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.
Maybe the reason the Sharks are struggling offensively is the team is in transition. I say that because this version of the Sharks has had a total team commitment to team defense. The goaltending has been great and pretty much every player is sacrificing in some way for the collective whole, from a defense first standpoint. Here are the facts:
Goals Against Per Game: 2.05 3rd NHL
Penalty Killing: 86.7% 4th NHL
Given up 2 or less goals in a game: 14x (8-2-4)
5-5 Goals Against: 25
Defense wins championships and this year the Sharks are playing as well defensively as I have seem in a long time. Remember the LA Kings struggled last year to score but built the foundation of team defense, solid PK and great goaltending during the regular season and their playoff ride was pretty decent to say the least.
Good test this week as the Sharks head to Canada to play back to back games against Vancouver and Calgary.
I was watching the “Top Chef” finale this morning between two great chefs, Brooke and Kristen. The margin of difference between the two chefs was so infinitesimal, and the difference between winning and losing was so razor-thin, it reminded me of the challenges that NHL clubs like the San Jose Sharks are facing these days.
In the competition, it turned out to be the sous chefs, line cooks, and other team members who played a huge part in the decision. Brooke was a great chef, but her personally selected team member, C.J., burned pig’s ears because of a moment of indecision, and maybe a momentary loss of composure. That led to her losing to eventual Top Chef winner Kristen, whose team converted on all of its major opportunities, despite the fact that they were also human beings who undoubtedly made a few errors during the matchup.
It sort of reminded me of a couple of 2-on-1’s in the Detroit game just a couple of days ago where a single millisecond changed the complexion of the game from a Sharks perspective. Detroit made some mistakes in the game, too, but they not only were able to overcome them, they had their group clicking together at the critical moments of the game.
Perhaps the theme of the remainder of the Sharks season should be, “Don’t burn the pig’s ears.” Sticking to the game plan, and forging ahead in spite of a human being’s penchant for making errors, is all part of how a championship team is built.
Last season, the Los Angeles Kings played 13 consecutive games in which they scored 2 goals or less in 12 of them. The stretch ended with an 8-2 defeat at Joe Louis Arena against the Red Wings.
In 23 of their last 48 games, L.A. scored 2 goals or less. But they did something else: they allowed 2 goals or less in 35 of their last 48 games (72.9%). You may also remember that the Kings, built around the defensive excellence, stopped burning the pig’s ears, picked up a bit of offensive help, and won the Stanley Cup.
Right now, the Sharks have scored 2 goals or less in 11 of their last 12 games, and 14 of 19 total games played. But they’ve also allowed 2 goals or less in 8 of their last 12, and 13 of 19 total games played (68.4%).
I’m not saying that the San Jose Sharks are on the same path as the Los Angeles Kings are, but I am saying that the margin between victory and defeat, which is so razor thin, can and will be turned. All that it takes is a little synchronicity between the sous chefs and the line cooks, and making sure that you don’t burn the pig’s ears.
I’ll shift from folksy imagery to plain mysticism for my final thought: Given that the scoring outage began with the very first game against the Nashville Predators on February 2nd, it stands to reason that it will all end with the final game against Nashville, which is being played tonight.
Good morning or afternoon. I have a few questions for my morning thought.
Does a coaching staff try to force feed an identity to a team in a shortened season or do the players have to take responsibility and uncover it on their own, (even though that might take longer)?
How much protection do goaltenders (with 30lbs of padding) need?
We might as well throw a Red Shirt on them.
Don't blame the refs. The GM's and the league want it that way.
Can you tell I'm a bit frustrated today?
As you may know Drew Remenda and I called last nights Detroit - LA game on NBC Sports Network. It was the first time we'd ever worked on a non Sharks game together and I'll be honest with you for the first few minutes it was a little strange. First of all Drew worked inside the glass down at ice level and I sat alone up in the booth. Usually we're side by side. And then there's the whole "fair and balanced" thing. On a national broadcast such as last nights the commentary has to be down the middle. That's a code we don't have to adhere to as closely when we're calling a Sharks game like tonight when the Red Wings visit San Jose.
We received plenty of tweets and text messages before, during and after the game. Most were congratulatory, some were not "Hahn you're an idiot", but my favorite one came from a Sharks fan who tweeted "Watching you and Drew call a Kings-Wings game is like watching my wife on a date with another man."
It'll all be back to normal tonight at 7:00pm PDT on CSNCA.
The game just started, and the start was great
Havlat created the turnover, using his skate
Jumbo got the puck, he's like a big elf
He passes to Cooch, who scores top shelf
Niemi was stellar, as was the PK
The players were prepared, they worked hard all day
Burish and Sheppard, did great work down low
Galliardi was 1st star, and knew where to go
The home cooking was needed, it took away some stings
The 2 points are in the bank, now bring on the Wings
- A li'l poem from Bakes
It's always great to get together with Sharks fans, but Monday's "Sampling With The Sharks" presented by Citrix at Club Auto Sport in San Jose is always a highlight of the year.
A gourmet wine and dinner experience with Douglas Murray was "auctioned off" to two separate groups, and along with many other great auction items, thousands of dollars were raised to benefit the Sharks Foundation and the Rotary PlayGarden project at Guadalupe River Park.
It's events like these when we are all reminded of the greatness of our community. Here is a photo of coach Todd McLellan with Richard Parnell and Joe Keller of Citrix, presenting sponsor of the event.
Thanks to everyone for a wonderful evening!
I am a huge Family Guy fan. I think the show is brilliantly funny, biting and sarcastic. I love the nonsensical cutaways and the politically incorrect shots at life.
I am such a fan of the show that very often during random conversations or Sharks Games broadcast on Comcast Sportsnet California, I will drop in Family Guy references.
It is a TV show that I let my two sons Davis and Donovan start watching it with me at a very early age that led them to be forced to stay after many classes and explain their comments to the teacher. We have bonded over hockey and our love of Family Guy creator, Seth MacFarlane.
Which brings me to the point of my Morning Thought, Seth MacFarlane was friggin’ brilliant as host of the Oscars. He even got Tommy Lee Jones to laugh off the bat.
So when the Sharks aren’t scoring, watch Family Guy and laugh.
We could all use a good laugh after that roadtrip.