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Taking Stock-holm with Lozo

Sharks make one kid's day

10.01.2010 / 1:30 PM ET

I showed up to SAP Arena at about 1 p.m. for the Sharks' 1:30 practice. Unfortunately, I was the only one there. The Sharks' got caught in traffic between their hotel and the rink, causing them to be delayed for an hour.

Sure, I wasn't happy about this, considering I was operating on about 2 hours of plane sleep and the sitting in a hallway surrounded by people I couldn't communicate with was draining my computer's battery and my own battery.

But it turned out I wasn't alone. Twelve-year-old Johnny was seated rinkside in a home Joe Thornton Sharks jersey just waiting for the team to arrive. So you can imagine his disappointment when he saw me. He asked me if I was with the Sharks. I said no. The disappointment grew. I told him the team was running late but they'd get there eventually.

Johnny was able to get into the building because his mother was an employee there. But why was he such a big Sharks fan living in Germany? His father was from Sacramento, so he instilled the Sharks fandom into him. Johnny's dad couldn't be there, but he assured me his dad would be "so jealous" about what eventually happened when the players arrived.

First, Joe Thornton himself signed the jersey. Other players followed suit, including Antti Niemi, Scott Nichol and Dany Heatley. Johnny asked for my autograph -- twice -- but I assured him that if I signed that jersey, it would be the biggest regret of his life 10 years from now.

It was pretty nice to see so many guys who had every right to be crabby and miserable after a 12-hour flight and 90 minutes sitting in traffic to not take the initiative with a shy kid who was clearly the biggest Sharks fan in a 100-mile radius at the moment. They gave Johnny a day he'll never forget.

-- Dave Lozo

No dice for Greiss

10.01.2010 / 1:15 PM ET

For two months this summer, Thomas Greiss had every reason in the world to be optimistic.  The 24-year-old goaltender wasn't exactly getting his big break when the San Jose Sharks parted ways with incumbent starter Evgeni Nabokov in early July, but a window of opportunity had opened.

Sure, team signed Antero Niittymaki to be the starter, but he wasn't a proven commodity like Nabokov, who appeared in 71 games last season and was showing no signs of slowing. But with the perennial Vezina contender out of the way, there was certainly a chance for Greiss to see more action this season after playing in just 16 games last season.

That all changed on Sept. 3 when the Sharks signed free-agent goaltender Antti Niemi, who backstopped the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup last season. Suddenly Greiss went from a valuable backup goaltender with potential to steal playing time to the organization's No. 3 goaltender who was likely to start the season in the AHL or find himself in a trade.

"Sure, I was hoping I'd get some more ice time," Greiss said about the signing of Niittymaki and departure of Nabokov. "But the situation is what it is. I just show up every day and see what happens."

Now, when the Sharks take on Adler Mannheim on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. local time, the German-born Greiss will be relegated to third goalie duty instead of getting a meaningful start on home soil. Niemi is expected to start with Niittymaki possibly playing the second half of the game.

"It's a little bittersweet," Greiss said. "I'm just happy to be here, see my family, see a couple of friends. It's nice to be back in Germany."

Coach Todd McLellan, who said he's not sure if the Sharks will carry three goaltenders when they return from Europe, said Greiss has done his best to handle the situation.

"There's no beating around the bush. It has (been tough on Greiss)," said McLellan. "He's given us everything he's had for a couple years in the development phase and all of a sudden, two goaltenders get signed. So it's a tough thing for him. But Thomas is a very, high-end, quality individual who handles himself extremely well. The one thing he's done is put his nose to the grindstone and worked extremely hard throughout camp. That should open up some opportunities for him."

McLellan sounded as if it's only a matter of what team grabs Greiss, who will most likely not pass through waivers unclaimed. Greiss posted a very respectable 7-4-1 record with a 2.69 goals-against average and .912 save percentage last season and has stopped 28 of 30 shots during this preseason. He turns 25 in January.

-- Dave Lozo

Sharks arrive, better late than never

10.01.2010 / 1:00 PM ET

The Sharks just flew in to Germany, and boy, are their arms, legs and everything else tired.

As if a 12-hour flight from San Jose to Germany wasn't enough, a half-hour ride to the SAP Arena turned into a 90-minute drive due to heavy traffic. Even worse, the Sharks' equipment truck was stuck further back in traffic thanks to an accident.

The players were tentatively scheduled to practice at SAP Arena at 1:30, but they didn't get here until 2. When it looked like their equipment wasn't going to get to the arena in time -- Adler Mannheim is facing Iserlohn at 7:30, putting a limit on the Sharks' ice time -- players planned to just work out before heading back to their hotel in Heidelberg.

But the truck finally arrived at about 3:30, allowing coach Todd McLellan to get in a brisk, hour-long practice. The goal was just to get his players doing something, anything after the marathon travel session they endured.

"It was just to get our bodies moving again after the flight," McLellan said. "We played the night before, flew all night, three-hour delay with the equipment, traffic and whatnot. So it was more important for us just to sweat, feel a little bit better, set us up for a good night's rest and hopefully a good effort tomorrow."

Sharks star Dany Heatley was exhausted after staying on the ice longer than most. There was plenty of laughs to be had as the players showered and changed before boarding their 5 p.m. bus back to the hotel, but there were looks of exhaustion throughout the room.

One player who seemed to be basking in his element was defenseman Douglas Murray, who is familiar with the 12-hour flight to Europe. He is a native of Sweden, so he didn't see what all the fuss was about.

"I feel how you're supposed to feel I guess," Murray said. "I've done this trip back and forth plenty of times. Now I just try to stay up and try to go to sleep as late possible so you can get into the rhythm because the first couple of days are the most important ones for getting into a rhythm."

-- Dave Lozo

It's Mannheim time: My journey begins

09.30.2010 / 4:45 PM ET

I'm off to the airport for what I am hoping will be a 7:30 p.m. flight that gets me into Frankfurt by 9:30 a.m. local time. I'm taking off from Newark, where the weather has been absolutely brutal all day. It's been monsooning (I've decided that's a word, despite what the red squiggly line under it says) since this morning and it's supposed to be same through tomorrow morning, making me wonder if my flight will take off on time. Anyone who has ever been in Terminal C at EWR knows that's the last place in the world you want to spend a lengthy weather delay. I'm going to be like Tom Hanks in The Terminal only without Catherine Zeta-Jones flirting with me.

The Sharks are planning to practice in Mannheim at 1:30 p.m. local time, which means any sort of delay is going throw off my timetable. It's my first time in Europe so there's no doubt I'm getting lost somewhere between Frankfurt and my hotel in Mannheim. I really want to use this practice as a day to fill up my recorder and catch up with these guys, seeing as how I'm not a Sharks beat reporter and haven't been around the team since the West Finals.

There's plenty of stuff happening that's worth writing about while they are in Germany -- Greiss, Heatley, Lilja's situation, the eventual naming of a captain -- so I really don't want to miss this practice.

What can you expect from this blog with the goofy title? First of all, it was either "Taking Stockholm" or "Stockholm: Lozo Never Sleeps" and the first one seemed more appropriate. This blog will have all the usual news and notes from the Sharks in Germany and Jackets in Sweden (Risto Pakarinen is with Columbus while I'm in Germany), but with so much down time for the Sharks while they are in Mannheim, I'll also try to provide a look at what the city is like, that sort of thing.

The Sharks are in Mannheim for four days but play just one game, so you'll get to read about any adventures I may have in my spare time. Perhaps I'll meet a beautiful yet cold blond woman who talks me into searching for the Holy Grail, only to see her turned to dust when she chooses....poorly.

That's it for now. I'm little upset I couldn't work a Top Secret reference into this post, but it's early still.

-- Dave Lozo

Report: Lilja will sign with Sharks

09.30.2010 / 4:00 PM ET

Although the Sharks have yet to confirm the news, Swedish Web site Expressen is reporting that defenseman Andreas Lilja has made the team. Lilja was in camp with the Sharks on a tryout contract, but it seems he has done enough to make the team as either a sixth or seventh defenseman.

Lilja had a goal and an assist in San Jose's 6-2 win against Vancouver on Thursday night. He missed a full calendar year between February 2009 and February 2010 due to concussion-related problems.  The 35-year-old native of Helsinborg, Sweden, told Expressen his agent was working out a deal with the Sharks and that he'd be on Thursday's flight to Germany.

Lilja was a member of the Detroit Red Wings last season for their trip to Stockholm, but concussion problems kept him from playing in his home country.

-- Dave Lozo

Sharks leave for Germany today

09.30.2010 / 11:30 AM ET

After closing the North American leg of their preseason schedule with a 6-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night, the San Jose Sharks will spend Thursday flying to Germany. The flight from Northern California will take off at about 2 p.m. PDT and land in Germany at about 11 a.m. the next day. It's a 12-hour flight with a nine-hour time difference.

The adjustment will need to be a quick one as the Sharks are set to practice at the SAP Arena in Mannheim at 1:30 p.m on Friday. The Sharks will then face the Mannheim Eagles of the DEL on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. local time, 10:30 a.m. PDT.

The Sharks are 2-4 in the preseason after Wednesday's win against the Canucks, who were without many of the big stars. The Sedin twins and goaltender Roberto Luongo didn't make the trip, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan said getting the win before leaving for Europe was key.

"We needed to win a game before we left, so this was a big win for us," McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News.

Forward Jamal Mayers and defenseman Jason Demers didn't play due to minor upper-body injuries, but they are expected to be ready to go Saturday night in Mannheim.

-- Dave Lozo

Sharks exhibition game in Germany online

09.28.2010 / 3:00 PM ET

The San Jose Sharks announced Tuesday that their Oct. 2 exhibition game with the Mannheim Eagles of the DEL will be available online. The radio webcast will be available on the team's Web site starting at 10:30 a.m. PDT.

The tune-up game will be the final preseason game for the Sharks before flying to Stockholm to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 8-9 as part of the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere series.

-- Dave Lozo

Pahlsson ready for homecoming

09.27.2010 / 1:30 PM ET

When the San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets take the ice at Globe Arena in Stockholm on Oct. 8 as part of the Compuware NHL Premiere Series, a combined five Swedes will be playing their first NHL game on home soil.

Three Jackets (Sammy Pahlsson of Ange, Kristian Huselius of Osterhaninge, Anton Stralman of Tibro) and three Sharks (Douglas Murray of Bromma, Niclas Wallin of Boden and Andreas Lilja of Helsinborg) will receive the special honor of playing in the country where they grew up. Pahlsson, who is entering his second year with the Blue Jackets, is hoping the fan support lands with his team.

"I hope so," Pahlsson said. "I don't know who they're going to cheer on but I hope at least my family and my friends are going to cheer for us."

Pahlsson is just like any other Swede who has received the chance to play in Stockholm the last few years. He has to rein in the excitement of getting to play in front of friends and family who otherwise don't get to see him play in the NHL. With most NHL games starting between 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. in the United States, the time difference makes it hard for Pahlsson's fellow Swedes to watch him play in North America.

"It's a big honor for me to get a chance to play in my home country," Pahlsson said. "I played my whole NHL career in North America far away from friends and family at bad times, usually in the middle of the night back in Sweden. So it's fun for me to get a chance to play when everyone can watch.

"I'm getting tickets, but I don't think I'll have time to hang out with anyone. Maybe I can at least say hi to all those people."

The strange hours at which games were broadcast in Sweden also made the dream of playing in the NHL seem like a distant one. But in a way, it makes returning home to play in the NHL that much more special for Pahlsson, who wanted nothing more than to play for his national team as a child.

"It was Sweden and the national team and the world championships," Pahlsson said. "That's what I could watch on TV. I never had a chance to watch the NHL. It's changed a little bit now, people can watch it, but it's at a bad time. It's at the middle of the night."

-- Dave Lozo