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Shark's management deserves kudos
No shortage of additions
9/21/09 - By Steve Flores -

As sports fans we live in a world of ESPN, the Internet and an overall deluge of media exposure. In general many folks become hard-nosed, pessimistic and far too critical of others. In the past the San Jose Shark's management has been criticized for not being willing to do all that it takes to get this team to the top. Yes, it has been a few years since that aura was pervasive in the minds and hearts of the fan base and yes it was a concept that many held as a truism.

It's easy to be critical. It is easy to sit back and complain and whine and nag at those in charge of the fish that play in the tank. It takes a millisecond to speak or write in response to things when they don't go as planned. I think it's time to sit back and reflect on all that GM Doug Wilson and the ownership and management of the Sharks have done to make this team better.

Wilson has brought in players like Joe Thornton, Rob Blake, Dan Boyle and now Dany Heatley in an attempt to bring this city and it's very loyal fans a Stanley Cup Championship. Along with Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov this team has a roster sexy enough to make fans in New York and Los Angeles green with envy.

The team that was once considered a bit too cheep to spend to bring in the best high priced talent is no more. Wilson and company are maxed out on the cap and have been spending right up to its limits since its inception.

Part of being an expansion franchise (1991) means that fans must contend with years and years of growing pains. It takes several seasons to build a core of players from within via the draft. To spend unwisely early in the life of a franchise is foolhardy. The Sharks were not free of poor management and decision making in their early years. The team actually once employed a three-headed GM monster that was, without doubt, a nightmare that came from a corporate philosophy that had lost sight of its role.

It was a sign that the team had lost sight that this is a hockey team and not a software company. Some poor drafts early on, including the awful 1995 draft of far too many Finnish players (that no other NHL franchise even had on their draft boards) were the low points of a franchise that was definitely not on track.

Those were the dog days of this franchise.

As luck would have it the powers that be sat back and reflected on all these awful decisions and made changes that have turned this franchise into one of the league's most highly respected. CEO Greg Jamison deserves kudos for taking control of a rudderless franchise and hiring the best possible people to help right the ship. A special note of appreciation needs to go to former GM Dean Lombardi. Lombardi was the surviving member of the three-headed Gm debacle and he was responsible for several of the best drafts in Shark's history.

Many fans did not care for Lombardi's rather dry almost somber persona but the man drafted well.

Tim Burke - Head of Scouting - has worked tirelessly to find hidden nuggets each and every year in the entry draft. Burke's role has been increasingly challenged as current GM Wilson has offed (via trades) a lot of future draft picks in attempts to help the team win NOW.

That bring us to the current day Sharks and the fact is that the present day is where they have their best chance to win. The Shark's time is now. There will always be opponents to nearly every cause in life. There are many fans that feel that Wilson has dealt far too much of the Sharks future away via the trade route in his attempt to aid the Sharks in their goal to win now. Has he traded a number of top draft choices? Yes, of course he has. Have all of those trades worked out for the Sharks? No, it is obvious that they haven't. Hindsight is 20/20.

All trades have an element of risk. Wilson felt that the veteran talent that he brought in on those deals would take the team to the next level. So far it hasn't worked. But there is no lack of effort on his part. To not have attempted any trades would have been failure on his part as GM.

Trading is part of the game. Those that believe you should never deal draft picks are welcome to their opinion but those people have a 'future' philosophy that never allows them to deal with the 'present'. If a franchise is run properly there will come a time where Free-agent acquisitions may be needed to improve the team. A GM cannot shy away from that option. To achieve greatness sometimes requires risk.

Doug Wilson et al have made bold moves and put big reputations on the line to put a star-studded team on the ice in San Jose . He has fierce top-line talent and even the third and fourth lines look stronger than ever.

Not only are the aforementioned reputations on the line, but jobs as well. For Wilson the 2009-2010 season is a make or break year for him as GM. The Sharks have been knocking on the 'Stanley Cup Champion potential' thing for several seasons. Wilson has made countless moves to get them across the finish line. He has brought high priced and big name talent into the fold. The team has accommodated his brain trust to the utmost.

The fans of San Jose are amongst the best in the league and as a part of belonging to that fraternity this quality fan base should sit back and both enjoy and appreciate all that the Sharks have done to try and bring a winner to the Bay Area.

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