How 'bout dem Sharks? I used to cower in my bed whenever I watched Sharks games, whether the team was doing bad or good at the time, because, well, that's just the way I did it. But now, with this team, they just inspire confidence in me. I just really like the look of the whole team. They're by no means perfect, but now I can sit up straight, watch and just believe in them.
I thought both teams looked kind of sluggish last night. I think on the Flames side, they've just been through a couple of "Battle of Alberta" games, so it's kind of the letdown thing going on. I'm a little baffled as to why the Sharks took 11 penalties last night, but hey, it didn't hurt us. I really enjoyed the goal that took 4 attempts and 3 guys before it went in. And then Kyle cracking up about completely whiffing the puck, because I was laughing at him too. :)
``Oh, is it?'' Toskala said when asked about topping Kiprusoff after losing their only previous encounter.
That's a bit too sexually explicit, I think. Jeez!
There was a nice article about Cheech on nhl.com. My favourite part is bolded, cos' I've always loved his enthusiasm. *squeaks*
Sharks raising the bar
Doug Ward | NHL.com correspondent Oct 10, 2006, 10:11 AM EDT
Jonathan Cheechoo believes the San Jose Sharks will meet expectations and be a strong contender for the Cup this season.
It's been almost a year since Joe Thornton broke out of Boston, which precipitated Jonathan Cheechoo's breakthrough in San Jose. Combined, the two occurrences have created a bit of a fishbowl effect in Silicon Valley, where the season began last week with all eyes on the Sharks in anticipation of great things.
Cheechoo says the Sharks won't tank. In fact, the 26-year-old reigning NHL goal king welcomes the scrutiny, and the expectations, as the Sharks open the season expected to battle the Anaheim Ducks for supremacy in the Pacific Division.
"Everybody here is really excited about the season and the attention we've received," Cheechoo says. "We all believe we can do something special this year."
Cheechoo is accustomed to being watched. After leaving his hometown of Moose Factory, Ontario (pop. 2,300) at 14, throngs of locals would travel to his junior games in support. He hasn't forgotten how much that backing meant to him. Although Cheechoo left home early, he insists his Moose Factory upbringing made him. Cheechoo believes this family and community were the most important ingredients in his journey to becoming the first member of the Moose Cree First Nation to make it to the NHL.
"My dad taught me a lot of good lessons," Cheechoo says. "He taught me to treat people the way you want to be treated and always respect and be proud of where you came from."
Cheechoo still calls Moose Factory home. He returns often to speak to Native North American youth, and anyone else who will listen. When he does, he talks about the opportunities that seemed impossible until Cheechoo proved otherwise.
"Hopefully," he says, "they'll start their own careers." His own career was inspired by a speech he heard current Islanders coach Ted Nolan deliver. "I'm proud of my heritage and any time I get a chance to give back, it's a privilege."
Although Cheechoo says it took a village to raise him, he admits that many of his best lessons came after he struck out on his own as a teenager. Making his way from a remote community in Northern Ontario to San Jose was never easy.
"You had to learn a lot of things real fast," he says. "It was definitely tough."
Even the simplest of things can be difficult when you've never done them before.
"I had to learn how to do laundry," Cheechoo says, "which is something I had never done before. It was trial by error, and I made some white clothes blue. But being on my own was something that forced me to be more responsible."
Being on his own taught Cheechoo to be accountable for his own life.
"You can't just sit back and say, ‘oh my parents will always be there to help me.' You've got to take responsibility for your own actions. That's something I learned from that experience."
That Moose Factory is an island community might help to explain Cheechoo's early realization that no man is an island. When Thornton landed in San Jose, Cheechoo took off. He credits Thornton's presence as a major factor in his breakout year.
"Joe and I seemed to click right off the start," Cheechoo says, "from the very first game on, it just worked."
Chemistry can't always be explained, but Cheechoo has no trouble defining Thornton's particular genius.
"He's a great passer," Cheechoo says. "He buys you so much time to get open. I think that's his hugest asset. He can hold the puck for so long."
Cheechoo's knack for finishing made the two a perfect merger.
"I love scoring goals," Cheechoo says, his passionate impromptu celebrations confirming that fact. "It's fun, and if I can pump the team up a little bit, too, that's great."
Cheechoo says the post-goal outbursts are not premeditated. It's just that he can't contain his excitement at scoring.
"I just get such a rush from scoring, I just start pumping my hands because it's so exciting."
When a goal-scorer scores, Cheechoo says, it has a way of taking the sting out of the hits he absorbs by going into high traffic areas of the ice.
"You don't really notice the hits as much," he says. "I just know I may not get the prettiest goals all the time, but I'm going to go in there and do what it takes to put the puck in the net. Whatever that may be. If it's taking a stick, or taking a big hit to get a shot off, that's what I'll do."
When Cheechoo goes to the net this year, the hockey world will be watching. That's fine with Cheechoo. His approach won't change.
"I know you can't take anything for granted," he says. "You've got to come out every night and prove something."
With a pair of assists helping his team get off to a 2-0 start, Cheechoo and the Sharks are on their way.
And umm, I'm not really a baseball spamming person, but I know there's a few of you Detroit Tigers fans on my friends list, and there was this nice article in the SF Chronicle about umm, Detroit and Oakland getting married, haha.
With this cast of characters, the game is still the thing
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The Tigers' celebration Saturday night had the extraordinary, intimate feeling of a country wedding. From the players dousing the audience with bubbly to Jim Leyland planting a kiss on the head of a fan who had the nerve to line up alongside the manager's wife and daughter in the stands and beg for a smooch just like theirs, the scene added to the shame of the Yankees' quick dispatch from the playoffs and to the considerable charm of the Detroit-Oakland matchup in the American League Championship Series.
The A's fans didn't stage a party that TV adored when Oakland joined baseball's final four on Friday, but they had already distinguished themselves during the game.
In certain, tonier baseball precincts, the stands fill up with posers at this time of year, expense-account frauds who want to say they went to a playoff game more than they actually want to watch one. When Marco Scutaro came up with the bases loaded late in Game 3, would they have instantly started chanting his full name in the cadence of kids playing Marco Polo in a swimming pool? Probably not. It's a safe bet that the cheer wouldn't have gotten past "Marco, Marco, Marco.''
For one thing, most playoff teams wouldn't have a Scutaro in the starting lineup. For another, big-city fans don't have the same connection to each other, forged over many long nights, summer after summer, when they had battled Yankees or Red Sox fans trying to take dominion over their park.
The real beauty of this series may be lost on a lot of people, especially the ones tabulating TV ratings. For anyone who insists on a blockbuster, the joy of the ALCS went home and packed for winter with the Yankees. But for those who enjoy the manifold little pleasures of baseball, the folks who'd rather witness a country wedding than Donald Trump's Gatsby-esque nuptials to another supermodel of the moment, Detroit and Oakland make a perfect couple.
The drama begins on the mound. Can Barry Zito match his calm mastery from Game 1 of the Division Series, proving that he is a genuine ace? He has been designated as Oakland's top pitcher for two seasons now, ever since the team traded away his Big Three brethren, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, but he still hasn't convinced the rest of the world that he ranks among the very elite.
If he had a 90-mph fastball and fewer actual credentials, Zito might have more believers. But his craftsmanship can make a much stronger impression at this time of year, and winning two games against the Tigers would update his image, from goofy character to bona fide star.
The everyday lineups aren't nearly so exciting, and that's what makes them so interesting. Frank Thomas and Pudge Rodriguez are big names, and after them come a bunch of guys who simply play good ball together. Unlike the Tigers and their 119-loss heritage from 2003, the A's have been winning for a while. But when they first started contending, back in the late '90s, their brand of baseball wasn't especially appealing. In the outfield, the A's basically stationed a bunch of DHs and hoped they would occasionally use their gloves in a way that didn't qualify the telecasts for a parental advisory.
The current three -- Jay Payton, Milton Bradley and Mark Kotsay -- all have the chops to play center field.
Payton is the quintessential 2006 Oakland Athletic. Acquired last season after he staged a quarrel with Red Sox manager Terry Francona to force a trade and get more playing time, he exasperates other teams, who tend to think they have escaped danger when they reach his spot in the lineup.
When Zito was asked whether any of his teammates had surprised him this year, he cited Payton.
"That guy came out, he was hitting a buck-fifty the first month or two, making fun of himself,'' Zito said. "He always stayed light-hearted, he always stayed loose. And man, he caught fire, he's just been going off.''
Third-base coach Ron Washington backed up Zito. "He was even making jokes about (Thomas) running the bases,'' Washington said. "Jay could have had more RBIs if Frank had been able to run faster earlier in the year, and he'd just laugh about it. 'Can we put him on skates out there? Maybe he could score on skates?' "
If they were the Yankees or Red Sox or even the Orioles, the same jokes could have twisted into a crisis. But those teams are long gone, and we are left with people who can't take themselves more seriously than the game.
Leyland set the tone for the next few days pretty well when he described his wife's attitude about Kotsay, a former charge of Leyland's from the Marlins days. "She just thinks he's the cutest thing ever,'' the Detroit manager said. He didn't say what she thought of the fan he kissed on Saturday.