Sharks Gameday: Law & Order



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When Ryane Clowe called out his teammates after a disheartening 4-3 loss to Vancouver on Monday, it raised plenty of eyebrows (and not just Dan Boyle's). Especially when he backed it up again on Tuesday, and then again on Wednesday. His thoughts echoed those of NHL Rookie of the Month Logan Couture, who made similar (albeit less pointed) comments about his team's effort following the team's recent match in Minnesota. The Sharks led by two in the third period only to lose that game in regulation.

For many Sharks fans, the comments made were a breath of fresh air. It was a bit of shock and awe to a fan base who had become accustomed to an even keel locker room, win or lose. Clowe's biting commentary went noticed by all who heard it, and rightfully so. The newly minted assistant captain waited only a few months to officially embrace his role as team leader. We may not know exactly what happens behind the closed doors of the Sharks' locker room, but it appears as if there is a new law man in town.

Which got me thinking. Although I've been pitching major studios with a feature length Starsky & Hutch-esque cop buddy-comedy (working title Cooch and the Gooch), I've been rejected up to this point. Something about an "urban dictionary" keeps coming up in their denials, whatever that means.

Instead, I'm starting to think that Sharks' week to week (even day to day) inconsistency is better captured in a primetime television series. One that can change mood at the drop of a hat. An emotional roller coaster which ebbs and flows with the state of the team. Must. See. TV.

Who's deserving of the lead role? It has to be Clowe, whose hardnosed style, workman's attitude and gritty demeanor would lend itself perfectly to a darker, rough-and-tumble type, blue-collar police drama. Channeling Christopher Meloni's Detective Elliot Stabler, Clowe would be right at home.

Because Law & Order just doesn't have enough spinoffs, I'm going with that franchise instead of jumping on with the equally moving "Southland," which found a new home on TNT after being too raw for NBC in 2009. I think that a new, gritty spin on Law and Order set in the nation's 10th largest city would be the perfect addition to the NBC primetime lineup. Network executives will be getting the following teaser trailer in a manila envelope on their doorstep sometime next week.

It speaks to me. Hopefully it speaks to NBC, and we'll be seeing this new show sometime before the end of the season.

Obviously, I'm blowing the comments out of proportion. But so is a good chunk of the fan base, with suggestions that Clowe's words have any kind of significant affect on the team. Were they warranted? Of course they were. Will they make a difference in the long run? I'm not so sure about that.

Pile on Joe Thornton for not being as vocal as Clowe was in post game interviews, if that's your fancy. But stop there. We have no idea how Thornton is viewed by his teammates outside of that four minute window when the microphones are in his face. Clowe's words were refreshing, I'd even say that they were right. But a four minute rant does not a captain make.

When the end of the season arrives, I won't take back what I've said today if it appears as if Clowe's rant was the point where the team turned it around. I love that emotion from players, but at the end of the day, words are words. I am impressed with Clowe, but it's because of his comments made to Mark Emmons after he had a chance to cool down.

"If I need to say something, I'll say it. Then I'll go out on Thursday and Saturday and back it up on the ice."

Clowe's clearly a leader, and he does it the right way. But it takes a village, and it's not about lip-service. It's about proving it to your teammates when you're on the ice and the game is on the line. The players should take a page out of Clowe's book in that sense. A bunch of guys bitching post-game isn't going to help matters near as much as a bunch of guys getting it done when the pressure's on.

They'll need just that against Buffalo, even though the Sabres are a team San Jose should beat eight out of ten times. That's because the Sharks lost to the Sabres in a fashion which we've become quite accustomed to us as viewers; "start slow, fall behind, can't catch up." It's better than the "blow a lead in the third to lose in regulation" style they've employed, but not by much. Still a loss, just doesn't rip out your soul in the process.

Tonight's match is the last of the first half of the season. If the Sharks wish to start the second half off on a good foot, I'd suggest they start tonight, early.

Prediction: Sharks win 6-2. Goals by Ryane Clowe (x2), Dany Heatley (x2), Logan Couture and Torrey Mitchell. Sam Waterston and Richard Belzer make a cameo appearance in the third, skating as a defensive paring, to tie the series in with Law and Order canon. And p.s., if you're a Law and Order SVU fan and thought of Devin Setoguchi as B.D. Wong for a second, you're not alone.