I have assorted spammage today!
I think it's hilarious and appropriate that they decided to give him the glass. Also, grammatical error LOL!
Father's touch put Cheechoo back on target
Larry Wigge | NHL.com Columnist
Mar 11, 2008, 10:00 AM EDT
Sometimes the right words make all the difference.
Jonathan Cheechoo was getting plenty of advice when he scored just five goals in his first 37 games this season. Advice from teammates, from friends on different teams. Even advice from the security guard outside the San Jose Sharks' dressing room.
After netting a League-leading 56 goals in the 2005-06 season and following that up with 37 more in 2006-07, the 27-year-old bundle of energy from Moose Factory, Ontario began a decline that started with this season's early drought.
What happened to the player who always had battled long odds, but always had found a way to dig deep and prove the critics wrong?
During the final three months of last season, Cheechoo began to be bothered by minor aches and pains that kept him out of more than 20 games. Then, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Nashville, there was a borderline hit to the groin and hip area. Another injury followed in the second round against Detroit. Double hernia surgery was required in late May, followed by weeks of doctor-prescribed inactivity. No running. No biking. Nothing.
Still, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Cheechoo said he felt fine when he reported to training camp in September.
"I've always been counted on to score goals for every team I've played on," Cheechoo said. “I haven't been doing that a lot this year. Everyone's been trying to help me out. But the bottom line is, I know I have to score to help the team out.
"I know my role on this team is to score goals, and when I don't, I probably put more pressure on myself than anybody else could. You might say I'm beating myself up inside."
Great individual performers, whether golfers, musicians, artists or goal scorers, get blocked. Their mind shuts down. And their confidence disappears.
It took a post-Christmas phone call from home to get his mind set straight. Some might say it was a bit of divine intervention. Others might say it was a few well chosen words from dear old dad – Mervin Cheechoo, who just happens to be a minister at the Cree Gospel Chapel in Moose Factory.
The talk worked, as Cheechoo rediscovered his scoring touch, putting in 17 goals in his last 25 games.
"No one knows my game better than my dad," Cheechoo said. "He told me to trust my instincts. Stop pressing. Remember the days when I used to shoot 500 pucks a day at the shed in the backyard when I was just a kid.
"It's funny, my mind did ease a bit. I remembered how I kept hitting the same spot so much that I broke a hole in the shed. Then he made me shoot at a fencepost outside. Naturally, when you get a little older the shots start to rise ... until one day I shot the puck over the fence and broke a window. That was it. No more shooting around the house."
I once heard another scorer who got into a prolonged slump talk about how things creep into your psyche, and instead of confidently doing what comes naturally to you, you begin to hesitate. And ...
"That's it exactly," Cheechoo chimed in.
Cheechoo remembered thinking that his dad must have been working on a sermon when he talked to Jonathan, because he then added, "Trust your instincts. ... Remember: He who hesitates is lost."
Cheechoo never had hesitated in his life. He's the poster boy for hard work and a hunger to succeed, especially when you hear the story about his quantum leap from Moose Factory, an island community of about 2,000 people about 500 miles north of Toronto, to the NHL. The odds are even longer than the distance by dogsled to this isolated spot in northern Ontario.
There are no paved roads in Moose Factory, just some gravel streets. When the Moose River freezes over, a road is constructed across the ice to the mainland town of Moosonee, where the train station is located. In the summer, motorized canoes take residents back and forth. But in the spring and fall, when the river is thawing, the only travel between the towns is by helicopter.
But it's home to Mervin and Carol Ann Cheechoo and their kids, Jonathan, Kari and Jordan.
Cheechoo moved to Timmins, about 190 miles away, to play on a top bantam-level team there. Two stops later, he had improved enough with the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League to be picked by the Sharks in the second round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.
A scout wrote that Cheechoo skated slower going forward than some prospects skated backward. He took that report as a challenge, and the townsfolk in Moose Factory took up a collection to pay his tuition at a skating school to improve his quickness.
The rest is history, especially the magical connection with Joe Thornton after he was obtained from Boston in a trade in November 2005.
But it obviously wasn't all the arrival of Thornton. Linemates connect because they offer one another talents and intangibles. With Thornton, it's amazing vision and passing ability. With Cheechoo, it's the ability to find holes in the defense and a grit and hunger to succeed.
"I've never seen a player with such character and drive to succeed," said Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson. "'Cheech' plays with a grit that others can only hope to have. He's almost like a wide receiver who you ask to go across the middle with the possibility he's going to get creamed by a linebacker. With him, you don't have to ask him to do it a second or third time.
"I've had young players come up to me and ask what he has to do to make it in the NHL. I tell him; 'Just watch Jonathan Cheechoo and do what he does.'
"Cheech' is definitely his father's son. He is proud, dedicated to his profession and passionate about how he succeeds in this business. And he never quits on any play."
"My dad is my hero," said Cheechoo. "When I look in the mirror, I ask myself what would dad do in this situation and go from there. I owe everything to him. He's the one who told me that I should shoot 500 pucks a day against the plywood wall of the shed."
Cheech is starting to rival Patty as the Shark most likely to make me cry. We saw Cheech's dad in Pittsburgh and he seems really sweet. :)
Sykora Remains On Fire For Pens
Joe Sager | pittsburghpenguins.com
Mar 17, 2008, 1:40 PM EDT
It took Petr Sykora 12 NHL seasons to reach 600 career points.
At the rate he’s going, though, it could take him significantly less years to reach 1,200.
Sykora remains red-hot for the Penguins, playing on a line with sizzling Evgeni Malkin and Ryan Malone. Together, the three have been racking up the points -- including 14 combined in wins over the Sabres and Flyers.
The results have been very positive for the team, too, as the Penguins are among the Eastern Conference’s top teams.
“When you’re scoring goals and the team is winning, that’s what you play for,” Sykora said. “I think all of us are having a lot of fun.”
The Plzen, Czech Rep., native hopes the chemistry continues to flow with his linemates.
“I can really relate to Geno because we have the same hockey background. I think the success we’re having as a line is because we are totally three different kinds of players on the line,” Sykora said. “Geno is Geno; I don’t really have to say anything about him because everyone knows how good he is. I can’t say enough about Bugsy and how important he is for our line to do what he’s doing out there – driving to the net, making those plays on the walls, getting those big goals in front and really putting his body out there and really paying the price to make big plays for both Geno and me.
“I try to make plays and try to be in a good position all the time and try to be the third guy high all the time so we don’t give up any scoring chances and try to get some goals. Everybody is doing what he’s supposed to be doing out there and really doing it together. That’s why we are so successful.”
Sykora, Malone and Malkin are certainly different types of hockey players. Sykora brings skill, quickness and a devastating shot; Malone has size (6-foot-4, 224 lbs.), good hands and toughness, while Malkin owns world-class playmaking abilities, vision and a knack for finding the back of the net. Despite their contrasting styles, the three work together well.
“I don’t really know the ingredients for a perfect line,” Malone said. “But, off the ice, we’re all pretty easy-going guys. In practice or the games, if someone does mess up, it’s not the end of the world. We kind of laugh it off and pick each other up when one of us might be down. I think that’s a good thing, too.”
Communication hasn’t been a problem, either, even though all three do not have a common language. Malkin speaks Russian and a little English. Sykora speaks Czech and English and some Russian. Malone speaks only English.
“I keep it in English, but those guys talk back and forth in Russian or Czech or whatever they are talking. I am pretty sure they’re talking bad about me most of the time,” Malone said with a laugh.
Nevertheless, the three have done their best to turn a potentially devastating situation into a positive for the Penguins. When Crosby was injured Jan. 18, the team could have reeled from the loss of their captain and leading scorer. Instead, these three players seized the chance of increased offensive responsibilities and more ice time. That is especially true for Malone and Sykora, who had floated around the Penguins’ lineup prior to that point.
“For Sykora, in the situation he’s been in, he’s been a lot better,” Malone said. “I think maybe some of his other situations before – maybe he was on the third line or in different situations. Now, including me, we are more in an offensive role where we have to score goals and we have to contribute every night. We try to put pressure on ourselves so the rest of the team doesn’t have to worry about it.”
The three players have been especially effective on the power play. Their hot streak has pushed the Penguins’ power-play ranking to fourth in the NHL through 72 games. The Penguins had converted 20.6 percent of their man-advantage opportunities at that point.
“There’s nothing fancy there. Basically the key to our power play is Bugsy and me in front with Geno and Gonchar on top and Whitney on the side,” Sykora said. “They move the puck on top and get pucks through and shots on net. If you get the wrist shot from Gonchar through, Bugsy and I are two-on-one against the defenseman in front, so there is a pretty good chance we’re going to get that puck. We get every shot down in, so teams will sag down low, which means we will have a one-timer if we go back to Whitney or Gonchar or Geno. It’s nothing really special. We’re just doing the simple things and it’s working for us.”
“We’re just trying to keep it simple. I just try to give those guys the puck and go in the offensive zone and try to be around the net and maybe draw a couple defenders toward me,” he said. “With those guys shooting, I try to get the garbage. They have some pretty good shots. Sykora has 600 points, so I think he knows what to do with the puck. He’s been playing great and we’re just having fun out there.”
During his recent hot stretch, Sykora tallied his 600th NHL point. It came on a goal Feb. 4 in New Jersey – the city where Sykora began his NHL career and spent his first seven NHL seasons.
“It seems like a long time ago when I came over when I was 17 and 155 lbs. and learning to play the North American style,” he said. “When you compare that number to the numbers of Mark Recchi or Gary Roberts or some of the other veterans around the league, my number is nothing basically. For me, personally, it’s a pretty big achievement because I know how many ups and downs I went through the last 12 years. I feel very good getting that 600th point, especially in New Jersey playing against Marty [Brodeur]. To do it in that place was very special.”
I was super excited about Petr signing with the Penguins cos' it meant that he'd get the chance to play with Malkin and mooch points off him, and that's just what's happened! :D I love that he calls them Geno and Bugsy and him and Malkin speaking Russian to each other kind of kills me. I also love his incredibly long and rambly quotes.
With new attitude and new defenseman, surging Sharks ready to plunge into postseason
Mar 17, 2008, 7:03 PM EDT
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -Just a month ago, Jeremy Roenick wasn't totally sure his struggling San Jose Sharks would make the NHL playoffs, even with all their talent, experience and depth.
After the longest winning streak in franchise history, Roenick's only remaining question is whether the Sharks can ride this wave all the way into June.
San Jose's club-record 11-game roll ended Sunday night, but the 2-1 shootout loss to Edmonton still produced the Sharks' 23rd point in 12 games. Led by a rejuvenated captain, a new defenseman and a tireless goalie, San Jose has replied to the doubters who saw the preseason Stanley Cup favorites' first 60 games as a disappointment - particularly the five before their winning run.
"We had that five-game losing streak, and when you're in a playoff race and you get scared of actually missing the playoffs, it gets your attention," said Roenick, recalling a miserable trip from New Jersey to Philadelphia right before the streak began. "Everything started going right at that time, and it just built on itself. It's an energy, and everybody thrives off it. We feel really confident right now."
With 93 points, the Sharks (42-21-3-6) have leaped three points ahead of Anaheim and four in front of Dallas in the tight Pacific Division after mostly trailing for 4 1/2 months. Only Detroit, the overall NHL leader seven points ahead of San Jose, has a better record.
"With a little bit of luck, we might be able to reel Detroit in," coach Ron Wilson said. "But you want to just keep on plugging and win the games in hand."
San Jose also has two games in hand on both of its division rivals, putting the Sharks in control of their hopes to avoid a rough first-round playoff matchup. The Pacific winner will get the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference postseason, while the second- and third-place teams are almost certain to play each other in the first round.
Just in case the players forget, Wilson's typically detail-oriented staff has posted a spreadsheet outside the locker room with every playoff contender's point total and remaining schedule.
"Absolutely, every single day," defenseman Craig Rivet said when asked if he checks the standings. "Guys are very aware of what's happening. We're in a dogfight to try and get second place. Guys know the repercussions if we don't. We want to be the team that has the home-ice advantage."
The Sharks seemingly have had every advantage ever since defenseman Brian Campbell arrived from the Buffalo Sabres two games into the winning streak. Campbell, a two-time All-Star and a cornerstone of Buffalo's back-to-back conference finalists, has been even better than San Jose expected. He immediately assumed a lead role on the Sharks' power play, logging heavy minutes and scoring 11 points in 10 games.
Maybe Joe Thornton is rubbing off on him: Campbell is living at his childhood buddy's Silicon Valley home until he finds a place.
"It's easier to play on this team with as much talent as we have," Campbell said. "Everybody on the ice is capable of scoring. I feel pretty fortunate to be in a lineup like that."
While Campbell was the Sharks' biggest addition, Patrick Marleau seems like a new player as well. After struggling mightily through the first 60 games, Marleau has been outstanding since the trade deadline passed.
He has six goals and three assists in the 10 games since he learned he would stay in teal, including the Sharks' only goal against Edmonton. Marleau insists the trade deadline made no difference to him, even when his departure from his only NHL team seemed to be part of every rumor emanating from Canada.
"He can say that he wasn't worried all he wants," Roenick said. "The fact of the matter is that we all get worried at that time, not just Patty. After it did pass by, I think he did settle down and put those worries out of his mind. This is a game for the free of mind, and if you get cluttered, you're going to look out of place. I think he feels much better for it. Everybody has been waiting for Patty to get going, and he told us he was going to get going, and he has."
Evgeni Nabokov is likely to get just his third night off all year when the Sharks play at league-worst Los Angeles on Tuesday night, but San Jose has won eight straight road games - after winning 10 straight earlier in the season. The NHL's best road team (25-8-3) is the first club in NHL history with two road winning streaks that long in the same season.
"We've been doing it on the road all season," said Jonathan Cheechoo, the Sharks' second-leading goal scorer with 22 after a slow start. "If we can just start doing it at home consistently, we're going to be a tough matchup for anybody in the playoffs."
It seemed at the time like the Sharks were playing like a team that was waiting for someone to get traded. *shrugs* I'm glad it's all over. I remember thinking a couple of seasons ago when we had twelve million rookies that I was disappointed that we didn't have a better team because it looked like there weren't very many strong teams and we had a real chance to win the Cup that season. But I shouldn't have worried, because post-lockout we haven't seen any of those kinds of teams emerging. I'm not happy with the idea that Joe is "rubbing off" on Brian Campbell. :(
It's crazy to think the playoffs are coming up so soon. I'm going on another business trip (haha, I feel funny saying that) to Dallas from 3/31-4/4 then I'm staying put at home until the playoffs are over. :P