| All quiet on the Sharky
Should the Sharks be dealing?
At the end of the most recent NHL season past
I purported calm and patience in regard to fan reaction towards the San Jose
Sharks and their earlier than expected playoff exit.
I advised to lay-in-wait and allow the Sharks brain trust (I.E. GM Doug Wilson)
to let the smoke clear, evaluate and then make decisions regarding the moves he
would make to right the Shark's ship.
In turn, Wilson rehired the entire coaching staff, traded Vesa Toskala and Mark
Bell, acquired two first round draft picks, freed up cash for future signings,
signed zero free-agents and, oh yeah the team raised ticket prices.
Let's take these apart shall we.
I have no problem with the rehiring of Ron Wilson, Rob Zettler and Tim Hunter.
They for all intents and purposes work hard and promote an offensive style of
game that is pleasurable to my 'need for scoring and speed' hockey mind.
No coaches are truly loved by the players and thus ends the bloggers talk of
firing the coaches. Bloggers always want to fire, trade or simply eliminate
pretty much everyone on any given date. The Toskala-Bell trade netted two top
30 picks in this year's draft (Logan Couture and Nick Petrecki).
The goalie swap system was tried for a year and both net minders gave it the
old college try. It worked amazingly well but the mindset of the goalies was
not going to allow that to happen for a second season. The trade was solid and
achieved success on two levels; it freed up salary cap space and again added
blue-chips for the future.
I will never bad-mouth the acquisition o prospects for the future. This is how
the Sharks were built and this is how they do business. The money aspect
however is a separate issue. The loss of Scott Hannan to free-agency
(Colorado) leaves a hole at the number one defense position. The Sharks
re-signed Craig Rivet but he wasn't the guy the Sharks used to shadow the best
players of opposing teams. Hannan, often maligned by bloggies, always was
responsible for his defensive zone, as well as, the duty of stopping the
opponent's top gun.
Ask Alex Ovechkin if Hannan was any good at that.
In any case the loss of the number one defender and the cash that his loss
freed up would lead one to believe that the Sharks were on the hunt for some
talent that would actually improve the team for the 2007-08 season.
What has happened?
The Sharks have signed Joe Thornton to a 3-year contract extension at a
'home-discount' rate of a little over $7 million per. That's awesome! But, the
funny thing here is that Big Joe's raise is really not that significant a hike
over that which he actually earns under his current contract. So that means the
Sharks still have cash to spend. But they have not. Wilson cannot enter the new
season and expect anyone to believe that this team is better than last season's
The Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks have added Todd Bertuzzi and Mathieu
Schneider (as a safeguard should Scott Niedermayer retire). Solid moves from a
team truly committed to doing what it takes to win. The Sharks have pretty much
been rather hush, hush about most all developments from Santa Clara Street
since the season ended.
The team recently announced that they would not be holding the annual 'state of
the franchise' event. This is an annual festivity where fans are allowed into
the arena and can ask the Wilson's and VP Greg Jamison pretty much anything
they want regarding the state of the team. The team states that they were
unable to schedule this function due to arena renovations. Somehow Sabrecats
football and various concerts manage to be scheduled despite the arena project.
Could it be that the Sharks management simply does not want to deal with fan
backlash or scrutiny?
Two years ago the NHL locked out the players. The league inferred that this was
necessary to ensure that the league was viable for the future. That the league
needed to take control of its financial bootstraps and pull its self up to
level ground. The league claimed that ticket prices had spiraled out of control
and thus the restructuring would be necessary to stop the fans from being
gouged at the gate.
So here we are with a fairly sizeable ticket price increase to watch a team
that has signed no free agents (the only team in the league in this category),
cancels an important fan event and has made no statements regarding their lack
The Sharks seem like they need to take a refresher course in 'how to pump up
the fan base'. Because let me be the first to tell them that I may not know how
to inspire the fan base but, thus far, their actions definitely have done
nothing to inspire or make a Stanley cup believer of me.
Being competitive is great and I am proud of the Sharks play, effort and
record. But, let me tell you being competitive is not enough. The goal is to
win championships. Anything less than that is nothing more than talk and hype.
If I were a fan of that I would be a fan of the San Francisco Giants and be
content with having one of the world's most hyped non winning franchises ever
to grace the planet. If this is your type of thing then enjoy.
It is said that patience is a virtue. I believe that Doug Wilson is a man of
his word. He wants the ultimate goal - he has said this and I believe him. I
just hope he doesn't expect us to believe that the team, as presently on the
roster, is good enough to hoist the cup. Patience is a good thing, but even the
most patient of us expect action at some point and the Sharks lack of action
and double-speak is not doing much in the way of providing a reward to its many
Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
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