Carmichael Dave: I had a dream


Carmichael Dave: I had a dream

Carmichael Dave
CSNCalifornia.comAs we wrote in this space just a scant couple of weeks ago, there is trouble in KingsLand. The All-Star weekend really helped ramp things up, due in large part to David Stern, and aided by a deafening silence out of ARCO (errr Power Balance Pavilion). I am writing this at 3am on a weeknight, fresh from a most unsettling dream. Just a little background: although I masquerade as a writerradio guy, I was born and raised here in Sacramento. For our out of town friends, the "Carmichael" in "Carmichael Dave" comes from a suburb of Sacramento I grew up in. I got my start in show business as a 14 year old caller to several KHTK radio programs, the station that currently employs me. I would always be the first nerd on hold after a Kings game, "Dave in Carmichael" eventually got shortened to "Carmichael Dave", and the rest is not so important history.

Point being, I rarely qualify as being an "objective" journalist. Truth be told, many of the people I've met in this business also do not qualify as "objective", but I do my best to hang a big sign around my neck that says something like "fan with column spaceradio show". I have no issues with that, I sleep just fine at night (when my 3 and 2 year olds follow suit). Its just that before we moved on with this little ditty I'm writing, I thought it best that we were honest with each other. You are making a committment to read what I type here, you deserve nothing less than full disclosure.
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So I woke up in a sweat. In my dream, it was the morning after the Kings announced they were leaving Sacramento for Anaheim. Unless you've been in a hole for a month, you know that this has a very real possibility of becoming a reality, not just a subject of my nocturnal brain patterns. But in my mind, tonight, the unthinkable happened. And if you've ever dreamed before, you know that there is a finite amount of time before you begin to lose the bits and pieces that made up what happened while sleeping. So I grabbed my computer, scared the hell out of my slumbering wife, and dove onto the couch to put finger to keyboard. What follows is the article I would've written had this been an actual happening:
Say it ain't so, Joe (and Gavin)So the long citywide nightmare has become a reality. I was a 9 year old boy the day the Kansas City Kings announced they were leaving the midwest for greener (andcow filled) pastures out west. I cut out each and every article from our local paper announcing that Sacramento was now a major league town, and pasted them to my bedroom wall at my parents' house. Filled with pride and excitement, I remember all we could talk about at school the next day (and week, and year) was that no longer would it be necessary to drive the hour and a half to Oakland to see NBA basketball, we would soon have it in our own backyard. Magic, Larry, Jordan, Barkley, they would all be striding through our streets soon, maybe stopping in a restaurant to have a bite to eat. We all immediately began begging our Dads to queue up to grab what was immediately the hottest ticket in town. I am now married, with two children too young to understand what's going on. Even though I have long left my Mom and Dad's nest, I know that in a guest room that used to belong to me,my old bedroom wall stillholds those same articles cut from the paper now browned and frayed a bit at the edges. It kills me to think my children will never experience the joys of a hometown big-time team. It devastates me to know it was for the stupidest of reasons. I really hate this place sometimes. Like Luke Skywalker said about Tatooine, I was born here, raised here, and (as Han Solo added) will probably die here. I am a Sacramentan through and through. But let's not kid ourselves. There's really nothing to do here. The summers are horribly hot. The nightlife is generally best in the suburbs. Downtown Sacramento is passable at best, and one of our biggest attractions is saddled with the name "Old Sac". When I have friends visit from out of town, when they ask what we can do during their stay, the conversation inevitably involves travel. Lake Tahoe is just a short trip up the mountain, and San Francisco about the same distance west.Our Capital city'smotto might as well be "Sacramento: We're near things". If you take away the Kings, there's really not much left. Something inside me likes hearing broadcasters nationwide say our city's name. Deep down, I know some schlepp in Connecticut is hearing it at the same time. Don't ask me why that matters, but I guarantee I'm not the only one who feels that way. Sure, about 18 of the 25 odd years the team has been here have seen losing seasons, but that's why the winning ones meant so much. Was it really that long ago that people were flying purple flags out of their windows? Remember the winding lines outside of Carl's Jr just to get a stupid bobblehead? How many of us still have a copy of Sports Illustratedshowingthat immortal lineup of 2000 with the tagline: "Greatest Show on Court"? All of that's gone now. Good job Sacramento. If you weren't so stupidly against progress of any kind, this wouldn't havehappened. If you weren't so stuck in bureaucratic muck constantly, maybe things would be different. Nice work on the arena project. I was really optimistic every time I heard about another drafting of a resolution to examine the possibilities of a 90 day evaluation of a procedural undertaking of an expoloratory committee to rule as to whether of not it was feasible to grade a new arena's viability. Great work, elected officials. But its easy to blame the politicians, and we should, in part. The people themselves? This is their cross to bear as much as anyone else, if not more. If there is one way to describe the attitude of Sacramento when it comes to progress, its quite simple. NIMBY. The Not In My BackYard club. Do what you want, just don't bother me with paying for it, and don't bring it anywhere near me. Just don't bother me, period. Stay off my lawn. One of the many problems is, the city of Sacramento itself is mostly government workers, retired and active, and other types that really don't buy into the allure of major league sports. The real progressive younger types fall into the suburbs, which don't really have much of a say in the publicly funded arena category. Its a Catch-22 that ultimately bit the city in the rear, and they never had much of a fighting chance. A recent nationalpublication rated the most miserable cities in the country, and 3 of the top 5 were Sacramento, Stockton, and Modesto. That's right, the same 3 cities you hear about whenever a local TV station does a legal ID. THAT'S their market. Keep in mind, the misery index was configured when the Capital still HAD AN NBA FRANCHISE. Is it possible to be any higher than 1? Yes, I know. Schools are falling apart, people are hungry, the streets are in disarray. This is all true, and those are real problems. Guess what? We ALL HAVE REAL PROBLEMS. Everyone deals with real issues on a day to day basis. That's one of many reasons why its important to have professional distractions. Movies, music, and yes sports, it all helps. Many of us like the idea of coming home, putting our feet up, and cracking a cold one while watching the local team get their ass kicked. And was it so long ago that we were all swept up in Kings fever? When Chris Webber and Co led the charge, and the Kings were one referee robbery short of bringing a championship parade to J st, a new arena referendum would've passed by a landslide. But this is, and always has been, a fairweather town. Yes, the team sold out for years when they were winning 20 games a season, but that's because they were new, and no one knew any better. In a way, one of the worst things that happened was for this city to taste succcess. Once they did, even just a little bit, nothing else was good enough. Even as crappy as this year's team was, I'd take them over just about any of the pre-Mitch Richmond teams based on Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins alone. But most nights, the arena struggles to break 5 figures in attendance, regardless of the opponent. Not to worry though, that's no longer a problem. The team is leaving, and let the tears flow into the American River. This isn't the Baltimore Colts and the Mayflower vans, they had they Orioles. This isn't Clay Bennett and the Seattle Sonics, they had the Mariners and Seahawks. Its not the Cleveland Browns, as tortured as that city is, they still had the Indians and Cavs (and the movie Major League). Even when George Shinn took the Hornets from Charlotte, they still had the Panthers in the NFL. No, Sacramento was a one trick pony. Sorry Rivercats, but Triple-A is not the big boys. We have always had the "we're not a cowtown", L.A. sucks mentality. But in the end, all we are is a national joke. With city after city killing themselves to build new arenas to woo teams, we just simply put our heads in the sand. Even the city we originally stole the team from, Kansas City, has new digs in hopes of luring back an NBA franchise. By the way, no luck sofar. Remember, they still have the Chiefs AND the Royals. Most people regard KC as a hokey doke town. Where does that leave us? So there it is. In just over 25 years, Sacramento blew its chance. I guess it was fun while it lasted. All the work Gregg Lukenbill and his partners did has gone down the drain, and if I want my children to see big time basketball, I will once again be making the trek to Oakland, this time as driver, not passenger. Its the circle of life, in a sick and twisted way. Even in such a short time frame, the Kings were able to cultivate a one-sided rivalry with the Lakers, although they constantly beat us (thus one sided). I will never forget being in the stands in the early part of the 2000s, screaming until I was hoarse the city-wide rivalry anthem: "Beat L.A., Beat L.A." How little did we know that a decade later, the ultimate in cruel twists would fall on our doorstep. Not only did we lose our team, we lost them to our worst enemy. In the end, L.A. beat us. Stay classy, Sacramento.

Future with Sharks still uncertain for Thornton, Marleau


Future with Sharks still uncertain for Thornton, Marleau

More than four weeks have passed since the Sharks were dispatched by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau appear no closer to signing contract extensions than when the season ended. 

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson faces some of the toughest decisions of his 14-year tenure as the head of the hockey department in the coming weeks, beginning with the two best players in franchise history.

And, no, there are no back room handshake deals here between the Sharks and either of Thornton or Marleau, allowing the Sharks to protect extra players in the upcoming expansion draft. The two veterans are still pending unrestricted free agents in the truest sense, and it’s no certainty that either will return to San Jose.

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Re-signing Thornton would seem to be more of a priority than re-signing Marleau, as centermen are more valuable than wingers. Thornton’s line, with Joe Pavelski and whoever the left wing happened to be, was still drawing the opposition’s top defense pair on many nights this season. Marleau was on that line at times, but was shuffled up and down throughout the year, spending about half the season on the third line.

Thornton apparently dodged disaster in terms of his left knee, as multiple sources have told NBC Sports California that the brunt of the damage was to his MCL, not his ACL. As long as he recovers fully, as expected, there’s reason to believe that Thornton could be better next season than he was in 2016-17. Last year’s Stanley Cup Final run, the World Cup, and the condensed schedule seemed to take their toll. Thornton, who typically downplays anything remotely negative, admitted more than once that this season in particular was a grind.

But perhaps just as important to the Sharks is what Thornton brings to the team emotionally. Pavelski may still be the captain – and an effective one, at that – but Thornton is still the heartbeat. Pete DeBoer made that clear after Game 2 of the first round against the Oilers, talking about what Thornton’s absence from the bench in those first two games meant to the team in terms of a bench presence.

“It’s old school accountability with Joe. It’s black and white,” DeBoer said. “He came up in an era and at a time and around people who you weren’t worried about hurting feelings. You said what needed to be said. That’s not always the case now in modern dressing rooms and with modern athletes. He’s a great resource for us, because there’s no greater pressure than peer pressure, especially from a Hall of Fame guy like that.”

So what might it take to retain Thornton and keep him from hitting the open market? 

It has been previously reported that Thornton wanted a three-year deal, and that remains the case. As for money, I would expect Thornton – who has taken hometown discounts in the past to stay in San Jose – to ask for at least $5 million per season, minimum. Our best guess here is that a Thornton-Sharks pre-July 1 agreement would probably look something like three years and somewhere between $15 – 17 million.

Whether the Sharks would be willing to make that kind of commitment to Thornton, who will be 38 in July, is unclear. If they are not, Thornton could listen to offers from other teams beginning on June 24, when the window opens for unrestricted free agents to speak with other teams.

Still, Thornton’s first choice is to remain in San Jose. The Sharks don’t have anyone that could replace him on or off the ice. There should be a deal to be made here, either sooner or later.

* * *

Marleau’s future with the Sharks seems much hazier.

Unlike Thornton – who put up with public ridicule from Wilson and had his captaincy stripped – Marleau’s commitment to the organization hasn’t been quite as steadfast. Recall in 2015, of course, when Marleau’s preference for a brief stretch was to leave the Sharks. We reported here in November, 2015 that he was willing to accept a trade to three teams, while ESPN reported that Marleau’s agent was “quietly exploring the market” as late as January, 2016.

While those feelings seem to have passed over time, Marleau hasn’t been as emphatic as Thornton in his desire to return. When asked on April 24 if he would like to come back to the Sharks, Marleau said: “Yeah, it would be nice. We’ll see if that’s an option. A lot of time here before this decision needs to be made.”

At this point, though, Marleau may be asking for a bit much in his next deal. It’s believed that the franchise’s all-time leading scorer is, like Thornton, seeking a contract of at least three years.

That shouldn’t be overly surprising. When asked then if he wanted a multi-year deal on April 24, Marleau said: “Yeah, I think so. … I still feel like I have at least five good years in me, or maybe more.”

As we wrote here in early February, it may not make much sense for the Sharks to commit to Marleau for more than one year for a number of reasons, including potential long-term (and surely expensive) contract extensions for Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, something Wilson has made his top priority this offseason. 

If Marleau is seeking a lengthy commitment from San Jose, I don’t see how that works from a business perspective for San Jose, which has a number of prospects in the system at wing that could potentially fill the hole Marleau would leave. Timo Meier and Marcus Sorensen, in particular, could be ready to take the next step, and both would be much cheaper options (Meier has two years left on his entry level deal, while Sorensen is a pending restricted free agent that won’t require a huge raise).

* * *

Further complicating matters is that Thornton has never been shy about wanting to win with Marleau by his side. The two famously announced their nearly identical three-year contract extensions on Jan. 24, 2014, and Thornton would still prefer to have Marleau return to San Jose with him.

“Hopefully, I can come back and Patty can come back,” Thornton said after the season ended. “I think this team is a very good team. I think this is a Stanley Cup caliber team. I really believe that."

Considering the salary cap for next season has not yet been revealed, and that Wilson can’t officially extend Jones or Vlasic until July 1, the general manager could be forced to wait a little while before finalizing anything with either Thornton or Marleau. That makes it all the more likely that the Thornton and Marleau camps will at least get an opportunity to hear from other clubs and consider other offers in late June.

In short, anything is still possible. And Wilson, Thornton and Marleau all have some difficult decisions on the horizon in a Sharks offseason that is unlike any other.

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

The 49ers have graduated back to the phase of the offseason when offense-vs.-defense drills are allowed.

Because of the hiring of Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers were allowed an additional “voluntary” minicamp before the NFL draft. That meant the 49ers were permitted to skip from the two-week conditioning phase of the offseason straight to what is allowed under Phase III.

But after the three-day minicamp in late-April, the 49ers were forced to retreat back to Phase II, when on-field drills but could not include offense vs. defense.

Beginning Monday – and over the next three weeks -- the 49ers can get back to conducting the standard one-on-one, 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 "non-contact" drills. The 49ers have the maximum number of 10 organized team activities scheduled. The official offseason program concludes with a mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 13-15.

The real competition does not begin until the pads go on during training camp. but here’s a look at the team’s most notable offseason competitions (one position you will not find is quarterback, where the depth chart of Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley and C.J. Beathard appears clearly set):

Running back: Carlos Hyde, entering the final year of his original four-year contract, has a lot of competition to hold onto his role as the featured back. He is coming off his most-productive season, finishing just 12 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark when he sustained a knee injury with one game remaining. Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner lobbied for Utah running back Joe Williams in the draft. They clearly see a fit for him within the system.

Pass-rush end: The 49ers’ pass rush was among the worst in the NFL the past two seasons. Arik Armstead will be given an opportunity to see if he can adapt to the “Leo” position. Aaron Lynch must earn the confidence of the coaching staff and front office. The 49ers added explosive, 243-pound pass Pita Taumoepenu in the sixth round.

Tight end: The 49ers confirmed Vance McDonald was available for a trade during the draft. After finding no takers, the 49ers brought back McDonald and he rejoins the competition among rookies George Kittle and Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

Cornerback: Rashard Robinson is the obvious choice to start on one side. And assuming Jimmie Ward remains at free safety, the 49ers have no other player on the roster who has started a significant number of games at cornerback. Rookie Ahkello Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, will have a legitimate opportunity to win a starting job, as long as he displays a willingness to stick his nose into the action and play with the requisite level of physicality. Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Will Redmond should also be in the mix to replace Tramaine Brock, who was released shortly after his arrest after an alleged domestic incident last month.

Center: Jeremy Zuttah, a Pro Bowl performer, was added in the offseason via a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Daniel Kilgore has been the 49ers’ center the past three seasons but injuries have limited him to just 23 starts over that period of time. Zuttah has position flexibility. The 49ers could determine the best thing for the offensive line is to move Zuttah to one of the guard positions – to challenge Zane Beadles or Joshua Garnett -- if he is not clearly better than Kilgore.

Weakside linebacker: The 49ers signed veteran Malcolm Smith on the first day of free agency, providing him with $11.5 million of fully guaranteed money. The 49ers ranked Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster as the No. 3 overall prospect in the draft. They traded up to select him at No. 31 overall. Assuming Foster is ready to compete at the beginning of training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, it appears likely he would line up in that position and compete with Smith. The 49ers’ medical staff does not believe Foster will require any additional surgery, and Foster said he expects to be cleared for the opening of camp.