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POSTED ON Friday, 01.10.2014 / 1:17 PM
By Frank Albin - Director of Broadcasting / Great White Bites

A Change of Heart

In 1998, the Olympics welcomed NHL players with open arms. Prior to ’98 Olympic, hockey was considered an ‘amateur’ game composed of college, senior and communist (supposed non-pro) players. The prospect of exposing the sporting world to the very best hockey players appeared to be a logical way to ‘grow the game’ in general and improve the standing of the NHL in particular.

What was the price? The NHL agreed to shut down the league for almost three weeks and ‘lend’ their players to the various national teams. The Olympics would get the benefit of a major, team sport involving the best in the business. In ’98 it seemed to be a fair cost for all involved.

Nagano, Japan presented the games flawlessly.

The US and Canadian teams failed to win a medal which defeated one of the major goals of the NHL. The Czechs won Gold, Russia took the Silver and Finland won Bronze. The greatest players of the era gave the games everything they had. Ratings were not what the NHL had hoped for. The dramatic difference in times zones was thought to be the reason.

In 2002, Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Games. A North American venue in the Mountain time zone gave the NHL high hopes. The Canadian team played an inspired hockey on their way to the Gold Medal. Team USA captured the Silver and Bronze went to the Russians.

2006 saw the Winter Games staged in Turin, Italy. Sweden, Finland and the Czechs won Gold, Silver and Bronze. Canada and the US failed to medal and many saw it as another missed opportunity.

Vancouver hosted in 2010 and Canada showed the world they know how to throw a party. But at the end of the day the NHL still failed to get the result they were hoping for. The games did not draw massive viewership. The games failed to drive interest in non-traditional US markets. The buzz the games brought was enjoyed mostly by long-time hockey fans; the same folks who watch attend and buy merchandise during the NHL season.

But after 16 years and 5 Olympic games (including Sochi, Russia next month), I feel it’s time to move on. It’s not a win-win for the NHL. What other industry would shut down their business and ‘give’ away their product without any guarantees? Not only that, there is a very real concern to club management that their high-priced assets (players) could be hurt which would damage their business significantly.

Recently more and more voices are questioning the NHL’s future participation. Another point that can be made is that the NHL’s condensed schedule to accommodate three weeks off in February hurts players, the competition and the quality of the games played.

For me there are two solutions to the problems of shutting down the NHL.

1. Move Ice Hockey to the summer games. It may be counter intuitive but basketball is featured in the summer games.

2. Resurrect the World Cup of Hockey which has been shelved since the league began playing in the Olympics. In the past the World Cup was staged in September to coincide in part with training camp. Games were played entirely in North America…in Canada and the US. In fact San Jose hosted a World Cup game back in 1996.

Rather than trying to get the world to ‘discover hockey’, let’s use the league, its venues and its players to offer the best hockey possible without shutting down the NHL during a key part of the season.

It’s time to just walk away from the Olympics. Give Olympic hockey to the college and amateurs players. Let the NHLers earn their money battling for the Stanley Cup and a revived World Cup.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.09.2014 / 2:56 PM
By Drew Remenda - Sharks TV, Color Commentator / Great White Bites

When The Best of The Best team is named there is always controversy that follows.

But When the US named their Men's Olympic Hockey Team, they really stepped in it.

First off as a Canadian, I'm very happy Team USA didn't pick Ottawa's Bobby Ryan. He is a tremendously dynamic goal scorer, a game breaker and I'm glad he won't be able to torch my country's team.

But where Team USA management made the mistake was allowing embedded reporters in on all the selection process.

Noted sports journalists were able to listen to, record and eventually report all the discussions and debates.

Unfortunately the wonderfully opinionated and unfiltered Brian Burke was quoted post selection on his views of Bobby Ryan's intensity.

It wasn't complimentary and it was disrespectful and it was put in print for everyone to read. Including Bobby Ryan.

Brian Burke wasn't trying to be a jerk. He was doing what he was supposed to do. Passionately defending and critiquing all the players considered for Team USA.

In this instance he used rather blunt language.

But that is what happens in those types of meetings. I've been in those scouting and coaches meetings. I've been in those debates. A lot of stuff gets said that is between those in the room and nobody else because sometimes unflattering descriptions of players abilities and personalities are debated.

Nobody is trying to be mean or nasty but discussions get intense.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson and I disagree on many issues. However one issue DW has a solid standing with me is on how he does not make public any player discussions, negotiations or analysis from the team. There is nary a peep from the Sharks GM that could be construed as disrespectful. He protects his players.

That's where Team USA failed. They failed to protect an American player.

I applaud the idea of transparency and a unique Insider approach to the selection process. But the smart veteran hockey minds of Team USA should have known that No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, (my life motto by the way).

As unintentional as it was, the Management Team has to accept they screwed up and disrespected a great player and from all reports a wonderful young man.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.08.2014 / 5:26 PM
By Randy Hahn - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

Every team in the NHL has to deal with injuries throughout the long season. The San Jose Sharks are getting their share injuries of and then some right now.

Logan Couture will undergo surgery on an upper body injury on Wednesday. He’ll join a list that already includes Tommy Wingels, Martin Havlat, Tomas Hertl, Raffi Torres and Adam Burish. If you include Tyler Kennedy who missed the three-game road trip with a nasty bout of the flu, the Sharks are playing without seven of their regular forwards.

There aren’t many teams, if any, in the NHL that can consistently score when more than half of their forwards are on the shelf. Head Coach Todd McLellan needs his core veterans like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle, Marc Eduard Vlasic and others to help carry the team through a difficult stretch. It’s also necessary for the depth players up from Worcester to make a difference. McLellan needs an extra block here or there, an extra hit, an extra faceoff win. He also needs his goaltending to be a little better. It’s all hands on deck until the Olympic break starting February 7 and then the Sharks ought to begin to get healthier and get players back.

There are going to be a few rocky nights over the next three weeks but the Sharks have to find a way to battle through. They have no choice. They can’t hang their heads and allow injuries to be an excuse for team performance. If they survive the next 15 games before the break and stay in the hunt for the division title, they’ll be in much better shape down the stretch heading towards the playoffs and they’ll be a better team for having battled through the adversity together.

I’m Randy Hahn

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 9:00 PM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites
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POSTED ON Monday, 01.06.2014 / 8:03 PM
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

PROVINCIAL OLYMPIC TEAMS: A NEW PARLOR (PARLOUR) GAME

Following a spectacular 3-2 victory in Chicago, a great goaltending performance by Alex Stalock, some pressure goals by Jason Demers and Brent Burns, a shootout performance worthy of note from Stalock, Logan Couture, and Joe Pavelski, the San Jose Sharks headed to the airport to brave what they’re calling a “polar vortex” that has enveloped much of the nation’s midsection.

In the midst of the travel to Nashville, and the warm confines of the hotel, the news of Olympic team announcements has started to trickle out, with the big news coming tomorrow with Team Canada. Of course, I have been hoping that all of the Sharks who are still candidates for Olympic play will be selected by their respective nations. The parlor game (or, “parlour game,” as it may be spelled) of picking your version of each country’s team has become a fierce sport in many homes.

But for some reason, while pondering the entire topic, I suddenly started thinking about one of the greatest soccer stars in history, George Best, and wondered how his situation would apply to hockey.

Best was one of the most dynamic soccer players ever to lace on boots. He dazzled fans the world over, first with Manchester United, then with a variety of other teams, including the original version of the San Jose Earthquakes. For his highlight goal in a Quakes uniform, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8wGN5uDaVg

But Best never was able to play on world soccer’s greatest stage, the FIFA World Cup. The reason is due to the way that the teams were assembled, by country. While Great Britain and its larger umbrella, the United Kingdom, produces many of the most successful soccer programs anywhere, FIFA splits teams up into sides from England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Since Best was from Northern Ireland, he played for that side a number of times in attempts to qualify for the World Cup, but given the depth of overall players there, his teams never made it to the tournament.

With the Olympics coming up, and more specifically, with Team Canada about to be named, I wondered just how competitive things would be if Canada were split up into smaller groups, similar to that of Great Britain (ok, the UK). What would it be like if teams from Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, etc. were fielded for the Olympics?

Canada is deep enough to consider such a scenario. In the United States, we have growing pockets of state representation, but not nearly enough to field 50 separate teams. But an attempt to do so for Canada is pretty interesting.

Ontario and Quebec, of course, would have many of the same selection difficulties as Canada itself, but consider how a team from Manitoba might be from the goal out, with NHL and AHL players available for selection:

James Reimer

Chet Pickard (Ok City)

Calvin Pickard (Lake Erie)

Duncan Keith - Michael Stone

Travis Hamonic – Justin Falk

Aaron Rome – Dylan McIlrath (Hartford)

Joel Edmundson (Chicago) –Colby Robak (San Ant.)

Dustin Penner – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Sharp

Ryan Garbutt – Cody Eakin – Eric Fehr

Cody McLeod – Travis Zajac – Colton Orr

Frazer McLaren – Dale Weise – Ryan Reaves

IR

LW Alexander Steen

C Ryan White

LW Matt Calvert

Also Under Consideration

D Drew Bagnall (Roch.)

D Corbin Baldwin (Iowa)

D Brett Skinner (Rockford)

D Chay Genoway (Hershey)

Yes, they’d be better if the injured guys were healthy, and they’d rely heavily on Duncan Keith and Michael Stone to log lots of minutes on defense. But it would be interesting to see how these guys would represent their province, wouldn’t it?

Then, consider Team Nova Scotia. It would likely have Joey MacDonald in goal, and although he’s no Roberto Luongo, he has NHL experience, including this year. They’d have some pretty top quality guys up front in Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, James Sheppard, Brad Marchand, and Alex Killorn, and they’d have some grinding toughness in Eric Boulton and Zach Sill. But the number of NHL level players from Nova Scotia is lower than that of the larger provinces, so would their fate go the way of George Best if they had to qualify for the Olympics?

I think I’ve come across another parlor (or, perhaps I should spell it “parlour”) game. Have at it, folks!

UNRELATED NOTE: Tuesday not only places the Sharks in Nashville for an important road game against the Predators. It also marks the anniversary of the loss of Katie Moore, wife of former Sharks center Dominic Moore. Take a moment to remember those who have left us, and see what Dominic is doing to remember his wife by going to www.katiemoore.org.

See you on the radio! I’m Dan Rusanowsky, for sjsharks.com.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 01.04.2014 / 9:00 AM
By Frank Albin - Director of Broadcasting / Great White Bites

Why do kids around the world bundle up and head out to the frozen pond to play with their friends?

Love of the game.

Why do NHL players work so hard on and off the ice?

Love of the game.

Why do ex-NHL players show up for fantasy camps and alumni games?

Love of the game

Why do team equipment men work late hours and early mornings getting hockey gear from city to city?

Love of the game.

Why do kids prepare special signs and arrive at SAP Center an hour before the game to press their nose to the glass during warm-ups?

Love of the game.

Why do over 105,000 people brave the cold and wind to see a game played in a snow shower?

Love of the game.

Why do broadcasters study the media guides and spend hours and hours at the rink on off-days?

Love of the game.

Why do fans wait outside after the game for an autograph?

Love of the game.

Why do players spend most of their summer working out and preparing for an upcoming season?

Love of the game.

Why do kids beg their parents for an official NHL jersey or sweat shirt?

Love of the game.

Why do journalists spend countless hours in airports and hotels?

Love of the game.

Why are DVRs set to record the TV telecasts?

Love of the game.

Why ushers and game day staffs give up their evenings?

Love of the game.

Why do parents spend considerable amounts of money, and wake up before the dawn to take their sons and daughters to practice?

Love of the game?

Why do fans wear their lucky jerseys on game day?

Love of the game.

Why will the Sharks spend over 150 hours in airplanes this season?

Love of the game.

Why do coaches spend so much time reviewing game tapes and coming up with new and better schemes in an effort to win?

Love of the game.

Why do players hug each other after a goal?

Love of the game.

Why do TV crews arrive at the arena 6 hours before the opening faceoff?

Love of the game.

Why fans around the world visit NHL.com and SJSharks.com?

Love of the game.

Why do Randy and Drew spend so much time to look good on the TV broadcasts?

Love of the game.

Why did Dan Rusanowsky get elected into the Bay Area Radio Hall-of-fame?

Love of the game.

Why do mothers and fathers buy new equipment for their kids each year as they grow?

Love of the game.

Why do players play through pain?

Love of the game.

Why do the players fist bump or high five fans as they enter and exit the ice?

Love of the game.

Why do scouts spend so much time on the road looking for the next generation of Sharks players?

Love of the game.

Why do the trainers attend to the ice bags and take such good care of the players?

Love of the game.

Why does Logan Couture risk some pain to block a shot?

Love of the game.

Why am I writing this article?

Love of the game.

Why do fans buy a new big-screen TV?

Love of the game.

Why do parents let their children stay up just 10 more minutes?

Love of the game.

Why are game days circled on the calendar?

Love of the game.

Why do players give back to the community, by visiting a hospital or spending time at an on-ice clinic?

Love of the game.

Why do players stay late to answer just one more question after a hard-fought game?

Love of the game.

Why do the victorious Sharks skate to the center face-off circle and raise their sticks to salute the fans?

Love of the game.

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POSTED ON Friday, 01.03.2014 / 1:34 PM
By Drew Remenda - Sharks TV, Color Commentator / Great White Bites

Over the last few years there has been a growing murmur regarding the novelty of the NHL's Winter Classic. The "Oh it's been done" crowd has had its share of the New Years Event.

Many times they argue that the game doesn't Live up to the hype.

I ask you, what does live up to any hype nowadays?

The Super Bowl? Nope

Big UFC fights, rarely

Stanley Cup Finals, sometimes.

The Winter Classic is less about the hype and the spectacle and more about the one glowingly wonderful aspect of the game.

It's played outside in the cold.

That's where we all grew up. Well most of who lived in the colder climates.

As you all know I grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Cold, Flat, wonderful and oh yeah did I mention COLD?

But that cold had its advantages mainly outdoor rinks. We had a small rink in our backyard and four outdoor school rinks within walking distance.

I would get to the rink, sit on the snowbank and strap on the blades.

Sometimes other kids would be there, sometimes I was by myself.

On nights my team wasn't playing I was at any one of those rinks, in the cold, in the dark playing out my hockey fantasy. I was always Bobby Orr scoring the winning goal to win the Cup.

I would play until I shot the puck over the boards and couldn't find it in the snowbank or until "the streetlights came on" as my Grandmother would say or until my Mom or Dad would drive over to the school and tell me to "Get Home!"

They wouldn't wait for me either. So back on the snowbank, out of the skates, slide my freezing feet into a frozen solid pair of boots, sling the skates over my stick, stick over my shoulder and head home, smiling all the way.

The "ODR" (as my boys call it) is where I fell in love. . It's where you just PLAYED hockey. No structure, no coaches, no drills, just a raw naive innocent unabashed love for the game.

So when I ignore or strip away all the hype, the spectacle, the fans, the TV, the names, the everything of the Winter Classic, I am left with the game I love played in its simplest and most wonderful form.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.01.2014 / 12:00 PM
By Randy Hahn - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

For a long time there was only one hockey tradition in my family. Whenever the deciding game of the Stanley Cup Final was played, I insisted that my two sons watch the postgame handshake and the ensuing victory laps with the Cup by each victorious player. I don’t know what it is about that sequence of events but it brings me close to tears every year. It doesn’t matter which team wins or who’s on the team. I guess because I work in the business I know the sacrifice and dedication it takes to make it to the NHL and then the sacrificed and dedication it takes all over again to win a cup. It moves me, every single year, and I want to share that with my children.

Well now we have a second hockey tradition. Whenever possible, and this year it’s possible, we will watch the Winter Classic game together. My partner, the great Drew Remenda, summed it up best on our broadcast New Years Eve. The annual outdoor game on New Years Day captures the very essence of the game of hockey. Yes it’s an NHL regular season game, but the Winter Classic transcends the NHL. It’s about the sport, the roots of the sport, and the way it’s played when you’re a little tyke growing up on the Canadian prairie or on a Minnesota farm.

So on this New Years Day and everyone going forward I will be in front of a television with my sons or watching in a hotel room on the road and calling my sons to share our common experience with the Winter Classic. There’s no denying that the NHL hit a marketing home run with the outdoor game, but for many of us it means much more than TV ratings and selling tickets and apparel. The Winter Classic takes us back to why we fell in love with hockey in the first place.

Happy New Year!

I’m Randy Hahn for sjsharks.com

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 3:39 PM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites
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POSTED ON Monday, 12.30.2013 / 1:00 PM
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

What a long, strange trip it’s been, and what a great story for San Jose Sharks center Bracken Kearns.

On Sunday, December 29, 2013, Kearns scored his first NHL goal and first NHL point after swooping into the slot on a timely shift change. Andrew Desjardins and Tyler Kennedy had developed a 2-on-1 opportunity that was thwarted at first by defenseman Hampus Lindholm. But Desjardins persevered, and got the puck back behind the net, slipped a pass through Nick Bonino to the front of the net.

Kearns was there, and he banged it past Frederik Andersen for the moment that was celebrated by former Sharks captain Owen Nolan on Twitter with this aptly stated message:

The trip to this moment that every young man dreams of has been long and arduous for Kearns. Even though some of it has been in an airplane, much of it has also been rolling on the highways of North America, traveling from city to city, chasing that very dream. Let’s take a seemingly simple trip along the criss-cross path that brought Kearns to this moment:

  • The journey begins at the University of Calgary, where Kearns played for the Dinos for four years.
  • Undrafted, Kearns begins his pro odyssey with the ECHL’s Toledo Storm at the Toledo Sports Arena in 2005, a legendary building that inspired the progressive rock band Yes to write “Our Song,” after a concert that saw the in-arena temperature rise to 126 degrees Fahrenheit. Listen here. Distance traveled: 1,847 miles.
  • At the end of the 2005-06 season, Kearns had his first contact with the Sharks organization, playing in 1 game for Roy Sommer and the Cleveland Barons, a 180 mile trip from Toledo.
  • From there, the next stop was Milwaukee, playing for the AHL’s Admirals. Distance traveled: 435 miles.
  • After one season in Milwaukee, Kearns split the next campaign going back and forth from Norfolk, VA to Reading, PA, and then, back to Norfolk. Distance traveled: 600 miles.
  • From there, it was on to Rockford, IL, and the AHL’s Rockford Ice Hogs. Distance traveled: 971 miles.
  • Next, Kearns hooked up with the Florida Panthers organization in 2010-11. His next move was from Rockford to San Antonio, TX. Distance traveled: 1193 miles.
  • At the age of 30, after one full season in San Antonio, his first NHL dream came true, when he skated in 5 games with the Panthers after a recall from the AHL. Distance traveled from San Antonio to Sunrise, FL: 1356 miles. Back to San Antonio: another 1356 miles.
  • But after that season, Kearns was a free agent. He signed with San Jose, the organization that gave him his first AHL opportunity. But this time, the destination was Worcester, MA, 2000 miles from San Antonio.
  • After scoring 21 goals in Worcester and some solid reports filed out West, Kearns received an NHL call again. He flew to San Jose to play in 1 regular season game. We’ll credit him with driving miles: 3093 more on the odometer.
  • With the Sharks dealing with some injuries and needing certain roles filled, Kearns played in all 7 games of the taxing series against the Los Angeles Kings, further gaining the trust of the coaching staff. He now has more games played in Stanley Cup playoff competition than in the regular season, and still has 0 points.
  • It’s back to Worcester for the 2013-14 NHL season after a good training camp in California. Distance traveled: 3093 miles.
  • In mid-October, Kearns is recalled to Dallas, where the Sharks are playing the Stars. He plays 10:10, and is featured on a line with Andrew Desjardins and James Sheppard. Distance traveled: 1733 miles. Back to Worcester: another 1733 miles.
  • While Kearns was scoring 5-13-18 in 27 games for Worcester this season, injuries were mounting in San Jose. Raffi Torres and Adam Burish weren’t ready, Martin Havlat got banged up, and Tomas Hertl went down with a knee injury. The phone rang again in Worcester Sharks coach Roy Sommer’s office. The call is for Kearns. Distance traveled: 3093 miles.
  • That fast-forwards us to the present. Kearns played in his 8th career regular season game in the NHL, and his 3rd for the Sharks. The moment arrives. He scores his first NHL goal, and is one of the stars of the game in a huge win against the top-rated Anaheim Ducks.

Kearns scored his first goal at the tender age of 32 years, 231 days, making him the oldest Shark to score his first NHL goal in a San Jose uniform. The old record holder was Jay Leach, who scored his first and only NHL goal at the age of 30 years, 190 days.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot: the total distance traveled between cities, not including road trips, was 22,683 hard miles for Bracken Kearns, a still-young 32-year-old who is usually first on the ice and last off. There are still many miles to go for him, but let’s savor the moment after all of the years of hard work, perseverance, and dedication. It’s a great story.

I’m Dan Rusanowsky, for sjsharks.com.

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SCHEDULE

HOME
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PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 23 14 4 5 63 56 33
2 NSH 22 15 5 2 62 45 32
3 VAN 22 15 6 1 67 61 31
4 STL 22 14 6 2 59 46 30
5 CGY 24 14 8 2 75 64 30
6 LAK 23 12 6 5 64 53 29
7 CHI 22 13 8 1 66 46 27
8 WPG 24 12 9 3 51 54 27
9 MIN 21 12 9 0 58 48 24
10 SJS 24 10 10 4 62 66 24
11 DAL 22 9 9 4 64 74 22
12 ARI 23 9 11 3 57 71 21
13 COL 23 8 10 5 59 73 21
14 EDM 23 6 14 3 51 78 15

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Thornton 24 7 13 1 20
J. Pavelski 24 9 10 3 19
L. Couture 24 8 11 -1 19
B. Burns 24 7 12 -7 19
P. Marleau 24 6 12 -5 18
T. Wingels 24 6 5 -3 11
T. Hertl 24 4 6 -1 10
M. Nieto 23 1 6 -1 7
J. Braun 24 0 7 8 7
M. Vlasic 24 2 4 10 6
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Stalock 2 2 1 .925 2.38
A. Niemi 7 7 3 .917 2.49
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