The Sharks broke their silence on Raffi Torres’ latest suspension, a 41-game ban for another head shot, but they didn’t say what we needed to hear — that this pile of manure had played his final game for them.
Instead, indications are that Torres will be back to his evil ways in the Shark Tank before long. And every day the lunatic remains under contract, the organization thumbs its nose at the NHL and its attempts to ensure player safety.
“We’re focused on our game tonight,” general manager Doug Wilson told Balls on Saturday. “We’re getting ready to deal with the suspension. We all agreed to say let’s accept it and move on. Right now, we’re focused on what we can control. When the future comes, we’ll deal with it.”
Torres had already been suspended four times and been called into the league office on nine occasions, yet the Sharks still saw fit to offer him a $2.1-million contract last offseason. Really, what does he have to do to lose his job — paralyze somebody? Kill somebody?
“He’s a good hockey player,” Wilson said. “Players that can create that offense, create that energy . . . Our record when he was in the line-up was good.”
Yeah, Torres scores a goal every couple or three weeks, all right, but that’s not his game. His game is physical intimidation through excessive violence. Is that the kind of message that the organization wants to send to its younger audience?
Said Wilson, “We’ll move on to the next subject.”
WELCOME BACK: Wilson is an avid golf fan, so he’s thrilled that the U.S. Women’s Open will be played in the Bay Area for the first time ever next summer. The event will be held at CordeValle, of which he is a member.
“Golf has been a big part of my life,” said Wilson, who admitted to a “6 or 7” handicap. “The open is one of the premier events, and CordeValle is a special place. The best term I’ve heard for it is ‘majestic.’ It’s a great location for the event. It epitomizes Northern California golf.”
FRESH START: Did anybody notice that, in his Dallas Stars debut, ex-Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi turned in one of the greatest performances in league history?
Niemi shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins on 37 stops and also had a pair assists. At that point, he ranked third in points in the league, a feat so rare at the position that NHL.com didn’t acknowledge it.
As good as Martin Jones may be this season, Balls won’t be surprised if the Sharks wish they had Niemi at some point.
AMAZIN’ BLUE: Word is ex-49ers coach Jim Harbaugh wants to straighten out Michigan football before he returns to the NFL. At this rate, it will be sooner than later.
In its third consecutive shutout, a 38-0 rout of Northwestern at home, Michigan got touchdowns from its offense, defense and special teams. The point total was three more than the previously unbeaten Wildcats had allowed the entire season.
“The fellas really came out ballin’ right from the start,” Harbaugh said.
If Harbaugh U. keeps ballin’ against Michigan State next week, it very well may take a 10-1 record into its showdown against Ohio State in the regular-season finale.
TAKE A BOW, JANIKOWSKI: At some point today, the Raiders will have a new career leader in games played, and the guy has been taken for granted in good times and mostly bad ones for so long, some may be surprised to hear his name.
He’s placekicker Sebastian Janikowski, whose 37-year old left leg is still live and kickin’ after all these years. The game will be the 241st of his career, one more than Tim Brown, the recent Hall of Fame inductee.
“Yeah, I do care. I mean, it’s another record, you know,” Janikowski said in a rare interview after practice the other day. “It’s just great to be part of the Raiders. I want to thank everyone for supporting me.”
Janikowski is a future Hall of Famer, sort of like Ray Guy without the Super Bowl ring. The Polish Cannon is the team career leader in points scored, and his 48 field goals of 50 yards or longer are only four short of the NFL record.
NOT DONE YET: Long snapper Jon Condo is convinced that Janikowski can play at least five more seasons, and man also known as Seabass won’t disagree with him.
“I feel great,” Janikowski said. “I can play six, seven, eight more years, you never know.”
In fact, the 6-foot-1, 265 pound Janikowski is so fit, Balls believes he can fill in at tight end or linebacker if necessary.
“No, no, no,” Janikowski pleaded to Balls. “Sixteen years, that’s a long time. So no, no, no, no. I’m happy where I’m at.”
THE LIST: Balls’ can’t-miss picks in Week 5 of the NFL season
Arizona Cardinals (-3) at Detroit Lions: The Lions are only in the 58th year of their rebuilding movement. Give ‘em some time.
Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans (+3): The Bills’ backfield is so depleted, O.J. Simpson and Thurman Thomas have been asked to come out retirement.
49ers at New York Giants (-7): Death, taxes, Niners on the road.
New England Patriots (-7) at Dallas Cowboys: Do the Patriots ever play a team with a competent quarterback? (Answer: almost never.)
Pittsburgh Steelers (+3) at San Diego Chargers: Like the Stillers straight up.
(Last week: 4-1. Season: 14-6 (.700).
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