Ray Ratto

Niittymaki defined by time spent off ice


Niittymaki defined by time spent off ice

UPDATE: 5:00 p.m. Antero Niittymaki told a Finnish journalist that he was never informed that he was being waived, and that he found out whole driving to Lake Tahoe with his family. General manager Doug Wilson, however, vehemently denied that, saying that Niittymaki's agent, Larry Kelly, was informed by telephone on Monday of the Sharks' intentions, and that Kelly said in that conversation that he would inform Niittymaki. Kelly could not be reached for comment at the time of this update to confirm or deny Wilson's claim.

Heres a thought -- Antero Niittymaki lost his job as the Sharks second goaltender merely to injury.

Heres a better one. He lost it because Doug Wilson couldnt move him.

Niittymaki never really got his break in San Jose, which is pretty much the story of his NHL career. Now were not making the case that he should have gotten one; breaks are not fundamental rights, and besides, its not like he didnt get paid.

But his time off the ice came to define him as a goalie, and as time went on and San Joses apparently bloated stable of younger keepers became more and more desirable, he became less appealing not to San Jose but to the teams that had pieces Wilson would like to poach. And since the club clearly made the choice to play their younger goalies in the minors, Niittymaki would be spending the year with his feet up.

And that doesnt really work for anyone.

Niittymaki could still be a helpful get for a playoff contender working on the cheap, but all the time he spent not playing since he has come to San Jose means that he is nearly an unknown to the open market. Thus, acquiring him would not be worth a prospect, not at his age and salary, and not with his injury resume.

So Antero Niittymaki gets squeezed again. It is the nature of the beast. The Sharks had lots of goaltenders for a good long time, then they didnt, and now they do again. He played less than Chris Terreri, Jarmo Myllys and Brian Hayward, and more than Jimmy Waite, Dmitri Patzold and Jason Muzzatti. He may have deserved to have left a deeper footprint, but Darwin said otherwise. So it goes.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”