| Rivet and Guerin
Cardiac surgery is pricy
- By Ken Smyth
The Sharks 4-4 road trip, aka
Dismal-on-Ice, is finished with a trail of smashed furniture in hotels and
locker rooms from St. Louis to Dallas. That's assuming Coach Ron Wilson shows a
pulse. Then again, if his team had one they'd be leading the Western Conference
instead of just sort of hanging around in fifth place. It also finished with
Josh Gorges getting a ticket to Montreal and defenseman Craig Rivet coming to
San Jose. The big question after that was what else GM Doug Wilson planned to
do these before the trade deadline, and the answer was Bill Guerin.
Lowlight of the road trip was the scoreless streak. It should be possible for
an NHL team, especially one that includes the previous Hart, Ross, and Rocket
Richard trophy winners, to score a goal in 190 minutes. No matter who they
playing against. Somebody should knock a puck towards the opponent's net enough
times and enough ways to have it bounce around and fool the goalie. When that
doesn't happen, something is really wrong. This Sharks' team is too talented to
be using those old cliches about sixty-minute efforts and getting the job done
in their own end.
Simply stated, the Sharkies needed a heart transplant. They had stars, they had
role-players, but nobody who could scream and yell and turn publicly emotional
after a bad loss. Nobody on the roster who'd turn the locker room water cooler
into scrap metal after a stinker game, unless the cooler wore a Tuomo Ruutu
jersey. There aren't many players who can add this to a team and they cost a
bit at the trade deadline, look at how Atlanta just coughed up a middle first
round pick (Glen Metropolit) to bring Keith Tkachuk over for a few months.
Bringing in Bill Guerin is a stab at that direction, how much positive he
brings for the playoffs depends on whether we're getting the New Jersey Guerin
or the Dallas Stars Guerin.
The Sharks' finished last season losing four straight games to a (cliche
alert!) harder-working Edmonton Oilers team. Still turns my stomach, both the
loss and the cliche. Besides free-agent signings of Curtis Brown and Mike
Grier, the big trade over the summer was defenseman Tom Preissing for Mark
Bell. Between Bell's DUI arrest and lack of scoring that trade has been almost
a total stinker. Maybe now the Sharks' are tough enough to push back in a
physical playoff series.
A side effect of the Preissing trade was that it tied the Sharks' to a very
young defense. The defense-by-committee of Matt Carle, Rob Davison, Josh
Gorges, Douglas Murray, Christian Ehrhoff and Marc-Edouard Vlasic can look
solid one period and confused the next. If the Sharks' scored about thirty more
goals, what was expected from Bell and Jonathan Cheechoo based on last season,
that wouldn't be a big problem. But it is a problem, and the raised
expectations from last year mean that somebody will pay with their job if this
team doesn't make a strong playoff run. The Sharks looked like first-round
playoff kill over the last few weeks and both Wilsons know what that means.
Why Josh Gorges? Good question, easy guess is that he was the deepest in the
doghouse. The Sharks were 3-4 while Kyle McLaren was out, and Gorges picked up
a +2 rating with significant ice time during that stretch. His stock went way
down on the road trip. Over the last eight he was '4 and sat out the last three
games as a healthy scratch. Why Craig Rivet? Alexei Zhitnik and Eric Brewer
were off the table, and Sheldon Souray, if he's traded, should cost a core
player or two unless Montreal GM Bob Gainey likes riding in a bulletproof car.
What's next? The Sharks' broadcasters mentioned after Monday's loss to the
Ducks that the Sharks needed to look behind them as eighth place was closer
than first in this conference. No kidding. Evgeni Nabokov stood tall with two
good games in Washington and Chicago, but blew his latest chance to end the
goalie platoon with a weak effort in Calgary. Either he or Vesa Toskala needs
to show they can consistantly play at star level in tough games.
You pay to play!
We can argue about how much Doug paid to borrow a pair of players, but prices
were bit steep this season. Atlanta coughed up former first rounders for
Zhitnik and Tkachuk, the Islanders sent two formers plus their 2007 pick to
Edmonton to borrow Ryan Smyth. Going back a few weeks, the Peter Forsberg deal
set up sellers' market for 2007.
Nashville gave up two past and one future first-round picks plus a 2007 third
rounder to get Forsberg from Philadelphia. He comes with a bad foot and becomes
a free agent next July. Only way this makes sense is if Forsberg can score
fifteen or twenty goals over the rest of the season or becomes a five bedroom
house in the Cupertino school district. Even then he'd need marble counters.
(Third way, for you conspiracy lovers, is that if Nashville doesn't go deep
into the playoffs, the whole outfit may be packed up and shipped off. This way,
Forsberg and the guys shipped off tho Philly are all off the books for the new
The one deal that really catches my eye is Nolan Schaeffer going to Pittsburgh
for a low draft pick. Granted, there is no place for him up here and he's gone
as a free agent come July, but right-gloved goalies are far between. They come
in handy in shootouts and against Teemu Selanne.
Contact Ken at
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