| The thorn
Korolyuk turning out to be a pain
5/15/04 - by Steve Flores
Well, well, well. The blue
fish are breathing a little life after all. The San Jose Sharks 3-0 victory in
game #3 of the Western Conference Finals showcased the many skills of
Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and a better facsimile of the staunch defense that
has been the team's trademark all season.
The other game three
development was the sliver that Darryl Sutter thought he had rid himself of:
Alexander Korolyuk. Once upon a time in San Jose, Korolyuk was a favorite
whooping boy of Sutter. The Sharks former head coach would ride the Russian
winger concerning everything from work ethic to defensive abilities.
Korolyuk would show flashes of brilliance under the Sutter regime, but those
flares were almost always contained to the offensive side of the ice and were
as frequent as San Francisco Giant's World Series victory. Just prior to the
2002-2003 season Korolyuk was not signed to a contract and returned to Russia
to play in the Russian elite league. Sutter had rid himself of a player that
would or could not adapt his substantial skills to the Sutter style.
As we all know the 2002-2003 season went the way of the frozen wastelands of
hockey and various changes were made to the Shark's front office and on-ice
roster. One of those changes was G.M. Doug Wilson bringing Korolyuk back into
the Sharks fold. Wilson knew that Korolyuk had the kind of offensive skills
that the Sharks could surely use.
Korolyuk rewarded Wilson's faith
with 19 goals and 18 assists in 63 games this season. More importantly the
swift winger scored 2 goals in the game three victory over the Sutter led
Flames. The first goal was of the nail-driving variety as Korolyuk went in
one-one one and beat Mikka Kiprusoff high side with a nifty backhand.
The second goal has become a source of controversy, as
it was an empty netter that the winger broke in on and stopped and hesitated
before taking the shot. The Flames took it as a rub in their face. Conjecture
is that Korolyuk slowed down in attempt to feed the streaking Patrick Marleau
(as Marleau is in a goal scoring rut of 7 games).
The Flames began a
now common array of shoving, punching, pushing and thuggery that has been
common throughout the first three games of the series. The belief on the parts
of many is that Korolyuk was in full mental control of what he was doing and
that he enjoyed every moment of his actions with Sutter at the forefront of
Regardless of the reasons or motivations, the mere
facts of the dynamic between the two men tends to lead to an interesting
sideshow that I'm sure the national media will pick up on when game four
unfolds. The Sharks managed to win the third game without really looking like
the Sharks that we watched all season long. They need to step it up yet another
notch to capture game four and knot the series at two games apiece.
Korolyuk can find a way to stay as motivated as he has been then that would sit
great with everyone with fishy roots. The irony would be that Korolyuk will
have finally managed to achieve all that Sutter wanted of him, but at the
expense of Sutter himself. Ah Shakespeare would love the twist.
Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
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