy like Joe Pavelski, a natural winner on the roster, the Sharks might take home that elusive first Stanley Cup.

[Note] This article was written on Friday, September 25th. Monday, the Sharks announced that Joe Pavelski was assigned to the Worcester Sharks of the AHL along with 6 others (Mathieu Darche, Scott Ferguson, Michal Macho, Dan Spang, Garrett Stafford, Brad Staubitz). 34 players remain on the Sharks training camp roster.

[Update] A long shot to stick, Pavelski opening eyes - San Jose Mercury News.


Wave Magazine declares 2006 "The Year of the Shark"

The Wave Magazine San Jose Sharks preview

The Wave Magazine declared 2006-07 to be "The Year of the Shark" in their NHL season preview. The Wave broke down the upcoming season highlights, five reasons the Sharks will win the Stanley Cup, and previews the new faces in San Jose.

The Wave Magazine's Editor-in-Chief John Newlin interviewed Hart memorial trophy (MVP) and Art Ross trophy (most points) winner Joe Thornton:

[Q] Let's cut to the chase: You're familiar with the Chris Combo Sandwich. [EDITORS NOTE: From La Villa's in Willow Glen. The Sharks reportedly order 50 of them when they go on the road.]
[JT] Oh, I am.

[Q] How much has its introduction to your diet contributed to your MVP status?
[JT] Oh, I couldn't say. It just tweaks the game perfectly.

[Q] One of our editors plays hockey with the sandwich's creator, Chris himself.
[JT] Really? He must have a pretty good game, too.

Also covered are how Thornton adjusted to the color Teal, whether he "foils up" before the game, and what he would do if a soda machine stole his quarter. Hands down the most entertaining interview of the season so far.

The Wave also noted a few places you can find out more about the Sharks online:

If you require constant updates about the Sharks, set this site as your browser homepage. Every game, every trade, and every news story is analyzed by the site's two authors, who also hunt down and link to other Sharks blogs. If it happens, and it's Sharks-related, this website will find it.

Sharks coverage actually wasn't the best on this blog last season, but there were a number of other local sports, ECHL and college hockey, and the occasional sumo update as well. The full Wave magazine is available in PDF form at thewavemag.com.

[Update] Wanted: Solid Third Line, Nieminen. Goc and Grier could form important shutdown line - SF Chronicle.

[Update2] Nabokov sets sights on his buddy, Business is business when you're out to get your goaltending job back - Vancouver Province.

Nabokov desperately wants his job back. It's the same job he fumbled last season thanks to a series of injuries which accompanied a whole lot of lacklustre play. He has an uphill climb.

To get it, he's going to have to swipe it this preseason from one of his best friends in hockey -- Vesa Toskala -- who was one of the NHL's best goalies by the end of last year.

How To Solve The Sharks Shoot-Out Woes

I love the shoot-out. In my opinion, nothing is more exciting than watching the most skilled shooters get a chance to go one-on-one against the worlds best goaltenders. Some feel it takes away from the team aspect of the game, but they don't realize how exciting the showdown is. Whether you like it or dislike it, the shoot-out is here to stay. This means that NHL teams will have to be ready for it as a lot of crucial points will on the line. It could ultimately mean making or not making the playoffs.

2005-06 NHL Shoot-out Statistics

Top 3 teams, SV%
1. Los Angeles Kings, 86% (3GA, 21SA)
2. Columbus Blue Jackets, 80% (9GA, 44SA)
3. Dallas Stars, 78% (9GA, 41SA)

Bottom 3 teams, SV%
28. Pittsburgh Penguins, 52% (13GA, 27SA)
29. Chicago Blackhawks, 52% (14GA, 29SA)
30. San Jose Sharks, 52% (14GA, 29SA)

Top 3 teams, Scoring%
1. Dallas Stars, 57% (24G, 42S)
2. Carolina Hurricanes, 50% (17G, 34S)
3. Los Angeles Kings, 50% (10G, 20S)

Bottom 3 teams, Scoring%
28. Ottawa Senators, 17% (4G, 23S)
29. Boston Bruins, 17% (6G, 36S)
30. Toronto Maple Leafs, 17% (4G, 24S)

[San Jose Sharks 24th, 24% (7G, 29S)]

Last year the Sharks were absolutely dreadful in the shoot-out. San Jose only struck victory once, and that was with third string goaltender Nolan Schaefer. If the Sharks plan on winning the Pacific Division, or the Western Conference, they will have to do better.

Improving the Sharks shoot-out record isn't a difficult proposition. While some believe the Sharks should go out and acquire a player specifically for that purpose, the Sharks have plenty of options internally that were under-utilized last year. Overall, it was the coaching staff's decision to put the Sharks best overall players (Marleau, Thornton, Cheechoo) out every time, instead of the players who excel at the shoot-out itself. It might seem like Rocket Richard award winner Jonathan Cheechoo could score more in the shoot-out, but it didn't work out that way.

Here are players who should get a shot at being the go to guy for the shoot-out this year.

Steve Bernier: This one is easy, anyone who has seen Bernier on a breakaway will agree. Bernier's release on his wrist shot is deadly, especially in close. He can pick corners in tight, and he loves to fool a goaltender with a quick wrist shot five-hole. Bernier doesn't have any great dekes, but his shooting arsenal in close is as good as anyone's in San Jose.

Milan Michalek: Remember the fake shot then toe drag to the other side of the net for the goal on Marty Turco in the shootout last year? Michalek rarely misses in tight, and is a very creative one-on-one player. He does have a nice wrist shot that keeps goaltenders honest, but it's his sick hand skill and moves that make him deadly.

Christian Ehrhoff: Christian has been successful in Europe on the shoot-out, and one only has to look at his moves during regulation play to realize how skilled he is. Packing a heavy shot, a long reach, and jaw dropping bursts of speed, Ehrhoff should be quite deadly when alone with the goaltender.

Marcel Goc: Savvy & methodical, Goc was a smart shooter when he participated in the shoot-out at the AHL level with Cleveland. Goc likes to approach slowly, then make one move before picking his spot. Goc should get a chance this year even if he isn't one of San Jose's top five goal scorers.

The shoot-out isn't won exclusively as a result of shooters the team deploys, it also requires solid goaltending. Although Vesa Toskala turned in an average shoot-out performance in 2006 (0-3, 7SV, 12SA, .583SV%), Evgeni Nabokov had one of the worst records in the league (0-4, 5SV, 13SA, .385SV%). His style is awful for the one-on-one showdown. Nabby's stance is awkward looking on a breakaway. He keeps his leg pads to close together while standing, giving the shooter all the room down low to look at. It makes it more difficult to perform a kick save as quickly as the classic butterfly goaltenders. Much like last year, if Nabby can't utilize a different stance for the shoot-out situation, he will continue to get eaten alive low stick side.

While in a game situation, I like his stance just fine. He keeps his chest up which allows him to appear bigger than he really is. However, goalies who are successful in the shoot-out have been athletic butterfly goalies who can cover the lower portion of the net in an instant. It will be telling to see if Nabokov can adapt his game just for the shoot-out.

Vesa Toskala should be able to turn in a better performance this season on the shoot-out. Last year Toskala was fairly impressive, although he did not get much offensive help from his teammates. Toskala's wide and low to the ground stance allows him to swallow up the bottom portion of the net. Vesa is also a very aggressive goaltender who likes to challenge the shooter. When Toskala is on his game, he gives the shooter little to look at. This can also be his downfall as if Toskala bites on a deke, he will be sent far out of position.

The shoot-out will take practice for all, and hearing direct quotes from Ron Wilson that the team will not be practicing the shoot-out isn't something I enjoy hearing. Nabokov's holes are fixable. Toskala possesses the tools to be a shut down shoot-out netminder. Third string goaltender Nolan Schaefer was in net for the Sharks lone shoot out victory against the Calgary Flames. Being tall, lanky, and athletic helps, but he was able to master his craft in the AHL for a year and a half before facing the Flames, which undoubtedly helped.

I hope Ron Wilson changes his tune by practicing the shoot-out more. I have been a goaltender for 14 years, and was only beaten in a shoot-out once. Part of my success was practicing the shoot-out after every practice with a handful of players. The shoot-out is a great way to breed competitive nature in your players, and is also a fine way to build team chemistry. Let the boys have some fun.

[Update] A full 2005-06 shootout report is available in a PDF document from the NHL here.


Anaheim lowers the boom on San Jose 6-3

Sharks vs Ducks preseason photos
Sharks vs Ducks preseason photos
Sharks vs Ducks preseason photos

Dustin Penner scored the first two goals in a second period offensive explosion Wednesday in Anaheim. Cory Perry, Teemu Selanne and Todd Marchant also registered goals to give the Ducks a 5-0 lead with under 4 minutes to play in the middle period. Milan Michalek scored an unassited power play goal with 1:59 left to put the Sharks on the board.

Marleau and Stafford scored in the third for San Jose, and Stanislav Chistov scored for Anaheim to give the Ducks a 6-3 preseason win. J.S. Giguere made 10 saves on 10 shots over 2 periods, Wall came off the bench to make 11 saves on 14 shots. Vesa Toskala made 33 saves on 38 shots in a losing effort. Thomas Greiss came on in relief to make 8 saves on 9 shots in the third period.

Earl from the Battle of California blog was in Anaheim for the game last night. In addition to the photos above, he also sent a note about Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer's defensive pairings and special teams units.

Even strength, Niedermayer was with Beauchemin, and Pronger was with St. Jacques. I think St. Jacques will be demoted, but Pronger I believe will "adopt a kid" kind of like Scott Niedermayer did with [Beauchemin] last year.

On the power play though, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger were both out there, along with Selanne/McDonald/Chistov. I believe that is when we will see the Norris boys united. I'm going to post about the PP formation, because it was somewhat weird at times. Pronger was the only one back at the middle of the blue line, while Scott Niedermayer got between the circles for sort of a 'high screen'. It was really effective, I think because both high defenders were drawn to Niedermayer and away from Pronger.

Rough night for Toskala, Nabokov will get first turn in goal tonight in San Jose - San Jose Mercury News.

A new look Anaheim Ducks update from the San Jose Sharks:

If you did not pay much attention to the NHL news ticker this summer, you might have been in for a surprise Wednesday night as the Anaheim Ducks have made major changes to several aspects of their organization. Aside from the name change (no longer the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, just the Anaheim Ducks), the Ducks have also redesigned their uniforms and logo, gone through the renaming of their home arena from the Arrowhead Pond to the Honda Center and made a blockbuster trade that sent Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid and three draft picks to Edmonton in exchange for former League MVP Chris Pronger. Pronger made his debut official debut for the Ducks on Wednesday night against the Sharks, logging over 21 minutes of ice time and adding an assist.

[Update] Take a look at two new Anaheim Ducks blogs, one by Dan Wood from the OC Register imaginatively titled The Anaheim Ducks Blog, and another aptly named Ducks Blog. Allducks.com is the former Ducks website turned into a message board, and the defunct Fowl Play was one of the first web magazines to cover hockey in Southern California.


Hockey Fashion Week, Pret-a-Porter sur glace

NHL white jersey home ice

Already this year several people have brought up the NHL policy of teams wearing white on the road, instead of at home. White jerseys at home are easier to see live, easier to see through protective netting, and also easier to see on television. Allowing visitors to wear color/third jerseys adds variety, instead of having the same color combinations every game night.

Have NHL teams ever used white jerseys at home? Paul Lukas answers the question on his Uni Watch FAQ. Posted with permission.

In the NHL's early years, teams had only one uniform, which was almost always colored. The concept of road whites was introduced by the Red Wings in 1934, and other teams soon followed, but colors were still worn at home (that's why the Rangers are known as "the Broadway Blues," for example; in fact, the Rangers didn't add a white uni until 1951, becoming the final team to do so). The league experimented with wearing white at home for a few seasons in the 1950s but then went back to wearing colors at home. But teams on the road were having the same sorts of laundry problems that baseball teams had experienced decades earlier, so the NHL switched to white at home in 1970 and stayed that way for the next 33 years — this is the period of hockey most of us are familiar with, so we tend to think of white as the natural home color, even though it wasn’t always that way.

The NHL switched back to wearing colors at home in 2003. Why? The official reason was that the league wanted home fans to be able to see the colored uniforms; the unofficial and more accurate reason is that sales of colored jerseys were lagging, so they wanted to give them a higher profile. (A contributing reason: Most NHL teams alternate third jerseys are colored, and teams want to wear those at home, which would force their opponents to bring a set of whites with them on the road, so why not just make all home games colored?) Some hockey minor leagues actually have it both ways, wearing white at home for the first half of the season and then switching to white on the road for the second half.

On his blog, Lukas deconstructs the latest Buffalo jersey and logo here and here, and reaches a mildly positive conclusion. Paul Lukas's Uni Watch articles for ESPN Page2 are available here.

James Mirtle takes a look at the worst hockey logos of all-time. Three California teams are "lucky" enough to make the list, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks [2], Anaheim Bullfrogs [11], and California Golden Seals [14]. The WHA Denver Spurs took top logo honors.

Los Angeles Sharks jersey

The Los Angeles Aces of the World Hockey Association were founded on November 1st, 1971. After the WHA San Francisco Sharks franchise moved to Quebec, the Los Angeles team adopted the Sharks moniker, and the above jersey. The LA Sharks attendance record was 12,804 for a game with the Ottawa Nationals. After one first round playoff exit, and a second year with no postseason, the Sharks moved to Detroit.

NHL white jersey home ice

This snow camoflauge jersey was sent in by Bakersfield Condors Director of Communications and Community Development Jeremy Zager. From the newsletter:

Condorstown here's your first look at the 2006- 07 pre-game warm up jerseys courtesy of US Army. The team will be sporting a snow-camoflague style at every home game prior to the start of the game. The 2006-07 warm up jerseys will be also be available for purchase at the Condors Team Store.

A tan and white Bakersfield warm-up jersey can be seen here. A past Stanley Cup visit to Camp Pendleton in Southern California can be seen here.

The Bakersfield Condors have an impressive presence on the internet. The Neutral Zone is the official team blog, and a fan blog by N.L. Bobblehead. The Condors have a page on myspace, a page en Espanol, and an extensive multimedia section.

Fresno Falcons Veterans Day jersey

From a FresnoFalcons.com press release:

Fresno, Calif. – The Fresno Falcons announced today that the team will hold a Rally Around Veterans Night on Saturday, November 4 when they host the Long Beach Ice Dogs at 8:00 p.m.

That evening's game will serve as a night of celebration and remembrance for all area veterans. The Falcons will wear special red, white, and blue jerseys, which will be auctioned off following the game to benefit the Central California Veterans Home Support Foundation. All veterans and military groups will be able to purchase tickets for as low as $7. The game will also feature a first intermission veteran’s parade on the ice, and the first 3,000 fans in attendance will receive free Falcons rally towels.


Sharks Training Camp Day 3 - Red 7, White 4

San Jose Sharks 2006 training camp
Jonathan Cheechoo training camp

Team Red downed Team White 7-4 during a scrimmage on the third day of Sharks training camp. A multi-colored photo gallery from Logitech has been posted.

Team Red Wins One; Scouts Enjoy Watching Sharks Live - SJsharks.com.

Day three of training camp saw a first half offensive explosion by Team Red as they made a 5-0 halftime lead hold up for a 7-4 victory.

The scoring opened when Jonathan Cheechoo played a little role reversal with Joe Thornton and turned a nice no-look pass into a scoring opportunity. Thornton took the puck in deep and posted the first goal of the morning.

A Feeder.com member posted this video of Christian Ehrhoff's shootout goal against Thomas Griess from Saturday.

[Update] Sharks look to get Tough, Wilson: Newcomers make team more 'robust' - SF Chronicle.


Hockey Notes - September 16th

- The Sharks began training camp Friday with 3 days of practices and scrimmages in preparation for the pre-season kickoff at Los Angeles on the 19th. Ross McKeon notes in the San Francisco Chronicle that the roster is fairly set, the penalty kill needs improvement, and avoiding a sophomore slump on the blueline is a key objective.

The Sharks day 1 report from Logtiech previews what should be an interesting battle for the starting goaltender position. Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov are both in attendance, and geared to establish themselves in a starting role. Cleveland/Worcester goaltender Nolan Schaefer is still awaiting a contract, but he will be in the mix pushing both of the starters ahead of him.

Victor Chi reported in the Mercury News that the Sharks want to avoid the slow starts of the last 2 seasons. In this post from November 2005, the 2-5-5-1 start after 13 games in 2003 was compared game-by-game with the 7-5-1 start in 2005. Three years ago, the Sharks problems emerged in November. The team struggled to maintain leads, and could only score enough when behind to manage a tie. Last year the problems began on the road in October, but intensified during a brutal 10-game losing streak in November. The subsequent trade for Joe Thornton turned things around, but a roller coaster season necessitated a fight until the final days to solidify a playoff berth.

- Victor Chi also detailed the lines after the first day of practice: Bell-Thornton-Cheechoo, Michalek-Marleau-Bernier, and Niemenen-Goc-Grier. Smith-Brown-Rissmiller could be a possible fourth line with Scott Parker and Ryane Clowe in reserve.

- Welcome Toronto Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson to the blogosphere.

- Patrick Marleau will make an in-store signing appearance at the Sports Gallery in Los Gatos on October 1st. Sports Gallery sells autographed photos and sports memorabilia at Palo Alto, Walnut Creek, Los Gatos, and Carmel locations.

- The Los Angeles Times ran features this summer on two new defenseman for Southern Californian teams. Chris Pronger was said to be settling in with the Anaheim Ducks, and Hellene Elliott reported that Rob Blake was returning to the scene of his prime.

Former Canucks goaltender Dan Cloutier followed Mark Crawford and Dean Lombardi to Los Angeles. Owen Nolan joined Ed Jovanovski, Jeremey Roenick, Mike Ricci and head coach Wayne Gretzky in Phoenix. Examining the trend, two NHL scoring champions in San Jose forced Pacific Division teams to beef up their blueline.

Rumors out of Boston were that the Kings made an offer for hulking 6-9, 261 pound defenseman Zdeno Chara, but Boston GM Peter Chiarelli and several former players made a bigger push. Chara eventually signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Bruins.

Jovanovski, Pronger, Blake, and Chara joining Scott Niedermayer in the Pacific Division would have been interesting. Also interesting was the fact that the Los Angeles Times did not run a single print item about the rookie tournament in El Segundo while I was there. More on reduced newspaper coverage here.

- Chara Is All Business in Beantown - LCS Hockey.

- The Edmonton Oilers selected the Stockton Thunder earlier this summer as their new ECHL affiliate. According to the Stockton Record, the Oilers will ice between 3-6 development players on the Thunder roster. Speedy forward Steve Slonina is also making a return to Stockton after being traded last year.

[Flashback December, 2005] Stockton Thunder open new arena with a 4-0 win over the Phoenix Roadrunners - Sharkspage.

- The Sharks will faceoff against the Anaheim Ducks for a pre-season game September 23rd in Fresno. Tickets can be purchased at fresnofalcons.com.

- The Buffalo Sabres released [registration required] the new "Slug" jersey, which was the source of much angst online. I have to agree with Red and Black hockey, the jersey is not that bad. Fixthelogo.com offers a dissenting opinion.

Logo-gate tried to rise above the uncivil discourse, but the pink Buffalo Slug jersey only served to inflame tensions.

- Please, do not try great white shark riding at home. Instead, visit the new great white on display at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The live Outer Bay webcam can be seen here.

- Thornton, Cheechoo ready to team up again for Sharks - AP.

Just a few minutes into the San Jose Sharks' first scrimmage of training camp, Joe Thornton already had Jonathan Cheechoo in his sights...

"Cheech was hitting everything but the back of the net," coach Ron Wilson said. "It's important that we create chemistry, and get it early. We've got to get them up to speed, because they've got a new guy."

- San Jose State released their 2006-07 hockey schedule. The college action starts September 30th against Berkeley at Logitech Ice in San Jose.

- 3 openings left for the first Blogger Challenge fantasy league on Yahoo. The second league is wide open.

- The Atom feed for Sharkspage had to be changed. The number of failed requests was larger than the number of subscribers. Please update your Atom or RSS subscriptions to the new URL. Thanks.

- Coyotes 2006 Pacific Division Shootout review - Hockeys Future. After Anaheim won the Pacific Shootout title in 2004 and 2005, the Phoenix Coyotes added a 2006 championship to their inaugural 2003 win. The top line of Martin Hanzal, Enver Lisin and Olivier Latendresse was dominant, and goaltender Josh Tordjman gave a standout individual performance, but the team played well as a whole.

- Prospect tourney a hit with teams; Columbus wins finale - Traverse City Record-Eagle.

The tournament, featuring eight teams, ended Tuesday night with Columbus beating Atlanta 5-1 in the championship game. Dallas upended the New York Rangers 6-5 to claim third place. Jamie Tardif's overtime goal gave Detroit a 4-3 win over the Blues in the fifth-place game. Tampa Bay beat Minnesota 8-7 for seventh.

- Maple Leafs Capture Top Spot In Rookie Tournament - Mapleleafs.com.

The Toronto Maple Leafs prospects earned first place in a four team round-robin tournament with a 3-2 victory over Montreal Canadiens prospects earlier this evening at Ricoh Coliseum. It is the third consecutive year in which Leaf prospects have finished on top in this tournament.

The group of 23 prospects consisting of draft picks and amateur try-outs won each of their four games against Montreal (twice), York University and Florida.

There was a tie for the tournament lead in scoring between two Maple Leaf forwards. John Mitchell (twice recognized as a game's first-star) tied for the tournament lead in goals with five, while also tying Brent Aubin in points with eleven. Aubin led the tournament with nine assists in addition to two goals. Forward Jiri Tlusty, the Maple Leafs first round selection (13th overall) in this past June's NHL Entry Draft scored Tuesday's game-winning goal with 2:54 remaining in regulation-time to secure the Toronto victory. Tlusty (four goals, four assists) finished tied for third in tournament scoring with Montreal's Mathieu Aubin and Sergei Kostitsyn with eight points.

- Unfortunately, York University had a difficult time competing with the prospects from Montreal, Toronto, and Florida in the Toronto Rookie Tournament. James Mirtle has more.

- Kopitar and Thornton ReUnited - LAkings.com.

Anze Kopitar and Scott Thornton seem to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to ... well...everything. Aside from both being first-round draft picks, there would seem to be little else that these two Kings have in common.

Thornton is 35-years old and a 15-year veteran of the NHL, with 836 regular season and 79 post-season games on his resume. Kopitar is just 18 years of age and has yet to appear in an NHL game...

Thornton recently signed with the Kings as a free agent, the sixth NHL team he has been a part of since 1987. Kopitar, born in 1987, has played for two teams – both in Sweden. And it was in Sweden during the 2004-05 work stoppage that their paths crossed for the first time.

Scott Thornton and Mike Ricci jump started the career of Jonathan Cheechoo is 2003-04. While both struggled offensively on the third line, they were able to feed Cheechoo the puck with all manner of opponents draped on top of them.

Thornton can provide a physical presence, and create some room in front of the crease. Could he end up on a line with Kopitar and have the same effect he had on Cheechoo? It is a longshot, but one whose results I will be interested in.

- Nabokov, Toskala still vying for Sharks' top goalie job - AP.

Bottom line is the Sharks are better with both Toskala and Nabokov in the lineup. If the team can afford them, there is a buffer against injury (which was a problem last year), and two go-to guys who can take the team deep in the postseason. Last year a prediction of a goaltender trade on this blog with "absolute metaphysical certitude" was incorrect. This year the trade rumors may be just as trustworthy. Thanks to Kuklas Korner for the link, and the mention on his NHL.com blog as well.

- Note: This is the 1002nd Sharkspage post on blogger.

[Update] More puck for the buck? Inspired by baseball's 'Moneyball' formula, Kings GM Lombardi hopes to assemble a solid team - without breaking the bank - LA Daily News.

Steve Carell gets ready for training camp

Steve Carell has been playing hockey all his life. He likes the excitement of the game, the crowds, and the intensity. But if you want to play the game to win, Carell believes that hockey practice is vital.

Notice Carell's proper shouting technique when making a save, which is an underused quality in today's NHL, and the name of his on-ice assistant.


Worcester Sharks Season Preview

Worcester Sharks goaltender Dimitri Patzold

A preview of the 2006-07 AHL Worcester Sharks:

Two straight years finishing last in their division, and a move from Cleveland to Worcester has prompted the San Jose Sharks to put a more competitive team together for the 2006-2007 AHL season. While having a good farm team is nice, it will still be a balancing act to promote the all important player development for the Sharks prospects. The list of players who the Sharks have developed from their farm club is extensive. It includes Rocket Richard award winner Jonathan Cheechoo, starting goaltender Vesa Toskala, and several players who are promising young talents in the league such as Steve Bernier, Christian Ehrhoff, and Marcel Goc. Those players success in the NHL hasn't translated to a competitive AHL team.

The Sharks have done their best to change that situation without losing site of what is really important, developing NHL talent. This is the first summer the Sharks have acquired veteran talent for the sole purpose of bolstering their farm clubs line up. Players such as Mathieu Darsche, Graham Mink, Mathieu Biron amongst others have been signed to get the Worcester Sharks to the playoffs. While skilled kids like Lukas kaspar, Joe Pavelski, Thomas Greiss, and Dan Spang will get their chance to fine tune their games for a future job in the NHL.

Forwards: Over the off season the Worcester Sharks made two key acquisitions to bolster their offense. Incoming forwards Graham Mink and Mathieu Darsche will be asked to contribute consistent offense throughout the season. The Sharks also have a solid group of young talented forwards looking to assume more responsibility offensively. How these young forwards respond to that added responsibility will be the key to the Sharks offense. Second year right winger Lukas Kaspar is the most skilled player on the team, but he struggled with inconsistency all through his rookie season with the Barons. This will be a big year for the former first round pick who will finally be out of the shadow of Steve Bernier for an entire season, allowing him to get plenty of minutes on the power play, something he didn't receive last year on most nights. On his better nights Kaspar looks like a poor man's Marian Hossa, or at the least a skilled player who is a bit passive like former Shark Nicklas Sundstrom.

Centering Kaspar on the first line will be his buddy Tomas Plihal, the two are both very skilled and seemed to develop chemistry with one another last year. I expect the former AHL star Mathieu Darsche to also play on the first line. He would inject the line with offensive consistency and grit that could help spark the two Czech enigmas. Center Joe Pavelski might be a more rounded player than Tomas Plihal but expect the first year pro to have two veterans on his wings while allowing Plihal to stay on a line with Kaspar. However it is possible for Pavelski to play with Kaspar at some point this season. The two showed strong chemistry at the Pacific Division Shootout and Pavelski has a history of making an enigmatic skilled winger play to his potential, as he did with Robbie Earl (Leafs pick in 04) for the past two years at Wisconsin. Pavelski is a responsible two way center who lacks first step quickness but makes up for it with elusive one on one ability, fantastic hands, and exceptional finishing and play making abilities. Hockey sense is Pavelski's calling card, so expect him to play regularly on both the power play and penalty kill.

The leading scorer of all returning players from last season is the big physical two way power forward Mike Iggulden. I expect Iggulden to be one of the first players called up to San Jose, as not only is he big, physical, defensively responsible, but he's also got a finishers touch around the net. I feel he would be a perfect fit to go along with Pavelski. Along with those two I expect defending Calder Cup champion Graham Mink to fill out the second line. Graham Mink is more known for his shut down capabilities and was used against the oppositions top line last year for Hershey. However, Mink's offensive game has blossomed at this level and he is close to a point a game player while also being a physical presence while using his size down low. Former Harvard university captain Tom Cavanaugh will center the third line along with two gritty wingers Riley Armstrong and Craig Valette. Both Valette and Armstrong are very agitating players who play with tenacity.

Slovakian Michal Macho is going to be asked to inject some skill on the third line. Macho isn't your typical European forward as he plays with some jam and likes to make some big hits. I never have seen Macho but the Sharks Tim Burke has been vocal about being high on Macho, so expect a solid contribution from him. Cavanaugh has some untapped offensive upside and could surprise people this season with his final totals. Last year he was coming off of a torn ACL and now with a better team to play with he could have a twenty goal, thirty assist season. The fourth line is up for grabs with Josh Prudden and enforcers Glen Olson, and Jonathan Tremblay leading the way for the moment. Expect the Sharks to sign a couple of players from the Rookie Tournament to AHL contracts to fill out the crop of forwards. Brock Hooten played well at the prospects tournament and showed a cerebral two way game last year with the St. Clout Huskies. I expect him to be one of the signings. Other names to keep in mind are Brad Leisenring and Erik Felde.

Defenseman: The real strength of this team will be on the back end, where a versatile veteran group will lead the way. Both Scott Ferguson and former Kings first rounder Mathieu Biron played regular minutes in the NHL last season. Patrick Traverse also saw some time in the NHL last season, while Garret Stafford has been the Barons top offensive defenseman for the past three seasons. Joining the group of veterans will be the Sharks second round pick in 2002, first team Hockey East defenseman Dan Spang, and the tenacious sophomore Brad Staubitz. The top six has a great mixture of players who bring something different to the table.

Garret Stafford along with Dan Spang will be asked to run the power play from the point as both are exceptional puck moving defenseman with good skating ability. Stafford especially will have a big year offensively from the point, and I could see him feeding Mathieu Biron's cannon of a shot on the first power play unit. The hulking Mathieu Biron will a monster on the blue line and should be a physical presence for the team. Biron has been called a gentle giant and some feel he lacks hockey sense. But one can't dispute his raw ability, his size, mobility for a big man, and his absolute bomb from the point. While a rather bland NHL defenseman, Biron should be a dominant AHL one.

Brad Staubitz will replace Matt Carkner as the enforcer on the back end as Staubitz showed in his rookie season, he can hold on his own with the leagues toughest players. Patrick Traverse and Scott Ferguson can be utilized in any role and should see the most ice time five on five. Ferguson might be the best all around defenseman on the roster. Overall it's the best defensive crop the Sharks have ever iced down on the farm and it may be the best top six in the AHL this coming season. San Jos Sharks invited the heavy shooting Randy King to camp and I expect him to get an AHL contract.

Goaltenders: Last year was a trying year for Barons goaltenders as night in night out they had to play behind a pretty sorry crop of defenseman, especially after both Josh Gorges and Doug Murray were called up to the Sharks permanately. This year that should change as the goaltenders have a much better defense playing in front of them. The Sharks will have two German goaltenders in their nets, veteran Dimitri Patzold and rookie Thomas Greiss.

This will be Dimitri Patzold's fourth season in the AHL, and big things are expected from the former 2001 fourth rounder. Patzold played well in his rookie season, then improved greatly during his sophomore season and started to show me the tools to be a goalie in the NHL. His rebound control and position play was vastly improved and he wasn't boucning all over the crease, he looked much more composed. However, he seemed to take a step back last year which was probally because of the peppering of pucks he received night in night out. The Worcester Sharks are hoping for a rebound year from Patzold as he will be the elder netminder for the first time since coming to North America.

Patzold is a butterfly goaltender who is strong down low with exceptional lower body dexterity. He has also rounded out his positional game over the past three years and is no longer so reliant on his fine athleticism. Questionable rebound control and inconsistency still plagues his game today. As usual the Worcester Sharks will split the goaltending duties in half, allowing each goaltender to get around fourty starts each. Joining him will be German Olympian Thomas Greiss. Last year Greiss was absolutely phenomenal as a starter in the DEL and was even called upon to play for Germany at the winter Olympics against the star studded Team Canada. I've scouted Greiss since his days with the German U-18 team, and each time I came away saying he reminds me of a young Miikka Kipprusoff.

Greiss is a phenomenal athlete with amazing reflexes and his mental make up is that of a future star in the NHL. Even keeled, hard to rattle, with exceptional anticipation, Greiss shouldn't take long to adjust to the North American game. If either is hurt or called up the Sharks will look to Jamie Holden who signed as a free-agent last summer. Holden performed admirably while both Patzold and Schaefer were in San Jose at one point. Also 2005 draft pick Taylor Dakers could step in late in the season after his WHL season is over.

Strengths: The Sharks will have a good mix of veterans and youthful prospects at all positions. Defense will be this teams calling card and the team will likely go as far as it can take them. Biron, Stafford, Traverse, Ferguson are all above average AHL defenseman while Staubitz and Spang are no slouches either. The defense has a good variety of skill, smarts, and physical presence. Even their group of forwards are very responsible two way players. Even though they will be asked to provide offense first, forwards Pavelski, Kaspar, Plihal, Mink, Darsche, Armstrong, Cavanaugh, Valette, Iggulden are all defensively responsible players. Special teams should be a key to the team this year as they coach Roy Sommer can ice a very talented power play and a very stimy penalty kill. The Sharks also have two goaltenders who are capable of stealing a game time to time.

Weaknesses: Quite a few key players for the Sharks are still unproven at this level. The offense will rely heavily on Lukas Kaspar, Tomas Plihal, and Joe Pavelski. While all three have offensive ability in spades, none of them have been close to a point a game in the AHL, while Pavelski hasn't even played a pro game yet. Patzold is being asked to regain his form and the team could struggle if he doesn't. While Thomas Greiss has exciting ability, one needs to expect some growing pains as a 20 year old and this will be his first season in North America. The first year over here for a European goaltender always seems to be the hardest, so Patzold needs to play well to take pressure off of Greiss. So while both offense and goaltending have the potential to be strong, certain players will need to break through, and it is yet to seen if the Sharks are asking to much of them.

Prospects To Watch:

F Lukas Kaspar - The 6-2 205 Sharks first round round pick in the 2004 draft, Kaspar is likely the first call up in terms of forwards. While Kaspar has struggled with inconsistency and at times finding his offensive touch in the physical North American game, he still has the ability to become a full throttle offensive threat. Combing a strong stride along with a stocky power forward like build, Lukas can play a strong up and down style when motivated. Lukas has a cannon slap shot and a quickly released wrist shot that makes for a hard shooting arsenal. Kaspar is still learning how to fully utilize his finishing ability and the Sharks will continue to ask him to shoot more this season. His play making ability and defensive play are two strengths of his game that seem to go underappreciated.

In fact he was one of the Barons best penalty killers last year and he often set up his teammates with lightning quick, accurate passes that often caught them off guard. I would like to see Kaspar be more difficult to contain one on one, because he is often predictable and easily stopped despite his high skill level and size. Kaspar has put together a very productive and eye opening performance at the Pacific Division Rookie Tournament. Lukas was the Sharks best forward at the tournament and both scored and created plays. He also began to use his size in front of the net, so expect him to be more physically involved this year and more confident. Don't expect a Steve Bernier like break out but if he should put up around 50-60 points and get a cup of tea in the show.

C Joe Pavelski - The Stevens Point Wisconsin native has come a long way since the Sharks drafted him out of the USHL in the seventh round of the 2003 entry draft. Pavelski now brings an impressive pedigree after leading last years national champion Wisconsin Badgers in scoring in both of his two years in the NCAA. Pavelski reminds me of former Shark/Baron Brad Boyes who is now thriving with the Boston Bruins. Pavelski is considered lacking in size at 5'11, but he has a stocky frame and sturdy lower body strength making him more than ready to withstand the rigors of the pro game. In fact his play in traffic was exceptional at the college level.

Joe will also have to prove that his outstanding hockey sense will more than compensate for his lack of first step quickness as he has at every other level so far. While being an offensively productive center, Joe also plays a strong two way game, often seeing time on the penalty kill or lining up against the oppositions top offensive center. Combing outstanding vision with some of the most crisp tape to tape passes one can deliver, Pavelski is a highly accomplished play maker. Also, Pavelski is no slouch as a goal scorer, he has a lightning quick released wrist shot that is deadly accurate, especially in close where is is a near flawless finisher. Pavelski impressed at the rookie tournament with strong two way play, his faceoff ability and his offensive skill set, especially his shot and vision didn't go unnoticed. Expect Joe to receive ice time at critical moments for his presence in the face off circle.

In the past Joe has been on the first power play unit, first penalty kill unit, and always on the ice for the last minute of the game whether his team needed a late goal or to prevent one. A very well rounded player who seems to be productive whereever he goes. Scouts wondered if he could make the transition from Wisconsin High School hockey to the USHL, he ended up being the leagues MVP. They doubted he could translate his USHL play to the NCAA because of his skating, well Pavelski lead his team in points for both of his seasons while in the NCAA. So expect Joe to silence the critics again with a strong season for Worcester. While it might not be a huge year in terms of offensive totals for Pavelski, this will be a great year in terms of development and should be the start of a very fruitful pro career, one that should pay off for the Sharks in the near future.

D Dan Spang - After three sub par seasons with Boston University, Spang recovered with a fantastic senior season that saw him put up nine goals and twenty two assist in fourty games. After the Terriers missed the Frozen Four by one game he was signed by the Sharks and called up to play for the Cleveland Barons. So while Spang comes in this season as a rookie to the pro game, he already has eight games under his belt at this level. Spang is not the tallest defenseman or the fastest but he makes up for by being stocky and surprisingly powerful while also being mobile in tight spaces. While Spang put up big numbers as a senior in college, I expect him to be more of a stabilizing two way player in the pro's.

Pavelski's fine understanding of all three zones is his best asset and allows him to be a consistent player who seems to be easily coached. Expect Spang to see plenty of five on five minutes this season along with some time on the power play, although it may be another year before we see him on the penalty kill despite having the ability to be a very steady player in his own zone. Spang is savvy about when to pinch in from the point and makes a good outlet pass even in the face of pressure. He lacks a big shot from the point though and will probally just play on the second power play unit for this season. I don't expect an NHL call up this year, but possibly in 2007-2008. He will have to show something as top prospects Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Ty Wishart, and Derek Joslin are arguably further ahead in their development.

G Thomas Greiss - Long term, Greiss may be the Worcester Shark who will the largest impact in San Jose some day. After accomplishing every personal goal he had in the DEL, and performing bravely for Germany against team Canada at the Olympics, it was time for the German third rounder to make the trip over to North America. As in the past, the Sharks are expected to rotate the goaltenders evenly and we should see Greiss get about fourty starts this season. Greiss is a big goaltender who has outstanding anticipation, positional sense, and takes up a lot of space due to his inkling to challenge the shooter appropriately. The brilliance in Greiss is that he isn't one of those bland butterfly goaltenders who has to rely on his size and positional play.

Greiss is a phenomenal athlete, his flexibility is awe-inspiring, he has the complete package of quick legs and quick arms, both of which have excellent extension to make freakish saves at times. Not only can he make the easy saves casually, he can also steal a goal away from the opposition with his spectacular reflexes and dexterity. He may be one of the best goaltending prospects outside of the NHL in the entire world, however, being drafted in the third round in a deep draft for goaltenders has kept the hype down. This will help Greiss long term as he won't have a lot of pressure on him as he beings his first season in North America. But long term, expect huge things from this German net minder.

Dark Horse Player To Watch: Forward Mathieu Darsche: After years of quietly dominating in the AHL, Darsche went over to Germany for the past few years, only picking up some grit to go along with his offense in the process. Darsche could be a Corey Stillman like presence for young talented players like Lukas Kaspar and Tomas Plihal. Darsche is a pro's pro and is extremely consistent to go along with his offensive tools. He'll continue to be an offensive threat game in game out while bringing the young talented forwards along with him in the process. He'll instantly spark any line he is on and I'm expecting a big year from Darsche.

Players Who Could Join Late In The Season: When a players season is over with his respective Junior or NCAA team, he is allowed to join the AHL and play for the team that olds his rights. Last year the Sharks benefited from having defenseman Derek Joslin (5th in 05) and Dan Spang (2nd in 02) join the team. This year should be no different as the Sharks have a few prime canidates for a late season run.

D Marc-Edouard Vlasic: After a dominating season with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL last season and another dominating performance at the Paficic Divison Rookie tournament with three goals and three assist, Vlasic will be a prime candiate to jump up to the Worcester Sharks roster as soon as the Remparts season is over. That is unless he joins the Sharks immediately but I believe it would benefit him starting in the AHL. Vlasic is an imposing two way defenseman with exceptional hockey sense. His vision of the ice, his ability to thread the needle with a crisp tape to tape pass make him a savvy puck moving defenseman.

Whether it's while quarterbacking the power play, or making the outlet pass, Vlasic makes all the plays even in the face of pressure. Vlasic also has a quickly released point shot that he is very good at getting the net through heavy traffic. What makes Vlasic so appealing is that as good as he is offensively, he's even better defensively. His gap control is flawless, his one on one positioning is exceptional, and he's great at blocking a shot or intercepting the oppositions pass. Although he appears to skate hunched over, he's still a mobile defenseman. Vlasic could stand to be more physical, but he uses his long stick and nice frame effectively, just lacks a mean streak. He would arguably be the Worcester Sharks best defenseman right now but because of age restrictions he'll have to waite for the QMJHL season to be over before he can join the team.

D Derek Joslin: Joslin blossomed last year with the Ottawa 67s and is their top returning defenseman. Much like Vlasic, Joslin is a very strong two way defenseman. Joslin should be ready for a few late season games and a playoff run with the Worcester Sharks. The 67s have a solid team this year but are still young and shouldn't make it past the first round of the Ontario Hockey League Playoffs. Joslin will abe joined by the Sharks second round pick in 2006, forward Jamie McGinn and center Logan Couture who will challenge for the first overall pick in the 2007 draft while in Ottawa. Joslin is a mobile defenseman with plays with his head on a swivel. Not the most skilled nor the biggest, Joslin makes up for that with outstanding hockey sense. Derek seems to be the kind of player who makes a lot of the small plays that leads to a team winning and getting on the score board. He's a steady, reliable defenseman with an offensive touch. Think of former Shark Tom Preissing.

Projected Depth Chart
Mathieu Darsche - Tomas Plihal - Lukas Kaspar
Mike Iggulden - Joe Pavelski - Graham Mink
Riley Armstrong - Tom Cavanaugh - Michal Macho
Josh Prudden - Craig Valette - Johnathan Tremblay

Dan Spange - Scott Ferguson
Garret Stafford - Patrick Traverse
Mathieu Biron - Brad Staubitz

Thomas Greiss
Dimitri Patzold
Jamie Holden

Season Prediction: The Worcester Sharks fate will likely be decided on how their parent club in San Jose is doing. Last year the Barons began the season with a strong roster consisting Steve Bernier, Doug Murray, and Josh Gorges. When numerous factors allowed the Sharks to keep those players in the NHL for the rest of the season, the Barons suffered. The San Jose Sharks enter this season much deeper than the last so it will be more difficult for a player in the AHL to be called up then in the past. With a strong mixture of youthful talent and veteran experience, Worcester will be a difficult team for oppositions to beat. The strength of the team is a very good group of defenseman, and two talented young goaltenders who are fighting for future NHL jobs. If players like Lukas Kaspar, Joe Pavelski, Tomas Plihal can pick up the offensive slack, the Sharks could go far this season. I believe they will finish third in a very competitive division, allowing them to make the playoffs. Once in the playoffs anything can happen but if the team is able to keep its defensive group together, they could go deep and challenge for the Calder Cup. Roy Sommer has proved to be a great coach in terms of developing talent for the NHL, but this year he will have no excuse not to put a competitive team on the ice every night with a deep group of talented veterans.

[Update] Sharks set to begin inaugural campaign, Early moves aimed at adding experience - Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

The first-year Sharks find themselves in a division full of longtime rivals. Oddly enough, all three NHL teams based in California — the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings — have their AHL teams in New England. The Sharks are here, the Ducks in Portland and the Kings in Manchester.

"It should be pretty intense," Worcester Sharks general manager Wayne Thomas said. "These kids hate each other from their first training camps."

[Update2] Sharks unveil jersey designs - TheAHL.com.

[Update3] Q&A with Sharks GM Doug Wilson - Hockeys Future.

[HF] In closing, how important was it to take a forward position with your AHL affiliate in Worcester?

[DW] ...One of the prime reasons we moved to Worcester was the logistics. The travel is so much better. We can get quality practice time because we have a lot of staff that lives there. Our head amateur scout (Tim Burke) and head pro scout (Sean Cody) are there. Wayne Thomas (VP and Assistant GM), Cap Raeder (scout), Graeme Townshend (scout) and our power skating coach live out there too. It takes all of these people to be involved to truly give all these guys the tools they need to succeed. Worcester really works well for us and we think a lot of the fan support too.

[Update4] San Jose Training Camp schedule - SJsharks.com.


Rookie Tournament Photos - day 3

Pacific Division Shootout

Box score from the game:

Sharks 6, Anaheim 1

First Period. Scoring: 1. Leisenring (Hooton), 2. Kaspar (Vlasic) PP, 3. King (Kaspar, Rome) PP, 4. Pavelski (Vlasic). Penalties: Festerling (hooking), Auffrey (high-stick), Boogard (Fighting), Tremblay (fighting), Leisenring (slashing), Kaspar (boarding), Auffrey (slashing), Joslin (tripping).

Second Period. Scoring: 5. Pavelski (Vlasic, Rome) PP, 6. Saunders (Boogard). Penalties: Miller (interference), Perry (tripping), Maxwell (cross check), Macho (hooking), Swan (elbowing), Bernhardt (hooking).

Third Period. Scoring: 7. McGinn. Penalties: Belesky (hooking), McCue (slashing), Dakers (tripping), Delory (hooking), Syroczynski (tripping).

Shots: ANA 24, SJ 20.

Goaltending: Perricone (ANA) 14 saves, 20 shots. Dakers (SJ) 23 saves, 24 shots.

A photo gallery from the San Jose Sharks 6-1 win over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on the third day of the Pacific Rookie Tournament is available here. More notes, a photo gallery, and a box score will be posted later tonight.

Rookie Tournament Photos

A photo gallery from the Phoenix Coyotes 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings is available here.

Phoenix and Los Angeles were both undefeated heading into Monday, and both assured of a spot in the championship final on Tuesday. The format was changed into a 2-game playoff. If the teams were tied 1-1 after the final, an overtime championship period would be played.

Prior to the Los Angeles rookie game against Phoenix, a moment of silence was held for Kings scouts Mark Bavis and Ace Bailey. They died aboard United Flight 175 on September 11th. The Los Angeles Times ran a feature that morning about how the families of both men set up foundations to help children with serious medical problems, and students applying to college. More information can be found at acebailey.com and markbavisleadershipfoundation.org.

Sharks down Anaheim 6-1 at Pacific Division Shootout - Sanjosesharks.com.

Phoenix rookies double up the Kings 4-2 in first half championship series doubleheader - Phoenixcoyotes.com.


Rookie Tournament Photos - day 2

Pacific Division Rookie Tournament photos
Yutaka Fukufuji photos

Thoughts from day 2:

Kings's forward Anze Kopitar (photo) has been the brighest talent on the ice at the Pacific Shootout. The 6-4, 220 pound center from Slovenia is simply at another level. Kopitar was able to create turnovers and setup teammates almost at will during Los Angeles's 6-5 win over Anaheim on Friday. He was held out of the game Saturday with San Jose. The consensus from many here is that he will start the season on the Kings roster, or end up there in the near future.

San Jose's Marc-Edouard Vlasic (photo) has made the best impression of all the defenseman participating in the tournament. He skates with his head up, has a hard shot, and always seems to be pressing the action forward. In front of him on the Sharks depth chart is a logjam of talented defenseman. Pencil in Hannan, McLaren, Ehrhoff, Carle, and Gorges for the top 5 positions. Rob Davidson, Jim Fahey, Doug Murray, Mathieu Biron and Vlasic should compete for the final 2 defensive roster spots at training camp.

Many of the of the rookie teams only had 2-3 practices together before game time. After the inevitable defensive breakdowns from such an environment, Kings 2006 first round pick goaltender Jonathan Bernier (photo) withstood the barrage better than most.

The level of play at this rookie tournament is fun to watch. It is a rare opportunity to play against skilled competition in front of a who's-who of hockey on the West Coast. When someone throws a check or dekes around another player, 3 or 4 others will try something similar to raise their game. It snowballs into end-to-end action. There are not as many fights as in previous years, but if the score permits the players who need to show their pugilism skills are popular with the crowd.

A photo gallery from the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks is available here. A photo gallery from the Phoenix Coyotes 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks is available here.

NHL Pacific Division Shootout

Sharks Fall To Kings In Pacific Division Shootout, 3-2 - SJsharks.com.

Coyotes improve to 2-0 in Rookie Tournament with 3-1 win over Anaheim on Saturday - Phoenixcoyotes.com.


Rookie Tournament Photos - day 1

Pacific Division Rookie Tournament photos

Hidden in a maze of industrial warehouses and one-way streets, the Toyota Center in El Segundo is a modern hockey facility with an impressive feature rink. Large panes of glass above two sides allow a top-down view of the action from the entry way, private booths, and a large dining area. Enormous photos of past and present Kings adorn the far wall, and dozens of youth hockey championship banners hang from the ceiling.

The Sharks came out firing on Friday. Lukas Kaspar scored within the first minue, and Brock Hooten added a goal to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead heading into the second period. After Hanzal and Thomas tied it up for Phoenix, defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic put the Sharks up 3-2. Vlasic and Mike Iggulden scored 22 seconds apart in the third to allegedly put the game out of reach for Phoenix.

A goal by Phoenix forward Enver Lisin still gave the Sharks a 5-3 comfort zone with 12 minutes left to play. Highly touted Oliver Latendresse scored on the power play for the Coyotes, and Daniel Winnik added a goal to complete the comeback. The game was tied 5-5 at the end of regulation.

Kyle Wilson scored the game winner 1:59 into the fourth period, with assists by Peter Mueller and Matt Jones.

A photo gallerey from the first Sharks-Coyotes game is here. A photo gallery from the second Kings-Ducks game is here.

Los Angeles Kings Mighty Ducks rookie tournament

Kaspar, Vlasic Shine In OT Loss At Pacific Division Shootout - SJsharks.com.

With the Pacific Division Shootout beginning on Friday night, the Sharks would grab an empty point against the Phoenix Coyotes in a 6-5 overtime thriller. Losing a three-goal lead late in the third, the Coyotes would get a goal from Kyle Wilson 1:59 into overtime for the win.

Despite the sour outcome, the Sharks can take a number of positives out of the loss. Lukas Kaspar, the Sharks first round pick in 2004, was extremely active throughout the contest and was a big reason the Sharks were able to jump out to a 5-2 lead.

Coyotes open 2006-07 Rookie Tournament with dramatic 6-5 OT win over San Jose - Phoenixcoyotes.com.

Kings Rookies 6, Ducks Rookies 5 - Anaheimducks.com.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Matt Moulson tallied twice to lead the Los Angeles Kings rookies over the Ducks rookies 6-5 in the first game of the Pacific Division Shootout at Toyota Sports Center.

Photos are also available on the messageboards at LetsgoKings.com. More soon.


2006-07 Yahoo Fantasy Hockey Blogger Challenge

Yahoo Fantasy Hockey blogger challenge

The 2005-06 Blogger Challenge leagues on Yahoo Fantasy Hockey were mildly successful. After a contentious and entertaining draft, the regular season boiled down to a few contenders surrounded by a number of vocal also-rans.

Overall point leader (tshirt + stat-subscription)
J.J. Guerrero - Canucks Hockey Blog

Second division point leader (tshirt)

Mike Keenan award - (most waiver/trade moves)
James Mirtle - 94

Miikka Kiprusoff award (best GAA)
BauerSupreme (Kiprusoff, Khabibulin, Ward) 2.16

Alexander Ovechkin award (most goals)
The Hockey Report - 241

Owen Nolan award (best PIM)
hoopsjunky - 832

Best candidate for demotion (lowest point total)
soveryobsessed.com - 65

Number of blogs participating

Number of scrubs (non-hockey bloggers) participating

A Yahoo t-shirt will be sent to the winner of each league, and a Yahoo stat-tracker package will be sent to the overall winner on October 22nd. Two new Yahoo Fantasy Blogger Challenge Leagues were created for this season, so make sure to keep a Yahoo spot open.

An email to all past participants will be sent shortly. Draft details, league password requests, and more fantasy links are available on this Fantasy Hockey page.


2006 San Jose Sharks NHL entry draft review

In recent drafts the San Jose Sharks have placed a premium on adding talented forwards to their development system with first round picks [2005 RW Devin Setoguchi, 2004 RW Lukas Kaspar, 2003 LW - Milan Michalek, 2002 RW - Mike Morris, 2001 C Marcel Goc]. Although defenseman Tero Maatta was selected in 2000 with the first overall selection in the second round, the Sharks had not drafted a defenseman in the first round since dipping into the University of Michigan pool for blueliner Jeff Jillson in 1999.

San Jose 2006 NHL Entry Draft selections:

1st round - D, Ty Wishart, 6-4, 220 pounds, L.
2nd round - LW, Jamie McGinn, 5-11, 179 pounds, L
4th round - D, James Delory, 6-4, 212 pounds, R
5th round - RW, Ashton Rome, 6-1, 202 pounds, R
7th round - LW, John McCarthy, 6-0, 200 pounds, L
7th round - F, Jay Barriball, 5-9, 155 pounds, L

Red Line Report author Kyle Woodlief stated that there was a noticeable dropoff defensively after Erik Johnson. Woodlief placed Nigel Williams, Chris Summers, and Ty Wishart on the second-tier of defenseman available on draft day.

Beyond Johnson, a number of solid rearguards will eventually emerge from this crop. But one of Red Line's general rules of thumb is that, if we're going to rank a defenseman in the top half of the first round that means we're projecting him as a guy who's going to be able to contribute on your top power-play unit and play on your top pairing at some point. And other than Johnson, not many defensemen in this year's crop fit that bill. So there's a steep drop off to our second tier of defenders, which includes two of Johnson's U.S. U-18 teammates huge Nigel Williams and smooth-skating Chris Summers as well as Ty Wishart from the WHL.

Wishart saw his stock drop a bit at the World U-18 Championships, where he failed to step up and lead an undermanned Team Canada blue line corps. Still, he's got great size and footwork, and really makes a crisp pass. He has shown some offensive flashes and, while he's never been a huge point-getter, looks like he has the tools to play a more offensively aggressive game than we saw in Prince George this year. Red Line just sees too much potential to ignore once the draft reaches a certain stage.

TSN's Bob McKenzie said Wishart was "not an offensive player, but has leadership abilities and brings a lot of size and speed." The inestimable James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail opines that Wishart is "rock solid". Thanks to the new NHL Draft Net by AOL for the links.

Sharks Excited About Wishart - NHL.com.

"I see myself as a two-way defenseman who sees the ice well and I think that will help me out a lot," Wishart said. "I want to work on my intensity from start to finish and foot speed is always important, especially now."

Wishart's own self-analysis was not far off the attributes that were the deciding factor in the Sharks decision to select Wishart in the first round.

"Hockey sense, range, reach and blend of defense and offense," (Sharks Director of Amateur Scouting Tim) Burke said, citing the attributes that led to the selection.

Wishart Happy To Be In Teal - SJsharks.com.

According to Ross McKeon of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sharks sent their 20th and 53rd picks to Montreal to trade up to 16th, Sharks first round selection Ty Wishart was the second of nine defenseman selected in the first round, and a pre-draft publication labeled Wishart as "dependable as a Maytag washing machine".

Kevin Wey of Hockey's Future reports that this is the fourth straight draft the Sharks have traded up in the draft to get players they had their eye on. Wey also notes that the selection of defensemen Ty Wishart [6-4, 220 pounds] and James DeLory [6-4, 212 pounds] adds size and mobility to the Sharks development system, that Prince George of the WHL may have relied too heavily on Wishart after their roster was hit with injuries, and that James DeLory is a converted forward who can man the power play.

Max's take on the 2006 Draft:

First, let's get this straight. The Sharks did not need to draft a future franchise guy in this draft, they didn't need a stud offensive forward, and didn't need a dominate two way defenseman. They have that with guys like Thornton, Marleau, Cheechoo and kids like Bernier, Michalek, Carle, and Ehrhoff. So with that in mind, here is what the Sharks accomplished with the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

With their first two selections the Sharks acquired two of my favorite players eligible. Prior to the draft I ranked the top 60 players available in 2006 to eliminate post-draft bias from myself. On that independent ranking I had Ty Wishart ranked 12th and Jamie McGinn at 10th overall.

In Ty Wishart, I see a bigger version of Scott Hannan for the Sharks in the long run. He's the kind of complete defenseman that you can utilize on the first penalty kill unit, the second power play unit, and play him five-on-five for a lot of minutes against the opposition's top line. The Sharks will need a guy like Wishart in the near future to go along with a young star studded crop of forwards in Thornton, Marleau, Cheechoo, Bernier, and Michalek. The other kind of player the Sharks can use is a gutsy winger who plays his best when his team needs him most.

Jamie McGinn is exactly the kind of player the Sharks missed in the playoff series against the Oilers. During his rookie season in the OHL, McGinn lead the Ottawa 67's in playoff scoring to help them get to the Memorial Cup, all this as a sixteen year old. McGinn is a gutsy, hard working forward who plays a brash physical game while also being a natural scorer in close. He reminds many of Mike Ricci, or a Martin Gellinas, a player who can deliver team inspiring performances with his on ice passion, not so much his skill. His top end could be a power forward in the mold of a Erik Cole.

As for the rest of the 2006 draft class. It's mixed with safe selections like forwards Ashton Rome, John McCarthy and high-risk high-reward picks in defenseman James DeLory, and forward Jay Barriball. One scout I talked to from the Ontario Hockey League told me that DeLory reminds him of a couple first round picks both from Tampa Bay, Vladimir Mihalik and Andy Rogers. While this is a compliment in terms of DeLory's upside, however, the scout quickly said that all three players have a lot of room for growth in terms of hockey sense, maturity, and maximizing their strengths as an athlete.

Ashton Rome is a tenacious player who skates well and can agitate his opponents. Forward Jay Barriball was the last selection but arguably has the most offensive upside. He may be pint sized at 5'9, 155 pounds, but from what I saw in the USHL playoffs he has a terrific offensive ceiling. His hockey sense is phenomenal, his hands are soft, his one-on-one moves are electric, and he can set up a goal with a nifty pass or score it himself.

Overall, the Sharks did what they set out to do with the draft class. While none of the players may be franchise guys, that's o.k. They have them in spades already. What the San Jose Sharks needed was role players who can get them through difficult games, especially at playoff time. In the end, I would say the Sharks did a fine job at the draft table in 2006.

[Update] AOL's NHLdraftnet has video of the San Jose Sharks selecting Ty Wishart 16th overall in the 2006 NHL entry draft.


Mark Bell arrested for suspicion of DUI

A late-breaking report from NBC 11:

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- San Jose Police confirmed to NBC11 reporter Susan Siravo Tuesday that a member of the San Jose Sharks was arrested over the Labor Day Weekend on suspicion of driving under the influence and allegedly causing a collision.

Police told NBC11 one person was hurt in the crash, but their injuries were considered minor with cuts and bruises. Police said Sharks player Mark Bell faces felony hit-and-run and felony DUI charges.

The San Jose Sharks acquired Mark Bell this summer in a 3-team trade with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Ottawa Senators. The Sharks are set to begin their NHL training camp on September 17th.

Not good news.

More from TSN: Sharks Bell arrested on DUI suspicion.

"We are aware of the incident, and it's not one that our organization takes lightly," said Greg Jamison, the Sharks' president and CEO. "Mark is an excellent young man. ... Our organization has always believed in accountability and responsibility for your actions. We are in the process of finding out the details of the situation and will treat this as an internal matter moving forward."

This is an appropriate reaction, but unfortunately in the dead of summer this story has the potential to get heavy coverage league-wide in an instant. Getting back to draft review and rookie tournament coverage will be a priority for this blog.

Note: Sharks head coach Ron Wilson appeared on KGO-810AM with Ronn Owens at 11am. Ronn Owens appeared on Sharkspage here.


Labor Day Hockey and Baseball in San Jose

Logitech Labor Day hockey tournament
Southern California Titans

The 3rd annual Labor Day Kickoff hockey tournament was held this weekend at Logitech Ice in San Jose. The tournament featured 49 youth AAA/AA hockey teams from Pee-Wee to 18U.

Scouts from the Western Hockey League (Everett Silvertips, Seattle Thunderbirds, Portland Winter Hawks, Spokane Chiefs, Kamloops Blazers), United States Hockey League (Omaha Lancers, Tri-City Storm, Sioux Falls Stampede, Waterloo Blackhawks, Lincoln Stars, Indiana Ice), North American Hockey League (USNTDP, Bismarck Bobcats, So. Minnesota Express), British Columbia Hockey League (Cowichan Valley, Victoria Grizzlies), NCAA Div 1 (Univ. of Nebraska), and EHK Sports/US Hockey News were scheduled to appear in addition to one hockey blog (Sharkspage).

Photos of this event are available from hockeyshots.net.

In other local hockey news, Hockey and Skating Magazine was recently purchased by Lisa Ethell and Gameday Publishing. H&S is available in most rinks, and it covers youth, college, and professional inline/ice hockey and skating throughout California.

San Jose Giants

The San Jose Giants finished the regular season with a 9-2 win over the Stockton Ports Monday in front of 2,593 sun-baked fans. After Julio Cordido singled home a run in the first for San Jose, the game broke wide open in the second inning. Stephen Holm (15) hit a 2-run homer, followed by 3 more runs scored for a 6-0 San Jose lead. The Giants added 2 more in the third inning. Lloyd Turner (5) and Tommy Everidge (20) hit homers to put the Stockton Ports on the board.

Right-handed starter Brooks McNiven (8-7) earned his eighth win of the season, allowing one run in six innings pitched. Reliever Brian Anderson was awarded the Most Valuable Player Award during an infield ceremony prior to the game.

The oft-celebrated promotions were as entertaining as they were unexpected. There were golf chips for prizes, designated beer special batters, and a Dallas Stars jersey wearing goaltender being abused by the San Jose mascot.

The San Francisco Giants class A development team in San Jose looks to defend its 2005 California League Championship with its first two games of the postseason on Saturday (1PM) and Sunday (5PM). Tickets can be purchased here.

[Update] Right-handed SJ Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum was featured last month in the Mercury News. A 101mph fastball and a "freak-show" curve may equal a quick rise through the organization for Lincecum.

[Update2] Last year's Labor Day Hockey and Baseball post can be found here. More on the Giants minor league system is available from SF Dugout.

Hockey Guides preview the upcoming NHL season

Hockey News Yearbook

A rite of passage for every NHL season is the annual release of the Hockey Preview Guides. This year in most bookstores in California, the selection is sparse.

The Hockey News 2006-07 NHL Yearbook is the heavyweight king on the newstands, stacks piled high in almost every bookstore. With a regional cover feature NHL scoring leader Joe Thornton, the latest Hockey News Yearbook contained a feature on how to score like Ovechkin, 5 NHL related things to do before you die, a diagram breaking down Joe Thornton's MVP dna, and a ranking of the top 50 NHL players.

The Hockey News ranked Miikka Kiprusoff #1 overall, with Pronger, Jagr, and Thornton in the next three spots. Jonathan Cheechoo was ranked #36, with Patrick Marleau following at #37. The prediction of San Jose finishing 4th overall in the Western Conference, and a note that 4 Sharks had pulled home major hardware (Thornton-Hart,Art Ross; Cheechoo-Rocket Richard, Care-Hobey Baker), this yearbook should give local hockey fans a running start into the 2006-07 season.

Dallasstars.com has more:

Predictions are always a part of the pre-season publications and the Hockey News Yearbook is no exception. They rate the Pacific Division teams strong, with their money on Anaheim to win the division and the number one seed in the conference. But the publication also rates the Stars and San Jose Sharks right behind, with the two rivals meeting in the first round as the four and five seeds.

The other preview guide available in California is the 2007 Official NHL Yearbook. With a regional cover that also features Joe Thornton, the NHL Yearbook by Faceoff features the family Staal (Marc, Eric, Jordan, Jared), the excellent 2005-06 rookie class "one of the most talented in history", the 50-goal NHL milestone past and present, the success of the "Tre Kroner" after Olympic and World Championship gold, and a ranking of the top 50 NHL players.

Joe Thornton was ranked #6 in the league ("Cheechoo lifted Thornton's game to extraordinary heights"), Patrick Marleau 16th ("scored more than half of his goals on the PP"), and Cheechoo 25th. The yearbook predicted the Sharks would finish 1st in the Pacific, and 2nd overall in the West. Out of 15 goaltenders, Nabokov was ranked 14th with a note that he will be pushed for starts by Toskala, and an acknowledgement that Evgeni has three 30-win seasons in the last 5 years, and a sub-3 goals against average in the last 4.

Two preview guides available online or outside of the California area are the Score Sports Forecaster 2006-07 Hockey Yearbook, and the McKeen's Hockey 2006-07 NHL Yearbook.

Lyle Richardson, a.k.a. Spector, has a post detailing the preview guides NHL rankings on his Fox Sports blog. Spector notes that THN predicts the Sharks will finish 4th in the West, the Sporting News predicts the Sharks will finish 1st in the Pacific, and the Score predicts the Sharks will finish 2nd in the Pacific.

No predictions from this blog at this early state, but there will be photos and notes posted from the Pacific Shootout rookie tournament in Los Angeles next weekend. The San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, and Anaheim Ducks will all have prospects participating. Thanks to James Mirtle for providing information for this post.

- San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter Ross McKeon predicted how the San Jose Sharks roster would shake out in the regular edition of the Hockey News. McKeon mentioned that the progress of Matt Carle made the Tom Preissing trade possible, and that Gorges, Murray, Davidson, Fahey, Biron and rookie Marc-Edouard Vlasic will all compete for the 6th and 7th Sharks defensive position. With the addition of Curtis Brown, Mark Bell, and Mike Grier, McKeon noted that Smith, Parker, Stevenson, Rissmiller, Setoguchi, Kaspar, and Tomas Plihal would all fight for the last 2 forward positions on the roster.

- Welcome to new Sharkspage contributor Max Giese. Max is a writer for McKeen's hockey but he is also well known for his annual draft preview on the Hockey's Future messageboards. Sharks Director of Amateur Scouting Tim Burke complimented Max's preview during the 2005 State of the Sharks event. Give Max some time to break in this blog, and he should provide a lot of information on hockey outside the Bay Area. A contact email should be available for him shortly.

- Also welcome Jeremy Roenick to the blog world. Jeremy's latest post on hockeybuzz.com discusses the high quality of hockey that will be on display in California and Phoenix this season. A road trip to Phoenix, with a stop at Antelope Canyon along the way, just might be in the cards this year for Sharkspage.


From One Hockey Fan To Another

As much I as enjoy having the time off and the nice weather during the summer, I'm starting to get that itch that I cannot scratch going down the back of my spine. Any hockey fan knows the one I'm talking about, and it can only mean one thing. The hockey season is almost upon us! The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has began their pre-season schedule, the U-18 World Cup has come and gone, the Pacific Division Shootout is a week away, and the NHL itself will begin their training camp in a couple of weeks.

That also means it's the time of the year that Sharkspage.com will begin to overload your viewing sensory with great coverage on the San Jose Sharks and the game of hockey in general. I'm a new blogger on board and I cannot wait to begin my first season here with Sharkspage.com.

Allow me to introduce myself. I'm a nine-teen year old college student from Janesville Wisconsin, whose been watching and playing hockey since I was four years old. How did I become a Sharks fan in Wisconsin you ask? To be honest, at first it was the jersey that lured me in, the Sharks were the new team to the NHL and they had the coolest jersey out there with eye catching teal and the impressive Shark logo on the crest. As I began to follow the team through magazine pictures, hockey cards, video games, news paper scores, and anything I could see on ESPN, I instantly became a die hard and never looked back since. I was their when we watched Kelly Kissio and Doug Wilson stabilize a pretty sorry team, heck I still have a #17 Pat Falloon jersey hanging in my closet. My all time favorite Shark and NHL player has to be Arturs Irbe and I don't think I stand a lone. His first year as a Shark was a trying one but he was the glue that held our 93-94 run together and what a run it was.

I play goalie myself, but my real passion is to watch the best of the best play this great game. I played high school hockey the last four years in my junior year I want first team all conference, first team all state, and took the lowest seeded team in history of Wisconsin High School Hockey to the State tournament and we took third. I was offered to play Junior B hockey for the Wisconsin Mustangs but I chose to go to school and do what I love to do, watch hockey and chase a career in writing about it by going to school for a degree in journalism. My more ambitious dream is to become an amateur scout some day. I scout the USHL, WCHA, AHL, and Chicago Showcase for McKeenshockey.com, and I hope to bring some of that insight here to Sharkspage.com.

Feel free to give me an email anytime to correct my poor grammar or just talk hockey, and to everyone, GO SHARKS!


"Pacific Division Shootout" begins next Friday, rookie tournaments also set for Toronto and Michigan

NHL Rookie Tournament

The fourth annual "Pacific Shootout" rookie tournament featuring prospects from the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and Phoenix Coyotes will be held September 8-12th at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California. Two games will be played every day except for Sunday, with the consolation and championship games taking place Tuesday night at 4PM and 7PM respectively.

The "Pacific Shootout" began in El Segundo in 2003, with the Phoenix Coyotes defeating the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 to win the inaugural tournament. The next year at Anaheim's Disney Ice, the Sharks lost to Phoenix 3-2 in the consolation game as the Mighty Ducks earned a 7-2 win over an undefeated Kings squad. The Sharks took third place with a 5-2 win over Phoenix at the 2005 rookie tournament at Logitech Ice in San Jose. The Ducks won their second "Pacific Shootout" tournament with a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Ryan Getzlaf was named as the tournament MVP after leading all players in goals (4), assists (5), and points (9).

Preliminary rosters for the 2006 tournament in Southern California have been set. The San Jose Sharks will ice three first round draft picks in RW Lukas Kaspar (2004), RW Devin Setoguchi (2005), and defenseman Ty Wishart (2006) as well as promising goaltenders Thomas Greiss and Taylor Dakers.

San Jose Executive VP and General Manager Doug Wilson commented recently on the rookie tournament:

This tournament provides a great opportunity for our prospects and recent draft picks to play in a game environment against members of their own peer group. It gives our scouting staff an opportunity to evaluate our players and see their progression first-hand. The tournament has seen some great players on the ice and this year will be no different.

Phoenix's first selection in 2006, defenseman Peter Mueller was voted the WHL's top rookie after scoring 58 points in 52 games for the Evertt Silvertips last season. 2005 first round draft pick center Martin Hanzal, and Val-d'Or center Olivier Latendresse (4th in QMJHL scoring) will also suit up for Phoenix. A complete Coyotes roster for the tournament can be found on phoenixcoyotes.com.

The Los Angeles Kings will bring a stocked lineup to their home practice rink at El Segundo with Sharkspage favorites 6-4, 220 pound center Anze Kopitar (1st-2005, 11th overall), and Japanese AHL/ECHL goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji. Unfortunately for the Kings prospects, newly minted GM Dean Lombardi told John McGourty in an interview that he believes none of the rookies will make the NHL roster out of training camp. The addition of solid veterans, and the logjam at center, makes that a tough proposition.

The Anaheim Ducks will be looking to defend two straight "Pacific Division Shootout" titles. Thanks to the invaluable LetsgoKings.com, the Ducks tournament roster can be found here. 2005 first round draft pick Bobby Ryan (RW) is scheduled to play, along with 2006 first round pick and Michigan sophomore Mark Mitera (D).

Mitera described his style of play to NHL.com's Shawn P. Roarke:

If I had to pick a player to mold my style after, it would be Chris Pronger. He's a big guy, physical player. Guys don't want to come down his side of the ice. He's got the good shot from the point and I'd like to fit that mold of a player. I am a defensive defenseman, a physical guy. I think I'm a team player. I see the ice well and make good passes. I'm a good, hard-working player.

Tickets for the Pacific Division Shootout can be purchased at the Toyota Sports Center box office. The main box office phone number is 310-535-4400.

- More information on the teams participating in the rookie tournament at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto is available from the York Lions (Canadian University), the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Montreal Canadiens, The Florida Panthers will also be participating in Toronto.

- Dearth of eligible players forces Senators to cancel popular rookie pre-season tournament - National Post.
In previous years, the Ottawa Senators rookie tournament provided the club's fans with a first look at young stars such as Jason Spezza, Marian Hossa and Martin Havlat. However, because of a shortage of eligible players and a heavy slate of NHL exhibition games, the Senators have decided not to stage the tournament this year...

"Out of 30 teams in the NHL, I would say 20 of the teams don't have a rookie tournament," Senators president Roy Mlakar said yesterday. "The components change every year. This is just one of those years for us. The majority of our [prospects] are European or American collegiate players and already committed and couldn't come here." Mlakar said it would return next year.

- Prospects set to compete in Michigan Tourney - Newyorkrangers.com.

For the first time since it began in 2001, the annual Traverse City Prospects Tournament will include the Blueshirts in its eight-team field. For the Rangers organization, it's the first participation in a preseason prospects tournament since a similar tournament in Kitchener, Ontario, six years ago...

Players will arrive in New York for pre-tournament training on Sept. 6 and travel to Traverse City the following day. From Sept. 8-11, the prospects will play a total of three games, as the tournament field divides into two round-robin groups of four teams. Final placement games, including the championship game between the two group winners, will be played on Sept. 12. Two days later, the Rangers' main training camp is set to open.

The Rangers' round-robin opponents will be Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Detroit. All games will be played at Center Ice Arena in Traverse City, Mich.

- Recommended draft website: http://nhldraftnet.aol.com.

- An interesting article last month in the Buffalo News (Sabres review scouting, go to video) detailed the Sabres move from on-location scouting to an almost exclusive reliance on video scouting. After the turnover of several high ranking members of Buffalo's development staff, general manager Darcy Regier made video analysis a team priority. While the details of the scouting process were minimal, there was a considerable backlash in quotes from current and former scouts.

[Update] Rookie Tournament Schedule:

Friday, Sept. 8
9:00 am Phoenix practice
10:00 am San Jose practice
11:00 am Kings practice
Noon Anaheim practice
4:00 pm San Jose vs. Phoenix
7:00 pm Kings vs Anaheim

Saturday, Sept. 9
9:00 am Anaheim practice
10:00 am Phoenix practice
11:00 am Kings practice
Noon San Jose practice
4:00 pm Anaheim vs. Phoenix
7:00 pm Kings vs San Jose

Sunday, Sept. 10
9:00 am Anaheim practice
11:15 am San Jose practice
1:00 pm Kings practice
2:45 Phoenix practice

Monday, Sept. 11
9:00 am Anaheim practice
10:00 am San Jose practice
11:00 am Phoenix practice
Noon Kings practice
4:00 pm San Jose vs. Anaheim
7:00 pm Kings vs. Phoenix

Tuesday, Sept. 12
4:00 pm Consolation Game
7:00 pm Championship Game