My Two Cents for November 19th:
Former Shark Takes On Gary Bettman- As the NHL Lockout drags on and continues to eat away at could likely be a salvageable portion of the 2012-13 NHL season, Detroit Red Wings’ defenseman and former Shark Ian White minced no words in giving his thoughts in a recent interview with Detroit News. White made it clear that not only is he frustrated with league Commissioner Gary Bettman, he also does not have too much respect for the man in charge of the NHL. White told the Detroit News “I personally think he’s an idiot.” White continued, “Since he’s come in, he’s done nothing but damaged the game. The moves he’s made, teams that are struggling seem to be ones he put in places where there’s not viable markets for hockey.”** White pointed out that their have been multiple lockouts since Bettman became the league’s commissioner and that it questionable that he is control of the league as far as the Owners are concerned. White is only one of many players who have grown impatient with the league’s continuous inability to negotiate and agree on a new CBA. All NHL Games through December 1st to date have been cancelled along with what was supposed to be this years Winter Classic, featuring White’s Red Wings taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs at the University of Michigan’s 104,000 seat football stadium.
White is not the only one with a beef here. Anaheim Duck’s great Teemu Selanne who is probably in the best physical shape of anyone at age 42 anywhere on the planet, has stated the lockout is unfair to the fans who support the game and that he may now have to consider retirement should the situation continue on. Chicago Blackhawk Jonathan Toews also has voiced frustrations about the ongoing lockout and a season disintegrating before our eyes, as has Pittsburgh Penguins’ star Sidney Crosby. As many of you already know several San Jose Sharks players and NHL players have had to go to European Leagues and then KHL to play in any professional contests this season. If things are not settled soon, most of these players will remain where they are for the remainder of those league’s seasons since the NHL is likely to be on hiatus for some time to come. If you are in the Bay Area or Northern California, you at least have the ECHL’s San Francisco Bulls and Stockton Thunder playing to fill the void. There are also junior leagues and even NCAA or club hockey teams playing now that though not the same as the NHL, will give you a good glimpse of what the sport is supposed to be all about. The Nashville Predators are promoting youth hockey in there area and put together a nice video in which the players were pleasantly surprised. I will give a link to this video later in this column.
Negotiations? Really?- The NHL according to TSN.ca is planning on continuing talks this week after Commissioner Gary Bettman suggested in the middle of last week that Donald Fehr and the NHLPA “…take a two week break”. These are supposed to be what is being called “smaller group meetings”. When I think of smaller group meetings myself, I tend to think of those meetings such as the ones where a group of people are lead by one or maybe two therapist who are trying to help those who are struggling to deal with things such as personal problems or confront anger or other human issues. I don’t know if this means one group of league representatives, owners and maybe lawyers end up in one room while Bettman, Fehr and a few other go to another meeting room or another location entirely. To the average hockey fan which I consider myself to be, all of this and 65 cents buys us a cup of coffee at Denny’s. It means absolutely nothing to the fans, and especially the season ticket holders and perhaps a majority of the owners who are losing money and are powerless to do anything about it. To really think this is going to expedite anything in the way of a settlement is foolish at best. Sure, they at least are talking. The problem though is that they have been talking on and off since the CBA deadline passed in mid-September and to date they have accomplished absolutely nothing. This is becoming a farce and in reality is just even more belittling to both fans and again the season ticket holders. Don’t forget that the damage will extend to sponsors who will now think twice since the cancellation of a second season in an eight year period is now looming large. I don’t know who to believe anymore and neither do most fans. If I don’t know who to believe as in this situation, sooner or later I just stop believing anyone and everyone heading the Commissioners Office or NHLPA.
What’s Next…If Anything?- It seems likely at this point that we will soon here about more NHL games being cancelled with December 1st fast approaching. Just in time for the Christmas season, Commissioner Bettman, Eight League Owners, Donald Fehr and the NHLPA will likely announce the axing of more games maybe through all of or part of December. With Thanksgiving this week, don’t expect much to happen with the labor talks as they will likely adjourn for the holiday at the first opportunity they get. Bettman suggesting a two week break last week was probably because of Thanksgiving in part, and also because quite frankly nobody is in any hurry whatsoever to resolve the CBA impasse. The 2012-13 if it falls will likely be cancelled out shortly after the new year. At this point I am no longer expecting a season to be played for 2012-13, the two sides are simply too far apart and refuse to check their oversized egos at the door. I’m actually more concerned about the 2013-14 season at this point. Should this season be cancelled there wont be any sense of urgency by either side to start talking about 2013-14 and they could both walk away from the table for maybe several months. Call it economic suicide for the league, with Commissioner Bettman playing “Nero” and Donald Fehr playing “Doctor Jack Kevorkian”. Neither one of these brain surgeons seems to be in any hurry to resolve the crises that has done much damage to the NHL as a whole.
If you are a season ticket holder for any of the NHL franchises and you are still holding out hope, I admire your loyalty. However, you may want to start thinking about cancelling your tickets for this season if you are still holding on to them. You may wait until their is an official announcement, but it would be a good idea to start planning to do this. With the economy being what it is, you can put that money to better usage. The teams ticket offices should be understanding of this since you are only doing what is becoming the more obvious thing to do as this lockout drags on. The teams should hold your spot for future seasons once the league resumes playing, whichever year that may be. I’m not trying to dwell on the negative here, however with things going the way they are there truly is very little hope at this point that a season will be played. I sure hope I am wrong here, but I doubt I will be.
Nashville Predators Step to the Plate- Recently the Predators franchise did something that at least sends a positive “vibe” through their community in light of the unfortunate events surrounding the NHL today. This is a video of an a youth hockey game in Franklin, Tennessee where the young players (I’m guessing around ages 9 and 10) were going to have a pizza party thrown by the Predators organization after the game. About 250 were invited, but what was nice is that they players had no idea that this was not going to be just another youth hockey game where those in attendance where their parents and maybe a younger or older sibling. What would happen was nothing short of truly amazing. As the players were completing their pregame warm-ups, a “Smash Mob” started to pile into the stands of the small arena and before they knew it their was a capacity crowd consisting of the Predators “Smashville” fan club. There was also a band, the Predators Ice Girls and Cheerleaders. Even Predators Head Coach Barry Trotts was there sitting behind both team benches giving the young players some good coaching tips and advise. It had to be special for these kids who may have the same dreams now that a lot of their idols did when they were in their youth hockey days. Even a military guard came out to present the American Flag for the National Anthem before the game started. It had to be a special afternoon for all of these players who even gave post game interviews in the same format as their favorite local professional team. If you watch the video, it looked as if the game was even locally televised. Even the Predators Public Address Announcer was there to announce the game to the crowd.
What I really enjoyed about this video is that it reminded me and should remind us all of what this game is truly all about. With the sad event of the NHL lockout ongoing, these kids took all of this in and probably enjoyed playing the game even more than they normally do. At their age, you play for the love of the game. There are usually no crowds, no pomp and circumstance, no television or radio, and in some rinks no zamboni. However, none of that even begins to matter here. What’s important here is that these kids appreciate the game and remind us all as it says at the very end of the video is that “Hockey Never Left.”, and it really didn’t. Get out and start supporting youth hockey wherever they are playing it. These could be the stars of tomorrow, and even if not they are still out there because the game means something to them otherwise they wouldn’t be playing it.
Here is the link to the video, it’s short but certainly worth the time to watch it:
Meanwhile, Down On The Farm- The AHL Affiliate Worcester Sharks, who got off to a very slow start this season have recently caught fire and are making some noise in the AHL’s Atlantic Division. The Sharks, who started 0-3-1 have since gone 7-3-1 to take over first place in their division. Goalie Alex Stalock has won seven straight starts, while Bracon Kearns, Tim Kennedy, Sabastien Stalberg and Sena Acolaste have combined to lead the team with 20 goals and 22 assist. Matt Irwin is the team’s assist leader with a total of eight. Jon Matsumoto and Yanni Gourde have three goals each. The ECHL’s San Francisco Bulls meanwhile in their inaugural campaign have not fared as well as their AHL counter parts, however have provided their fans with some entertaining hockey. The Bulls though their first 17 games are at 5-10-2 and are in fourth place in the ECHL’s Pacific Division. Team Captain Justin Bowers along with teammate Dean Ouellet have played in all games and have combined for 10 goals between the two to go along with 19 assist. Sacha Guimond and Jordan Morrison have scored four goals each while Peter Sivak, Jordan Clendenning and Kris Belan have netted three goals each. Ryane Clowe of course signed a contract to play with the Bulls while the parent Sharks are in lockout. However Clowe has yet to play for the team and actually has become an extra assistant coach behind the Bulls bench.
Joe Pavelski Injured In KHL Game- Sharks forward Joe Pavelski suffered a minor leg injury in a recent KHL game per a report from Saturday at Fear The Fin. Pavelski, who has played seven games thus far has apparently not been able to maintain the success level he is used to with the Sharks. Per the report, Pavelski has a minus four rating. The good news is that the injury seems to be minor.*** Many players such as Pavelski have gone overseas to keep playing and would probably prefer to be playing NHL hockey as opposed to having to go to these lengths instead. A few players have sustained injuries during this lockout, while others have opted out of playing overseas or in the minors because of the risks involved. Players do not want to endanger their future NHL careers. Pavelski is playing for Dinamo Minsk, who recently released NHL’er Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets. Should the lockout be resolved in time to play at least a partial 50 or 60 game season, and you have players who have gone over to Europe or the KHL, or even the minors who come out with injuries, it will only serve to further hamper the credibility of an already damaged brand.
Please Continue To Support The JRG Foundation- The Jessica Redfield Ghawi foundation, which has raised over $54,000 for scholarship fund dedicated to the late aspiring sports journalist, has a new website and the fund raising campaign will continue in earnest. To donate and/or find out more information, please go to the new website at https://www.saafdn.org/jrgscholarship … The fund is to carry on Jessica Ghawi’s dream for young aspiring females who wish to enter into the world of sports journalism. I will continue to support and mention this foundation at the end of each “My Two Cents” column and Sharks game posts (post lockout of course).
Non-Hockey Item: Hail Spartans Hail!- Finally, I would like to congratulate the football team representing my Alma Mater San Jose State as the Spartans defeated the BYU Cougars 20-14 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose Saturday Night. The game was carried live on ESPN 2 and drew a near full house. The Spartans with the win are 9-2 for the first time since 2006 and for the second time since the early 1990′s. Quarterback David Fales threw for three touchdown passes and set three school records on the evening. Noel Grigsby Jr caught two touchdown passes. Spartans linebacker Keith Smith had a huge night and made the game saving play late, forcing BYU QB Reilly Nelson to fumble with 1:16 remaining. The fumble was recovered by Vince Buhagiar to seal the deal. The Spartans also for the first time in 25 years got in season poll votes. The 1987 Spartans who went 10-2 were ranked 20th late in that season. That was the last time the Spartans have been ranked in any poll. The Spartans last night did not crack the Top 25, but placed 32nd and 33rd in the AP and USA today polls. The Spartans have one last home game to wrap up their regular season as they host Louisiana Tech this Saturday. If you are in the area, please get out to Spartan Stadium and support this team. They are worth it. Congrats again to the San Jose State Spartans. As we Spartan Alumni say, “WE ARE ONE!”
…Just My Two Cents…
The King Shark
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Blades of Teal: The Final Word On San Jose Sharks Hockey
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***Source: Fear The Fin
PS: Happy Thanksgiving to All!!!