(Originally posted on Kukla’s Korner)
Sharks Ice, Wed 10 am:
I wasn’t supposed to be here today. I don’t mean I’m not allowed, I mean I’m so bad at reading schedules that I didn’t realize there were more Captain’s Practices this week so when I said last week was my last that was inaccurate.
There’s a big heater hanging over the bleachers in the East rink. This rink does not have the new glass and boards system. The zamboni demonstrates how much less flexible it is by giving it a sound bump before the skaters arrive.
Pavs, Mitchell, McCarthy, Couture, McGinn, Havlat take the ice. Now Jumbo and Burnzie and Ferriero and Andrew Murray. Then Douglas Murray and Demers and a number 10.
They are almost short a goalie but send the goalie they do have to find another in the North rink. I know he was in the North rink because I saw him on my way in, wearing an orange and teal mask. No way would I miss that. He arrives to stick taps. Would have been a shame to not have two goalies, what with some spectators here eager to ooh and aah and applaud noteworthy feats.
After warm ups there is some writing on the glass by the benches, a diagram and a plan sketched out. It’s almost like a real practice now. Drills follow and then some four on four.
Clowe and Boyle arrive a little late, Clowe with one dark eye. Right, he tweeted something about a puck to the face and some stitches.
Andrew Murray reminds me of Welly, something in the eyes and expression. This predisposes me to think well of him, (no pun intended) even though he doesn’t skate like Wellwood.
The mystery 10 is very interesting. I like his passes. His face seems familiar. No knowing who he is is very distracting.
Burns makes some noise. Others make themselves heard too. It’s an upbeat soundtrack.
Mitchell looks very well, has some sass in his stride. Pavs has smile percentage of around 78 today, I think I saw him run a few steps to jump on the ice. The guy next to me implies that he tripped in the doorway. I’ll keep thinking it was a trot of eagerness, not a trip.
Captain’s Practice is so much more jolly than Training Camp. That is not mysterious. These guys aren’t competing for spots yet. They are just playing.
It turns out Number 10 was Brad Winchester.
Havlat was the only one in orange. How nice to wrap the Czech in such a pretty color, as if to say ahem. I might as well try to share my convoluted thoughts about Havlat, instead of freaking out about the news that Nitty isn’t expected to be ready to go for Training Camp. Czech in orange please, not
I wonder if this has anything to do with that dream about being trapped on the freeway, surrounded by Coca-Cola tractor trailers and fire engines all sliding out of control and crushing me in my car. Maybe that was a hint about switching to red lipstick, not a portent about the Sharks goalies.
About the new guy in orange. My first thoughts about the trade were: Sharks fans had complaints about Heatley, saw him as an expensive, chronic underperformer. Minnesota Wild fans had matching complaints about Martin Havlat. That’s wonderful because, until the complaint transfers come through, Sharks and Wild fans get to be really happy about the deal. Havlat is less expensive than Heatley, but Heatley scored more than Havlat, even in his off years. I dearly hope neither player shows us what those other fans are talking about.
I’ve heard some say that Havlat should be viewed as an upgrade over Setoguchi, not compared to Heatley at all. He has more experience and better hands than Seto, and also replaces the speed the team lost. Uncommon speed is one of those things you don’t learn, can’t practice into being. So a player with speed is always a bonus, especially since the Sharks don’t have so many.
Havlat sustained a shoulder injury back in early May, playing for the Czechs in the IIHF games. Since he was skating with the Sharks Monday and today, I will assume that is all better now.
I’m holding my expectations in suspense right now. A fresh start might be just the ticket for Havlat. It isn’t fair to expect a player to be more than he has ever been, but where there is hype there is usually fire. How to stoke this fire is the question. Maybe the prospect of being on a highly competitive team will ignite Havlat, or maybe Todd McLellan has his work cut out for him.
Why was he wearing orange? Was it a prank? Did he not get the text “black or white today,” or is he an “I just gotta be me!” sort of guy? Whatever he wears, it’s good to see him out there.