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The sun is shining Sharks fans
Plenty of positives in SJ
7/25/05 - by Steve Flores

Yep, that's right folks the sun is a shining on the Shark Tank. The first ever league-wide Entry Draft Lottery saw the Sharks jump from the 27th overall draft spot to the 12th. This is a victory in and of itself for all Sharks' fans. It is one of the positive aspects of losing an entire season of hockey.

The Shark's also (by virtue of the Mikka Kiprusoff trade with the Calgary Flames) will garner the 5th pick in the 2d round - #35 overall. It seems that the time has come to lick our wounds and actually begin to look at the good things that may be coming our way from the NHL. Yes, there are actually quite a few awesome things that have developed because of that horrible non-season. Most teams (including the Sharks) have actually lowered ticket prices. We, of course, have no way of knowing how long the franchises will see fit to allow us to pay less to see the games but we can enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

Aside from the pocketbook savings that the league has handed us, the hockey god's have also put into place several rule changes that are intended to open up the game and allow for a more exciting brand of the game to be played. I am voracious for a more offensive style. I enjoy speed and skill and that was certainly curtailed by all of the various zone-traps that have bogged down the NHL.

The league has opted to eliminate the Red-Line, widen the Blue-lines and hit hard on obstruction offenders. These changes are intended to allow skillful teams to be just that. It must also be a good thing as many of the NHL's curmudgeon 'old-boy network' G.M.'s are already crying and whining that it's too much too fast.

Who are they kidding? Themselves I suppose.

The league, players, owners and fans did not miss an entire season so that they would come back to the same 2-1 snail fests that have become ever prevalent in the modern pro game. People, we need to embrace change. The allowance of skillful players to truly ply their wares can only make the game more exciting and is the only way the league can even begin to dream about making their product more marketable to the general sport's fan.

The league plans to use shootouts as a last resort in determining victories. The tie-game seems to have gone the way of the White Elephant or the Do-Do Bird and that is a good thing also folks.

All is not perfect, of course, as I have some serious doubts about some of the changes made regarding goaltenders.

I like the rule that will limit the size of the goalie's pads however there are new rules in place that will limit how much control of the puck the goaltenders will be allowed. The new rules seem to limit the net minder's abilities to pass the puck up the ice for possible breakaways. I understand the emphasis on offense but I believe that the NHL has had a bit too much tunnel vision in this regard. Some goalies are actually quite adept at puck handling and I think that limiting their abilities with the puck will actually bog down possible open ice opportunities. We shall see.

In any case the new salary cap structure should allow many teams the opportunity to be more competitive than ever before. The ceiling on the cap will also be the impetus for more than 400 free agent's to hit the market in the next couple of weeks. Teams are basically forced to buyout the contracts of high paid, underachievers and to basically start anew. This will probably lead to the biggest re-distribution of talent in league history.

Sharks G.M. Doug Wilson will have his job cut out for him as he needs to resign the Sharks to most important restricted free agent forwards - Patrick Marleau and Marco Sturm. The Sharks also have to deal with the fact that long time blue-liner Mike Rathje is now 31 and an unrestricted free agent under the new collective bargaining agreement. Many Shark's fans have never latched onto Rathje yet he is nonetheless a truly solid defensive defenseman and an integral part of the team's defensive corps.

Isn't it great to actually talk about 'real' hockey issues for a change????

But now it's time to sit back and enjoy the ride as we ready for the season opener on October 5th when all 30 NHL teams will once again take the ice in a game that should be far more entertaining than anything we have seen since the Sharks opened their fish bowl in downtown San Jose in 1993.

Game on!

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