San Jose Dares Kingdom. For the LA Kings? Times, They Are A-Changin’


Come writers,critics who prophesize with your pens. and don’t speak too soon, for the loser now will be later to win. There’s a battle outside; it’s ragin’. It’ll soon shake your windows, rattle your walls. The order is rapidly fadin’. The first one now will later be last. For the times they are a-changin’

Times They Are A-Changing (Song and CD) By: Bob Dylan (1964)

Let’s get this out of the way. I have my issues with the Kingdom. Personal opinion? Don’t boo the home team, ever. Hot topic or not that is my opinion. Even worse? Don’t wear paper bags down at the glass during warm-ups.

But, there is that saying. I can knock my brother all I want. Don’t you dare. San Jose’s media and hockey team decided to push the envelope. Tonight the Kingdom and Los Angeles Kings will push right back.

Staples Center, since its inception, has maintained approximately 85% capacity, despite the Kings inconsistency over the years. Now I don’t have an exact stat for the following. I do think that watching hockey since hearing the words, “it’s a girl,” gives me some right to say that the Kingdom’s core often boarder masochism in their loyalty and devotion to the Kings. Often, it is a choice, decision to be a Kings fan; a personal statement of sorts.

By now I’m sure you are wondering why, when the puck is about to drop on game three of the series, I am writing about this? I’ll give you two reasons.

First, blame yesterday’s article written by Mark Purdy for the  San Jose Mercury News. Second? Yesterday reignited a  disdain San Jose media. In November, San Jose Sharks broadcaster Jamie Baker wrote about Joe Thornton’s hit on St. Louis Blues forward David Perron. Specifically, the hit that ended Perron’s season. In fact, might still hold questions over his career. On his official blog for the Sharks web site Baker said:

"And that is all I have to say regarding the Perron non-injury who scored the second goal and played physical in the third period and was the second star after taking what the league calls a blatant head shot after looking back to receive a suicide pass in the neutral zone all the while no one on his team communicated that someone 6’4 was about to step out of the penalty box and be right in front of him and then Big Joe did step out of the box and did what any hockey player should do and that is hit the player with the puck and do so by not leaving your feet, lunging or raising your elbow thus making you realize there was no intent to injure  but to separate a player from the puck."

Fair play to Baker, he did later back off of these comments. However, to me and many others, it was too little and too late. Writing takes thinking and planning. Broadcasting can cause emotions to get the best of you, maybe. However, in writing, he accused Perron for not just faking,  but then blamed him and his team for inept communication that caused the hit.

Maybe there is something in San Jose’s water. Has anyone checked what the Sharks are swimming in and what they use in the Tank? I ask because, when Purdy wrote the article published yesterday, forward Ryan Clowe and defensemen Douglas Murray happily played along like children following the Pied Piper.

Effectively this combusted into a gift for not just the Kings but the entire fan base. A rally-point to throw darts at and reason to show the NHL what the team and the fans are made of. First, Purdy analyzed home-ice advantage for the Kings.

“At playoff time, the National Hockey League is famous for impossibly raucous, loud and intimidating buildings. Staples Center is not one of them, though,” he pontificated.

First to hear the Pied Piper play? Murray began his degradation of Staples by saying it was a non-issue but then providing details to all he’s heard.

“There’s one area around our bench where the fans are more obnoxious in terms of yelling personal stuff, not that it bothers me,” Murray explained. But other than that, I don’t notice.” Well you notice enough to call fans obnoxious and to know that people are making personal attacks and not criticizing the Sharks power play or defense.

Next? Purdy played Pied Piper to Clowe

“Who does? How tough a place is Staples to play, really? How noisy? – Purdy wrote.

"“I would put it in the middle of the pack,” he responded."

Purdy doesn’t know the Kingdom very well, does he? And as Bob Dylan also said in the above song… “Don’t criticize what you can’t understand. The old road is rapidly agin’. The times they are a-changing.”

Purdy, not content with dragging to players into this commentary on an entire fan base, continued his assault. He also made it more  nonsensical.  “<Clowe> was being generous,” he wrote. “Staples opened in 1999. Almost immediately, it drew mixed reviews. Bruce Springsteen played the building’s first concert. He complained from the stage about the three-level stack of luxury boxes thatseparates the lower and upper bowls.”

Now I do love Springsteen but we’re talking sports, here? Concerts have a completely different set-up from a hockey game. Don’t drag The Boss into this.

Purdy found more fodder for the fire. “This might explain why, over the years, the Sharks have found Staples to be so friendly.  Their record in the building is 18-10, plus three ties (under the old point system) and two shootout losses.”

Sure but I don’t suppose that could have anything to do with the Sharks organization, developmentally, being ahead of the Kings, who have been rebuilding? It is just the non-existent hockey atmosphere at Staples that has gotten the Sharks that record?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Purdy just knocked the Sharks, Kings and fans in one analysis.

Finally a calvary comes to the rescue of the Sharks. And while, again way too little, way too late? It is something, I suppose. Clowe brought the game and development of both teams over the years into the “debate.”

“I think that had more to do with the guys we were playing against than with the home ice,” he said.

Possibly getting wind of the disaster brewing through the press, Sharks coach Todd McLellan tried the band-aid on the stab-wound approach.

“The Kings are a strong defensive team,” McLellan said. “I don’t think it had anything to do with the building.”

Really? You don’t say. Thanks guys. Nice that you see the Kings as a tougher opponent both on the road and at home the last two years. You realize this is the playoffs and not the regular season? The Kings made it last year, too. I mention this in case you missed it.

Despite trying to add a few sentences regarding the actual game at hand (ok, pot calling the kettle black here). His obsession does get the best of him at the end.

See, Purdy started this article saying the Sharks didn’t have any excuses for Saturday night lack of performance . Yet at the end of this article he says the Sharks should be able to better at Staples. See, it has a “Kenny G” atmosphere compared to the Tank’s “Metallica” atmosphere.

Wait. Should the Tank quiet down to help the Sharks in game five? Th e public announcements should run along… Shhhhh … the Sharks have to kill a power play. They need your help to concentrate, with silence.

WHAT? Can you imagine the Kings coming out and blaming the loss of game one on how loud the Tank was?

Well, actually I can’t because they just wouldn’t. Those kind of excuses don’t fly with the Kings and even if they did? The Kings are just more media savvy then that. Both in sports and general rules of public relations with the media, they are leagues ahead of the Sharks, and would never put that kind of fuel on this already building fire.

Better media skills? Better Public Relations training? Hmm.. maybe being in Hollywood does have its privileges.