Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Handshake Line - WCQF 2009: San Jose

The history books will tell you that Canada's English settlers instituted hockey's traditional handshake line, hoping to imbue the rough and tumble game with an air of sportsmanship. However, I prefer to believe, as I do about fighting, that the practice has its roots in the Iroquois lacrosse tradition. Tribes would settle their disagreements on the field in ferocious competition, but the field is where the disagreement stayed. You battled as hard as you could, but you accepted the final score, if not out of respect for your opponent, then out of respect for the game.

We respect the handshake line here at Anaheim Calling, and would like to start a handshake tradition of our own. So, Daniel, walking through the line of Sharks fans, Sharks players and the Sharks coaching staff, what are the positives beyond 'good game' that you would like to express?

I'd be lying if I said I didn't hate the Sharks, but maybe it's the hate that makes me like them so much. I don't know what I'd do without the Sharks. My dislike of them makes my love of hockey that much stronger. I didn't get to attend any games, but from what I watched on TV, props to San Jose fans for sticking it out. They never gave up. Too often, fans know the series is over and will resign themselves to waiting for the end to come. I'm always impressed by San Jose fans' undying loyalty to their squad despite the recent failings. I once dated a Sharks fan; she was crazy. But, she did take me to a playoff game after we broke up, which was very classy, especially since I broke her heart. The important thing to remember is that you still have the most talented corps in the league; your day will come. I just hope it's never at our expense.

[To Dan Boyle]
You tried as much as any D-man can to strap this team to your back. You had so many bounces go against you, and you had to battle what might be the best cycling line in the NHL, night in and night out, and you made them earn every inch of ice. Your performance in Game 3 pulled your team back from the abyss and made this a series. You showed incredible poise and work ethic. You put a mark on this team, and showed a leadership that will last this team well into next year and possibly/hopefully long after.

[To Rob Blake]
What do you say to the best hip checker in the league except don't go. One of the most memorable defensive plays I've ever seen belongs to you. I remember neither the team nor the game, but you were, as you usually were and rightfully so, wearing a Kings sweater and you reached around a forward protecting the puck with his body, got all puck and then finished by taking him to the ice. In this series, you showed again why you will be in the Hall of Fame, battling and still unleashing that bomb from the point. I haven't seen anything that says you're done, and if Chelios can still go, you've for sure still got it in you.

[To Joe Thornton]
I think you finally get it. The Joe Thornton that showed up to the last 3 games of this series is the Joe Thornton that all of Hockey has been waiting to see in the playoffs. I'm excited and worried. If the Sharks are smart, they'll keep you and Marleau and put you on a line with Cheechoo, again. One day you'll put your hands on the Cup and it'll be sweet.

[To Patrick Marleau]
You're a lifer; don't go anywhere! Just as I need to hate the Sharks, I need to hate you. You were a captain this series, a real one, the one that the Sharks always knew they had. You belong in a Sharks sweater, and when you finally hoist your cup for San Jose you'll be what Arthur and I always wanted Paul Kariya to be, the franchise player who won the Cup where he was supposed to win the Cup. You are synonymous with San Jose Hockey and that's how it should be.

[To Jonathan Cheechoo]
You are a sniper, and you are gritty. You are not a third line winger, and perhaps the abundance of talent in San Jose has been bad for you. I don't know. What I do know is that you can still win another Richard, and you showed in this series how you did it. You didn't find the back of the net as much, but I still remember why you were so deadly, and you will be again.

[To Todd McLellan]
Your system is great; you just ran into a great goalkeeper. You transformed a team coming off a sour playoff performance and got them to focus on the task at hand. You'll be around for a long time. And I hope that you and Carlyle can match wits for years to come.

[To All Sharks Fans]
I was able to shake a few hands and say, "good series" when the San Jose fans in my section made their way out. That sentiment goes for all Sharks fans. You made the Tank raucous and inhospitable, you brought an impressive contingent into the Ponda Center and you never stopped cheering a squad that wasn't always rewarded for its play. A team could not ask for more from its followers.

As to the personal fights or NorCal vs. SoCal trash talk, I'm afraid I'm handicapped in that debate. You see, I'm from the Bay Area-- born San Francisco General, raised ten blocks from Candlestick in the 80s, die hard Niners fan, die hard Giants fan. I moved away the year after the Sharks were formed, and by the time I came back to attend Berkeley, I was parading my Kariya jersey through HP Pavillion. If there's some kind of regional war, I'm afraid I'll have to opt out.

[To Patrick Marleau]
You went out there with a bum wheel (or some other lower body car part), and you produced to the tune of 2 GWG. The "C" is the heaviest patch on the jersey and you carried it well, presumably on one leg.

[To Joe Thornton]
I knew I was looking at a different Joe when I saw you jawing at Getzlaf during the opening faceoff of the 2nd period in Game 5. Then you backed it up to open Game 6. That's the playoff Joe we've been looking for. I hope to see him next year, though I hope we don't play him next year. Oh, and secure your fight strap next time you go toe-to-toe, will ya?

[To Devin Setoguchi]
They say you can't teach size, and you can't coach poise. You came out swinging in Game 1. And far more impressive than your 65-point sophomore campaign was the goal you scored in Game 5. You knew you were facing a hot goaltender, but you took what you knew from scouting him, you gave yourself space and you were patient with the puck. You're a playoff performer, and you will be for years to come.

[To Jonathan Cheechoo]
You ran the spectrum in Game 2: the Verbeek-ian grit that draws penalties and the Bossy-an hands that force a team to pick its mistakes out of the back of the net. You're a duck killer. We were lucky to get away.

[To Todd McLellan]
After they shut you down in the neutral zone, you made all the right moves. You might've breezed through this series if the goalie had been more cooperative.


Earl Sleek said...

Nicely done, guys. I don't put much stock in the regional debate either (I figure I'm responsible for approximately 0% of SoCal's perks and drawbacks).

Interesting and probably telling that neither of you had a note for Nabokov. It'd be a tough one to write, for sure, and probably the meat of it would be "careful who you call a crybaby".

Still, well done. I'm probably still going to have nightmares about Dan Boyle for a few more nights -- latency and all.

Anaheim Calling said...

I didn't mean to skip Nabby in line or anything, his antics with Corey Perry aside. I did want to tell him that if he'd muffed every spectacular save he made and stoned EVERY soft goal, the Ducks might have had 5 goals per game.

But the truth is that we scouted him as having trouble with low shots lately. And we shot in-between and around the wickets every game. He couldn't adjust. It reminded me of when people started shooting high on Cujo. What do you say to a goalie that looked great from the waist up?