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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.18.2014 / 4:55 PM
By Randy Hahn - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

As they get ready to begin a three game home stand against Florida, Anaheim and Washington, the San Jose Sharks are the best home ice team in the National Hockey League with a record of 25-4-4. That domination at SAP Center this season is a big reason why the team is tied for the Pacific Division lead and has a shot at the Presidents Trophy down the stretch. But if you look a little deeper there’s another reason the team is so well positioned. The Sharks were excellent on the road against the Eastern Conference.

With an unbalanced schedule and a work stoppage or two, it had been a long time since the Sharks visited every road team out east in the same season. But this year the NHL schedule maker finally got it right and Team Teal made an appearance in every Eastern Conference rink. With Sunday’s 1-0 shutout victory at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers, the Sharks have now completed their road schedule against the east.

So how did they do? As my colleague Jamie Baker would say, “Let’s run the numbers!” The Sharks finished with a 12-4 record on the road against the East. That’s good. That’s very good actually when you consider that this season the Sharks will have traveled more miles (57,612) than any other club in the league. The only losses came in Boston, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Buffalo. A few of my personal favorite wins include the wild 5-4 victory at Tampa when Martin St. Louis scored all 4 goals for the lightning but Joe Pavelski scored the last 3 goals of the game for his first NHL hat trick. Or how about the 3-0 win at Florida when Alex Stalock recorded his first career shutout? And it’s tough to top the 1-0 win over the Rangers highlighted by Antti Niemi’s brilliance in the net and Logan Couture’s remarkable shorthanded game winning goal.

Niemi went 7-3 on the road out East with three shutouts. Stalock was 4-1 with the perfect game against the Panthers. Patrick Marleau led the Sharks with 16 road points against the East. Joe Pavelski was tops with 8 goals, 6 of those coming in hat tricks at Tampa and Philadelphia. Jason Demers had 9 points to lead the Sharks defense. Five of Matt Nieto’s 10 goals so far this season have come on the road in the east. The Sharks were also perfect in shootouts with wins at Detroit, Washington and Columbus.

It was fun visiting all of the Eastern Conference arenas again. It was even more fun watching the Sharks dominate.

I’m Randy Hahn

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POSTED ON Friday, 03.14.2014 / 1:38 PM
By Frank Albin - Director of Broadcasting / Great White Bites

“Bests”

I’ve always enjoyed playing, watching and talking hockey. It’s a game of action and excitement. It’s a game where effort trumps skill on many occasions.

Travel is another passion. I’ve lived on three continents, been to 23 countries and 45 states in my life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to combine these two interests during my sports-television career. Each year the Sharks send Randy Hahn, Drew Remenda, Dan Rusanowsky, Jamie Baker, producer Sean Maddison, graphics producer Darin Stephens and me on the road to visit the other 29 cities in the NHL.

Let me start by saying I think San Jose is the best stop in the league. For me they have classiest team, the nicest arena, best location, best TV techs and finest weather in all of the NHL. However for this exercise I’m eliminating San Jose from consideration.

Here is my NHL travel best-of list.

Most beautiful city…It’s hard to do much better than Vancouver, BC. It’s where sea meets land and mountains set the perfect backdrop. Stanley Park is an amazingly beautiful city part that offers world class vistas. Also considered…New York City and Calgary, AB.

Best arena to broadcast from…I love all of the Canadian building but for my money Calgary is the best. Camera angles are excellent, announcers are stationed almost over the rink and lighting is very good overall. Also noted…Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Best US venue…Dallas.

Best press meal. Writers, broadcasters and staff get access to an on-site pregame meal. Los Angeles has a spread that any fine restaurant would be proud of. Lots of choices, great salad bar, fresh fruit and soft serve ice cream make it a special place to visit. Others considered…Buffalo, Philadelphia, Minnesota and Montreal.

Best cheap meal….Marcel’s sandwiches in Edmonton. Try the super Donair/Gyro. Nice food courts in many places…most noted the ones in Calgary and Toronto.

Best restaurant…Ted’s Montana Grill in Columbus, followed by Cordero’s in Vancouver, and Caesars Steakhouse in Calgary. As for cities, LA and New York feature some amazing places for breakfast lunch or dinner..

Best ice. Near 100% of players claim Edmonton has the finest playing surface in hockey. A winter of severe cold and dry air make for good ice-making. Calgary, Minnesota and Detroit also boast great ice.

Best arena location. The Staples Center in LA is pretty awesome. Across the street there’s ‘LA Live’ along with hotels, restaurants and entertainment. Do yourself a favor and take in a Sharks’ game next time they visit the Kings. Another nice setup is the Coyotes with arena, shopping, meals and hotels all a short walk.

Best place with two hours to kill…the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in Toronto. Great displays take you into the history of the game while honoring the greatest players and teams of all-time. Exit through the gift shop and pick up a t-shirt of the 1917 Stanley Cup Champion Seattle Metropolitans.

Most-friendly people. The people in Calgary and Edmonton always welcome visitors with a smile.

Best walking city. It’s hard to top the overload of the senses that is New York City. Walk 10 minutes in any direction and you’ll see something you’ve never seen before. It’s free entertainment and makes it fun every time we visit the Big Apple. Other walking towns of note…Toronto, Vancouver and Chicago.

Best shopping town. Chicago’s Michigan Ave offers everything you’d ever want. I enjoy looking a high tech gear and clothing spots

Best off-day city. Chicago boasts great restaurants, museums, and shopping. Chi-town is also known for its entertainment, is it live blues, the Blue Man group, concerts or comedy clubs.

Best weather. Tampa Bay is a great place to go any winter. Mild temps and low humidity make for a break from places like Buffalo, Detroit and Winnipeg.

Best live music. Now I don’t much care for country music, but it is hard to ignore Nashville. Broadway is lined with bars with live music. People from around the world make pilgrimages to Nashville with hopes of see the next big talent. If you know your way around, there’s some nice rock bars too. Chicago live blues venues are tough to top also.

Best Hockey town. They call it ‘Hockeytown’ for a reason. Detroit’s love for the game spans generations. The Red Wings are the talk of the town all year round. Joe Louis Arena is always packed and the winged wheel logo is everywhere.

Best sports bar…’Real Sports’ in Toronto has set the standard for all to come after it. It features 199 TV’s, arranged around the enormous space. The jewel however is a truly massive 39-foot video display. Great food and drink, sports and lots of interesting characters make it fun.

Best place to come home to…San Jose and the Bay Area.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 7:36 PM
By Randy Hahn - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

The San Jose Sharks have a wonderful opportunity Tuesday against Toronto.

Thanks to the Maple Leafs 3-1 win in Anaheim Monday, the Sharks are now within 4 points of the Ducks for first place in the Pacific Division. For the first time in a long time Anaheim has to be feeling some heat.

Back on January 15th Ducks had a 13-point lead on the second place Sharks. They looked uncatchable for the division title. At that point Anaheim had an incredible 20-0-2 record on home ice. But since then they’ve won only 4 out of 12 home games. The Sharks on the other hand have kept their collective noses to the grindstone and amassed a 12-5-1 record since January 15th, and that leads us to the opportunity.

Since last weeks trade deadline passed, the Sharks have played two of their better games of the season against Pittsburgh and Toronto. They’ve closed the gap on Anaheim and now they have a chance to turn up the temperature on their Orange County rivals.

So why is it so important to catch Anaheim for the division? Well first of all the Sharks could avoid a first round match-up with Los Angeles. The Kings appear to have returned to form and will be an extremely tough out in the opening round of the playoffs no matter who they go up against. And if the Sharks want to make a long run and get to the finals it figures they’ll probably have to go through some combination of LA, Anaheim, St. Louis, Colorado and or Chicago regardless of where they finish in the standings. Any preferable match-up you can get in the opening round and any additional home ice advantage you can grab would be for the best.

So Tuesday night the Sharks have an opportunity to build on what has been a good post Olympic run. They will face a team that played a difficult game Monday and they will face a backup goaltender. The opportunity is there. Will they make the best of that opportunity or will it be an opportunity missed? Find out tonight on Comcast Sportsnet California and on KFOX and the Sharks Radio Network with the pregame coverage beginning at 7PM PDT.

I’m Randy Hahn

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POSTED ON Monday, 03.10.2014 / 5:38 PM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

The 2013-14 version of the San Jose Sharks has a different feel than in years past and in a very good way. It's called chemistry and character which is the foundation that is necessary if any team has a real chance of winning a championship.

I have been around a lot of teams over the years, some are more talented than others but there is one thing that I always look for in a team's identity and that is whether the players truly play for each other when it matters most. This team does that … in spades.

Examples:

The Sharks played one of the most dominating team games I have seen in a long time against Pittsburgh this past week. As Vlasic said about that game, "We played hard, physical and fast. We raised the bar of how good we can be." Well said!

The following game, the Sharks shut out the Montreal Canadians for the second time this season. Two things stick out from that game:

  1. The ferocious back-checking of Patrick Marleau all game but in particular on the Couture goal. Patty used his speed and tenacity to create a turnover inside the Montreal zone that led to a perfect saucer pass from Nieto to Couture.
  2. With 8 minutes left in the game and the score 4-0, a Montreal forward had the puck in the neutral zone and was all alone heading towards the two Sharks defenseman. Joe Thornton back-checked as if his hair was on fire and forced a turnover.

    When two leaders and star players like Marleau and Thornton back-check that hard, regardless of the score it sends a message to the rest of the team. Marleau and Thornton and both selfless, team-first players who once again held off from free-agency to sign with the team they love to play for. It starts with them and they are leading by example and want nothing more to help bring a championship to the city of San Jose.

It's about character and chemistry and this team has an abundance of both and it starts with the two leaders and all around great guys.

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POSTED ON Friday, 03.07.2014 / 8:20 PM
By Frank Albin - Director of Broadcasting / Great White Bites

Some sports grant followers inside knowledge via the use of statistics, others not so much.

Baseball is a perfect game for stats. Major League Baseball came to life when the National League began business in 1876. Later the American League first breathed life in 1901. Over the lifetime of baseball very few rules have changed. More importantly none of the measurements have changed in that time. The bases have always been 90 feet apart. The mound has always been 60’ 6” from the plate. And while the height of the mound has changed and the ball has been wound tightened and loosened (juiced or deadened), the game remains essentially the same.

Anyone with even a passing interest in baseball knows what it means to be a .300 hitter; they know what it means to be a 20-game winner. 60, 3000, and 1.12 translate into…Babe Ruth’s longtime home run record, how many hits it takes to be an all-time great hitter, and Bob Gibson’s epic ERA in 1968. With the advent of fantasy sports and the internet baseball has found more and more ways to crunch the numbers in a never-ending effort to understand the game.

Basketball lends itself to stats quite well. Shooting percentage from the floor and free-throw line show fans who is a difference maker. Registering points, assists, steals and rebounds per game make it easy to compare teams and players.

Football stats have just recently become of age. However the NFL is never afraid of changing foundational rules in an effort to make their game more fan-friendly. We still look at yards per carry, TD receptions and quarterback ratings. Current stats can point to who might be the better quarterback…Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers. More difficult to determine is comparing different eras. Is Drew Brees better than Johnny Unitas? The numbers do not so readily answer such questions.

Maybe the toughest game to understand by way of stats is hockey. When you sit back and look at the game, hockey has more in common with soccer than any of North America’s other big 4. Like soccer it’s a ‘flow’ game. All players are moving at all times with limited game stoppages. On the ice all players play both offense and defense, and some players get ice in even strength, powerplay and short-handed situations. The more you watch one team or one player, the more you know a player’s real worth to his team. With 30 teams and over 700 players in the NHL it is nearly impossible to know the value of each player. Hockey can’t be accused of not trying to use stats. Goals, assists and points are the most basics of hockey numbers. A 20-goal man tells us all that the player has enough skills to find his way to the net enough to score a goal roughly every 4 games. Not so clear is who that player plays with or what his ‘role’ might be in context of his team.

Detroit hall-of-famer Steve Yzerman registered some amazing scoring stats in the late 80’s and early 90's. Yzerman scored 50+ goals and 100+ points in more than a few seasons. However once Steve was surrounded with better players his role changed. No longer was it necessary for Yzerman to provide all the offense. When Scotty Bowman took over the Detroit bench…he needed Yzerman to win face-offs, kill penalties and play shutdown defense. When that changed is when Detroit challenged for Stanley Cups. However if you only look at the stats you might have been led to believe Yzerman had lost some ability. Similar to the NFL, the NHL has had distinctive eras. Scoring has risen and dropped due to these very distinct eras. Career totals tell us who was a great scorer and who was not, but it’s difficult to know how many goals Rocket Richard might score today or how many Wayne Gretzky would have scored during the original six.

In recent years the NHL has spent time and money to keep track of ice times, face-off wins, plus/minus and scoring percentage. But even with that there’s no accounting how good a passer or puck handler really is. Also unclear is how clutch a player is. In baseball there’s batting average with runners in scoring position in night road games after the 7th inning. In hockey we do not readily know puck clears in the last 30 seconds of tied road game.

The numbers tell us something but we aren’t certain what.

Two ideas which I think might give us better, quality information are by tallying 1st assists as compared to 2nd assists. More time than not the 1st assist makes that goal possible…it credits a player with that quality which led directly to the goal. A 2nd assist does not share that knowledge. Watch any game and you’ll see what I mean. Players routinely get assists for pucks that bounce off a skate or other body part. Little 5 foot passes in the defensive zone can lead to a goal if the scorer makes a series of remarkable moves. The practice of giving the same points to goals, 1st assists and 2nd assists do not clearly tell us who is ‘best scorer’ is among the league leaders. How about 3 player points to a goal, 2 for the 1st assist and 1 for the 2nd assists? It might give us a better measure but it would not give us a good comparison to the history of the league.

My other suggestion is to change the way we view powerplay and penalty kill statistics. Presently one can calculate powerplay percentages by dividing powerplay goals by powerplay opportunity. Say a team has 20 PPGs in 100 powerplay opportunities…it’s a 20.0% ranking. However there is no accounting for true powerplay time. A 3 second powerplay counts as a powerplay opportunity just like a 2 minute powerplay. The resulting numbers give us a distorted view of a team’s powerplay true ability. My recommendation is to change the powerplay and penalty kill from a percentage base to an index. This system would be derived from powerplay time divided by total powerplay goals. The resulting number would tell you how many minutes and seconds of powerplay time is needed to score a goal. Let’s use the previous scenario…team A scores 20 powerplay goals in 145.00 minutes of powerplay time. The result of this is an index of 7.15. The penalty killing would use a similar equation. Once this system begins to be used it wouldn’t take too long to know what number is a good pp or pk index.

While some get frustrated not being able to translate the action into numbers, others see this as a good thing. Baseball, football and basketball are tamed by the stats. Hockey is a wild animal that’s hard to capture but fun to watch.

For you stats geeks…this article is 1159 words long. Enjoy the games.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.04.2014 / 5:14 PM
By Randy Hahn - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

The San Jose Sharks are in the midst of a most unusual stretch in their schedule. They’re playing 12 in a row against Eastern Conference opponents. It got me to thinking, has this ever happened before? The answer is no.

According to our friends at the Elias Sports Bureau, the longest streak of games ever against the East for the Sharks is seven, and it’s happened five times. In the Sharks first two seasons they were swept 7 straight during those stretches against the East and the last time it occurred, 2002, it happened twice in the same season. That year the Sharks picked up points in 4 and 5 of those games respectively.

Let’s do the math this season. Through 4 games the Sharks have wins over Columbus, Philadelphia and New Jersey and they lost in regulation in Buffalo. The remaining opponents during this unique stretch are Carolina, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Toronto, Columbus again, the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and Florida.

The Western Conference has been the dominant of the two this year and the Sharks have a formidable 15-6-2 record against Eastern teams. If they are going to make a serious run at catching the Anaheim Ducks for the Pacific Division title the Sharks are going to have to win their remaining 2 games against Anaheim and go on a winning run against the upcoming eastern opponents beginning with the 4 game home stand that starts against the Hurricanes.

It’ll be fun finding out if the Sharks can be “Beasts Against The East” over the next 2 weeks.

I’m Randy Hahn for SJSHARKS.com

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POSTED ON Friday, 02.28.2014 / 2:20 PM
By Frank Albin - Director of Broadcasting / Great White Bites

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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How great is it to see the NHL back in business? Enjoy the games!

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.19.2014 / 9:00 AM
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites
A TALE OF TWO LETTERS --

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.
That little note of pronunciation oddities in the hockey world brings us to the title of today’s missive, namely, the Tale of Two Letters:

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:

No.
Pos.
As NHL Spells It
As NHL Says It
As IOC Spells It
As IOC Says It
72
G
Sergei BOBROVSKY
Bob-ROV-skee
BOBROVSKI
Bob-ROV-skee
51
D
FEDOR Tyutin
FEHD-uhr
FYODOR
FYO-duhr
28
F
Alexander SEMIN
SYEH-min or SEH-min
SYOMIN
SYO-min
41
F
Nikolai KULEMIN
KOOL-uh-min
KULYOMIN
kool-YOH-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:
  1. The fact that the Russian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet while English uses the Roman alphabet, and one must be transliterated to the other.
  2. The fact that Russian publications confuse everyone when they identify two separate letters of their alphabet in one way instead of two.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
So, nobody asked me, but: here is the “Tale of Two Letters,” which turns the pronunciation of Russian players’ names into a situation that is the best of times, and the worst of times, to all on the North American side of things:

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.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 02.06.2014 / 8:05 PM
By Frank Albin - Director of Broadcasting / Great White Bites

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.

It’s nice to see Adam Burish back in the lineup. His energy, effort veteran leadership has made immediate impact on the Sharks game. Next up for a return is Raffi Torres.

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.

Be sure to catch Olympic hockey beginning next week on the NBC family of channels. Good luck to the Sharks Patrick Marleau, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Joe Pavelski and Anti Niemi in their quest for Gold.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.05.2014 / 3:36 PM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites
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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 7 6 1 0 25 14 12
2 NSH 6 4 0 2 16 11 10
3 CHI 5 4 0 1 16 7 9
4 LAK 6 4 1 1 15 10 9
5 SJS 7 4 2 1 23 20 9
6 CGY 8 4 3 1 20 19 9
7 DAL 6 3 1 2 21 20 8
8 VAN 5 3 2 0 16 16 6
9 STL 5 2 2 1 12 9 5
10 ARI 5 2 2 1 16 22 5
11 EDM 7 2 4 1 17 29 5
12 MIN 4 2 2 0 10 4 4
13 WPG 6 2 4 0 11 16 4
14 COL 7 1 4 2 12 24 4

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
P. Marleau 7 4 5 -1 9
B. Burns 7 1 7 0 8
J. Thornton 7 2 5 4 7
L. Couture 7 3 3 -1 6
J. Pavelski 7 2 4 4 6
T. Wingels 7 3 2 -1 5
M. Irwin 5 2 1 -2 3
M. Nieto 7 1 2 3 3
J. Braun 7 0 3 3 3
T. Hertl 7 2 0 2 2
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Stalock 1 1 1 .933 2.27
A. Niemi 3 1 0 .920 2.70
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