Stamp rootin' for Sharks

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 5:19 PM ET

 Give Blake a break. At least he's wearing red.

 The Calgary Stampeders slotback might be wearing a red jersey today but his heart is with San Jose.

  But before he's strung up by an angry mob, Machan wants to make his case.

 He grew up with Sharks defenceman Brad Stuart in Rocky Mountain House where the two formed a strong bond that is even stronger today.

 "We went to the game on Thursday and we wore red because we didn't want to dilute the Sea of Red," Machan explains.

 "I got razzed pretty good. One lady in front of me called me a coward for wearing red but I'd rather not have beer poured on top of me.

 "I try to keep my cheering to a minimum though."

 The two athletes have been friends since junior high and have kept in close contact ever since.

 Machan has been to San Jose four times. After watching his buddy's games, the pair usually go out for dinner or make a quick trip over to San Franciso to hang out.

 "We usually talk once a week or pretty close to it," Stuart says. "We stay in pretty close touch.

 "We've been hanging out the last couple of days. He's probably my best friend."

 The two played pee wee hockey together at a time when Stuart was already starting to gain attention from the scouts.

 Stuart eventually went off to Red Deer to play bantam hockey before later joining the Calgary Hitmen, while Machan played midget and then suited up for the Rocky Rams in the competitive Chinook League.

 "I was a late bloomer," Machan insists. "I think I had my best years in midget.

 "It's a pretty quick pace when it comes to hockey development. I was washed up before I hit my prime."

 Stuart left town to pursue his hockey career before getting a chance to pick up a pigskin.

 "Brad's a great athlete," Machan says. "I'm sure he would have been a stud on the field too."


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