My Two Cents for July 17th:
Shane Doan As A Shark?- Shane Doan, a forward and a current free agent who has played 17 years with the Phoenix Coyotes/Original Winnipeg Jets franchise is exploring his options as the 35 year old is at the crossroads of his playing career. He is in a good position at this point and time of his career, and he wants to make the right choice. Does he remain loyal to the only franchise he has ever played for despite their uncertain future, or does he go somewhere where the franchise has positioned itself well to be a Stanley Cup contender this coming season and into the future. Doan does not have an easy decision, but has the good feeling of knowing that he is valued by his peers and that there are several teams that have shown a keen demand in his services. Several teams in the Western Conference has expressed interest in Doan, and also a few teams in the Eastern Conference as well. Doan won’t be hurting for “job offers” here, it’s just a matter of which team he feels the most comfortable with and which team is in the best position in his mind to win.
Where do the San Jose Sharks fit in withing the grand scheme of things here? The Sharks pluses are that he would bring an addition that could be a positive difference maker with a roster which would certainly get a shot in the arm by his presence. Doan is a leader, and has many years of experience in how this game works and would never have a question as to what his role would be. Doan is a player that the younger players in the organization can learn a thing or two from. Doan would be a solid investment on a player who does not take a shift off and gives it all he has ever night and never complains. Doan would certainly be a good fit for the Sharks and it would be a coup for team teal to sign him. The question is would Doan ultimately chose the Sharks, and would the team teal brass be willing to bring in a veteran who despite his years in the game would be a fairly effective player for them? I would hope so, but as always this is an item that remains to be seen.
Scott Howson is Sticking to His Guns- Not everyone will agree with this next item, but I honestly have to admire Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson for sticking to his guns and keeping firm on his demands on the price tag for prying Rick Nash out of Ohio’s capital city. If you look at it from the Blue Jackets’ standpoint you can really hardly blame them. The Blue Jackets in spite of their history are in the business of winning games like any other franchise and ultimately they have a responsibility to their season ticket holders and the league to field the most competitive team they can put on the ice. Ultimately, you are also in the business of selling tickets to your games and season tickets to those whom express the interest (and can afford it). If you are a Blue Jackets season ticket holder and your team is looking to deal the player that is the reason your franchise gets watched, you are going to want a reason to renew should that player (or players) be dealt. With the dollars being very tight and an economy that may almost the worst since the 1930’s, your going to need a very good reason to throw hard earned dollars at something that you may have to expense out at some point.
If Howson were to unload Nash to another team, get only prospects and tell the team’s fan base “…we are building for the future…”, well that’s something they’ve been hearing on Central Ohio since the franchise starting playing 12 years ago. Columbus is a small market too so Howson and the ownership need to keep finding ways to keep seats filled whenever and however they can. I never want to see Logan Couture or Joe Pavelski in any other uniform except for the Sharks, but at the same time you cannot blames Howson for asking a king’s ransom for his star player. Nash can go to any number of teams and they will improve, but all teams involved in the “Nash Sweepstakes” know it’s not going to come easy, and it will come with a high price tag.
“Pickels” Gets Rewarded- The Sharks this week resigned Marc Edouard-Vlasic to a five year extension at $4.25 million per season. Vlasic did a lot to earn this extension and probably is one of the more unsung defensive minded players in the league. Vlasic has been a value to the Sharks in the respect that he shows up every night, does what is asked of him and to my knowledge has never once complained. When Vlasic has made a mistake on the ice, he is always the first one to own up to it and you can bet he won’t make the same mistake twice. Vlasic has played a very quiet yet effective six seasons with the Sharks. For his career, Vlasic has played in 471 games while getting credited with 133 points (22 goals, 111 career assists). The fact again that Vlasic has been such a solid defender for the Sharks shows the value and emphasis team teal is looking to place on defense.
The CBA/Gary Bettman Soap Opera- According to TSN.ca the NHL has made it’s first offer to the NHL Players Association. It seems that again Gary Bettman & Company want to let the players know who’s the boss. The first offer involves a reduction of players’ hockey-related revenues from 57 per cent to 46 per cent. I’m sure that’s going to go over really well with the players, and I’ll bet they just can’t wait to sign off on it either. Only one problem, they day players start to give up revenues at that scale will be the same day that pigs will fly, the sky will be green and that NHL teams will agree to skate out onto the ice to the sound of polka music or the sound of accordions. In other words, the players will very politely tell the league to “Go pound sand…” and come back with a more reasonable offer. This does not bode well as we all know what happened the last time the league was at an impasse…the 2004-05 season was wiped out (something that Commissioner Bettman has never so much as even apologized for, and never will).
The problem with Bettman is that he really does not seem to get what a public relations disaster really is. When the league shut down eight years ago a number of fans were alienated and lost. Yes, the vast majority came back when hockey returned in 2005-06 but it was a strained relationship for about a good couple of season. As of now, most people have been able to turn the page and move on past it. The price of the 2004-05 season cancellation was a lost national television deal with ESPN in the USA (never mind that ESPN 2 was practically built by NHL hockey). ESPN has never been back and basically no longer recognizes the NHL as a sports league they care to cover (they’ve sold out to the NBA, which is basically an unwatchable league anymore). Bettman was able to secure a contact with the OLN network in the USA. Luckily OLN grew and NBC Sports invested heavily into it in creating NBC Sports Network which does a good job with NHL telecast. In Canada, CBC and TSN have always stayed behind the NHL as the sport is the national past time north of the border. Most fans who follow the sport are huge hockey fans, but very few are also Bettman fans. I am admittedly not a Bettman fan and consider myself to be one of his bigger critics.
I’m just hoping here that cooler heads prevail and that both the players and the league can hammer out a deal that is beneficial to both parties, preferably before the current CBA agreement runs out on September 15th. If that doesn’t happen, you are likely at minimum looking at the same situation the NBA dealt with last year in scraping 1/5th of their regular season games and scrambling to fit 66 games into a 90 day window. Truthfully if the NHL did that it would certainly beat the cancellation of a season which we all have already experienced once. That said, the effect would also water down the sport as the quality of games would be hurt in the long run (and short term too really). There are enough reasons to avoid a work stoppage. Let’s just hope the NHL learns from recent history so it does not repeat it. At the same time, just remember who presided over the last lockout and who’s presiding now. Those two things alone are red flags in the wind.
Sharks Hire Jim Johnson as Assistant Coach- Jim Johnson was named as an Assistant Coach to the Sharks staff this week just a few days after the Sharks announced the hiring of Larry Robinson as Associate Coach. Johnson, who played 14 years in the NHL as a defenseman, was most recently was an assistant coach on Dale Hunter’s staff with the Washington Capitals. Johnson will be one of Todd McLellan’s assistants alongside Jay Woodcroft and of course Robinson. Matt Shaw, one of McLellan’s assistants last season was let go by the club. The hire seems to indicate that the Sharks are very determined to do all they can to make certain that defense wont be a liability in the upcoming 2012-13 campaign. Having coached under Dale Hunter last season, Johnson no doubt acquired a great deal of knowledge that he can impart onto the team which will only serve to be a great help to a team that certainly seems to need a lot of it.
More players for Worcester- It looks like the Sharks AHL affiliate will have a full staff of players to start the 2012-13 season. The Sharks signed this week John McCarthy, Frazer McLaren and former Florida Panthers’ forward Jonathan Matsumoto. The Sharks have also re-signed defenseman Matt Pelech to a one-year contract as well. Looks like there’s also plenty of room for James Sheppard there too (hint hint). If you are going to sign projects, at least make sure they are only for the purpose of staffing the rosters in Worcester and now also with the ECHL’s San Francisco Bulls. There is too much at stake already with the big club and you need to have players their who can go when it’s “Go Time” starting October 12th (new CBA agreement pending).
Non-Hockey Rant: Time for Penn State to Step Up to The Plate…And Shut It Down- In this non hockey item, I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on the scandal that has rocked and will likely bring down the Penn State University football program and maybe it’s entire athletic program for many years to come. As far as those responsible are concerned, each and every one of them should face felony prosecution for being involved in such a heinous cover up for the unspeakable crimes they ignored or foolishly wished away. They were all adults and entrusted with the education of students attending a major university, a great majority of them not going there as student athletes. What we all know now about the late Head Coach Joe Paterno likely having knowledge of Jerry Sandusky’s high crimes and the fact the University harbored this coward and now convicted felon for several years.
I don’t know what the NCAA would do or will do here since their is no precedent. If I were made the President of Penn State, here’s what I would do (and some of it I can say most people wont like, but you have to rebuild somewhere). 1) Put an end to the football program effective immediately until at least the 2022, allowing 10 years to go by so the school can rebuild itself without that distraction. 2) All remaining sports would go division IA , II or III. 3) Any sports that are non essential would also be phased out. 4) All student athletes at the school (who had nothing to do with the scandal) would be allowed to immediately transfer to any other school of their choice with all scholarships to be honored and paid for by Penn State. Those athletes regardless of sport would be eligible to play immediately at their new school (this is something the NCAA does allow when a school disbands an athletic program). 5) Remove the statue of Joe Paterno (Saddam Hussein style), and in it’s place build a fountain and put a eternal flame next to it as a symbol of hope for the future. 6) Offer to the NCAA to forfeit all games in which Sandusky was an assistant coach plus all games in which he was allowed to remain on the campus (that means yes, U of Miami’s 1986 team would be awarded that seasons national championship even though I didn’t care much for them)… This is the very least Penn State University can do to correct the many wrongs that occurred on their “hallowed grounds”…
Just My Two Cents…
The King Shark
Blades of Teal: The Final Word On San Jose Sharks Hockey
PS: *The opinions expressed here are strictly 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…