Random musings in the midst of "The Race".
As I write this sitting in a Denver hotel room, there are six Western Conference teams - Anaheim, Colorado, Edmonton, Vancouver, the Sharks and LA - separated by just five points in the standings. Two of them won't make the playoffs and it could be any two. It's an absolutely fantastic playoff race, as compelling as any of the great baseball pennant races of the past. Whether it's the advent of all the three-point games this season, or a byproduct of the new CBA, I hope it's a regular feature each year.
Best stat I've seen in the past week: Since the 2002-2003 season, no player has more points in the NHL than Joe Thornton
. I know it's been four months since the trade, but will someone please explain to me one more time just how the Sharks got this guy out of Boston? Doug Wilson should be G. M. of the year on that one move alone. Period.
Even though they ended up losing to Phoenix in OT on April Fools Day, don't underestimate the significance of the Sharks third period three-goal comeback. That was gut-check time and the team came through to salvage an important point in the playoff race. It may also prove to be invaluable come the postseason if the Sharks get in. For the "kids" like Bernier, Michalek, Carle, etc., to experience what it takes to dig down and pull it out when the pressure is on is huge. It's what they'll be facing every night once the playoffs start.
Former NHLer Pat Conacher will be a head coach in the big show some day. Right now he's behind the bench of the Coyote's AHL team in San Antonio. Conacher has an interesting team rule. No cell phones on the team bus. He believes today's players don't communicate enough with one another before and after games. Besides says Conacher, "When I played, we didn't have a pocket full of quarters and run to the pay phone to make calls right after a game. We talked about the game with our teammates." I wonder if that rule would fly in the NHL where cell phone use on the bus is a rampant addiction.
It's an interesting thing about Swedish NHLers. I can't think of one of them who didn't return to Sweden after retiring. And I challenge anyone to come up with a Swedish NHL player who married a non-Swede.
The Sharks Nils Ekman, whose wife Johanna is from "back home", was quite the world traveler when he was a teenager. At the age of 13, Nils and his globe trotting parents, took a 6 week journey through China. "It was an unbelievable trip," said Ekman. "But the tough thing was the food. Back in the 80's there wasn't much Western food in China. Nothing like McDonalds. I know we ate snake and once we were offered lizard soup, but passed. We probably ate dog too, but nobody would tell us what it was."
Ekman is on pace for a second straight 50 point season in Teal. Not bad for a guy tossed to the scrap heap by both Tampa Bay and the Rangers.
Three of the Sharks truly unsung hero's this year are PR Guys Ken Arnold, Scott Emmert and Tom Holy. Along with their many duties with the media, they also take turns as the teams traveling secretary on the road. Virtually without fail they keep the buses and airplanes on schedule and always make sure that Drew Remenda has a decent ironing board in his hotel room. And when there is a glitch, they good heartedly accept the "professional razzing" they get from the players. They also get a ton of help from Team Services guru Marshall Dickerson who coordinates everything from back in San Jose.
And speaking of my partner on Fox Sports Net, I must admit that Drew has taken over the crown previously held by yours truly as Best Dressed on the telecast. Drew has taken his "look" to a new level this season. Night after night he pushes the envelope, first re-introducing the pocket scarf, and more recently, breaking out a variety of shirt colors that run the gamut from "demur pink" to "Cal Trans orange." I'll have to step up my game if the Sharks make the playoffs, but we'll still be chasing the king. Head Coach Ron Wilson invented style.
I'm Randy Hahn for the Seagate Technology In The Crease.