Petshark: Talking Stick
A little over year ago, news emerged that the San Francisco Bulls, a new ECHL team, would be taking up residence at The Cow Palace. How time flies. San Francisco's new hockey team has now held a dozen practices. They play their first regular season game tomorrow.
I asked Head Coach Pat Curcio if that seemed rushed:
"It didn't, until last Friday. When I looked at our lineup ... we have 13 rookies ... and we were playing a team with 12 veterans in their lineup. That was a little bit overwhelming... but the guys worked through it. Tomorrow night... Bakersfield's got at least a dozen guys that played there last year."
ECHL Rules limit the number of veterans on a team. But that doesn't mean ECHL teams are all made up of players in their first professional season. Obviously some, like Bakersfield and Colorado, do have many players that fall in between rookie status and the veteran cut off.
There's a theory that refusing to give voice to your dark thoughts is more productive than letting rants run riot. I'm going to try that. The NHL CBA negotiations are going nowhere, both sides look kind of stupid, childish and not the least concerned with whether or not we see any NHL hockey this season. That wasn't a rant, just a brief statement of fact. A more comprehensive discussion of the situation can be found here from Elliotte Friedman.
Here are some bits of info I've picked up about players and teams that matter in my hockey universe: Back on September 29th, Logan Couture's team beat Joe Thornton's now Rick Nashless team in Switzerland:
@Logancouture: Big win for @OfficialGSHC. Also bragging rights over the big guy!
Jason Demers is getting rave (or maybe just good) reviews in Finland. Really it's hard to get the details via Google Translate and I won't apologize for not speaking Finnish. I hear it is a very difficult language.
Filed in: hockey, , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
Tags: jason+demers, joe+thornton, logan+couture, nhl+cba, patrick+marleau, ryane+clowe, sf+bulls, srjc+polar+bears, tommy+wingels
In a recent Economist, there's a piece about the NHL lockout. It's called "Greed v pride." My first thought was "yay hockey!" All publicity is good, like when someone says "I don't care what they write about me, so long as they spell my name right." My second thought was "who's who in the title there?" It really isn't clear. Neither side is hurting for money, not really, and both sides would like to tell the world that no one pushes them around. So who is greedy and who is proud?
"When muscular millionaires and brash billionaires fight, neither side will crumple easily. All are alpha males; most can forego income for a long time. So the lockout could drag on." Greed v pride, The Economist, Sept 22 2012
Makes sense to me.
Players are going overseas in droves, apparently. They aren't all getting for oodles of money to do so. Alex Semin, for example, chose the team closest to home. The team will pay him with change found under the couch cushions. His couch. Well, considering what he would have been paid without a lockout it seems that way.
I feel like I'm going through the stages of grief here. Just when I'm ready to move on to acceptance of the lockout, Douglas Murray smashes the NHLPA's nice PR record to bits with this explanation:
“It’s tough to explain. People see how much money we make and we have, but I would ask them what would you say if the owner of the company you work for would just come and tell you, ‘OK, we’re taking away 20 percent of your salary.’
“And you ask why, and they say I just want to make more money. I don’t think you’d be that happy. Most people would probably switch jobs or at least not be very happy in that work environment.” -Working the Corners
Ugh. I guess not everyone realizes companies have been doing just that-- asking employees to take pay cuts-- for years now. Maybe it isn't called a pay cut. Maybe it's pressure to become a partner and invest in the firm, even though you know you will have much less in your pocket at the end of the year. Maybe you're offered stock options instead of cash. One way or another, most of us are getting squeezed and switching jobs isn't so easy.
Disgust. I was mulling that word over yesterday. I guess it breaks down to something like "distaste." It sounds like other things too. "To diss," as in "to disrespect." "Gust" is almost "gusto." So disrespect for gusto? That could apply to an NHL lockout. So could distaste, a response to a vomitous bad taste.
Friday the 14th isn't a significant date in itself, it was just the day of the last Captain's Practice at Sharks Ice before the old CBA expires, the last practice before the lockout begins. I don't know if anyone doubts it will come now. I feel like someone should throw a party, the way some people throw divorce parties. I'm not going to throw that party.
Finally some waiver news from the Sharks: Jon Matsumoto, Bracken Kearns and Danny Groulx were put on waivers, presumably so they can join the Worcester Sharks. Seems like they were slated to play there all along but at least it's a sign of life from the Sharks.
Those who wage wars rarely fight them. That is something we all know but in the modern western world we like to forget how many people are subject to the whims of the fortunate few. Those facts don't jibe with our notion of the free pursuit of happiness and all that. We know it's a jungle out there but when folks get put out of work, have their lives tossed around like poker chips on a table they aren't even sitting at, it still stings.
Mark Purdy wrote a piece for the Mercury News about what an NHL lockout means for interested parties who are not involved in the negotiations. In it, he calls said interested parties "stakeholders." Wow but that sounds more mighty than it is. Satellite businesses may have a stake in NHL games, but I wouldn't say they hold that stake. It seems more like they can mine it until the real owner--the NHL-- shows up to put in a parking lot, or empty that lot by locking out the players. The people who choose to enter the conflict are rarely the ones who really get hurt. If they were, they might choose differently.
Yesterday the NHL and the NHLPA met again to talk about meeting again:
@DarrenDreger: "Good, candid discussion in negotiations today. NHL and NHLPA will determine when the next meeting will be tomorrow."
That "tomorrow" means today... a Saturday? It may not seem like much but talking is progress, progress that could yet prevent a lockout. Wait, what? But... but... but... we're all ready for a lockout. We've been TOLD there will be one, that there was never a chance the season would start on time. We're all cranky and bitter and people have not purchased tickets or made reservations they would have made if they thought the season would start any time before December! Sharks fans have season tickets to SF Bulls games! They can't just go talking like this... they can't not not play now. And yet they are hard at work to do just that:
@Russostrib: "Konopka says #NHLPA staff is still hard at work at #NHLPA office. He's sticking around til the morning to see if they'll meet again #MNWild"
Well, that's what you get, ye of little faith and anyone else trying to make sense of the signs. Just when the KHL and even the Swedes were getting ready for open season on NHL players, we get this talking stuff.
All signs point to an NHL lockout. The CBA negotiations are on hold, no talking scheduled. I have that feeling you get when your favorite new tv show gets cancelled. That "oh yeah, I forgot that TPTB don't give a crap about me or good taste or quality or... I'm cancelling my cable. I'll watch what I want when I want and none of your damned ads. So there," feeling.
Some Sharks fans are really angry. A lot of hockey fans are unhappy. Some are proud to say "I'll come back no matter how long I have to wait, I'm one of the greatest fans." My sense is that the NHL doesn't worry much about such fans, how can they not take them for granted?
I'm not angry anymore. I feel like I was just wrong. Wrong like when you think you're going to be great friends with someone and then you find out they lack the most essential virtues you require in a friend. They forget to feed their pets or pick up their kids. All the time. They burn down their business to collect the insurance money, even though they don't really need it. They opt for a lockout on the off chance that they can guarantee a few more bucks without having to really work for it. Stuff like that.
I had my television service disconnected a couple of weeks ago. It was at my request. There is no NHL in the offseason, there may be none in October. There is nothing I need to watch live. It is set to restart in a couple of weeks, unless I request otherwise. At first I was nervous, started missing shows I had wanted to watch. I made sure I had watched everything on my DVR, as if I wouldn’t have another chance to watch it.
It only took a couple of days for me to be glad I did it. While talking to my horseshoer, I learned that many people had told him the same thing- they had turned off their cable and were glad for it. I still watch DVDs of old shows I liked, or go to movies, or even rent movies. I still like to watch things but it is nice to not have any time pressure or DVR memory limit pressure to watch anything right now. My viewing material will wait forever.
I went to a family dinner last night. I don’t think I mentioned hockey once. There simply isn’t anything to say unless I want to go off on greed and selfishness and bickering. Of course union negotiations are something any sports fan can relate to, in the sense that every big league that goes through them throws the fans overboard, one way or another.
Per Renaud P. Lavoie, Brandon Mashinter has re-signed with the Sharks. That’s a good thing since David Pollak had him penciled in among the three maybes for the fourth line. The two-way contract is for one year at $550,000. Also on that theoretical line is John McCarthy. I’m very happy about that.
Captain’s Practice at Sharks Ice officially started Monday. Thomas Greiss was there but no other Sharks, per David Pollak’s Twitter feed. The absence of more NHL players isn’t very telling at this point.
The question of Michal Handzus still looms. Pollak points to his good performance for Slovakia last May as a sign that he could be better this season. Certainly he could be. Last season was his worst in a while. I remember when Wilson first signed him, I also looked at his performance in the IIHF Championships. It seems that the international game agrees with him, which isn’t true of all NHL players, especially those not known for speed. Curious. How many more games he will play for the Sharks isn’t clear, and not all of that is on him. The last year of his contract may be foreshortened. Now is a good time for players to get any surgery they might possibly need.
About Petshark: Talking Stick
Native of Northern California. Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.
I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle. I watch, I react, I write it down.
My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked. I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind. When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom. It hasn't, I don't think it will. At all.
Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.
I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.
I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org