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When talent just isn't enough
Sharks in familiar waters
4/28/08 - By Steve Flores

After two games of the Western Conference Semi-Final the San Jose Sharks find themselves in familiar territory, very familiar! As a right of spring the Sharks are once again up against a wall, down two games to none and have been out-hearted and out-smarted in both games by the Dallas Stars.

The under-achieving Sharks, the pre-season darlings of the North American hockey media, seem to annually find themselves eliminated in this very same round each and every year. Yes fact sticklers I realize they reached the Conference Finals once, but generally it is the second round where the Sharkies tend to say bye-bye!

Each season comes and each season goes and the Sharks always end up without Lord Stanley's hardware and are always left with e questions that start with 'Why?'

The best hockey minds struggle each year to find the answer to the Sharks playoff woes. Across the years the answers have run the gamut; the team is too young, the team doesn't have enough playoff experience, the team is too weak on the blue line - yadda yadda yadda.

After several years of not achieving the ultimate goal - and not even reaching a single final the answer that best fits the question seems to be a lack of heart.

This team found some chest muscle in the Calgary series. Some will say that series took enough of a physical toll on the Sharks to cost them the Dallas series (should that come to pass). Others will call for Head Coach Ron Wilson's head. Sadly the head of the coach will probably roll. Someone has to take the fall and G.M. Doug Wilson has set the bar higher than mere regular season success. Merely reaching the post season and winning a round is not enough. Some fans are content with that, but luckily Wilson is not.

It is the opinion of many in the hockey-know that the Sharks roster possesses as much - if not more talent- than nearly all NHL franchises, yet they haven't found a way to the silver spoon.

Wilson cannot devastate the entire roster in one off-season. The team is too solid on paper with the concurrent luxury of having most key players under contract for the next two or three seasons. Wilson has built a fantastic foundation of talent but heart cannot be built or taught it must come from within.

With that said team management must attempt some type of key change to try and force the teams on ice post season efforts. The coaching staff will take the brunt of that decision making. I am sure some roster changes will be made but the style and method will be addressed as ultimately Ron Wilson's teams have, thus far, refused to find a way over the post season hump.

I have always been a believer in an athlete's requirement of self-accountability. I do not for a second believe that grown men need a coach to force them into success. In this regard Ron Wilson is blameless. I believe that Wilson and Assistant Coaches Rob Zettler and Tim Hunter have worked their tails off to ready this roster day in and day out. I firmly believe Wilson was the best coach in the NHL this season. He held this team together early and compelled them to become a better team when he understood that their scoring woes were not a temporary state of affairs. But in pro sports changes happen when goals aren't met and I believe Wilson and his staff are where the sword will fall.

Of course the series is not over yet, but few teams manage to come back from a 0-2 series deficit after having lost both home games. These Sharks have shown no urgency in either loss and that speaks volumes.

Dallas is a very poised and patient team that lays in wait and takes full advantage of situational hockey. They are a team of lesser talent than the Sharks, but are a better team nonetheless. Talent can take you only so far, but at some point heart is an intangible that must be present for a team to achieve true greatness. Sadly the Sharks seem unable to conjure up anything more than their usual fall free-fall.



Contact Steve at stevybo@yahoo.com

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