Well things are getting quiet in Sochi. The 22nd Winter Olympics are now in the books and Canada has won ice hockey for their 2nd straight time. The Canadians started slowly but got better in each game. The Gold was clinched early Saturday morning in an impressive 3-0 win over the Swedes. Kudos go to the Sharks two Gold medal winners, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Marleau was a member of the 2010 Gold medal Canadian team and now owns 2 Olympic prizes. Vlasic was a first time Olympian and will certainly represent Canada again in the future. Sharks netminder Antti Niemi, despite not seeing action, picked up Bronze as a member of the 3rd place finishers Finland. Standout center Joe Pavelski played well for the Americans. Back to back losses to Canada and Finland pushed the USA off the podium.
The NHL’s future participation in the Olympics is questionable. The New York Islanders’ captain and leading scorer John Tavaras suffered a severe season ending injury while Red Wings captain re-aggravated a back injury which will end his regular season. With the 2018 Olympic venue in South Korea, the time difference along with it being a non hockey country may seal the end of the NHL’s participation in the Winter Games. A pre or mid-season World Cup tournament may wind up being the best option for International hockey. A huge factor may come to dollars and cents as the league and players could split any revenue.
As the Olympians return to North America, the NHL’s remaining season will be a sprint to the playoffs. Following Thursday night’s game in Philadelphia the Sharks have just 22 games to go. It’s perfect timing for the returns of Logan Couture, Raffi Torres and Adam Burish from injury. A huge question is... can the Sharks chase down the Anaheim Ducks for 1st place in the Pacific Division. With so few games remaining it looks like a tough order for San Jose. If Anaheim continues to rack up points the story may turn to the Sharks and Kings battling for home ice advantage in a head to head 1st round playoff series.
It will be interesting to see if this could be the year that NHL Superstar Sidney Crosby plays an entire season. Through the years Crosby has been hampered by injuries. Crosby is leading the league in scoring and is essential to the success of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sid the Kid is arguably the face of the league and its top box office attraction.
I’m hearing that next week, March 8th a long-time fan favorite, Marco Sturm, will be visiting San Jose to take in a game. Earlier this winter Sturm announced his retirement from pro hockey as a member of the DEL’s (German League) Cologne Sharks. It’s a coincident that Marco started and ended his career as a ‘Shark’. He was a fleet footed forward who played in all situations…even strength, powerplay and penalty killing. He may have spent his career in San Jose except for the fact that Joe Thornton became available. A high price was the cost for Jumbo and the Sharks needed to part with Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau. It will be great to see Marco who played with heart, flair and a big smile on his face.
How great is it to see the NHL back in business? Enjoy the games!
I don’t know about you, but I’m really enjoying the hockey competition at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Once every four years, it’s worth it to see the best players in the world represent their countries on one of the largest stages in sports.
Both the Bolshoy Ice Dome and Shayba Arena have seen some great action, with inspiring play, excellent goaltending, world leaders in attendance, and some old fashioned drama. But the best is yet to come, starting with Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchups between the United States and the Czech Republic, Russia and Finland, Canada and Latvia, and Sweden and Slovenia. Just about anything can happen, and if you’re not tuned in, make sure you either DVR it, record it, listen to it, or stream it on the internet when you get the opportunity.
Some observations of what’s happening so far:
- Latvia, with 41-year-old ex-Shark Sandis Ozolinsh captaining the team and with Buffalo Sabres’ coach Ted Nolan directing the action from behind the bench, has been one of the great stories of the tournament. With their victory in the preliminary playoff round against favored Switzerland, 3-1, the Latvians advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in that nation’s history.
- The Latvians now will face powerhouse Canada in quarterfinal action. It’s the first meeting of these nations in Olympic play in 78 years. Back in 1936, Canada beat Latvia, 11-0, but given the way that the Latvians are grinding it out, don’t expect that kind of game in the quarters.
- Latvia has Ozolinsh (875 NHL games), Oskars Bartulis (66), Herbert Vasiljevs (51), Martins Karsums (24), Kaspars Daugavins (91), Zemgus Girgensons (51 games w/Buffalo this year) among players with NHL experience.
- Slovenia, with only LA’s Anze Kopitar (581) and former Red Wing prospect Jan Mursak (46) on the roster, have put together a solid team effort. They qualified for the preliminary round by virtue of their victory against Slovakia, and then, with a 4-0 win against Austria, earned the chance to reach the quarterfinal round against Sweden.
- Slovenia, which has a population of about 2 million, counts Kopitar among its biggest sports heroes. If the Slovenians are able to use their solid team game against Sweden and advance, they’ll be just as popular as current double gold medal winner Tina Maze, the Lindsey Vonn of her country.
- Sticking with Slovenia, they have two players with the last name “Rodman” and one with the last name “Kuralt” on the roster. I wonder if they have any interest in either basketball or the evening news?
- One more Slovenian note: did you know that former Shark Todd Elik played two seasons in Ljubuljana, the capital of the country, just before he retired at the age of 44?
- It’s also interesting to see how some of the names have changed on the backs of the players’ jerseys in this tournament. For instance, note that Ozolinsh’s last name is spelled “OZOLINS,” without the “H.” Back in the early days, the “h” was added to ensure its pronunciation by the unknowing North American crowd, but nowadays, as in the case of pronouncing Tomas Hertl’s first name “toe-mash,” we are getting used to simply pronouncing the names in the way that the player and his family want them pronounced.
- Of course, that isn’t ALWAYS true. For instance, the technically correct pronunciation of Teemu Selanne’s last name is like most Finnish names, with the stress on the first syllable. That would be “SELL-uh-nay,” which differs from the North Americanized “suh-LAHN-ee.” It simply became “suh-LAHN-ee,” and so it remains, an uncontrollable force of nature in the hockey pronunciation world.
When you watch the Russia-Finland quarterfinal on Wednesday, you may notice a few players on the Russian team that you recognize, but who possess strange name spellings when you consult the backs of their respective jerseys. Here are the ones that you should check out:
As NHL Spells It
As NHL Says It
As IOC Spells It
As IOC Says It
SYEH-min or SEH-min
What in the knick-knack-paddywhack-give-a-dog-a-bone is going on here?
Well, first things first: yes, these are the same players, but the reason why these players have different spellings to their last names, with different pronunciations, is due to several factors:
- The fact that the Russian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet while English uses the Roman alphabet, and one must be transliterated to the other.
- The fact that Russian publications confuse everyone when they identify two separate letters of their alphabet in one way instead of two.
- The fact that the hockey world has relied more on the publications and not the official rules of transliterating the Cyrillic to the Roman alphabet. But like the U.S. State Department, the International Olympic Committee relies on the official rules of transliteration.
- The fact that, unlike Tomas Hertl this year, many players don’t care how you pronounce their name, as long as they’re on the team and in the NHL.
In the Russian language, the two letters are written and pronounced as follows:
E, e -- “Ye,” soft e pronunciation is used, as in, “Yeh.”
Ё, ё -- “Yo,” stress is always on this letter
To borrow from my German friends, there is an umlaut over the second letter that indicates its difference from the first letter. So, that’s why when these letters are translated into English, the first one is written as “ye,” and the second is written as “yo.”
Here is where the problems start. For reasons known to only those who wish to save typeface and ink, Russians virtually never write or print the umlaut, thereby confusing the situation entirely! You’re simply supposed to know the difference, usually by osmosis, and similar to some of our crazy rules in English.
All of this, of course, causes many mispronunciations that live on in hockey. Some of these names can be saved , but some simply fall victim to the masses, similar to the Brett Hull-toe-in-crease-moment-that-was-illegal-all-season-turning –into-a-Cup-winning-goal-that-could-not-be-called-back-when-all-of-the-media-and-families-were-streaming-onto-the ice, and the Selanne example already cited.
If you’re a Dallas Stars fan, relax. Your team would have won the Cup anyway had the goal been called back. Sorry, Buffalo. But I digress.
So, yes, Alexander Semin, Nikolai Kulemin, and Fedor Tyutin technically should have the names in question pronounced as “SYO-min,” “kool-YO-min,” and “FYO-duhr.” Don’t forget to roll your r’s.
It’s also why the Sharks’ 219th overall selection in the 1994 Entry Draft had his name spelled “YEVGENY Nabokov” (or YEVGENI, in some cases) instead of the “EVGENI” that we see today.
It’s also why you saw the State Department refer to Russian economist and diplomat as “Boris FYODOROV” in the mid-1990’s, and why the NHL referred to one of their top stars as “Sergei FEDOROV,” with different pronunciations, even though they had the same last name. Just check their Wikipedia pages and you’ll see that the umlaut is printed in each of their Cyrillic last names.
Of course, when I met Sergei Fedorov and introduced myself, he said, “Hi, I’m Sergei Fedorov (FEHD-uh-roff),” thereby indicating that he was fine with the pronunciation change. So, it has stood the test of time.
Well, that’s the Tale of Two Letters. It’s the biggest conundrum in the broadcasting world since brothers Tomas and Frantisek Kaberle told their respective teams that they wanted to pronounce their last names differently (KAB-uhr-lay and KAB-uhr-luh). Or perhaps, since some broadcasters said “MAK-uh-rov” and others said “muh-KAR-ov” for former Shark Sergei Makarov. Or, perhaps, since some called Islanders goaltender Roland Melanson as “MELON-suhn,” while most others called him “mel-ON-suhn.”
George and Ira Gershwin wrote a song about it in 1937: “Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto, let’s call the whole thing off.”
Enjoy the rest of the great Olympic hockey tournament, and let’s get everyone back healthy and raring to go for what will surely be a great run to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
I’m Dan Rusanowsky, for sjsharks.com.
Reports on Wednesday confirmed what many have thought. The Lightning’s super sniper Steven Stamkos will not be cleared to play for Canada at the Sochi Olympics. While that’s bad news for Steven, it’s good news for his teammate Marty St. Louis. St. Louis at age 38 is having a tremendous season with 25 goals, 29 assists. That’s good for 54 points in 56 games. St. Louis should be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he decides to hang up the skates.
Sharks centerman Joe Pavelski was honored as the NHL’s 3rd star for the month of January. Joe scored a league high 15 goals in 15 games. Pavs is having a remarkable season. It should be fun watching Pavelski as he swaps his teal for the red, white and blue of Team USA beginning next week in Russia. Look for solid production and leadership to be huge in any USA success.
Will this be that last time the NHL shuts down business for participation in the Olympic Winter Games? I think so. The NHL has been trading NHL sweaters in for home country ones since 1998. 2014 will mark the 5th time the NHL has joined in. There’s been some great hockey through the years but has the return been worth the cost to the NHL. Owners and the league had hoped that the NHL participation would expand new fan interest once that games have ended. However there’s little evidence that the leagues has achieved their goal. It has become clear that shutting down the league and compacting an 82-game season stresses the system too much for all the players. The NHL should rethink deep-sixing the Olympics and resurrecting the World Cup of hockey using the pre-season calendar window.
It’s a crying shame that Sharks super rookie Tomas Hertl has missed 21 games since his injury on a knee on knee collision with the Kings captain Dustin Brown on December 19th. It is unlikely Hertl will see any further action this season. In Hertl’s absence several NHL rookies are in the Calder conversation. Top among that group is the Avs freshman center Nathan McKinnon. In 56 games the 18-year old McKinnon has notched 20 goals, 22 assists good for a rookie best 42 points. Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson ranks 2nd in rookie scoring with 17-18—35 and a plus 14. To show what a great start Hertl had, his 15 goals still rank tied for third in rookie goal-getters with Calgary rookie Sean Monahan.
One man often overlooked for his contribution is the Sharks #57 Tommy Wingels. Heading into the year Wingels was still seen as an NHL prospect. Solid 11-18-29 production and an OT game-winner this past Wednesday make it clear the prospect tag is no longer needed. On top of his stats, Tommy plays in such a way he is seen a pain in the neck to play against. There is no bigger compliment that to be hard to play against.
It’s hard not to be happy for The Columbus Blue Jackets and their long-suffering fans. The Jackets have moved to the Eastern Conference and so far that’s good news. Columbus sits in 3rd place of the Metro Division with at 29-23-4 record. Should Columbus continue their strong play that could be a dark horse heading into the playoffs.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Every NHL season is a rollercoaster ride wrapped up in a soap opera.
How do you figure the Sharks playing one of their best games on home ice all year last Saturday against Chicago followed by Monday night’s clunker against Philadelphia?
And the Sharks aren’t alone. Not long ago visiting teams feared the Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose road swing. Somebody called it the West Coast version of the Bermuda Triangle. Now the landscape has shifted a little bit. Remember when the Ducks were almost unbeatable on home ice? They went 20-0-2 before losing in regulation at Honda Center. Now all of the sudden they’ve lost three of their last five home contests and all of them in regulation. Up the freeway in Los Angeles the Kings have hit an even worse stretch. They’ve lost eight of the last nine games and a stunning 15 of 20.
The Sharks aren’t struggling anywhere near as bad as that. Shortly after losing Logan Couture they went on a six game winning streak fueled by a red-hot Joe Pavelski. But the Sharks have dropped four of their last five games and are having trouble putting the puck in the net and keeping it out of their own. And they’ve lost home games this year to Buffalo, the New York Islanders and most recently the Flyers. It figured that losing Couture along with Tomas Hertl and the rest of the injured forwards would catch up to the Sharks and it seems that it has.
But the key is keeping it in perspective. The Sharks are still solidly in a playoff spot in the Pacific Division and they’ll be rested after the Olympic break and will also be getting back Couture, Raffi Torres and Adam Burish .
There’s still plenty of hockey to be played before the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s too early to panic and too early to plan the parade. Just keeping on riding the roller coaster, with all its thrills and occasional spills.
I’m Randy Hahn
What’s your Plus/Minus…?
Plus - The remarkable goal scoring of Joe Pavelski. While he’s not exceptionally fast, Joe more than makes up for that with fearless determination and willingness to go to the toughest places on the ice. He’s Mr. Clutch too.
Minus – Linesmen who fail to drop the puck more often than not. Hockey fans do not pay to see linesmen kick guys out of the circle while feeding an ego trip of making sure everyone knows they are the boss.
Plus – I’ve been around NHL hockey longer than I’d like to admit and I’ve seen players and coaches come and go. The Sharks current coaching staff of Todd McLellan, Larry Robinson, Jim Johnson and Jay Woodcroft are the classiest, hardest working and most prepared group I’ve had the opportunity to be around. They have passion for their jobs without being abrasive to the people around them. They are just another reason I’d like to see the Sharks make along run into early June one of these years.
Minus – An 82 game schedule. Pro hockey is a big business. Millions of dollars are generated and fans have passion for the NHL. But in my opinion 82 games are just too many for players and the game to put the best product on the ice every night. Prior to the 1967 expansion the NHL worked with a 70-game schedule. Even the best, most highly trained players cannot get up for all 82 games. The schedule and travel takes its toll on body and mind.
Plus – Technology as it relates to the NHL. The digital age and the growth of the internet is an ally to fans of our game. Get a laptop and a few subscriptions and anyone in the world can watch or listen to every game no matter where it is played or where they might live. sjsharks.com, Game Center Live, countless hockey websites, bloggers and Youtube can be pure nirvana to the faithful. It wasn’t all that long ago that games were being aired on tape delay and radio signals were a constant problem. Thanks to you Al Gore.
Minus – Fans who tirelessly pound on the glass any time the players get near their front row seats. I’m also down on fans who are are on their cell phones while they stand and wave to themselves on the game camera shared by TV and the Jumbotron.
Plus – They NHL’s great performance pulling off the massive Stadium Series events. We all now share brand new iconic images of the regular season games staged at Dodger and Yankee Stadiums. I’ve especially enjoyed comments made by the players on how much they enjoyed and appreciated their participation in the outdoor games.
Minus – Arrogant, humorless coaches who call out their own players publicly. I’m equally unhappy with bench bosses fail credit opponents following a loss. They need to remember hockey is a game of mistakes and that both sides are doing everything possible to win their games.
Plus – Players who interact with young fans during warm-ups. This is not life and death stuff. Everyone in hockey needs to remember it’s a game and that fans, particularly young fans are making memories that will last a lifetime. The sight of kids with eyes as big as saucers are a thing to be treasured.
Minus – Fair weather fans who only follow their team when wins are coming easy. True fans follow their team year in and year out regardless of the win-loss record. If you stay with your team long enough, the payoff with a Cup will be all the sweeter.
Plus – A golden era for the Sharks who boast star power and a run that has seen them make the playoffs 14 of the last 15 seasons.
Enjoy the games!
If you watch and listen to our broadcasts on Comcast Sportsnet California, you may have heard me mention Sharks Video Guru, Brett Heimlich.
Brett and I are kindred spirits because as some of you may know I was the video guy for the team when we first started this little adventure called San Jose Sharks Hockey.
Now when I was doing video, I was referred to as "The Vidiot". For "Bretzky" that is not the case. The kid is a Wiz when it comes to computers and game analysis.
Brett is the operating master behind a system that collects, stores, analyzes, edits and shares digital video and statistical evidence in all of the hockey categories you can think of and some you haven't.
The Sharks made that hefty investment because it is the lifeblood of information for the coaches, management, scouts and players. With the desire being the more you arm an individual with visual facts and figures, the better that individual will become. If your entire hockey department is plugged into that information super highway, then your team and organization will be successful.
Information is power.
However the XO System is mainly used by the coaches to to breakdown games, scout opponents and compile video to improve player performance.
Under the guidance of Todd McLellan and working closely with every member of the coaching staff, Brett diligently produces clear concise video vignettes that help drive home salient points the coaches need to make.
He also pours over voluminous numbers and says to either affirm or dissuade opinions on players, opponents, special teams, faceoffs, shootouts, hits...well you get the picture.
Remember though that any piece of equipment is only as good as the person operating it.
Brettster is about as good as it gets.
But besides his work ethic and technical know-how, I have become a fan of how Brett has grown into a "Hockey Guy".
He breaks down a game as good as anyone I know. He has gained insight working with the great coaches.
He has learned the tough lessons of what it takes to be great working with Todd McLellan.
But you can learn a lot by watching how he works with and interacts with his co-workers. Put aside the pranks, jokes and good natured name calling. Brett treats and is treated with admiration and respect. Admiration and respect that he has earned.
With the Sharks winning streak now over at 6 games it’s worth noting just how impressive their run was.
In victories over Washington, Florida, Tampa Bay, Calgary, Winnipeg and Minnesota the Sharks managed to win 3 times on the road and 3 times at SAP Center. Four of the wins were by a single goal, the victory over the Capitals came in a shootout and they blanked the Panthers 3-0 while also shutting out Winnipeg 1-0. And let’s not forget how they overcame Martin St. Louis 4 goal effort for the Lightning and still found a way to win. That was also the only game during the streak in which they gave up any power play goals. In the other 5 games the penalty kill was a perfect 8 for 8.
It also bodes well for the rest of the season that the Sharks performed so well considering the lineup that Todd McLellan was forced to play due to injuries. Matt Nieto, Eriah Hayes, Backen Kearns and Alex Stalock have each appeared in less than 50 NHL games in their careers. Matt Irwin and John McCarthy are both under 100 games played. In fact if you combine all of their experience in the league it totals 251 games, less than Logan Couture’s 275. That’s impressive! But it’s also expected. Every year the Sharks carefully draft and then develop players with the expectation that at some point they will be able to make a contribution at the NHL level. All those mentioned have indeed contributed and here’s hoping another long winning streak is about to start all over again.
I’m Randy Hahn
One day, not too long after Dustin Brown ended Tomas Hertl’s consecutive games-played streak and Kellan Lain played 0:02 and picked up 15 penalty minutes in his NHL debut, just as the finishing touches of Sharks captain Joe Thornton’s and alternate captain Patrick Marleau’s contract extensions were finalized and Anze Kopitar prepared to play at Dodger Stadium against Ryan Getzlaf in front of over 55,000 spectators, a seemingly unthinkable event occurred.
The Vancouver Canucks center, Henrik Sedin, was held out of a game against the Edmonton Oilers, and his lengthy ironman streak came to an end at an amazing 679 games.
I immediately wondered whether Patrick Marleau’s current ironman streak would graduate into the top 5 among active NHL players, and after counting it up positively, we got the folks at the organization we fondly refer to as the “Patrick Elias Sports Bureau” to double check it for us.
We were correct. Marleau is currently 5th on the active NHL ironman list, behind leader Jay Bouwmeester (686), Andrew Cogliano (512), Antoine Vermette (363), and Keith Yandle (355). It’s the second longest such streak in Sharks history, right behind Thornton’s 379 games, which was set between the day the captain was acquired from Boston and March 27, 2010.
The subjects of speed, stickhandling ability, hand-eye coordination, balance, checking ability, and shooting ability often get discussed when talking about the cream of the NHL’s crop. However, there is another subject that needs to be considered when truly understanding the impact of what players bring to the table in the NHL today.
Imagine the schedule, the challenges of travel, the sheer toll that the game places on an individual player’s body each season. Tack on the fact that the top players in question are playing against the best players on the other team nearly all of the time, and knock on every piece of wood possible, because durability is one of the most important qualities of any NHL superstar.
Let’s look at a recent accounting of some of the top players in the game today:
|Player, Team||GP Since 2005-06||Pct. Team Total GP||GP Since 2007-08||Pct. Team Total GP|
|Joe Thornton, SJS||668||99.10%||505||99.00%|
|Patrick Marleau, SJS||659||97.80%||500||98.00%|
|Ryan Getzlaf, ANA||606||89.90%||467||91.60%|
|Anze Kopitar, LAK||502||98.40%|
|Henrik Sedin, VAN||672||99.70%||508||99.60%|
|Daniel Sedin, VAN||643||95.40%||480||94.10%|
|Sidney Crosby, PIT||522||77.50%||362||71.00%|
|Evgeni Malkin, PIT||421||82.50%|
When you count the fact that Joe Thornton has currently skated in 251 straight contests, which ranks fourth all-time in Sharks history, it’s absolutely remarkable to note that in his nine seasons with the team, he has missed a grand total of only 5 regular season games. Over the same span, Marleau has missed only 15.
When you compare and contrast that with other top stars in the game, the Sharks duo of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are miles ahead of most, doing it in the ultra-competitive Western Conference with all of the travel considerations therein. It really is a remarkable achievement to date, and it really gives Sharks fans cause for celebration to learn that they have agreed to extend their time in Silicon Valley three additional years.
Let’s not take their contributions for granted. They are true NHL stars, and it’s a privilege to watch them work toward their ultimate goal of bringing a Stanley Cup to San Jose.
Thank you, Joe and Patrick. I’m Dan Rusanowsky, for sjsharks.com.
This and that…
--With the Winnipeg Jets paying their first visit to San Jose last night, it made me think of the World Hockey Association. The WHA was a rival league which impacted hockey significantly in the ‘70s but also has made its mark on the 21st century NHL.
--The WHA brought with it overtime to regular season games. The league played a sudden-death 10-minute period for games ending in regulation tied. The WHA was the first league to draw European talent in large numbers to North America.
--The Winnipeg Jets franchise (now the Phoenix club) gave the league immediate credibility when it signed the great Bobby Hull to a long-term multi-million dollar contract. The WHA also were the first to draft 18-year olds. At the time the NHL drafted 20-year olds. Following a 7-year war, the NHL absorbed Winnipeg, Hartford, Quebec and Edmonton into the NHL. The bidding war for hockey talent made it possible for professional hockey players to be paid full market value.
--The current Winnipeg Jets are presently in their 3rd season after being relocated from Atlanta. These Jets were not part of the WHA, but it offends me to see that the Jets’ Evander Kane wears number 9. The Golden Jet, Bobby Hull, gave so much to major league hockey and made it possible for the NHL to be successful in secondary Canadian markets and was key in getting Winnipeg major league status.
--How about Captain America Joe Pavelski’s incredible scoring streak? The Sharks Wisconsin-born centerman has notched a remarkable 18 goals in his last 20 games. The only Teal wearing player to score more was Jonathan Cheechoo who scored 20 goals in a 20-game span back in 2005-06. The Sharks #8’s recent exploits have raised “USA-USA-USA” chants from the Sharks fans in San Jose. Joe is maxing out his talent and is tireless in his preparation and in game production. “Little Joe” has 27 goals in 50 games, and is on a pace for 44 goals, 2nd to the Capitals Alexander Ovechkin. Pavelski will have a huge impact on Team USA’s drive toward an Olympic Medal next month in Sochi Russia.
--I enjoyed Sharks TV color man Drew Remenda’s take on the opening faceoff series of fights last Saturday as the Flames visited Vancouver. Drew floated the opinion that these sorts of things happen every once in a while and to true longtime fans recognize that. The mainstream media may be wringing its hands, but the NHL community should not be concerned. For the last 20-25 years the NHL has courted a broader fan base (particularly in the US) with little to show for it. I look at the NHL as a huge world-wide club open to whomever wants to join, but I don’t believe we should change our game for those who couldn’t care less.
--Be sure to tune in to NBC Sports Network tomorrow at 6:30 PM when the Ducks and Kings square off in the first warm weather outdoor game at Dodger Stadium. Sunday NBC will be at Yankee Stadium for an outdoor tilt featuring the Rangers and the Devils. Who knows…a Northern California outdoor game could be in the NHL’s future.
--What’s up with the NHL’s injury updates featuring only ‘upper body’ or ‘lower body’ descriptions? The reports are so vague they might as well say nothing at all.
--Lost Wages. Next time the NHL expands there will be a need to put more teams in the west. Currently the Eastern Conference has 16 teams while the Western Conference has only 14 clubs.
How about a team in Las Vegas? During the winter snow birds from around the world visit Nevada for the warm weather, entertainment and gambling. Given their position in the sports pecking order I think hockey should be first. However precautions need to be made to ensure gamblers never get to close to the game and its players. The city would be wise to welcome the NHL with open arms.
--Monday night will be the first meeting between the Sharks and Kings since Dustin Brown’s questionable hit on San Jose rookie scorer Tomas Hertl. Hertl had to undergo surgery and it is unclear if he can return this season. The game at SAP Center Monday starts at 7:00pm and will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.
Enjoy the games.