There’s an unconfirmed theory around San Jose that Joe Thornton began growing a beard when the Sharks played their first game in 1991, and he refused to shave until the team won its first Stanley Cup. If true, the theory would explain a lot.
The Silicon Valley is a region populated by immigrants, some of whom were born elsewhere in the United States, many of whom were born abroad. Many are too young to remember a time when the San Jose Sharks didn’t exist or when agriculture, not silicon, was the backbone of the local economy. That’s why I like the Thornton Beard theory, tall as it is. It’s a useful illustration of how something magnificent can sprout up out of nowhere and blossom, like a tech industry from orchards, or an ice hockey tradition in Northern California.1
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TORONTO — My knowledge of the Hockey Hall of Fame prior to today consisted of two facts: One, it’s in Toronto; two, it’s where the Stanley Cup stays when it isn’t out on the road (which is rather often). Safe to say I carried an open mind into Brookfield Place.
So, about Brookfield Place. Let’s start there.
One day into the “second half” of the NHL season, Connor McDavid reminded us why he was the number one pick last summer by shredding the Columbus Blue Jackets defense for a beautiful breakaway goal. Thanks, Connor.
An elite hockey player’s reflexes are often difficult to appreciate in real time. They’re tough to replicate in the All-Star skills competition. Today, though, they were laid bare when Claude Giroux scored a goal in the second period tonight in San Jose.
Giroux scored from the faceoff circle when the referee dropped the puck and the Philadelphia Flyers forward snapped off a puck with plenty of English on it, fooling Martin Jones. Check it out:
Credit the official with an assist for putting the puck right where Giroux was looking for it.
There’s a reason that Danny DeVito is starring in a series of coffee commercials alongside George Clooney these days. Someone once let a 5-foot tall man into Hollywood and we kept laughing, laughing, laughing. First there was Taxi, then Twins, then Batman Returns, then It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, to the point where a couple years ago this real-life penguin had enough power and status in town that he was able to sleep around with enough women to force his wife to file for separation rather than passively tolerate his philandering. And, yes, he makes George Clooney seem like the dashing leading man he is when the two sip a cup of Nespresso side-by-side — as if Danny DeVito was needed to propagate that image of Clooney.
In Hollywood, DeVito is somewhere between a talent and a novelty act, not quite enough of one to elude the other label.
So it is with John Scott.
Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler went undercover during a preseason game at Honda Center, and had some fun at the expense of some fans — and even a teammate. (He gets Corey Perry’s autograph at a concession stand, then charges him for popcorn.)
Check out the video, which the Ducks uploaded to YouTube today:
Hockey is back.
There are old faces in new places (Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello in Toronto). There are new faces in old places (Slava Voynov in Russia). Jaromir Jagr is still employed in the NHL, joining Chris Chelios and Gordie Howe as a rare “once in a couple different generations” player.
Already a treasure trove of storylines have emerged, with more on the way. Here are eight to whet your appetite for the upcoming season:
The New York Islanders are finally freed from the penitentiary known as the Nassau Memorial Coliseum, and will soon begin their first season at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
What better way to commemorate one’s release from prison than with these new third jerseys?
The Islanders posted a photo gallery of the new look on their website. No matter which way you look at it, you can’t escape the sense of … escape.
We’re actually fans of the minimalist look in general, and nothing says minimal like black and white. Problem is, when you throw a couple stripes on the sleeves, and eschew piping and gray trim (like these guys), the look becomes a little too stripped-down.
As in, “strip down, it’s time for a cavity search.”
MIAMI — You’ve got to hand it to Colin White, the center from the U.S. National Development Team, who was drafted by the Ottawa Senators. I don’t know if this move was premeditated or spontaneous. Either way, White became a man of the people when he did this to Gary Bettman when he reached the stage today:
(Now back to me.)
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman humorously declared “you have a dynasty” tonight, and my inner cynic practically choked on its sarcasm-flavored Kool-Aid.
Thanks, Mr. Commissioner. Where can I pick up the keys to my dynasty?
Oh, God. Really? Is this the sort of dynasty I should have a doctor look at?
Does this dynasty come with french fries? I’d like to super-size it.
Here’s the thing: It was Bettman who fought to institute a salary cap in 2004. It was a salary cap that forced the Blackhawks to jettison some of their best players (Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg and ultimately Antti Niemi) after winning the first Cup of their alleged dynasty back in 2010. You want a real dynasty? Show me a Chicago Blackhawks team that didn’t have to eject half of its young core, then pin its hopes on a group of six players, then hope it guessed the right six, then hope those six stayed healthy, then hope the salary cap remained stable enough that it didn’t have to trade any of the six over the next half-decade.