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Old Shark could spell relief
Don't rule out Nolan back in teal
1/31/06 - By Steve Flores

Prior to last season's exciting run to the Western Conference Final round and the emergence of Patrick Marleau as the San Jose Sharks Captain and team leader the Sharks were identified as Owen Nolan's team. Nolan was and is still the most memorable player and team captain the Sharks have had. Marleau will, no doubt, continue to strive towards reaching his peak as both a player and leader until he becomes the overall leader in every possible offensive category in Sharks history. But at this time Nolan holds the label as best Captain and overall everything in the Sharks record book.

Love him or hate him the Sharks were identified by Nolan throughout his tenure in teal. At his best he provided goals, grit, toughness and a hard-nosed figure on the power play. These are aspects that all 30 NHL teams need to win games. The Sharks are in short and inconsistent supply on all of them.

Nolan hasn't stepped on NHL ice since March of 2004. At that time he suffered a bone bruise which led to cartilage deterioration. Nolan was, at that time and still is the property of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

A stalemate of sorts has developed between Canada's most beloved franchise and the Irish born Right Wing. At the heart of the matter is the injury itself. Toronto GM John Ferguson questions whether Nolan's injury happened before or after the lockout. At stake are millions of dollars.

By all published reports the negotiating between Nolan and the Leafs should be resolved within a week or so. At this point it appears that Nolan will be available to whoever can reach a mutual agreement with him for his on ice services. The Sharks are a logical choice.

Nolan lives year round in the South Bay and is married to a local lady. His best years were spent with the Sharks and the Sharks have a need for many of the skills that Nolan has exhibited at a very high level in the past.

Yes, Nolan is older and coming off a severe injury so there is some risk involved with bringing him on board. But the risk is minimal in that acquiring him will not cost the Sharks a roster player or prospect. The signing of Nolan will be added to the team's payroll which season ticket holders have already assisted in paying regardless of Nolan's presence on the roster.

Since Nolan's trade to Ontario there has been parlance that he was a 'cancer' in the locker room. There is talk that he 'wasn't a good leader of men' etc, etc, etc. Blah, blah, blah. The only thing I remember is that the team had an identity. The team won games and the team had grit. Revisionists will of course want to dispute this, but just look to the rafters and you will see a Pacific Division banner that says otherwise.

I'm not sure whether Nolan will sign with the Sharks or not. No one really knows but Nolan or his agent or Sharks GM Doug Wilson. But one can hope that it can come true. In a real world it is likely that he is no longer as fast (yet he never was a Pavel Bure) nor probably in game shape yet he will always have grit and toughness and a desire to win. Nolan will add excitement to the game and will provide the Sharks with a veteran leader who has represented the Sharks in an All-Star caliber in the past.

I am no believer that he is a locker room distraction nor do I believe that he would try to usurp the roles of Marleau or Joe Thornton. To win is the goal and Nolan's acquisition would do nothing to diminish what is currently a 12th place spot in the Western Conference playoff standings.

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