When Logan Couture limped off the ice in the middle of a tied game San Jose desperately needed to win, it looked as if he was taking the Sharks' playoffs hopes with him.
Instead Couture managed to make it back out on the ice to give his team an emotional spark and topped that by scoring the overtime game-winner that got the Sharks back into their second-round series against Los Angeles with a 2-1 victory in Game 3 on Saturday night.
It's just the latest big moment for a young player who has emerged as a leader and perhaps the top player on a Sharks team looking to make a deep playoff run.
"Logan is a huge, huge part of our team," coach Todd McLellan said Saturday. "This is his coming out party. Nationally people have probably started talking about him. But we've known Logan like this for a long time."
With two days off before Game 4 at home on Tuesday night when San Jose will look to tie the series at 2, Couture and his teammates mostly stayed off the ice Sunday to rest up and heal their wounds.
Couture got hurt early in the second period when he stepped on a puck with his left skate after a check from Jeff Carter and slammed awkwardly into the boards. He limped off the ice favoring his left leg and went straight to the Sharks dressing room as a hush came over the crowd.
San Jose survived the next 15 minutes of game action without Couture or forward Marty Havlat, who left after aggravating a lower-body injury in the first period, by juggling their lines.
The crowd got a jolt late in the second when Couture came out during a stoppage and skated around for a minute and then he played the final shift of the period.
"It's playoffs. Everyone plays through injuries," Couture said. "The four years I've been here, I seen guys play through a lot of injuries. Stanley Cup is what you're playing for. Whatever it takes."
Couture showed few signs of the injury in the third period and got the second most ice time of any San Jose forward after returning to the game.
The return paid off on the power play early in the overtime when he set up in the slot and took a pass from Patrick Marleau before beating Jonathan Quick with a wrist shot for his fourth goal of the postseason and first ever playoff overtime goal.
"It's a feeling that really can't be described," he said. "It's one of the best feelings in the game of hockey. That's for sure."
The game-winner was a bit of retribution for Couture, whose failure to clear a puck while killing a 5-on-3 advantage in the closing minutes of Game 2 led to Los Angeles' tying goal in a game the Kings would eventually win.
"I don't think about it like that," Couture said. "I just think about it as different games, different plays. I made a play in Game 2 that I shouldn't have made. I should have got the puck out. I didn't. Nothing I can change about that now. So move forward and scored in Game 3."
That was a rare mistake for the 24-year-old Couture who is emerging this postseason as the face of a franchise long dominated by gold medal winning stars Joe Thornton and Marleau.
A first-round pick in 2007, Couture made his first impact as a late-season call-up who scored four playoff goals in the run to the conference finals in 2010. Couture was tied for the team lead in playoff goals the following year with seven and has been the Sharks top goal-scorer the past two years.
"As far as Logan goes, I just think he's getting recognized more for what he's doing," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "He's been a huge part of this team since he got here with Patty and Joe getting a lot of the headlines. I think he's been one of the go-to guys since he got here. He's just being a little more recognized now. ... He's just very important and he showed it again last night why."
Couture is far more than a goal-scorer as he often gets matched up against the opposing team's top lines and outplayed the heralded Sedin twins in a first-round sweep of Vancouver.
Couture has won 62.9 percent of his faceoffs this postseason, plays well in all three zones and is a major reason for San Jose's improved defense this season.
"He's got a passion and an energy that's contagious," McLellan said. "Sometimes older players do that to younger ones and younger to older. But he has a passion for the game that is second to none and he's got an energy that he brings. He never quits on plays. He drives a lot of people into the game. That's the sign of a good leader."
A five-year-old child was hospitalized after falling out of a window in San Francisco's Sunset District Sunday morning, a fire department dispatcher said.
Firefighters responded to reports of an injured child at a home in the 3800 block of 38th Avenue at about 11 a.m., according to the San Francisco Fire Department.
The child suffered head trauma falling from a second-floor window and was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, the dispatcher said.
The victim was expected to survive Sunday, he said.
Tejay van Garderen stayed out of trouble to seal his first professional stage race title Sunday, winning the Tour of California in front of BMC Racing Team's home fans.
The American cruised through the smooth and scenic final stage from San Francisco to Santa Rosa without incident to edge Australia Michael Rogers for the overall title by 1:47. Colombian Janier Acevedo was third, 3:26 behind van Garderen.
Van Garderen completed the eight-day, 727.8-mile race that has evolved into North America's most prominent cycling event in 29 hours and 43 minutes. He held the overall lead the final three days.
Sprinter Peter Sagan pulled away to win the 80.7-mile final stage in 3 hours, 4 minutes and 7 seconds. Daniel Schorn was second and Tyler Farrar third in a crowded finish.
With a formidable field and a taxing terrain, van Garderen guided his way through California like he could be American cycling's next big star.
He stayed within striking distance in the desert heat, powered through coastal crosswinds to grab the yellow jersey in a grueling fifth stage from Santa Barbara to Avila Beach, dominated the hilly and technical time trial that followed in San Jose and maneuvered up Mount Diablo to maintain the overall lead that set the stage for a mostly ceremonial and celebratory finale in this cycling-loving city where BMC Racing is headquartered.
So confident he would hold on, race organizers already had etched van Garderen's name on the trophy before the last stage. He avoided a wreck or equipment failure, enjoying the scenic sites on his road to victory.
The memorable week for van Garderen ended with a postcard-like morning ride along the bay in San Francisco's trendy Marina District, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and pedaling beside the sprouting spring vines in Sonoma wine country. Finally, he crossed the finish line in front of thousands of cheering residents who squeezed into Santa Rosa's quaint downtown.
"It's a big relief. It's a weight off my shoulders," van Garderen said just wrapping up his first stage race title. "Hopefully this gets the ball rolling."
Van Garderen, who finished fifth in the Tour de France last year for the highest place by an American, is ready to aim even higher. The 24-year-old, often playing second-fiddle to teammate and 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, said he hopes to be in the top three when cycling's crown jewel ends in Paris on July 21.
At least for a day, van Garderen wanted to savor his proudest professional moment yet.
He won Best Young Rider in the 2011 Tour of California and was second at the USA Pro Challenge and fourth in Paris-Nice last year. But he had never raised the overall trophy in a pro stage race.
Raised in Bozeman, Mont., van Garderen now lives in Boulder, Colo. He looked right at home in the Tour of California, which provided him and the BMC Racing Team a special shot to celebrate in Santa Rosa, where the eight-year-old event had passed through previously but never ended before.
For the first time in the race's eight-year history, the route went north instead of south.
Van Garderen's breakthrough performance in California will still leave him wanting more. After all, about half of the world's best riders weren't competing in the race.
Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard-Trek) of Bend, Ore., who won the 2011 Tour of California, and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quicstep) of Belgium, the 2012 Paris-Roubaix winner and former world road titlist, withdrew earlier this week because of lingering injuries. Garmin-Sharp sent Christian Vande Velde and Tom Danielson to the Giro d'Italia, where Evans also was competing for the BMC Racing Team.
And Saxo-Tinkoff's Alberto Contador and Team Sky's Peter Froom weren't racing at all. Instead, they decided to save themselves for June's Criterium du Dauphine, a traditional warmup for the Tour de France.
Now contending to be the one wearing the yellow jersey and sipping champagne on the Champs-Elysees is van Ganderen's next goal.
The federal judge presiding over civil rights challenges to the stop-and-frisk practices of the New York Police Department has no doubt where she stands with the government.
"I know I'm not their favorite judge," U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin said during an Associated Press interview Friday. It was another moment of candor for a judge known for her call-it-as-she-sees-it manner and willingness to confront government lawyers in a courthouse where many judges — former federal prosecutors themselves — seem less inclined.
"I do think that I treat the government as only one more litigant," she said during the interview that proceeded with a single rule: no questions about the trial over police tactics that reaches closing arguments Monday.
The trial has put the NYPD and City Hall on the defensive as they justify a long-running policy of stopping, questioning and frisking some residents to deter crime. Critics say it discriminates against blacks and Hispanics. Scheindlin is not being asked to ban the tactic, since it has been found to be legal, but she does have the power to order reforms in how it is implemented.
During the trial, she's shown an impatience with lawyers on both sides when they stray from the topic at hand, and a willingness to directly question witnesses — including police supervisors — about the nuts and bolts of trying to keep streets safe.
"I don't think they're entitled to deference," she said of government attorneys. "I think some of the judges are a little more timid to maybe disagree with the U.S. attorney's office. ... They have to prove their case like anybody else. I don't give them special respect. Maybe some judges do because they came from the office, they know the people there, whatever. I try not to do that."
Scheindlin, 66, appointed by President Bill Clinton, has had plenty of high-profile cases in 19 years in federal court, including three trials of John "Junior" Gotti, the son of the late legendary mob boss John Gotti, two trials of a California student who knew two of the Sept. 11 hijackers and the trial of international arms dealer Viktor Bout.
The AP interview came after a New York Daily News article revealed that the staff of Mayor Michael Bloomberg had reviewed her record to show that 60 percent of her 15 written "search-and-seizure" rulings since she took the bench in 1994 had gone against law enforcement.
The judge called it a "below-the-belt attack" on judicial independence. She said it was rare when any judge grants a request to suppress evidence in a law enforcement case and that inclusion of the numerous times when she rejected the requests with oral rulings from the bench would likely reduce the total to less than 5 percent.
She said reports that the mayor's office was behind the study made it worse.
"If that's true, that's quite disgraceful," Scheindlin said. "It was very discouraging and upsetting. I can't say it has no toll."
Of such criticism, she said: "It's very painful. Judges can't really easily defend themselves. ... To attack the judge personally is completely inappropriate and intimidates judges or it is intended to intimidate judges or it has an effect on other judges and that worries me."
A Bloomberg spokesman said Saturday, "We did a simple search of publicly available written decisions, as the media is also free to do."
The New York County Lawyers' Association called the report meaningless because it sampled so few Scheindlin rulings.
Scheindlin has faced heat before, most notably a decade ago when she presided over the trials of Osama Awadallah and one newspaper labeled her "Osama's best friend," a reference that some could misinterpret to refer to Osama bin Laden.
"You could be in danger, physically," she said.
The Awadallah case is memorable to Scheindlin for how it reflected the mood of the attitude across the country after the Sept. 11 attacks. Awadallah, born in Venezuela and raised in Jordan, was a young immigrant in San Diego who was picked up as a material witness after his telephone number was found in a car that one of the hijackers drove to the airport on Sept. 11. Prosecutors agreed he was no terrorist but claimed he intentionally misled grand jurors about how well he knew one of the terrorists. Defense attorneys said he was left confused after 20 days in detention.
She said she learned in talking to jurors after Awadallah's first trial that they came within one vote of convicting him of false statements. At the next trial, he was exonerated.
"Same evidence. Same prosecutor. Same defense lawyers. Jury goes from 11-to-1 to 12-zip," she recalled. "So I asked what happened. The answer is the country had turned in a new direction."
She said immediately after Sept. 11, "people were so worried and so terrified that the next attack was around the corner that they were willing to cede many of their civil liberties."
She added: "The second half of the (President George W.) Bush term, Bush policies were not popular any longer. People were much more distant from the event of 9/11. Now they were more concerned with civil liberties and less concerned with the security threat. ... I thought it was dramatically shown by what happened in that case."
In choosing law clerks, Scheindlin looks for varied experience like her own. She has been a prosecutor and a defense lawyer and was once politically active.
"I don't want a kid who's just done seven straight years of A's at Harvard," she said. "I want to know that they've done something, worked somewhere. Some experience. Some work. Some life. That makes for a rounded person."
And should they someday become a judge, it makes them well prepared for the rare case of impact.
"That's the day you live for, to do something that you believe is right and that is upheld as right and has a national impact, that's great," Scheindlin said. "That's why people want to be judges, I think, so they can make a difference."
Associated Press writers Tom Hays and Colleen Long contributed to this report.
California businesses would be prohibited from firing or retaliating against employees who take advantage of the state's paid family leave program under a job-protection bill moving through the Legislature.
The legislation would protect workers who use the California Paid Family Leave insurance program, which allows qualified employees to take up to six weeks off with partial pay. Supporters say nearly 37 percent of workers who needed the leave did not apply for the benefit for fear of being fired, angering their employers or hurting their chances at promotion. They cited a 2011 study by the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research based in Washington, D.C.
"This is a right that employees pay into," said Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, the author of SB761. "So all the bill says is you can't retaliate for people taking it."
The leave is part of the State Disability Insurance program, which is funded through employee paycheck deductions.
Employer groups including the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Restaurant Association oppose the bill. It would transform an employee-paid insurance program meant to replace lost wages into a protected leave of absence, a move that increases costs to all employers, especially small businesses, said Jennifer Barrera, a lobbyist for the chamber.
Barrera noted that the state already has existing job-protection laws.
"When you are out on a separate statutory leave of absence or an employer-provided leave of absence, you can access these wage replacement benefits to compensate you if it's an unpaid leave," she said. "By itself, it is not an independent right to a leave of absence from work."
California established the Paid Family Leave program in 2002 as a way to allow parents time to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child, or to care for a seriously ill family member. An estimated 13 million California workers who are covered by the disability insurance program also have some coverage for paid family leave, according to the state's Employment Development Department.
Generally, an employee will receive 55 percent of his or her wages, and the six weeks of leave does not need to be taken all at once.
Employee advocates say the existing system needs to be expanded because only half of California's workforce is covered by other job-protection laws, even though almost all private employees in the state contribute to the Paid Family Leave program through the short term disability payments taken out of their paychecks.
"Everyone who pays into the tax is covered by the Paid Family Leave Act, but that act doesn't contain an anti-retaliation provision," said Julia Parish, an attorney with the San Francisco-based Employment Law Center, which is sponsoring the bill.
While Family Paid Leave is intended to replace some lost wages, supporters say the program has a hole because not all employees have the same job protections if they want to take it.
Under the separate California Family Rights Act, which mirrors the federal Family Medical Leave Act, people employed by businesses with 50 or more workers can take an unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks if they have to take time off because of a serious medical condition of a family member or to care for a newborn or adopted child. Their jobs are protected for the 12-week duration.
Employees also must meet certain wage and employment requirements.
But small businesses are exempt from that job-protection law, meaning there is no legal requirement that they hold a job for an employee. There also is no guaranteed job protection for a worker at any company of any size under California's paid family leave program.
According to the state Employment Development Department, 96 percent of California's 1.4 million businesses had fewer than 50 employees. Those businesses employ roughly 41 percent of all employees, or 6 million out of 14.7 million workers.
Parish said it's why a majority of the 1,600 calls the Employment Law Center received last year dealing with work and family issues came from people who could not take their paid family leave. She said workers who contribute to the program should have a right to access the benefit.
"We hear from people on almost a daily basis that want to bond with their new baby, but their employer says they can't. They have to go right back to work," Parish said. "They have to risk their job if they're going to take care of them."
Sabrina Lowell, 30, lost her accounting assistant job at a small office last year. The Vallejo woman took Paid Family Leave last year to care for her three nephews, whom she has since adopted. Lowell said she felt it was important to spend time with the boys, ages 7, 8 and 10. One has autism and another has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
"Time after time, I talked to them about the boys' transition and how they were behind in school and their behavior needed my attention and support," she said. "When they told me that they would not approve it, I ... felt I didn't have a choice (but) to take it given their troubles at school and troubles at home. When I did, I lost my job."
But Barrera, from the state chamber, said DeSaulnier's bill would create a burden on small businesses. As the bill stands, there is no limit on the amount of compensation an employee can demand in a lawsuit and no minimum length of time the worker will have needed to be employed to qualify for the benefit.
An employer with three employees could have all three workers take a leave at once, she said.
"If I say, my business can't continue to operate if you're gone for six weeks, I can file a lawsuit now against you for retaliation or discrimination by denying you that leave," Barrera said. "It is a huge burden to small businesses."
If employees of small businesses are concerned about paying into a benefit they cannot access, Barrera said state lawmakers can tweak the law so they are exempt from contributing to the Paid Family Leave insurance program.
DeSaulnier, a former restaurant owner, acknowledged parts of his bill still need work. While he believes there needs to be an enforcement mechanism, DeSaulnier said he recognizes the complication for small-business owners. He suggested the state could impose a fine or establish an appeals process to avoid lawsuits.
The issue is worth exploring because the Paid Family Leave program has been beneficial for working families. Supporters also say businesses benefit by experiencing less turnover.
"I'm not unsympathetic; I don't want to create a lot of lawsuits, either, that leverages employers," he said. "But having said all that, this is a balancing act. This is an existing right that employees pay for."