I present you all with cause for celebration. Sure, the nightly news still has me wringing my hands. Writing deadlines loom before me, and a threatened Northern California power outage has me typing frantically. Yet tonight, I cheer. Why?
Patrick Marleau is a San Jose Shark again.
Of course, to most devotees of Team Teal, he never stopped being one. Nevertheless, if my mom’s tears and hugs following the announcement were any indication, this is a happy development indeed. Welcome back, Patty!
It’s been an up-and-down summer for San Jose Sharks fans, but there have been some welcome bits of good news here and there. Most of the enthusiasm has focused on Logan Couture taking over the captaincy following the loss of Joe Pavelski to free agency. (It seemed like a natural choice to me, given that Couture is equally adept at scoring and painfully honest postgame media interviews.) I’m surprised that more people aren’t excited about this recent announcement:
Kendall Coyne Schofield joins San Jose Sharks TV broadcast team
If you watched the 2019 NHL All-Star Skills Competition, you may have seen Coyne Schofield blazing down the ice as the first-ever female participant in the Fastest Skater Competition. As part of Team USA, she won gold in the 2018 Olympics, and helped to secure the 2017 IIHF championship during one of the most exciting games ever televised. At Sharks FanFest this Sunday, she’ll compete with fellow members of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) against Sharks alumni in the Legends game. I’m definitely intrigued, and eager to hear her perspective this coming season!
It’s been a stressful time of year, so I wasn’t too surprised that the Sharks’ annual video is not the slickly produced extravaganza of years past. It’s always fun to see the camaraderie among the players, however…
I’m generally a patient person, slow to rile and evenhanded in my opinions. (Stop snickering, Mom.) Nevertheless, a few topics always set me off. I was infuriated that, following Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch’s death in 2012, not a single evening news program mentioned his musical innovation or humanitarian efforts, but EVERY STINKING ONE showed a clip of him spitting beer in the “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” video from 1986. (I cheered myself up by imagining MCA’s friend the Dalai Lama setting them straight.) What else will get an earful from me? Sports articles calling Jonathan Cheechoo’s 56-goal 2005-06 season a strange, wonderful blip on a supposedly lackluster NHL career.
Nearly nine years after Cheechoo’s final game with the San Jose Sharks, he remains one of the team’s top ten scorers, top five in power-play goals and game-winning goals. His record-setting nine hat tricks for the Sharks (five in one season) remain an unassailable fact:
People conveniently forget the shudder-inducing injuries that cut his NHL days short. He suffered a brutal knee-to-knee hit in Game One of the 2007 playoff series against the Nashville Predators. Cheechoo was still the leading goal scorer for the Sharks that year, one season after winning the Rocket Richard trophy as the league’s leading scorer. There was also the double sports hernia so grisly that Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson expressed amazement that Cheechoo could walk, let alone play hockey. But play hockey he did. His post-Sharks career included a trade to the Ottawa Senators, stints with four AHL teams, and four years overseas in the KHL.
Yesterday, Jonathan Cheechoo announced his retirement from hockey after sixteen seasons. Today one article (not linking to it, sorry) opined that he’s likely to become a footnote in NHL lore. Let me see. Cheechoo is a former NHL All-Star, and a legendary figure in Sharks franchise history. The second Indigenous player to win the Richard, he remains strongly involved with the Little Native Hockey Tournament, and is considered a role model for youth players to this day. Hailing from tiny, remote Moose Factory, Ontario, he fulfilled his dream while strengthening ties to his community. Joe Thornton still proclaims Cheechoo the best hockey player with whom he’s played.
Don’t know about you, but that all sounds pretty significant to me. Congratulations, Cheech!
The San Jose Sharks’ annual video has become a holiday tradition, and this year’s model is entirely animated. (It took me a while to recognize defenseman Brenden Dillon, but I admire the accurate rendering of Joe Pavelski’s slightly red beard.) The tone is gently amusing rather than hilarious. Nevertheless, highlights include a sly nod to Herb Brooks, a cameo by Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s rescue dogs, and Tomas Hertl’s sweetly believable turn as an enthusiastic cartoon sidekick:
On Wednesday night, Brent Burns became the first San Jose Sharks player to win the NHL’s James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded each year to the league’s top defenseman. (“What about former Sharks player and current Sharks general manager Doug Wilson?” you ask. He won the award in 1982, with the Blackhawks.) While I personally thought Burns should have won the award last year as well (then, he was a first-time nominee who lost to LA’s Drew Doughty), his 2016-17 statistics were incredibly impressive. He scored 29 goals and 47 assists in 82 regular-season games, leading the league’s defensemen in goals and points. He also had his best defensive showing ever, with a plus-minus rating of plus-19.
It’s been a stressful couple of months for San Jose Sharks fans, with the team’s unusually horrific injuries leading to a first-round playoff exit. With the NHL draft in full swing and the free agency period looming, the offseason promises to be intense. Nevertheless, there are a lot of things to look forward to next season, and a brand new reason to celebrate. Congratulations, Brent Burns!
Patrick Marleau’s career milestones have been a frequent topic on this blog. His equally accomplished San Jose Sharks teammate Joe Thornton was not to be outdone last night. In a 3-2 Sharks victory over the Winnipeg Jets, Thornton assisted on Joe Pavelski’s game-winning empty-net goal. Thus, he became only the 13th player (over 100 years of NHL history) to notch 1,000 assists in his career. (Yet, somehow, the NHL didn’t see fit to place Thornton or Marleau on the list of 100 all-time NHL greats announced earlier this year. Don’t get me started…)