Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Great Captain, A Great Guy, and other HNIC Thoughts. . .

For those of you who know me, I like to watch Hockey Night in Canada when I'm home and Tivo it when I'm not. They do such a fantastic game presentation and you really learn so much about players and teams you might not get to see every day. From beginning to end, it's a worthwhile experience, and one I wholeheartedly recommend to all hockey fans.

Last week (not yesterday) HNIC's After Hours interviewed the Sharks Joe Thornton.

Now I, perhaps a little biased in my opinion, thought Jaromir Jagr should have won the Hart Trophy in 2006, because I saw, first hand, what he did for the Rangers team. But to deny the impact that Joe has had and continues to have on the Sharks would be an injustice.

I already had an opinion that Joe Thornton was a good guy. But his interview really cemented it. It's rare and wonderful to see someone with as great a talent as Joe, be such a genuinely nice and humble guy. He's funny, self-depricating, and actually seems quite an interesting guy. The league should have more of them. For it is the players that make our game great, and great players/personalities like Joe that make good stories.

So, Joe, I will try to be less bitter about the Hart Trophy. A great, stand up guy, and a fantastic hockey player, I'm glad I got the opportunity to hear more about him in his own words. Great stuff.

In other Sharks news, on my way home from the city last night, around 12:30, I was able to catch the last 12 minutes of the Sharks/Blues game on XM. The announcing team said something that really struck home with me.

They said the San Jose team has responded so well to coach Todd McLellan, in part, because he has made it inevitably clear how much he likes and respects each and every one of them. They feel that, they respond. And they are a better team for it.

And their practices sound a hell of a lot more productive than the Rangers ones do, I won't lie.

I mean something has to be going right with them. They have not been defeated in regulation at home all year at HP. Amazing stuff.

And it continued last night. Patrick Marleau, the Sharks rejuvinated captain, scored a late goal to pull the team ahead of the Blues. The announcing team ooo-ed and aa-hhed and said, goal of the year.

As it happens, I got home just in time to see them replaying highlights of the game on NHL Network's On the Fly and I saw the goal. Pretty. Certainly a goal of the year candidate for sure.

From one good guy and a great team, to perhaps the greatest of them all.

In anticipation of Trevor's #16 jersey being raised to the rafters Wednesday [which I hope I get to see], HNIC's Inside Hockey aired an interview with the longtime captain of the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night. It brought tears to my eyes to realize, yet again, how much he has done and continues to do for the game we all love.

He's touched countless lives. Mine included, and I am not even a Cancucks fan or a citizen of British Columbia. But on the other coast and in another country, I feel what he has done and continues to mean for those people.

Our game is blessed to have so many wonderful ambassadors, but there is perhaps none greater than Trevor Linden. One look into his eyes shows you a snapshot of wisdom, talent, grace, and humility. We as hockey fans, owe him a lifetime of gratitude for what he has done for the game we all love.

Trevor Linden has a great, great talent, and is truly one of the most graciously humble guys. To see a less than five minutes snapshot of this truly great man, please click here:

**Author's note. I had written the above post originally and it failed to save. I wish I could have remembered it all verbatim, because I was pleased with it, but this second go is as best as I can do.**

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