My Two Cents for August 25th, 2013:
The Next Wave Is Here- This past Thursday the San Jose Sharks ended a summer of speculation about their possible new sweater design set to debut with the start of the 2013-14 campaign in October. Led by Captain Joe Thornton, Brent Burns, Dan Boyle and Brad Stuart, the foursome helped to introduce the new look to the media. If you have yet to see the new sweaters, they are basically modeled after the black alternate sweaters the Sharks ware at Thursday home games and throughout the post season. In many ways, the new home teal and road white sweaters are a much cleaner and far less busier look, and are designed to be lighter which will count huge as games get into the 2nd and 3rd periods. Gone from the uniforms are the shoulder crests as well as the black and teal bands around the waist area. The block lettering and numerals will remain the same. The orange stripes and trim on the uniforms have been altogether eliminated (except for the hockey stick on the Shark Crest). The Shark Crest in the center of the sweater is unchanged. The idea here is to give the Sharks a clean and consistent look on all three of their sweaters. The new sweaters are designed with the basic principle of less being more. What the Sharks lose in design they will gain in a more comfortable and flexible sweater which is more versatile.
The Next Wave Sweaters are described by the San Jose Sharks website are a “designed for optimal performance on the ice. The jerseys use the Reebok Play-Dry Stretch Fabric for comfort and for temperature control. To decrease the weight of the jersey, the black shoulder cap was removed. The popular jumping Shark patch will remain on the shoulder. Even more weight was cut out by removing the stripes on the body of the jersey.”* The home sweater is described as focusing on the “Sharks primary color, Pacific Teal, ” with ” “…neckline lacing added and neckline striping (being) removed.”* The away sweater is described as “…unfettered, with the Pacific Teal contrasting against the white fabric.”*
The new look sweaters also got rave reviews from the players who basically already like the improvements made before even trying them on. There are already several requests by Sharks fans who want to add the Next Wave replica sweaters to their own personal collections and these should sell fairly well. All in all, any advantage you can gain on the ice (legally of course) is welcomed. To the casual fan the changes in the sweater may not seem like a big deal, however to the players what was removed from the sweater is a huge deal. These sweaters are designed to be just as light at the end of the game as they are at the start of play. This by itself won’t guarantee success as far as regular season or post season is concerned. However something that will seemingly weigh less than the old model sweaters did will be a welcomed sight to the players. Right now if you are the Sharks, you will take whatever edge it may give you even if it’s just psychological. Sometimes that alone is enough.
Sharks 2013-14 Alternate Uniform Schedule Alongside with the announcements of the Sharks Next Wave sweaters, team teal also announced the schedule for their alternate black sweaters, also known as “Black Armor”. The black sweater and uniform set will be worn for all Thursday and Sunday games, excluding Opening Night. In total, the Sharks will wear this uniform 11 times in the regular season. The black sweater also as a now tradition will be the Sharks primary home sweater for any and all home post season games. The regular season schedule for the black sweater is as follows; November 7th vs. Vancouver; November 21st vs Tampa Bay; December 12th vs Minnesota; December 29th vs Anaheim (Sunday Game); January 2nd vs Edmonton; January 9th vs Detroit; January 23rd vs Winnipeg; March 6th vs Pittsburgh; March 20th vs Anaheim; March 27th vs Winnipeg; April 3rd vs Los Angeles.
Sharks to Continue Affiliation with San Francisco Bulls- This week it was announced the San Jose Sharks have agreed in principle to continue their partnership with the ECHL’s San Francisco Bulls. The affiliation agreement is for the 2013-14 season. The Sharks began there affiliation with the Bulls last season when the expansion franchise entered the East Coast Hockey League’s Western Conference. The Bulls finished last season as the 8th seeding team in the Western Conference qualifying them for a playoff spot. The Sharks organization had seven players under contract who spent time with the Bulls last season. Those players were Marek Viedenski, Daniil Tarasov, Yanni Gourde, Tommy Grant, Thomas Heemskerk, Taylor Nelson and Mikael Tam.Since the end of the 2012-13 season, Tarasov signed a two-year NHL contract with San Jose. Former Shark Ryane Clowe spent time as an Assistant Coach for the Bulls during last season’s NHL lockout.
The Bulls are very happy to have the Sharks as a parent club as it gives them a very solid foundation for their own operations. “We’re very excited to continue and further grow our partnership with the San Jose Sharks,” said SF Bulls President and Head Coach Pat Curcio. “We can’t thank Doug Wilson, Wayne Thomas, Joe Will and John Tortora enough for their support. Our first season created a mutually beneficial relationship. The Sharks provided us with high-quality players, who helped contribute to our team’s appearance in the playoffs. We are excited about the opportunity to develop Sharks prospects while putting a winning product on the ice. We also believe that our affiliation with the Sharks not only gives us quality prospects, it gives us an instant identity in a very large market, and we are very grateful to them for that.”**
The Bulls also are an organization that in as much as anything are looking to be a less expensive alternative to other big league sports in the Bay Area. With ticket prices for many pro sporting events become quite expensive, the Bulls offer a more family friendly environment at costs that won’t break the budget. The Bulls play at the Cow Palace in Daly City just south of San Francisco, where the San Jose Sharks played their first two NHL seasons before moving their new home in San Jose affectionately known as “The Shark Tank.” During last season’s lockout, the Bulls played the Stockton Thunder at the Shark Tank. It is not known if the Bulls this season will play a game in the Sharks home arena.
The Sharks also have a strong working relationship with the AHL’s Worcester Sharks, who have maintained a good pipeline for team teal talent despite being 3,000 miles from San Jose (to where San Francisco is only 45 miles). The Worcester Sharks and San Francisco Bulls often times would loan players to each other during the course of the season and that is expected to continue.
Luongo Looking to Stay Put in Vancouver- Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who’s future with the team was in some doubt since Vancouver lost in the Stanley Cup finals to Boston almost three years ago, recently expressed his desire to stay where he is. It appears very likely that is exactly what is going to be happening to, especially after the Canucks dealt last year’s number one goal Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for a draft pick. John Tortorella, who was hired on as the Canucks head coach shortly after Alain Vigneault was let go (and then hired by the New York Rangers after they let go Tortorella) has been in contact with Luongo and have appear to be on the same page. Tortorella told TSN “I don’t want to get into specifics, but I have talked to Roberto four times,” he told the paper. “In fact, I just talked to him yesterday. I’ll tell you, from talking with him he has told me he is working very hard as far as conditioning and getting ready for this season”.***
Luongo is one of those goalies who can one night look almost impossible to score on, and the next time out have to be pulled out of the game at some point during the second period. It is the Jekyll and Hyde situation with Luongo that made the Canucks turn to Schneider to be their lead goal last season and give him quality time in the net the season before. Luongo however has 233 career wins in Vancouver, making him the Canucks all-time winningest goalie (Luongo has 348 career wins overall in the NHL). With the off-season trade of Schneider, the Canucks and Tortorella are banking on Luongo to have a strong season in net. If the Canucks are looking to make a deep post season run this season, Luongo may have to raise his game to a higher level than ever before now that re-alignment has created a lot more competition in the west. With the trade of Schnieder, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis most likely just bet his job on Luongo.
Murray Signs with Montreal- Former San Jose Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray, who split time between the Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins last season, singed a one year, $1.5 million deal with the Montreal Canadians. Murray, known much more for his defense and ability to hit a player with the same impact of a semi-truck, in eight NHL seasons with the Sharks and Penguins scored seven career goals and added 55 assists. Murray also had a goal for the Penguins in their first round playoff series last season versus the New York Islanders (scoring on a former Sharks teammate, Evegeni Nabokov). Murray’s four year deal ended this offseason where he was making $2.5 million per season with the Sharks before being traded to Pittsburgh during last season’s regular season trading deadline. Interestingly, Murray will be paired in Montreal with a former foe and rival of the Sharks, the former Anaheim Duck enforcer George Parros. Parros was also acquired by the Canadians this offseason. Parros last season played for the Florida Panthers.
Ducks to lose Sourey for 6 Months- The Anaheim Ducks got some bad news when it was learned that defenseman Sheldon Souray will be out for the next six months. Souray had to have surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist after being injured during an offseason workout last month. The surgery was performed back on July 25th with all indicators that everything went well. Wrist injuries are something that have always seemed to plague Souray, 37, who in 2002-03 missed the entire season while under contract with the Montreal Canadians.
With the prospect of Souray being on the shelf until at least sometime in December, the Ducks went out and signed a former team mate of Souray’s, Mark Fistric to a one year deal worth around $900,000. Fistric, a defensemen, has 282 NHL career games under his belt.
Is the 2013-14 Season the Last Stand for Jagr?- Well traveled right wing Jaromir Jagr, who will be entering his 22nd season in professional hockey, took to social media to tell hockey fans that this next season will likely be his last one. Jagr, 41, is the second oldest active player in the NHL right now, second only to the Anaheim Ducks Teemu Selanne who is 42. Jagr, who split time between the Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins last season, signed a one year, $2 Million deal with the New Jersey Devils this off season. Jagr has more than made a name for himself in the NHL with 681 career goals and 1,007 assists. Jagr has participated in 1,391 NHL regular season contests. Jagr has also been a strong presence in the post season with 78 career playoff goals and 121 assist in 202 post season games. Jagr was a key player in the Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup winning teams in 1990-91, and again the following season in (1991-92; the Sharks expansion season). On his Facebook page, Jagr stated “It looks like it will be my last season, so I can’t be too risky…”****
Ray Whitney, an original Shark on who was there for the Sharks expansion season in 1991-92, is the third oldest active player in the NHL currently under contract with the Dallas Stars. Whitney was born in May of 1972, three months after Jagr was born.
Grabovski and Capital Gains- Mikhail Grabovski has had quite a summer. After being bought out and let go by the Toronto Maple Leafs and getting married, Grabovski received offers from as many as 12 KHL franchises all of whom were ready to open the purse strings for him. However Grabovski wanted time off to clear his head and enjoy his honeymoon with the new Mrs.Grabovski. After considering the offers before him, Grabovski got a call from the Washington Capitals who offered him a one year deal at $3 Million. Grabovski decided that he wanted to remain in the NHL and took the Capitals up on their offer. Garbovski, 29, was convinced that the Capitals were the right fit for him after meeting with Head Coach Adam Oates. In Washington, Grabovski will have the opportunity to be an affective role player on the power play units and is all but guaranteed a role on one of the top three lines.
Grabovski’s deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs was signed just a year ago with a term of five years. In the lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign, Grabovski scored nine goals and added seven assist. The Maple Leafs decided to part ways with Grabovski in June, buying out the final four years of the contract at an estimated $27.5 Million. Grabovski’s deal in Toronto however by no means whatsoever is the worst deal between a player and a team who later regretted the contract (see Sharks and Martin Havlat).
Non-Hockey Item: Little League World Series- The Little League World Series Finals took place in Williamsport, Pennsylvania this past weekend. The final result was a team from Tokyo, Japan taking the title as the tournament champion for the second straight year, and the third time in the last four years. Chula Vista (Eastlake), California, a community just south of San Diego for the second time in five years sent a representative to the finals. The team in 2009 won the championship, however this years’ team was not as fortunate. The team from Japan made the plays that counted the most when they needed to and in the end defeated Chula Vista/Eastlake 6-4. Despite the loss the Eastlake Little League team has nothing at all to be ashamed of as they left it all on the field Sunday. They represented their community proudly and got to do something that so few kids their age ever get to do at all. Kudos also go out to the team from Tijuana, Mexico who finished third in the tournament and just missed an opportunity to beat Japan in the semi finals. The team from Tijuana defied all kinds of odds in their international region, and playing much of their regular season on fields made of just dirt, sometimes even broken concrete and very little in the way of grass. If they had made the finals along with Chula Vista, it would have been very interesting. Two teams from two communities not even 20 miles apart, and yet they are in many ways worlds apart. They deserve a ton of credit to for the same exact reasons the team from Chula Vista does. Would have been a fun game to watch…
…just my two cents…
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*The Next Wave: http://sharks.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=91306&navid=DL|SJS|JERSEY
**San Francisco Bulls: http://sfbulls.com/news/bulls-and-san-jose-sharks-renew-affiliation/
***Roberto Luongo: http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=430266
****Jamoir Jagr: http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=430182