Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Cheechoo gets Richard. Thornton gets Ross.

And so ends the regular season.

I'm not sure which was worse: watching the Sharks struggle mightily (while not really trying) in last night's meaningless shutout loss to the Kings, or having to rely upon ESPN.com's play-by-play of the Rangers v Senators game late this afternoon to see if Jagr was going to pull out a miracle and regain both the scoring and goals title for the season.

Cheechoo and Thornton blanked last night, unable to put any more room between them and Jagr in the race for the individual trophies. So, that meant I had to endure the agony of hitting the browser reload again and again and again to see whether or not Jagr scored in today's season finale at Madison Square garden.

Thankfully, Jagr lived up to even my low expectations and only got a single assist in a game that meant a lot to the Rangers. You'd think that someone who had league MVP stamped (you didn't tattoo it, did you?) on his forehead by the media months ago would be able to step up and deliver to help his team clinch the Division title and secure the number three seed in the playoffs. Eh, didn't happen, so I can breathe easy tonight.

Yes, the wonder twins of the Sharks did it! Jonathan Cheechoo won the Rocket Richard Goal Scoring trophy, thanks in no small part to a phenomenal 11 goals this month alone. And Big Joe Thornton (thanks Boston!) got the Art Ross trophy for most points scored in the league. As would be expected, they credit the entire team for the success, not hogging the spotlight themselves.

This civility seems to be a hallmark of the Sharks organization. When the Caps came to the Shark Tank back in December and I was one of a handful of people wearing my Caps jersey (with Mike Grier's #25 on the back -- you'll see him playing for the Sabres now, thankyouverymuch), all I got was well-wishes from the folks around me, including the ticket taker saying "Thanks for coming out tonight. Hope it's a good game." Maybe it's because the game was an east-west contest (and the Caps were already sucking so bad). But that wouldn't explain the great sendoff that the Sharks gave to Luc Robitaille of the Kings last night.

Yes, we love to hate the Kings. Bitter rivals and all that. And yes, I'm already teaching Hannah how to scream "Beat L-A!" in perfect cadence. But last night was Luc's last game. Ever. Retiring for good. And since the Kings failed to make the playoffs, that meant his last game was an away game in San Jose.

Imagine my surprise when a tribute to #20 flashed across the video screens during a break in play and everyone in the sellout audience gave him a standing O. Cool. And then, after the game was over, the entire Sharks team lined up to shake his hand (a la end-of-playoff-series sendoff), and another standing O from those in the stands.

Classy organization. Classy team.

Here's hoping we go deep in the playoffs. Oh, and that Big Joe gets the MVP award he deserves.

Next up: Nashville!

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