After an abnormally mild spring and summer, the thermometer hit 102 degrees in San Jose on Tuesday. Wednesday morning was a little more mild at 93 degrees, but a brief respite from the heat was available by watching an informal scrimmage at Sharks Ice in the leadup to the start of training camp. According to SJsharks.com, new goaltender Antero Niittymaki and winger Jamal Mayers joined the scrimmages on Monday. “I’ve been in California probably three times in my life, I’ve still got a couple of more weeks until camp starts, so I’ve got some time (to explore),” Niittymaki told the team website after his first skate.
Joining Niittymaki and Mayers on the ice today were Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Thomas Greiss, Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi, Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart, Dan Boyle, Scott Nichol, Dany Heatley, Frazer McLaren, Owen Nolan and a few others. Defenseman Niclas Wallin watched part of the scrimmage rinkside. An unrestricted free agent with deep ties to San Jose, Nolan has been the target of a flurry of offseason speculation regarding the San Jose Sharks.
With news that defenseman Willie Mitchell signed today with the Los Angeles Kings, the Sharks may be forced to upgrade their blueline through the trade market instead of free agency. That will have the added benefit of offsetting salary, but it will also give the Sharks an opportunity to evaluate depth in the organization in training camp and at the start of the season. The Kings were allegedly runners up in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes, a process that is still sorting itself out after the NHL rejected his unprecedented 17-year contract. Adding Mitchell to a Kings blueline that includes Drew Doughty, Rob Scuderi, Matt Greene, Jack Johnson, Davis Drewiske and Peter Harrold makes them a contender for the Pacific Division title in 2010-11. With over $12.8M in cap space according to capgeek.com, the Kings may have been able to offer Mitchell a less incentive-based deal.
News out of San Jose has slowed to a trickle, but there was word that the Sharks games in the 5-team Vancouver rookie tournament will be streamed online. That should await confirmation from the San Jose Sharks. Preseason tickets went onsale Monday at 10AM. The Sharks will face Anaheim (Sept. 24th), Phoenix (Sept. 25th) and Vancouver (Sept. 29th) in the pre-season at home before traveling to SAP Arena in Germany for an exhibition game against Adler Mannheim of the Deutscher Eishockey Liga. The Sharks open the season in Stockholm, Sweden with a pair of games against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 8th and 9th.
The NHL announced the 2010-11 television schedules for NBC and Versus today. According to Tripp Mickle of the Sports Business Journal, Versus will air 13 more NHL games this season (a 20% increase). That will include a triple header on October 7th (one European game, two North American games), and double the number of San Jose Sharks broadcasts (from 4 to 8). Versus will air San Jose’s season opener October 8th against the Columbis Blue Jackets in Stockholm, road games against the Minnesota Wild November 2nd, Detroit Red Wings December 6th, and the Philadelphia Flyers December 8th, a game vs. Phoenix on February 1st, at Pittsburgh February 23rd, at Chicago March 14th, and a bonus game vs. Los Angeles April 4th. The full Versus schedule is available at puckthemedia.com.
Correction from this post, Vancouver had 5 players listed in TheHockeyNews Top 50, San Jose and Chicago each had 4. San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan attended the San Francisco 49ers morning practice today. In the playoffs before the Sharks faced the Chicago Blackhawks, 49ers head coach Mike Singletary called the team to offer encouragement. One final note, Sharkspage penned the San Jose version of Yahoo Puck Daddy’s Mount Puckmore series. It should be up on Puck Daddy Sunday.
A photo gallery from today’s informal scrimmage at Sharks Ice in San Jose is available here.
[Update] From multiple sources, defenseman Willie Mitchell received a 2-year, $7 million contract from the Los Angeles Kings.
[Update2] San Jose Mercury News beat writer David Pollak returns from vacation and posts a few updates on his Working the Corners blog. He notes from a source with the team that signing unrestricted free agents Antti Niemi and Owen Nolan are very unlikely to happen.
[Update3] The Sharks national television schedule is available courtesy of Puck The Media. Comcast’s regional schedule is in the process of being finalized according to CSNBA spokesman Jay Dela Cruz.
SAN JOSE SHARKS (19)
Oct. 8 at Columbus (VERSUS/TSN)
Oct. 23 at Edmonton (CBC)
Oct. 27 vs. New Jersey (NHL Net Canada)
Nov. 2 at Minnesota (VERSUS/TSN2)
Nov. 13 vs. Calgary (CBC)
Nov. 15 vs. Los Angeles (NHL Net Canada)
Nov. 26 at Vancouver (TSN)
Nov. 27 at Edmonton (CBC)
Nov. 30 vs. Detroit (NHL Net Canada)
Dec. 2 at Ottawa (TSN)
Dec. 4 at Montreal (CBC)
Dec. 6 at Detroit (VERSUS)
Dec. 8 at Philadelphia (VERSUS)
Jan. 9 at Anaheim (NHL Net Canada)
Jan. 17 at Phoenix (NHL Net Canada)
Feb. 1 vs. Phoenix (VERSUS)
Feb. 23 at Pittsburgh (VERSUS)
Mar. 14 at Chicago (VERSUS/TSN2)
Apr. 4 vs. Los Angeles (VERSUS)