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Time for change?
Has father time caught up with the San Jose Sharks?
3/13/13 - By Steve Flores -

It seems that in the not too distant past the Sharks were one of the fastest, biggest and youngest teams in the NHL.

They were! But times change quick and the Sharks are now an average NHL team at best and a possible non-playoff participant at worst.

Last season, at the half way point, the team was running away with the division and looked like a sure Pacific Division winner. Then the bell tolled. The Sharks ran into a struggle of a second half and barely scratched their way into the post-season. Once into the first round of the playoffs the St. Louis Blues showed the Sharks exactly how outclassed they were. The team looked slow, sluggish and their penalty kill may have been able to stop a group of 5-year-olds playing on a pond, but that would have been about the best they could muster. No kidding folks the 'D' was awful.

This season I had little aspirations regarding the team as they started the strike-shortened campaign and then they came out of the gate flying. They came out so fast that I actually wondered how wrong I could be in my assessment of what I thought were their rapidly fleeting abilities. But, alas the great play was short-lived. Who knows why they were so strong - perhaps it was a matter of simple conditioning. With the weeklong training camp many of the league's players were obviously not in game shape. Maybe a couple three weeks into the season the rest of the league found their fitness levels and the Sharks began to show their age. I don't have an exact answer other than the fact that the team IS getting older and slower while many of the league's other teams are more youthful and their young skills are sharpening and are now actually taking a bite out of the Sharks!

None of this is to say that the team isn't trying. I believe that pros like Dan Boyle, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and all are truly giving their all. With age come decline and the Sharks are slower than their opponents. Just watch a game and you will see the difference. Aging teams have more nights when they are not on their game. See Calgary result and effort from last week. Blah!

Many of this sites' readers have wanted G.M. Doug Wilson to either clean house and go younger or simply have him removed as the head decision-making honcho. I am not so sure that it is Wilson's decision alone. Rumbling always pervade that the Sharks ownership feels the need to always have a team that can contend. I love that philosophy it means that they want to either provide a winning franchise for its loyal fans or they are concerned that lack of a contending team may cause a loss of butts in the seats.

The NHL, more than any other league, still needs to have games sold out or near capacity in the to justify the bottom lines. Be that as it may the current Wilson Shark's era is at an end - at least the current core is at its conclusion. This team is either a lower level playoff qualifier - solid first round fodder for the more elite or up and coming franchises - or it may well be a team that simply does not have what it takes to qualify for the post season at all. Either way they are not a group that provides anything special. They are not a team that can contend for the whole enchilada. They are middle of the pack NHL team with a rapidly aging roster.

To add insult to injury the Sharks also have no real blue-chip prospects anywhere in the minor league's that are ready to step up and push the team back to its lofty heights o f recent years. Wilson, in his attempts to get the team over the hump - if you will - dealt away many top picks and prospects across the past several seasons. The attempts were his decision and were gutsy. But the piper must be paid. The moves did not garner a Stanley Cup title and now the team has a pretty shallow base from which to draw.

The team needs to go young and they need to make deals to do so before their current assets dry up. Thornton, Marleau, Boyle, Ryan Clowe even Joe Pavelski can all be dealt for high draft choices. Yes, this means the team will lose its current identity and it may well take them three, four or maybe more season to get back to the top of the division. So what! Going young is the way to go.

With quality drafts the team will be able to set up a solid base that will allow them to build strong with the future in mind. The Sharks Director of Scouting Tim Burke is truly one of the best in the business. He would cherish the chance to rebuild this team and he and his staff can be trusted to do just that. Burke has always been able to find talented players and was very influential in convincing the Sharks to trade up for Logan Couture - the one above average youthful player that the Sharks have.

It's all in the hands of Shark's ownership at this point and even that has seen some shakeups in recent times. The bottom line of the situation is whether or not the fans of the team really want to continue believing that this team is capable of greatness or whether the team should scratch this current staple and deal for youth and rebuild sooner rather than later. Time stands still for neither man nor hockey franchises.


Contact Steve at stevybo@yahoo.com


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