Preview Professor: The Bear Flag

Professor bannerOn this day in California history, in 1911, the state legislature made the Bear Flag the state’s official banner. The antecedents of the flag can be traced back to 1846 when American settlers rebelled against Mexican authorities in the Sonoma region. The uprising, subsequently known as the Bear Flag Revolt, occurred during the early months of the Mexican War and led to the capture of Colonel Mariano Vallejo’s compound at Sonoma where the original flag first flew (pictured below). It has since gone through several iterations, most notably that the bear actually resembles a bear and not a pig, which earned the original artist, William Todd, plenty of jeers.


Columbus Blue Jackets at Edmonton Oilers, 6:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: CBJ 19-27-5 (8th in the Metropolitan); EDM 19-26-5 (7th in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Brandon Saad (19G, 16A); Taylor Hall (18G, 30A)

The Blue Jackets picked up a 4-3 shootout win in Edmonton last season, but prior to that matchup they had been winless at Rexall Place since 7 January 2010. Discounting last season’s result, Columbus has been abjectly terrible against the Oilers in Alberta. From 2010 to 2014 they went 0-6 and were outscored 32-12, which included a 7-0 rout on 19 November 2010 where they were limited to a measly fourteen shots; their worst performance of the season. Another wrench in the Blue Jacket’s plan will be Connor McDavid who is expected to return to the lineup for the first time since 3 November.

Prediction: Oilers by 1

Los Angeles Kings at Arizona Coyotes, 6:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: LAK 30-16-3 (1st in the Pacific); ARI 24-20-5 (3rd in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Anze Kopitar (13G, 29A); Oliver Ekman-Larsson (14G, 20A)

The Coyotes will be raring to go tonight. Their last game was a week ago and they were the only NHL team to not have an active roster player participate in the All-Star weekend festivities. Speaking of which, the league confirmed last Saturday that the 2017 All-Star Game is L.A. bound, meaning the Kings will host the event for the first time since 2002. How different will things be this time around? For starters, perhaps we will see a return of the North America versus World setup? It would certainly be in keeping with the NHL’s layout for the World Cup of Hockey tournament and the format would coincide with the last time the All-Star Game was at Staples. Rest assured, whatever format the league pursues, you can bet they will shake things up for the return to Figueroa.

Prediction: Kings by 1

San Jose Sharks at Anaheim Ducks, 7:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: SJS 26-18-4 (2nd in the Pacific); ANA 22-18-7 (4th in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Joe Pavelski (25G, 24A); Not Ryan Getzlaf

You know who should probably be flying the Bear Flag today? Anaheim blue liner Clayton Stoner. His controversial 2013 grizzly bear hunting misadventure came to a close last Friday when he pled guilty to hunting without a proper license, receiving a three-year hunting ban and a $10,000 fine. The Port McNeill, British Columbia native is earning $3.25-million until 2018, which means the infraction will only cost him the equivalent of one period worth of hockey. As an avid hunter, the ban will probably hurt Stoner the most, but it could always be worse. In 2001, a Sudbury, Ontario area man received a $55,000 fine and a twenty-year moratorium for illegally harvesting and trafficking black bear parts. It remains one of the largest penalties in Canadian wildlife management history. But as the old adage goes, “don’t illegally harvest and traffic bear parts, if you can’t do the time.”

Prediction: Sharks by 1

Last Minute of Play

The Bear Flag has become iconic, but for some it remains a symbol of controversy. A submission to the Los Angeles Times last summer argued that the banner represented “illegality and racial prejudice,” two valid criticisms given its origins. A deluge of readers responded, some rallying behind the flag, with others echoing the first author’s concerns. For me, as a historian of wildlife management, another glaring issue is that the animal represented on the flag, the California grizzly (Ursus arctos californicus), no longer exists. In addition, the state’s other grizzlies were extirpated by overzealous hunters and settlers, with the final sighting believed to have been recorded in 1924. Clayton Stoner has only been playing NHL hockey in California since 2014 and since he is not a centenarian, he’s off the hook for the statewide disappearance of brown bears.

Two Minutes for Delay of Game

Preview Professor Record: 23-17

Professor Mike hails from Sudbury, Ontario (4 hours north of Toronto) a place that has more Kings connections than you’d think. The city’s northern boundary reaches as far as the community of Levack, hometown of Kings great Dave Taylor. As a child, Mike once met Taylor in a gravel pit, as you can imagine, he was thoroughly impressed. He has also spent more than a few bleary-eyed nights at the Beef n Bird, a tavern founded by Justin Williams’ great uncle Jerry Toppazzini. Mike’s only wish is that one day people will call him “the Professor” with the same adoration bestowed upon Ben Scrivens. You can follow Mike Commito on Twitter @MikeCommito.