A is for the Anaheim Ducks who will face their cross town rivals, the LA Kings, at Dodger Stadium on January 25th. This game will serve as a live test for future outdoor games in warm weather markets.
B is for Dan Bylsma. The Pittsburgh head coach will also serve the role for Team USA this winter at Sochi Olympics. Last night was a great opportunity for the Sharks US born players…Joe Pavelski, Justin Braun, and Tommy Wingels to impress Bylsma. With other high profile Americas such as Zach Parise, Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel and Ryan Kesler Team USA’s final roster will be a tough decision.
C is for the Cow Palace. If you haven’t been there since 1993 or are too young to remember, do you a favor and take in a San Francisco Bulls game at the old barn.
D is for downtown. The NHL best franchises make their hay from arenas situated in their city’s downtown. Great restaurants, lively bars, and a fan base employed nearby make it fun for everyone involved.
E is Edmonton, the city which will soon be enjoying the luxury of a brand new arena. Rogers of Canada also just announced a naming rights deal for the Oilers new home. The added revenue should allow the Oilers to be competitive with vast majority of NHL teams.
F is for feeling better, as in Raffi Torres and his knee injury. It will be very important that Raffi is at 100% for his late season return to the lineup. When he does return, he will play a huge role come the stretch drive and playoff time.
G is Gear. Equipment over the last 10-15 years has improved greatly. Skates are super light, pads for skaters and goalie are lighter and stronger, face shields has saved faces and in some cases careers. Every player in the NHL now uses composite sticks which are lighter and flex better for harder shots. But the Gear guys still need to find a way so that sticks don’t break so often.
I as in ‘no I in team’. Hockey is the ultimate game. Will beats skills and teamwork is essential and hard work pays off unlike any other game.
J is for Joe Pavelski. Often he is called ‘Little Joe’ as compared ‘Big Joe’ Thornton. Pavs is anything but little on the ice. His all-around game is as good as anyone in the league. He’s a goal scorer, powerplay, penalty kill and faceoff expert. Equally remarkable is Pav’s fearless approach and clutch play.
K is for KHL, where former Shark Jonathon Cheechoo who has been selected to that Russian league’s All-Star team. Cheech will be on a line with other former NHLers Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov.
L is for Larry as in Robinson. I’ve been around Big League athletes for close to 30 years and Larry lives up to everything the fans would ever want their hero to be. He’s modest, funny, smart, a Hall-of-Famer player, a great coach, and a man who treats everyone with dignity and respect. He more than makes up for those few professional who don’t live up to such standards.
M is for moments. I can’t wait until the moment when the Red Wings and Maple Leafs make their entrance before 110,000 fans on New Year’s Day at the famous “Big House” in Ann Arbor. Tell your friends (fans of not) to make viewing plans. It should be epic.
N is for November which was a remarkable month for the Sharks which saw them go 8-2-3.
O is for NHL Officials who make the right call 99% of the time. It’s the other 1 percent which drives fans, coaches, and media crazy. The league needs to get it right, even when it means a short delay in arena. And like my Mom said, “when you make a mistake…own up to it”.
P is for Pittsburgh, a town that loves their Penguins. The Yellow and Gold that they share with the Steelers and Pirates is everywhere in that town. Much like Mario Lemieux in the 80’s, Sidney Crosby has saved Pittsburgh’s NHL team. Lemieux’s star re-energized interest in hockey, while Crosby was the force behind getting their new building.
Q is for Quebec City. That city is building their own new arena which should put them in line for an NHL relocation or expansion club. Much like Winnipeg, the fan, and corporate base is there. The Nordiques are still universally loved.
R is for Rookies. The Sharks’ super rookie Tomas Hertl leads all freshmen with 13 goals and 21 points. Other notable rookies include the Bruins’ Torey Krug with 16 points, the Flames’ Sean Monahan has 9 goals, and the Avs’ Nathan MacKinnon leads in helpers 11 assists.
S for Star Power of which the Sharks have is huge supply. The squad which boasts Thornton, Marleau, Burns, Couture, Boyle, Pavelski, and Hertl is as good a core as any team in almost any sport. Let’s hope this is the year to turn Star Power into a Cup they can be proud of forever.
T is for Television. Just last week Rogers of Canada bought all NHL TV and digital rights from the NHL. It’s reported to be a 12-year deal at $5.2 Billion (with a B). Rogers is hoping to use its transmission, cable, internet and cell phone services with what serves as ‘hockey software’ to make a profit from Canadian fans coast to coast. Each team will receive a big check every season from Rogers. And the players too will enjoy the contact as they receive 50% of all hockey revenue.
U is for underwear. New materials have been developed in recent years of which hockey underwear is used by the athletes. The sweat is wicked away from the body which keeps the player dryer and more comfortable during games.
V is for Marc-Edourd Vlasic. “Pickles” is playing the best hockey of his career and should crack the elite Team Canada Olympic lineup this year.
W is for wins of which a Shootout Win is not a win. Winning a skills completion is nice and everyone goes happy, but as a purist I still struggle with the shootout and the results it provides.
X is for Xmas. Christmas, like other religious winter holidays, are such family fun. Kudos go out to the National Hockey League for not scheduling games on December 24th, 25th and 26th. Many NHL players are young dads and those who make their living around the game will also benefit this thoughtful policy. Thanks!
Y is for Neil Young. A longtime Sharks’ season ticket holder, Neil has a true love for the game. The classic rocker was raised was in Canada and in part by a Hall of Fame sports-writing father. In old photos Young is often seen wear NHL jerseys or Toronto Maple Leaf patches on his jeans.
Z is for Zdeno Chara who continues to dominate every game he plays. At 6’9”, 255lbs, with a huge wingspan, high hockey IQ, and his ability to log high minutes, the Bruins are again a Stanley Cup contender.
- Defensemen thankful for the new hybrid icing rule.
- Goalies are thankful for big pads…that may change.
- NHL is thankful for the 12 year $5.2B dollar with Rogers for Canadian TV and digital rights.
- Tomas Hertl is thankful for playing on Joe Thornton’s left wing.
- Patrick Marleau is thankful for playing his entire career in the Bay Area.
- All hockey players are thankful for parents who foot the bill and drive the car to early morning practices and games far from home.
- The Ducks are thankful for the huge contribution of Dustin Penner.
- Todd McLellan is thankful for the quality minutes Justin Braun plays every night.
- Downtown restaurants and bars are thankful for the business fans bring on game nights.
- The Sharks are thankful for the mere presence of hall of famer Larry Robinson.
- Fans are thankful for the fantastic Sharks coverage CSN California and KFOX provide game in and game out.
- The Coyotes are thankful for new ownership and chance to re-invent themselves to the Phoenix sporting market.
- Arena workers are thankful for fans that spend money at SAP Concessions.
- Fans are thankful for the gigantic SAP jumbotron and the fantastic game presentation.
- Gary Bettman is thankful that there will be NHL labor peace for years to come.
- Everyone is thankful that Frank Zamboni invented the ice resurfacing vehicle.
- Sharks fans who move away are thankful for NHL Center Ice on Directv.
- Satellite radio listeners are thankful for NHL Radio’s 24/7/365 coverage of the National Hockey League.
- Anti Niemi is thankful for the SJ defensemen who play so well in front of him.
- Sharks players are thankful for the energetic home fans which help push them to home ice perfection.
- SJ Sharkie is thankful they make jerseys in XXL.
- Owen Nolan is thankful for being able to retire in San Jose and live out his other dream which is to produce the hunting and fishing TV show…Sportsman 360.
- Web surfers are thankful for the supercharged SJSharks.com website.
- Sharks fans are thankful for the contending, consistent high-caliber teams Doug Wilson assembles each and every season.
- Hockey players young and old are thankful for the spectacular 4-sheet Sharks Ice.
- Trees are thankful that hockey sticks are made of carbon fiber and aluminum.
- Hockey fans world-wide are thankful for the coverage NHL.com and NHL game Center Live provide.
- Sharks fans are thankful for the safe, clean and fun environment that is SAP Center.
- Relocated NHL fans are thankful that every team in the league will play at least one game in San Jose this season.
- Dan Rusanowsky is thankful for his induction into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame.
- Kids are thankful that are able to press their noses against the glass during warm-ups.
- TV producers are thankful for super slo-mo replays.
- NBC is thankful that January 1st a world record 110,000 fans will fill Michigan Stadium for the Wings Leafs outdoor game.
- Hockey is thankful for the fantastic Bay Area support of the San Jose Sharks.
- The Sharks are thankful for every fan who attends, watches or listens to Sharks hockey.
“The one major event that the NHL can fully brag their success is the 'NHL Winter Classic'." Claiming New Year’s as their own, the NHL’s outdoor spectacular is popular fans and non-fans alike.
It takes the game back to its roots, taking it outside into the snow and ice. Anyone who grew up in America’s Midwest and North can tell you the emotions of the winter season. It’s a harsh environment to play in but it can be so fun. Playing outside in the winter was fun for many reasons…snowball fights, snowmen, sled rides, and making snow angels. Right up there is skating on a frozen pond. Some of my fondest memories were getting new skates and sticks on Christmas morning then getting the neighborhood kids to play a big outdoor game on Christmas afternoon. We’d play for hours with snow banks in place of boards and homemade nets the target for goals.
The Winter Classic is a one of a kind event. Or should I say, was a one of a kind. This winter will find 5 NHL games scheduled outdoors. On New Year’s day in Ann Arbor, Michigan, upwards of 110,000 fans will jam into “The Big House.” Michigan Stadium is the venue where the University of Michigan Wolverines play NCAA football. Original 6 clubs, the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs will add another chapter to their long-time rivalry that day. It will set an all-time hockey attendance record.
There will be a second rink at the Detroit Tigers' Comerica Park in Motown. This will be the site for a Red Wings, Maple Leafs Alumni game, as well as hosting college hockey, junior, and minor league games during the NHL’s hockey festival. It should be a lot of fun everyone, whether attending in person or watching from home.
Four other NHL games are scheduled. The Kings and Ducks will meet at Dodger Stadium on January 25th. This will be a big test building a rink with good ice in a warm weather climate. If it is a success you may see outdoor games in Texas, Arizona, Florida, and Northern California in the coming seasons.
Yankee Stadium will be the site for two games in the Big Apple. The Rangers and Devils square off on January 26th. Three days later, the Rangers will square off against their rival NY Islanders. I’m sure the setting will be stunning. It’s hockey in the House that Ruth Built.
On March 1st, Chicago gets into the act. The Blackhawks will host the Penguins at historic Soldier Field. The very next day BC Place will stage the Ottawa Senators/Vancouver Canucks game.
Is this too much too soon? Perhaps. Is the NHL watering down a signature event? Maybe. But equally important is that more fans at more outdoor events with more viewers is good for hockey and good for the NHL. Stretching these events into more venues could be tempting the gods of weather. What if the ice is unplayable in Southern California? What if the winds are too strong in Chicago? What if it rains in Vancouver? All are valid questions and if so, the NHL outdoor brand could be damaged. Let’s hope the weather cooperates and that fans and non-fans have the appetite for more than just the New Year’s game. I, for one, am looking forward to these events.
This past Monday, Tampa Bay’s super-sniper Steven Stamkos suffered a horrific injury breaking his right leg. While back-checking hard Stamkos lost his edge and appeared to be nudged into the right goal post. With nowhere to go his leg snapped back violently. Twice Steven tried to stand and skate, but the incredible pain was too much. The medical prognosis for recovery is from 3 to 6 months.
See the injury: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIdZG3XGhys
It is always a shame when you see an NHLer go down, but in this case it’s one of the league’s marquee stars. Stamkos was selected first overall by Tampa Bay from the Sarnia Sting in the 2008 Entry draft. In his rookie season Stamkos notched respectable 23 goals in 79 games. From there the right-winger exploded on the big stage with goal totals of 51, 45, 60 and 29 in last year’s 48-game shortened season. This year he’s scored 14 goals in 17 games. That figure has him in a league leading tie with the Blues’ Alex Steen and the Caps’ Alex Ovechkin. He was on the road to a MVP season leading the Bolts to great start that has powered them to a 1st place position in the Eastern Conference. Stamkos will almost certainly miss the Olympics and perhaps the entire season. The best Lightning and Team Canada GM can hope for is perhaps a late season return just prior to the playoffs. Hurrying him back could be a huge mistake that could impact future of his career.
Yzerman knows from experience what it takes to recover from a severe injury. The date was March 1st, 1988. The Red Wings’ young captain went hard into the goal post in a game against the Buffalo Sabres Talk at the time said the injury could be career threatening, but after surgery Yzerman worked hard in rehab and was able to re-join the Wings in a 3rd round playoff series vs the Edmonton Oilers. The Wings lost that series but Yzerman never looked back and enjoyed some of his best seasons and led the Red Wings to three Stanley Cup Championships.
Stamkos’ injury happened in Boston and kudos goes out to Bruins fans that hushed with the injury and remained silent until Stamkos was wheeled out. It was then when they stood applauded to young star. Stamkos is known around the league as one of the most dedicated players in the league whose fitness level is at an elite level. Something tells me Steven will be in uniform and ready to go for the 2014 Playoffs.
It was a great sight for Sharks fans to see when Sharks’ veteran defenseman Brad Stuart banged in the overtime goal this past Tuesday in Calgary. The Sharks had again squandered a 2 goal lead taking the game into overtime. It was not difficult to imagine yet another overtime or shootout loss. Stuart’s goal gave his team the win and showed he can contribute to team success. Stuart is recovering from a preseason injury and was scratched from last Sunday’s game in Winnipeg for recent ineffective play. Missing that game by coaches decision had to hurt Stuart who a proud and professional athlete. Look for Brad to use Tuesday’s performance as a springboard going forward.
The Sharks have dropped 4 of 5 games decided in the NHL shootout so far this season. It may be that fact that makes me again question the league’s shootout format. I don’t feel that the outcome of a team game should be decided on a single one-on-one skills competition. NHL GMs met this week and are considering extending the overtime format and perhaps going to a 3-on-3 format in order to decide game outcome in a game format. I look forward to what they decide going forward.
I’ve never really loved the hockey statistic referred to as plus/minus. The basic idea is when playing at equal strength, if your team scores each player on the ice gets a +1. If your team gives up a goal each player on the ice gets a -1. Over time this should give you an impression of how well a player performs. The longer a player plays the more likely it is that plus/minus is an accurate reflection of his play.
Going through the all-time stats I noticed that one man stands alone as the greatest plus/minus player. Sharks co-coach Larry Robinson registered a mind-blowing +730 during his hall-of-fame career. Robinson was the number one defenseman for the dominant 1970s Montreal Canadiens. Those teams are often regarded as the finest teams ever assembled. 2nd in plus/minus is the great Bobby Orr at +579, followed by Ray Bourque at +528.
While on the subject, San Jose’s all-time top plus/minus men are Joe Thornton +140, Marc-Edouard Vlasic +79 and Nils Ekman +50.
Sunday’s game in Winnipeg will be the 1658th game in San Jose Sharks history. The club's all-time win-loss record is 767-688 going along with 121 ties, 61 overtime losses.
Sharks centerman Logan Couture is tied for the league lead with 3 shootout goals. The other snipers are Kopitar (LA), Vrbata (PHX), Oshie (STL), Ladd (WPG) and Moulson (BUF). The shootout has been part of the NHL landscape now for nine seasons. While I enjoy the competition and shooter/goalie battle as much as anyone, I don’t think the result of this exercise should go into a win or loss column. Let’s stick with wins, losses and ‘bonus points’. Bonus points being those earned in the shootout.
Congrats go out to Sharks radio man, Dan Rusanosky! The play-by-play voice of the Sharks was recently inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall-of-Fame. His hard work and dedication have led him to this great honor. Something tells me that this might not be the last time Dan is inducted into a Hall-of-Fame.
Check out Dan’s postgame audio blogs following each and every game on sjsharks.com. Dan will get you up to speed in a hurry with a full game recap and audio highlights.
The Hockey Hall-of-Fame’s 2013 induction class will be one to remember. This season sees the induction of rugged defenseman Chris Chelios, power forward Brendan Shanahan, mobile defenseman Scott Niedermayer, innovative coach Fred Shero, and Gerladine Heaney, who has been called the "female Bobby Orr". The NHL Network will have coverage of induction ceremonies next Monday at 4:30 PM PST.
This and that:
When talking Sharks hockey there seems to be a player who is often overlooked. The date was March 23rd, 1999. That’s when the Sharks made a deadline deal with Montreal that brought the Canadiens’ captain Vincent Damphousse to San Jose. Damphousse brought with him a winning pedigree and gave the team instant credibility. He was an elegant player whose style and flair should not be forgotten. The Sharks team that he joined in the spring of 1999 was a very average team, but his winning attitude and quiet leadership was much valued by the team in teal. Damphousse’s NHL career was outstanding. He played 1378 NHL games while notching 432 goals and 773 assists. The pinnacle of his career was winning the Stanley Cup in 1993 as Montreal enjoyed a magical run. During 5 ½ years with San Jose Vincent played 385 games and posted 92 goals and 197 assists. His career was outstanding and a case could be made that Vinnie belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame. I remember Vincent as a classy guy who embraced the team and the community. He was a smooth skater, a great passer and was a remarkably smart player. Next time you talk Sharks hockey, don’t forget the Flying Frenchman, Vincent Damphousse.
There are 30 teams in the NHL and with that 30 NHL buildings. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been at all of them, plus a handful of retired rinks. Baseball/Football stadiums of the ’70s saw the advent of the ‘cookie cutter’ ballparks. Their artificial turf and circular seating configuration were quite unremarkable. It was hard to tell the difference from park to park. Was it Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Cincinnati? Hockey should have learned but in the 1990s was the era of NHL ‘cookie cutter’ arena. Massive structures that valued private suites over seating of the common fans were being built at a rapid pace. Examples of rinks from this time are Chicago, Buffalo, Philadelphia, LA and Dallas. Luckily for Sharks fans SAP Center predated those buildings of the bland. Completed in 1993 and named the San Jose Arena, the Sharks South Bay home was a smashing success. Built on a human scale, the arena had and continues to have some of the best sightlines in the league. With a capacity of 17562, SAP Center provides perhaps the most intimate fan experience in the league. I speak to broadcasters and fans all across North America and they rave about the atmosphere, fan energy and proximity to the ice in San Jose. The last row of the upper bowl is both lower and closer than the first row of the upper bowl in most NHL rinks. Those who follow the Sharks closely and go to the games in person know exactly what I’m talking about.
The Sharks just completed an October to remember. During the 10th month 2013, San Jose posted a 10-1-2 record. Their 22 points is most in the NHL. 13 games into the season show 16 Sharks players have scored at least one goal. 8 different Sharks have a game-winning goals to their credit. Perhaps the most impressive stat is their +27 goal differential. The next closest teams are…Colorado +19, Toronto +16, Montreal + 14 and St Louis +13. Now it’s early, but these October points are every bit as important as points earned in March and April.
This and that:
- The Sabres’ John Scott laid out a brutal hit on the Bruins’ Loui Eriksson Wednesday night. It’s another example a hit which must be policed and punished. Eriksson had clearly shot the puck into the offensive and was viciously blindsided the Bruins’ player. The targeting of the head cannot be permitted. The NHL and the NHLPA needs to work together on this topic to protect the players. The NHL should look at the sad stories emerging with players in the NFL.
- The Sharks added depth and toughness with the acquisition of forward Mike Brown from the Oilers for a 4th round draft pick. The Sharks are the 5th club that Brown has suited up for. Sharks fans will remember Brown from his 2 years in Anaheim. Brown is another American NHLer. He’s from Chicago and played college hockey for Red Berenson’s Michigan Wolverines.
- Antti Niemi’s shootout save on the Red Wings’ Todd Bertuzzi Monday night was one for the ages. Bertuzzi started right then to left attempting to out wait the Finish netminder, but Niemi stayed with it and while laying on his belly found a way to extend his right pad stealing a shootout goal and sealing a Sharks 1-0 victory over the Wings.
- For Sharks’ fans who just can’t get enough of their team, I have good news. This is the first season that the SJSharks.com producers will be on every road trip. Look for great pre and postgame video coverage of the players and members of the Sharks broadcast team. Content will be on almost every platform, SJSharks.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. The website’s production team is at every practice and game, home and away. Let us know what you think and what more you’d like to see.
- The current road trip is a special one. With stops in original six cities Detroit, Boston, Montreal along with hockey-crazed Ottawa, and winding it up with a rival game in LA, makes it a fun time to follow the Sharks.
- If you’d like to see photos from the Sharks road adventures, follow me on twitter @sharkstv.
- The Sharks depth is being tested with recent injuries to Dan Boyle and Brent Burns, not to mention the extended time out from Adam Burish and Martin Havlat. So far San Jose has successfully relied on production from those on the 3rd and 4th lines. Quality minutes are being logged by everyone on the roster.
- Last night’s game in Boston was a special one for several Sharks players. Rookie forward Freddie Hamilton skated on NHL ice for the first time against his younger brother Dougie. It was certainly a proud moment for the Hamilton family of Toronto, Ontario. 4 other Sharks returned to Boston ice after earning their college stripes in Beantown, Matt Nieto and John McCarthy skated at Boston University while Matt Erwin and Justin Braun wore the colors of Boston College. Boston gives Detroit a good run for the title of Hockeytown USA.
Two weeks into the 2013-14 NHL season it appears that the Sharks have built upon their late season and playoff success from last spring.
Projecting veteran team fortunes is fairly simple. One can review career trends and past results. Using this information you can predict the ultimate success of that team. But when important veterans get up in age, their skills can quickly erode. If enough vets performances decline, it may be time to break up that squad and build for the future. Those teams often try to move quality players and stockpile prospects and draft picks. The history of NHL has many examples of teams in a constant rebuild mode. If scouts and general managers don’t have vision and a philosophy that works, teams can wallow in failure for years and even decades.
Teams that catapult into elite status are often driven by youth. Players who have been in the league for 10+ years are often there due to their consistency. That is a huge portion of their value to the team. Young players are a work in progress. Their job is to contribute, learn and get better. Some players succeed, but many more fail. Through the years many high draft picks with great potential fail. Other undrafted, poorly regarded players work at their craft, take advantages of opportunity learn from experience to become great NHLers. When a large portion of a club boasts young, talented players they can skyrocket into a Cup contender.
The Sharks are one of those teams. Sharks’ GM Doug Wilson along with his scouting staff and a solid coaching staff has provided San Jose fans with a competitive and entertaining team. San Jose has not needed to ‘rebuild’. Wilson has coined the saying that his job is to ‘reset and refresh’. In the past few season we’ve seen the emergence of Logan Couture. A first-rounder who has bloomed into one of the best players in the league. Young defensemen such as Marc-Edourd Vlasic, Justin Braun and Matt Irwin have worked on their games and have become reliable and trusted blue-liners. This season has debuted a pair of young exciting forwards, Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto. Their speed, energy and skill has been in large supply and are a big part of the Sharks early success. Young veterans like Andrew Desjardin, James Sheppard and Tommy Wingels are showing better consistency and the coaching staff has come to ‘trust’ them, especially in important moments in a game.
Looking over the San Jose roster shows a great mix of young prospects, youthful veterans and star players. This is a balanced team. With the likes of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelsk, the younger players have mentors both on and off the ice. It’s early in the season. Anti Niemi has played brilliant in net. It’s great that the Sharks sit at 6-0-1. Early indications are there that this could be a very special season for a much-loved team from Northern California. Enjoy the games!
Last night the San Jose Sharks began the road portion of their 2013-14 season in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. It was brought to my attention recently that the Sharks will log a league-high 57,000+ miles this season.
The team will make 57 flights, 114 takeoffs and landings. All in all the Sharks will spend approximately 150 hours in the air. That would translate into four work weeks for the average 9 to 5 worker. Don’t feel too bad for them as they fly on a charter with meals, internet access and an overhead compartment filled with DVDs.
This season, San Jose will visit 29 cities. Including home games, the Sharks will play 47 games in the Pacific time zone, 11 games in the Mountain, eight in the Central and 16 in the Eastern zone.
Due to so much travel the Sharks get the fewest practice days in the league. This means the practices they do have are important and must be quality sessions. It is essential that the players have a good diet and maintain a high fitness level.
Such a schedule can have up sides. There is plenty of time for the team to bond over meals, movies, PlayStation and good natured teasing. In the past, all but veteran players had roommates on the road. But the new collective bargaining agreement means everyone gets their own room. There is sacrifice… time away from family and friends and the toll it can take on both body and mind. It’s little wonder that home teams enjoy a home ice advantage. Last and by no means least is the Sharks equipment staff. These dedicated gentlemen work insane hours and are often working while the players and coaches are sleeping.
Sometimes it feels like being part of a rock band. The players are the stars and everyone else are the roadies.”
There’s hockey in the air. The days are getting shorter, trees are changing and the sound of skates and ice have come to an arena near you. Each new season brings a fresh canvas. Veterans look to add a new, better chapter to their career. Young players work hard to make their team, and they work harder to stick. Those with new contracts look to earn their money, those in the final year of their deals are playing for a new one.
Coaches have their systems in place. They’ve used training camp to separate the prospects from the pretenders. Teaching never takes a break.
The Sharks arena has a new name…the SAP Center at San Jose. The popcorn is popped, the concourse is bright and shiny. The ice is in, the JumboTron is warmed up.
The fans have their ticket in hand. A new pair of Sharks jerseys are being broken in. The team store stocked and ready. Street banners with Sharks player faces welcome the new season.
The equipment and medical staff are ready to go. Sticks, gloves and pads ready to do their duty. The television cameras and crew are looking forward to a great season. Dan Rusanowsky, Randy Hahn, Drew Remenda, Jamie Baker, Brodie Brazil and Bret Hedican have done their homework. The Club and concession stands are ready to open. Parking attendants and blue coat ushers have had their meetings and greet fans with a smile.
Kids wearing jerseys press their nose to the glass during player warm ups. Fans have their signs. The coaches have made their speeches…the players are geared toward victory. The Referee drops the puck to begin a new 82-game season. Every team believes they can win the Cup.
Enjoy the season!