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Let's stay together
Will current Sharks squad remain intact?
12/1/06 - By Paul Krill

Soul singer Al Green is probably best known for his hit, "Let's Stay Together." That sounds like a good suggestion for this Sharks team, which seems to have it all: speed, size, scoring, special teams, goaltending and tight defense. Maybe, just maybe, the Sharks can win it all this season. That will be a tough order, considering that despite possessing one of the top won-loss records in the league, the Sharks don't even lead their own division (Anaheim does).

If the Sharks can make it out of the conference and into the Stanley Cup Finals, it theoretically should be smooth skating, given the Sharks dominance over Eastern Conference teams of late.

But back to the subject here: Can this Sharks team stay together for a long time? Well, we have to ask why players might depart and that inevitably leads to the travel advantages that the Eastern Conference teams have and the Sharks do not.

The New York Rangers, for instance, play a whole five games outside of their own time zone this season based on the new schedule. The Sharks play 28 games outside of their time zone.

So there's one big disadvantage for the Sharks. Joe Thornton is up for renewal after the 2007-2008 season and I am crossing my fingers that this factor will not hurt us here in San Jose .

Also, if enough of these Shark players get really good (see: Michalek, Milan ), their salary demands will go up and it could be tough to keep all of them given salary cap constraints. Of course, the Sharks budget was limited even before the cap.

Being good presents its own set of problems. For now, we can all enjoy the ride as we watch one of the league's elite teams skate down on Santa Clara Street .

Penalty shots…After seeing the sea of red jerseys at last week's Devils-Sharks game, I think I've discovered why the Devils have such poor attendance at home. They have plenty of fans, but the Northern California-to-New Jersey commute is just too much to bear for Devils' disciples...

Speaking of poor attendance elsewhere, Anaheim has become the New Jersey Devils West: Top-ranked team, lots of empty seats… Four sellouts and one near-sellout seem to indicate that Sharks fans certainly do like to see the marquee teams from the Eastern Conference, doesn't it? This, despite the league's insistence that divisional games are what we really want. Oddly enough, the only game that didn't sell out was the November 2 game against the Rangers, which came about 400 seats shy. That was the one game of the bunch that I figured would be a guaranteed sellout. It was raining, though…

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