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Random Shark Bites
Unprovoked and without reason
2/3/04 - by Mike Lee

I was scanning the roster for the upcoming NHL All Star Game on February 8th and I noticed something rather peculiar. At first glance, Patrick Marleau looks out of place on these rosters of true All Stars. Then I realized that Marleau has every right to represent San Jose this Sunday. His 22 goals and 15 assists don't come close to the monster numbers of a Markus Naslund (29 goals, 34 assists), Pavel Datsyuk (24, 28), or Joe Sakic (22, 33), but then again Marleau doesn't have the supporting cast that a Vancouver, Detroit or Colorado can throw on the ice either. That's what makes Marleau's season all the more interesting. He is the scoring leader on a roster full of third liners, that oh by the way, also happens to lead the Pacific Division.

Remarkable is the fact that every pundit east of Market Street had the Sharks destined for the Pacific Division cellar this season. Granted, there are still two full months of hockey to be played and a collapse of Herculean proportions is always possible (reference 2002-03 season), but you get the sense that this team will weather the storm and probably make the playoffs. I wouldn't bet the farm that they'll do any damage in the playoffs, but they'll probably get there.

And at the core of the Sharks success has been Marleau. His numbers warrant an All Star selection regardless of what any critic may say. If anyone throws the Milan Hejduk card into the ring, that argument can be countered with Mike Modano. Modano's -16 near the bottom in the NHL. Somebody needs to tell the voters that Dallas Star does not equate to All-Star, especially, when a player like Modano has nine goals in 49 games. Mark Messier has more goals than Modano for crying out loud.

Another reason to hate AOL

I got a chuckle out of the Ted Leonsis story last week, but it had nothing to do with the fact that he tried to pound a smart aleck fan at the MCI Center. I was amused by the sense of humor the fan showed in picking on Leonsis' association with the Caps and AOL, and how he alluded that Leonsis is driving both into the ground.

There's nothing better in the world than a quick witted sports fan armed with a 3-by-3 piece of hardboard and a magic marker. Seriously, if someone ever came out with a book that chronicled the "sign-in-the-crowd", I'm buying. If you don't have a sense of humor then life must really drag on.

Marleau isn't the only All-Star in teal

The Sharks family got a pleasant surprise last week when they found out rookie Cleveland Barons defenseman Garrett Stafford was selected to the PlanetUSA AHL All-Star Team in the 2004 Pepsi AHL All-Star Classic to be played next Monday, at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Stafford was signed to a tryout contract back on October 10th, and the Barons liked him so much they inked him to a regular contract two months later.

Stafford ranks second in points (29), tied for third in goals (8), fourth in assists (21), tied for third in power play points (12), tied for third in power play assists (8), and tied for fourth in power play goals (4).

The Barons will also be represented by Miroslav Zalesak, who leads the AHL in scoring with 53 points.

Just when you think it's safe to love hockey again

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, especially given the Sharks good fortune this season, but one item that seems to have fallen off the radar is the impending NHL labor dispute this Summer. The evolution of players like Marleau, Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart, Scott Hannan and Jonthan Cheechoo has been a fantastic story this year.

What happens if those guys have to sit for heavens knows how long because of the dispute. Perhaps this season's good fortune has simply been a tease all along. The franchise seems headed in the right direction, and Sharks GM Doug Wilson seems to be a guy the players can trust, but that all means nothing if the Players Union decides to play hardball this Summer.

Ah, yet another reason to hate Ted Leonsis (for driving up player salaries with the ridiculous contract he gave Jaromir Jagr) and Mike Modano (for being one of those greedy so-and-so's who helped elevate salaries). You can thrown in Tom Hicks just for kicks.

Dazed and confused

I'll wrap thing up by touching on the whole Eric Lindros saga. Lindros suffered yet another concussion last week when Jason Doig of the Capitals laid him out with a hit that knocked the bejeezus out of Lindros. One thing all these hits are apparently not knocking into Lindros is some sense.

Time to hang up the skates and enjoy all of that money you extorted out of Philadelphia and New York, assuming he can remember where he put it all. All the money in the world isn't going to buy happiness if you can't remember how to tie your shoes.

I remember how disgusted I was when I learned that the Sharks would be forced to forgo the first overall pick the year they entered the league. No other expansion franchise that followed them had to make such concessions. I was really troubled by the fact that Lindros would be going to Quebec, and not San Jose. Here we are 14 years later and all those expectations that were set for Lindros seem to be distant memories.

Lindros legacy will be the concussions that seemed to contribute to all those missed expectations. Perhaps the noise he made when he entered the league just painted a big bulls-eye on his chest. Of course, had he held San Jose hostage like he did Quebec, Peter Forsberg could have been wearing teal all this time.

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