Eddie, a.k.a. the Eagle, didn't appreciate that, and he's not happy that the league didn't suspended Nolan. With die game out of reach and a few minutes left to play, he wigged out. When Sharks forward Shawn Burr fell into the crease, Eddie slugged him a few times. After things settled down, Ragnarsson skated through the crease, so Eddie kicked him and got a game misconduct. When a reporter asked Eddie why he had kicked Ragnarsson, die Eagle answered, "I didn't kick him, I slew-footed him."
How do you slew-foot an opponent? Eddie didn't bother to explain it, so I informed the reporters that slew-footing is tripping someone by sticking your leg out and then pushing him backward over it. In a relatively new hockey market like San Jose, I like to do my part to educate people about the game.
When someone asked Eddie why he snapped, he said, "That wasn't snapping. You haven't seen snapping." Scary thought.
Monday, April 27: When I get to practice, our coach, Ken Hitchcock, calls me into his little cubicle. Hitch thinks that I've been trying too hard to pick up the scoring slack with Joe out and that my defense has suffered. He wants me to get back to the checking, two-way style that he has insisted I play since he was hired 2½ seasons ago. If I do that, he says, the scoring will take care of itself.
After practice, while some of the guys are watching Jerry Springer, Hitch reminds the media how "unfair" it is to expect me to be at the top of my game, since I missed the last six weeks of die season with a separated right shoulder. The shoulder feels great, although I still have this weird dent where it healed. As long as I can still swing a golf club, though, and as long as the dent doesn't gross out my girlfriend, Kerri Nelson, I don't care.
I appreciate that Hitch is trying to take the pressure off me, but pressure is pretty much a constant in this profession. Before I signed a six-year, $43.5 million deal with the Stars on April 13, I felt pressure to earn a big contract. Now that I have one, I feel pressure to justify it. No complaints. Most people would love to have my problems.
Tuesday, April 28: Whoever coined the term sudden death was right. We play our guts out for 66½ minutes, and some San Jose rookie—a 20-year-old defenseman named Andrei Zyuzin—throws a what-the-hell shot through traffic with the score 0-0 in overtime. The shot trickles past Eddie, and suddenly, instead of walking away with a 3-1 series lead, we're back where we started. Except now it's best-of-three.
The good news is that after the first 10 minutes, when the Sharks had us on our heels, we stopped throwing the puck away and regained our poise. We just couldn't get anything past their goalie, Mike Vernon.
Wednesday, April 29: Hitch is doing some serious coaching at 30,000 feet. On the charter back to Dallas, he tells us that we need to stop living in the past, to stop copping the woe-is-me attitude. We need to face up to the fact that Joe is out, he says, and make a stronger commitment to playing a full 60 minutes. Earlier today he had taken me aside and suggested I start dealing out some big hits, instead of just taking them. "Be the hunter, not the hunted," he said. I'll give it a shot.
Thursday, April 30: The hunting is good on home ice. In a 30-second span in the first period, I flatten Ragnarsson and nail Marchment with a solid check into the end boards. It gets me into the game. I pop a couple of goals, including the deciding one, and we win 3-2.