Ray Ratto

Ratto: 'New' Sharks need to be different vs. Detroit


Ratto: 'New' Sharks need to be different vs. Detroit

April 28, 2011


Ray Ratto
A year ago, the San Jose Sharks faced the Detroit Red Wings without Patrick Marleau, who was engaged in the hobbies of the flu-ridden. They were also without Niclas Wallin (injured), Ian White (trapped in Raleigh), Jamal Mayers (St. Louis) and Kyle Wellwood (Russia).Their philosophy has changed, too. They are indeed a different operation, and it took three months of getting their brains kicked in to understand it.
Now they have to understand it again by denying that their finest playoff moment beating the Detroit Red Wings in the second round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs has any shelf life.RELATED: Sharks-Wings Round 2 TV schedule
This will not be as easy as constant repetition of the phrase, Do you remember how much trouble you had with Los Angeles when you had no good reason to? Youd like to think that would matter to the Sharks, but with them, you never can tell.It will also be more difficult given that the Wings still have the same team. They have upgraded their sixth defenseman with veteran Ruslan Salei instead of Andreas Lilja and Jiri Hudler for Drew Miller, but thats pretty much it. Pavel Datsyuk is still Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg is still Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom is still Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom is still Tomas Holmstrom.Oh, there are more subtle differences, to be sure. The Wings will dump and chase more than they used to, they will play the body a bit more, and Lidstrom is more willing to slow a games pace down than he used to I mean, the man is 57 years old, after all.But the Sharks are the Western Conferences most ethereal good team, dominating regular seasons and then making you gnaw your fingers to the second knuckle in the playoffs. When your top moment comes in the second round, you have issues.And the Sharks revivified all those fears by needing six games to take out the Kings. They actually blotted out the three months when they were the best team in the sport with a maddeningly uneven performance, and the questions about their best players in the big ones has extended, at least for the moment, to defenseman Dan Boyle.RELATED: Ratto -- Sharks in need of the real Dan Boyle
In short, this series is about the Sharks rather than the Red Wings. Most observers with the blessings of distance give the Sharks the benefit of underestimation, which actually works to McLellans advantage, but San Jose has something to prove here. In fact, a lot.One, whether they are who they say they are. Detroit had an easier time against a tougher opponent (Phoenix), and that alone makes front-runners look at the Sharks with their usual disdain.Two, whether consistency can still be theirs. San Jose built its rush from 12th to second on being the same team pretty much every night careful in their own end, as comfortable with 3-2 games as 5-2 games. But they have these voices in their heads that tell them, Youre still young, youre still fast, you can win with just your skills, and the voices get louder and more persuasive at the most difficult times.Three, whether they can beat the Red Wings when they are whole and rested. Most folks believe the Wings were vulnerable last year, and they were right. Few people believe that this time, and the Sharks have to prove them wrong by reverting to the slightly duller, slightly more conservative and much more responsible course. They cannot skate with Datsyuk, they cannot match Zetterbergs tirelessness, and they cannot equal Lidstroms calm in the face, of well, anything, and they definitely cannot recreate match the enormity of Holmstroms backside in Antti Niemis line of sight.The Sharks can dictate terms in this series; they have before. But theyll have to do it a different way, and theyll have to be comfortable with that. They cannot pretend to be what they used to be, unless they want to become again what they used to be a team who never failed to fail in the second round.

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.

The time has come to draw your own conclusion

The time has come to draw your own conclusion

For the record, and just so you can’t say you weren’t told, these are the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL and the 50 backups. Draw your own conclusions.

(Author’s note: We list these only because Joe Webb was just signed by the Buffalo Bills, whose starter and first backup, Tyrod Taylor and T.J. Yates, are still in the concussion protocol).


DENVER: Trevor Siemian (Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler)

KANSAS CITY: Alex Smith (Patrick Mahomes, Tyler Bray)

LOS ANGELES: Philip Rivers (Cardale Jones)

OAKLAND: Derek Carr (E.J. Manuel, Connor Cook)


BALTIMORE: Joe Flacco (Ryan Mallett)

CINCINNATI: Andy Dalton (AJ McCarron)

CLEVELAND: DeShone Kizer (Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan, Josh Woodrum)

PITTSBURGH: Ben Roethlisberger (Landry Jones, Joshua Dobbs)


HOUSTON: Tom Savage (DeShaun Watson)

INDIANAPOLIS: Scott Tolzien (Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett)

JACKSONVILLE: Chad Henne (Blake Bortles)

TENNESSEE: Marcus Mariota (Matt Cassel)


BUFFALO: Nathan Peterman (Taylor, Yates, Webb)

MIAMI: Jay Cutler (Matt Moore, David Fales)

NEW ENGLAND: Tom Brady (Jimmy Garoppolo)

NEW YORK: Josh McCown (Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg)


ARIZONA: Carson Palmer (Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert)

LOS ANGELES: Jared Goff (Sean Mannion)

SAN FRANCISCO: Brian Hoyer (C.J. Beathard)

SEATTLE: Russell Wilson (Austin Davis)


CHICAGO: Mike Glennon (Mitchell Trubisky, Mark Sanchez)

DETROIT: Matthews Stafford (Jack Rudock)

GREEN BAY: Aaron Rodgers (Brett Hundley)

MINNESOTA: Sam Bradford (Case Keenum)


ATLANTA: Matt Ryan (Matt Schaub)

CAROLINA: Cam Newton (Derek Anderson, Brad Kaaya)

NEW ORLEANS: Drew Brees (Chase Daniel, Taysom Hill)

TAMPA BAY: Jameis Winston (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin)


DALLAS: Dak Prescott (Cooper Rush)

NEW YORK: Eli Manning (Geno Smith, Davis Webb)

PHILADELPHIA: Carson Wentz (Nick Foles)

WASHINGTON: Kirk Cousins (Colt McCoy)

Again, draw your own conclusions. I know I’ve drawn mine.