Yearly Archives: 2007

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…)

How to Help Mailing Lists Help Readers (Results of Recent Data Analysis)

How to Help Mailing Lists Help Readers (Results of Recent Data Analysis):

This second, independent experiment reinforced my conviction that:

Although mailing lists and newsgroups provide valuable support, a large percentage of questioners don’t get the information they ask for.

Many users have inadequate background knowledge, a condition that cannot be addressed on the mailing list and that leads to frustration for both the questioners and those trying to help them.

Mailing lists could be better integrated with the more formal documentation sources offered by projects, such as Frequently Asked Questions lists and wikis.

Users need better search tools and ways to find relevant documentation, so they don’t depend so much on questions on mailing lists.

This matches, pretty much perfectly, my experiences when running and more or less overseeing the developer discussions at Apple.

For a technical mailing list to succeed, it needs a couple of things: it needs a good admin who can (and will) sort out the personalities and keep things focussed and on topic — and be aware that some of their best technical contributors might be the least patient with the newbies, and try to manage the messes that will occur.

it needs the technical people with a willingness and ability to help. And once again, an admin who can differentiate between a willingness to help and an ability to, and to get the mis-information off the list or corrected as needed.

And it needs a good, solid knowledgebase. whether it’s a faq, a wiki, or some other form, it not only needs it, I think that the list needs someone responsible for feeding it. whether that’s an admin, or whether it’s a writer that has a part-time responsibility to sift a list and turn it into KBase articles, someone has to. the contributors won’t, and shouldn’t — their time is better used creating more content, not polishing up their writing (if they would in the first place). The admin might do that, but the hand of a good writer does wonders here.

And that kbase needs a killer search engine, dedicated to the content. one lesson I learned during that time was that while getting the data spidered in Google is a great way to drive new blood onto the lists, a good dedicated search engine is needed, also, and preferably one that lets you both search across all lists on the site, and focus on just one list. And be aware that not all search engines search well against primarily technical geekery like code fragments, because some algorithms see it as noise and exclude it (ditto numbering and stuff. you need to test the engines to see how well they work in your content world…)

Moving into the offseason

well, it’s now the off-season. Time for all of us hockey geeks to take a breather, relax, and wait for something interesting to happen.

Not. they may not be playing, but it sure isn’t quiet or boring right now, is it?

Anyway, I’m starting to firm up my off-season plans. With any luck at all, here’s what you’ll see at Two for Elbowing during the offseason:

First — as previously threatened, I’m going to start my series of articles on what’s wrong with hockey. And also what’s right, because there’s a bunch of both. I won’t pretend to have all of the answers (or even all of the questions), but I do think what I have planned will be interesting and make folks think. And since (if you don’t read my personal blog) I’m leaving StrongMail friday, until I get a new job one of the things i plan on working on is my writing portfolio — and this is one big piece of that. So hopefully, you’ll find it worth reading.

Second — a project I’ve wanted to do for a long while: get my various collections online; Laurie and I own about 60 jerseys, almost a hundred pucks and probably a similar number of pins, we have about 450 volumes in our book collections (including all volumes of Trail of the Stanley Cup), and Laurie’s collection god knows how many program books, and I’ve been wanting to put some of the more historic highlights online for a while, whether it’s classic images of Peter Puck or our personal friend, Big Head Referee.

Maybe even some “can you name this poor schmuck” based on their program pictures. Wait until you see the one we found of Wayne Thomas — if I can find it again…

So hopefully hockey off-season will be anything but boring around this place…