Monthly Archives: January 2009

A game of glorified shinny

So what to do about the NHL All-Star Game, which started as a nice idea (as a fund-raiser for the injured Ace Bailey in February, 1934) and once upon a time, actually bore a reasonable facsimile to the way the game of hockey is played: With passion, intensity and in a hard-edged physical manner.

Now of course it’s an entirely different animal – a game of glorified shinny that some players choose to skip if at all possible. It’s seen by them as one more obligation in a season that stretches endlessly for the very best teams – from the September start up to the June celebrations, if you’re lucky enough to be the last team standing.

via globeandmail.com (like removed, no longer available): A game of glorified shinny.

the NHL network, which is the background noise here in my office when I’m working at the computer and there’s nothing else on, has been showing the 1980 All-Star game from Detroit this evening. That’s the one that was Howe’s last and Wayne’s first, with Phil and Tony Esposito, Larry Robinson, Marcel Dionne (my guy!) and Bossy and Gainey and Shoenfeld and a bunch of others, most of whom you’ve probably heard of and many of whom are significant players in today’s hockey management on various teams.

Funny thing is, watching this game, what do I see? A bunch of players skating at 3/4 speed, maybe stick-checking, effectively no physical play, no body checks, no significant forechecking, and lackluster defense.

Sound familiar? Yeah, it sounds a lot like the modern-day All-Star games everyone is whining about and complaining that they aren’t like they used to be in the old days. The only difference I see is the score: there is, in fact, a bit more of an attempt at defending the slot — but mostly what I see different about that game from recent All-Star games is that modern All-Stars are a lot faster skaters, and when you’re skating at 3/4 speed, it’s a lot easier for a faster skater to go around you, so there’s more undefended high-percentage shots. No wonder there’s more scoring now.

But it sure doesn’t look to me like the players then were playing anything close to a “real” NHL game, and it sure isn’t the kind of physical fest you’d expect with guys like Bill Barber in the game. it looks like — gasp — an All-Star game.

you don’t suppose that, just maybe, the problem is over time people have come to remember the All-Star games as better than they really were? The big difference I’m seeing is that players then played at 3/4 speed on both offense and defense, while today’s players are ramping it up on offense in the game — and honestly, unless you want Craig Ludwig to come out of retirement, is there any player in Montreal that’s going to go down in front of a shot to block it this weekend?

It really looks to me taht the only significant difference between this year and 30 years ago is that the players today are faster and better shooters, not that the players in the earlier games cared more or worked harder…

Well, not exactly…. (Gary Bettman has put a black eye onto the All Star Weekend)

Gary Bettman has put a black eye onto the All Star Weekend. Friday afternoon, he announced that players chosen to the All Star Game who are chosen to play in the All Star Game and cite an injury as a reason to not play in the All Star Game must either attend the non-game schmooze fest part of the weekend or miss at least one game either before or after the All Star break. Effectively, this suspends players for the first game after the break who decided not to attend the event.

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There are several reasons why these suspensions are unfair. The first is that they apply only to players chosen to the All Star roster and not the Young Stars roster.

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Second, there is significant precedent for players opting out of the All Star Game. It has been happening for years. Some fans and the league complained, but nothing had been done to punish those players.

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This is all problematic because it is an example of Gary Bettman trying to expand the power of the commissioner. There is no precedent for suspending players who miss a league event.

via KuklasKorner : The Puck Stops Here : All Star Game Suspensions.

The only problem with this commentary is that it’s not true.

The rule isn’t new. It is, in fact, a clause in the standard player contract, which means it was part of the negotiation of the CBA with the Player’s Association. Paul Kelly confirmed that in Montreal today, in fact. And this wasn’t exactly a surprise, Gary Bettman noted today that GMs were warned before the season started that the league was tired of players taking advantage of the league cutting them slack and that they were looking at clamping down on this. So the teams really have no excuse to be surprised. Some of the players that have taken advantage of not going to the All-Star game (Brodeur, for instance) did, in fact, not play in the first game after the break, although it wasn’t portrayed as a suspension. I’m not sure if Luongo did the same without doing the research.

This is a rule that’s been in existance for a number of years. The league has shown some discretion in enforcing it — and as a result, more and more players abused the situation, and now the league is cracking down. This is Gary Bettman’s problem how? oh, right. all problems are caused by Gary Bettman.

And in fact, Bettman also said today that the current rules don’t include the young stars in the requirement to attend, and that he will discuss this with the board of governors and that will likely change for next season. So the reason Mason and some of the Young Stars aren’t in Montreal is because Bettman wasn’t being arbitrary about the rules and wouldn’t change them without going through the formal processes — exactly the opposite of what he’s being accused of here. Gee. A little research does wonders some days…

The players want a partnership with the teams in working together to make the league better and more successful (and richer?). Well, you can’t cherry pick WHEN you want to be partners. And part of marketing the game is, well, marketing the game, and that includes showing up at the All Star weekend and doing the press thing and the sponsor thing and making the fans happy. Because isn’t that what both sides are supposed to be about?

Well, I guess not when it’s inconvenient.

By the way, there’s a more subtle, secondary issue here: replacing one of the Red Wings was San Jose’s Patrick Marleau, who went willingly and happily (and last-minute-ly. oh, never mind..) as a replacement. With San Jose and Detroit in a tight, really tight battle for the Presidents Cup and first seed in the west, one could make an argument that the Wings are impacting the Cup race by holding back their players without a good reason and instead causing a Shark to go in the place of one of them — thereby resting their player, and causing a Shark to miss out on his days off.

So what if Marleau pulls a groin two weeks from now? What if the Wings end up winning the President’s Cup by a cople of points? An argument could be made — these two teams are THAT closely matched — that if the Wings had held to their obligation and Marleau had stayed home and rested  as originally decided, maybe it would have been different.

So it may seem like a trivial issue, but the fact is these players are in violation of their contracts — AND it has some interesting wrinkles in the way it could potentially impact how the teams finish down the stretch. Of course, people who write about hockey don’t need to worry about those kinds of details — but Gary Bettman does.

Fixing the All-star game (well, not really)

I can’t take credit for this idea, but I dig it and I’m going to tell you all about it anyway. I read this suggestion somewhere yesterday as I was browsing the various blogs where Wing haters were sobbing about this and this. I’ll try to track down who mentioned it yesterday and give credit where it’s due. Also, it’s been done before…back when hockey was hockey and Gary wasn’t in the picture.

Here’s the idea: Next year, when the Wings are defending their twelfth Stanley Cup title? Select an All Star team who will play the Cup Champs.

via KuklasKorner.

I have a couple of problems with this.

First, yes, the league did this before. Yes, All-star games back then were more intensely played games. The problem I have is that nobody can actually show that going back to this old format will actually bring back the old intensity. It just seems there’s this big “and magically, everything is fixed” box in the flowchart here. I don’t buy it, I don’t believe it. We shouldn’t make changes just because.

More important to me, though, is how a change like this can and will affect the real games. What was one of the major speculation points going into this season? Yes — how the Detroit Red Wings would cope with and overcome the “Stanely Cup Hangover” and how most of the recent teams have struggled with it (look at Pittsburgh this year; that hangover is at least part of their problem).

So what’s the plan here? Take the team what’s played the most hockey, the hardest hockey, and when the entire league gets a few days off to rest and get ready for the 2nd half of the season, make the entire team play a hockey game against the league all-stars. Of course, even though it’s an exhibition, we’re expecting them to play hard and physical, make it a “real” game, even though it’s an exhibition, because that’s the point of this change.

In other words, take the team likely most in need of rest across the break, and instead of having a couple of their players (well, this year, NONE, but I don’t blame the Wings for pulling that stunt) involved, have the entire team involved.

How is this good for the game of hockey? How is this remotely good for the team involved? Why do we even want to consider making it HARDER for a champion to repeat a second time — and that’s exactly what this idea would do. Heck, we get back to back cup winners so often, let’s throw another obstacle in their way.

This is simply a bad idea. It’s a “I remember the good parts of the 70′s, if we just do that, everything will be great” concept. The problem is, when you start looking at what the idea means in the larger context of the game today, it has a lot of negatives, and it’s a bad deal for the team and for the league. Fixing an exhibition by messing up the real season seems like a bad tradeoff to me. The players need this time off to rest up and heal; taking a player or two from each team to play in the All-Star is one thing. Taking the entire team and throwing away their downtime? I can’t see any team seriously going with that idea without a fight.

Especially since there’s no real reason to believe that it’d fix the problem people seem to be trying to fix, which is that this is an exhibition, and the players play like it is. Just swapping the players around won’t change that basic reality — just as moving to the North America vs. the World format didn’t a few years back. Honestly, does this really need fixing in the first place?

Farce of the Predators – From The Rink

One source among the NHL governors says he and some of his peers are not happy that clubs can buy tickets to hit revenue-sharing targets. They are also not pleased that some low-revenue clubs have started offering larger discounts and more incentives such as merchandise and free trips to people buying single-game or season tickets.

It is all done with an eye to raising enough revenue to land a full share of revenue sharing, which comes out of the pockets of other clubs.

No kidding.

With all due respect to Dirk Hoag, a Preds blogger and fan who I’ve got a great deal of time and respect for, this is a joke. There’s no problem with some of the NHL’s more well-heeled clubs paying out some cash to keep things a bit more equal, but when ticket sales are being distorted and ownership groups are forking out good money for unused tickets in order to beget cash from other franchises?

I’ve got no qualms with the ownership “doing everything they can to make the NHL a long-term success” in Nashville, as Hoag puts it, but not at the expense of other clubs. If Freeman and company want to legitimately prop up their team, their money should be better spent on either marketing the team or improving its chances on the ice.

via Farce of the Predators – From The Rink.

I’ll take the opposite view here.

It’s not against the rule; if the team spends a million dollars in investing in its own tickets to get back $10 million in revenue sharing money, that’s a  great investment; probably even better because they can likely donate the tickets to charity, get people/kids in the seats and get a tax break, too.

Is it a loophole in the rules? Sure. Should the league close the loophole? Probably. But until they do — hey, whatever it takes. Should the owners have been smart enough to forsee this loophole and close it before ever allowing it to happen? Well, that’s why you hire lawyers and accountants. Don’t blame Nashville for being smarter about this than the rest of the league…

Heck, this is a time honored tradition in the NFL, a league often used as a “the NHL needs to be more like them” comparison. A not-very-secret secret is that one reason the NFL stadiums all play to 99.7% of capacity (except for Oakland) is that the NFL blacks out TV in the local market if the stadium isn’t sold out 72 hours before game time — and so teams, and in many cases, the TV station with the rights to the game, suck up all of the unsold tickets to “guarantee” that sellout, just like Nashville now is. And either eat them, or send them to charities.

This starts sounding a lot like one of those “against the code” arguments, like the ones used against teams that sign restricted free agents to offer sheets — legal, but ‘we don’t do that’ (at least whenever it’s done TO a team, instead of BY a team). Of course, the whole ‘we don’t do that’ with restricted free agents was modelled after Major League Baseball, another league the NHL is held up against. Only in baseball, it’s called Collusion, and they’ve paid hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties over it to the union. Fortunately, the GMs in the NHL have more or less gotten over it, much to Brian Burke’s dismay.

Heck, it’s really simple: if it’s not against the rules, don’t complain. Fix the rules. Until you do, don’t complain that Nashville was simply smarter about this than the teams now complaining. That’s no different than any other trade in which one team fleeces another — except in this case, the fleece is money, not players.

I think it’s a great hack, myself. And it brings the NHL one step closer to NFL, which people keep saying is a good thing, by showing that increasingly the league is getting away from things like “code” and “tradition” and realizing that it’s money and winning that matters.. Right? Except, of course, in Oakland…

Update:

The ”big story” here should be that attendance has risen significantly in Nashville despite the economic situation and a team that is sputtering of late. They’ve added new corporate sponsorships in the last few months and appear likely to hit the targets required for revenue sharing. Good News, unfortunately, just doesn’t make a catchy headline like the negative stuff.

via KuklasKorner : On the Forecheck : Predators likely to hit magic attendance mark.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the “if necessary” part of the story got dropped in the hurry by some pundits to play the “the league is doomed (move them all back to canada where they belong)” game some more. Funny how when Nashville has problems, the press is all over it, but when things go well in Nashville, the press either ignores it — or decides to spin it into a problem anyway.

Something to remember as you read some of these “experts”. More on that later.

Questions Heading into the All-Star Break

Good questions. Here are some hopefully good answers:

Since the NHL All-Star Break has arrived, I figured that this would be the best time to ask some questions out loud and get your thoughts.

- When will New York Islanders’ goaltender Rick DiPietro ever be healthy?

Maybe never. and this is the worst case scenario for the Islanders and that contract, which makes sense AS LONG AS DiPIETRO IS HEALTHY. Which he’s not. And if DiPietro gets hurt badly enough he can’t play anymore, you can buy him out and get him off the cap and move on. but if he’s reliably unreliable, you can’t bring in a new goalie, because if he ever does get healthy, you got problems (and you need a goalie wiling to play with a ghost hovering behind his shoulder). He’s going to mess up the salary cap intermittently, and you certainly can’t trade him — and his salary is only under insurance for so many years (four per contract, I think), so the rest of it is Wang’s problem.

This is the probelm with long, guaranteed contracts; this is the problem the entire NHL has to come to grips with. DiPietro is an extreme case, but the trade off of locking up your “key guys” for a long time is “what happens if they can’t be the key guy?” and as New York is showing us, the answer to “What do we do now?” is “Now we die…”

Teams basically are going to have to learn to be more willing to lose a player to free agency to allow for flexibility and limits to the impact of cap space. Right now, the mentality is still one of trying to protect the investment made in developing a player, but the cost of trying to hard to protect that investment is starting to be understood, and that’s going to mean shorter contracts and more willingness to recognize taht sometimes, you simply can’t throw that many years at a player in a deal.

We saw a similar problem in the first year or so of the CBA with no-trade and no-movement clauses; teams saw that as a way to get players to accept less money, and then got pissed when players fought about waiving them because they became inconvenient to the team (hello, Toronto, this means you); I’m with the players there, and you’re seeing teams roll back on no-trades and no-movements as a way to make it easier to hit the cap number. Long contracts are following that same learning curve. Even, maybe, in Toronto.

- Will this finally be the year that the Columbus Blue Jackets make the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Yes. My gut says so. My heart hopes so. they deserve it.

- Why isn’t Alex Ovechkin a starter in the All-Star game?

Because that’s how it works out. Never have so many pundits and bloggers spent so much time and energy talking about how screwed up something that really doesn’t matter is. Instead of talking about how screwed up it is, why not consider why they’re putting so much energy into it when it’s really meaningless five minnutes into the game this weekend and forgotten two days later?

- With the strong play of New Jersey Devils’ netminder Scott Clemmenson, what happens to Kevin Weekes once Martin Brodeur is healthy?

Look for Weekes to be on eBay. We’ll see who punches the “Buy now” button first. There are certainly teams who need someone like him. But teh bigger question may be “how much longer for Martin”, because Brodeur is going to retire “soon”, do the Devils try to hold this grop together for that eventuality instead of working on a “plan B” when it happens?

- Can anyone else believe that Claude Lemieux is once again an NHLer?

OLD GUYS RULE.

- Who’s better: the San Jose Sharks, Detroit Red Wings or Boston Bruins?

We’ll know in June. We won’t know before. right now, it’s too close to call.

- Could we see an original six matchup in the Stanley Cup Finals this spring between the big bad Bruins and the Wings?

Yes. Will we? Not if San Jose has a say in the matter.

- Will this finally be the year that New York Rangers’ star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist gets recognized as the league’s top goaltender by winning the Vezina Trophy?

Last year, Nabokov should have been, but got aced out by a goalie with a  life achievement bonus. This year, it’s hard to argue against Lundqvist, but there’s this new puppy people keep talking about, someone named, um, Mason. It’s funny how the voters are some time….But then, these are the same people who vote but bitch about the all-star voters being stupid, so who knows?

- Will Sean Avery ever play in the NHL again?

Yes. For long? not so sure. For who? good question. Not San Jose, that’s for sure. Although Claude would kick his butt if he got out of line… Hmm.

- Will the press ever look at hockey in a positive light?

Maybe the beter question is “will people ever stop reading the idiots in the press who don’t understand hockey but insist on talking about it?” There’s lots of good hockey writing going on. Read it instead of the idiots.

These are just a few of the many questions that are on my mind right now but I wanted to gauge your thoughts. Leave your comments folks!

via KuklasKorner : Goal Line Report : Questions Heading into the All-Star Break.

Winter birdwatching…

I’ve been doing a bunch of early year winter birding, trying to get the winter birds on my list before the wander off. It’s been a lot of fun (my first winter “rush”) and I’ve had some pretty good luck; so far, my year list is at 120 species, about six weeks ahead of last year, and I’ve added a couple of new life birds to the list as well (Red-breasted merganser and ring-necked duck). It almost feels like the birds are parading for me now; I went up to Redwood Shores where I knew a spotted sandpiper had hung out in the past, and in it flew and wandered around a bit (and for good measure, I’ve since seen them twice more, at Vasona and Alviso).

I went off to Sunnyvale Water Polution Control Plant on Monday since the weather was good. I haven’t been there in over a year since I whacked the knee, but now that I’m starting to build in some mileage again, I figured I’d try out to the radar dish and back.

As I got there, a couple of hunters were putting a boat into the channel right where the parking lot is. I figured they would probably scare up anything in the channel as they paddled out (which they did… more in a sec). Down where the pump station is and the channel heads north past the old landfill I had a nice red-tail on the power pole and a california towhee scratching in the leaf mould. Much to my amusement, just as I was thinking “I’ve seen green heron here before”, one flew in and landed. It flex back out towards the water plant when I tried to get a better angle on it, kvetching the whole way. That, of course, didn’t help, because the hunters flushed it twice more before it got really annoyed and flew north up that channel and away from all of us, loudly protesting.

Not much in the reeds — lots of crowned sparrows and some yellow-rumps (mostly heard). On the pond were coots, pied-billed grebes, a few ducks, two snowy egrets, and the occasional d-c cormorant flying by, as well as a single great blue near the landfill channel. Up the hill on the landfill area was a flock of about 25 canada geese.

After making the turn out towards the radar disk, I noticed a black-crowned night heron in the reeds in the channe between the two paths (looking out towards the salt pond to the south). Realizing the hunters were headed out into that area, I decided to stop and watch the show. Ever wonder how many herons hang out in that area? The answer is 35-40 (two were visible to me before the hunters showed up). They also flushed a 2nd green heron and annoyed the blackbirds and two marsh wrens.

After that, I headed back in because I had to deal with some email. I had two probable common yellowthroats, but not enough of a look at either to make them definitive to my tastes.

Oh, out in the field at disk drive trying to convince me they were burrowing owls were a small flock of marbled godwits. Out at state and spreckles I saw a spotted sandpiper, a few western sandpipers a couple of killdeer and the usual suspects (at least one mew gull, no glaucous among the gulls). Out at shoreline I mostly saw people fighting over parking places because it’s a holiday, so I didn’t stick around..

On Sunday, Laurie and I went out for our January trip to O’Neill Forebay and Merced National Wildlife Refuge, before the cranes and geese leave for the northern trip. It was a fun trip, the the drought we’re seeing in California was horribly obvious; the reservoir very empty, the hills already browning into the spring golden colors. Bird numbers at the forebay were light, and numbers at Merced were much lighter than normal. We saw few sandhill cranes at all until the sunset fly-in, and geese were in the thousands vs.  the tens of thousands. Talked to a couple of other birders there who felt the same way.

As I write this, it’s actually raining. we really need it; here’s hoping it makes a dent.

My 2008 goals for birding were fairly straightforward; 220 species to the life list for the year, 200 species for the year list, and my long-term goal, which was to find a bird that was a notable addition to the birding group — it’s one thing to chase birds other people find and add them to the list, for me, the real goal is to start finding birds that other birders can then also find.

I missed the 200 for the year by three, partly because of weather and partyl because of holiday time issues; I could have made it but it seemed an artificial thing to do, so I focussed on other things. I’ve since covered the life list with birds that were available in 2008 where I found them, so I don’t feel bad about it.

And I finally found that “special” bird; a red-breasted sapsucker showed up in Redwood Shores and was first seen by me and later refound by others. Even nicer, the photos I got of the bird indicate it’s actually a likely hybrid — red-breasted sapsucker x red-naped sapsucker is the most likely candidate. That made my day, and turned into a really nice find. I’ve got photos on flickr for those interested.

8332011293 69c9e9139e Winter birdwatching…

When I went down to Vasona, I ran into a couple from the East Coast birding the lake, and we had a nice chat. One thing I like to do when I run into non-local birders is share what I know and help them better see the area — it’s a real joy to see birds we see here as common in fresh eyes. In Vasona, that was talking about snowy and great egrets, as well as showing off black phoebes, one of those birds you basically have to shoo off around here — but to someone from back east, they’re true joys to sit and watch as they chase bugs and flit around.  It’s a fun way to step back and see the hobby from a different viewpoint.

My birding goals for 2009?

I’m not settting any hard goals right now. I want to continue improving my ID capabilities and see what I can accomplish. My current hope is to explore more of Santa Clara County (where I do about 60% of my birding) and San Mateo County (where I do about 30%) and visit a wider variety of habitats. Now that the knee and ankle are to the point I can start doing more walking (and I need to start building my mileage and conditioning again) it’ll open up more places to go walk and bird. I still want to do this mostly for enjoyment and the challenge, and not turn it into a chore.

One of the things I’m experimenting with is using Google Maps do document birding areas and sighting locations. Once I get that under control I’ll start posting those maps here; when I get enough content to make sense, I plan on relaunching siliconvalleybirders.org sometime this year (why the first one failed is a story I’ll write about one of these days, but the domain is currently parked waiting for V2). I think there are some nice capabilities for helping people bird the area, and we’ll see how it goes.

So 2009 has started out really well; the ability to show up and have species like Green Heron just pop up and say hello won’t continue — but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

Sharks 2, Vancouver 1 in overtime

And to think I could have stayed home and watched paint dry….

What can you say? Last game before the All-Star break, and a whole lotta “I don’t want to spend the break in a hot tub” broke out. Vancouver got a goal early on a really good shot on one of their few offensive chances in the first, and went into an 0-5 and tried to hold the lead for the rest of the game.

The Sharks played like they really didn’t care much one way or another. spent lots of time in the offensive zone, little time actually fighting for quality shots.

Yawn. The Sharks woke up late and decided to win it, Vancouver didn’t notice until it was too late, and then Henrik takes a stupid, lazy penalty in OT and that more or less hands the game to San Jose. Vancouver wins a point, San Jose gets two they really didn’t deserve, but neither did Vancouver.

In the “not sure what I expected” department: the arena all but gave Claude Lemieux a standing ovation just for coming over the boards and skating a shift. As I kept saying to people around me, “old guys rule”. I love the Sharks fans, they tend to get the game in ways not all fan bases do, and one thing I think they got here was just how hard Lemieux worked just to get to this point, and they recognized him for it. As do I. He looked in pretty damn good shape for at one point skating for the Vancouver Millionaires.

How’d he do? skated hard, hit bodies, drove to the net, took really, really short shifts, and got a few shots on net. Didn’t do anything that made me think he deserved a promotion off the fourth line, didn’t do anything to make me think he didn’t deserve to be there. Earned a second game in my book, and that’s good enough.

Hell, I noticed him on the ice more than I noticed Sundin. Honest. I mostly noticed Mats skating when he was gliding back to the bench ending a shift. He just didn’t do anything to make me see him taking shifts.

Hey, watching this game was great practice for watching the all-star game, right?

(yawn).

Pierre LeBrun on Claude Lemieux

Imagine Rob Blake’s surprise Monday when he walked into the dressing room in San Jose and saw none other than Claude Lemieux.

Blake had not yet heard his team had called up the veteran winger, so that’s how he found out.

“It was nice to run into him,” Blake told ESPN.com. “It makes J.R. and I a little younger on our team.”

Blake and Jeremy Roenick are both 39 years old, puppies compared to the 43-year-old Lemieux, who also happens to be two and half years older than Sharks coach Todd McLellan.

“But he looks in great shape,” Blake said of Lemieux.

Before we continue, crow must be eaten. We promised to run through the press box naked at the Stanley Cup finals if Claude Lemieux’s NHL comeback bid came to fruition. Ahem, media colleagues, you’ve been forewarned. Please make sure to have eaten dinner before we make good on our promise next June.

“That’s why we called him up,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson, joking of course, told us Monday.

We weren’t the only ones to make fun of this comeback bid. The laughter was universal around the hockey world. And Lemieux took notice.

via Pierre LeBrun Blog – ESPN.

I never thought this would happen. Fortunately, unlike Lebrun, I won’t be running around naked any time soon. Civilization is safe.

I’ve gotten a couple of emails asking me why the Sharks are doing this. I mean, look at the record; they don’t need the help.

Well, that’s not Doug wilson’s style. He won’t be satisfied ujntil this team wins the Cup. There’s always some experimentation on how to make the team better. They’ve been auditioning kids all season, and except for Kaspar (who played his way off the team), they’ve all done pretty well, but none have played themselves onto a permanent spot on the team yet. Good, not great. they don’t make the team better. They do give the Sharks some sense of comfort that if they need the depth due to injuries, they have it, but none of them bought a permenent spot in San Jose.

So, plan B: Lemieux. try him now. The major risk is it doesn’t work, and there’s little damage done anywhere. Nice try, even if it doesn’t work. If it does? the sharks are better. If it sort of works? the Sharks have showcased a piece they can maybe trade at the deadline. Lots of upsides here, maybe small ones, but unless Lemieux runs over joe thornton in practice and tears joe’s ACL, no real downside. Attitude issues? Hell, the Sharks could stand being a little less “nice”, and those same questions showed up with roenick early on, and see how that worked out. you can bet Wilson (and McLellan) aren’t worried about chemistry or locker room issues; those were discussed and resolved before we got that far (earth to Brett Hull: your season was avoidable, if you’d only talked ot your team and your coach, and listened to them. Wilson did, bet on it)

I’m intrigued. I hated Lemieux’s hit on Draper; I loved watching him win the Conn Smythe. he’s going to be fun to watch, even if it’s only two games and back to Worcester.

Hey, maybe we should do signs for the Vancouver game that say “Old guys rule!”