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State of the Sharks
Sharks host open house
6/30/06 - By Steve Flores

On a night otherwise occupied by the playing of a game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals the San Jose Sharks decided to hold a State of the franchise event. The poor timing issue was addressed immediately by Sharks CEO Greg Jamison stating that it was really the only night that all important parties could gather together for the annual event. The other parties involved were G.M. Doug Wilson, Head Coach Ron Wilson and current Rocket Richard Trophy holder Jonathan Cheechoo.

Always adaptive to his situation Coach Wilson came prepared as he showed up in his usual technologically advanced state and was able to watch the game on his PSP by virtue of using his Sling-Box technology which forwarded his cable broadcast to his handheld viewer. Always working the technology is the Sharks head man.

For those of you not familiar with the State of the Sharks format, the team annually allows fans in attendance to ask team officials absolutely anything they desire about the team. I have been watching pro sports for 37 years and the older I get it continues to astound me of the growing degree of canned and evasive answers provided by sports folk.

Jamison is always classy and has a quick wit. He is good with the fans but he is a businessman and he handles himself that way. Ron Wilson is an excellent coach and a snappy dresser but he also isn't the most exciting or enlightening speaker. Cheech is a great young player and is very well spoken but really isn't going to get into any meaty discussions with fans. That left Doug Wilson as the main man for this forum.

Wilson is the carver of the franchise. He makes all personnel decisions and is a hockey man in the truest since. He is articulate, bright, well-spoken, loves the game and was both refreshing and honest.

Yes folks I said honest.

I arrived at the conference not expecting to hear anything other than the company line with no real details of expected moves. He did an end around on me.

When queried about the teams 2 goalie situation Wilson all but admitted that he will dealing one of the net minders. I mean yeah we all know that he is going to do it but I never expected the frankness of his response.

"It is a great problem to have. I give a lot of our goaltenders credit for signing contracts. Are we going to be able to keep two number one goalies, probably not and a decision will be made. I will listen to calls that will make our team better going forward. I can't say enough about how our staff develops goaltenders. I think we can win a Stanley Cup with either of them" stated Wilson.

Reading between the lines isn't easy. But if Wilson believes he can win with either guy it does make sense to deal the more expensive guy. That guy is Evgeni Nabokov. I am sure that Wilson will look at all offers and make the deal that he feels is most apt to improve the club and I'm sure he will field offers on Vesa Toskala as well but the hockey instinct and common sense would tend to lean towards Nabokov being the logical choice. I am not sure that he's the right guy to move but Wilson knows more than all of us combined and I have come to trust his judgment. He has made solid trade after solid trade. From the acquisitions of Joe Thornton and Ville Nieminen to the trade up to get Devin Setoguchi he has an almost flawless record in regards to trades. The Brad Boyes deal is the only thorn that sticks out in his tenure as Sharks G.M.

Wilson truly was the star of the evening as he answered all questions (no matter how inane) with zeal and a level of excitement that was truly respectful of the fans. He continued to show why he truly is the right man to be running the Shark's ship.

Fans and bloggers alike tend to complain and have expectations that are always a bit out of whack from reality. This is not limited to fans of the Sharks - fans of all teams in all sports are guilty of this. Just ask any San Francisco Giant's fan about their team's World Series chances and you are sure to find that a lot of them think they are gonna win it every year. Of, course, the Giants have zero World Series trophies over the past 52 years but fans fall prey to the hype.

This past season's Sharks team was good. At times they were very good. I, at times, write columns critical of certain areas of the teams play or of their roster makeup. I don't do this to be a jerk or to light a fire in the readership; I do it because I want the franchise to build a team that will compete for a championship every year. Some teams build for a mini runs and then they fall off the wagon. Some teams build with veterans and not for the long-term future. Doug Wilson has built a team of young, above average players that should contend every year.

Believe me folks this is the goal!

Over the past few years the Sharks have let aging and or role players go and fans haven't been happy. Fan's love the Mike Ricci's, the Niklas Sundstrom's, the Ron Stern's, the Scott Thornton's. Fans clamor for more of these kinds of players. All teams need them but they cannot be dominant in number. Talent is still the key ingredient and Doug Wilson understands this.

"We know we had a good year. We didn't have a great year. We played really well from Dec 1 on, but we have to look at how we get better. I care about winning a Stanley Cup. What can we do to get better? All the little things need to get better. We don't do this just to make the playoffs" said Wilson. This statement made my evening complete!

A few years back a buy named Cohan purchased a local NBA team and that team continues to talk about making the playoffs.

Making the playoffs!!!???!

Are you kidding me!

So you make the playoffs, so do 15 other teams. Oh boy now there's an achievement. It seems that some sets of management either don't really have their sights set high enough or my own personal wants and desires for championship possibilities every season is simply not what some fans or some teams see as the ultimate goal. Either way Doug Wilson has set the Sharks on track to attain this goal and since I share this vision I am truly excited by the prospects of this team's future. The State of the Sharks seems to actually be solid in the hands of the current regime and the G.M. isn't afraid to tell you so.

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