| Off-season malaise
Not much to cheer about this summer
Attempting to find an exciting and
captivating lead sentence for this hockey-based column I eventually gave up and
decided that it wasn't possible. You see writing is a reflection of that which
is in the news and there hasn't been much of that in the world of the San Jose
In an off-season that has seen the Sharks bring in next to no one via
free-agency - please forgive me Alexei Semenov- the biggest news seems to have
been the change to the team's logo and color scheme.
I mean don't get me wrong I actually like the logo change and the new uniforms
will be just fine I am sure. However I don't think this will help the team's on
ice performance, despite the fact that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has stated
that the change was made to 'enhance' the player's abilities. It, of course,
has nothing to do with marketing.
But let's not delve into cynicism or anger. Anyone within a blink of common
sense realizes that politicians, corporations and yes folks sports franchises
don't' give a darn about anyone unless they mean positive cash flow.
Is winning important? Well, yeah I guess it is. As long as that winning means
more $, then heck yeah it's important.
Wisecracks aside, franchises shouldn't have to work under a scheme where they
lose cash year after year. Owners of teams make a significant investment in
running these ships and have every right to make a decent penny on them. With
that said please don't be naive enough to believe that teams like the Sharks
have lost $5 million or more each and every year. Use your brain folks - rich
folks didn't get rich by losing boatloads of money on a daily basis.
If a venture is a monetary loser then the folks that deemed it so get rid of it
and move on. Despite 16 years of losing millions the Sharks are somehow still
here. Wow what great humanitarians these owners are huh!
Well anyway our local 'humanitarian' ownership group has re-signed Big Joe
Thornton for 3 more years, have put some pretty new lights inside the arena and
have raised ticket prices yet again, despite the owners one year lockout (in
part to stop fleecing the NHL fan at the gate- hypocrisy, it would seem, knows
no bounds when spoken form the lips of the NHL) of 2005.
The Sharks off-season did have a bright spot this week as former color analyst
Drew Remenda was once again brought back on board. Remenda and play-by-play man
Randy Hahn will once again call the TV shots for the Sharks this season.
The Sharks deserve a ton of credit for reuniting this dynamic duo. I have been
a fan of hockey for 37 years Drew and Randy bring it both die-hard and casual
fans in a manner that truly makes each game an event. The Sharks do put their
money in the right spot in terms of television broadcasts. Drew's return will
also breathe life back into 'Shark Byte' and the team will have back its
greatest ambassador. Well done to the guys (and gals) upstairs.
But, yeah here we go again with the BUT
.But, the team still has done
nothing else to improve on the ice.
The company line, at this time, is that the season is still a couple months
away and changes can still be made via trades etc. The problem is that
statement was made a few weeks back and we still have no new blood and Patrick
Marleau still has not been extended and or signed a new contract. Marleau's
signing alone would probably appease me, but even that hasn't happened. This is
a must for the Sharks to continue on the proposed path to hoist Lord Stanley's
In any case despite the lack of speak or when they speak - the double-speak,
the bottom line will be the same as usual; the Sharks will be content to ride
out their usual 'let the youth show how much they have improved over the
summer' routine as their basis for 2007-08. This has always been the long term
Sharks plan and it has helped to make the team a contender for the past several
seasons. I just hope that it is enough to get them over the hump.
The youth of this team is truly remarkable. Jonathan Cheechoo, Matt Carle,
Marc- Edouard Vlasic and Milan Michalek are all true talents and aren't
anywhere near their peak. I am sure that each and every one of these players
will be even better this season and hopefully that will be enough to get them
over the hump.
The defending champion Anaheim Ducks recently lost Dustin Penner and his 29
goals and both Teemu Selanne and Scott Neidermeyer may both retire prior to
this upcoming NHL season. I doubt that either will call it quits but it is a
If the Ducks were to actually lose all three of these talents then they step
back to the Sharks in a big way. Chris Pronger is still there and Ryan Getzlaff
is getting better but a team that loses two goal scorers and the Conn Smythe
winner will not be as strong is if they hadn't lost em!
Team President Greg Jamison and GM Doug Wilson have both inferred that the
season is a ways off and that the roster may not look the same come September.
Either way the Sharks have a lot of on ice talent on their roster and
circumstance will play a part in determining whether or not they have enough to
win it all.
I don't for a minute believe that the teams ownership did everything they could
have to improve the team via free-agency. I mean c'mon you can't tell me that
there wasn't someone out there that could have helped this team. And I'm not
even talking about the Chris Drury's or Daniel Brier's folks. I am talking
depth or character guys like Mike Grier. But anyway even without the team
bringing in any notable freebies they may still have enough home-grown stuff to
do some serious damage. And yes I actually do believe that which is a far more
positive thing than not being able to write and exciting opening sentence!
Contact Steve at email@example.com
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