I hate watching a Sharks game when I'm not broadcasting it with the Great Randy Hahn.
Well hate may be too strong of a word. I get stressed watching a game that I'm not broadcasting.
As fans, is this what you go through all the time?
Butterflies in the stomach the whole game? Yelling at the TV, and clapping your hands adding "c'mon boys, big power play right here!"
When we aren't broadcasting a Sharks game on Comcast Sportsnet, I seriously start to doubt the network broadcasters objectivity.
They sound like they want LA to win. Now I know that is 100% wrong. I know the commentators well. They are all good and talented people who have no stake in the outcome of the game.
However every time they mention anything positive about the Kings my mind plays tricks on me.
"Why did he say that?"
"That's the third time he mentioned Anze Kopitar is having a strong game"
"Is he President of that guys freakin fan club?"
Crazy? I know. Completely off base and clouded by my bias for the Sharks, without a doubt.
My kids think I'm nuts.
When Logan Couture scored in overtime in game 3, I jumped out of my seat and pumped my fist hard that my shoulder hurt.
When Randy and I are working a game we are focused on the job. There is a lot going on during a broadcast.
Randy is focused on calling the game. He has to keep the information flowing, from who scored from who and when not to mention the frequent promotion and drop ins.
Meanwhile, I'm watching replays from my own monitor, talking to the truck, watching for unique angles and monitoring the benches to see anything our outstanding coaching staff is doing.
Not rocket science by any means but an individual has to stay on task in order to perform it properly.
On the other hand watching and cheering for the team as my only task from the second round on makes me agitated and overwrought with emotion.
But the payoff when the good guys win seems a little sweeter.
Just a quick note to start
8 of the last 9 Stanley Cup Champions failed to advance past the second round the following season.
I love the way the team responded to the series of unfortunate events that closed out Game 2.
"We can fold up and say at least we tried. Or we can say, you know what? We can win"
"It doesn't matter what I say about the last play. It happened and its over with"
..."let's move on to the next game."
Marc Edouard Vlasic
"It's not going to do me any good to whine and moan and bitch about the referees"
Wow! A team that handles adversity and sporting tough breaks without blaming somebody else for their problems. Are you watching you first round teams that got knocked out of the playoffs?
It's refreshing but more importantly it's smart, it's mature.
By not whining or complaining about a tough call or penalties you are not allowing excuses to seep into your mind.
By not whining about the delay of game penalty being the dumbest rule in hockey, which it is. The team is being accountable for their play.
A team that looks for solutions not excuses is a team that has leadership and knows that " no one ever excused their way to success."
Mother's Day has passed and I hope you had a chance to wish your Mom a very Happy Day and show her how much she means to you. Like you I have an awesome Mom. It is amazing to me how much mothers all over the world sacrifice for their beloved.
I believe, (like you) my Mom, (Jean) is the best. First off she is a great Hockey Mom. This was illustrated on my last visit to Vancouver. My Mom and my brother live in Canada's most scenic city.
As we were making plans to visit between Game 1 and 2, we thought maybe we could go out for dinner to one of her favourite restaurants.
My Mom said, "No, you and your brother pick up some food on the way over and we will watch the playoffs. There's three games on tonight."
How awesome is that?
I had two great women as role models in my life. My Mom and her Mom. My Grandmother, ("Ma") lived with us in Saskatoon. She was the world to me. I was the "Baby" of the family and she watched over her "Baby".
I was living in Calgary in 1989 and I went to work for Dave King and Canada's National Team Program. My life was starting to progress and I was beginning a career in hockey. I didn't know what I wanted to do in the game but working for Dave King was a great place to start.
My father had divorced my Mom. It was just Ma and her alone in Saskatoon and Ma was starting to develop Alzheimer's.
Eventually it became too much to make a living and look after Ma. On a visit home Mom broke the news to me that she had made the very very difficult decision to put Ma in a home. She would be safe and well cared for.
I didn't like the idea of my Grandmother having to leave our house, so I immediately volunteered a different plan.
"I'll quit my job, come home and help take care of Ma." I will work nights and take care of her during the day until you get home."
As I told you the woman was the world to me. However my Mom's response was the best piece of advice I ever received and another example of a Mother's love and sacrifice.
"You're Grandmother wouldn't want that for you and neither do I. You gotta chase your dreams son. You can never give up on that. You have to run it down. The best thing you can do for your Grandma and me is to chase your dreams."
I owe many people for my career. Dave King who was a mentor to me since I was his 12 year old stick boy in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
George Kingston the first coach of the Sharks gave me a huge opportunity that has lasted more than 20 years in the NHL.
Kevin Constantine, Dean Lombardi and Doug Wilson who let me stay in the organization.
Ted Griggs from Comcast for spotting whatever talent I may have had for TV and of course the great Malcolm Bordelon for always having my back.
But to my Mom I owe the most.
It would have been simple for my Mom to say yes to my offer. It would have made her life easier.
However sacrificing for someone else isn't easy. Putting their needs ahead of your own isn't easy. Being a Mom isn't easy. But my Mom sure made it look that way.
Thanks Mom, thanks for everything. Thanks for guiding me to my dream.
Between Game 3 and Game 4 I saw what I think is dedication to a dream personified.
It was at practice. The players had finished their skate or dry land training and the various interviews.
Some were leaving and some were enjoying lunch.
The ink stained scribes and digital media types had finished interrogating Todd McLellan and had scurried upstairs to post their stories.
Everything was winding down and it's a time to tell stories, listen to jokes or just head out and get on with your day.
Which is exactly what I decided to do. Usually I will skedaddle out the back door but I had parked my car at the side of the rink and decided to take a shortcut past the ice surface.
Then I saw it. Braken Kearns all by himself working on his skating. He was performing techniques designed to improve and perfect his edge control.
The drills are tedious and take a full load of concentration and muscle control. It is not a common site to see a professional hockey player performing those drills. Especially during the playoffs and when that player is 31 years old.
But then I thought about it.
Here Braken is. A good hour after everybody had left the ice surface trying to get better.
Trying to gain the edge, (both literally and figuratively). Never giving up on the dream.
I found that inspiring and very cool and it makes me cheer for him that much more.
I, (like you) love the playoffs. The first round may be the best sports theatre you will ever see.
Some postseason highlights so far:
First and foremost -- Logan Couture takes a cheap shot from the Vancouver Canucks captain in Game 3. Roughly twenty seconds Logan snipes a beauty wrister past Cory Schneider for his second goal of the game. The best part of the goal was the Couture "Cele". The arm swing, the emotion and catching the gaze of Henrik coming out of the box was beautiful!
Raffi Torres and Brent Burns in overtime of Game 2. Never have two guys with more tattoos scored a bigger goal for the Sharks.
Lets jump to the Eastern Conference:
Douglas Murray scored! Enough said. Except he did it against a good friend and former teammate Evgeni Nabokov.
However the most compelling bit of human drama is coming out of the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens.
In Game 1 a good Saskatoon boy, Eric Gryba, absolutely destroys Lars Eller with a gigantic hit. Eller is hurt, Gryba is suspended for two and the Senators head coach after the game infuriates anybody with any Montreal allegiance with his comments.
The Senators Coach basically blames the Montreal Canadiens Raphael Diaz for the devastating hit because of his bad pass to Lars Eller.
What really upset the Montreal faithful including their head coach, Michel Therrien, was Paul MacLean referring to Diaz as simply "Number 61."
Brandon Prust from the Canadiens publicly called MacLean "a bug-eyed fat walrus".
MacLean responded with his usual humour.
"Well ... 'Bug-Eyed?' I've never been called that before. That's a new one," said MacLean. "Walrus? That's too easy. But I will tell you one thing I'm not fat. I might be husky but I'm not fat. So, I took offense to that."
Then in Game 3 it was a Kook Show. 236 minutes in penalties and the Senators won 6-1. But, with 17 seconds remaining in the game, Paul MacLean called a time out.
The Canadiens were livid. The usually very level-headed Josh Gorges verbally attacked the Sen's coach. If you have been around hockey or can read lips in the slightest you know Josh was definitely rated "M" for Mature.
Michel Therrien called it "classless".
Probably the Montreal head coach is right, but right now Paul MacLean has the Canadiens thinking about him instead of the games.
... I love it all.
The intensity, the nastiness, the theatre, the emotion and human drama. Never mind my birthday or Thanksgiving or Christmas.
The NHL playoffs? It's the most wonderful time of the year.
Game one was an outstanding display of playoff hockey. The Sharks started out very well playing a strong road first period.
The Canucks responded with a great, very physical second period. They tried to run the Sharks out of the game.
The Sharks bent but certainly won the test of will in the third period.
As we concluded last nights broadcast I remarked to the Great Randy Hahn that in Shark wins we end up talking about many if not all of the team for making an impact on the game.
Game One was no different. I was impressed with the collective effort. However talking to some of the other media and respected hockey folk after the game here is a sampling of some positive comments.
All anonymous because at the time they didn't know I would quote them in the world famous Great White Bite.
"You know who I really liked? Wingels, does he always play like that?"
"Boy, Desjardins got the chance to play, he really took the opportunity. He had to play and was really good."
"Brad Stuart just knows how to play in the playoffs."
"When's the last time the Sharks had a player like Raffi Torres?" He was on a mission."
"Logan Couture is...so smart"
Note: There were quite a few pro Logan comments.
"Joe's (Thornton) line got the game back for you guys."
Note: He was right. Joe, TJ and Brent Burns played some good old fashioned straight ahead hockey.
It's always enlightening listening to other people offer their opinions on a game we just watched.
We all see the game differently.
However after the game last night it was hard to decide if there were more BIG Shark performances or more opinions about them.
I hate the loser point in the NHL.
I don't believe in points for trying.
I don't believe a good effort is good enough.
I don't believe a professional sports league should try to con it's fans into believing their team is better than it really is by fuzzy feel good loser points.
There is a right way to do things.
I don't believe a complicated "every game is worth three points system."
3 for a regulation win.
2 for an overtime or shoot out victory leaving the loser point with the losing team.
I have two problems with this idea.
Why is my overtime win worth less than a regulation win?
Why is the loser point still in the mix?
A painful but necessary part of my job is to listen to a replay of our broadcasts and self critique my performance.
I learned this from my season at Hockey Night In Canada. A few times that season I sat with our Executive Producer and we went over every second of a game and honestly, bluntly reviewed my work.
To add even more clarity, Hockey Night had printed transcripts of every word I said during the game.
After reading the transcripts I was sure that I had no business behind a microphone explaining anything to anybody.
Anyway after listening to the last couple of broadcasts on Comcast Sportsnet, I'm using this Great White Bite to announce that I'm turning over a new leaf.
I'm going to stop complaining about the refs and their calls or lack of calls.
I go from analyst to whining in a split second. I get distracted and emotional and it's bad TV.
I will still hate some of the calls and you will know I hate the blown calls because of what all of our Mom's once told us.
" If you can't say anything nice about someone then don't say anything at all."
I witnessed a very cool event last night after the Sharks beat the Coyotes 4-0. I was broadcasting the game between the benches and found the game puck on the boards as the Sharks filed off the ice. There was a handful of Sharks fans, many of them children still in the stands patting the boys on the back for a job well done.
Well I grabbed the game puck and gave it to the first young Sharks fan I saw. He was probably 8 or 9 years old and very polite thanking me for the puck.
Another much younger fan probably 5 years old asked if he could have a puck as well.
I apologized saying that was the only one I had.
The young man I gave the puck to said. " Would you like a puck? You can have this one."
The smile on the both their faces just struck me.
A simple random act of kindness can inject a little faith in a jaded heart.
"Familiarity breeds contempt", is the moral of an Aesops fable. "The Fox and the Lion".
It is story of a fox was terribly afraid. Then the more the fox crossed paths with the lion the less frightened he felt until eventually the fox came face to face with the lion and turned his tail to the beast and walked off without much ceremony.
The moral of that story is never more true when you are around a sports team for an entire season, in this case the San Jose Sharks.
I'm around the team more than I'm with my family. At practice, on the plane, in the hotel and of course watching and analyzing the games, I have over time become indifferent of the team.
Before you start to think this blog is a negative indictment of the team read on.