My Two Cents for August 6th:
Patience of Teal- If there is one thing we all learn in being fans of the San Jose Sharks, patience is often times tested. It is tested before the season, it is tested during the season, it is tested during the playoffs. Of course, it’s also tested after the team runs into the annual playoff buzzsaw that they just can’t seem to avoid albeit for whatever reason. I will be the first to admit that this off-season I’ve probably been a little more on the impatient side which is also the reason I am not a General Manager. Honestly, Doug Wilson probably deserves more credit then he is given. At no time has he flinched or backed down on his philosophy of keeping a solid core of players to form the team around. I don’t agree with every single move he makes, but you also have to separate yourself and understand there is a business end to things and that Wilson is not going to make a move he feels will damage the team. This is probably one big reason Rick Nash is a New York Ranger, and not a San Jose Shark. Would Wilson have wanted to add Nash to the team, sure he would. However, you also have to manage your organization and know your limitations. It’s knowing what you can do versus also knowing what you could do but should not attempt.
Next Challenge Awaits- Obviously, there is more pressure for the Sharks now that both the LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks have won Stanley Cups within the last five years. Wearing the moniker of being the only team in California without a Cup is something that cannot sit well with the franchise. Though I do believe still that the Sharks did miss at least one opportunity in the free agent market to add to the team in addition to the signing of Adam Burish, I still feel Wilson has a few things up his sleeve and maybe now it’s just a matter of him keeping that poker face and not letting anyone know what he is thinking until he feels it’s time. So when will that time be? I feel that Wilson may very well be stepping away just long enough to view the team from a distance. He knows he has a decent team and a playoff contender but also knows that he needs more to be a bonafide Stanley Cup contender. With the CBA in perpetual flux, I feel at this point (though I could be wrong) that Wilson is going to wait until he sees how this team plays out in the first 15-20 games. If the Sharks get off to a good or even great start, Wilson may opt to do nothing until the trade deadline in late February. If the team starts out as a .500 or worse, it’s likely he will be looking to make moves at that point. The cornerstones here are clearly Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton. That’s where the team has to be built around. On defense, the Sharks I feel still should at least try to get one decent shut down defender from the remaining list of free agents.
The challenge for the Sharks this coming season will be the knowledge that every team in their division has improved some, and add to that you now have the defending Stanley Cup Champion Kings who are not only out to defend their title, but also quiet any doubters that may be out there that still somehow think they were a fluke. The Kings will be plenty motivated, and to be real, Anaheim and Dallas have also improved. Phoenix stood pat and it’s looking more likely that Shane Doan will remain with the Coyotes for the rest of his playing career, and if that’s the case you can’t knock him for being loyal to that franchise. This is only the Pacific Division, this does not even cover the rest of the Western Conference.
If you want to go there, Detroit and Chicago are Detroit and Chicago, they are strong because of who they are and who they already have. Vancouver may lose Roberto Luongo, however I don’t feel his loss will be that great of an impact that the Canucks won’t contend. If anything, Vancouver will be out to prove they can win without him and should not have a problem doing so. The Colorado Avs just re-upped with former Shark Jamie McGinn and added PA Parenteau and have a very young core that’s only going to get even better this season. The St Louis Blues, who absolutely came out of nowhere to obliterate the Sharks in the regular season and playoffs last season are going to be every bit as difficult to play against as they were in 2011-12. Calgary added Juri Hudler and Dennis Wideman, and still have the veteran leadership of Jarome Iginla and will be a factor. The Minnesota Wild made two huge signings in Ryan Sutter and Zach Parise, and look to be improved. The Nashville Preds matched the offer sheet Philadelphia had offered Shea Weber, keeping him along with a good core of players that are looking to take the next step forward for their franchise.
In Summary- The San Jose Sharks will have to battle a number of teams to make the top eight of the conference and probably should be more concerned with that than winning the Pacific Division. If they do take the Pacific Division, it will be to their credit. However it means little of you don’t have hardware behind it. The Presidents Trophy is not hardware, it’s finishing third in a beauty contest between two people unless you also happen to win the Cup. Honestly, I would match rather have the eighth seed in the conference and know I was in the post season as opposed to competing for a useless trophy invented some 25 years ago. Last I checked, this plan seemed to work pretty well for the LA Kings.
The Sharks will be the underdogs for certain next season. I doubt anybody is going to pick them to even be in the finals let alone win the Cup. However, I feel at this point and time that this is actually a good thing too. When the odds are against you and everyone is telling you that you either can’t or won’t do it, that’s when this team should find itself to be most motivated. One thing is for certain, if the Sharks aren’t motivated by now it will only because they cannot be motivated, and that would be a shame.
Around the NHL: Rask Takes Over in Beantown- With Tim Thomas’ decision to go into hiatus next season, the Boston Bruins have turned to back goalie Tuukka Rask to take over as the number one man in goal this season. Rask signed a one year, $3.5 million contract on June 29th, a few weeks before Thomas announced his decision to take a leave of absence from the team. The good news for the Bruins is that Rask is battle tested, having gone 11-8-3 in 23 starts last season and having a rather impressive 93 percent save percentage. The Bruins may also seek some help in net to back up Rask as this will be a huge jump from what he is used to. Right now, Anton Khudobin is slated to be the Bruins’ back up to Rask.
When asked about Thomas’ hiatus, Rask told the Associated Press in a recent interview “I wasn’t expecting him to do that, obviously. But I really appreciated what he’s done and I appreciate his decision to want to be with the family and take some time off hockey.”* Thomas played every playoff game during the Bruins post season run in 2011-12 which ended with the franchise winning it’s first Stanley Cup in 39 years. Thomas also played for Team USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver, BC.
Flyers Extend Laviolette- The Philadelphia Flyers have extended the contract of Head Coach Peter Laviolette for two more years. The contract extension will take Laviolette through the 2014-15 season. Since taking over for former Flyers Head Coach John Stevens in December of 2009, Laviolette has lead the Flyers to a mark of 122-73-26 for the third winningest mark of any Eastern Conference team. Philly is only topped by Washington and cross state rival Pittsburgh who have won 127 games in that same span. Laviolette led the Flyers to the 2010 Stanley Cup final against the Chicago Blackhawks, as Philly was seeking it’s first title since they days of the Broad Street Bullies. However, it was the Blackhawks who would prevail in six games.
Alfredsson To Return For One More Year- Ottawa Senators Captain Daniel Alfredsson has decided to put off retirement for one more season by announcing he was going to play the final year of his four year of contract with the club. Alfredsson, who has been team Captain since the 1999-2000 season, will be entering his 17th season in the NHL and has been more or less the face of the Ottawa Senators franchise throughout his tenure. Alfredsson has compiled 1,082 points including 416 career goals in 1,131 games to lead the franchise. Alfredsson has also participated in 111 playoff games, scoring 47 career playoff goals. Alfredsson has been plagued by nagging back injuries over the past few seasons and even had surgery a year ago. The Senators are relieved to know that they are regaining the services of one of the most unsung and most hardest working hockey players with Alfredsson’s return.
Hurricane Semin- The Carolina Hurricanes signed controversial free agent forward Alexander Semin to a one year, $7 million contract. Semin, who signed a one year deal last off-season with the Washington Capitals for almost identical numbers, scored 21 goals and had 33 assist in 77 games last season. In assessing the ups and downs of having Semin on the team, Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford assured the media and team’s fan base that the franchise did their due diligence before moving forward to sign the former Washington Capitals forward. It could be well worth the gamble though for the Hurricanes, as Semin has scored 197 goals and notched 211 assists in 469 career NHL games. Is Semin worth $7 million for one season, probably not. Then again, as the old saying goes, “Not bad work if you can get it”. I guess not, it comes down to $364.58 an hour based on an eight hour workday. I can’t say I’d turn that down either, though I have 197 goals less then Semin and can’t ice skate worth a darn.
Doan To Stay Put?- At the time this article is published, Shane Doan remains a free agent and has not committed to any club. NHL.com is reporting that Doan’s preference is to stay in Phoenix and play out his career with the Coyotes. To exit Phoenix, Doan wants a deal of $30 million over a four year period. Doan, 36, knows that maybe his best days are a little behind him but also knows he has a lot to offer the Coyotes or anyone who will take him up on his contractual terms should he leave the Valley of The Sun. Truthfully, if it wasn’t for the Coyotes ownership situation still being in flux, Doan likely would have resigned with them before the July 1st free agency deadline.
With 17 years of NHL experience under his belt, I cannot blame Doan for waiting. There is a big difference between being 36 and let’s say 26. Whatever Doan decides to do will define the rest of his career, hence why he’s being careful and protecting his interest. I’d love to see him in teal, though realistically I doubt that’s going to happen. If it doesn’t, I’m not going to hold it against him. Truthfully, he’s like anyone else at that stage in his career, he knows his time is limited and he has to make the best decision he can. If he stays in Phoenix, that would probably be the best thing for their franchise right now.
The Best of Ryane Clowe for 2011-12: At sharks.nhl.com you can vote on the very best of Ryane Clowe for last season. As I think back to last season, as tough as parts of it were, Clowe was the one player who no matter what the situation played with the passion and heart that very few can match. Though I may never want to hire Clowe as an exterminator or dare short him on a tip as a waiter, you’ll have a few of his best goals and fights to choose from. To me, there is not a bad Clowe highlight because of what he brings to the ice each and every night. Clowe now teamed up with Adam Burish will be out their to protect the Sharks players and have their backs in each and every shift.
To vote, go to the following link:
Have fun with it, Clowe gives us Sharks fans plenty of reasons to watch and reminds why we are all Sharks fans. The last Shark to hold the team banner this high was Mike Ricci and Owen Nolan. Clowe is not the only reason to watch the Sharks, but once he’s on the ice the opponent is certainly paying attention.
“My Two Cents” Going On A One Week Hiatus- My next column will be August 20th. I will be away as I’m going to my newphew’s wedding and tending to family business. As always, keep checking in with Blades of Teal for the latest news on the San Jose Sharks as the 2012-13 season fast approaches. As the season draws closer, the staff here is a solid as any staff in the Fansided network and will bring you not only the latest Sharks news, but any news around the NHL as well as some solid feature articles too. This is because our top staff of writers and bloggers who do this do so because we believe in it, and have fun with it too. That’s the one reason Blades of Teal is “The Final Word on San Jose Sharks Hockey”…
…just my two cents…
The King Shark
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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…