Ray Ratto

Ratto: McLellan dismisses playoff history


Ratto: McLellan dismisses playoff history


VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- San Joses world of extra experience in the Western Conference Finals is four games and 65 percent worth, give or take -- which of course makes little enough difference to and for the Vancouver Canucks.

Always when you go back in time, you can get that, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said, referencing the four consecutive losses they endured in last years conference final to Chicago. You guysll go back to 1984 (actually, 1982 for the first Vancouver Stanley Cup Final), and half their team hadnt been born yet (actually, most of it, which well get to in a moment), but its different now. Sixty-five percent of our team wasnt (in last years conference final). Experience starts after Game 1.

RELATED: Vancouver, Sharks flirt with ghosts of playoff past

For uselessly informational purposes only, those Canucks who predate the 1982 final against the New York Islanders, even if only post-natally, are goalie Roberto Luongo, defensemen Andrew Alberts, Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo, and forwards Alexandre Burrows, Mikael Samuelsson, Raffi Torres and the Sedin twins, who only seem like they started in the mid-1950s.

To that end, the Sharks actually have only 20 percent of untested players if you decide that Antti Niemi and Ben Eager (a) are of the core 20 and (b) their experience with the Blackhawks didnt count. In fact, the only Sharks who werent involved in last years postseason are defenseman Ian White, and wings Kyle Wellwood, Benn Ferriero and Jamal Mayers.

McLellan is right, though, in saying that last years experience was not only brief but only goes a bit toward this series, and that the link is actually through Detroit.

Detroit has had a large impact on a lot of teams, he said, remaining loyal to his own roots on Team Babcock. Our style, the building of the team, I believe its affected our team. And I think its affected what Vancouver has done as well. I think theyre built a little differently, theyre a little stronger (than the Red Wings), theyll run through you a little more . . . Detroit protects the puck very well, but basically our power play and penalty kills are similar, and we approach the game the same way.

Until tonight, when events render everything you have heard and read a bit of a lie. You know, like the way every series plays out.

National SOB League can never forget the noble man who brought them together


National SOB League can never forget the noble man who brought them together

So after one day, the NSOBL (the National Son-Of-A-Bitch League, as if you couldn’t guess) has survived the contemptible brain-burps of the Panderer-In-Chief. Now we’ll see if the players’ fury has true staying power.
And by staying power, we don’t mean whether they will continue to defy the call of the National Anthem (an easy enough task), but whether they view their newfound solidarity as something that needs to be nurtured to truly endure.
After all, it’s easy to be galvanized by the noisy neighbor who spends his day on the porch shouting irrational obscenities at the neighbors. But Donald Trump isn’t the issue; he never was. All he did was put a face to the idiocies that prevent us from being the country we should be.
But this started a year ago with a single knee, a single person, and a broader cause than a President who needs to pick fights the way a vampire needs naked necks. Colin Kaepernick, whose career as a football player is essentially over because he caused the NFL a headache by honoring his conscience, took his knee to protest police excesses, and didn’t need to be called a son of a bitch to do so. He was later, of course, part of the medley of all the other insults that followed, but he didn’t kneel because he was insulted. He knelt because other were, and worse.
But the beauty of these days is that we take any idea or action and immediately change its meaning to fit our own prejudices. Kaepernick’s message was too nuanced for a lot of people’s facilities because they value symbols more than people, but nobody doesn’t understand being called a son of a bitch by a boss you hate.
So the new NSOBL is just starting to coalesce. There will not be a shortage of reasons for players to find their voice and conscience, and to break the bonds that required them to ask permission before speaking or thinking. If they are as they purport to be, they will remember that change happens with a single son of a bitch.

In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in


In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in

Andre Ward finally did what he said he would do – retire before the sport of boxing retired him.

Now we’ll see if boxing intends to leave him be.

Ward announced his retirement via Twitter Thursday morning, seemingly ending the career of one of the world’s greatest fighters in the elusive pound-for-pound category. He now plans to get into media, which is a battle of its own (ask Teddy Atlas when he talks with Stephen A. Smith how rewarding that can be).

But there’s that word “seemingly.” Boxers have a greater incidence of unretirement than any other sport because they miss what they do, they are typically surrounded by people who like the paydays the boxer’s fights provide, the unpaid tax debts some incur never go away, and sometimes they just don’t have anything better to do.

And then one day they find out they can’t do anything at all because of the punishments that come with violent sport, and then they become either tragedies or cautionary tales. Almost nobody gets to 95 like Jake LaMotta did.

Ward has said repeatedly that would never happen to him, that he was in control of his destiny and would remain so. And you want to believe him, because he would be that rarest of boxing stories – the unmitigated success.

It will be his toughest fight, however, far tougher than Sergei Kovalev. Boxing has this weird thrall upon its practitioners that can prove irresistible, if not outright necessary, and Ward will have to train as hard to repel its call as he did when he was neck-deep in it. It will not be easy, and he will have days when he desperately wants back in.

But retired fighters typically make poor unretired fighters, and the more one unretires, the worse the future becomes. So Andre Ward has to win this one more than any other fight.

And maybe it will be an easy victory for him – but it is a victory that will have to be achieved every day, almost like fighting alcoholism. Boxing is bad for you, and though it has been good for Andre Ward (as far as anyone knows), being an ex-boxer will be even better. He has done what needs to be done, and now he needs to do something else, one that doesn’t require putting his body and brain at risk for our amusement.

If this can be done, Andre Ward can achieve it. But neither he nor anyone else should think it will be any easier than understanding an Adalaide Byrd scorecard. Post-boxing will be difficult and rewarding business. All he has to do is master it every day for the rest of his life.