A lot of people these days say, “Isn’t the Internet great?” The wonders of the World Wide Web never cease to amaze us, and that includes those of us who follow the world of hockey. Recently, I stumbled over a hockey blog that linked to something that I had seen some time ago on YouTube, and I thought that I would share it with you today.
Back in the 1950’s, hockey was not generally on television. Hockey Night in Canada had only added the orthicon tube to its program delivery, having been exclusively a radio affair in its earliest years. But in the United States, hockey was virtually nonexistent on TV and was looking for unique ways to market itself.
It’s really interesting to go back to November 19, 1957, to see one of those efforts. Believe it or not, Montreal Canadiens superstar Jean Béliveau appeared on “To Tell the Truth,” which happened to be one of my favorite programs when I was growing up. This is an earlier edition of the same program where legendary imposter Frank Abagnale, Jr. made such an impression on me approximately 20 years later. Let’s watch:
Can you imagine a New York based, nationally televised program actually putting Wayne Gretzky on the air in the prime of his career and not expecting someone to recognize him? Had I been on this Earth and sitting next to Kitty Carlisle on that night, I would have had to disqualify myself, because Le Gros Bill is immediately recognizable in his Montreal Canadiens uniform (or, “costume,” as Miss Carlisle described it charmingly).
As you watch this wonderful look back in NHL marketing history, note that Béliveau is not wearing his famous number 4, but number 22. One of the other contestants is wearing number 4. As it turns out, one of the other contestants is also a CBC television director.
A couple of other notes: Ching Johnson was a great, domineering defenseman for the New York Rangers in the 1930’s. Here is a famous pose:
What a wonderful look back at history. Isn’t the Internet wonderful?
In case you haven’t noticed the Sharks have been on the road a lot lately. And guess what? The Sharks are going to be on the road a lot going forward.
We’re not quite halfway through March and the team has travelled to Vancouver, Calgary, Colorado and St. Louis. After tomorrow’s brief pit stop at home to host the Kings, the Sharks go to LA on Friday to kick off a 5 game 11-day trip with stops in Anaheim, Edmonton, Minnesota and finally back to Anaheim.
The payoff will come late in the month and into April when the Sharks have a 7 game home stand. However as I write this, the Sharks have dropped to 9th place in the West with 28 points and a road record of 4-7-2. It goes without saying that this upcoming road trip will be BIG.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Time to unpack so that I can pack.
I’m Randy Hahn
Can you imagine the NFL season being 32 games in 68 days? That's the equivalent of this short season where teams are playing 48 intense, pressure filled games in 99 days.
Anyone who expects the players to be at their best for that many games in such a short time period with all the travel has never seen a game played at ice level --- or played in a short NHL season before. It's fast, it's physical and the bumps and bruises add up.
The Sharks have laid an egg twice this year - in Columbus and in Calgary, otherwise they have competed in every game. In Columbus they looked mentally unprepared to battle - it happens!. In Calgary they were working hard but they had no legs and couldn't get to the places their brains told them to go to, it happens! Playing the night before and traveling on game day is not an excuse, it's an explanation.
We are exactly at the halfway point of this truncated (love that word by the way) season. The Sharks are truly a half is glass full, glass is half empty team depending on how you want to analyze them.
Stingy defense with great goaltending or a team that can't score? The Sharks are currently in 7th place, 2 points out of 4th and 6 points away from 15th. The schedule gets even tougher the last month and a half and it will be a wild ride to the finish.
This short season sure beats the non-season in 2004/05. I can't wait to get the 2nd half of this season going and the opponent is perfect, the St. Louis Blues, the team who knocked the Sharks out of the playoffs last year.
Tonight should be a good game and then it's back to back with our SoCal rivals and the defending Stanley Cup Champions - what a great week for hockey.
Patrick Marleau became the 88th player in NHL history to reach 400 goals in his career, but only the 30th ever to record his first 400 goals with one team. Of course, he’s the first Shark to score all 400 goals in a San Jose uniform.
That is a tremendous accomplishment, and he deserves many congratulations for it. But beyond that, it is equally impressive how he did it.
You see, Patrick’s 400th goal won’t be on a “play to tell your grandchildren about.” It wasn’t as the result of a major deke on a goaltender, a blazing dash up the ice, or that quick release of a heavy shot that we have known Marleau to take.
No, Patrick Marleau’s 400th goal came as the result of hard work, intelligent positioning, and, yes, a quick reaction with his stick. It was a deflection of a Justin Braun shot, with Joe Pavelski setting up traffic in front of Semyon Varlamov, that did the trick.
You may or may not remember that Patrick’s first NHL goal, scored at America West Arena on October 19, 1997, was also in the slot on a very quick reaction in front of the net. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed over the years: if you go to the hard working areas, you’re going to get chances, but you have to have the presence of mind and the quick hands that Patrick Marleau has to do it 400 times or more in the NHL.
In a unique twist, Patrick seems to like scoring big milestone goals against Russian born goaltenders. His first goal in Phoenix was scored on Nikolai Khabibulin, and his 400th came against Semyon Varlamov last night in Colorado.
What’s most gratifying is how well Patrick is playing in all areas of the game this season. The bodycheck that he threw against St. Louis captain David Backes on Saturday is a case in point. He’s doing everything that he can in all three zones of the ice to help his team win.
Congratulations on the milestone, Patrick. We look forward to celebrating more with you.
Hockey is a weird game.
I can't ice the puck unless my team is serving a penalty for breaking the rules.
I have to stay in the penalty box for 2 minutes for a rule infraction unless the other team scores. Then I'm let out for good behavior, or the officials feel sorry for me.
I can't shoot the puck over the glass if I'm in the defensive zone but I can shoot it over the glass if I'm in the neutral zone or offensive zone.
I can glove the puck forward to a teammate in the defensive zone (but not back off a face-off)
but I can't in any of the other zones.
However I can kick a puck to anyone anywhere on the ice but I can't kick it into the net. Well I can as long as I don't really kick the puck, I can angle it, direct it even nudge it..that's OK.
Like I said weird.
We’ve pretty much reached the halfway point of the season so the “Halfway NHL Award Winners” lists are hitting the web and the airways. Yesterday, ESPN NHL columnist Scott Burnside gave his halfway Vezina Trophy to the Sharks Antti Niemi. The Vezina Trophy is annually awarded to the NHL’s best goaltender as determined by a vote of the leagues general managers.
It’s a given that Niemi has been the Sharks team MVP up to this point. Going into Saturday’s game against St. Louis he had a 10-4-4 record with a 1.83 goals against average and .935 save percentage. His one shutout came in a shootout loss to Phoenix.
In a season when the Sharks have often struggled to score goals, Niemi has kept them in game after game. He has allowed 2 or fewer goals in 13 of the 18 games he’s started. With a little more offensive support he would likely be leading the league in victories.
If the Sharks can find a way to improve their offense and get to that “magical” third goal, on a game-to-game basis, Niemi’s excellent goaltending should serve them well in nailing down a playoff spot.
- I like the new proposed re-alignment from the Sharks standpoint. In their division are 3 teams from Canada; Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. These cities are all hockey hotbeds and fun to visit, not to mention some good rivalries. Makes for a great road trip for any hockey fan looking to see Sharks hockey on the road.
- The Sharks and Blues both have 26 points, with the Sharks having 1 game in hand. Makes for an awesome matchup on Saturday at 1pm at HP Pavilion. This will be an intense, physical game and I'm really looking forward to seeing how the Sharks respond after the loss in Calgary, not to mention these two teams meet again on Tuesday in St. Louis.
- After the game the Sharks hit the road for Colorado where they play on Sunday and start a span of 7 games out of the next 8 on the road. We knew this tough schedule would be a grind and it is.
- Hard to believe that we are almost as the halfway mark (24 games) for the season. Even more incredible is the fact Chicago has played 24 games, or half their season, and still has not lost in regulation.
- Parity is great for the fans but the coaches are all scratching their heads trying to figure out how to get even the slightest edge to help them gain some ground in the standings.
Enjoy the games this weekend!
The visor debate has begun to really rage in NHL circles, after the eye injury suffered by New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal a few days ago. It’s somewhat ironic that the entire issue bubbled to the surface as the result of a game between the Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers.
I still recall two significant eye-related injuries from Rangers-Flyers games that actually ended careers back in the helmetless days of the 1970’s. In 1974, Flyers defenseman Barry Ashbee suffered a career-ending eye injury after getting hit by a slap shot from Dale Rolfe of the Rangers. In 1979, Rangers left wing Don Maloney and Flyers defenseman Jimmy Watson tangled for position in front of Philadelphia goaltender Bernie Parent. As they tumbled to the ice, an errant stick clipped Parent in the eyehole of his old-style, fiberglass mask, and caused him to have a career-ending eye injury.
Now, another Rangers-Flyers game has produced another eye injury, this time to a member of the Broadway Blueshirts. It has also brought up the idea of making visors mandatory.
While the NHL has encouraged this progression, the NHLPA has maintained a desire for player choice in the matter. But should we be reactive or proactive on this issue? Should we take that issue out of the players’ hands, or should a player make that choice himself?
If I were playing professionally, I’d certainly wear, at minimum, a visor. But I wouldn’t necessarily use force of a mandate to remove the choice of a player, not yet. But what is needed is a continued coordinated effort by both League and NHLPA to strongly encourage their players to wear eye protection. The marketplace of information should be enough to cause the transition to continue as it has been, as we have seen a sharp rise in the use of visors in the last decade in the League.
Today, there is zero controversy about wearing a helmet. The NHL mandated a phase-in after it seemed as if the transition wasn’t happening fast enough. I’m not convinced that the natural visor phase-in that we are seeing in the NHL isn’t fast enough, but we do need continued education and encouragement.
No one would accuse Marc Staal of lacking courage if he returns to the NHL wearing eye protection, and I hope that he does. The best news of all, of course, is that his doctors are saying that he is expected to make a full recovery, and that’s the most important thing.
Now, on to solving the next mystery: why does this particular type of injury keep cropping up in games involving the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers? I’m sure that no one has the answer to that question.
If you watched the post game show on Comcast Sportsnet California last night, you saw me get upset again at Ray Ratto and Bret Hedican.
Their analysis of the Sharks shootout win was that the Sharks "stole" two points from the Vancouver Canucks.
They thought the Canucks thoroughly outplayed San Jose.
I was incredulous and disagreed in my own volatile way...
Truthfully, I hate being That Guy.
I love to debate but I hate to argue.
I am paid to voice my opinion but I hate it when I become obnoxious and emotional.
However, when the Sharks display intensity, passion, desire and courage.
When they are truly battling for every speck of ice and every puck.
When they are 100% committed to winning the game.
I've got their back, every single time.
Vancouver – I’m often asked what my favorite NHL road city is. There are plenty of good ones but Vancouver has to be at the top of my list.
The natural beauty and cultural diversity makes it special, think San Francisco with snow capped mountains.
For a Bay Area Sharks fan it’s the perfect roadie location. The flight is about 2 hours. You can drive it in a little over a day. Once you get here the options are endless.
I’m a jogger so a run around world famous Stanley Park is a must for me, but its also perfect for cycling or just walking. There are many unique neighborhoods like Kitsilano, Gastown or Robson Street.
The food and drink destinations are outstanding. My favorites include Joe Forte’s and Cardero’s. Both feature fresh British Columbia salmon and mussels.
And finally there’s the passion for hockey. Vancouverite’s eat, breathe and sleep Canucks hockey.
If a hockey road trip is in your future, try Vancouver. Rain or shine it’s my top stop in the league.