Chuq Von Rospach is a Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management and amateur photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and landscapes. My goal is to explore the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found. You can find out more on the About Page.
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Monthly Archives: May 2008
A couple of quick musings on the Detroit/Dallas series. Dallas came out of the 4 overtime game with little rest, and proceeded to hand Detroit three games before getting their game back and making it a series.
Sound familiar? And both Mike Modano and Brendan Morrow were quoted in the press about how that overtime game took it out of them.
A lot of this is biology; it takes a certain amount of time to flush out the lactic acid and replace the glucogen. It doesn’t matter HOW GOOD your conditioning it, if you don’t have time to rest up, you simply can’t perform at a top level. Detroit only had 1 extra day of rest over Dallas, but that one extra day was enough for the legs to recover.
And it wasn’t until about game four that both teams got back to equivalent levels of physical exhaustion.
So it’s really safe to claim that even though San Jose beat Calgary in 7, Calgary making the series that tough was the key factor in losing to the Stars. And the Sharks series was a key factor in the Stars losing to the Wings.
That’s why killer instinct is so important. That’s why you need to put a team away and finish off a series when you can. It’s because a four game series gives you the ability to play full out in the next series, where a seven game series leaves you worn out and easy (easier) pickings in the next round.
And the Sharks lack of a killer instinct against Calgary cost them a chance at Detroit. And that lack of killer instinct (which fluttered in and out of view all season like a butterfly, kicked in hard for that 20 game run, and then wandered off again in search of nectar…) is what ultimately cost Wilson his job.
Crash Davis points out that the difference between a AAA catcher and a major league catcher is a hit a week. Figure out how to go 2-4 one game a week instead of 1-4, and you’re in the bigs. the problem is: it’s just not easy to DO. But the ones that make the majors are the ones that do find a way. Not the most talented guys — the ones that find a way to make it happen. Talent helps, but it’s not the prime determiner of success.
The same is true in hockey in its way.
An example I like to use is goaltending. Take a goalie that lets in four goals in a game. For each goal in isolation, you may look at it and go “man, I don’t know how he could have stopped it”.
But taken in the larger view, the top goalies will find a way to stop ONE of those pucks. or two. That’s what makes them the top goalies. It’s easy to look at any one goal and think “tough save” — but look at a series of them, and you start realizing that the goalie needs to make SOME of them, or they shouldn’t be your goalie.
Same for teams. You can look at the Sharks playoff run (and I have), and find reasons why, if a bounce went this way instead of that, if Pavelski didn’t blow a tire, if this penalty wasn’t called, if that penalty WAS called, the results could be very different.
All very true. And I did exactly that. but sitting back and thinking on it a bit more, and talking about it with others, I started to realize the same thing about the Sharks that I did about those goals: yeah, the breaks went against the team, but the team needed to find ways to win anyway in some of those games. And it only would have taken a game or two to fight beyond those bad breaks to change the calgary series or the dallas series, because they really were that close.
Good teams have three attributes taht are relevant here:
they make their own luck through hard work and execution. Many times “luck” is nothing more than battling to be in the place you know you need to be at the time you need to be there.
they don’t let a bad break beat them. They find a way to overcome it.
And where possible, the top teams — and just look at Detroit here — make sure that they’re not in a position where a bad break CAN beat them. If you’re up 2-3 goals and in the offensive zone, a bad break simply isn’t as damaging as if you’re protecting your own goal and thegame is tied late, or you’re only up one goal.
And that, in a nutshell, is what’s missing from the Sharks. they played too many games too close to the edge, and when you do that and the breaks go against you, you lose. That’s a lack of the killer instinct, it’s letting your victim get back up and take a swipe at your kidneys. If you do, sometimes they’ll connect, adn then you have problems.
That’s why Wilson got fired, he didn’t find the way to inject that killer instinct into the team. And that’s the primary job of the new coach (I wish him luck). And if you want to see it in action, watch the Red Wings.
So it’s no surprise that this is the team Doug Wilson is looking to for inspiration on taking the Sharks to the next level.
Two for Elbowing: Conference Finals projections:
And Sharks/Dallas? Dallas deserves to move forward. Good luck to them.
1-3. Ouch. but still 7-5 for the playoffs. I still have time to screw that up.
And so I will.
And I went 1-1 in the conference finals, so I’m at 8-6 and guaranteed a winning record for the playoffs for the 2nd year in a row. Not too bad.
Okay, Okay. I’ve been under-estimating Detroit long enough. All year. I didn’t pick them that strong going into the season, I thought they were getting too old and the goaltending suspicious. In the playoffs, I kept assuming reality would kick in (forget that President’s trophy, it’s a mirage!).
Osgood has a rep for being the worst goalie to ever win a Stanley Cup (“oh, hell, I could have won a Cup goaltending for that team”. right. yeah.) — and may soon be the worst goalie to have TWO rings. He’s done nothing but impress me all season, and especially in the playoffs. Hasek has impressed me as well, because he’s finally learned a trick never before seen in his career: the ability to shut up and be a team player when he’s not the #1 dog in the locker room. Never figured I’d see that, either.
And now Frandsen is approved to start practicing.
I think this is going to be one hell of a series. I’m probably not going to want it to end. But ultimately, I think Detroit’s going to take it — and I’ll bet now that Pittsburgh will be in the finals again next year. here’s hoping they lose AGAIN to San Jose, otherwise, I expect the pens will win the Cup next year. tehy’re close.
but for now, no more disbelieving in Detroit. I think San Jose would have been a better match up against them than Dallas was, but I’m not convinced the Sharks would have won. Adn I don’t think Pittsburgh will win starting Saturday.
So, Detroit in 6. and I hope for a couple of good, long overtimes.
Forresterâ€™s conclusion: While much of Appleâ€™s great successes have been mobile products such as the iPod and the iPhone, the company will seek to colonize rooms throughout the home.
… and I keep thinking “this sounds familiar. Didn’t someone else already say basically this same thing?
Oh yeah. Someone did.
right on the bleeding edge again, Forrester… Way to go. (grin)
(actually, one of their suggestions I love — I’d love a good digital picture frame with wifi/internet capability that I could program to read either from a local Mac or from flickr for photo sharing. One for my wall, one for my office, and one for my mom’s house…)
Chuqui 3.0: Good Morning Silicon Valley: Jobs to Cringely: Thanks, Bob. I haven’t laughed that hard in years.:
So just look at Apple the last 18 months: iPod. iPhoto. a growing retail presence. better penetration into other retail channels (and OEM agreements with HP, for instance) — and then extrapolate into “what’s next” — not the next iPod, but what’s the next appliance? and the one after that? and…
Whatever it is, it’ll run OS X, but you’ll never see it. Just like you don’t see LInux in your Tivo.
And no, I”m not suggesting Apple’s going to buld a Tivo, or even a Tivo killer. But it might — and the fight for domination of the living room and the home media aspects of the future home are just beginning. And Apple’s already moving into that space — it doesn’t take a dummy to think Apple will keep finding ways to grow into that space. But it would have been a lot tougher doing so with PowerPC driving whatever boxes are going to be built. Intel makes those more affordable and cooler, and more powerful.
So the real fight isn’t MIcrosoft (except, maybe, the Xbox), or Dell — it’s Sony and Panasonic and the others also moving into these consumer electronic spaces.
Magowan said on Friday, in announcing his retirement, that he wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren.
We interrupt the hockey talk for a minute to thank Peter Magowan for everything he’s done for the Bay Area Sports fan.
It’s easy to forget, or choose not to remember, just what his contribution to the Bay Area is. Before Magowan stepped in, we were staring at 100 loss seasons by a team playing in Candlestick park (a place that made the Cow Palace look attractive, and still does), at least until that team moved to Tampa.
Remember when the Tampa Bay Giants was a done deal? No, most of you probably don’t.
Magowan was a key player in stopping that. Magowan brought us Barry Bonds, back when Barry Bonds was merely a stupendous baseball player. He found a way to get a new ballpark built, and a gorgeous one, despite a lack of cooperation from the city, continuing hassles by the NIMBYs, and without public funding.
And now he’s going to retire, leaving the next cycle of the Giants to others. Unfortunately, most of the media seems too be forgetting what he’s done in favor of whacking him for his mistakes, and while I’m not minimizing those, it seems to me if anyone deserved a day where people just said “hey, thanks”, Magowan did.
So hey, Peter?
Thanks. Enjoy not having to deal with the local media any more. Enjoy your grandkids. you deserved it. And some of us recognize what you’ve done, and appreciate it more than you might think.
(p.s: to Anne, and Mark, and Ray, and Tim: when your time comes and your last columns are written and your cohorts take you off to lunch to say goodbye, I hope they all stand up and call out a toast in your honor, and then spend the rest of the afternoon making fun of all of the stupid columns you’ve written over the years, rather than reflecting on all of the good ones you’ve done. It’s only fair and balanced, ya know?
It’s not about ignoring the mistakes, it’s about putting it perspective. that all could have waited for a second column a little later, you know? But heck, that’s just not how things are done, right?)
I’ve been thinking and talking offline more about the Sharks and Wilson, how we got here, where we go, more or less following up on my previous musings on the topics.
Ultimately, Ron Wilson wasn’t fired because he failed. He didn’t; just look at his numbers with the Sharks, and this season. 2nd best record, Division championship, 5th team left standing, and game 6 in the second round of the playoffs. Oh, and basically running the table the last quarter of the season….
The problem (“see, THERE’s your problem!”) is that this simply isn’t good enough, given this team’s talent. There have those of us who’ve felt — and I believe Doug Wilson would agree — that this team underperformed, both on an individual basis and as a team.
So if I’m Doug Wilson, I would need to sit down with Ron Wilson and have a very uncomfortable (but short) conversation, that goes something like this:
Given that this team didn’t play to its full potential (It was damn good. It should have been even better), what can you do as a coach to help these players reach this potential that you haven’t already done?
And given you’ve had five years as coach, if you haven’t done it yet, why not?
In other words, Ron Wilson’s damned no matter what. By this time, he’s taken this team as far as he can take it, and everything he does from here on are variations on a known theme. Given the Wilsons likely had this discussion after LAST season — and yes, the team and Wilson both improved, just not enough — it’s hard to see Doug Wilson saying “hey, let’s go one more year and see what happens”.
That’s why Ron Wilson’s unemployed today. Not that he did a bad job by any means, but he did the best possible job he could with this team — and it wasn’t good enough.
And honestly? That seems to be how to define Ron Wilson’s career: he can turn players into a really good team, but can’t quite get them over the hump. Anyone need to build a franchise? He’s your guy (and Atlanta ought to be talking to him already; that may be the best fit for him now. Or maybe Florida).
Now, I don’t envy the next coach. He comes in with even higher expectations, if that’s possible. He has to be: (a) as good a coach as Wilson, (b) a better motivator than Wilson, (c) personable, and (d) even better able to work with and get these players to buy into his system. that’s a bit set of shoes to fill.
It’s not as simple as replacing Wilson with a hard-ass coach (no Pat Quinn or Mike Keenan) or a “player’s coach”, although I get the impression that Doug Wilson thinks that the players need someone who’ll give this team more of an edge, so he seems to be leaning towards hard-ass.
The Sharks need a coach that can instill a “no prisoners” mentality into the team; a good start there is a coach who’s a former player with that kind of mentality. That drives my thinking on the next coach as much as anything, and it changes my list somewhat.
It makes me now think that NHL playing experience is key, and so is NHL coaching experience. That means, at least to me, that Roy Sommer isn’t a good candidate, and makes me lower Mike Sullivan further down my list.
But let me digress a bit — Two things about the Sharks organization I like is that they care about their alumni, and that they are loyal to those that are loyal to the organization. Roy Sommer has been coaching at the AHL level for the Sharks for years, and many of the Sharks prospects succeeded at the NHL level. At some point, I believe he should get a shot at the NHL (assuming, of course, he wants one) — and maybe it’s time to bring him to the San Jose organization as an assistant under the new coach, perhaps the eye in the sky guy.
And I’d love to see Rob Zettler and Tim Hunter stay with the organization. Will they stay assistant coaches under the next regime? Unlikely, but wouldn’t it be appropriate for them to take their next step forward with the team as well? I’d love to see the chance for them to go and take the helm at Worcester and get experience as a coach; I’d tend to think Hunter as the bench boss, but both of them deserve a chance to move forward and stay with the organization.
And having said that, back to the coach…
So after a couple of days reflection, what’s my short list?
Pat Burns – may be an old-school coach, but also seems to understand the newer generation players. Has a good Joe Thornton connection, and Thornton has gone to him when he’s had questions in the past. That seems like a good recommendation, and he has a solid resume, and wants to get back in the game. I wouldn’t mind seeing it happen in San Jose.
John Anderson – coach of the Chicago Wolves, in reality the best coach who hasn’t gone to the NHL. His IHL/AHL winning percentage? Right around .700, coaching a team taht in many cases had no affiliation, or one with a weaker team. If Bruce Boudreau is an example of the trend to moving from re-hiring the same set of coaches, then John Anderson is probably the next one to be brought up from the minors. And his teams win.
Joel Quenneville – I like what he did in Colorado, and I think his attitudes are compatible with the team and what the Sharks want to have happen. And he’s a lot like Wilson, so I dn’t see a need to tweak the team or the system heavily to fit into his visions.
Tony Granato – Speaking of Colorado, Granato is exactly the kind of player the Sharks need to have more of, and the kind of person that players can look up to and learn from. He’s someone I”d like to see have a good senior assistant staff with, but I think Granato could do some interesting things in San Jose. And he’s an alum. And a heck of a nice guy. And his sister’s cute. Wait, that’s not a reason to hire him… forget I said that.
How about Dale Hunter? Not an Alum, but… again, exactly the kind of player we need the sharks players to be more like. Currently an owner, president and head coach of the OHL’s London Knights. He doesn’t have the NHL coaching experience yet, but again, with the proper support structure, that wouldn’t worry me so much. I know it wouldn’t worry him…
So right now, those are my five favorites. Fortunately for Sharks fans, I don’t get a vote. It’ll be interesting to see what Doug Wilson does, though.
Coaches NOT on my candidate list:
Barry Melrose: there’s a reason why he’s worked for ESPN all these years. And a reason why he’ll continue. Anyone who seriously floats him as a coaching candidate for any job should be someone you stop taking seriously.
Drew Remenda: they’ll rehire Kevin Constantine first. Mostly because Remenda knows he’s a much better TV guy than a coach. And he wasn’t a bad coach, FWIW.
One local pundit suggested Mike Ricci, and even seemed serious about it. My only thought: that’s a good reason to stop reading this person’s writings about hockey. Ricci is many things, msot of the positive for the organization, but at least Jamie Baker has experience coaching his daughter’s rep team. Might as well make Joe Thornton player/coach. Heck, that’d probably work better. And that’s no rip against Mike Ricci — but Ricci isn’t qualified to be an NHL coach yet and won’t be for many years, if ever. And no, I”m not linking to him. Don’t want to either embarass him or make it easier for you to find him…
I’ve been down in LA again, visiting family. This time, it’s because Dad was scheduled for an angiogram on Friday, and I felt it made sense to be here in case anything happened.
Well, the test found three arteries about 99% clogged, so he was immediately admitted into the hospital because the doctors felt he was too risky to allow home. Arrangements were made, and this morning, he went into surgery for a triple bypass. I’m happy to say that he came through fine and was in recovery and from talking to the doctor, there seemed to be no complications. If all goes well, he’ll be in the hospital another week or so, then I’ll head down to LA again to help get him home and settled.
The family (and myself) are all nicely de-stressing now, too.
So it’s been an interesting week or so especially the last couple of days. I’ve been using the down time to study up on some work stuff, and have gotten out when I can to go out and do some walking and birding (trying to, instead of stress eat, get out and get some exercise. So far, it’s worked)….
It’s been a positive trip for birding — spring migration is on, so the migrant traps are busy. I’m about five minutes from Tri-City park in Placentia, so that’s where I head when I don’t have much time. In researching orange county birding, I also ran across Lakeview Park, which is on the Santa Ana “river”, and happens to be literally next door to the kaiser hospital (on Lakeview in Anaheim) where dad had his tests (his surgery is up in San Bernadino at a place that specializes in heart surgery).
I also took some time out Sunday for a more extended trip, visiting Huntington Beach Central Park for the first time, and a return visit to Bolsa Chica and then a quick drive up Newport Back Bay.
All in all, I added 7 birds to my life list:
Warbling Vireo, Orange-Crowned Warbler, Plumbeous Vireo, Least Tern, Elegant Tern, Rufous Hummingbird and Ash-throated Flycatcher, taking the life list to 196 (with a goal of 200 for the year, I’ve probably set the bar too low. Maybe I’ll shoot for 200 species for the year list).
The year list added those 7, plus four more: Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Semipalmated Plover, and Bewick’s Wren, giving me 164 for the year.
I finally added two problematic birds to my list: Orange-Crowned Warbler and Rufous Hummingbird. OC Warbler isn’t all that difficult a bird, but even when I’ve been in a group and had it called out, I’ve had trouble pulling it out of trees and identifying it to my satisfaction. This trip, I finally did so, so I can check it off. It was with a large group (20+) flock of warblers wandering Tri-city park, mostly yellow and Townsend’s with some Wilson’s for spice. And — I think — at least one Hermit, but I never got a good enough look to be sure and no photos. The photos I thought might be a candidate are bad pictures of a Townsend’s that make it hard to see the facial coloration. Ohwell. I’m pretty sure a Hermit was with that flock, though, but not enough to call it out for sure.
And rufous? they’ve just been hiding from me, even in places like Ed Levin where they’re known to congregate. Adn twice I ran into birds down south that turned out to be Allen’s, but I finalyl hit an adult I could sit and study enough to be able to differentiate it from the Allen’s.
Here’s a hummingbird that looks to be a barely-fledged rufous or Allen’s (probably Allen’s) — you can see just the barest hint of the gold/orange on the sides starting to come out, and there’s almost no green yet. Teh orange makes it selaphorus, and the general lack of color makes it real young. Doesn’t hurt that I saw Allen’s at that location, so I’m fairly sure they were nesting there.
More enjoyable, though, was being able to pull out some of the vireos and get good enough looks and photos to get solid IDs. Those birds can be tough; I found a spot at Huntington Central Park where there were a lot of canopy birds and a snag that actually went into the lake, and the birds were using it as a staging point to get down to the water to drink.
Newport Back bay was really quiet, and I was running short on time, so I only stopped at the observation parking lot, and wandered across the street into the brushy area up in the hill rather than focus on the wetlands. It’s a hangout for swallows and sparrows and stuff, and I was hoping to run into a loggerhead shrike or a blue-grey gnatcatcher (both seen there in the past by people I know); no luck, and it was pretty quiet other than the song sparrows, until the rufous popped up and gave me a good look, and then this bird popped up into a bush and hung out for a minute or two. I immediately realized it was a flycatcher (“Say’s Phoebe. Boring. No, wait, not with that head!….”). Those two species made the side trip on the way home more than worthwhile…
I’d originally planned on either a run down to Salton Sea, or up into Carrizo Plain and Morro Bay, but of course, plans changed. maybe next trip, once dad is settled. But I don’t think I did badly at all, and I’m starting to get the hang of tracking and seeing canopy birds better, and getting some decent photos.
And I can’t not show off the ducks… Came back from the birding trip to the beach, only to say to mom “did you know you have ducks in the back yard?”. fortunately, while they like the idea of nesting in the garden and using the pool, Remy had other ideas, and they moved on…
On the other hand, the neighborhood is pretty birdy, if not exotic: two mockingbird nests, a black phoebe couple, and for some reason, a flock of bushtits have moved in and are systematically cleaning all of the bugs and stuff off my mom’s window screens….
My entire photo set is, as always,).
The media is pulling out all of the old names: Quinn, Burns, Hartley. Amusing, but… that’s why they’re media, and the media guys doing that are guys you should stop paying attention to. They’re pulling it out of their butt, and not worth the time you waste reading them.
Who’s going to be the next Sharks coach? I certainly don’t have the answer, but I can think of a few names that I expect the Sharks to think about.
One is Roy Sommers, who’s been cultivating the kids and doing the loyal person thing down in Worcester (and K.C., and Kentucky, and…). At some point, someone’s going to notice him and give him a shot in the NHL, or the Sharks are going to move him up to the parent club. He’s good, especially with younger players, and a lot of the current sharks were taught by him and coached by him during development. Which sounds a lot like the story of Bruce Boudreau, no?
Joel Quenneville intrigues me. He did some good things in Colorado, can deal with younger players, and has success. His system would work well in San Jose.
But two names that the big name folks aren’t as likely to think of, and both have Sharks connections:
Tony Granato, former Shark, former Av coach and Av assistant coach.
Mike Sullivan, former Bruins coach, and former Shark.
Both have history with Doug Wilson, both have good coaching credentials, both have history with the Sharks (which is important to the Sharks, alumni credit goes a long way here) and with Doug Wilson, and both are really class individuals who handle people well.
And frankly? Colorado could do a lot worse than hire Ron Wilson…. especially if they hire Melrose, or Quinn, or Hartley, or…
The day of re-hiring retread old-school coaches is going away folks. Except for old-school media types (and franchises like the Leafs, who will hire a “big name” and then wonder why they continue to suck….). The hockey player of today is a different kind of player, and it’s time for the newer, up and coming coaches who understand that to come and coach. Not just bring back the same old names that have been fired 20 times before for the same old reasons…
Don’t believe me? Look at Calgary and Keenan. Brought in to “take taht team to the next level”. the “next level” was the same number of regular season points, and the same first round exit. Way to go, Mike. Nice improvement. Only now, the players up there are unhappy,b ecause Mike’s not exactly a “people” guy, especially around goaltenders. Fortunately, the Flames goaltender isn’t anything special, so it doesn’t matter if he’s unhappy, right?
The ONLY “old school” coach I’d consider hiring for any position in the NHL is Pat Burns. The day for guys like Quinn and Hartley and Keenan is past. Smart franchises understand that… Adn the Sharks are a smart franchise.
Ron Wilsonâ€™s delusion and when to derail the Cheechoo train â€“ NHL Experts Bâ€¦ â€“ NHL â€“ Yahoo! Sports
Greg at Yahoo comments:
As for the roster, the Sharks are making the case for stability. But Chuq Von Rospach – who has his own evaluation of the Wilson situation here — believes there needs to be some roster shuffling, and Milan Michalek and, surprisingly, Jonathon Cheechoo are his targets:
I think there needs to be some shuffling on the front lines, and it can’t be 3rd/4th line guys. To me, the guys who are sometimes scary-awesome and sometimes missing are Mchalek and Cheechoo. They don’t seem to be clicking into the system and chemistry of the team consistently. both should have strong market value, and could bring back a top 6 forward. Of perhaps an upgrade at D, if that’s what is wanted. I don’t think we need to trade both, but I’d listen for offers for either and take one that makes sense.
Everyone should just be happy Michalek can still eat solid food after that Brenden Morrow hit. As for Cheechoo, he could no doubt bring back something substantial … as long as opposing general managers don’t have access to his postseason stats.
or as long as opposing general managers see the upside Chechoo has, and see their ability to pull it forward in their system. The same exact comment could have been made a year ago about, say, Mike Ribiero in Dallas, no?
And both Michalek and Cheechoo could continue to mature and bloom in San Jose, too. I certainly don’t want to see both leave. I’d personally not want to see either leave. But if (as people keep saying, and I don’t really disagree) there’s a chemistry issue, or a “not clicking” issue among the forwards, then things need to get shuffled; and you don’t five a problem with the top six forwards by trading a fourth liner. These are bold and clearly controversial moves — but if the answer was simple and easy, it’d have been done by now.
I see there are two answers here: leave it alone and expect the team to work itself out, or do something significant to shake it up. Any middle ground is likely to do more harm than good.
A good argument could be made for leaving it alone: the 20 game streak at the end of the season, the key 7th game win against calgary, the comeback against Dallas from 0-3 to the fourth overtime loss in game 6. Those are significant proof points that this team isn’t broken.
Yet — if the goal is to win the stanley cup, I’m just not convinced leaving it alone is enough to get there, not because this isn’t a hell of a team, but because it’s been shown there are a number of other teams in the league that are also hell of a team (Dallas, Detroit, don’t count out Anaheim next year — just in the west). They aren’t going to make it any easier in future years, so if you really want to step past them, you aren’t going to do it with baby steps.