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Of experts and know-it-alls
Somewhere Ron Wilson is smiling
4/29/09 - By Steve Flores

The 2008-2009 San Jose Sharks successfully achieved yet another early exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This year the team even decided to leave earlier than the usual second round. Wilson annually guided them into that second round before the team felt it was time to shave and pick up the golf clubs.

It has only been a day since the team was eliminated in game six of the Western Conference Quarter Finals and already the Bay Area's media EXPERTS have begun to voice their opinions regarding that which the team must do before they take the ice next season.

Listen up folks! The Bay Area media has no real experts when it comes to hockey. There I said it!

David Pollock of the San Jose Mercury News is the only assigned beat writer that covers the team on a daily basis. None of the Bay Area's other newspapers or websites have anyone that covers the team on a full-time basis. So, I exclude Mr. Pollock from all that I am going to levy in the rest of this column. Pollock does a great job covering the team and is the only media member with enough knowledge to truly be able to critique this team.

Mark Purdy has been in the area for years and likes to call the team 'Los Tiburones' in every column that he writes. He seems to get off on using this term in every one of his written diatribes. Not sure if he just thinks it's cute or if he knows that it actually gets under the skin of the readers. I think it's the latter, but I couldn't testify to that. Purdy is a solid columnist and I have nothing against his columns, but what makes him an expert?

Nothing!

I saw Tim (I only write about the NBA) Kawakami on the Comcast post game show after game six. Are you kidding me? Kawakami was sitting their espousing that the team must make a decision to get rid of Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau. What the heck does the watcher of Kobe Bryant, Don Nelson and Bimbo Coles know about hockey? Nothing!

On the radio I have heard the KNBR morning guys speaking - with opinion - about what the team did wrong. Are you kidding me?

In Gary Radnich's slot was Damon (I don't talk about hockey on my show) Bruce discussing the failure of the team. You must be kidding me?

Last week Ralph Barbieri (now a Sharks fan) was questioning why the Shark's were dumping & chasing into the zone so often. Drove me crazy! Anyone that knows the game knows that that is one of only two ways to combat a zone-trap. Barbieri is learning the game and I give him credit for his new found zest but the ignorance in regard to the tactic would have been laughed off of any Canadian sports talk show.

All of these examples of critique are meaningless yet they frustrate me nonetheless. Bay Area media-type's critique of the team's failures need to be thrown out the window. The team failed. They were outworked and outperformed by the Anaheim Ducks. The reasons they were outperformed must be drawn by GM Doug Wilson, Head Coach Todd McLellan and the brain trust for the Sharks. Trust me guys and dolls they know more than you and me and the local media combined.

The team was out played in every aspect of the game. A few Sharks seemed to perform better than others and that will also need to be evaluated by the brass. Some players will return and some will not; this happens every year.

It is easy to point fingers and easier to simply whine and talk out of the other end of the body. Luckily for Sharks fans Wilson is a man of calm and reason. He built what he felt was a roster stocked with the kinds of players necessary to win a title; he was wrong. The Sharks played their game in terms of sheer volume of shots on goal. They were, however stoned by the proverbial hot net minder Jonas Hiller - the clear MVP of this first round series.

I am sure that in the next couple of day we will hear all about the injuries that several players endured during the post-season. Marleau will surely be one of those. If he wasn't injured then there is a problem with the way he played. He lacked his usual explosiveness. His game was a shell of his normal effort. The captain has a history of post-season excellence so I am pretty sound in my thinking that he was hampered by some sort of nagging injury.

Other players looked slow, haggard and or heartless. The GM knows who they are and I won't spend time pointing fingers.

I will close by stating that Thornton has been maligned in the press for his lack of effort and or results. People say that for him to be great he must carry a team like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux or Mike Bossy. The problem with that comparison is that Thornton is a plate setter. He is a passer folks - all those other guys were goal scorers. Should Thornton shoot more? Yes. But, let's get off of his back. Although he disappeared in a couple of the games I think he finally figured out that he needed to get out of his comfort zone and show some visible fire.

He played hard in games five and six. He also kicked the crap out of Ryan Getzlaf and I must admit that I enjoyed the heck out of that. Yes, again, Thornton wasn't great in all six games and that was a contributing factor. But, despite the inconsistency I think he was solid overall and perhaps he learned a hard and valuable lesson about what he needs to do to lead a team in the post-season.

Sadly it will be roughly six months before we are able to start another journey down this path.

The Sharks, once again, floundered and didn't do what it took to achieve post-season success. The choker label is very much well earned and deserved. Many of the players will be on the links this week perhaps one of them will run into Ron Wilson and hopefully he will not be grinning.


Contact Steve at stevybo@yahoo.com

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