Three keys for the Detroit Red Wings after two games

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby Stanley Cup Finals game 1
Detroit Red Wings fan Kid Rock at Stanley Cup Finals game 2

Three reasons the Detroit Red Wings have sprinted out to a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals:

- Versatility. The Red Wings offense is the definition of a balanced attack. The quick strike, quick transition offense led by Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk can instantly capitalize on turnovers. Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen, and Daniel Cleary provide a trio of crease crashing options that can disrupt even the tightest playoff defensive system. The Wings also play a strong physical game in the corners and along the wall that can wear down Pittsburgh and force turnovers and mistakes later in the game. Finally, with 4 puck moving defenseman Detroit has skill on the points that should be a penalty kill's worst nightmare. A departure from the third best power play in the regular season (20.7), the Red Wings were only 1-6 in the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals, and 0-8 in game 2. If they are given a similar amount of man advantage opportunities moving forward, there has to be a breakout game for the Detroit power play in the works.

- Experience. The Detroit Red Wings handed Pittsburgh the playoff baton early in game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins were unable to capitalize on 4 straight Detroit penalties, and a costly mistake by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury lead directly to Mikael Samuelsson's first goal. Fleury misplayed Samuelsson's wraparound attempt, his right foot was set up outside the post and he was unable to T-push across to his left and make a fairly straightforward save. Detroit is a veteran squad, one mistake or one inopportune penalty is all they need to close out a game. When Detroit is behind, they can double shift the usual suspects (Datsyuk, Zetterberg), but they also have skill players who can contribute in the clutch. Underperforming earlier in the playoffs, Samuelsson sank the San Jose Sharks in the second round last season. Daniel Cleary and Valtteri Filppula were streaky scorers during the regular season. Detroit plays solid positional hockey, good spacing and a determined forecheck from the top down. Detroit head coach Mike Babcock mixed up the lines facing Evgeni Malkin, giving him different looks that kept him from gaining any momentum. With Penguins head coach Michel Therrien having the last change in Pittsburgh, he will look for ways to spark their young regular season scoring leader.

- Nicklas Lidstrom. Much of the talk surrounding Conn Smythe most valuable player speculation is centering around Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood. Two straight shutouts, 1.38GAA, 137 minutes of scoreless hockey... on the surface it is well deserved. Others are focusing on shot totals, with Detroit limiting Pittsburgh to 19 and 22 respectively, and submitting Datsyuk and Zetterberg for consideration. Given the fact that there are a number of games still to be played, the hands down leader should be Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom. He logged the most ice time of any Detroit player in the first two games (25:51, 25:05), and finished with an assist and 3 blocked shots. More importantly he was the fly in Pittsburgh's oinment, making solid plays to clear or strip the puck and shut down the Penguins rare scoring chance opportunities. He crushed their will to live, and was a major factor in instilling the self doubt that great teams inflict on opponents. In a game 1 liveblog on AOL, I mentioned that you can not really grasp how good Lidstrom is unless you are at ice level watching him play. He thinks 3-4 steps ahead of the action, puts himself in a good position to make a play, and can be considered almost a 5-on-5 quarterback the way he can control the offensive flow of a game. At this point in the series Lidstrom deserves MVP consideration, with Osgood a close second.

The photos above are used with permission from Christy Hammond's dad at BehindtheJersey.com. He is one of the best hockey photographers online (past photos of his here and here). Photo galleries from game 1 and game 2 can be seen here and here. With game 3 moving to Pittsburgh, home blog territory moves to Empty Netters and the Pensblog.

[Update] Crosby scores 2 to lift Penguins to 3-2 win in Game 3 - Yahoo Sports.

Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins found their offense right where they left it—home in the Igloo. Crosby scored Pittsburgh’s first two goals of the Stanley Cup finals, beating previously perfect goalie Chris Osgood, and the Penguins made this a series with a 3-2 victory Wednesday night.

The Red Wings still lead 2-1 after two shutout wins at home. Game 4 will be Saturday night, again in Pittsburgh, before the series shifts back to Detroit for a now necessary fifth game.

The Penguins improved to 9-0 at home in the playoffs and have won 17 straight there, dating to a loss to San Jose on Feb. 24. Pittsburgh’s previous game in front of the home crowd was a 6-0 blitz in the clinching Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Philadelphia.

Local Sports Notes - May 28th

Jr Middleweight boxer Ricardo Cortes
UFC light heavyweight Lyoto Machida defeats Tito Ortiz
San Jose Earthquakes MLS home opener Santa Clara FC Dallas

A few local sports news and notes:

- The Fight Night at the Tank boxing series returns to San Jose Thursday June 5th featuring the WBC's Carribean Heavyweight title holder Manuel Quezada (22-4, 15kos) vs Teke Oruh (14-1-1, 6kos), San Jose Jr Middleweight Ricardo Cortes (22-2-1, 15kos) vs Antonio Johnson (7-0, 3kos), and up and coming Northern Californian prospects Mike Dallas Jr (Bakersfield) and Eric Garcia (Salinas). Dallas Jr holds an extensive 115-12 amateur boxer record, competed in the Olympic trials, and won a PAL amateur national championship at 141 pounds. During his professional debut in San Jose, a unanimous decision win over Alejandro Balladares in March, legendary trainer Angelo Dundee worked his corner. After a very popular training session at the Titanium Gym in SF prior to his fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, WBC Super Featherweight title holder Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao will train at the West-Wind School in Berkeley as part of the promotional tour for his fight with David Diaz.

- On SpikeTV's hour long Countdown to UFC 84 video preview, a feature on undefeated light heavyweight Lyoto Machida (13-0, 3kos) noted a move to San Jose to train at the American Kickboxing Academy in preperation for a pivotal bout with former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz. Machida is one of the few competitors to successfully adapt his Shotokan Karate background to mixed martial arts, and the dominant tactician smothered Ortiz for 3 rounds en route to a unanimous decision win. The stacked UFC 84 card also saw former PrideFC champion Wanderlei Silva snap a losing streak with an early first round KO over Keith Jardine, and Hawaiian B.J. Penn take apart former UFC lightweight champ Sean Sherk to become the undisputed champion.

Local mixed martial arts organization Strikeforce, based out of San Jose, has seen its first ever MMA highlight program on NBC submit the competition in its late Saturday night time slot. Strikeforce on NBC's .5 national rating in the 18-34 yr/old male demographic was more than 4 of the last 5 "Jimmy Kimmel Live" programs, more than all five airings of "The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson", and equal to a pair of "Late Night with David Letterman" broadcasts according to a press release. Strikeforce on NBC airs late Saturday nights after SNL and Poker After Dark, and is also available online at nbc.com and Hulu.com. On June 27th Strikeforce will feature a clash between two elite Bay Area fighters, Gilbert Melendez (Fairtex) and Josh Thompson (AKA), for Melendez's Strikeforce Lightweight Championship. The card will also feature noted PrideFC and Fox Sports commentator Frank Trigg, Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos, heavyweight Anthony Ruiz, and Elaina Maxwell.

This is going to be a massive week for MMA on broadcast television and on cable. Elite XC will kick off its Saturday Night primetime programming at 9PM on CBS with a card featuring Kimbo Slice, American Gladiator Gina Carano, a superfight between Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith for the Lawler's EliteXC middleweight title, and Phil Baroni vs Sharkspage favorite Joey Villasenor. San Jose's Frank Shamrock will provide color commentary for the broadcast. Sneak in a Larry Beil "with authority" for the Bay Area viewers if you read this blog Frank. This blog needs to develop a catchphrase.

On cable, Versus will air its highest profile mixed martial arts card to date. WEC 34live from Sacramento on June 1st will feature Sac native and former UC Davis wrestler Urijah Faber and Jens Pulver for Faber's WEC featherweight title. Faber is considered a top pound-for-pound fighter among those in any weight class from any organization, legitimately top three or top two. Also on the card will be a tough matchup between Yoshiro Maeda and Miguel Torres, Rob McCullough, Jeff Curran, Chase Beebe and Sharkspage favorite Charlie Valencia. Solid. More information is available via versus.com or wec.com. Also of note locally: Pure Combat held its first event in Stockton (event report by Sherdog), and the Cage Combat Fighting Championships featured 3 title fights for its May 17th card at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.

Last note, ESPN has announced a new half hour mixed martial arts highlight program that will air on its broadband video section. It will have a tough time gaining traction among the very popular HDnet Inside MMA show featuring Bas Rutten (available for download Friday's on Sherdog.com), but ESPN should not have a problem creating a significant standalone audience. There is no Sharkspage MMA highlight program in the works.

- The San Francisco Chroncile's report on the Bay to Breakers quarter marathon is definitely worth a read, and the poll options are classic. Was on the blogger injured reserve for the Bay to Breakers race and the Pat Tillman run this month, but friends and family were involved in raising money for both. One charity for the B2B used previous race photos from this blog.

- The third photo above features a sunset over the San Jose Earthquakes Santa Clara home opener with FC Dallas. Dallas and San Jose finished with a 0-0 tie on May 3rd in front of 10,515 vocal fans. In two subsequent games at SC, the Quakes suffered a late come from behind 3-2 loss to Columbus, and a solid 2-1 win over the 2-time defending champion Houston Dynamo. The game with Houston was featured on ESPN2, and archived briefly on ESPN360.com. The announcers repeatedly mentioned the loud fans and organized chants from the crowd, and the audio picked them up perfectly the entire game.

There were several nice runs by midfielders Ivan Guerrero and Ryan Johnson, and Los Altos high school alumni Joe Cannon was solid in goal, but Quakes GM John Doyle is examining all possibilities to bring in a striker to provide more offense. The Quakes rebuilding process is far ahead of where it should be for an expansion team, but they have access to one of the deepest pools of local collegiate talent in the country. Expect several mid to late draft selections to contribute in the coming years. Danish Brondy IF import Peguero Jean Philippe has reinjured a knee and will miss the rest of the MLS season, and according to Elliott Almond of the SJ Mercury News forward Kei Kamara will miss 5 games due to World Cup qualifying for his home country of Sierra Leone. One of the best sources for in-depth SJ Earthquakes information is the new centerlinesoccer.com website. Well worth a visit. If you missed the Manchester United vs Chelsea competing in the Champions League Final in Moscow, the game is archived on ESPN360.com.

- The longest operating horse racing track in California, San Mateo's Bay Meadows, finished its 74th and final regular season of racing on May 11th. A few news reports promoted the finale with significant fanfare, but the last 10 days of racing on the picturesque racetrack will actually take place during the San Mateo County Fair (which finishes August 17th). Bay Meadows track publicity manager Tom Ferrall noted the confusion, and said that the Fairgrounds races will feature the "pomp and circumstance" befitting the track's longstanding history. A local group called the Friends of Bay Meadows is trying to organize a last ditch lawsuit to save the race track, more power to them.

- Following the French Open, several of the top women on the tour will travel to Stanford for the 2008 Bank of the West Classic July 14-20th.

- After tommorow's Calgary Vipers Golden Baseball League home opener against the Edmonton Cracker Cats, there will be one more line item in legendary anti-Sharks agitator Theo Fleury's resume: two-sport athlete. According to Bill Graveland of the Canadian Press, Fleury is going to throw out the first pitch and possibly attempt to play a few innings. Fleury finished his hockey career with 455 goals and 1088 points in 1084 games played, as well as earning a Stanley Cup ring and an Olympic gold medal. The Calgary Herald's George Johnson delved deeper into Fleury's public enemy #1 persona in San Jose during the first round of the playoffs. Another team in the Golden Baseball League, the Chico Outlaws. If Fleury is available for a road game in Chico, this blog will hold a fundraiser and post live coverage.

- The re-unification of the IRL and Champ Car was given a boost with Danica Patrick's first win at the Japan 300 at Motegi (although the Long Beach Grand Prix Champ Car series broadcast send off was interrupted in the final 5 minutes by a Danica interview). This weekend the top two open wheel races of the year were held on the same day, the Indianapolis 500 and the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix. A contested Indy 500 race earned a 5.1 national rating and a 12.6 locally, and spurred a significant media and online discussion about the resurgence of open wheel racing in the U.S. After the drama of several caution flags and several hard crashes into the wall, the key for the race was the final few laps. In third place, trailing Target Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon and Panther Racing's Vitor Meira, Marco Andretti finished the last laps flat out. Andretti had to lift off the throttle slightly a couple of times in the corner, but he made an all out run for the win. Dixon and Meira simply could not be caught. It was edge of your seat viewing, something that the Indy 500 and open wheel racing need to happen more often.

Formula 1's Monaco Grand Prix may be the most prestigious automobile race of the year, but it is definitley the most exclusive. Surrounding apartments are often rented year round by wealthy fans who may use the room one week of the year for the race, hotel rooms are booked years in advance, and several multi-million dollar yachts line the coastal section of the track were heard blaring their enormous horns after the race finish as Prince Albert II awarded Lewis Hamilton and McLaren-Mercedes their awards. The 2.075 mile track at Monaco is extremely tight, with little to no runoff areas and a menacing sea of concrete looking back at the drivers after every turn. At the start of the race the rain was extremely heavy, and showers continued for some time. Several drivers anticipated dry conditions, and slid hard into the wall after they moved early to intermediate tires. The late Brazilian Ayrton Senna won in Monaco six times, including 5 straight races from 1989-93. There was a little spirit of Senna on display in 2008, as drivers repeatedly dive bombed each other in corners to make a pass, or launched on the throttle early to pass on the very narrow and short straights. It was one of the best F1 races of the season to date on the most storied track on the circuit, and Puffy Daddy/Diddy or Sean Combs was there to slurp a little champagne with Lewis Hamilton in the winners circle. A post-race analysis from the official formula 1 website is available here. Video highlights are available via youtube here, highly recommended.

[Update] San Jose approves agreement for sale of Airport West property - Centerlinesoccer.com.

[Update2] Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane held a three part interview with one of the longest running Bay Area sports blogs Athletics Nation: part1, part2, part3. Great interview by Blez, who can also be read online at Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area.

Monaco Grand Prix

[Update3] Here is a bonus photo of Monaco the week before the race from my brother Chris Swenson. Not exactly race related (he is fired as a blog correspondent), but it gives you a slice of the coastline. The terraced skyline and extravagant casinos are also local highlights.

[Update4] U.S. Men's National Team Drops 2-0 Decision to England at Wembley Stadium - USsoccer.org.


Modest ratings increases piling up for NHL, but sustained long-term growth needed to regain former national footprint


1995 - 5.21 (FOX) NJ d. DET 4-0.
1996 - 5.09 (FOX) COL d. FLA 4-0.
1997 - 6.37 (FOX) DET d. PHI 4-0.
1998 - 4.83 (FOX) DET d. WAS 4-0.
1999 - 4.87 (FOX) DAL d. BUF 4-2.
2000 - 5.51 (ABC) NJ d. DAL 4-2.
2001 - 5.06 (ABC) COL d. NJ 4-3.
2002 - 5.77 (ABC) DET d. CAR 4-1.
2003 - 3.63 (ABC/ESPN)* NJ d. ANA 4-3.
2004 - 3.29 (ABC/ESPN)* TB d. CAL 4-3.
2005 - no NHL season
2006 - 2.83 (NBC/OLN)** CAR d. EDM 4-3.
2007 - 1.76 (NBC/VS)** ANA d. OTT 4-1.

* ABC had 5 telecasts, ESPN 2, combined average taken. ** NBC had 5 telecasts, OLN/VS 2, combined average taken. 2006 and 2007 ratings include live plus same day viewing, all other data live viewing only. Information via Nielsen Media Research, TVbythenumbers.com, and NHL Media.

An initial look at the year-to-year average television ratings for the NHL's Stanley Cup Final shows a near two-thirds drop in overall numbers over 12 years. The drop is precipitous, and it provides many a mainstream journalist the club with which they can mercilously beat the NHL into an out-of-sight hardcore sports subculture. There are several mitigating factors in the decline, the transition in part from network television to cable, a string of mismatched teams in the finals, and a general movement among viewers towards time shifted broadcasts and online viewing that affects sports and non-sports programming alike. The coup-de-grace came in 2007 with a battle between two smaller television markets in Southern California and the Canadian capital of Ottawa. A significant percentage of viewers in the Anaheim market did not have access to Versus during their broadcast of the first two Stanley Cup Finals games, resulting in a viewership of 523,000 and 446,000 households respectively. Game 3 on NBC drew the lowest ratings (1.1, 2 share) for a primetime sports or non-sports program in NBC's then 66 year history on television.

If that confluence of events did not constitute a floor then the league's hope of staunching the bleeding to build a U.S. television foothold would be in trouble. 2007-08 began to see the pendulum swing in the opposite direction. According to the Sports Business Daily, the NHL saw an 11% increase in ratings for games on NBC and a 28% growth in viewership for games on Versus during the regular season. Fifteen regional networks also saw a boost in hockey ratings over 2006-07. According to Commissioner Gary Bettman, the NHL reached another league attendance record with a total of 21 million fans, an average of over 17,000 a game. Combined with a modest boost in revenues that will exceed $2.5 billion, even the most callous observer (i.e. any mainstream sports journalist in the Bay Area) would have to acknowledge the positive momentum the NHL earned heading into the playoffs.

The opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs drew modest ratings increases, with 7-game series wins by Montreal (over Boston) and San Jose (over Calgary) offering up added buzz and added suspense. In San Jose, the game 7 win over Calgary drew a 4.6 average rating (111,000 households) on Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area with an 8.8 peak rating (212,000). The highest numbers since a Conference Semifinal game 7 against Colorado in 2002 drew a 5.7. Approximately 3 million viewers turned into Montreal's game 7 win over Boston in Quebec alone.

The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs saw several critical matchups from a marketing and talent perspective: Pittsburgh Penguins and its collection of young talent against the New York Rangers, Montreal vs Philadelphia, Colorado standing in front of the oncoming Detroit train, and San Jose vs Dallas. Versus aired eight exclusive NHL broadcasts in the Conference Semis, and 7 non-exclusive games. Game 4 of the Pittsburgh-Rangers series drew 1,184,589 total viewers, making it a then record for an NHL broadcast on Versus. Overall ratings were up 51% and viewership among the coveted male 18-34 and 25-54 demographics were up 77% and 84% respectively. Locally, the Sharks 4 overtime elimination loss to the Dallas Stars registered an average rating of 5.9 (142,000+ households). It was an alltime record for the NHL on CSNBA, which saw a playoff ratings increase of 233% over the regular season.

The NHL's 2007-08 Cinderella story hit a snag in the Conference Finals. Physically and emotionally drained after a marathon effort against the San Jose Sharks, Dallas dropped the first three games of the Western Conference Finals to Detroit. Philadelphia decided to match Dallas loss for loss, dropping three straight contests to the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins. The Flyers were eliminated in 5 games, the Stars extended their playoff life to 6. The game 2 broadcast of Pittsburgh's 4-2 win over Philly drew a 1.7 rating on Versus, setting a new record for an NHL game on the network. The game 5 elimination of Philadelphia at the hand of Pittsburgh drew 2.5 million viewers on NBC's Sunday broadcast. It was the most viewers for a non-Stanley Cup Finals game on NBC in 6 years.

Heading into the Stanley Cup Finals, a comparison of the competition for Saturday's Game 1 is in order. CBS earned the most total viewers among the major broadcast networks according to Nielsen's fast affiliate results (CBS: 4.55 million, ABC: 4.34, Fox: 3.98, NBC: 3.13). The obvious competition was the much reported clash between Detroit Red Wings fans and Detroit Pistons fans for ABC's game 3 airing of the Pistons-Celtics conference final series. The 4.3 million viewers was more than a million less than games 1 and 2 on ESPN according to Sports Media Watch. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins drew a 1.8 rating on Versus and 2.3 million total viewers, up 157% from last year. Versus had a strong, albeit not direct, lead-in via Ricky Hatton's 12 round decision over Juan Lazcano earlier Saturday. The highest profile boxing event on the network to date aired live from Hatton's hometown of Manchester, England. The PPV-worthy fight finished an hour and a half before the start of the Versus Hockey Central pre-game show at 4:30PM (PT).

The increases round over round in the playoffs, and the strong showing during the regular season demonstrate the NHL's building momentum, and the benefit of having two of the highest profile teams participating in the Stanley Cup Finals. Not included are numbers for the NHL's online streaming partners including Yahoo and Comcast in the U.S., and TSN, CBC and RDS in Canada. The NHL has not released any numbers for the NHL Center Ice Online streaming broadcasts, although they have announced that the service will be redesigned in the offseason. The NHL has oft-repeated that it is on the forefront of utilizing new media and new technologies to deliver content. The league should release usage figures to give fans and media a firm account of how much a role they play in the overall viewership. Bottom line, the numbers are trending up, but the NHL and its network partners have work ahead of them to make sure that holds true moving forward.

[Update] Hoops, hockey enjoy ratings rebounds - Reuters/Hollywood Reporter.

[Update2] Versus Drops Puck On Stanley Cup Final Tonight, Comcast-Owned Serivce Has Netted Record Ratings With NHL Playoffs - Mike Reynolds for Multichannel News.

"Strong hockey markets playing deep into the playoffs, emerging young stars and an intensely high level of play, coupled with our un-matched, all-encompassing coverage of the sport, came together this season to create an unbelievable year of the NHL on Versus," said network president Gavin Harvey in a statement. "We're heading into our third Stanley Cup Final with a ton of momentum after the best conference finals in years and look forward to televising Games 1 and 2 of what looks to be an incredible series between two historic franchises playing at the top of their game."

[Update3] Ratings rise for Stanley Cup finals opener - AP.

The Detroit Red Wings' victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals opener was the highest-rated and most-watched cable telecast of the championship round in six years.

The Red Wings' 4-0 win on Saturday night had a 1.8 national rating - drawing over 2.3 million viewers. The rating was the highest for an NHL game on Versus, topping the audience that watched the Penguins' Game 2 victory over Philadelphia in this year's Eastern Conference finals. Only Lance Armstrong's final ride in the 2005 Tour de France had a higher rating in Versus history (2.1).

[Update4] Hockey on Television and Online --- Comcast Sportsnet, Versus, NBC, NHL Video, ESPN, Hulu, Youtube, Verizon and more - Sharkspage.

[Update5] In addition to the national numbers for game 1, the local broadcasts of Versus registered a 8.4 household rating in the Detroit market and a whopping 19.0 household rating in Pittsburgh. Detroit is the 11th-largest television market in the U.S., Pittsburgh 22nd. CBC averaged 2.11 million Canadian viewers for game 1, down 19%. The french language RDS drew 720,000 viewers for the opening game, up 25%.


AHL coaches Kevin Dineen, Mike Haviland, and Roy Sommer in the running for San Jose position, or not

Portland Pirates AHL head coach Kevin Dineen
Rockford Icehogs AHL head coach Mike Haviland
Worcester Sharks head coach Roy Sommer

In Tuesday's State of the Sharks event, San Jose general manager Doug Wilson illuminated one detail about the ongoing search for the a new head coach -- you will not hear his name mentioned by the GM until he is hired. Among a list of approximately 40 candidates as described by Wilson, three AHL head coaches should garner consideration for the position in San Jose: Portland Pirates (Anaheim Ducks) head coach Kevin Dineen, who can advance to the Calder Cup Finals with a game 6 win on the road over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tonight, Rockford IceHogs head coach Mike Haviland, who won the Louis A.R. Pieri Award for AHL coach of the year in 2006-07, and Oakland California native and long-time Sharks AHL head coach in Kentucky/Cleveland/Worcester Roy Sommer. Two Sharkspage correspondents, Max Giese and Darryl Hunt, attended a number of games in Rockford and Worcester this season and have a few thoughts on each candidate later in this post.

Doug Wilson discussed a few specifics Tuesday about the circumstances of a coaching search, noting that several candidates are still playing or are under contract until later in the offseason. He offered several examples of the type of coaches he is interested in, a pair of Stanley Cup Final coaches in Detroit's Mike Babcock and Pittsburgh's Michel Therrien, last season's Stanley Cup winner in Anaheim's Randy Carlyle, animated motivators who have won Cups in Carolina's Peter Laviolette (05-06) and Tampa Bay's John Tortorella (03-04). Then he threw a curveball and said a coach with no Cup experience, one with a blue collar work ethic who challenges players could be given an opportunity. He told a brief story about how initially Mike Babcock was not liked in the Detroit locker room, but hard work and determination paid off in a Stanley Cup Final appearance. Wilson said there will be no deadline for a coach to be hired, and that he plans on following the Detroit model in San Jose.

Portland's Kevin Dineen was described by Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal earlier this month as the best coach available outside of the NHL. Matheson noted that Dineen's Portland Pirates knocked off the best regular season team in the Providence Bruins to advance to the AHL's Eastern Conference Finals, and called him smart and fast on his feet. In 2005-06, Dineen was awarded the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL's top coach. He had to navigate the loss of Dustin Penner, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf due to NHL callups, and injuries to several key players as the Pirates eventually lost in the third round of the Calder Cup playoffs. In an extensive playing career, Dineen was named to the NHL Allstar Game twice (88, 89), and was a runner up for the Masterton Trophy in a strike shortened 1994-95 season (awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey). Sharkspage's Darryl Hunt believes Kevin Dineen should be considered a top candidate for the head coaching position in San Jose, and another unnamed AHL official believes he has an up-tempo, high energy style that could be well suited to the Sharks style of play.

Mike Haviland earned AHL coach of the year honors in 2006-07, leading then Chicago Blackhawks affiliate Norfolk Admirals to a franchise record 108 points (50-22-6-2). He lead the Rockford IceHogs to a 44-26-4-6 record and a playoff berth in their inaugural season this year. The Hogs ousted the Houston Aeros in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. Highly touted goaltending prospect Corey Crawford allowed a miniscule 6 goals on 133 shots, with 1 shutout, as the Hogs advanced in 5 games. Down 0-2 to the Chicago Wolves (Atlanta Thrashers affiliate), Haviland and the IceHogs battled back with 3 straight wins in the Division Final. A 4-goal second period by Chicago sank Rockford in game 6, and they were outscored 4-1 in game 7 despite outshooting the Chicago Wolves 39-23. Haviland has a career 265-132-35-16 coaching record and a .631 wining percentage in six seasons as a head coach at the professional level. Asked about Haviland as a coaching candidate, Max Giese described him as an upfront and passionate head coach, one who is good at developing younger players. A behind the bench video of Haviland in action from Chicago Blackhawks TV is available here.

Roy Sommer's AHL coaching career almost tracks the entire history of the San Jose Sharks top minor league affiliations. After 5 years of coaching in the ECHL, where he won a Riley Cup Championship with Richmond in 94-95, a Brabham Cup (best regular season record) and ECHL coach of the year honors in 1995-96, Sommer's AHL coaching career includes 3 seasons with the Sharks AHL affiliate in Kentucky (128-84-28, three playoff appearances), 5 seasons with Cleveland (150-224-26, one playoff appearance), and the ingural 2007-08 campagin with the Worcester Sharks(41-39-0, 1 playoff appearance). Sommer, the longest tenured head coach in the AHL, also spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks NHL franchise in 1997 and 1998. Prior to the start of the 2007-08 AHL season, Sommer had coached 60 players who have spent time in the National Hockey League.

In a 2004 interview with the official Cleveland Barons website, Sommer discussed his approach on developing younger defenseman:

[Q] What is your approach defensively?

[Sommer] I always say a defenseman is best when he keeps it simple. Move the puck to a forward and be done with it. You want to make it simple. Go with the first play you see. But with a lot of young guys, that isn't the case. When they get here, it is the first time that they aren't the "man" on the ice. They are competing on an even playing field. They can't keep the puck for extended periods of time. Passing becomes more important.

Here is an example. If a player was at Junior, he could make a brilliant 30 foot pass and create a goal. But here and in the NHL, there isn't that much time and space. You have to make three 10 foot passes. It is just a learning process. I try telling all the guys. But it isn't something that you can be told and you just start doing it. It eventually just clicks.

Roy Sommer has wealth of experience with the Sharks style of play, and is highly regarded in NHL circles as an excellent development coach, but it is expected that he will remain with the affiliate in Worcester. Sharkspage's Darryl Hunt calls Sommer the consumate "hockey guy", one who is kind on and off the ice. In the end, that may seperate him from the direction the Sharks have expressed an interest in going towards with a new head coach.

[Update] Red Wings assistant Todd McLellan could land head coaching position - USA Today.

[Update2] Sharks' coach will be ... - Mark Purdy for the San Jose Mercury News.

We now have definitive proof that San Jose is a hockey town. Earlier this week, a civilian spotted Joel Quenneville on the streets of our fair city. And actually recognized Quenneville. And tipped off a Mercury News columnist about it...

The hunch here, though, is that as soon as Portland is done, Wilson will be talking with (Kevin) Dineen. And eventually making him an offer. Citizen journalists, if you see Dineen strolling through your neighborhood, please advise. I think he's your next Sharks coach.

[Update3] Home win was big as Portland hits road - Maine Morning Sentinel.

But one more thing gave the Portland Pirates momentum as they headed back on the road for the conclusion of the American Hockey League's Eastern Conference Finals -- a 3-2 series lead. Portland faces Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Game 6 at 7:05 tonight at the Wachovia Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. The Pirates are one win away from reaching the AHL's Calder Cup Finals for the first time since 1996. Game 7, if necessary, would be Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre...

Going back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a game in hand, Pirates coach Kevin Dineen explained, puts his team in a stronger frame of mind going into tonight's game.

"There's a desperation mode versus, we need to go in there and make a statement," said Dineen, whose team is 4-4 on the road in the playoffs. "And I think all it does for us (Friday) is that it lets us rest a little easier. And that's what this series really is about right now. It's about rest and trying to conserve some energy."

Portland Pirates goaltender Mike McKenna, who is starting with an injury to J.S. Aubin, has been seen several times on this blog in past seasons with the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL.


2008 State of the Sharks question and answer session

2008 State of the Sharks Cheechoo Wilson Jamison
2008 State of the Sharks GM Doug Wilson
2008 State of the Sharks Jonathan Cheechoo

A few rough highlights from Tuesday night's 2008 State of the Sharks question and answer session featuring Doug Wilson, Greg Jamison, Jonathan Cheechoo and Tim Burke:

- One of the main questions from fans for general manager Doug Wilson was the topic of a new head coach to replace Ron Wilson. Doug Wilson mentioned a list of 40 potential candidates that will be narrowed down, noting that many were still under contract. He said he wanted a head coach with a blue collar work ethic, one that will not shy away from being hard on players when needed. Wilson said that he could not go into specifics, and that the only time you will hear the new coach's name from him will be during the announcement of his hiring. Wilson also said that there are a lot of suggestions and speculation from fans and the media, but Anaheim Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle and Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock are similar to the type of coach he wants in San Jose. Wilson also mentioned that a number of coaching candidates have talked to him, and that the selection could come from the NHL, AHL or even juniors. Doug Wilson also had praise for the job Ron Wilson did in 4 and a half years behind the bench in San Jose, earning the second best regular season record since 2003-04. Doug Wilson said Ron Wilson was not a scapegoat, but that the team needed to move in a different direction.

- A second major concern for fans was the increase in ticket prices. President and CEO Greg Jamison understood several fans concerns about raising prices in a tough local economy, but he said the team made every effort but the move had to be made for business reasons. He said the cost of player salaries, maintainence and staff neccessitated the move. Jamison twice noted that Sharks online Power Play Ticket Trader marketplace for fans to sell tickets they can not use. One fan brought up the discrepancy between the Sharks claim of losing $5 million over the last two years, and the numbers offered by Forbes Magazine's Michael K. Ozanian that claimed the Sharks lost $5 million one year ago, but earned a $2 million profit in the second. Jamison mentioned that no one from Forbes has ever spoken with the Sharks, and that Forbes has published inaccurate figures several times. Four other NHL teams have made the same statement about the Forbes annual report on NHL finances. It should be noted that Ozanian also includes franchise valuations and has a different definition of "hockey specific" revenues than many owners.

- Another major concern of fans was ice conditions at HP Pavilion, a traditionally touchy subject. The fan noted that a less than perfect surface could detract from the performance of the team. Greg Jamison said that the Sharks considerably lowered the temperature inside the building, by as much as 10 degrees, and that they brought in the NHL ice expert and held on-ice activity during the day to a minimum. The problems with the ice tend to revolve around humidity, number of events, and temperature. Jamison belives humidity is the biggest concern, especially around the third week of December, but that they are doing the best they can under the circumstances. He also mentioned de-humidifiers brought in to address the problem. One fan mentioned darkening the lights during intermissions. Another fan mentioned in the concourse holding promotional activities off of the ice, or keeping the inner doors closed during game time.

- Jonathan Cheechoo was asked about playing the 4 overtime game. "I've never played in a game that long. It was interesting to go through, but in the end it was a heartbreaker. It was especially tough to go out like that" Cheechoo said. He also said that the new coaching decision should be left up to Doug Wilson, and that the power play in the playoffs needed better execution.

- Jeremy Roenick announced in a video segment that he is returning to the Sharks for another year (video here). He apologized for not being able to make it to the State of the Sharks event, but he said he has already started his offseason conditioning campaign. Prior to the start of the 2007-08 season, Roenick said he was pulled off the golf course to play with the San Jose Sharks and that he needed a crash conditioning course to prepare for the regular season. Roenick finished with 14 goals and 19 assists in 69 regular season games played, with 10 game winning goals and 4 shootout deciding tallies. Roenick scored 2 goals and 2 assists in the Western Conference Quarterfinal deciding 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames.

- One fan asked about how the Sharks plan on marketing the game to an ethnically diverse Bay Area audience. Greg Jamison mentioned an upcoming article later this month that would touch on that topic, and he gave rough numbers for the audience based on race (60% white, 20% latino, _% african american, _% non-white/non-latino/non-african american). Jamison also discussed building new rinks in Pleasanton, holding pre-season Sharks practices in the East Bay, and possibly working with local universities to build on campus hockey rinks. He also mentioned the blossoming high school league up and running the last few years. It really is an important topic. The number of new residents moving to the Bay Area in recent years is staggering, and finding a way to get them to attend a game or to pick up a stick and try the sport for the first time will be challenging.

- Doug Wilson asked a fan where he thought the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins payrolls were with regards to the rest of the league this season. According to Wilson, the Red Wings are 16th and the Penguins 22nd. He mentioned that NHL salary cap increase, and noted that the Sharks payroll would increase $7-8 million in 2008-09. He said some flexibility is needed with payroll when building a team from within, cap space is needed to protect younger players like Milan Michalek and Joe Pavelski from offer sheets.

- A few random notes: A fan mentioned not being able to get the game in Crescent City or in Southern California (LA or San Diego). Dan Rusanowsky mentioned the possibility of game being picked up by an affiliate-owned station in Crescent City, but mentioned that a gentleman's agreement prevented the Sharks from airing radio broadcasts in LA or San Diego. Fresno and Reno are Sharks territory, below that is the Kings and Ducks stomping grounds. Rusanowsky recommended XM Radio for radio reception in socal. Greg Jamison began the event by reading Mark Purdy's embarassing fantasy column, drawing laughter from the crowd. G.J. Berg asked the Sharks to confirm the health status of Mike Morris and Logan Couture. Morris was said to have a clean bill of health after several major setbacks, and Couture was said to be recovering after suffering a concussion on a recent hit by John Tavares. Doug Wilson mentioned speaking with Jody Shelley's agent. Also noted by Greg Jamison was that Event Presentation Coordinator Ayron Sequeira would be headed to the Detroit Red Wings next season. SVSE Director of Communications Ken Arnold said that Sequeira would take over the Director of Event Presentation position currently held by Steve Maroni in San Jose. Another fan voiced a complaint about internet highlights on sjsharks.com often featuring opposing team's television broadcasts. Greg Jamison said it is something the team is working on, but that the highlights are the pervue of the NHL. This blog will try to get Hulu.com to upload the Stars-Sharks 4 overtime Game 6, if possible the Comcast broadcast. Stay tuned, and note the custom Hulu banner on the left.

The flyer handed out to fans at the event is available online here:
page1 | page2.

List of Unrestricted Free Agents: Brian Boucher, Curtis Brown, Brian Campbell, Justin Forrest, Graham Mink, Brad Norton, Sandis Ozolinsh, Patrick Rissmiller, Alexei Semenov, Jody Shelley, Dimitri Patzold, Tom Cavanagh, Brennan Evans, Mike Iggulden, Tomas Plihal, Craig Valette. List of Restricted Free Agents: Riley Armstrong, Ryane Clowe, Christian Ehrhoff, Marcel Goc, Lukas Kaspar, Mike Morris, Joe Pavelski, Dan Spang, Brad Staubitz, Jonathan Tremblay.

A partial event transcript is available from sjsharks.com here.

[Update] 19-year veteran Roenick agrees to return to Sharks - Globe and Mail.

Roenick, a 19-year veteran, had 14 goals and 19 assists for the Sharks after coming out of semi-retirement for another shot at the Stanley Cup. The nine-time All-Star became the third American-born player to score 500 career goals in early November, and the sometimes outspoken forward earned praise for his quiet veteran leadership and steady play.

Roenick Returns - Kukla's Korner.

[Update2] The first hour of the State of the Sharks Q and A is available from the official website here.


Coaching Notes from Colorado

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jose Theodore

There was an excellent column in Sunday's Denver Post by Terry Frei, Tender tenure part of NHL life -- "Job security" just relative term for head coaches. Frei examined the tenures of head coaches in all 4 major professional sports and found 12 coaches with a tenure of more than three years in the NFL, 10 coaches with more than 3 years of tenure with the MLB, and 8 with more than three years of tenure in the NBA. In the NHL, the median tenure for a head coach is 2 years. Only 9 NHL head coaches have a tenure of more than 3 years.

"Playoff-based" expectations lead to the firing of San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson and Colorado Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville after reaching the Western Conference Semifinals this season. Frei also notes the rare long-term situations of Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff (1997-2008) and Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz (1998-2008). Ruff is a former Buffalo captain, who lead the Sabres to a Stanley Cup Final and earned a Jack Adams award as the top coach in the league. Barry Trotz has been the only head coach in Nashville franchise history, overcoming numerous hurdles in a quest to become a playoff contender.

Asked about the problems in Colorado that lead to the firing of Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville, Denver Post columnist Adrian Dater said "Coach Q tried to play a high-pressure, checking style, but he was always hampered by two things: injuries, and average goaltending". The Avalanche lost 325 man games to injuries during the regular season, and suffered critical playoff injuries to Forsberg, Wolski, Smyth, Stastny, Svatos and defenseman Brett Clark and Scott Hannan. In goal, Peter Budaj struggled this season after registering 31 wins in a breakout 2006-07 campaign. Former 2002 Hart Trophy winner Jose Theodore took over the #1 role, posting average 28 win, 53GP, 2.44GAA, and .910SV% numbers. The high profile offseason acquisition of Ryan Smyth, the trade deadline deal for Columbus captain and former Av Adam Foote, and the attempted return of Peter Forsberg eventually fell short against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Semifinals. The Avalanche were uncerimoniously swept 4-0, outscored 21-9 in the process.

Avalanche general manager Francois Giguere cited philisophical differences when Quenneville was fired, noting that the Avalanche needed a "high, up-beat tempo and puck-possession" style to best take advantage of the talent in the organization. Not all of the responsibility for the Avalanche's early playoff exit lies with Quenneville or injuries. Wojtek Wolski and Paul Stastny were two second year players who took a step backwards, and mixing lines with regularity took a toll on players like Andrew Brunette and Ryan Smyth according to the Denver Post columnist.

Adrian believes a fresh face is needed in Colorado, someone like AHL Portland Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen. Colorado assistant coaches Tony Granato and Jacques Cloutier also remain under contract with the team. Adrian Dater regularly posts a Q-and-A session held with readers, one of the best sources online for the latest Colorado Avalanche information. Adrian has covered the Avalanche since the Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado in 1995.

[Update] Quenneville out as Avs coach - Denver Post.

Who will that new coach be? Giguere said he will undergo a patient process to find one, but wouldn't say who any leading candidates are or what kind of qualifications are needed. Probably the hottest available candidate is three-time NHL coach of the year, Pat Burns, currently an assistant with Canada in the IIHF World Championships.

Burns remains under contract with the New Jersey Devils, whom he helped guide to the Stanley Cup in 2003 before taking a leave of absence in July, 2005, to battle colon cancer. His cancer is in remission and he has said he wants to come back as an NHL head coach. The Devils would have to grant permission to the Avs or any other team that might want to talk to Burns before June 30. It's also possible the Devils, beaten in the first round of the playoffs this season, might make him their head coach again.

"To get back into coaching is something that I'm going to look at, and this is like taking baby steps back into it, but I'm certainly excited about it," Burns told the Nova Scotia Chronicle-Herald. "Right now I'm still working with the Devils and I'm enjoying what I'm doing, and the coaching part of it will be something that will have to be entertained if something would come up. Coaching is in your blood. You miss it when you're not there and when you're there you say, 'Geez, this is tough.'"

[Update2] Quenneville to make like a tree and Leaf? - Rocky Mountain News.

[Update3] Ideal coach will motivate Sharks to win in playoffs 'Regular season a place to prepare' - SJ Mercury News.

[Update4] Rumor Roundup: Brian Campbell's future - Lyle Richardson for The Hockey News.


Russia wins World Championship Gold with 5-4 OT win over Canada, 2 late goals by Ilya Kovalchuk and 25 saves by Evgeni Nabokov seal the win

Ilya Kovalchuck scored a game tying goal in the third period, and the game winner in overtime to lift Russia to a gold medal in the 2008 IIHF World Championships with a 5-4 OT win over Canada on Sunday. It was the first World Championship gold medal for Russia in 15 years, in the first ever final meeting between the powerhouse Russian and Canadian nations. 13,338 fans packed Le Colisee Pepsi in one of the most colorful hockey games played this year.

Kovalchuk made a nice move to stay onside late in the third period, before taking a pass and wristing a shot by Cam Ward to tie the game 4-4. Kovalchuk celebrated with several glass pullups while his linemates crowded aroundhim. After scoring the game winner on an overtime power play, animated Russian fans hung flags over the glass near the gathered players while gyrating widly. The post-game celebratory mood in the Russian locker room was similarly animated.

Canada controlled the action early. They outshot Russia 15-5 in the first period based on a stretch of 5 Russian penalties. The all-Washington Capital "Punishment" line of Alexander Semin, Alexander Ovechkin, and Sergei Federov paid divends early. Semin battled 2 Canadians in the corner as Ovechkin swooped in to control a loose puck behind the net. Ovechkin slipped a pass to Semin in front for a slam dunk goal, no chance for Cam Ward on the play. 1-0 Russia after 1:23. Canada was on a mission, and sustained pressure and numerous power plays resulted in goals by Brent Burns (3:54) and Chris Kunitz (9:17), and a second 5-on-3 goal by Burns to give Canada a 3-1 lead after 1 period of play.

A point shot deflected off the end boards directly to Alexander Semin, who hammered home his second goal of the game to make it 3-2 less than 2 minutes into the second period. It was Semin's second goal of the game. Dany Heatley continued his blistering W.C. scoring pass, snapping a shot under the glove of Evgeni Nabokov to give Canada a 2-goal cushion after two periods of play.

The momentum swing in the third period was undeniable. Two Canadians double team Ovechkin in the slot, and he drops a sick pass to Kovalchuk who hammers a shot off the top of Cam Ward's glove. The puck drops in front of the crease and he is able to control it. Nashville's Alexander Radulov follows with a solid scoring chance, and Canada is allowing Russia room to skate, room to make moves in the offensive zone. It is like handing a tiger honey mustard sauce before being eaten. Alexei Tereshchenko slashed into the Canadian zone and scored to bring the game within 1 goal with 11 minutes left, assists by Alexander Semin and Fedor Tyutin.

A turnover by Rick Nash led to an instant scoring chance for Canada, Ryan Getzlaf was forced to take a hooking penalty. Eric Staal and Chris Kunitz each created scoring chances short-handed, but Nabokov was their to shut them down and keep Russia within a goal. Ilya Kovalchuk's heroics followed. Evgeni Nabokov made 25 saves on 29 shots en route to his gold medal win.

Video highlights are available from TSN, as will as video analysis from Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire deconstructing Ilya Kovalchuck's late third period tying goal, and his game winner in OT. Incredible game.

[Update] Disappointment for Canada as Russia takes gold at World Hockey Championship - Canadian Press.

[Update2] Kovalchuk's mom challenges blogger to eat skates - Ben Wright.

[Update3] Nabokov Finally Finds Rest on Golden Pond, After 95 Games with the Sharks, Goaltender Seals Gold with Russia - SJsharks.com.

Evgeni Nabokov had every excuse not to play in the World Championships. The San Jose Shark had been among the busiest goalies in the NHL this season. He appeared in 77 regular-season games, tied for the League lead. Then, his Sharks went on a 13-game playoff run, which featured four overtime games. The last of those sudden-death contests was a four-OT epic loss to Dallas in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals, a loss that provided a bitter ending to such a promising season for the Sharks...

At the Worlds, he went 4-0, posting a tournament-best 1.25 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage. He posted back-to-back shutouts in the first two games of the playoff round and then recovered from a slow start in the gold-medal game to make 25 saves and give his team a chance to comeback for the win.


Former Los Angeles Kings head coach and current ESPN analyst Barry Melrose still interested in coaching, would be interested in San Jose position

Former Los Angeles Kings coach and ESPN analyst Barry Melrose

Former Los Angeles Kings coach and current ESPN analyst Barry Melrose said in a short telephone interview today that he is still interested in a head coaching position. "Once you are a head coach, you are always a coach" Melrose said. He believes the position in San Jose is the most desirable opportunity on the market because in his opinion the Sharks could compete for a Stanley Cup next season.

Asked about the feelings of disappointment by players and staff after a second round exit to Dallas in the Western Conference Semifinals, Melrose said, "They should feel disappointed, they should still be playing". He believes San Jose is top-to-bottom a more talented team than the Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars, but that any new head coach would have to elicit maximum performance from Joe Thornton and his supporting cast every shift in order for them to advance to the next level.

According to Hockey-reference.com, Barry Melrose registered 65 points and 1071 penalty minutes in 8 seasons as a defenseman in the NHL and WHA with Winnipeg, Toronto, Detroit and Cincinnati. As a head coach Barry Melrose led the Los Angeles Kings to a Stanley Cup Final appearance his first year behind the bench in 1993. He amassed a career NHL coaching record of 79-101-29, with a .447 winning percentage over two and a half seasons.

Barry Melrose is currently a studio analyst for NHL telecasts on ESPN and ESPN2. His commentary during the Conference Finals can be viewed online here, here and here. Melrose has also called hockey games on ESPN (1996-2000) and on ABC (2000-02), as well as providing studio analysis on ABC (2003-04). In January 2004, Melrose and ESPN commentator Steve Levy became part-owners of the Adirondack Frostbite of the United Hockey League. The Frostbite suspended operations on June 12, 2006.

Thanks to ESPN spokeswoman Diane Lamb for putting me in touch with Barry.

[Update] The Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren reports that Tampa Bay Lightning head coach John Tortorella may be headed to the Ottawa Senators, or that he might be replaced by "hands-on" new owner Oren Koules in favor of former Kings coach Barry Melrose.

[Update2] Barry Melrose, Man with the Golden Mullet - Minor League News article from 2005.

[Update3] Barry Melrose spoke with fans in a livechat today at 1PM (PT) on ESPN.com:

John (San Francisco): If not you, who do you think could be the next head coach of the sharks?

Barry Melrose: I think it needs to be motivator; someone who can gets the Sharks to play as hard as the Stars. A good guy would be Tony Granato from Colorado.


Hockey Notes - May 15th

Former Colorado Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville
Former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Paul Maurice

- The speculation about a new head coach in San Jose took less than a day to start, but Mercury News beat writer David Pollak reports that General Manager Doug Wilson will take time to assess the situation and evaluate possible candidates inside and outside the organization. Jeremy Roenick mentioned the need for a new coach to be confident and diplomatic, but he also complimented the outgoing Ron Wilson on his preperation. In a sidebar, Pollak highlighted three experienced candidates that should be on the list for any NHL vacancy: Former Boston and New Jersey head coach Pat Burns, former Atlanta and Colorado head coach Bob Hartley, former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Paul Maurice, former Colorado Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville, and Pat Quinn.

Mercury News opinion columnist Tim Kawakami believes it should be an easy choice, Pat Burns. Kawakami cites his Stanley Cup experience, three Jack Adams awards as coach of the year (Ron Wilson was runner up to John Tortorella for the 2003-04 Jack Adams Trophy), and past history with Joe Thornton in Boston. Not a bad suggestion, Burns would add an experienced and steadying influence to this talented roster.

- One of the best sources for Sharks coverage during the playoffs came from an unexpected source, KNBR's popular Razor and Mr T afternoon radio show with Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert. During the playoffs they broke down games not as hockey experts, but more as casual oberservers, and it was great radio. The Sharks provided them with about as up-and-down a first round series as humanly possible, and then attempted to battle back from a 3-0 deficit against Dallas which drew a lot of hockey calls. Barbieri mentioned attending a number of games in person at HP Pavilion this season, as well as travelling to Calgary for two games only to witness an entire city of red.

Barbieri and Tolbert interviewed Sharks EVP/GM Doug Wilson Monday after the firing of head coach Ron Wilson (link). Doug Wilson mentioned the success and the drive of Ron Wilson, but that the move needed to be made in order to reach the next level after losing in the second round three straight years. He said that "the class needs a new professor", which could be another way of framing the notion that the team began to tune him out. Doug Wilson also talked about playing only 5 good playoff games out of 13, that the decision was results driven, that he spoke with every player/coach/scout after the end of the season and heard a substansial level of disappointment, that the parting with Ron Wilson was difficult but amicable, and that the team will begin the search internally and externally for a head coach shortly. He finished with an answer on whether or not he would be a candidate for head coach. "I am not a candidate. I coached 1 game, and it was probably 1 game too much" Doug Wilson said. He also said Toronto's interest for their open position of general manager was a compliment for him and the entire Sharks franchise, but that he wants to build a Stanley Cup winner in San Jose.

Barbieri and Tolbert also interviewed San Jose Sharks television color commentator Drew Remenda (link) Tuesday on the move to fire Ron Wilson. Drew ruled himself out as a candidate, and Tolbert immediately asked him about a hockey insider's perspective on Barry Melrose. Remenda believes that Melrose is a player's coach, one who creates a fun environment to play in, that he is stronger forging relationships than he is technically, and that he is an extremely outgoing individual. Remenda also believes that Melrose has not had a head coaching opportunity after his conflict with Los Angeles Kings general manager Nick Beverly. Drew Remenda mentioned that the Sharks might take a long time to make a decision on a head coach, that assistant coaches like Tim Hunter (SJ), Tony Granato (COL), or Mike Johnson (LA), Todd McLellan (DET) could be possibilities, and that Ron Wilson is the best available coach on the market today. Remenda believes he has done more for the San Jose Sharks than any coach before him.

I disagree with one thing both Drew and Ralph Barbieri both touched on, and it makes the Sharks three straight second round playoff exits even more frustrating. Barbieri mentioned that the Sharks were not that much more talented than the Flames or the Stars, and Remenda mentioned hearing from others in the media and in the NHL that GM Doug Wilson may have overestimated the talent level of his team. If the criteria used is strictly looking at playoff games the last 3 seasons, I do not think you can argue with that statement. A lot of East Coast and Canadian media do not stay up for games on the West Coast, so playoff performance is a heavily weighted barometer they use to evaluate talent.

There were no doubt massive problems with the defense, which in my opinion the entire team could not compensate for, but the talent and effort displayed by several individuals in the playoffs was nowhere near what it was in the regular season. There were injuries on defense, Kyle McLaren could not overcome knee/groin issues that plagued him in the regular season, Christian Ehrhoff returned at less than 100% after a brutal ankle injury at the end of the regular season, Craig Rivet was scheduled for 3 MRI's (wrist, knee, elbow), but the Sharks had experienced and talented replacements in Matt Carle, Alexei Semenov, and Sandis Ozolinsh. The bottom line was strong individual performances were not always matched by other teammates, and it caused a chain reaction failure in games 1/3/6 against Calgary, and in the first 3 games of the WCSF against Dallas.

Look at game 7 against Calgary, where the Sharks dominated a veteran defense that opened a lot of eyes during the playoffs. Ron Wilson said it was as good a game as San Jose could have played. Look at the second and third overtime periods against Dallas in the series deciding game 6. The San Jose Sharks came at the Stars in offensive waves, outshooting them 19-8. Dallas held on with a tight defensive shell and strong goaltending by Marty Turco. When the pressure is at a season ending level, and the lactic acid is causing your muscles to scream after 100-120 minutes of NHL hockey, all the fear of mistakes or fear of coming back from a 3 game deficit is gone. You fall back on mostly talent, instincts, or a well coached system. Defenseman Vlasic, Carle, Ehrhoff, Murray, and forwards Thornton, Marleau, Michalek, Mitchell, and Setoguchi are where the unfulfilled promise for this franchise lies. The first question for any new head coach should be how their system is going to best maximize the talent from these players in the postseason.

- Quenneville's goaltender roulette failed to appease Avs management - Edmonton Journal.

Kevin Dineen may be the best coach outside the NHL and certainly has to be a candidate to get the Avalanche job. Ironically, the Anaheim Ducks farm team coach is forever tied with Quenneville. They served as best men at each other's weddings after playing together for the Hartford Whalers.

Dineen can't talk to the Avalanche brass until the AHL playoffs are over. His Portland Pirates team just knocked off the Providence Bruins -- the best regular-season club -- in the post-season to reach the Eastern Conference final against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Game 1 is Wednesday. If Randy Carlyle wasn't so entrenched in Anaheim, Dineen would be coaching the Ducks. He should be on Martin's short list in Florida, too.

In many ways, Dineen is similar to Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish. Both were widely respected as NHL players, smart and fast on their feet. MacTavish phoned Dineen, as a matter of fact, to get a scouting report on Joffrey Lupul before he came to the Oilers. Lupul, who's now with the Philadelphia Flyers, played for Dineen in the AHL.

More on Quenneville from ESPN's Terry Frei is available here.

- The Sharks will hold the annual State of the Sharks question and answer session on Tuesday, May 20th 7PM at HP Pavilion. The event will be open to the public, with President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Jamison, Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson and Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo will be available to answer questions. This event usually garners a large number of informed questions from fans, and is highly recommended if you are in the area. Photos and notes from the 2005 State of the Sharks event are available here.

- Maurice tough, but fair, says Stajan, Responds to criticism that fired coach was too hard on younger players - Toronto Star.

Matt Stajan is one Leafs player put through the coaching grinder by Paul Maurice, a situation in which, as a young player, he was often the target of the coach's criticism.

Stajan wants to thank him for that. "He was hard on me, but because of it I became a better player and a better person," Stajan said yesterday after the Toronto players learned Maurice had been fired. Stajan characterized Maurice as a "good coach and a good person," a portrait shared by other Leafs, although some contradictions exist among players who spoke off the record as well as sources inside the organization.

The often-repeated knock against Maurice was his handling of some of the team's youngsters, especially building-block players Stajan and Alex Steen. Stajan didn't deny Maurice was tough, but said the coach was only trying to push the player's development and get the best out of him.

The Canadian media was in full fire-GM, fire head coach mode when the Leafs traveled to San Jose in January. It is hard to judge how much the relentless negative media attention can effect a player or coach, but Maurice and his assistant coaches were shooting death stares at the large Toronto media contigent during the pre-game skate. General Manager John Ferguson was fired almost 2 weeks later. Strong goaltending by Vesa Toskala helped the Leafs make a run at a playoff berth late in the season, but the deficit was too much to overcome.

- The Sharks Hockey Analysis blog makes an interesting case for former Boston Bruins head coach and former Sharks player Mike Sullivan, noting that he has an "energetic and innovative" coaching style, AHL/NHL and international coaching experience, ties to San Jose, and an ability to get his players to play hard night in and night out. Already linked but worth a second look, Chuq Von Rospach believes Worcester Sharks head coach Roy Sommer, Joel Quenneville, Pat Burns, Tony Granato, and Mike Sullivan are intriguing candidates, and that Colorado would be well advised to hire Ron Wilson as soon as possible. If you visit the occasional hockey messageboard, Chuq created league-wide NHL BBS boards that you had to dial into with a phone as far back as 1991. Definitely "old school". Carl Steward of the Monterey County Herald believes that Mike Ricci could be an option, albeit with no coaching experience a longshot one.

- San Jose may be regarded as the "Goaltending Factory" for its production of elite NHL netminders, but the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL may be the "Coaching Factory" according to the Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren. Pat Burns (Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils, 1 Stanley Cup) and Claude Julien (Canadiens, Devils, Bruins) are former Olympiques coaches, and current Olympiques head coach Benoit Groulx has his team competing for a Memorial Cup. Another name to toss into the head coaching mix for several NHL teams.

- Q & A: Tim Hunter - Hockeyfights.com interview from 2005.

DesRosiers: How did you start your coaching career in Washington, a team you never played for?

Hunter: I wanted to coach after my playing career and let a lot of people know. I knew George McPhee and Ron Wilson from Vancouver and they knew I wanted to coach so it was a natural fit.

DesRosiers: In your various coaching stints, do you work with the enforcers on the team in regards to fighting techniques and so forth? If so, who in particular have you worked with?

Hunter: As a coach I have passed on some of my ideas and methods to young guys. There have been many, but the first guys were Stu Grimson and Sandy McCarthy. Each player that fights has his own way and sense of how to defend and try to win a fight, so I have just tried to give them some experience that I have gained over the years.

DesRosiers: Since we're on the subject of coaching, do you have any future plans in terms of coaching?

Hunter: Coaching hockey is a great passion of mine and I would love to be a head coach some day but I will be patient and wait for the right chance.

If I could find that photo of Tim Hunter on this website, I would add it to those at the top of this post. If anyone sees a suitable photo in one of the photo galleries, let me know.

[Update] Measuring coaches - Alan Ryder for the Globe and Mail.


Max Giese: Sharks Top 20 Prospect Report, spring 2008

The 46th NHL Entry Draft will be held this year in Ottawa on June 20–21th, 2008. Ottawa was originally scheduled to host the 2005 draft, but instead they held a smaller version at a local hotel with plans to return for a full event as soon as possible. The league recently set up an online 2008 NHL Entry Draft website, and published the final Central Scouting Bureau draft rankings for top North American skaters, top European skaters, top North American goalies, and top European goalies to give fans and media backround information.

The San Jose Sharks 26th overall selection in the first round was traded to Buffalo along with forward Steve Bernier for offensive-defensmean Brian Campbell and a 7th round draft pick. The Sharks second round draft pick will go to the Washington Capitals after a trade that sent the Capitals 2007 first round draft pick (defenseman - Nick Petrecki) to San Jose for second round picks in 2007 and 2008. The Sharks third round draft pick in 2008 was traded to St Louis along with a 2007 first round draft pick (C - Lars Eller), for the right to select center Logan Couture from the OHL Ottawa 67's 9th overall. The Sharks picked up a 5th round selection in 2008 via Montreal (Rivet-Gorges trade), a 7th round pick in the aforementioned Bernier-Campbell trade, and a 7th round pick from the NY Islanders in the trade for defenseman Rob Davison.

The Sharks scouting department's process of evaluating talent has been underway for the past year, and it is time to take a look at the prospects in the organization to see which areas they might need to address. Sharks Director of Scouting Tim Burke is regarded as a draft guru, and EVP and General Manager Doug Wilson has shown a willingness to make bold moves on draft day moving up to select first rounders Logan Couture and Nick Petrecki in 2007, and Ty Wishart in 2006.


Strengths: The Sharks' have assembled a deep group of prospects with several players at each position with legit NHL potential. In Ty Wishart and Nick Petrecki, the Sharks' have two future impact players to build around on defense while center Logan Couture returns the favor up-front. Thomas Greiss headlines a deep group of goaltenders and underrated prospects' Steven Zalewski and Derek Joslin are close to making an NHL impact.

Weaknesses: Truthfully the Sharks' don't possess any glaring weaknesses currently in their developmental system. The Worcester Sharks' had a rough year but that was more to do with rookies such as Devin Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell making immediete impacts in the NHL than it did to do with poor drafting and development. Doug Wilson has been aggressive at the draft table and maybe the only weakness currently in the system is their lack of 2008 Draft Picks, as the Sharks are lacking their first, second, and third round picks.

Sharks Top 20 Prospects Spring 2008 Edition

1. C - Logan Couture
2. D - Nick Petrecki
3. G - Thomas Greiss
4. D - Ty Wishart
5. C - Steven Zalewski
6. LW - Lukas Kaspar
7. LW - Jamie McGinn
8. D - Derek Joslin
9. RW - Matt Jones
10. G - Tyson Sexsmith
11. LW - Nick Bonino
12. G - Alex Stalock
13. D - Mike Moore
14. G - Timo Pielmeier
15. C - Tom Cavanagh
16. LW - T.J. Fox
17. LW - Frazer McLaren
19. RW - Riley Armstrong
20. D - Justin Braun

1. C Logan Couture. (6-foot-0, 195 pounds, London Ontario, Canada. Acquired: 9th overall 2007).

When Couture was on the ice this season he was a dynamic player. The problem was that he wasn't on the ice nearly enough, as he suffered through multiple concussions and another head injury late in the season that prevented him from joining the Worcester Sharks' down the stretch. With that said, no other Sharks prospect matches the upside that Couture possesses. He has an elite mind for the game and is a brilliant play maker capable of making those around him better. Couture is also a gritty competitor that plays a fearless two-way game that coaches wish others would emulate. His shot became progressively better this season and he managed to produce over a point a game despite having a target on his back every night and playing with limited talent around him. Couture will need to add more strength to his skating moving forward and add some serious muscle to help combat the injuries that have plagued him recently.

2. D Nick Petrecki. (6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Schenectady, NY USA, Acquired: 28th overall 2007 draft).

A massive defenseman with hulk like strength and an engulfing reach, Petrecki is also a commanding skater that plays with a mean streak every shift. Previously knocked for his decision making, Petrecki now distributes the puck more astutely and pick his spots better physically. His ability to identify opening seems in the offensive zone began to blossom, as he learned to get his heavy shot on net with more regularity. He’s the complete package and is one of those rare physical specimen's on defense that are hard to find. Emerging as the most dominant freshman defenseman in the country, Petrecki helped carry the Boston College Eagles to their first national championship since 2001. He was a player that opponents feared to go up against and quickly became a prominent fixture on the Eagles back end. NHL scouts ands NCAA coach’s rink-wide have raved about his play this season. A leader both on and off the ice, Petrecki was a steal at 28th overall and projects as a true stud defenseman that could also be the Sharks’ captain some day.

3. G Thomas Greiss. (6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Koln, Germany, Acquired: 91st overall 2004 draft).

Greiss has all the athletic tools to be a number one goaltender in the NHL. His dexterity, flexibility, and reactionary quickness are all phenomenal. Greiss is nearly unbeatable one-on-one and his superb lateral movement is aided by his thick, trunk like legs. The main knock on Greiss at this time is that he tends to try to do to much at times and takes himself out of position in the process. Making his NHL debut was the lone positive in an otherwise lowly year for the German native. Greiss at times struggled because of the poor play in front of his own net in Worcester and the Sharks' will need to provide this talented prospect with a year of stability next season to take his development further. With that said, his work ethic is exceptional and in the long run he should benefit from the early NHL experience he received this season and tutelage he received from Wayne Thomas.

4. D Ty Wishart. (6-foot-5 215 pounds, Comox, British Columbia, Acquired: 16th overall 2006 draft).

Few prospects enjoyed a better season than Ty Wishart, as he lead the WHL in scoring by a defenseman and enjoyed a smooth transition to the pro-game late in the season with Worcester. A towering defenseman with swift mobility and rangy puck handling skills, Wishart is a very skillful 6-foot-5 215 pound two-way defenseman. He's a calm and collective puck distributor that can also get his shot low and on net. Wishart doesn't possess the mean streak that Nick Petrecki does and relies more on sound positioniong and his engulfing reach to emerge as a reliable defensive player. Playing 40 minutes a game in Prince George really benefitted Wishart and developed his offensive game to new heights. The trade to Moose Jaw was also perfect for his development as it allowed him to focus on bringing intensity every shift and play a pro-style game. Wishart projects as a dependable two-way defenseman that can play in all-situations.

5. C Steven Zalewksi. (6-foot-0, 190 pounds, New Hartford, NY USA, Acquired: 153rd overall 2004 draft).

Zalewski is the next in line of Sharks mid-round selections that make a fast and influential NHL impact after completing their collegiate careers. Much like Joe Pavelski and Torrey Mitchell before him, Zalewski is mature beyond his years on the defensive side of the puck and competes like a seasoned veteran. He's a relentless forechecker and a great penalty killer that is an asset in the face-off circle. Zalewksi is a battler that offensively blossomed over his four years with Clarkson, as his hands became notably softer and his stride equally stronger. Zalewski's two-way play became dominant as a senior and his offensive skills developed exponentially. He was also very impressive in Worcester late in the season by collecting 6 points and 2 goals in 7 games, all the while providing a spark five-on-five and while on the penalty kill. He may be ready right out of camp next fall.

6. LW Lukas Kaspar. (6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Most, Czech Republic, Acquired: 22nd overall 2004 draft).

Remaining the enigma of the Sharks' prospect draft-class, Kaspar finished the season in San Jose where he was practicing with the Sharks' during their playoff run. Hopefully he absorbed the experience and applies the lessons learned to his game next-season. No one questions Kaspar's physical gifts, as he's a big winger that can skate, handle the puck, and score goals. He's also a creative play maker and is one of the organizations top penalty killers. The main concern with Lukas is his inconsistency and the fact that he often looks to pass before shooting. He eclipsed his career highs in both goals and points this season and is primed for a competitive training camp next fall.

7. LW Jamie McGinn. (6-foot-1, 200 pounds, Fergus Ontario, Canada. Acquired: 36th overall 2006 draft).

A powerful two-way left winger with strong finishing capabilities, McGinn statistically took a step back this year in the OHL but took a large step forward in his development. McGinn's puck control has notably become stronger and he's using that sturdy frame of his to excell at shielding the puck in the battle areas. A strong wall-to-net type of winger with hyper competitiveness, McGinn is effective at generating offense from attacking the net from the wing. McGinn is also a superb inclose finisher and should help negate the long term void left by the trade of Steve Bernier. He's not a one-dimensional player, as he's hard working defensively while displaying good fortitude on the back check. McGinn still needs to improve his overall quickness and continue to physically mature before making an NHL impact.

8. D Derrick Joslin. (6-foot-1, 193 pounds, Canada, Acquired: 149th overall 2005 draft).

As a rookie Joslin became a leader on defense for the Worcester Sharks' and excelled in all situations. His steady two-way game that is stimulated by superb on-ice inteligence and an understated skill-set transitioned to the pro-game seemlessly. Derek's fluid mobility allows him to play the speed game and his above-average strength allows him to play the physical game. Joslin possesses deceptive skill and makes instinctive decisions with the puck, which makes him an asset while on the power play where his accurate shot is also a weapon. He has few holes in his game and is poised to make an NHL impact shortly, where he should contribute at both ends of the ice.

9. RW Matt Jones. (6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Kentwood Michigan, Acquired: Free-Agent).

It's easy to see why Jones caught the eye of the Sharks's scouting staff. He's a 6-4 200 winger that scored 15 goals against some of the NCAA's elite in the Hockey East on a Merrimack team that struggled to score. Jones is one of those rare packages of great size and speed that are a headache to contain for opposing defenseman. He's also a terrific person off the ice and is expected to compete for an NHL roster spot next season.

10. G Tyson Sexsmith. (5-foot-11, 205 pounds, Calgary Alberta, Canada, Acquired: 91st overall 2007 draft).

Sexsmith continued to be a pillar of strength for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL and was invited by Team Canada to try out for the World Junior Championship team. Sexsmith isn't the biggest or most athletic goaltender, but he makes up for those shortcomings with innate anticipation and a consistently rock-solid technical game. His outstanding focus will be challenged next season back in the WHL where he has dominated for two years now. If Sexsmith puts together another solid campaign he could be the goaltender for Team Canada at next years World Junior Championships.

11. LW Nick Bonino. (6-foot-1, 202 pounds, Farmington Connecticut USA, Acquired: 173rd overall 2007 draft).

Another Sharks prospect that provided an immediet impact as a freshman in the Hockey East. Bonino has all the tools to develop into a top-six winger in the NHL some day, but he naturally remains raw just one year removed from High School hockey. His hand skill and offensive creativity are his strong suites, as he has the ability to make those around him better. Bonino possesses a fearsome shooting arsenal and simply has a knack for putting up points. He will need to improve on his mobility and two-way play next season.

12. G Alex Stalock. (5-foot-11, 175 pounds, St. Paul Minnesota, USA, Acquired: 112th overall 2005 draft).

While North Dakota goaltender Jean-Phillipe Lamorouex and Colorado College's Richard Bachman won all the goaltending awards in the WCHA this year, ask anyone who watched that league closely who was truley the best goaltender in that conferance this year and they would tell you Al Stalock. Carrying an offensively starved team on his back, Stalock stood tall while facing several odd-man rushes and breakaways per game. Blessed with remarkable athleticism and a fierce competitive streak, Stalock has all the physical tools and a healthy swagger to his mental make-up. Capable of stealing games on his own, Stalock will need to refine his mechanics further and understand that less is more some times. Few goaltenders can play the puck as well as Stalock can and with further refinement the Sharks' could have a gem here.

13. D Mike Moore. (6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Calgary Alberta, Canada, Acquired: Free-Agent).

Moore captained the surprise Princeton Tigers to the National Tournament this season and won scouts over with his physical two-way game. He's a big and strong defenseman that can play at both ends of the rink equally well. Moore is a feared open-ice hitter and a puck rushing threat with a good shot. A very mature athlete, Moore is a prospect that has seen his development rapidly accelerated over the last two seasons and the Sharks' could have themselves a player if that trend continues next season in Worcester.

14. G Timo Pielmeier. (6-foot-0, 175 pounds, Deggendorf, Germany, Acquired: 83rd overall 2007 draft).

Besides Thomas Greiss, no other goaltender in the Sharks' development system possesses the pure upside that Pielmeier possesses. He's a lively bodied goaltender with exceptional anctipation and athleticism. His foot work is pure eye candy and his leg quickness is phenomenal. Pielmeier was prone to the odd-positional error and weak goal this season, and will need to rebound with a stronger second North America campaign in the 2008-2009 season. He's expected to be Germany's goaltender next year at the World Junior Championships, after carrying the team to a championship title this year in the B-Pool.

15. C Tom Cavanagh. 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, Warwich Rhode Island, USA, Acquired: 182nd overall 2001 draft).

When Tom Cavanagh played his first NHL game against the Los Angeles Kings this season, it meant the Sharks achieved something that is simply unheard of in the scouting community. Every single player drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 2001 draft has played an NHL game. Cavanagh deserves as much credit as the Sharks' scouting staff does for his development, as he's a hard-working player that won over the Sharks' brass with his savvy two-way play. A leader both on and off the ice, Cavanagh brings the character and mature defensive game to potentially make him a fourth liner in the NHL.

16. LW T.J. Fox. 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, Oswego New York, USA, Acquired: Free-Agent).

Fox is the type of player that never received the red-carpet treatment growing up and it shows in his on-ice work. The Sharks' saw an intriguing combination of hockey sense, hard work, and above-average mobility for a player of his size, and signed Fox out of Union College after his sophomore season. As a rookie in the AHL, Fox impressed onlookers with mature decision making with the puck and the ability to accelerate past defenders in the open ice. Fox plays within his abilities and potentially could fill a role in the bottom half of the San Jose line-up if he continues to develop at the rapid pace he has enjoyed over the past few-years.

17. LW Frazer McLaren. 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada, Acquired: 203rd overall 2007 draft).

The biggest and most physically imposing forward amongst the Sharks' group of prospects, McLaren is a big winger that plays a big mans game in front of the oppositions net. He's equally apt at using his hands for scoring goals and for fighting, as McLaren impressed during his brief AHL stint late in the season with his ability to manhandle some of the leagues most feared fighters. Frazer will need to continue to work on his mobility, but with his presence infront of the opposition's net and in the fighting circle, he could develop into an enforcer that can also play.

18. RW Riley Armstrong. (5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Saskatoon, Canada, Acquired: Free-Agent).

Riley Armstrong would likely be joining his brother Colby in the NHL shortly if his rights where held by a team not as deep as San Jose. He can energize a line-up with his charisma and pugnacious play. Armstrong can perform the role of an agitating pest and chip in with the occassional goal. He brings good speed down the wing and plays with tenacity every night. The Sharks' are being patient with Armstrong and would like to see him develop his defensive game further before getting a shot in the NHL.

19. D Justin Braun. (6-foot-1, 180 pounds, St. Paul Minnesota, USA, Acquired: 201st overall 2007 draft).

As a sophomore Braun emerged as one of the most steady and reliable defenseman in the Hockey East. He's not a dynamic physical package but his poise and inteligence with the puck allow him to accomplish many things in subtle ways. Braun quarterbacked the Massachusetts power play and springboarded the offense from his own end with the ability to make the first pass. Defensively he relies on his sound positioning and impressive stick work, although he will need to add strength and continue to add more explosiveness to his skating to further his development.

20. C Tony Lucia. (6-foot-0, 175 pounds, Plymouth Minnesota, USA, Acquired: 193rd overall 2005 draft).

The son of Minnesota Gophers' coach Dony Lucia, Tony is a savvy and gritty checking line center capable of shutting down the oppositions' top line. Lucia will need to continue to upgrade his mobility and bulk up his frame, however he did see substantial gains in his ability to handle the puck this year and his knack for scoring garbage goals became even more obvious, while scoring crucial, hard-nosed goals for the Gophers' down the stretch. He's an abrasive and ultra-competitive sparkplug that accomplishes many things with his hard-work. Lucia is also an effective penalty killer that will continue to inherit a heavier offensive workload next season with Minnesota.


D Dan Spang. (5-foot-11, 200 pounds, Winchester Massachusetts, USA, Acquired: 52nd overall 2002 draft).

The Sharks' 2002 draft class has dissapointed and the fact that Dan Spang hasn't made an NHL impact yet has much to do with it. While first round selection Mike Morris saw his career derailed by unfortuante injuries, Spang has no-one to fault but himself and his poor play away from the puck. The tools are still there for Spang to develop into an NHL defenseman, as he's a fast skater with good offensive instincts and a great shot. However, Spang remained a defensive liability with the Worcester Sharks' this past season and after being an early cut from training camp last summer, Spang needs to rebound immedietly with a strong camp this fall.

C/LW P.J. Fenton. (5-foot-11, 175 pounds, Springfield Massachusetts, USA, Acquired: 162nd overall 2005 draft).

Despite lacking the prototypical size, Fenton is a gritty competitor that excells in the battle areas. He's also a fairly astute player that makes mature decisions with or without the puck. Fenton was an impact player at the Collegiate level with the Univeristy of Massachusetts, however he struggled to adapt to the pro-game in his brief stint with Worcester late in the year.

G Taylor Dakers. (6-foot-1, 170 pounds, Langley British Columbia, Canada, Acquired: 140th overall 2005 draft).

After dominating the WHL for the past two-seasons, Dakers took a step back in his development with a difficult transition to the pro-game. He struggled when he saw time between the pipes for Worcester and Coach Roy Sommer wasn't happy with his practice habits. Dakers did gain some steam late in the year with an impressive stint with Phoenix of the ECHL before starting for Worcester in their last three games.

D James DeLory. (6-foot-6, 215 pounds, Scarborough Ontario, Canada, Acquired: 98th overall 2006).

The clock is ticking for the San Jose Sharks to sign this collosal defenseman and they could choose to go either way. They may elect to sign him, as he moves adequately for such a huge player and his strength married with his undeniable thurst for bone rattling body checks, makes him an intriguing prospect. On the other hand his explosive temper and questionable decision making might have the Sharks' taking a pass.

RW Mike Iggulden. (6-foot-3, 215 pounds, St. Catherine's Ontario, Canada, Acquired: Free-Agent).

Iggulden can score and in bunches when he fully applies himself, the trouble is that isn't too often. He is guilty of playing lackadasical with the puck and doesn't engage himself physically despite his imposing frame. Iggulden played in one NHL game this season with the Sharks' and dissapointed with his noticable lack of fortitude.

D David MacDonald. (6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada, Acquired: 225th overall 2004 draft).

A big, stay-at-home defenseman with swift mobility, MacDonald was signed to an entry-level contract by the San Jose sharks' after captaining the Harvard Crimson as a senior. He will never be an offensive defenseman but big men that can skate have a way of finding their way to the NHL, although he did struggle in his brief AHL audition late in the season.


RW Devin Setoguchi - Fast and skilled goal scoring winger with blue-chip potential. His shot is special and he has the look of a future playoff warrior.
C Torrey Mitchell - Prototypical third line center with elite wheels and a fearless attitude. He's developing into a Kris Draper or at the least Pascal Dupuise type player that can shut down the opposition's top line.
C/LW Tomas Plihal - Versitalle and relaible forward that coach Ron Wilson took an instant liking too. He was especially good for the Sharks' once inserted into the line-up in the playoffs and should be a full-time role player next year.

[Update] The Sharks Scouting Department, areas of responsibility:

Tim Burke - Worldwide
Pat Funk - Western Canada, Mid-Western United States
Rob Grillo - Mid-Western, North America
Gillies Cote - Quebecm Eastern Ontario
Jack Gardiner - Eastern United States
Brian Gross - Western Canada
Cap Raeder - Eastern United States
Bryan Marchment - North America
Graeme Townshend - North America
Karel Masopust - Germany, Czech Republic, and Slovakia

[Update2] Wilson's bold moves in 2007 draft a continuation of strategy - Hockeys Future.

Burke's sense and Wilson’s trust are the key ingredients in the formula of the Sharks latest success at the draft table. If other teams value the same player, they are aware that they have to move ahead of those teams, much like they did for Couture. Wilson downplayed the gutsiness of moving up as a regular practice.

"We just think it is a normal way of doing business," he explained. "You forecast the draft as to where you think people are going to go. Maybe not all 30 teams think they’re going to be there, but the perception is that he's there."

However, public perception is something they don’t like to be overly concerned with when it comes to forecasting and selecting. "It's more, 'what do we believe' in a hockey player," he added. "If other teams value that player too, we know we have to get up in front of them to get him."

[Update3] Interview with San Jose Sharks scout Pat Funk - Max Giese for Sharkspage.com.


San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson fired after four and a half seasons behind the bench, general manager Doug Wilson remaining in San Jose

San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson fired today
San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson playoffs Edmonton

Sharks EVP and General Manager Doug Wilson announced late this afternoon that Ron Wilson was fired after four and a half years behind the bench in San Jose. Ron Wilson was hired as the sixth San Jose Sharks head coach on December 4th 2002, recording a 206-134-45 record, .535 winning percentage, and two Pacific Division Championships (2004, 2008) in 385 regular season games. Wilson served as an assistant coach to Detroit's Mike Babcock at the 2008 NHL Allstar Game in Atlanta on January 27th. It was the first Allstar appearance in his 14-year NHL coaching career. During the second half of the 2007-08 regular season, the Sharks registered an 11-game winning streak, and a stretch of 20 games without a loss in regulation.

Wilson surpassed Darryl Sutter for first place in all-time franchise wins on March 18th in Los Angeles, and he is third all-time in games coached among active head coaches. Ron Wilson is 8th all-time on the NHL wins list (518), and 9th in overall games coached (1,091). The Sharks struggle to advance deep in the postseason, and the method with which they exited the playoffs, may have been a contributing factor in his release Monday.

Wilson led the expansion Anaheim Mighty Ducks to their first postseason appearance in 1996-97, and later led the Washington Capitals to consecutive Southeast Division titles (2000, 2001). In San Jose he earned a 28-24 coaching record in 52 Stanley Cup Playoff games, including an appearance in the Western Conference Finals in 2004 against Calgary.

The label of a strong regular season team that faded in the playoffs is a critical, but for the most part correct, moniker. Reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2004 against Calgary was a high water mark for the franchise, but 3 home losses (including the first two games at home) put the Sharks too far behind to battle back. The Flames manhandled San Jose at times. It was late season addition Jason Marshall who finally stood up to agitator Ville Nieminen, who along with Marcus Nilson were allowed to roam free with elbows and sticks up for most of the series.

In 2006 and 2007, playoff meltdowns were in danger of defining the franchise. Up 2-0 against Edmonton in the 2006 WCSF, a triple overtime loss led to the Sharks dropping 4 straight games, and another postseason exit without enough of a fight. The Sharks found themselves with a similar 2-1 series lead against Detroit in the 2007 WCSF, when Tomas Holmstrom returned from injury in game 4 and scored with 4.5 seconds left in the second period, the result of a critical faceoff loss. The Sharks could not close out a win, allowing Robert Lang to tie the game with 33.1 second left in the third. Mathieu Schnieder intercepted a weak Scott Hannan clearing attempt up the middle of the ice to slap home the game winning goal in overtime. The Sharks lost the next two games (losing the WCSF series 4-2), and it would not be an oversimplification to say mistakes made in game 4 led to a second straight playoff meltdown. After the season, a visibly upset Doug Wilson took nearly a week to speak with the media. He mentioned that he wanted enough time to evaluate every aspect of the team, and he wanted to put a plan in place to make sure each item of concern was addressed going forward.

In 2007-08, after a strong regular season (49-23-10) where the Sharks were the most dominant team of the second half, the Sharks appeared to be built for the long and grueling Stanley Cup Playoffs. Injuries are concern for every team after 82 games, but the Sharks iced the deepest blueline in the league to compliment veteran (Brown, Roenick, Shelley) and young forwards (Setoguchi, Plihal, Goc, Rissmiller) fighting for playoff starts. Patrick Marleau, Jonathan Cheechoo, and Milan Michalek picked up the scoring pace to take pressure off the lopsided offense tilting heavily toward Joe Thornton. Trade deadline acquisition Brian Campbell was predicted by many to spark the Sharks attack from the blueline, but all season long San Jose relied on a shutdown defense led by Christian Ehrhoff, Douglas Murray, and Craig Rivet. The Sharks won tight games in the regular season by closing out 1-goal leads, and suffocating opposing power plays with the top rated penalty kill in the league.

That sounds like a solid postseason formula, but the San Jose Sharks played like a different team when the pressure reached playoff intensity. The Calgary Flames stretched the Sharks to seven games, but they were able to dictate physical play and San Jose did not make them pay for enough mistakes. The end result was a hard fought series win after 7 games, when advancing after 5 or 6 was a strong possibility if 100% team effort was given each night. The Sharks were dropped from the frying pan into the fire as they ran smack into a motivated Dallas Stars team with Brenden Morrow causing havoc on both sides of the ice.

Jarome Iginla was a dynamic impact player in the first round, but Brenden Morrow did more damage on each side of the ice, and he had a stronger supporting cast. The Stars hammered the Sharks defense almost into submission, earning three straight wins to open the series against the Pacific Division regular season champions. Morrow was able to set up in front of the crease, back into the crease, or win 1-on-1 battles in the corner, and the Sharks had no answer for him. Forwards who collapsed down low to help often left an opening on the point that would result in a scoring chance. San Jose showed heart and resilency battling back to win elimination games on the road in game 4, and a crucial OT win with 3 unanswered goals in game 5. The sixth and deciding game of the series was a 4 overtime classic, a goaltenders duel which saw Marty Turco (61 saves) and Evgeni Nabokov (53 saves) match each other ridiculous save for ridiculous save late into the Dallas morning hours. The Stars earned a 4-2 series win after Brenden Morrow silenced the drama with a point blank power play goal after 129:03 minutes of play, a goal Dallas Stars head coach Dave Tippett said could not be more perfectly scripted.

Looking at the tenure of head coach Ron Wilson, it is difficult to seperate this postseason from past postseasons. The fact that the Sharks earned a gritty 7-game series win against Calgary, and battled back with 3 hard fought games to push Dallas to the edge, neither addressed the fact that the San Jose Sharks made each series exponentially more difficult for themselves before factoring in the competitive qualities of their opponents. Head coach Ron Wilson and assistant coaches Tim Hunter and Rob Zettler have a reputation for extensive preperation, and Wilson will use every means at his disposal to psychologically motivate an individual, but the rubber meets the road at playoff success. San Jose is expected to make a Western Conference Final or a Stanley Cup Final every season, and the last 3 years they have fallen short.

In that regard, the Sharks will look for a different approach. A head coach that can best take advantage of the size, speed, and chemistry contained on one of the most talented lineups in the NHL. A head coach who can maintain the up-tempo, entertaining style of play, and one who can translate that style into an intense playoff environment.

That coach... Barry Melrose.

[Update] Wilson Relieved of Head Coaching Duties - SJsharks.com.

San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the team has relieved Head Coach Ron Wilson of his coaching duties. The Sharks general manager also announced that team will begin a search for a new head coach immediately.

"Ron helped foster a new era in San Jose Sharks hockey with some record-setting regular season performances," said Doug Wilson. "However, ultimately we have decided that it is time for a different voice and a different approach to lead this team. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished as an organization but we feel that this team is capable of achieving greater success. I want to thank Ron for his level of commitment and desire to make our organization successful. Our entire organization wishes him well."

The Sharks also addressed a report earlier today that another team contacted GM Doug Wilson about his availability. According to President and CEO Greg Jamison, Doug Wilson is under a long-term contract and is very happy with his current position. It was believed to be the Toronto Maple Leafs who were inquiring about Wilson's services. Thanks to George James Malik at SnapShots for the link.

[Update2] Sharks fire coach Ron Wilson after another ouster - AP.

As Ron Wilson's players cleaned out their lockers last week, the coach seemed to think he would have another year to coax postseason success out of the Sharks.

"You look at my record, it's second to none, literally, in the sport, so I'm not even worried about that," Wilson said. "I don't think there has to be too many things changed about our team. We're ready to roll next year, too. We've accomplished more since I've been here than any other team in the league except win the Stanley Cup. That's the next thing we check off on our list."

[Update3] Now it's time for the players to step up - Mark Purdy for the San Jose Mercury News.

The franchise had to change the formula. Wilson was the most obvious move to make. But by choosing to move him aside instead of shaking up the roster, the pressure now falls squarely on the Sharks players to produce better playoff results. Their talent has never been in question. Their ability to sustain hard-core hockey for three straight playoff periods has been the issue.

Mercury News Sharks beat writer David Pollak has more.

[Update] More from Eric McErlain at the AOL Fanhouse. Last week, Globe and Mail staffer James Mirtle published an interesting post on Ron Wilson, and the head coaching tenures of his father Larry Wilson and his uncle Johnny. Mirtle believed he was likely going to be let go, only to become the leading candidate for positions in Atlanta, Florida, and other destinations looking for a new coach.

After the game 6 four overtime loss to Dallas the Sharks were alternately described as too comfortable, complainers, flawed and consistently inconsistent. The worst was saved for Al Strachan, who not only described Wilson's "terse and sarcastic" demeanor as wearing thin with players, but who also reported an instance of Ron Wilson calling out Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Matt Carle, and Milan Michalek by writing their names on a chalk board inbetween periods and allegedly saying "These are the guys that are letting us down". He reported that Wilson would probably be let go in favor of a head coach that was "less acerbic".

Strachan's reporting should be taken with a grain of salt, besides the fact that he was seldom seen at HP Pavilion this season, his rumors with regards to the San Jose Sharks often appear to be drawn out of a hat. The locker room incident this year follows last season where Wilson publically called out Patrick Marleau. The problem is, the players cited needed to perform much better for the Sharks to advance against Detroit and Dallas. The problem should hinge on whether you have to tear apart someone in a last ditch effort at motivation, or whether there is a system in place that drives players to perform under critical situations. That is the context with which Doug Wilson's decision to fire Ron Wilson should be viewed.

This blog only asked R-Wilson questions a couple of times this season, after the first training camp practice, and after the team meeting where he mentioned that he wanted to get the players attention with a difficult practice only to give most of the team the day off. He repeatedly expressed a belief that other teams had to adapt to the Sharks up-tempo style of play, that he was less concerned with how they would try to shut his team down. I asked him about the Douglas Murray vs Jarome Iginla matchup after two games in the first round of the playoffs, and instead he spoke more about the Sharks defense as a whole. Sharks radio analyst Jamie Baker talked about Ron Wilson coaching his bench based on the performance of individual players, instead of trying to match lines with an opponent. It fit with his description of a Rubik's Cube approach of coaching.

Wilson also was on the forefront of integrating new technology into his coaching, and it is a shame I could not get more of the vibrant local technology blogging community into the fold to get a look at his use of video scouting, tablet pc's, and database software among other tools.

[Update4] Another coach bites the dust - Ross McKeon for Yahoo Sports.

And the Sharks didn't say it, but they probably also did Wilson a favor by not dragging out the decision-making process like they did last year. This way Wilson can pursue any and all openings before anything is filled. Wilson has competition, no doubt, and it might be a buyer's market for clubs in the hunt for a new bench boss. There is definitely quality from which to choose. Wilson is joined by Paul Maurice and Joel Quenneville as the recently let-go.

McKeon examines possible coaching destinations in Toronto, Ottawa, Atlanta, LA, Colorado, and Florida.

[Update5] Ron Wilson offered a reaction to the Canadian Press via the CBC:

"In most ways, I was shocked when Doug told me... But in some ways, I guess, I was not surprised. When it happens when you don't expect it, you're disappointed. I can honestly say that I could not be prouder of my work here. I think our team's record speaks for itself. Obviously, we did not win a Stanley Cup while I was here [and] I'm disappointed in that as any coach would be."

"I cannot control guys falling down, I cannot control bounces in the playoffs. I would play that [Dallas] series again and go in with the same game plan. You out-chance and outshoot a team, and sometimes it is not meant to be."

[Update6] Chuq Von Rospach disagreed vehemently with my suggestion of Barry Melrose, one that was thrown out there for effect until I knocked down several of my own questions about bringing him in. Chuq offers his own candidates in long-time AHL bench boss Roy Sommer, ex-Colorado Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville, and former Sharks Tony Granato (Avs assistant coach) and Mike Sullivan (former Boston head coach).

Three keys for the decision: A coach who can get 20 players to run through walls in the postseason, a coach who can demand individual excellence as well as cohesion as a team, and hopefully a coach who can live in front of the media (as well as turn on a computer). Scratch Barry Melrose.

[Update7] This post was also published on thehockeynews.com. Two other Sharkspage posts are available on THN here and here.

[Update8] San Jose Sharks radio play-by-play broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky posted a video interview with general manager Doug Wilson on the release of Ron Wilson, the pride and disappointment after this season, what message this will send to the San Jose Sharks locker room, and what the Sharks will be looking for from a new head coach.


Pre-3rd overtime update, Pre-4th overtime update, Post-game notes on the Stars 4OT win in Game 6 to advance

Incredible game. A few notes prior to the start of the third overtime:

Milan Michalek is out after a hard hit by Stars captain Brenden Morrow checked him to the ice on the last play of the third period, Curtis Brown was not on the ice for the second overtime and possibly not on the ice for much of the first overtime, Sharks playing with 10 forwards, Time on Ice shift chart for the game in progress, NHL real-time game summary.

Evgeni Nabokov's 1st OT glove save on Brad Richards is yet another example that he is big game playoff goaltender, Nabokov 42 saves on 43 shots after 5 periods, Marty Turco 52 saves on 53 shots, referees are not going to call any penalties from this point forward, Stars captain Brenden Morrow fireman's carried someone to the ice at the Sharks blueline about 8 feet in front of the referee, no call. Hits 73-46 in favor of Dallas after 5 periods. Milan Michalek leads San Jose with 5 hits, Brenden Morrow leads the Dallas Stars with 16 hits.

Both Dallas media blogs are offering twitter-like real time updates. Richard Durrett is manning the Dallas Morning News Stars blog, noting Ribeiro's ice time (41:51), Morrow's number of hits (16), and that it is now Monday in Dallas. Tracey Myers is manning the Fort Worth Star Telegram's Five for Fighting blog, noting Ribeiro's missed scoring chances, and goals by Clowe and Miettinen. Knee Jerk City is also liveblogging Game 6. Not sure what the record is for the longest playoff liveblog, but this game has to be nearing that mark if it does not have it already.

Pre-4th OT update:

This is the longest all-time playoff game for the San Jose Sharks franchise. The previous longest contest was a 3OT game against Edmonton in game 3 of the WCSF May 5th, 2006. According to Richard Durrett, this is the third longest Dallas Stars game, an April 11, 2007 game against Vancouver went into the fourth overtime (Canucks won 5-4), and there was a 5 OT game against Anaheim in 2003 (Ducks won 4-3). This game also featured the most total shots in a Sharks game (110), and the most shots ever taken by a Sharks team in franchise history (61).

Curtis Brown skated in the third OT with Thornton-Cheechoo, and Clowe-Grier. Sharks rookie center Torrey Mitchell had a clean 2-on-1 breakaway halfway through the third overtime. Mitchell moved it to Clowe, who returned the puck back to Mitchell. Torrey chipped the puck off the ice, and an out of position Turco threw his arm behind his body to block the puck, and then trapped it to the ice. Spectacular save, this is an incredible goaltender's duel as both are putting their stamp on this series in game 6. Modano and Daley break into the Sharks zone. Modano showed a burst of speed that looks like he was shot out of a cannon, and it resulted in a scoring chance in front. "No tomorrow for the Sharks" - San Jose radio broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky in the third OT.

Dallas defenseman Nicklas Grossman took a hooking penalty 3 minutes into period number 6. Shock of shocks. I would have lost the house betting on the referees burying their whistles for the duration. Quick flip to NHL on the Fly Final, this has to be the first time all year they are talking about a Sharks game while it is still in progress. Versus is blacked in the Bay Area with the game on Comcast.

Game Winning goal by Brenden Morrow on the power play at 9:03 of the 4th overtime, assists by Robidas and Ribeiro. Morrow finished with 51 minutes of ice time, 7 shots, 19 hits, and the game winning goal in the 4th OT. Dallas Stars goaltender Marty Turco finished with 61 saves on 62 shots to advance to the Western Conference Finals against Detroit. San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov finished with 53 saves on 55 shots. During post-game handshakes two of the greatest U.S. born players of all-time, Jeremy Roenick and Mike Modano, embraced for an extended moment. Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov also had several words with each other. On the way off the ice, a number of Dallas Stars fans and a security guard shook Roenick's hand.

Dallas is going to have to go through Anaheim, San Jose and Detroit just to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. Winning a very tight series against the Sharks without defenseman Brian Boucher, and with Sergei Zubov at less than 100%, the Stars deserve credit for getting the job done with an entire team effort. San Jose battled back in this series, and soon I will post a game recap and a season ending series of notes on the Sharks season. Detroit will be a prohibitive favorite against Dallas by many of the "experts", but if Dallas can play as disciplined and as physical (especially against the Detroit defense that had monstrous injury problems of their own this season), they will make the Western Conference Finals a series.

For a mini-scouting report on the Red Wings, take a look at this January post. Also, that was one of the best photo galleries I have posted all season. Hasek-Turco would be light years more entertaining than Osgood-Turco, they might have to create a new statistical category: MSLR - minutes spent lobbying refs.

[Update] James Mirtle posts the 10 longest overtime games in NHL playoff history:

1. 3/24/36 DET 1, MAR 0 Mud Bruneteau 116:30:00
2. 04/03/33 TOR 1, BOS 0 Ken Doraty 104:46:00
3. 05/04/00 PHI 2, PIT 1 Keith Primeau 92:01:00
4. 4/24/03 ANA 4, DAL 3 Petr Sykora 80:48:00
5. 4/24/96 PIT 3, WAS 2 Petr Nedved 79:15:00
6. 04/11/07 VAN 5, DAL 4 Henrik Sedin 78:06:00
7. 3/23/43 TOR 3, DET 2 Jack MacLean 70:18:00
8. 05/04/08 DAL 2, SJ 1 Brendan Morrow 69:03:00
9. 3/28/30 MTL 2, NYR 1 Gus Rivers 68:52:00
10. 4/18/87 NYI 3, WSH 2 Pat LaFontaine 68:47:00

[Update2] Just an FYI, select posts and photos from Sharkspage will be posted on The Hockey News blog section. There is a permanent link to The Hockey News and the blog section on the right NHL sidebar.

[Update3] Updated the Sharks playoff history page. Overall Playoff Record: 57-62. Overall Playoff Series Record: 9-11.

[Update4] Season Ends In Fourth OT - SJsharks.com.

Facing elimination for the third straight game, the San Jose Sharks looked to force a decisive Game Seven in their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Dallas Stars, but in a cruel twist of fate, they would play the equivalent of a sixth and seventh game, but lose 2-1 in quadruple overtime.

[Update5] More game notes from Alanah at Kukla's Korner:

- Tonight's game officially lasted 5 hours and 14 minutes, beginning at 8:10 pm and ending at 1:24 am. (CST)

- Marty Turco made a franchise-record 61 saves in the game tonight, stopping 61-of-62 shots.

- Dallas had 55 shots on goal. The franchise record is 76 at Vancouver in Game One of their first round series against the Canucks last year.

- The 62 shots against is a Stars opponent record for shots in a playoff game. (was 56 by Vancouver last season).

- Dallas has won four of its last five overtime games in the playoffs. Brenden Morrow has scored the game-winner in three of them (Mattias Norstrom had the other).

- The attendance for Sunday’s game was 18,532, Dallas’ 26th sellout of the season and 12th consecutive sellout (including the last six regular season games). The club has also sold-out 17 of the past 18 home dates.

[Update6] Stars 2, Sharks 1, 4OT - Dallasstars.com.

Captain Brenden Morrow scored 9:03 into the fourth overtime, and Marty Turco made a career-high 61 saves to send the Stars to the Western Conference finals with a dramatic 2-1 win over San Jose in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday night at American Airlines Center. Dallas took the best-of-seven series 4-2 to advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2000.

A photo gallery from the Dallas Stars is available here.

[Update7] Brenden Morrow scores in 4th OT, Stars beat Sharks to clinch series - Canadian Press via TSN.

[Update8] Much more is up, including video interviews, photos, and notes, on sjsharks.com.


Elvis Lives, He wears #8 for the San Jose Sharks, and he sent the WCSF series back to Dallas for Game 6

San Jose Sharks Dallas Stars Western Conference Semifinal game 5
San Jose Sharks Milan Michalek
Dallas Stars Brenden Morrow Mike Ribeiro

Jimmy Hoffa, the Chupacabra, Al Capone's hidden vault, like the San Jose Sharks playoff hopes after Joe Pavelski's game winning goal 65 seconds into overtime on Friday, now is the time to believe. Granted, this has been a tumultous second season for the reigning Pacific Division champions. There were no game-to-game momentum swings in the Sharks opening series win over the Calgary Flames, more like seven playoff game 1's. After dropping 3 games to Dallas in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Sharks earned back-to-back wins to send the series back to Dallas with an option to tie.

Dallas stormed out of the gates in the first two periods, led by of course team captain Brenden Morrow. After tic-tac-toe passing by Modano, Zubov and Lehtinen resulted in the Stars first goal on the power play in the second period, Morrow appeared to add to that total at 15:31. Almost before the puck was in the back of the net, the referee was skating towards the scorer's table with the play under video review. Matt Carle tried to check Morrow as he was making a b-line for the crease, but Morrow arrived and planted one foot into the right leg pad of Evgeni Nabokov before the puck arrived on the play. The puck did deflect off Morrow's back skate and into the crease, but the correct call should have interference on Morrow not just a disallowed goal. Morrow prevented Nabokov from making the play before the puck was in the crease.

Three and a half minutes later, Morrow added a second goal for the Dallas Stars sans video review. Antti Miettinen hit Brad Richards with a long pass up ice through the neutral zone, and Richards spun and found Miettinen cocked and loaded in the slot. Miettinen's shot was blocked through traffic, but he gathered his own rebound and fed Brad Richards for a point blank chance on the doorstep. Evgeni Nabokov deflected the play wide to his right, but Miettinen had position on 4 Sharks who were focused on the puck. Morrow snapped a shot home from a sharp angle with Miettinen in front, and then glared at the referee. Allowing an even strength goal with 55.3 seconds left in the period briefly sucked the life out of HP Pavilion. Later in the game, Morrow had another goal disallowed on the power play after he tried to toss the puck to his stick only to have it cross the goal line first.

Cue the third period, Patrick Marleau explodes up ice after receiving a breakout pass from his own zone. Marleau splits the defense before they can turn to face him. Marleau makes a move to his right, but Turco dives out of his crease with an extended poke check to cut down the time he had to make a play. After the initial save, the Stars D clear the puck under pressure to prevent a second scoring chance with their goalie far out of position.

The noise level in the third period was loud. San Jose head coach Ron Wilson actually took a shot at the fans after the game for booing their own team when they turned back with possession to get a better breakout opportunity, but the fans played an important part in the third period comeback. Jonathan Cheechoo gets the puck deep, and Joe Thornton digs the puck out from behind the net, spins, and finds Milan Michalek driving the net with his stick on the ice. Goal Michalek, and HP Pavilion is possibly the loudest it has been all season. What was different about Friday night, the noise level and intensity from the fans never died down the remainder of the period. The Sharks pressed the action, and Jeremey Roenick found Brian Campbell accelerating through the neutral zone and rifled a hard tape-to-tape pass. Campbell crosses the blue line, cuts to his left, and rings the game tying goal off the crossbar at 11:07. Fans explode. Ron Wilson does have a point about booing a team on home ice too quickly, at times during the regular season it caused the Sharks to try to force a play that wasn't there. There is so much energy inside the building, it really calls for the need of an organist to channel that into more of an anti-Morrow, anti-Stars, or anti-Belfour direction.

Overtime has not been kind to the Sharks in this Western Conference Semifinal series, Brenden Morrow scored the game winner 4:39 into OT in game 1, and Mattias Norstrom scored off a deflection on Jeremy Roenick's stick to earn the decision in game 3. The Sharks tried to "push the pace" against Dallas in the extra period according to center Joe Pavelski. After getting the puck deep, Antti Miettinen can not clear it out along the wall. Christian Ehrhoff pinches in and passes to Pavelski, who turns and takes the puck directly to the slot. Zubov tried to weakly check Marleau in front, Miettinen dives to the ice to try to get back into the play, and defenseman Nicklas Grossman is caught too far out of position to make a move on Pavelski or to drop down and block a shot. Pavelski holds on to the puck, and then lifts a shot over the shoulder of Turco to send the series back to Dallas. The entire Sharks team converge en masse on Pavelski in the corner.

A photo gallery from the game is available here. Video highlights are available via Versus or Youtube.

[Update] ESPN'S Barry Melrose said last night the San Jose having the most pressure of any team facing elimination in the Semifinals, that the coaches and the players feel pressure after past playoff early departures, and he breaks down Joe Pavelski's game winning overtime goal against Dallas in Game 5.

[Update2] Little Joe. Big goal. San jose shows some grit in comeback against Dallas - SJ Mercury News.

There was desperation, but between the end of the third period and the start of overtime, there also was a plan: Push the pace.

More from the Merc's Mark Emmons, Mark Purdy, and Ann Killion.

[Update3] Twice bitten: Dallas Stars lose 2-0 lead in 3-2 overtime loss - Dallas Morning News.

[Update4] That's the breaks: Sharks stay alive against Stars in OT - Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The Dallas Stars have talked about earning breaks, making breaks, capitalizing on breaks.But on Friday night, an awful break went against the Stars. And despite a two-goal lead, the Stars couldn’t hold off the Sharks.

The Stars were denied a goal in the second period, and the Sharks came back with three unanswered goals to claim a 3-2 victory over the Stars in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals at HP Pavilion on Friday night. The series, which the Stars still lead 3-2, goes back to Dallas for Game 6 on Sunday night.

Scenes from Game 5

San Jose Sharks Dallas Stars hard hat
San Jose Sharks Joe Pavelski overtime game winning goal
San Jose Sharks Dallas Stars playoffs
San Jose Sharks Dallas Stars NHL Stanley Cup Playoff photo