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The Chum Bucket
Odds and ends from Sharkville
11/29/10 - By Mike Lee -

A few random thoughts to start the week. I'll lead with an email I received asking why there wasn't a bigger outcry in the media regarding the Dish Network dropping CSN California from their lineup. The decision affects any Sharks fan since CSN California is the exclusive broadcast partner of San Jose hockey, save for a couple games broadcast on Versus.

In response to the question, the media hasn't made a stink about it, because the media could care less. Given that there is one regular beat writer covering the Sharks in the Bay Area and hockey is still a red-headed step-child when compared to the big three sports, what's most surprising may be the fact that it got any press at all.

There's a reason big guns like ESPN didn't bother to renew its contract with the NHL several years ago. Hockey doesn't sell. At least not when competing for advertising dollars with the big three and other hot ticket items du jour (like poker).

That's another reason that Dish decided to punt on CSN. The big television draws in the Bay Area don't play on CSN California. With the Giants World Series victory, expect them to draw more attention and with it, advertising dollars. The Giants are covered by CSN Bay Area, along with the Warriors. CSN California's lineup includes the A's, who also get the step-child reception in the Bay Area, along with the Sacramento Kings.

For Dish, the decision was easy. Go where the advertising dollars are. Until the A's get a new stadium and hockey becomes relevant to the main stream consumer (which will most likely never happen), CSN California is irrelevant.

To some degree you can blame the Giants for all of this. If they continue to languish as they have for the past 50 years, then television viewership is more distributed between the two. With them winning, advertisers are more apt to move their dollars to the network with greater ratings. Throw in a lousy economy and you have more scrutiny being applied to how those dollars are spent.

If the A's start drawing those viewers over to CSN California, along comes the demand. That means television providers like Dish are forced to include those networks in their lineup.

Injury Bugs

Shifting gears, the injury bug couldn't have come at a worse time. With the Sharks struggling to establish some consistency in their game, the loss of Niklas Wallin, Kent Huskins, Devin Setoguchi, Jason Demers and Scott Nichol will take its toll on any chance to put together more wins.

The schedule doesn't help either. San Jose gets a resurgent Detroit Red Wings team twice in the next seven days, an Ottawa lineup looking to stick it to Dany Heatley, the Eastern Conference leading Flyers, and a hot Canadiens club.

When that's all done, the Sharks will square off against a Blackhawks team looking for a little revenge for their loss in San Jose last week, and a pair of games against a red hot Dallas Stars team.

As if the defensive corps wasn't shaky enough, the loss of Demers, Huskins and Wallin mean that the Sharks are forced to bring up youngsters that wouldn't normally be playing at the NHL level.

Justin Braun has been a nice surprise, but San Jose is razor thin in terms of viable depth beyond that. Look for Mike Moore to get a call up to help supplement the roster. Derek Joslin will also see more minutes until the three injured blueliners return.

Nichol skated on Monday and is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

Brauny!

Speaking of Braun, the rookie had a weekend to remember. The youngster played in his first NHL game on Friday night in Vancouver and logged just under 17 minutes of ice time on 24 shifts (which dwarfed Joslin's 5:29 of ice time). Braun was a minus one, which was spectacular considering eight of his teammates were a minus 2 or worse.

Patrick Marleau and Huskins were minus 4 each. Jamal Mayers and Torrey Mitchell were a minus 3.

Braun then helped out on a pair of goals in the Sharks 4-3 win in Edmonton on Saturday night. His assist on Benn Ferriero's goal in the 1st period was his first point in the NHL. He would get the primary assist on Dany Heatley's second goal of the night, giving him a multi-point game in only his second NHL game.

Pretty good opening weekend for the rookie.

Snubs

Finally, the All-Star voting is in full swing. The Sharks will be lucky to get a single player on one of the two lineups this year if current counts are any indication. Dan Boyle is the only Shark player even showing up on the voting leader board, and he's the 16th ranked defenseman!

P.K. Subban, Dustin Byfuglien and Andrei Marlkov all lead the Sharks blueliner. Marleau, Heatley, Joe Thornton, and Antti Niemi are nowhere to be found on the leader board, even though all four appear on the ballot.

Not that Niemi has any business appearing on an All-Star roster given his play this season, but at least one of the Sharks top three forwards has to be a top-20 vote getter.

You can cast your vote online at: http://vote.nhl.com/


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