Sharks eye friends for backup goalie

SAN JOSE -- Thomas Greiss and Dimitri Patzold are locked in perhaps the tightest competition at Sharks training camp, yet neither goalie is about to break up a friendship over a seat on the San Jose bench.

"We're not fighting. We're buddies," Patzold said with a grin. "You've got to challenge the other players, not your teammates."

The Sharks must choose a backup for longtime starter Evgeni Nabokov this month after trading Vesa Toskala, who shared the starting job with Nabokov over the last three seasons, to Toronto during the summer.

Greiss, a 21-year-old German, won 26 games for the Sharks' top affiliate in Worcester, Mass., last year while sharing a room and daily practice time with Patzold, a 24-year-old Kazakh with more experience -- including a callup to San Jose -- but lesser statistics.

Nabokov is on top of his game after leading San Jose to the second round of the playoffs, but he's excited to see who emerges from the Sharks' seemingly endless pipeline of netminding talent -- and he won't even concede that he has the starting job secured.

He recalls his own breakthrough in 2000, when Steve Shields' broken ankle thrust Nabokov into a job he has relinquished only briefly in seven years.

"To me, there's always a competition, every day," Nabokov said. "That's the way I've been since Day One here. In my mind, I'm not going to change a thing. I'm competing with those guys for the same job." ...

Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen had successful open heart surgery Thursday to repair a faulty valve and hopes to be back on the ice within three months. "There were no complications," Sabres doctor William Hartrich said after speaking to the surgeon at The Cleveland Clinic. "Teppo is resting comfortably and will remain in the hospital for the next several days." ... Hockey great Gordie Howe won a temporary restraining order barring a neighbor from conducting surveillance on his home. The former Detroit Red Wings star and his wife, Colleen, on Tuesday filed an eight-count stalking lawsuit in Oakland (Mich.) County. Howe, the subject of a residential association dispute for more than a year, says he's tired of being spied on. The 79-year-old Howe claims Lionel and Karen Dorfman, a retired couple in their 70s, have engaged in unlawful eavesdropping and invasion of privacy, his lawyer Roger A. Smith said. The Howes allege the Dorfmans have had a camera snapping photos of their house every five seconds -- more than 17,000 photos per day. The Dorfmans say they believe the Howes have used their home for business purposes since 2006, a violation of homeowner association rules and township law.

College Basketball

The man convicted of killing a USC basketball player Ryan Francis was sentenced to life in prison. Louisiana District Judge Richard "Chip" Moore III on Wednesday also sentenced 20-year-old DeAnthony Ford to 10 years for aggravated battery in a shooting two days before the one that killed the 19-year-old Francis.


Golf begrudgingly joined the new world of sport when leaders from its most influential organizations signed off on an anti-doping policy with hopes of proving its players are clean. Drug testing could begin as early as next spring, although details such as when to test and any penalties are still being worked out. "But for the problems in other sports, I doubt we would be at this point," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in a conference call with the leaders of six major golf organizations. "We are where we are given the way of the world. And I think it's a positive day for golf because we are together (and) we are spending a lot of energy to do it right." It was a universal effort from the PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour, U.S. Golf Association, Royal & Ancient Golf Club, Augusta National Golf Club and the PGA of America, meaning the policy ultimately would cover golf at the highest level all over the world, including the four major championships. ...

Martin Erlandsson shot a 9-under 63 to take the lead after the first round of the British Masters. The Swede leads Jarmo Sandelin and Richard Sterne by two strokes.


Andy Roddick will face Joachim Johansson, who has been sidelined by a shoulder injury, in opening singles today at the Davis Cup semifinal between host Sweden and the United States. The draw also pitted Thomas Johansson against James Blake in the second singles match on indoor carpet. In Saturday's doubles, Simon Aspelin will team with veteran Jonas Bjorkman against the top-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan. ... Lindsay Davenport advanced to the quarterfinals of the China Open in Beijing by defeating Eleni Daniilidou 7-5 6-3.

Beach Volleyball

Freshly retired from the pro beach volleyball circuit, Karch Kiraly will host the inaugural U.S. Open of Beach Volleyball this weekend at the Huntington Beach Pier. Kiraly would have entered the tournament but he tore a calf muscle in early July on the AVP Tour stop at Seaside Heights, N.J. The U.S. Open of Beach Volleyball will run today through Sunday. The marquee divisions are the men's and women's open divisions for two-person teams, and the coed open for both two- and four-person teams. There are several other divisions based on age and skill level. "This is like an everyman's championship, I guess, in the sense that anybody can come and participate," Kiraly said.