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Confusion
It's Not Bad, And That's Good
11/24/15 - By Ken Smyth -

Is it hard to figure out this season's edition of the San Jose Sharks? Yes. Laying it all out: they tear up the league the first week, then lose Logan Couture to a practice injury and proceed to go 4-8 over the next four weeks. Just as everybody was declaring that they were sinking to their proper level and it was time (again) to trade Patrick Marleau they roll off six straight wins on a 10-day road trip back east, establishing themselves as a force in the Atlantic Division. They return home Wednesday night for a game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks are 1-2 so far on their own 6 game,11 day road trip. We can all hope that the Sharks confuse them as well.

Confusion is a lot better than the resignation we've all been feeling, and that "we" includes the 3000 or so empty seats who show up for most home games. In spite of the younger, faster team stuff General Manager Doug Wilson was mumbling in the 2014 off-season, he was apperantly confused, too. The major player moves in summer 2015 were signing 34 year olds Joel Ward and Paul Martin to three and four year contracts; and trading away the 2016 first round pick for goaltender Martin Jones.

The new coach is Peter DeBoer, best known for pumping life into Florida and New Jersey teams that were getting stale. This is clearly a team that was put together to try and do something over the last two years of Marleau and Joe Thornton's contracts.

This looked like a stopgap rather than any kind of rebuild. In two years Marleau and Thornton's contracts are off the books and maybe, just maybe there's a better idea of who among the collection of guys on the Sharks' third and fourth lines plus the SJ Barracuda roster are going be as NHL'ers. Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture are the leaders up front and Marc-Edourd Vlasic is the stalwart on the blueline. But meanwhile, the players added by Wilson are doing well.

Ward and Martin look like the right pieces plugged into the Sharks' liineup to allow other players to go back into more suitable roles. Martin Jones has been scary when he's on. If Jones stays this good, and Bruins goaltender Tukka Rask continues with his ugly season, Bruins GM Don Sweeny may feel the wrath of Bruins fans about another bad trade with the Sharks.

All this comes as the Golden State Warriors have won a championship and are playing incredibly entertaining basketball. (Five years ago, did any Bay Area sports fan ever expect that sentence to be uttered in their lifetime?) Because of this and the Sharks' reputation for playoff failure there are plenty of empty seats in the Tank.

If the Sharks are hoping that casual fans will give them rat's asses for Christmas they'll be disappointed. But between now and then they play 13 games, 11 of them against teams the were in the playoffs last April. They could run the table or drop back, go 4-9 and have the questions start all over again. But a confusing team is much better, and more fun than a depressing one.


Contact Ken at at kensmyth@letsgosharks.com



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