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Ghosts of the past and the present
Would Sharks be better served by rookies?
4/8/09 - By Steve Flores -

As the playoffs approach and the M*A*S*H unit we call the San Jose Sharks begins to get all of its walking wounded back on the ice I must stop and ask; Claude Lemieux? Really?

Is Lemieux really going to be placed on the post-season roster? He has been injured for what seems like forever (18 games) and worse than that he played like he was injured prior to his actual jaw injury.

No disrespect to Lemieux but he retired several years ago for a reason - He was done as an NHL player. His absence allowed the Sharks to slot in Jamie McGinn and Brad Staubitz on a more frequent basis. Although rookies, both of these young guys began to show that which they are made of during game action. Staubitz gave the team a bit more toughness and presence.

McGinn is great in the corners and started to show some of his ability in the offensive zone. Yes, they both made mistakes. Untimely and sometimes downright stupid penalties were taken by both more than once; that is the sign of youth folks. But, at least they were doing positive things on the ice.

Lemieux always looks like he's one of the referees when he's on the ice. He isn't the physical presence that he used to be and his flair for the big offensive play seems to have dissipated during his prior 'retirement'. The first clue of this is that the guy simply hasn't made any plays that have resulted in anything positive for the team. McGinn & Staubitz have each managed to make a mark in more than one instance when they have been on the ice.

Lemieux simply looks out of place on the ice. He looks slow on a team that was built for speed. Physically he hasn't shown the presence that was once his trademark and he has yet to make a mark on any game that he has played in. If you have a love of nostalgia then you may side with wanting Lemieux on the roster, but nostalgia is from the heart not the brain.

The current version of Lemieux is a ghost of the player that he was. The fact that he WAS a great player seems to be the guiding light behind the Sharks brain trust's decision to put him back into uniform and into a game. The guy was once the master of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Finals, but that was all in the past. He has had moments in his NHL career that will see him inducted into the Hall of Fame someday.

Hall of Famers however are retired when they gain induction into that most sacred of buildings. To take up a very important post season roster spot on a team that is trying to chase away its own playoff ghosts is a poor decision at best and could be devastating at worse.

If Lemieux gains a position on the final playoff roster I hope that he proves me wrong. I hope that he shows that he is worthy of that position rather than magnifying the fact that the Sharks would be better served if he simply went home and waited for his name to be announced as a member of the Hall. Better yet just suck it up and admit that the Lemieux experiment was a no-go and move on before it's too late.

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