My Two Cents for July 9th:
Here’s To You, Mr Robinson- The San Jose Sharks made their biggest move of the off season Monday signing veteran NHL coach Larry Robinson to join Todd McLellan on the bench as an Associate Coach. Robinson, who comes over from the New Jersey Devils after 13 seasons as an Assistant Coach and Head Coach, will likely assume the duties of helping to rebuild an ailing Sharks defense and penalty kill unit which was ineffective last season to say the very least. Robinson brings to the table a no nonsense approach and work ethic that is backed by several Stanley Cup rings both as a coach and a long playing career where he did everything that was asked of him. During his 20 year playing career from 1971 to 1992, Robinson won two Norris Trophies and six Stanley Cup championships with the Montreal Canadians. Robinson retired following the 1991-92 season following playing the final three years of his career with the Los Angeles Kings. Robinson lead the Devils as head coach to the 1999-2000 Stanley Cup title as a head coach, and also led New Jersey back to the finals the following year. In the 2000-01 finals, the Devils lost to Raymond Bourque and the Colorado Avs in seven games. Overall, Robinson’s name appears on the Stanley Cup nine times which is about as impressive of a credential as one can have. Robinson is also a member of the NHL Hall of Fame.
With Robinson on the bench, the Sharks defensive makeover will soon take full effect. Robinson has been there, seen it and has done it in his career. When Coach Robinson speaks, he will have the undivided attention of every player in the huddle as well as in the locker room. No one really needs to look any further than last season’s playoff appearance against the St Louis Blues to know just how bad the Sharks penalty kill was. The Blues scored six power play goals against a besieged Sharks penalty kill unit in a series which St Louis only needed five of the possible seven games to prevail. The Sharks penalty kill wasn’t much better before the playoffs either, particularly after January when the patch work and duct taped unit started to wear down as did the team in general. Again, when Coach Robinson speaks, you can be assured those present will be listening. The Devils last season had one of the top penalty kills in the league while the Sharks were 29th out of 30 teams. Hopefully Robinson will bring with him the spark and formula that turned the New Jersey Devils from a mediocre franchise into a Stanley Cup threat from the early 90′s up through today. The Sharks need this kind of infusion to perhaps help them in taking the next step forward.
Also just in case anyone is wondering, Robinson is NOT seeking to replace Todd McLellan as the Sharks Head Coach and is not interested in being a head coach again. Robinson told KNBR afternoon drive host Tom Tolbert that he had made it clear to both GM Doug Wilson and McLellan that he wants to help the team where it is needed and is not interested in being the top man again. “I’ve been there and have done that…” Robinson told Tolbert.
Sharks Bypassing On Free Agency- After the Sharks signed Adam Burish shorty after the unrestricted free agency market opened July 1st, the Sharks went very strangely quiet for the remainder thereafter. The Sharks did resign Alex Stalock and a few players that will most likely spend the year in Worcester on July 2nd. The Sharks also just signed TJ Galiardi Saturday to a one year deal. However, the Sharks otherwise have taken a pass on the free agent market and have signed no other UFA’s since Burish. The silence from that Sharks camp was almost deafening, to the point of hearing only crickets. Meanwhile several rivals in the Western Conference have signed players who will almost all but certainly have a major impact on those teams baring injury, which is a red flag for the upcoming season. I had advocated that the Sharks should pursue Jiri Hudler and PA Parenteau as I felt both players would fill voids that Sharks had both offensively and defensively. Hudler ended up signing with Calgary while Parenteau ended up with Colorado, no doubt both of those players making both of those teams a little better. Each player signed for four years and $16 million, so the hit against the Sharks cap would not have been that huge especially since the salary cap has been raised by the league.
The Sharks I am sure may have reasons for passing on these and other free agents. Obviously, the salary cap is always a concern and their is also the Collective Bargaining Agreement which needs to be addressed before September 15th. Nobody ever said anything about the Sharks getting Zach Parise or Ryan Suter. We all knew that wasn’t going to happen, and that’s fine. That wasn’t going to make or break the Sharks one way or the other. However at the same time all I can think of and not get past is how the Sharks in a presser in late May with the heads of ownership present said that last years finish was unacceptable. I figured their would be at least some change in the philosophy where the Sharks would look more closely at the free agent market and go after at least two or three players who could both help them and fit into the cap. Just don’t hand us the line that…”They were not right for Sharks hockey.” That’s the biggest cop out line I’ve ever heard surrounding the Sharks franchise, and it’s more of an excuse to justify not doing something which maybe could have benefited the team long term.
Now, there are still plenty of free agents available and some of them could possibly help the Sharks and at a price mutually agreeable to both parties. However, if the Sharks are going to hold true to their affirmation that last season’s end was not acceptable, then they need to stop excepting the premise that excepting status quo and just bypassing the free agent market will help them in the short term and long run. The Sharks need to be bold, and be unafraid to take a serious look at available UFA’s who could help the team. Burish was a good start, but you still need at least two more to help shape the roster with one of the two being an offensive threat, while the other is a strong defensive minded player that can handle the puck well and can be a scoring threat if given the opportunity. I feel the Sharks passing on Hudler and Parenteau are clearly two missed opportunities and if you are trying to win a Stanley Cup, you need to jump on players like them when they become available. It does not happen often and you may not get the same result with your own free agents (most of whom are unsigned by the Sharks or any other NHL team).
Is Rick Nash Still A Possibility for Team Teal?- Are the Sharks still in pursuit of a trade that will bring Rick Nash to San Jose? The Sharks are still on the list of teams that Nash would like to go to though no deal has been proposed. The Columbus Blue Jackets have apparently not withdrawn their demand that Logan Couture be a part of such a deal, and the Sharks have made it abundantly clear that they have no plans of parting ways with Couture now or any other time soon. Couture along with Joe Pavelski are truly the cornerstones of the Sharks franchise at this point, and both players combined have stats that are pretty much on par with Nash, and both combined cost the Sharks less. The only way I can honestly see Nash land with the Sharks at this point is one of two possibilities, 1) The Sharks wait out Columbus GM Scott Howson until the point where he realizes something is better than nothing and he is able to deal Nash to the Sharks at a “reasonable” price, or 2) The Sharks get a third team involved (preferably in the Eastern Conference) that will be able to give the Blue Jackets a ready to start player along with the Sharks, the idea being the Sharks lose one starter off the roster and maybe one prospect, not two. Also, if one of the Sharks with No Trade Clauses lists Columbus as one of the 10 teams he cannot be traded too, you find an eastern team that is not on that list (there will almost certainly be more than one). Aside from those two scenarios, I don’t see any other way there is a deal for Nash.
Alex Semin? May Not Be The Way To Go Here- Alex Semin is a free agent, having just completed seven seasons with the Washington Capitals. Semin in his time with the Capitals played in a total of 469 games, scored 197 goals and added 211 assists. Semin spent 450 minutes in the penalty box. As far as the playoffs are concerned, Semin has played 51 games with 15 goals and 19 assist. Certainly not bad statistics as talent wise Semin can hold his own with the games’ best players. However, there are several sides to Semin and not all are good. Semin has spent his share of time in the Capitals dog house and has not always been on the best of terms with the franchise or it’s coaches. Semin also has been known to be a poor performer come playoff time as shown in a playoff series two seasons ago against the Montreal Canadians. Semin did not score a goal in a series where the Caps came in as the top seeded team in the Eastern Conference. Semin just had two assist and the Caps lost 4 games to 3 to the Canadians, after leading the series 3-1 after four games.
Semin’s last two contracts were one year each with the Capitals. In 2009-10 signed a one year $6 million contract. His most recent contract with Washington was one year at $6.7 million. Semin does bring a lot of talent to the ice. However, he is just as expensive as Nash would be and does not have the best of attitudes. The Sharks could go this route if they wanted to. However unless Semin is willing to take a sizable (or at least reasonable) pay cut and has a 180 degree turn in his attitude, Semin would be a route the Sharks would be ill advised to take. The Sharks have enough attitudes on the roster now as it is. If the Sharks entertain the idea of bringing Semin in, just know what you may be getting yourselves into.
Zach Parise and Ryan Suter- The dynamic duo of Parise and Suter were introduced to the media in a press conference in Minneapolis today. On July 4th, Parise and Suter each signed 13 year $98 million dollar contracts to join the Minnesota Wild in declaring their independence from the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators, respectively. These contracts all but insure Parise and Suter will spend the rest of their careers in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The signings are an impressive and change the Wild’s franchise future in the respect of having leaders who have winning track records. These signings by themselves do not make the Wild instant Stanley Cup contenders. However if the Wild do start to put together winning seasons and these two are the focal points of this franchises future success, they may be able to draw other free agents to this team. However, there is also the salary cap to consider here too. The costs of these two contacts may make it harder to bring in “name” free agents, however players such as Torrey Mitchell types, players who can grind with the best of them, may be more attracted to the Wild especially if the franchise takes off. This all of course remains to be seen.
Sharks Development Camp- The Sharks are holding their annual player development camp this week from July 9th through the 13th. The camp will be held at the Sharks Ice facility in San Jose, however it is not open to the public. First round draft pick Tomas Hertl, 2011 second round draft pick Matthew Nieto are amongst the 40 plus participants that hope to one day make the big club and play at the Shark Tank. It also gives the team a chance to evaluate the talent they have and where they will fit within the organization.
Just My Two Cents…
The King Shark
Blades of Teal: The Final Word On San Jose Sharks Hockey
PS: *The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect on any other staff member’s opinions with Blades Of Teal, Fansided or their websites themselves… The King Shark…