But the Yotes. *shakes fist* We lost to them so much last season. Stupid CuJo had a 32-7-1 record against us before yesterday's game. The game wasn't on TV, but apparently the boys didn't play too well, yet squeezed out a win, which is important cos' you can't let a team win after they cross check your goalie in the neck! :P
Oh, Marc-Edouard, my little Aries bunny brother.
Vlasic no flash in the pan
West Island teen dodges demotion to QMJHL's Remparts after his strong play leads to berth in Sharks' blue-line corps
JOHN MEAGHER, The Gazette
Published: Friday, November 10, 2006
Marc-Edouard Vlasic is livin' it up at the hotel California.
Actually, the Montreal teenager is living in a California hotel, but he isn't complaining about the room service.
The National Hockey League rookie has earned a spot on the San Jose Sharks' blue line, where he's playing a regular shift and then some.
"It's going really well," Vlasic, 19, said in a recent telephone interview. "This is it, there is no higher level than the NHL."
Heading into last night's game against the Los Angeles Kings, Vlasic was averaging 20:19 of ice time per game while paired with veteran Scott Hannan. In 16 games, Vlasic had two assists, four penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating.
Nothing spectacular in those stats, but the 6-foot-1,190-pounder readily admits he's not a flashy player. Never was - even while growing up on the West Island and playing with the Lakeshore minor hockey association.
"I've always tried to keep things simple in my own end. If the green light is there, I'll take it," said Vlasic, who played junior hockey with the Quebec Remparts and was the Sharks' second-round pick (35th overall) at the 2005 NHL entry draft.
The Canadiens selected Guillaume Latendresse with the 45th overall pick in 2005.
While Vlasic said he hadn't counted on being in the NHL at 19, he did his best to avoid a one-way ticket back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
"I wasn't sure if I'd make it, but the Sharks kept me for so long, they couldn't send me back," he said.
Well, actually, they could. This week, for example, the Vancouver Canucks returned Luc Bourdon, 19, to the Moncton Wildcats, where the junior team's bus was gassed and waiting.
And then there are the ridiculously high expectations Latendresse, 19, faces in Montreal, hockey's other shark-infested tank.
"It's fun playing in California," said Vlasic, who now wears shorts and sandals to the rink. "I haven't worn running shoes once since I've been here. It's been too hot."
While Vlasic won't miss the Quebec winters, he said playing under Remparts coach Patrick Roy - who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday - prepared him for pro hockey.
"Patrick has won it all, the Stanley Cups, and knows what it takes to succeed," Vlasic said. "As a former goalie, he really helps defencemen with their positioning."
One nugget of wisdom St. Patrick imparted tohim?
"To be myself on the ice," Vlasic said. "To play my game. Don't try to be flashy if that's not your game."
The advice resonated with Vlasic, who has climbed the hockey ladder by keeping his own end tidier than, say, his hotel room, where "someone else always makes the bed."
While Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has been impressed with Vlasic's poise and maturity, his midget Triple-A coach, Guy Boucher, remembers Vlasic as a "frail-looking bantam player" who was a dark horse to make the Lac St. Louis Lions.
But Vlasic's steady, unspectacular play grew on Boucher, now head coach of the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
"You could watch three games without noticing Vlasic," Boucher said. "Not because he wasn't good, just because he does everything right. He was very smart and didn't flash at all. He came out of nowhere to make midget Triple-A, ahead of guys who'd been big stars since novice or atom.
"Vlasic wasn't physical, but he always finished his check. The kid never makes mistakes.You tell him something once and that's the last time you have to tell him. His talent is that the game is slow in his mind; he always knows where the puck is going. That's the pro level."
Surprisingly, Boucher said he had to beg junior scouts to put Vlasic on their draft lists four years ago.
"I remember begging the Remparts to take him," Boucher recalled. "He was the smartest kid on my team, but no one knew him, really."
The Remparts listened and only two months into the season, Vlasic, then 16, went from being the seventh to fourth defenceman on the team.
"His learning curve is tremendous," said Boucher, who was an assistant coach in Rimouski two years ago when Sidney Crosby was starring with the Oceanic. "I know Crosby didn't like playing against Vlasic. No one did. When Vlasic was on the ice, his team always had the puck.
"Does he have a good shot?" Boucher continued. "He has a smart shot. Not a bullet, but he'd always get it on net.
"He'll be a top-notch defencemen in the NHL, and never flashy. Couldn't happen to a better kid."
Vlasic excelled with the Remparts last season, playing more than 30 minutes a game and contributing 73 points, including 16 goals. He finished plus-41 during the season and a tournament- leading plus-7 at the Memorial Cup. In the QMJHL playoffs, he led all defencemen with 29 points (five goals, 24 assists) in 23 games.
Vlasic's parents - Edouard Vlasic and Marie-Josee Lord of Beaconsfield - have visited San Jose once this season.
"My mom came over to the hotel and did some laundry and, no, I didn't refuse the offer," said the young bachelor, who plans to move in with a local family.
Still, Vlasic has to pinch himself at every home game when he steps on the rink in San Jose and passes through those ominous shark jaws.
"I make sure not to hit it", he said. "I heard that Vinnie Damphouse did that once and he fell down.
"It seems strange that only five years ago, I was playing bantam hockey for Lakeshore and now I'm in the NHL."
I wonder if random people ever frown upon him when he goes to the rink in his shorts and sandals. "Shouldn't you be in school, young man???" His mommy visited and did his laundry!
I love the comments from his midget triple-A coach. It's everything I love about him, that he is in such good position almost all the time, and when he gets the puck, he always seems to be able to make the right decision to get rid of it without a turnover when he's being pressured, or making a good pass to start a rush. I haven't even really seen him being muscled off pucks, which is what I expected might happen in size mismatches, but he probably uses smarts to compensate.
With Matt Carle and Christian Ehrhoff, it's sort of unnecessary for Vlasic to step in as offensive defenseman, but he has good instincts where that is concerned too, knowing how to put himself in good position to receive a pass and subsequently make a shot or shot-pass.
I've been checking in on the baby Sharks every now and then to see how they're doing because I saw them at the rookie tournament and actually care now. :P I wanted to read more than just the game recaps on their site, so I went to look for Worcester newspapers and... the coverage is pretty good! It's really nice that the team is now in a city where hockey is appreciated and loved. Mathieu Darche is the AHL goal scoring leader with 13, but what I really love about that is Joe Pavelski (AHL rookie of the month for October!) assisted on 11 of those goals.
We picked him in the 7th round! I still don't know if he'll do good in the NHL because there are some people who just tear it up in the AHL but then can't really make it in the NHL. I liked this article about him. :)
Sharks Rookie Provides Huge Offensive Bite
November 9, 2006
By Jeremy Lemoine
Worcester, Mass. – It’s June 2003. San Jose Sharks Director of Scouting Tim Burke calls out Joe Pavelski’s name in the seventh round on the loud speaker at the annual NHL Entry Draft in Columbus, Ohio. Who is Joe Pavelski?
Hockey’s Future had the following scouting report on the 5’11”, 188-pound pivot as he entered the draft.
Talent Analysis – Possesses solid two-way awareness and a good set of hands for passing or scoring. Pavelski’s skating needs work. Needing to bend his knees more when he skates, Pavelski would benefit from concentrating on gaining lower body strength in upcoming seasons to improve his acceleration, top speed and agility.
Future Outlook - Pavelski will enter the University of Wisconsin for the 2004-05 season, where he will have to battle hard to become a regular in the line-up due to skating concerns. However, Pavelski has four years of college hockey until the Sharks have to make a decision on whether to sign the Wisconsin native, by which time Pavelski’s skating concerns may be a thing of the past. Currently, Pavelski appears to be a long shot to make the NHL, but with improvement could become a solid third or second line center in the AHL.
That maybe his scouting report, but that’s not the real Joe Pavelski. Burke and his scouting staff know the real Pavelski, and that’s why they drafted him.
Last season, the Plover, Wisconsin native helped lead his University of Wisconsin Badgers to a National Championship. Pavelski led that team for the second year in a row with 53 points. That’s 23 goals and 30 assists to be exact. Not too shabby for an All-American forward out of a top division one college who was drafted 205th overall.
If one thing is for sure, the San Jose Sharks Scouting Staff knows their talent. With that being said, Pavelski’s matriculation probably should not be a surprise to most.
After just two years of college hockey, Pavelski decided to turn pro and the Sharks signed him to an entry level contract.
Pavelski continued where he left off last year in the WCHA with 14 points in his first nine games as a professional hockey player. With those totals, the American Hockey League saw fit to crown him as the RBK Hockey/ AHL Rookie of the Month. He will be awarded an etched crystal prior to a Worcester Sharks home game.
“It’s a good honor,” said the humble Pavelski. “First year, first month in the league – means I got off to a good start. I have been able to jell with my linemates, you know. A lot of the credit goes to [Mathieu] Darche, the other guys I have played with, and the coaching staff.”
Pavelski noted the maturity and speed as the biggest differences in the AHL from the college game.
The AHL, much like the NHL, is comprised of many different hockey players from around the world. The best players in the world come to America to play professionally, so the level of play is much higher than the college level.
“It’s quicker, so that takes some getting used to,” he said. “The guys are bigger and it’s a bit more physical as well, but everything has been ok. The guys on the team have been great too.
“You pick things up along the way from each other which helps.”
Pavelski admits he learns things from his teammates, but he’s setting an example too. The rookie has been centering Worcester’s top line and has set up linemate Mathieu Darche for 11 of his league leading 12 goals.
Worcester head coach, Roy Sommer, best described the tandem to San Jose’s duo of Jonathan Cheechoo and Joe Thornton. Cheechoo and Thornton have combined to be one of the most lethal combinations in all of the NHL, so to draw a similar comparison for Darche and Pavelski, it’s a feather in their proverbial helmet.
“They’ve hit it right off right away,” said the nine year coach of San Jose’s top affiliate. “Darche is one of those guys who get a lot of the ugly goals. They are a lot like Jonathan Cheechoo and Joe Thornton actually. Joey can put the puck in a 10-foot range of Darche and somehow he still gets going to get a stick on it and get good wood on it – similar to the way Cheech does with Thornton. There are a lot of similarities there.”
Individually, Sommer praised Pavelski’s efforts so far on the season and certainly understands the young pivot will be a special player.
“He just keeps on getting better everyday,” said Sommer. “He’s got the whole league talking about him and other teams are coming in here trying to stop him. He’s just a real keen kid, he’s focused and knows what he wants and knows he’s going to play in the NHL someday.
“He’s doing everything he can to better himself at this level and be the best player he could possibly be. That’s just the way he is.”
That’s the real Joe Pavelski – the one Worcester knows and the one San Jose will get to know sometime in the future.
Whoa, they might be the AHL version of Joe and Cheech? Craziness. From now on, we should try to collect every center called "Joe" in the league.
tersa! There's an article all about Warren Strelow. It made me a tiny bit weepy.
Strelow imparting wisdom to his goalies
For all of the money in professional sports, the best ones — best players, best coaches, best administrators — do it for the jewelry.
Which is why Warren Strelow is in Worcester these days, spending his mornings at Holy Cross’ Hart Center, watching and coaching the three young players who are rotating in goal for the Sharks.
“It’s all about the ring,” he said, pointing to his hand. “I want to add to my collection of rings. The teams I’ve been with have made the playoffs 20 years out of 21, but never won the Stanley Cup. I think this (San Jose Sharks) team can do it. That’s what keeps me going.”
And there has taken a lot to keeping Strelow going.
He is 72 and three years removed from a kidney transplant that set all sorts of health problems in motion. They were problems that might have killed lesser men and, to be honest, the Grim Reaper has hit the post a couple of times on Strelow in recent years. But the Sharks organization thinks so highly of him that it kept him on the payroll throughout his illnesses and couldn’t wait to put him back to work when he was healthy enough to do so.
And that’s even though Strelow has not been on skates in years. He gets around on a special scooter — it has a horn, but no turn signals — and he parks it between the faceoff circles while watching goalies Nolan Schaefer, Dimitri Patzold and Thomas Greiss do drills.
“I don’t have to be able to go out there and do a butterfly,” he said. “You don’t get hired for your body, you get hired for your mind.”
Strelow is to goalie coaches what Jacques Plante is to goaltenders. The best ever? That’s an open question, but no one ever leaves Strelow off any list of coaching pioneers. He coached the USA goalies on the legendary 1980 Olympic team. In 1990, the New Jersey Devils were intent on taking a goalie in the first round of the amateur draft and hired Strelow on a one-month basis to recommend who to pick.
He recommended a kid out of the Quebec Junior League, Martin Brodeur, and it’s doubtful that the Devils have any regrets that they took that advice.
Strelow’s first job as a professional goalie coach was with Washington, and as such, he was the first full-time goalie coach. Why it took so long for hockey teams to hire goalie coaches is a mystery, but for years the mentality was like the one the IceCats first coach, Jimmy Roberts, had about the position.
“I know two things about goalies,” he said. “Either they stop the puck or they don’t,” never asking why one thing happens and the other doesn’t.
It was an attitude that never made any sense to a person like Strelow, who said, “If someone watches a hockey game for the first time, the first thing they notice is that there are two players who look completely different than everyone else, they stand in front of these pipes that are painted red, and when the puck goes by them a red light goes on and everyone yells at them.”
Strelow is from Minnesota, where he coached goalies at the University of Minnesota. His perspective is unique, since his knowledge of goaltending goes back to the position’s dark ages, where goaltenders played every game, without a mask and with primitive equipment. His personal favorite was Terry Sawchuk.
Are today’s goalies better than they were 50 years ago?
“That’s hard to say,” Strelow reflected. “I know that some of the goalies I had back in Washington weren’t even close as athletes to today’s goalies. But when you look at the best goalies from the past, there were some great athletes there, too. So I just can’t say.”
Strelow will split his time between the goalies here in Worcester and the ones in San Jose. The Sharks’ organization has become a goalie mine in Strelow’s 10 years on board, and he’s hoping that this year’s diggings include the jewels for a Stanley Cup ring.
I think Strelow should threaten to run the goalies over with his scooter if they don't listen.
From sunshine to ice time:
He goes home to Los Angeles every summer and skates in a fun league with players like Cuba Gooding Jr., the actor. “Great guy,” Stafford said, “but he’s, umm, a terrible player.”
Taaaaaaaaaaaaammy!!! *cries* Legion of the Doomed.