Yearly Archives: 2007

And the sharks exit the preseason undefeated

and nobody really cares. which is great.

First chance to see the team in person — once again, I miss most of training camp (only about 2 hours on the first day, before we headed out of town to Oregon) and most of the pre-season games. One thing I always tried to do at Apple was schedule some flex time so I could visit training camp, and one thing that always happened was something that came up and kept me from going. It became sort of a running joke after a while — so what do I do? Two years in a row, I schedule my own conflicts instead. go figure…

Doesn’t really matter.

The Sharks looked pretty good. They more or less manhandled the Flames, until they decided to ramp it down and coast. the game wasn’t nearly as close as the stats might indicate, the Sharks got bored as much as anything.

They did look pretty good to me overall, though. Setoguchi saw limited time, but impressed. Roenick didn’t see limited time, and looks, well, old and slow, and took a number of “old and slow” penalties. But then, Mark Smith, who signed in Calgary just before the game and is basically the roster spot that went to Roenick, didn’t impress, either.

I would not want to have been wearing a flames jersey within sight of Keenan after that performance.

Davison looks to be the 6th defenseman for now, with Murray 7th. I expect once Sandis is released from substance abuse, he’ll be signed to some minimal contract as an 8th Dman and we’ll see what happens. It may be a pity signing, or simply the Sharks giving an old friend a chance — but what’s wrong with that? Don’t forget that Sandis was Doug wilson’s partner in the first season before Sandis hurt his knee, and so there’s a lot of “more than pure hockey” going on here. And the Sharks have a soft spot for Sandis, and have a history of reclamation projects, both well-known and not so. Some worked out okay, some (Link Gaetz) didn’t, and some (Brant Mhyres, anyone?) were, well, reclamation projects.

Sandis’s problems started with the Sharks, a kid a bit too young, with too many responsibilities, acclimation problems, a bit shy and nerdy, frankly. He also was sort of a real-life lab experiement that helped the Sharks understand what it took to bring in european talent successfully for both the player and the team, and the team has strongly benefitted from that; perhaps just for that reason, the Sharks will give Sandis a shot, giving both sides some closure. And Sandis is still well-loved in San Jose.

(Sandis, by the way, has a really funky record on his resume: he scored the first goal in San Francisco Spiders history, as he was holding out at the time and signed a deal with the IHL team; then he went off and rejoined the Sharks, and if I remember properly, THEN went and scored the first goal of the season for San Jose, too…)

I’m probably the only person in the universe NOT particularly worried about San Jose’s defense. Yes, we lost Hannan, but to me, Hannan and McLaren were very similar players, and the entire defensive corps was way too “stay at home”; swapping out Hannan for Rivet, which is effectively what we did, improves the power play a LOT and increases the blueline offensive capability. Yes, we lose some defensive-defense, but we have plenty to spare, I think.

And Rivet can teach Carle and Plasic how to play as an offensive defenseman, a benefit we need. Honestly, Robb Zettler teaching offensive defense? Not gonna happen…

I think Davison and Murray as a time-sharing combo is a perfectly acceptable 6th dman. As long as Vlasic doesn’t have a bad year, we’ll be fine. And if Sandis brings something to the table, that’s a benefit. But I’m not sure I want Sandis to teach the kids how to play…

I will admit — I really like the new home jersey, and I wasn’t sure I would. I still am not sure about the logo redo (wasn’t broken, why fix it?) but it’s no worse than the old one, merely different. It’ll probably grow on me. But the epaulets instead of those black underarms? That looks pretty nice, actually, and I thought the orange highlights addded to the look, didn’t clutter it. So it gets a thumbs up for me.

Other changes in the arena — the new video board absolutely rocks. Absolutely. well done. As someone sitting near me said last night, “I found myself watching the board, even when the Sharks were in our end of the ice!” True enough, and we’re three rows off the glass. THAT good. A nice thing is that it’s a purely software/video scoreboard now, so it’s got a lot more flexibility for different events.

And they finally redid the sound system, which has sucked since the building opened. We can actually — god help us — hear what is being said over the PA in section 127 now, unmuffled and without legibility problems. Well done. So THAT is what Joe Eich sounds like…

They also replaced the boards a wrap-around system similar to those seen in newer building (gah, that building’s over a decade old; I remmber it as a hole in the ground); The effect is pretty nice.

And a minor thing I noticed — they’ve retuned the lights. In previous years, some of the lights were turned off for hockey games because they caused bad shadows or glare; everything got re-aimed and now all of them are used in games; it makes it brighter in there (about an F/stop, I’m guessing); add in the light from the boards (it’s no longer dark, even with the lights off) and it’s a much brighter building.

One thing the sharks didn’t do (oh well) was theatrical lighting like GM place does. If you want to know why that’s a nice thing to have? just think about the 20 minute delay before the first game in London…. Shuttered lights avoid that but allow you to dim them for effect, something vancouver uses to good impact.

And now it’s time to drop the puck!

first week back…

Man, it’s already wednesday, and I’m still unpacking. Had an interview yesterday, which I felt went well — I’ve had some real dog interviews for some reason, and I haven’t been happy with how I’ve been handling them, but this one I thought was more up to my expectations for myself. I think I’m finally hitting that point where I’m ready and interested in going back to work, and that may be part of it. We’ll see.

Later today, I got introduced to one of these mythical stealth startups through a friend, and for some reason they want my thoughts on the thingie they’re building — and I’m horribly curious about it because it sounds like a fascinating new technology. Not an interview, it’s really more feedback on their plans. Should be fun, and that’s the last I’ll talk about it because as far as I’m concerned, it’s an NDA thing, even though we haven’t discussed that. Won’t even mention the market segment right now. But if they’re doing what they seem to be doing, it’s going to make life interesting down the road.

And another interview tomorrow, which I’m looking forward to; an other really interesting opportunity. And I came back and poked at a couple of other companies and we’ll see if anyone pokes back. And I have some work to do on the technical review, and I need to get that done this week…

Of course it’s digging out time. Even with good and reliable wifi in the hotels (getting easier and easier), I made a conscious decision to sort of go darkish and actually take the vacation.

Took about 1000 photos over nine days and 2300 miles driven. Fall arrived in Portland at about the same time we did, so we hit a bit of rain, but nothing anyone who likes Portland is going to notice. We spent the grey and rainy day driving up the Gorge and visiting some of the falls, then out to the Dalles, and inland and back through the Hood area. Absolutely-freaking-gorgeous. Some shopping and the ritual trip to Powell’s on day 2, plus stops at Penzey’s Spices and Stash Tea, and we were happy campers.

We actually, after having set things up to stay near the Tri-max, didn’t use it, we limited downtown to Powell’s and drove in. But we did a fair amount of exploring down in Hillsboro and also in Tigard and Lake Oswego. Some nice stuff going on up there. As we drove past Orenco Station the first time, Laurie noted “hey! they’re building a new false old downtown!”

which is true, very similar in concept to our Santana Row, and very nice, actually. I like the mixed use retail areas when they’re done well, and this one (which also, for those in the Bay Area, has some extended housing areas like Rivermark does in Santa Clara) seems pretty nice. It also had a New Seasons market in it, which frankly, for all we talk about the bay area being such a foodie region, points out just how pitifully bad out supermarket setup is around here…

Then it was off to Astoria (actually, Seaside), where we based for a couple of days, and we headed up to Long Beach and Cape Disappointment for some birding and photography, stopped by Cellar on 10th and ended up having a nice long chat and leaving with 15 bottles of good NorthWest grape stuff, dinner at Baked Alaska (cemented itself as my favorite spot on the coast), but also a rather nice italian meal and Guidos and Vito’s downtown seaside. You gotta love an italian place that puts up a “no, we do NOT have pizza on the menu” sign! (grin)

Then a couple of nights in Newport, dinners at Las Cabanas (really nice Mexican, especially for Oregon) and a new place (for us) call Szabos, which can best be described as a roadhouse — a bar with tables and TVs with the USC game on it, but the food was far from an afterthought; we watched as the locals piled in (almost always a good sign), and I had some of the best damn fish and chips I’ve had in years.

We decided not to visit the aquarium, in favor of exploring — up Yaquina bay to Toledo, south to Seal Rock, north to Boiler bay; a good chunk of time up at Yaquina head, where the wind was so fierce it made my eyes water despite having glasses on AND binoculars covering them.

Birding was pretty quiet. Yaquina Head was as usual busiest, with Brandt’s cormorants nesting, some marbled murrelets, a non-breeding (white) pigeon guillemot that confused the hell out of me for a while, a couple of common loons, and the normal gulls, and over 100 surf scoters. Up in Yaquina bay I found a mew gull in among a flock of “usual suspect” gulls, and a young hooded merganser — pretty much the only duck of the trip other than a couple of small groups of mallards. Lots of stuff has migrated out; only saw two common murres, even up around Point Disappointment where they nest, but no shorebirds — the summer residents were gone, the winter ones haven’t arrived yet, even at shorebird strongpoints like seal rock.

No whales. Word was they were up around depoe bay, but we didn’t see them this trip.

Down at seal rock, I spent some time with a nice lady who came down to seal rock expecting, well, seals. And there were some — we found five or six in the water — but none actually on shore, and I could never get her to see them in the water using the binoculars, so I finally hauled out the spotting scope so I could set it up and aim it for her; that worked out great, because once I showed her what to expect, she was able to find some of the others on her own. At the same time, the local song and savannah sparrows were laughing at me and running every time I tried to get a look at them, and there wasn’t a shorebird in the entire beach area. ohwell…

As I get the photos posted, I’ll talk more about stuff. But for now, gotta go fight the bermuda grass again…

opening of training camp.

today was the first day of camp for the Sharks today, and I wandered down for a bit to take a look at what was going on.

you forget just how bloody big these guys are until you get close to them.

The practice seemed high tempo and spirited. I won’t pretend to have any deep insights for having watched cycling drills by half the team for about an hour. I’ll leave that to others… (grin)

I will say that the energy level seemed high, spirits were good but the players seemed very focussed and down to business. Very little horseplay and nobody seemed to be dogging it.

the “this seems, well, weird” moment: realizing that one of the coaches on the ice was Bryan marchment (along with Wayne thomas and Rob Zettler); it made me flash back to the old IHL and the Las Vegas Thunder, when we were down there for a couple of games, and ex-Shark Lyndon Byers was playing for them.

Byers was named assistant captain, and was asked to take a leadership role with the younger players. And he humorously mused about that in the newspaper with a “me? a role model?” quote.

I actually have a fondness for Marchment, as former readers of our Dallas Stars mailing list (now retired) might remember. For all his reputation and repeated suspensions (mostly earned, but towards the end, his reputation preceeded him at times), he actually could play some pretty good hockey.

The day San Jose traded for him, I stood up like many and had a big, noisy fit about on the list; I also have to admit that it took about two games watching him and isolating his game on the ice to realize what he brought to the sharks — above and beyond physical play and intimidation.

He was a good hockey player; and I admitted it. Dirty player? sometimes; so are lots of guys. Who’s a dirtier player, Marchment or Chelios? tough call. But mostly, I think Marchment’s game was not that he was trying to hurt guys, it was that he was playing the game his way, and simply didn’t worry about whether someone got hurt. That wasn’t his problem, his problem was getting the job done without getting himself hurt.

Of course, he did — I was watching the night he got concussed and went into convulsions on the ice. I don’t think I reacted as strongly to any on ice injury, other than perhaps Malarchuk (who was goalie for the Las Vegas Thunder when Lyndon Byers was the captain. small world — and the team had this young phenom named Bonk, who went on to become a first pick and a good, solid, third line center. For the record, at the time, I said he was a good mid-first round draft, not a top draft or top three. I guess for once I was right — and if he’d been drafted 12th or 15th, people would think Radek Bonk has had a good career; as a top draft, he’s been a big disappointment. be wary of getting what you ask for, and having to live up to it)

But I digress. Given camps are opening, I can. It means hockey isn’t far away, and the season tickets will be arriving any minute now… (seriously).

time to drop the puck!

my thoughts on the Roenick signing

A few thoughts on the Roenick signing by the Sharks, from the guy who’s been standing here for the last few months saying “Jeremy. go home. it’s over”.

It is, but there are aspects of this deal I find intriguing. Roenick is playing for minimal money, so this doesn’t really cost the Sharks anything. He has things to prove (that it’s not over, for one), so I expect he’s going to work his butt off to earn that money. He has a significant milestone close, so that’s going to add to the motivation, but is also close enough that it won’t hang over his head or the team’s head long — and if it isn’t working out, once he passes it, makes it easier for everyone to call it if needed.

So the risk here is low. The important thing is to set the proper expectations. Given the low money value – that’s easy if you think it through.

If there was one thing missing from the team last year, it was an attitude of consistent grittiness, of not being pushed around. There were times when the Sharks were unstoppable, and there were times the team got too passive.

One thing Roenick is not: passive.

So the way to view this deal is see the contributions as off-ice. As a setter and teacher of attitudes, a locker room influence. Anything Roenick does ON the ice is a bonus; his primary job, in my mind, is teaching the kids how to play more like he does, to help draw out their potential.

At some level, I’m not expecting much out of this deal. He’s effectively replacing Mark Smith, and while I don’t think this is an upgrade off of Smith, it’s now downgrade, and he in-locker-room aspects can help this team. He’s also the kind of guy the local reporters are going to love to have around, and heck, that can’t hurt.

So I’ll give him a thumbs up for now, and we’ll see what happens. And, you know? it’s good to see him get a shot at his milestone. Let’s see how he returns the investment the Sharks are making in him.

(and I see the hand of Mike Ricci in this; since they played together last season).

Women in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Sure, Why Not?

Hockey Rants:

Don’t tell this to Dave Harrison of Prince George, who apparently still pines for the 1930s, and thinks women’s hockey has no place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Women’s hockey is just a shade faster than Tai Chi but only half as interesting.

If any event is worthy of an “escape call” early in the first period, it’s women’s hockey.

As a crowd pleaser it seems to appeal only to other women who have convinced themselves that it’s entertaining, feminist promoters of lost causes, anxious sponsors who are about to lose their shirts, milquetoast males who allow their women to choose their clothes (Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche), and husbands who nod in agreement if they know what’s good for them.

No self-respecting, red-blooded, beer-drinking, Canadian male hockey fan ever takes women’s hockey seriously.

I will agree that women’s hockey is boring (to me) and it is like comparing the original Iron Chef to the watered-down American version, but the Hockey Hall of Fame is not exclusively for males, in title or in theory.

How could a serious hockey fan ever discount the impact that certain female players have had on the game and on the national consciousness?

This came up today on the women-in-hockey mailing list Laurie and I have managed for years. You can only imagine the response.

My favorite: he’s welcome to his opinion, no matter how wrong he is.

Me — I’m just sad that those kind of attitudes are not only still in existence in today’s society, but tolerated by some, and promoted as positive by others. Sad, but not surprised.

Jes, without realizing it, defines the problem wonderfully — by looking at women’s hockey in the mirror of the men’s game, and finding it wanting. This is the same reason the WNBA is considered by many a geek show — it’s not really marketed at women, but as a way for male basketball fans to waste some time waiting for the real stuff to return. (The ABL actually wasn’t afraid to market to women as a primary audience — unfortunately, it got eaten by the financial power of the NBA)

Fortunately, women generally don’t CARE what guys like Dave Harrison think; they’re not in it to get validation from some idiot male chauvinist, they’re in it because they enjoy hockey. And that, I think, is what scares guys like Harrison and makes them try to belittle women’s sports.

Fortunately, the reason anyone’s even paying attention to this is because this kind of attitude has gotten increasingly rare, or at least, the people who believe this are generally smart enough not to stand up on a soapbox and promote it quite so loudly. We’re making progress.

But it’s clear we’re not there yet.

The real good news is this: the women will keep playing hockey and enjoying it for what it is, without trying to be guys in a guys game. And that’ll continue pissing off guys like Dave Harrison… But where 15 years ago, people like Dave might have been able to influence the situation, now he’s merely a sad voice in the distance.

Oh, and jes? Women find your writing boring, too. But that’s okay, no? Different strokes and all that, right? And more important than that: women really don’t care what you think about their game, as long as they get to keep playing.

And THAT’s what matters. Not what anyone thinks about how they play.

(and me? I”m proud to have been able to support the growth of women being able to play the game and enjoy it in the small way I have. And I find their version of the game far from boring. Different from how men play — but men could learn from them, if they wanted to…)