Ratto: Sharks to show true colors Wednesday


Ratto: Sharks to show true colors Wednesday

Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

We won't know for sure whether the Sharks played well Monday night in Detroit until Wednesday in Philadelphia.By then, we'll know whether they figured it out. Casual fans would swear they did, but they don't know what the Sharks are just now learning -- that for them, it seems to take a kick in the groin to get the heart started.They blitzed the Detroit Red Wings, 5-2, by playing perhaps their best 40-minute stretch of the season against a good team. They sought out, handled and shot the puck as though they'd bought it. They got in Detroit's passing lanes. They won the one-on-one battles. They outshot the Wings, the best team in the West, 24-11 in the final two periods, 34-14 over the last 50 minutes. They were in every sense the dominant team.RELATED: Couture, Sharks batter Red Wings 5-2 in Detroit
But only after they had another one of their come-to-Jesus meetings to see if they were capable of, well, coming to Jesus, at least in the hockey sense."I don't know that we need to SEE that we're a good team," defenseman Dan Boyle said, referencing a between-periods meeting in which the general theme was anal-cranial inversion and how to combat it. "We know what we can do. I would just like to see us come out and take the game to the other team right from the start and see where it takes us.""Me, I'm very disappointed in our guys," head coach Todd McLellan said, revising and adding to Boyle's remarks. "The first period, the first 10- minutes, we obviously didn't understand what we were coming into. We somehow didn't know how good the red and white team is, especially in their building."In short, McLellan was saying that spotting the Red Wings 20 minutes is a bad idea, and that dominating the final 40 as San Jose did means they still may be thinking they can turn their level of play on and off at will.It is why a post-period meeting was needed to vent their anger after falling behind, 2-1, giving up four penalties of which two turned into Detroit goals, and in all measurable ways looked like they believed they could not play with the Wings.When asked if the meeting was a quiet or loud one, goalie Antti Niemi said, "Both." Everyone else seems to think it was more the latter.In fact, the meeting was a contentious one, filled with self- and team-wide excoriations, first from McLellan ("I said, Get a clue") and then from unnamed players."I think we were all just pissed off that we played like a bunch of . . . blank in the first period,"Boyle said, and he said the world "blank" only because there were tape recorders on the job. "It's just so easy to see. Offensively, defensively, the second and third periods, were really good. But some nights, some guys just don't want the puck, and we're not very good when we have that."The result of the meeting was goals from Niclas Wallin and Logan Couture eight seconds apart, and then a Dany Heatley snap shot right before the end of the second. The Sharks were as dominant as the Wings had been before, and stayed that way through the remainder of the game.Only they've had these little epiphanies before -- so often, in fact, that McLellan isn't sure whether to trust this one."To be honest with you, I think backward," he said. "The number of times where we've had what you call a catalyst . . . the one (Edmonton) where we only had four defensemen . . . going to Ottawa, playing for a teammate (Heatley, who was demonized before the game for sins against the Senators) . . . Chicago, we were playing for our goaltender (Niemi, the former Blackhawk). But we can't keep needing those to play the way we're supposed to.""We didn't talk about a lot of technical stuff. The first period, we could have put in a whole new system and it wouldn't have made any difference. We have to get past the point where we have to get them fully committed before they do anything. This is all really bittersweet."So then it's agreed. This was the worst Sharks five-goal performance in Detroit ever -- conveniently, there has only been one other, the Game 1 playoff win in 1994.But it may also have been the best one ever. All we need to do is look at the film.From Philadelphia. Then we'll know for sure. Maybe. Depending on how they play in Buffalo on Thursday.What's on your mind? Email Ray and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal


Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal

In what can be considered your standard bolt out of the blue, California head football coach Sonny Dykes has reportedly been fired.

In what can be considered your standard spur-of-the-Internet-moment-connect-the-dots inspiration, the Internet went immediately to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal rumors.

The logic, of course, is impeccable. Dykes never really snapped the Cal program around, taking a bad program and making it, well, mediocre, and he has spent much of the past two years aggressively seeking out other jobs, so one can assume there was at least some trouble in paradise, even if you want to make the case that Cal football and paradise are somehow connected.

And Kelly just got canned by the 49ers as part of Jed York’s latest I-will-not-be-made-to-look-ridiculous twitch, so he could sign a properly modest contract at Berkeley and still get his full $6 million with the offset from the three years left on his Jed deal.

So it makes perfect sense . . . which is why it should be judged with considerable skepticism.

For one, Kelly can almost surely do better in the college job diaspora. Cal is a big name with modest ambitions due in part to constant budget constraints, and there are better jobs out there even if he sits for a year.

For two, Cal and Kelly are an odd fit, given the persistent tensions between academia and athletica at Berkeley.

For three, the job comes with massive roadblocks, including Stanford, USC, Washington and (potentially) a resuscitation of the Oregon he left behind. Success will not come easy, if it does at all.

For four, Cal just finished four years of gimmick offense and overburdened defense, and Kelly would provide a more successful version of the same.

And for five, this is too easy, too simple, too convenient. Something about this scenario must be wrong somewhere. When people hit the Internet with photoshopped Kelly-in-Cal-costumes within minutes of the Dykes announcement, you know this is too obvious to actually come to fruition.

Why? Because we don’t live that well, that’s why.

The beauty of a triumphant Kelly at Cal glowering down at the charred ruin in Santa Clara seems more appealing than it actually is, because try as they might, Cal fans will never be backing the more popular horse here, and Kelly won’t win that battle unless he takes Cal to the Rose Bowl while the 49ers are still grappling over draft positions.

In that way, reality sucks. The idea that Jed York could be mocked in collegial absentia by his two biggest coaching hires is delicious but almost surely illusory.

But until we get more on why Dykes got canned 43 days after the team’s last game – recruiting, academic issues, legal issues, photocopier problems from him sending his resume out so often – all we have is the Chip Kelly rumor-ette to keep us intrigued.

Okay, to keep us amused.

Okay, to keep us from falling over in a coma. Cal should matter more than it does, but it’s been 13 years since the Holiday Bowl zenith of the Jeff Tedford Era, and 25 since Bruce Snyder took the Ursines to the Citrus Bowl. The evidence since 1990 is of a team with bigger dreams than means that is slightly below .500 (160-164). Sonny Dykes leaving means one more coach who didn’t make an impact unless his departure leads to either reassessment of the program’s standards, internal or external sanctions . . .

. . . or what the hell, Chip Kelly. Let’s face it – in these dismal days for wacked-out rumormongering, this is pretty intoxicating stuff.

Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports


Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports

The Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State Warriors have always had a casual attitude about their home court, even by the once-flexible standards of the National Basketball Association.

Thus, it should be only slightly amusing but not actually surprising that Warriors chief arenologist Rick Welts is now waffling a bit (courtesy Comrade Poole) on whether the team will change its name to San Francisco Warriors when it moves across the pond in 2019-20, or retain its current geographic association with Narnia.

I mean Golden State. I often confuse utterly fictional locales – when I can be bothered to give a toss either way.

But the Warriors, whether they play in Oakland, San Francisco, Pier 30, Pier 32, Westeros, Hobbiton, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, Curryvania, the Klingon Empire, the Death Star or Planet Nine, are relocating, and once they break the seal on the earth in 12 days, Welts and his fellow elves will almost surely play the team’s future name as a mildly tedious cliffhanger.

Hey, fun is where you find it.

The matter of the team’s relocation will be a sore subject among lifelong East Bay residents, who have put up with the Warriors for 45 years in various stages of development, including the current “We Almost Never Lose” stage. They regard the Warriors’ transplantation to San Francisco to be an unspeakable crime given the high level of fan allegiance afforded them in Oakland.

And yes, they regard Oakland and San Francisco as very real places, as opposed to Golden State, Freedonia, Vulgaria or the Nexus of All Realities.

It is not yet fully known what San Franciscans think of this development, but that’s the nature of the gamble here. They may embrace the Warriors as the new toy in town and then lose interest, and frankly, neither Welts nor anyone else knows the answer to that.

Either way, their die is cast, and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are now future former Oakland fixtures. Yes, they are quite fond of the exciting new real estate values and their exciting new unobstructed view of the bay, but it has long been assumed that the move would also entail changing the name back to “San Francisco” for the snob appeal.

Now Welts, who has overseen both arena projects (including the one at Piers 30 and 32 which ended up with the piers beating the Warriors in a rout), tells Comrade Poole that the San Francisco Warriors might not end up as the San Francisco Warriors after all.

“Four years ago, I think the conventional wisdom in our building here in Oakland was that yes, we should attach a city name to the team, then it becomes a more global franchise,” Welts marketing-gobbledy-gooked. “There was a lot of head-scratching four years ago about where the Golden State Warriors even played, in other parts of the world. What’s happened with the team over the course of the ensuing years, until today, has made the Warriors if not the preeminent, at least among the three best-known NBA franchises around the world. And everybody who didn’t know where the Golden State Warriors were four years ago, if you’re a fan today, anywhere in the world, you know where the Golden State Warriors are.”

In Oakland.

Now, the mic drop.

“The team’s success has caused us to really rethink whether or not that’s something we should or want to do,” he added. “I guess it’s fair to say there’s been no final decision made. But if you were a betting man, I think you would probably want to wager that the name might remain the same.”

Of course. Why not stay fictional when specificity might move fewer hoodies?

Then again, this is a team that in its 70 years has played home games in Philadelphia (the Arena, the Civic Center, Lincoln High School and Convention Hall), Hershey and Bethlehem PA, Atlantic City, Trenton, Collingswood and Camden NJ, and Saratoga Springs NY . . .

(a moment’s rest here to catch our breaths)

. . . and then after moving west in 1962, the Cow Palace, San Francisco Civic Auditorium and USF’s Memorial Gym, the Oakland Auditorium, San Jose Civic Auditorium, San Jose Arena, Richmond Auditorium, then Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, Eugene, Seattle, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

In fact, and you can swindle the gullible at your neighborhood tavern with this one, the Warriors’ first game in San Francisco occurred almost three years before the team left Philadelphia. The Warriors played the visitors to the Minneapolis Lakers, who moved to Los Angeles a year later and had already played a regular season game at the Cow Palace earlier in the year, so this game, January 31, 1960, could have been considered a civic scouting trip for both teams as they sought new homes.

In other words, the Warriors are almost surely the most geographically vague team in the history of North American sports. Moreover, they are about to become the first team in sports history to go home for the third time under three different city names – Philadelphia, San Francisco and Krypton, or whatever the hell they want to call themselves this time.