Monday, August 2, 2010
You recently were able to broker deals with both Pavelski and Marleau. Many thought that the organization would only be able to hold on to one or the other. How did you manage to make that work and how important are these deals moving forward?
“We have always tried to make San Jose a place that players want to come and play but at the same time, much of the credit goes to Patty and Pavs. I think they recognized what we have going here as a team and as an organization. History has shown that had these players gone to free agency, the marketplace would have been very friendly and kind to them. I can't say enough how much we truly appreciate them making this statement. This is where they want to be, and they believe in where we're going.
“Under a salary cap system, you can’t always keep everyone so with these players agreeing to deals that are not only fair to them but stay within the ‘team’ system we have built, it provides us a much better chance to keep the core of our team intact.”
How do you feel about the results of the recent draft?
“First off, I think we have the best scouting department in the game. These guys work their tails off year-round, watching players all over the world and it all comes down to those two days at the draft. We entered the draft this year with only four selections but by the end of it, we left with eight players. We think many of these kids have a real chance to be NHL players so we’re pretty happy with it. It’s always challenging when you’re drafting 18-year old kids and trying to project where they will be in three to four years but I have a lot of faith in the work our scouts do.”
What are you looking for out of this year's training camp? Which players should fans be watching as future stars or big contributors?
“Although our season ended a little too early last season, we still feel that our team and players took a huge step forward last season. And none of that will matter if we don’t build on that success this season. As always, our training camp will be competitive from Day 1. There are a few roster spots available and those will be earned on merit, not just handed to anyone.
“We are also excited about some of the young players that are coming through our system and may be ready to make an impact at the NHL level. Last year, we saw a good example of that with players like Logan Couture, Jamie McGinn, Jason Demers, Thomas Griess, Benn Ferriero, Frazer McLaren and John McCarthy helping the team at the NHL level. Those players are in the mix but you also have another layer of players fighting for those spots, like Alex Stalock, Cam MacIntyre, Tommy Wingels, Nick Petrecki, James Marcou, to name just a few. It should be an exciting camp.
“We also, for the first time in 10 seasons, will have a new goalie in camp in Antero Niittymaki. We think his style will fit well with our team and we like his history of playing big in big games, like playing for Finland at the 2006 Winter Olympics.”
What is your philosophy or set of goals for the team this season?
“Again, we want to build on the team’s successes from last season. We want to be able to go into any building play any style of hockey we need to in order to win games.”
How important is it for a team like the Sharks to open the season in Europe? How important is it for the NHL as a whole to schedule games in countries such as Sweden?
“Our trip to Sweden will be exciting for the organization. Hockey is the greatest game in the world and it truly is a global game. Many of the players in the NHL come from Europe so it’s important for the NHL to not only increase its global footprint but also to allow the great fans in Europe the opportunity to see their native players compete at the game’s highest level. We are really looking forward to it.”
Describe Sharks fans for me.
“Anyone who has ever been to a game at HP Pavilion knows that we have the greatest fans in the country. Within the past year, our building was selected as the having the “Ultimate Seat” of any sport franchise in the country by ESPN and NHL players voted HP Pavilion the toughest opponent building to play in. There can be no bigger tribute to our fans than that and it is because of the passion, noise and energy that they bring every single night. Our fans know and respect the game and our players. We’re very lucky to get to play for people who care so much about the franchise.”
The Oakland Raiders began play in 1960 as the eighth charter member of the American Football League (AFL), where they won one championship and three division titles before joining the NFL in 1970 as part of the AFL–NFL merger. Since joining the NFL, the Raiders have won twelve division titles, three Super Bowls (XI, XV, XVIII), and have appeared in two other Super Bowls. Nineteen Raiders have been selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including Owner Al Davis. Jerry Rice, who wore the Silver and Black from 2001-04 and played in Super Bowl XXXVII, is the latest.
Raider fans, affectionately dubbed “The Raider Nation” are arguably one of the most fervent, energetic and notable groups of fans in the entire NFL. Many of Cache Creek’s players are also fans of the team and have enjoyed the privilege of receiving tickets to home games as part of our rewards program for the last several years. The program will continue this fall. We’ll purchase 250 pairs of tickets for three home games to pass on to our guests. Qualified players can expect to see a postcard with more details as the season draws closer.
“The Raider tickets are offered as a thank you to some of our best players,” said Kent Donithan, Cache Creek’s VP of Casino Marketing. “They are one of the most sought after player rewards and go quickly when we offer them every year.”
Due to recent trades and acquisitions there will be a few new faces to watch on the field. “With some of the young players and the changes they’re making, this will be an exciting season,” said David Humm, former Raiders player and co-host of the Raider pre and post game radio show. “This season will have a completely different look and feel for fans. It’s as talented a pool of players as we’ve had in a long time.” And Humm would know, having played seven seasons with the Raiders in addition to stints with the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Colts in the 70s and 80s as quarterback, and earning two Super Bowl rings with the Raiders (Super bowls XI and XVIII).
“When you look at this year’s team, we’re strong at quarterback,” said Humm. “We have a quarterback with solid experience in Jason Campbell, and solid back-ups with Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye. We’re also strong at running back, with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush being backed up by Michael Bennett. This offense is really going to click.” Other players to watch, says Humm, are the solid draft pick Lemarr Houston and John Henderson on defense, as well as receivers Chaz Schilens and Darius Heyward-Bey, who are backing up Louis Murphy. Rolando McClain, Kamerion Wimbley and Quentin Groves round out the team as stand-outs at linebacker. “All in all we’ve got some solid players, and we’re moving in the right direction with this group.”
The Raiders regular season begins Sept. 12 at 10 a.m. on the road against the Tennessee Titans, with the Raider Nation fired up from pre-season play already in progress. “There are no other fans like Raider fans,” says Humm. “They have a loyalty to the team, an emotion, and a passion you just don’t see with other teams.”
David Humm can be heard on the Oakland Raiders radio broadcast on 105.3 KITS FM and simulcast on KFRC-AM 1550.