Ratto: Ferriero caps Sharks' best playoff game in years


Ratto: Ferriero caps Sharks' best playoff game in years

April 29, 2011


Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

SAN JOSE -- Benn Ferriero. Of course Benn Ferriero. Why the hell not Benn Ferriero?

I mean, Friday was his birthday. Hed never played in a Stanley Cup playoff game before. He had been on the ice for 4:38 of the entire game. Hed taken one shot, on his only shift of the third period. Hed been, well, a fourth-line wing on a three-line team, and happy just to hear coach Todd McLellan say, Be ready.

Until the solar system parted and he threw a what-the-hell shot at something that looked like the Detroit Red Wings' net. And his shot, which looked like it was heading for the crowd net, hit defenseman (and former Shark) Brad Stuarts stick high on the shaft, rocketed down and skipped between goalie Jimmy Howards pads for the overtime winner in San Joses 2-1 victory in Game 1 of this Western Conference semifinal.

It was so planned, so well-constructed, that Ferriero wore this grin throughout his interviews that said, What a lucky boy am I?

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That was pretty much it, he said after San Jose's best playoff game in years. Cooch (Logan Couture) and (Detroits Justin) Abdelkader fought along the wall for it, Cooch got it to me, I just turned and threw it at the net, and it hit a stick or skate or something and it just went in.

RECAP: Sharks steal Game 1 on Ferriero's OT goal

In other words, your standard playoff overtime goal -- a sloppy, goofy, happy mess for a kid who was considered an afterthought in Phoenix and was biding his time in the Sharks system up until the moment when McLellan got his inspiration.

He told me about 30 seconds before to get ready to go on, Ferriero said of McLellan. Thats my job, to stay ready for when Im called upon.

Inspiration? More like a shot in the dark.

Oh, Im no genius, he said of his decision to insert Ferriero on the fourth line with Scott Nichol and Ben Eager. He just brought some things to the table that I thought we needed, is all. Wed had some guys who were out there (on an extended power play) pretty long, and I thought we were getting to the point where we were going to go to some of our other guys.

Yeah. Overtime. Legs getting wonky. Five minutes and the winning goal. Thats pretty specific duty for a guy who under normal circumstances would be at a bar toasting his own 24th birthday.

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The goal ended a sensational game, one dominated by the Sharks with presence and persistence, but dominated even more by the spectacular work of Howard, the Detroit goalie who was blamed by many for the Wings exit from the playoffs last year at the hands of the Sharks. Howard was nicked for only a Joe Pavelski open-aired swat at 10:22 of the third period of the 45 shots he saw before Ferrieros, and was as good as Los Angeles Jonathan Quick had been in the Sharks first series.

But the game truly turned in the overtime, in a four-and-a-half minute swing that nearly blew up on the Sharks.

It began when defenseman Niclas Wallin blocked Abdelkaders shot on a 4-on-1 rush toward San Jose goalie Antti Niemi, and as the two headed to chase the puck in the corner, Abdelkaders stick caught Wallin somewhere in the beard, he laughed.

Wallins beard bleeds, then, because Abdelkader went off on a double-minor for high-sticking, and though the power play did not go well for San Jose (three shots, none of them truly worrisome and nine clears), it did not take them long to re-establish the Detroit zone as base camp.

Thats where Couture came in battling Abdelkader for a puck along the wall to Howards right.

I just sort of got body position on him, and got in on his stick and knocked the puck to Benny, Couture said. That was about it.

Ferriero collected the puck, took a stride and leaned into a left turn and then did the one thing that makes the most sense in such chaos. He threw a shot at the net from the top of the faceoff circle.
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They tell you that when youre a little guy, shoot and see what happens, defenseman Dan Boyle said. Thats what he did.

And it was an OK enough shot, just nothing great, until it clipped Stuarts stick. It also looked like it might have caught fellow defenseman Niklas Kronwall, but all he did was help obscure Howards view from the puck that changed directions so radically.

When the puck went in, at 7:03, Stuart hurled his stick with one hand into the netting behind the glass in disgust. The Sharks exploded with glee at their fourth overtime win. And McLellan breathed a sigh of relief.

They did such a good job killing the penalty, and maybe if Bennie shot doesnt go in, now theyve got momentum, he said, ever the worrying type. We would have had to regroup, settle ourselves, because you dont convert on something like that, you sometimes tend to droop a little.

There was no droopage, though. Benn Ferriero had been kissed on the head by whatever deity was handling hockey this weekend, and got his goal, on his second shot, in his sixth minute of playoff hockey of his first playoff game.

You cant make it up. Well, you could. You just wouldnt ever be able to sell the screenplay to anyone who doesnt have his office in the trunk of his car, is all. But be sure to give it a snappy title.

Like, "Why The Hell Not Benn Ferriero?" Fits on a poster quite nicely.

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention


Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

Frank Deford’s death over the weekend did not mark the end of longform sportswriting as we knew it; he had long ago become part of the electronic commentariat that has reduced longform’s place in the public’s attention span.

But there is still longform writing and storytelling to be found in many places, and it is still worthwhile. It has more production value, as the TV folks like to blather, and the words have to fight for their place between the cracks left by the pictures and the mutated graphics, but longform lives, and it should, lest we all agree as one people to further desiccate that attention span like a grapefruit left in the sun.

Deford’s death, though, reminds of when longform was the zenith of the storytelling art. It could, and still can, give you access and depth and breadth that a TV crew simply could not, and cannot. Even extended TV features are by their very nature so contrived by all the equipment that nothing is natural, nothing is a surprise, and the act of writing is almost an afterthought.

Deford knew this. He more than merely dabbled in TV himself, playing the wizened old raconteur who was as much character in his pieces as storyteller. He was also a star and a starmaker with The National, a daily sports network in newspaper form that was long on talent and ideas but short on delivery and distribution. It lasted 17 months, until mid-1991, but it led to grander attempts decades later, and could if you squint your eyes hard enough be the natural parent of Grantland and The Ringer and Vice and SB Nation and dozens of others – all bigger ideas, positioned in the post-typing world. Some lasted, more didn’t, but capitalism is like that – making fuel to keep the fires burning and the engines churning.

Deford could have thrived in such a world, to be sure. He was not, in the hideous phrase, “a man of his time.” Indeed, he was a crossover figure years ago in ways that other longform writers attempt to resist even now. They want to be Deford at the height of his powers at a time when the instruments for their gift are either dying or veering away from anything that hits the 600-word mark.

But his passing did not kill the art of clever writing and incisive storytelling. There are far too many people who can do that still, even if the market for their gifts is neither as pronounced nor as eager for the product as it once was. It did remind us not only that he was a giant, but that there are still giants among us should we deign to take the time to seek them.

Thus, Deford’s death marked his passing but not the thing that made him worthy of our attention. Storytelling, longform and otherwise, remains the heart of why this is still worthwhile to a culture, and when the generation his work spawned starts to die off, I suspect we’ll still be saying the same thing then. Notebooks are smartphones, photographs are streams, but the human eye and ear and hand still remain pre-eminent.

That is, until the robots take over, at which point reading won’t be worth it.

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

You thought you were done worrying about the Raiders. You thought the votes were in, the moving vans booked for three years down the road, and all gnashing and sharpening of teeth was over. You thought you were free.

Then those buttinsky-come-latelies from St. Louis decided to rear their litigious heads, and now you find yourselves slipping back into that desperate-hope world from which no one escapes.

It seems the city and its regional sports authority has decided to sue the National Football League and its 32 semi-independent duchies over the relocation of the Rams 15 months ago because, and you’ll like this one, the league allegedly did not follow its own relocation rules when it moved the team.

As you know, there is no such thing as a rule if everyone governed by the rule decided unanimously to ignore the rule. This doctrine falls under the general heading of, “We’re billionaires, try and stop us.”

But all lawsuits have a common denominator, and that is that there is money at the end of the rainbow. St. Louis is claiming it is going to miss out on approximately $100 million in net proceeds (read: cash) and has decided that the NFL and especially their good pal Stan Kroenke is going to have to pay for permission to do what they have already done -- specifically, leave.

Because the suit was filed in St. Louis, the benefits of home field advantage apply, and the league is likely to have to reinflate their lawyers for some exciting new billable hours.

As to whether it turns into a windfall for the jilted Missourians, well, as someone who has known lawyers, I would list them as prohibitive underdogs. But there is nuisance value here, which brings us to Oakland.

The city and county, as we know, did not put its best shoe forward in trying to lure the Raiders into staying or the other 31 owners into rejecting the team’s pleas for geographical relief. By that, we mean that the city and county did not fall all over itself to meet the league’s typically extortionate demands.

But they did play angry enough to start snipping about the 2019 part of the Raiders’ 3-More-Coliseum-Years plan, and they are threatening to sue over about $80K in unpaid parking fees, so filing their own breach-of-rules lawsuit might be a possibility.

Because, hey, what’s the point of sounding like a nuisance if you can’t actually become one?

By now, it is clear that everyone in SuitWorld got what it needed out of the Raiders’ move. The city and county could concentrate on guiding the A’s into activity on their own new stadium. The team could go where Mark Davis has been agitating for it to go for at least three years – somewhere else. The state of Nevada could find a place for that $750 million that was burning a hole in its casino vault. And the league went to a market that it, at first reluctantly and then enthusiastically, decided should be its own.

The fans? Oh, please. Who cares about them? To the NFL, and to all corporations in all walks of business, folks are just walking wallets.

But for some cash? Well, climb on board, suckers. The gravy train is pulling out on Track 3.

Nobody is fool enough to think the Raiders would be forced to return. Hell, even St. Louis isn’t asking for the Rams back. They just want to get paid for the money they probably banked on in the good old days before Stan Kroenke decided to head west.

And that would doubtless be Oakland’s stance as well if. Now the circumstances are slightly different, in that St. Louis worked harder to keep the Rams than Oakland did to keep the Raiders. St. Louis scared up $350 million toward new digs for the Rams, well short of what Kroenke would have accepted, while Oakland said it could get its hands on some infrastructure money and no more.

But Mayor Libby Schaaf complained in her relocation post mortem that the league didn’t follow its own guidelines (yay correlation as causation!), maybe with an eye toward throwing a few lawyers into the fire to see how long it would burn.

There is not yet any indication that the city and county are going that route (and the silence may simply mean that they are sick of the Raiders’ saga as everyone else seems to be), but if they do, well, don’t freak out that the team might be forced to return.

Except, of course, in that place where migraines start. Dragging this back up is a bit like the phantom pain amputees feel -- but hey, people will do a lot for a bit of court-ordered cash. Anyone who has ever watched Judge Judy will understand.