My Two Cents for September 24th…
So The NHL is Locked Out, Now What?- The moments that every hockey fan dreaded for the entire summer have sadly come to pass as the NHL has been in a full lock down for over a week with no signs of it ending in the immediate or even near future. Conceivably we could be at the dawn of the darkest moments in the history of the NHL, may even darker than the lost season of 2004-05. This is not an exaggeration either. Nobody at this point really know for sure what’s going to happen next. Many players, including the Sharks Joe Thornton and Logan Couture have already gone to Europe. Superstars Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin have gone to the KHL and are seriously considering committing there for the entire season baring a quick settlement to the lockout which as of now seems highly unlikely.
Detroit Red Wings’ Danny Cleary in an interview with TSN feels the lockout could easily extend throughout the season as it did eight years ago.* Though I hope and pray he’s wrong (and I’m certain he hopes he’s wrong too), he does make a solid point. The loss of the 2012-13 season is not only not far fetched, but could be the reality if the lockout stretches well into December. Keep in mind Commissioner Gary Bettman has presided over the loss of one season, and has no problem erasing another season to force the players too see things his way in the respect that it’s his way (and the Owners way) or no way at all. No games at all. No league at all. Sorry season ticket holders. Sorry fans.
Donald Fehr is equally guilty here to as he allowed the negotiations to get long, drawn out and dragged out into the mud. He has a cancelled World Series on his resume, so if you think he gives two hoots about the fans please think again (same goes for Commissioner Bettman and a number of the Owners). So what are we the fans to do here? Well, since it is apparent that the NHL will be on hiatus until further notice it’s time for us fans to get creative. There are plenty of alternatives to the NHL, and many of those alternatives though maybe not NHL calibur are certainly viable and even more affordable options. What I want to do is give you the fans here in California (and nationally too) a short list of alternatives that will at least be a distraction from the NHL lockout and could turn into something that’s more of an affordable option…
A List of Alternatives - 1) If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Francisco Bulls (who will be the Sharks ECHL affiliate) open their inaugural season at the Cow Palace on October 12th when the Bulls take on the Bakersfield Condors. The Bulls are the ECHL’s first venture into the Bay Area, and the first minor league hockey team in to call the Bay Area home since 1995-96 when the late San Francisco Spiders played their one and only season. The Bulls ticket prices range from $14.25 to $41 dollars for the most expensive seats, about the same cost as a decent ticket to see the San Francisco Giants or Oakland A’s baseball teams. Where $41 gets you standing room at the nose bleed rafters of the Shark Tank, you get an up close seat where the action will be plenty and worth it. I have no idea what concession prices are. however for more information go to www.sfbulls.com or call the ticket office at (415) 469-9843. You can also e-mail the Bulls at [email protected]. The way I look at it, you can get a family of four in the building for the same price as if you went to a baseball game. Give it a try, with the lockout I have an idea the Bulls will be a hot ticket in the Bay Area soon enough. Maybe if the lockout lingers well info November one idea would be for the Bulls (with the Sharks blessing) play one game at the Shark Tank. It would either sell out or come close.
2) If you live in the Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto area, the Stockton Thunder is your alternative to Sharks hockey. The Thunder are also an ECHL team and will be a rival of the Bulls which should be a lot of fun. They also open October 12th against the Ontario Reign at the Stockton Arena located at 248 W Fremont Street. For ticket prices and other information you can reach the Thunder’s offices at (209) 373-1500. Having spent a year in Stockton many moons ago, I can say the arena is an impressive addition to this city. The ECHL located the franchise to Stockton in 2004, moving it from Atlantic City, New Jersey. Again, this is good entertainment and a good night out if you live in the Northern Central Valley. The Thunder is the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. For more information please visit their website at www.stocktonthunder.com.
3) If you live in the South Central Valley areas of Fresno and Bakersfield, the Bakersfield Condors are your alternative. The Condors play their home games at Bakerfield’s Rabobank Arena which is a 10,000-seat multi-purpose arena located at 1001 Truxtun Avenue. The Condors have several tickets price and package options, including “Tickets and Grub” which means you can have dinner at the arena (providing you enjoy hot dogs, soda and/or beer). Price Rangers are $11 to $43. For more information please call the Condors at (661) 324-PUCK (7825). They open their season in San Francisco versus the Bulls October 12th before coming home to face the Las Vegas Wranglers on Sunday, October 14th. The Condors are the longest running minor league hockey team in California, having started out in 1995. Please visit their website at www.bakersfieldcondors.com.
4) If you are in the Southern California area the Ontario Reign is your alternative to the Kings, and they also happen to be the Current Stanley Cup Champions ECHL affiliate. They open their home schedule Saturday October 13th against the Stockton Thunder. Ticket prices range from $10 to $50 dollars. For more information on the Reign please call their offices at (909)941-PUCK (7825). All other places which host ECHL or AHL teams, please go to the league’s website and look up the team closest to your market. Give them a call, see what tickets are going for. Please visit their website at www.ontarioreign.com.
The idea here is that if the minor league hockey arenas can fill up and sell out on occasion, it will show great support for those clubs and players and it will show Mr Bettman and Mr Fehr that the fans are united in solidarity despite what else is going on.
5) NCAA College Hockey is another alternative. Many NHL players have played collegiate hockey including the Sharks’ Joe Pavelski (Wisconsin) and Dan Boyle (Miami of Ohio). Most of the collegiate teams are either on the East Coast or Midwestern areas. As you get to the west coast, their are club hockey teams including San Jose State. In addition to college hockey, also support your local College’s (and even Community College teams) other sports venues as well. Whether your preference is Cal, Stanford or San Jose State in the Bay Area or other Universities or Community Colleges anywhere else you may live. Support your local NCAA teams irregardless of the sport. The athletes don’t get paid, yet they leave it all out there each and every game and do so for the love of that game.
6) Youth Hockey is another viable alternative and if you have it in your area please support it. It is great for the kids to play and fun for the adults too. Youth hockey teaches skating, skills, ability and promotes exercise and fitness in the same way Little League Baseball and Youth Soccer promote it. Support those two youth activities too (though youth baseball does not start again until next March). In addition to the youth sports, support your local high schools in all activities whether it’s hockey, football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, track and field, etc.
7) If your are able to watch the Swiss League or KHL, if you can get the game follow it. Chances are this year you will see some very familiar names that will be playing hockey overseas and this will create interest in the European Leagues. Scores are always available. You can google both the KHL and Swiss League’s and it will lead you to their websites. I do not know if they’re are any places you can watch them or if they have a set up such as NHL Centre Ice. If you find a way to get those games maybe share it with other hockey fans who may want to see how their favorites are doing overseas.
8) Other “High Profile Sports” such as the NFL are underway. The NFL season is just three weeks old and has 14 weeks remaining in which should be an entertaining season. The NFL however has it’s issues too as the officials lockout looms as a big problem. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has apparently hired Foot Locker employees to officiate games (no offense to Foot Locker). I just try to look past it myself though last Monday’s Denver-Atlanta game and Sunday’s New England-Baltimore game showed some of the obvious flaws with the replacement officials. Let’s just hope the Super Bowl isn’t decided by replacement officials. Aside from that, the NFL has pretty much surpassed Major League Baseball as the national pastime.
9) Major League Baseball is very close to the start of it’s annual run to the World Series. The San Francisco Giants have clinched the National League’s West Division and will be looking to take on either the Cincinnati Reds or Washington Nations in the first round of the playoffs. The Giants are 25-11 since the suspension of the Juiceman Cabrera (I refuse to call him by Melky, but he’s my nomination for the “Ruben Rivera Award”). Also, the Oakland A’s are making a post season bid of their own and are currently tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the Wild Card positions in the American League. The A’s have an outside shot at the AL West title and will play the division leading Texas Rangers seven times over the next 10 days to finish the regular season. The A’s are one of those teams that nobody will want to play should they make the post season.
10) NBA Basketball. Yes, I said it, the NBA. The same league that locked out out last year. The same league once featured “Bird” and “Magic”, but for most teams in the league has now become tired and tragic. At least the NBA is simple. Unless you are a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls or Boston Celtics, #10 here really won’t apply to you since no other teams have any shot at the league title whatsoever. It’s a wonder that some of them even stay in business really. The Golden State Warriors are trying at least, but are light years from contending for anything other than the hearts of its die hard fans. As for the Sacramento Kings (my favorite team), thanks to the wonderful Maloof brothers a once fun franchise is now an abysmal train wreck which has been completely run into the ground. The NBA Kings will leave California’s Capital City the first chance they get, possibly for Las Vegas or Virginia Beach. I will just leave it at that. Just give me the Stockton Thunder tickets already!
Fan Action- Believe it or not, you as a fan do have a voice on all of this. If you are a season ticket holder this especially applies to you. First off, don’t call your team. Don’t call the Sharks, and if you are a fan of any other team don’t call them. It’s not their fault this lockout has happened and they did not ask for this. What few employees who are in those offices are busy trying to dodge an inevitable pink slip. Instead, if you have to call someone, call the NHL offices in New York. Their phone number is (212) 789-2000. They open at 8:30am Eastern Time (5:30am on the West Coast). Give them a call and give them a piece of your mind. Keep it clean, and please do not be vulgar. Just simply state your issue with the lockout and your displeasure. You can also fax them at (212)789-2020. They are located at 1185 Avenue Of The Americas, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10036. Just so everyone is clear, I Googled this information and it’s accessible to anyone. These are not private numbers (those I would not give any out even if I knew them, which I don’t). This information is public domain.
As for the NHLPA, you can go to their website at www.nhlpa.com/about-us/contact-us. Again, this information is also public domain and can be Googled. The address for the NHLPA is 20 Bay Street Suite 1700 Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5J 2N8. Again, voice your feelings about this matter but please keep it clean, no vulgarities. As angry as you may be, vulgarities seldom if ever further any cause so please use good judgement but otherwise let them know how you as a fan feel about this. If enough people do this (as in thousands if not millions), you’ll be able to effectively put Commissioner Bettman and NHLPA head Donald Fehr on notice. They cannot ignore a message from millions of upset fans.
Three Takes On Non-Hockey Items: 49ers lose to Vikings 24-13- As most of us know by now the 49ers anointment as the best team in the NFL may have been just slightly premature. The Minnesota Vikings turned out to provide the trap game we all feared the 49ers may run into. Led by Christian Ponder, who entered the game with a 94.7 passer rating ambushed the 49ers defense by taking complete control of the game from the opening kickoff to the final gun. Ponder led the Vikings to three long drives, one of which ended on a 23 yard TD run of his own as the purple gang handed the 49ers a nice slice of humble pie. My takes on this game are as follows: 1) Nobody said the 49ers were going undefeated and they were going to lose one more sooner than later; 2) the 49ers I don’t feel were exposed as much as they were beaten by a Vikings team that was ready to play 60 minutes of hard football; 3) No finger pointing needed, the team has already owned this and has vowed they will learn and grow from this tough experience; 4) The 49ers are still a very good team and as long as they don’t lose the lesson here they will be fine, and I feel Coach Jim Harbaugh will make certain everyone is on the same page going forward; 5) For those of us who remember it, back on October 2nd, 1994 the 49ers were hammered by the Philadelphia Eagles at Candlestick Park 40-8 in a game that wasn’t that close. After that game, the 49ers were 3-2. From that game on, the 49ers did not lose another game the rest of that season and it culminated in their fifth and last Super Bowl win to date, a 49-26 spanking of the San Diego Chargers. This is not to suggest the 49ers from here will go on to win the next Super Bowl, it’s just something to file away for perspective purposes. Also, give the Minnesota Vikings credit, they played a helluva football game. The Vikings both earned and deserved the victory. I tip my cap to them for a job well done, even against my 49ers.
For more information on the San Francisco 49ers, please visit our Fansided partners at www.ninernoise.com.
Congrats to the San Francisco Giants- The San Francisco Giants this past Saturday Night clinched their second National League West Title in three years with an 8-4 win over the San Diego Padres before a full house at AT&T Park. The Giants have been on a run that arguably started with a sweep of the arch rival Los Angeles Dodgers August 20-22 at Dodger Stadium. Since the suspension of Juicer Cabrera, the Giants have galvanized and have been on a 25-11 run and soon will be starting their quest for their second MLB title in three years taking on either the Cincinnati Reds or Washington Nationals. Also, congrats to Buster Posey for winning the “2012 Willie Mac Award”, one of the teams’ highest honor.
How About them San Jose State Spartans!!!- The San Jose Spartans football team have something special going on this season. They are probably the best kept secret in the Bay Area right now, with a 3-1 record and with a bounce here or there versus Stanford could be 4-0. Being a proud alum of San Jose State myself, I was in attendance along with about a few thousand of the Spartan Nation at Qualcomm Stadium this past Saturday Night. I was very happy about their performance as they handled the San Diego State Aztec’s 38-34 in a very exciting game that featured five lead changes. The game was decided in the fourth quarter and the Spartans scored three touchdowns, including the game winner with 50 seconds remaining when quarterback David Fales found Chandler Jones with a 14 yard TD pass. This capped off a 65 yard five play drive. Head Coach Mike MacIntyre has something special with this group as this is a team that is truly fun to watch. If you are in the San Jose area and especially if you are Spartan Alumni, make it a point to get out there and support this team. If your a student, use your Kingshark hall pass, take a break from studying and catch this team on a Saturday afternoon (or evening) at Spartan Stadium. This also makes a good alternative (as mentioned earlier) for the NHL lockout. Their next home game is homecoming weekend October 13th against Utah State. ESPN has also picked up their home game November 17th versus BYU. If you are in the South Bay Area, don’t watch the game on TV unless it’s sold out. Please get out to Spartan Stadium and give this team your support.This weekend they will be taking on the Naval Acadamy in Annapolis, Maryland with a 10am PT/1pm ET kickoff Saturday in a game that will be carried by CBS SportsNet. For ticket information for all Spartans athletics, please call them at (408)924-SJTX (7589) or 1-877-SJSU-TIX (1-877-757-8849) outside of the 408 area code.
Hail! Spartans Hail!
…just my Two Cents…
The King Shark
Blades of Teal: The Final Word On San Jose Sharks Hockey
The Jessica Redfield Ghawi Foundation:
PS: *The opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect on any other staff member’s opinions with Blades Of Teal, Fansided or their websites themselves… The King Shark…