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Ready to roll
This year's Anaheim?
10/2/07 - By Steve Flores

The San Jose Sharks are NHL 2007-2008 NHL Champions!!! Ok, ok so it's not true. Not yet at least. Ok maybe not even at least, but hey Fall springs eternal or whatever my derivation of that old adage may be. Hope is hope and the Sharks look strong as they are about to begin the current campaign.

G.M. Doug Wilson spent the summer re-upping the entire core group of Sharks players and he now hands this very talented group, once again, to head coach Ron Wilson in hopes that this team can finally find a way to break through and capture that elusive Stanley Cup Trophy.

The team is, with the addition of rookies Devin Setoguchi, Torrey Mitchell and Goalkeeper Dimitri Patzold, one of, if not the, youngest team in the league. Many feel that the loss of Scott Hannan leaves a veteran void on the blue line that the Sharks did not address. Something tells me that Doug Wilson would answer that he has Craig Rivet from the get go and that all of his young defenders are a year older and better.

He also has Sandis Ozolinsh still skating with the team (He was unable to play in pre-season games due to his suspension imposed by the league for violations of the substance abuse policy). Ozolinsh's presence at this late juncture is probably a pretty good sign that the veteran will be on the final roster; hence the added blue line veteran presence.

The bottom line is, or should be, that the Sharks are a year more mature. All key players are signed for the next few years and the team is now hitting its prime.

Throw in the fact that the defending cup champion Anaheim Ducks are starting the season without Scott Neidermeyer, Teemu Selanne and Dustin Penner and the Ducks are not the same team; still good but not nearly of the same quality.

Sorry to all publications and writers who feel differently, but please!!!! You are not as good after losing the world's best defenseman along with two of the team's top 3 goal scorers. Howl and bark at the moon all you like but it is simply not the same team in Anaheim.

Now don't get me wrong I fully believe that both Neidermeyer and Selanne will both find their way back to the Ducks roster at some point before the season is over, but who knows how much of an impact or chemistry issue this could play in the team's success is yet to be determined.

Free agents changed hands all across the league. The Buffalo Sabres were hit hardest after losing co-captains Daniel Briere and Chris Drury. A couple of noteworthy hockey media outlets still rank them in the leagues top 5. Yeah, right.

The Rangers of New York are also a media favorite right now, yet I still see them as the same old overspending Rangers. I will believe they are quality when I see it.

The Ottawa Senators should be the beasts of the east. The Pittsburgh Sidney Crosby's should be much improved and the Sharks should, I say should, be there at the end when all is said and done.

The facts are that the Bay Area's NHL franchise has as much talent, if not more, than any team in the league and now is the time for them to shine or chomp as the case may be.

It all begins Thursday night in Edmonton. Let's all keep our fingers crossed and our minds open as this very exciting, talented and skilled team attempt to live up to their potential and become all that the experts think they can be. If they can come close to the hype then the 2007-2008 Stanley Cup Champions banner will be raised to the rafters sometime next October.

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