Kukla's Korner Hockey
Sharks Ice, Wed 10 am:
I wasn’t supposed to be here today. I don’t mean I’m not allowed, I mean I’m so bad at reading schedules that I didn’t realize there were more Captain’s Practices this week so when I said last week was my last that was inaccurate.
There’s a big heater hanging over the bleachers in the East rink. This rink does not have the new glass and boards system. The zamboni demonstrates how much less flexible it is by giving it a sound bump before the skaters arrive.
Pavs, Mitchell, McCarthy, Couture, McGinn, Havlat take the ice. Now Jumbo and Burnzie and Ferriero and Andrew Murray. Then Douglas Murray and Demers and a number 10.
Last week, Drew Remenda asked Todd McLellan some questions for Sports Night. The Sharks’ coach talked about the team’s offseason moves, last season, and his expectations for this season.
TM on acquiring Burns:
We really liked the opportunity, we jumped at it. He’s not only a short term fix for our team, given the fact that he can stay healthy, we believe that he can be a long term fix as well.
McLellan also detailed all the other nice things that are so evident about Burns: temperament, age, talent and size. The team was happy to get him. Burns is already making it clear why Wild fans were so attached to him. Fear the Fin did a nice piece on that. Yes, Coach, we like him too.
Training Camp is imminent. Tuesday morning was the last Captain’s Practice I’ll attend this year. Other duties call, in LA. How fitting for a rival city to interfere with my fun.
The guys started skating early on Tuesday, I understand some were due at a function around lunch time. Practice was well under way when I turned up at 9:30. I hesitated at the door because a couple of people were standing there looking through the glass. Well, in my head I hesitated. I looked the door over, saw there was no sign warning me away, and I went in. There may have been no hesitation in my stride.
“I can’t make sense of it.” That’s a recurring theme this summer. You can make sense of suicide and death and plane crashes. You can analyze data, do toxicology tests, determine the chances of someone being susceptible to influences that push them to destroy themselves. You can analyze wreckage and figure out why the plane fell out of the sky.
I’ve been trying to avoid writing about death. We’ve had too much opportunity to avoid it this summer. Making sense doesn’t make you feel better. Maybe the sense you make can contribute to future preventative measures and that is better than simple loss. But I’m not going to make sense of it, all I can do is ride this wave of sorrow with a box of kleenex on hand.
@dchesnokov: “I am sorry that I can’t reply to you, guys. I am just in shock still.”
A lot of Sharks fans like the “black armor” unis. Others hate the “black pajamas.” I don’t hate them but they do look like pajamas to me. Pajamas are cute, but I don’t like the color. It is all wrong for the occasion. It’s like wearing black to a Mardis Gras party or a picnic. People do that but it shows they are missing the point. Teal may not be the most festive color but at least it’s a color with personality. It’s not blue, it’s not green, it clashes with red in a pleasing way. It’s much better than black.
Black is “cool,” the color of chic and formal events and drear and government motorcades. It says “I’m so awesome I don’t need to do anything to make you notice me.” It is a background color, stealthy and discreet and afraid to choose. It makes you look more pale and smaller than you are. I know hockey has a fat phobia but come on, live a little!
I came across a poll somewhere, maybe on CSN, asking fans how they thought the Sharks look now, you know, what we think the team could still improve. One of the options was goaltending. Most fans chose depth forwards. Seems reasonable.
Seeing that goaltending option got me thinking. In theory, the team is pretty well set there. In theory, Niittymaki should be able to play enough games so Niemi doesn’t play as many as last year. Like, 30+ would be nice.
I keep wanting to say something about Martin Havlat. I’m a Czechophile and all, but every time I try to figure out what I expect from him I find my thoughts drifting to Michal Handzus. Not the same thing at all, I know. Maybe I feel guilty about never visiting Slovakia or knowing whether Czech and Slovak are really different languages or more like dialects of the same. Or maybe it’s because Handzus has a reputation devoid of the uncertainty I find in opinions about Havlat.
Monday, a charity golf event kept at least some Sharks away from the 10am practice. Acolatse and Greiss were the only Sharks there until 11, when McLaren ventured out. Acolatse entertained us early with some subtle trick shots, and later Nolan gave Greiss some unrelenting grief. I haven’t seen Greiss for a while, so I won’t make too much of that. Like, I won’t hope Nolan ends up with some team more distant than the Canucks. Well, maybe I’ll hope for that just a little bit.
Tuesday, Sharks far outnumbered visiting skaters. Finally! Tikhonov, Stuart, Nolan and Cheechoo were there again, but there was only one other visiting skater, and two extra goalies.
Last night, Ray Ratto broke the news that Logan Couture and the Sharks had agreed to a 2 year contract extension. This morning, Twitter tells us that the numbers are $2.75M for the first year and $3M for the second. That sounds eminently reasonable considering what Couture brings to the team. By signing early for a reasonable sum, Couture follows in the footsteps of some of the team’s most prominent players, though following usually isn’t his style.
I don’t put much stock in talk of Couture contracting sophomoritis this season. Being picky about details, I might say this is only sort of his second NHL season. He played a lot in the 2009-2010 season. Maybe the end of last season was his sophomore slump. If that’s all we had to fear I can live with that. More importantly, I don’t believe he’s wired that way.
Sharks Ice, Wednesday morning.
I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen this particular player at Sharks Ice but I know I’ve seen him at least twice now. I’ll call him 45. It is possible that the other players were helping him work on his balance, by knocking him down whenever they could. Or maybe 45 agreed to act as a human target for these morning skates. One spectator came over and asked who number 45 was. Number 45, or his fate, made a distinct impression on the audience.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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