Monday Mailbag - The Daily Chomp Debut
You may not have asked for it, but you're getting it anyway. Here is The Daily Chomp's debut of the Monday Mailbag. If you have questions, tweet @SanJoseSharks using #AskSJS, sends us a question on Facebook, or email us on the Tip Line. This week we look at some of the basics of hockey and answer some of your lingering questions.
Q: How many days a week do you practice on the ice and how many hours a week?
- Melody L.
TDC: On average the NHL regular season runs about six months from the beginning of October to the beginning of April, roughly 26 weeks to fit in 82 games. That means the Sharks play three, sometimes four times per week.
Non-game days are made up of a combination of practice, strength training, conditioning, travel, rest and recovery. Those days usually consist of a 60-90 minute on-ice session and other activities designed to prepare the team for its next opponent. Game days differ slightly to include a morning skate, then the pregame warm-up 30 minutes before puck drop.
In season, it's a seven-day per week job for both the players and hockey staff with very few breaks in the calendar. And when you add it all up, the players spend well upwards of six hours a week on the ice in non-game situations.
Q: How are line changes communicated? What if a player on that line is injured, how does someone step in?
- Alex C.
TDC: Line changes are communicated by the coaches directly to the players. Each game day, Head Coach Todd McLellan and his staff determine their 20-man roster (18 skaters, two goaltenders) and select a starting lineup. They turnover that information to the off-ice NHL officials before the game.
Once the game begins, the coaches are active in telling players on the bench who is taking the next shift. The forwards work in units of three (left wing, center, right wing) and the defense works in pairs. Changes that happen "on the fly" or during the course of play occur when one player comes to the bench and another player goes out in his place.
An example would be if Joe Thornton's line starts the game and Logan Couture's line is told they are out next, Couture does not go onto the ice until Thornton comes off the ice. They replace each other on a one-to-one basis, picking up responsibilities in the defensive zone as soon as they change. So when you see five players coming off the ice and five more going on, there is actually a method to the madness and each player knows exactly what to do.
When players are injured, or when lines are juggled, or when penalties prevent players that usually skate together from doing so, the coaches revise their lines in real-time and continue to communicate what those changes will be. As was the case when Brad Winchester was off the ice this weekend for a pair of fighting majors, players from different lines filled in.
Q: No disrespect to Antti Niemi, but what happened to Evgeni Nabokov?
- Stuart S.
TDC: Last season, former Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings, but was subject to NHL waivers and was subsequently claimed by the New York Islanders. He began that one-year deal this season.
The Sharks and Islanders were scheduled to play in Long Island on Oct. 29, 2011 (an eventual 3-2 overtime win by San Jose on Brent Burns' game-winning power play goal) and all indications were that Nabokov was to make his first start against the team that drafted him. However Nabokov suffered an injury as overtime expired in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 27, forcing him to miss the lone game scheduled between the two teams this season.
This past Saturday night, Nabokov defeated the Buffalo Sabres becoming just the 26th goaltender in NHL history to record 300 career victories.
Q: Is Mike Ricci still working for the Sharks organization? We miss him on the ice!
- Rosemary R.
TDC: 'Reech' is currently a Development Coach for the Sharks organization assisting the San Jose and Worcester coaching staffs with player development. He also makes cameo appearances from time-to-time, like the one above from the December 2011 Brocade "Sharks Player of the Month" presentation to center Logan Couture.
Q: What is the right pronunciation for Benn Ferriero's last name?
- Evert W.
TDC: We're impressed that you spelled his first name correctly! He has the most frequently misspelled first name on the team, with Ryane Clowe checking in at a close second.
Benn's last name is pronounced FEHR-ee-oh.
Q: Is Jason Demers related to the legendary former Montreal Canadiens head coach Jacques Demers? I remember him to be a very sharp and classy coach.
TDC: Sharks defenseman Jason Demers is not related to the legendary coach and current Canadian Senator, though Jacques does have a son with the same name.
The Honourable Jacques Demers has had an unparalleled career as a WHA and NHL coach, a French-language hockey broadcaster and now as a government official appointed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He is the only person to win the Jack Adams Award (presented annually to the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success) in consecutive seasons in 1987 and 1988 with the Detroit Red Wings. He led the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup in 1992-93, the most recent of their NHL-leading 24 Stanley Cup Championships.
But perhaps the most impressive of all, he revealed in a 2005 biography that he is functionally illiterate. Truly a remarkable story.