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Off-season observations
Summer musings
9/20/07 - By Paul Krill

Since there's been no hockey since May for the Sharks, there's not much to do but size up the off-season with a few observations:

* The (blechh!) Ducks, an unnecessary southern California franchise founded after the Sharks, beat another franchise founded after the Sharks, Ottawa, to become California's first Stanley Cup winner. This was a distinction we had coveted for our Sharks but the Sharks failed to live up to their end of the bargain, disappointing the usual sell-out crowds again. Yet, the sun still rises, the moon still revolves around the Earth, the Earth continues to circle the sun. So I guess we will just have to live with this.

* What happens to players singled out for enmity by Sharks fans? Players like Ed Belfour and Chris Pronger? They win the Stanley Cup. Other players should be so lucky. This anti-Pronger booing makes no sense and is, quite obviously, ineffective.

* The big additions to the Sharks this off-season did not come from the free agent market, unless you count the last-chance-for-the-Cup signing of Jeremy Roenick. No, the big additions were the new Jumbotron and the big ribbon graphics thing encircling the bottom of the upper bowl. I saw all this Monday at the annual Teal-and-White game and was impressed. The city paid for it, though, making our arena about the last one to get one of these ribbon graphics devices.

* Don't look for 2007 first-round draft pick Logan Couture to make the roster. Putting him on it would start his unrestricted free agent clock ticking and make him a UFA at age 25 instead of the maximum age of 27. Unless a team has a player needed to sell both tickets and a new arena, like Sidney Crosby, the days of 18-year-olds making the NHL are most likely over.

* What happened to the season ticket holder meeting where the fans get to ask the Sharks coaches and executives questions? They didn't have that this year. Of course, the Sharks were never obligated to do this in the first place but perhaps they just didn't have any answers as to why the Sharks failed to live up to their billing yet again.

* So the Sharks changed their logo and their uniforms. I actually like the new logo and it addresses the only problem I had with the original design: barely any teal at all. But now, I have a clock, a watch, several t-shirts and sweatshirts, coffee mugs, etc, all with the old logo and they have become obsolete. But I did buy a new t-shirt with the new logo about an hour after they went on sale so I must be part of the problem: Switch the colors and logo and sell stuff anew to the fans. The uniforms I can live with, although I would like to see the trendy burnt orange switched back to the traditional gray color. Meanwhile, I'll keep wearing my circa-1993 original Sharks teal jersey to the games.

* Monday gave me a rare chance to sit downstairs and watch a game. It dawned on me that the players are too big, too fast and there are simply too many of them on the ice. No wonder scoring is so minimal. If the league wants more scoring, rather than doing something stupid like making the nets bigger, how about playing 4-on-4 the whole game? This clears up shooting lanes and space and would enable roster reductions of about 60 players league-wide who probably should be in the minors anyway. This would cut all kinds of expenses for the owners, too. Given that this strategy would be a chance for players to build their offensive stats, they might even go for sending some of their less-talented brethren back to the minors.

* Finally, it is good to hear that this season is likely to be the last for the dreaded schedule format that has had the same divisional teams playing each other over and over and over, at the expense of seeing marquee teams from the other conference. Good riddance.

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