Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sharks Lose Opener 3-2 to Nashville

I was pretty surprised, Nashville has got some jump in 'em. The Kariya-Erat-Legwand thing was going pretty good. Turns out DirecTV doesn't have Fox Sports as part of the package, so I frantically ran around trying to figure out if I should get Center Ice, or just the Sports package, and then if I can even get the Sharks games without the Sports package if I have Center Ice, blah blah blah. So I didn't get to TiVo the game until the second period. I formed my own opinion during the game, but this article in the Mercury sums it up pretty well.

  • The power play sucked (0 for 6). They have some of the fastest players in the NHL, and the Sharks were doing the ol' dump-and-chase for many of their power plays. I have no idea why.
  • They didn't tighten up too well in the third. They had a 2-1 lead, and ended up losing. Bad times.
Hard to see the Sharks lose like that on the first game of the season. Next two games are at Chicago and at St. Louis, and I hope the Sharks come back for the home opener 2-1. Both of those teams are very beatable- neither should make the playoffs.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Pumped? Hell Yes!

Today's games:

Montreal at Boston
NY Islanders at Buffalo
NY Rangers at Philadelphia
Columbus at Washington
Atlanta at Florida
St. Louis at Detroit
Pittsburgh at New Jersey
Carolina at Tampa Bay
Ottawa at Toronto
San Jose at Nashville
Anaheim at Chicago
Los Angeles at Dallas
Calgary at Minnesota
Colorado at Edmonton
Phoenix at Vancouver

I'm pumped for the season. I've read the previews in Hockey News, on, and in ESPN the Magazine (which I'll vent about later), I've drafted my fantasy team, I've pored over the Sharks website for news and information. Maybe this will be the least-watched, least-cared-about, and most-ridiculed hockey season ever. But I don't care. I'm a hockey fan, dammit, and I'm going to feed my puck habit any way I can.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Hockey Night - NHL Index: "ESPNEWS is your one-stop location for NHL coverage this season, starting Thursday with Hockey Night. Get in-progress and postgame highlights along with Mr. Mullet himself, Barry Melrose."
NHL Tonight may be gone, and ESPN may not be televising games any more, but perhaps this is a palatable substitute.

Fantasy Fantastic

I love fantasy hockey. It's a great excuse to follow a whole bunch of players you've either know only peripherally, or never heard of at all. In my case, I've been following the NHL long enough to recognize most names, but every now and again I'm surprised by a good performer I've never heard of. Either way, you (well, I) end up spending way too much time debating the relative worth of Daniel Sedin vs. Craig Conroy vs. John Madden. Great time sink! We had our fantasy draft last night at my place, and here's my draft in order:

  1. Marcus Naslund
  2. Tomas Vokoun
  3. Pavel Datsyuk
  4. Rick Nash
  5. John Grahame
  6. Martin Havlat
  7. Wade Redden
  8. Mike Modano
  9. Richard Zednik
  10. Mathieu Schneider
  11. Matt Barnaby
  12. Gary Roberts
  13. Mattias Ohlund
  14. Adam Foote
  15. Chris Simon
  16. Jay Bouwmeester
An ok draft, I guess. I'm happy with getting Modano and Foote when I did. Today I dropped Chris Simon and picked up Ty Conklin, because I needed another goalie. So now I have vested interest in a number of teams I would normally ignore- Montreal, Florida, Columbus, and Tampa Bay. And I drafted no Sharks! Marco Sturm is available on waivers though, might be a good pickup...

Friday, August 12, 2005

The lull before the... um... bigger lull

Not much going on in the NHL the past few days. A couple of big signings- Eric Lindros to the Leafs and Joe Thornton resigned with the Bruins for 3 years. The Sharks? The only news in the past week really is that they resigned Tom Preissing and Wayne Primeau for two years each. Not exactly a blockbuster. I'd bet 90% or more of hardcore hockey fans couldn't identify either player if they ran into them on the street, and they were wearing shirts that said "Hi, My Name is Tom Preissing/Wayne Primeau".

So what do we do now? Wait for training camp I guess.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sharks Preseason Schedule Released

  1. 9/18 - Los Angeles at San Jose, 5 p.m.
  2. 9/21 - San Jose at Anaheim, 7:30 p.m.
  3. 9/23 - San Jose at Vancouver, 7 p.m.
  4. 9/25 - Anaheim at San Jose, 5 p.m.
  5. 9/27 - San Jose at Los Angeles, 7:30 p.m.
  6. 9/28 - San Jose at Phoenix, 7 p.m.
  7. 9/30 - Phoenix at San Jose, 7:30 p.m.

All times PDT. That's 40 days, 1 hour, 20 minutes and counting...

Friday, August 05, 2005

Yes, I am that desperate

I'm so desperate for Sharks and NHL news that I've taken to combing ESPN and Hockey News articles looking for any mention of the Sharks. Please tell me Doug Wilson is actually trying to earn his paycheck! Latest news? Paul Kariya is talking to the Oilers, but the Sharks are talking to him too. The article says Kariya is in touch with the Kings as well. I think the Oilers and Kings should be disqualified because they've already signed so many free agents. If that makes me sound like I'm bitter, it's because I am.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Let's talk about a certain player, call him Player N. Player N is a big time NHL player, with several Stanley Cup wins. He is being courted by many teams around the NHL, including his current team. The Sharks, having made no moves at all in free agency, are in the sweepstakes. However, the Sharks, for no reason I can fathom, have apparently not pursued any other free agents in the market. The Sharks watch them being picked up one by one. Holik, Amonte, McCarty, Gonchar, Hatcher, Rathje. The Sharks still wait. Aucoin, Demitra, Leetch, Modano are gone. The Sharks don't make a peep. They want Player N. The problem? Player N wants to play with his friggin brother. This is not exactly breaking news. It was a big story two years ago when the Devils met the Ducks in the Stanley Cup finals.

Now the Sharks really look foolish. At the beginning of this free agent flurry (not Fleury), the Sharks didn't do squat, and then they run after a player they have virtually no chance of signing, missing out on a truckload of good players that have been traded or signed by other teams in the West. Now the Ducks are better.Calgary got Darren McCarty and Tony Amonte. The Oilers got Chris Pronger and Michael Peca. Dallas resigned Mike Modano. Vancouver got Markus Naslund back. The Kings signed Pavol Demitra, and now Jeremy Roenick is there too. The Sharks? All they've done is manage to lose one of their big 4 defensemen, Mike Rathje. I guess it could be worse. He could have gotten picked up by the Coyotes.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Later, Rat

Well, the first news involving a Sharks player appeared, and it ain't good. There's a lot of news out there. On the defensement front, it's gotten a bit thinner. Adam Foote, Adrian Aucoin, Sandis Ozolinsh are all off the market. D men left? Neidermeyer and Gonchar are the only two I can name off the top of my head, unless we want to give Marcus Ragnarsson another spin (no thanks). The Sharks better get moving. Demitra just went. Naslund and Forsberg are still out there. Will they sit on what they have, or watch the Kings and Anaheim get better?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Still waiting for the floodgates to open

I wonder what the teams are waiting for. So far, only the Flyers and Wings have released players. LeClair and Amonte from the Flyers, Derian Hatcher, Darren McCarty, and Ray Whitney from the Wings. What, no Bobby Holik? No Owen Nolan? The deadline is Saturday...

Friday, July 22, 2005

Let the free agent frenzy begin

Well, another good column by King Kaufman about hockey. He mentions lower ticket prices, and I'm all for that. However, I feel like I'm on the other end of the spectrum. I'll pay the same price, or maybe even a bit more to see pro hockey again. I sure hope the Sharks season ticket base is smaller this year- get out fair-weather fans! The Sharks could be real contenders this year, and they are in good salary cap position.

However, they need to sign their free agents. Rathje, Marleau, Stuart, and Sturm are restricted free agents, and need to be signed. Ricci and Damphousse are already gone. Maybe the Sharks will be in the running for a big free agent forward. Rumors have already begun about Owen Nolan to return to SJ, where he still lives. I say sign 'em, but not for anything close to what he was making in Toronto. His back is too rickety for the Sharks to lean on him hard. Holik is probably the biggest name available, and the Sharks could use a center. Glen Murray is available, but I think he'll sign again with the B's, or go back to the Kings. Pavol Demitra would be a great pickup too. The real crown jewel would be Markus Naslund from Vancouver.

Team by team breakdown on ESPN here.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Deal is almost done

Well, the NHL deal is almost done, and not too many people care. I suppose I'll have to take back my last post, in which I opined that the players realize that the owners really are losing money, and decided to give even more. After reading King's column, I have to agree with King. The players did a full and total capitulation. They reduced their salaries, they agreed to a hard cap, something they said they never would, and the owners got more favorable arbitration rules.

I, for one, am excited. Am I happy that the owners managed to win a long labor strike yet again (NFL in late 80's comes to mind)? Not particularly. But I can't say that a $36M salary cap affects my life any differently than a $49M salary cap. I just want to watch hockey. And being in Sharks territory, there ain't a whole lot of alternatives to the Sharks pro-hockey-wise.

I just can't seem to scare up any righteous indignation about this thing. I don't view pro hockey as a right, a right that was carelessly and ruthlessly taken away by rich white men looking to gain more money from other rich (mostly white) men. I view it as a great sport to watch and play, and I'll watch it and play it whenever I can. It's not a public utility. I can appreciate that some (ok, lots) of tax dollars were spent to keeps teams around, in the form of new arenas and tax breaks. And maybe that's where the indignation should be coming from, if it exists. Let's make that a lesson. The NHL wants to run their business with leadpipe cruelty and mercenary sensibility; we should guard our tax dollars with the same attitude. No more arena subsidies. No more tax breaks. If my beloved Sharks move to Ames or Boise or Minneapolis because San Jose won't cough up some millions, I'll get over it. I'll still watch the games on TV. Or not. As Jerry Seinfeld said, when you're rooting for the home team you're essentially rooting for laundry.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Who's the man?

Not to brag or anything, but it looks like my way of handling the new economic landscape of the NHL has gained a little traction. A per-team cap in the $22M to $36M range. This tells me two things. One, the players really want to get a deal done. Two, the accounting discussions they've have recently have opened their eyes a little bit. If you remember, the discussions in February stalled after the owners offered $42.5M, and the players would only go down to $49M. What's changed? Maybe the players are starting to realize that the very future of the league is in jeopardy, and the new numbers released by the owners confirm the Leavitt report as more than a PR document. There's still a ways to go- more negotiations on arbitration and free agency, perhaps the players decided to go further on the cap in order to get more in those areas.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

In the Top 4? In my dreams

There's a story that the "Big 4" commissioners (Tagliabue, Stern, Selig, and Bettman) are meeting Congress to discuss steroids. Considering pre-lockout hockey ratings in the US were south of NASCAR, arena football, and bowling, this makes me further question our federal leadership. Although I'm not sure taking the "cream" and the "clear" could really spruce up the crotch chop.

Monday, May 09, 2005

No News is Bad News

Latest news from the NHL talks? Nothing is happening. Glad to see the owners and players are committed to getting a deal done. If anyone needs me, I'll be watching curling on "The Ocho".

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

My Top 5 Rule Changes

Ok, I'm too lazy to come up with 10 rule changes or improvements, so I figure 5 (ok, 6) should be enough. Here they are:

1. Actually enforce obstruction. Maybe the obstruction rules need tweaking, maybe they don't. What they definitely need is the refs to enforce them as they are written. If someone is skating after a loose puck and a defensemen changes his skating line to make contact with that person, it's obstruction. I don't care if they fall down or not. We need to stop the clutch-and-grab style away from the puck. If the refs won't enforce it, get new refs. I'm really fed up with this stuff.

2. Smaller goalie equipment. Buccigross wants bigger nets, and I want control over the equipment. Very strict guidelines on everything a goalie wears: leg pads, blocker, catch glove, chest protector, jersey, helmet, everything. If that means very tall or big goalies can't fit into the equipment, too bad. Small guys don't have a reasonable shot of making it in the NBA or NHL, what's the difference? And don't tell me bigger pads mean more safety. Patrick Roy wearing a 58 jersey don't help squat in terms of safety, but it does stop pucks from going under his arms.

3. Eliminate red line offsides (two line passes). This change makes the Olympic game more interesting, and the European game faster. Let the fast guys skate.

4. Move the net back to where it was pre-Gretzky. He was a master behind the net, and I think this is at least partially why they moved it out. Well, time to move it back. More room in front = more goals scored.

5. Reinstate touch-up offsides. I'm not sure why the league ever agreed to a rule that would increase the number of stoppages of play.

6. Goalies can play the puck wherever they want, but if they're out of the crease, you can hit them like any other player. I want to see Brodeur's skill at clearing the zone, or Lalime's lack of it. But having an invisible force field around you when you're wearing 3X the amount of pads as everyone else makes no sense.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Rule Changes

Ok, so I'm grasping at straws, but there's been a spate of recent coverage in Hockey News (the best sports publication out there) and John Buccigross's column on about "sprucing up the game". Here's Mr. Buccigross' list (without all the commentary):
1. Bigger nets
2. No skater interference
3. Penalty deterrents (like serving the entire two, disqualification for too many penalties)
4. Adopt all AHL rule changes this season (wide blue lines, tag up offside, crease behind the net, net closer to the boards)
5. Paint helmets interesting colors and designs
6. Mandatory ref and player microphones
7. No music before faceoffs
8. Take out the red line
9. Play-in games for the playoffs

The tenth suggestion was more of a joke than anything, so I didn't include it. Numbers 5, 6, and 7 don't really have anything to do with the game itself, so I can't say I really care. People don't go to football games to watch the halftime show, unless you're planning on booing Ashlee Simpson. Fixing what happens when play isn't going on is a distant second to fixing the game on the ice. Exhibit A: the XFL. You can have clever nicknames on the back of your jersey ("He Hate Me"), Matrix-like camera tricks, and the hottest women in the world as cheerleaders, but having a second-rate sport will kill you. And in the past 5-10 years, hockey has been a second rate sport.

I'll post my suggested rule changes in the next few days.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Bring on the scabs. I'm not real sure of all the pitfalls of fielding (icing?) replacement players, but I say let's go. I'm a hockey fan, first and foremost. I want to see top-level play. If the only people that will provide it are minor league, college, and international players, then I say "where's the season ticket form?" I'm not willing to pay the same prices, but I'll pay more than I'm paying now (i.e. nothing).

Friday, April 29, 2005

Lockout 2

Ok, so now I've decimated the owner's position and said the players need to yield to keep the sport healthy, what the heck is supposed to happen? It involves the dreaded s-word: "Salary Cap". If you give the owners everything they want, you end up with the NFL but far less rich and popular. Owners make lots of money every year, players have absolutely zero job security, and only the best players make anything even remotely approaching what the owners are making.

So what kind of salary cap are we talking about? I would advocate a soft salary cap, which means that each team can only spend a certain amount on player salaries, with some exceptions. The NBA has a soft cap, and some of their exceptions make a lot of sense. For instance, teams can go over the cap if they resign their own free agents. I would also advocate another feature of the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), having maximum and minimum salaries that are indexed by the number of years in the league. Bonuses (signing and otherwise) would be prorated over the life of the contract, as the NFL does.

So what about linkage? Well, you would use revenue and expense history to set the inital salary cap, but the cap each year would not be hard linked to expenses- perhaps it could go up by a certain percentage each year unless revenues dropped or something like that. I'm sure this will be a sticky negotiation point, but if there is no definite linkage (hard and fast relationship between league revenues and player payroll) I think the players will deal.

So why no linkage? For one, it's too easy to hide revenue. When teams are owned by companies that broadcast games or otherwise provide team revenue, through accounting tricks you can make the team (or parent company) almost as rich or as poor as you want. Cablevision has the exclusive local contract the Rangers, and they own the Rangers. Cablevision could pay the Rangers far under market rate for the TV rights, making the Rangers look very troubled financially. Then Cablevision is doing great because they just paid a buck and a half for the TV rights and got millions in advertising revenue that never shows up in the Rangers' books. I'm sure there are millions of variations on this scheme. The Flyers are owned by Comcast, the biggest cable provider in the country. The Ducks are owned by Disney, who owns ABC and ESPN. Up till now, the owners have not provided all the financial information the players' union has requested. Hmm, I wonder why that is?

Are players going to make the same salaries under the new system as they did? No, but they don't expect to anyway- otherwise they would not have proposed a 24% pay cut right off the bat. But with some tweaking of the structure, free agent rules, and salary arbitration, they won't be struggling to put food on the table (unlike Latrell Sprewell).

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Almost a year- couldn't stay away

Well, I couldn't stay away, haha. It's been almost a year since I've last posted, and a lot has happened in the hockey world in that time. Some of it surprising, most of it not. My Sharks lost in the playoffs to Calgary, who ended up losing to Tampa Bay in the finals. Vincent Damphousse, Mike Ricci, and Todd Harvey are gone to other teams. There have been no NHL games this season, so I can't say I've been too derelict in my duties. Ok, ok, I've been derelict.

Might as well take this opportunity to weight in on the lockout, it seems like everyone else has. I'm going to be in the minority and take the players' side, at least partially. Players only spend 3-4 years in the league on average, and they are the ones putting their bodies in harm's way. If anybody should make a disproportionate amount of money, it should be the players. That being said, it's not the same as agreeing that the system prior to the lockout was working. There do need to be changes made in the financial structure of the league in order for hockey to survive.

For one, there needs to be heavy revenue sharing. Football has it, and it works. Football also has a gigantic TV contact where the NHL does not, but I have confidence that the NHL business minds can come up with something that will level the playing field a bit. To have one team financially able to spend 3, 4, 5 times as much money as other teams is a problem. It ends up producing exactly what we have- some teams spending so much on free agents that the othet teams have to overspend to compete at all.

But, having a hard connection between revenues and payroll is the same as saying they want a mandated profit margin. Sorry folks, that's not how a business works in a free market. You do well, market well, sell well, put out a good product and manage expenses, you make money. You don't do well, you have runaway expenses, you lose money. Pay Bobby Holik $100 million dollars (or whatever it was). Sorry, you lose money. Have fun dumping that contract.

More later.