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A method to the madness?
Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Just how long is this tunnel?
11/6/23 - By Paul Krill

For Sharks fans who've been there the entire duration of the franchise, since 1991, the current tribulations are pretty much the worst we've experienced. And that's saying a lot, considering the team only won 11 games in its 84-game second season and lost 17 games in a row that campaign.

The current team has sunk into the deepest depths of despair, giving up 10 goals in each of its past two games - home games, BTW - and scoring only 12 goals in their first 11 games. Of course, the Sharks have lost all of those games and we don't know when a first win is in sight this season.

We had to know things would be bad when two of our best players from last season - Timo Meier and Erik Karlsson - departed, either late last season or in the off season. And it certainly doesn't help that Logan Couture has yet to play a game and our other star player, Tomas Hertl, has just one goal this season, putting him on pace for a paltry eight or so goals all year.

But is this just a grueling rebuild we'll have to endure before things get better? FWIW, I can't think of other teams' fans having to deal with such futility - no wins in the first 11 games. Still, when we look at recent dynasties and Cup winners, we notice that these teams got this good by being bad enough to draft either first or near first.

How did the Penguins get good? By being awful enough to snag Evgeni Malkin, Marc Andre Fleury and, of course, Sidney Crosby in the draft. How did the Avalanche get good? The same way, getting Nathan Mackinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Cale Makar. How did the Capitals get Alexander Ovechkin, leading to their only Stanley Cup? By drafting first overall, after winning the draft lottery. The New Jersey Devils are on an upswing after landing Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, under similar circumstances.

While things are looking absolutely awful now, the future could be bright, with the Sharks already having a stable of top prospects including Will Smith (11 points in eight games at Boston College so far this season), Quentin Musty (13 points in 9 games in junior hockey) and Shakir Mukhamadullin (a defenseman with five points in games for the Barracuda). And there are other promising prospects, too, including Kasper Halttunen (12 points in 14 junior hockey games this season).

Of course, landing the top player or the second player in the draft doesn't necessarily mean you can start planning the Cup parade. For reference, see: McDavid, Connor, and, yes, Thornton, Joe; and Marleau, Patrick. But the track record is pretty good for teams rebuilding with very early draft picks and the Sharks are pretty much assured of getting another one of those in the next draft. Maybe even first overall, something the Sharks have never had.

I do have to wonder, though, if GM Mike Grier and Coach David Quinn can survive the horror of this season. Will they be around to see it all turn around or will fans and ownership get restless and force some changes? We just don't know yet.

For fans, though, be prepared for this current rough ride to not get too much better anytime soon. The brightest days hopefully are ahead. We'll all be required to be very patient until those days arrive.

Contact Paul at at paulkrill@letsgosharks.com


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