It’s a story all San Jose Sharks fans, including me, wish it had a different ending to.
In the past 22 years, the Sharks have never won the Cup, much less made the Stanley Cup Finals. At the beginning of the 2013-14 regular season, they were one of the favorites to win the Cup and they showed why with their offensive prowess. They finished fifth in the West in the regular season, and dropped ever so slightly out of that list of peoples’ favorites to win the Cup. Still, blowing a 3-0 series lead and losing Game 7 in a 5-1 blowout is something they have no excuse for and they fully acknowledge that.
I’m sure now everyone’s wondering who gets the blame for one of the worst postseason collapses in franchise history. Is it General Manager Doug Wilson’s fault? Head Coach Todd McLellan? From the two faces of the franchise, Captain Joe Thornton and assistant captain Patrick Marleau, going down the roster? The answer should be obvious. Everyone takes their share of the blame. Everyone knows what they did wrong and what needs to be improved.
Now comes the big question. What happens next in the franchise? Do the San Jose Sharks still have a legitimate chance of winning hockey’s Holy Grail next year or did the L0s Angeles Kings put their Cup dreams away long with the series in Game 7?
Those answers lie with the Sharks’ new owner, Hasso Plattner.
Whether or not DW gets fired remains to be seen, but for sure since Wilson himself won’t fire McLellan, if the GM loses his job might as well let the head coach go too.
Let’s talk about some of the players and who should stay and go.
We all know Jumbo Joe and Patty Marleau both have three-year contract extensions. Will they remain in San Jose? I think they will. These two still represent the faces of the franchise. Without Thornton being on the Sharks, I don’t see the team being in the playoffs at all.
Joe Pavelski played the best I’ve seen him play as a Shark since I became a fan of this organization in 2010. He reached the 40-goal plateau for the first time in his career, scoring 41 goals on the season. I still believe he’s got a lot more left in him. That series against LA is one he and the rest of the organization is going to want to forget and move on from, so he can stay as well.
Logan Couture struggled with injuries, but still scored his 100th career goal in a game against the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 29th and went on a subsequent four-game scoring streak. His leadership and attitude on the ice is unquestionable. He works hard every shift and, in general, makes smart decisions on and off the puck. He should definitely stay as a Shark.
Dan Boyle is aging. Ever since the hit by Maxime Lapierre of the St. Louis Blues, he hasn’t played like the old Boyler we know. He quarterbacks the top power play unit, but for the first time in Todd McLellan’s coaching stint with the Sharks the power play units just have not been up to par. He says he has plenty left in the tank, but I think unless he takes a significant pay cut — and I hate to say it — his time in SJ is over.
As for rookies Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto, well there’s no question about it. They’ve both definitely earned their spots on the NHL roster.
Another big question is the core leadership. Is Jumbo’s time as a Sharks’ Captain finished? How about Marleau’s time as an assistant captain? If the coaching staff really does want a leadership change within the group, the most likely candidates I see are Couture for the C and Pavelski for the A.
All year in net, starter Antti Niemi proved he wasn’t going to show the consistent Vezina-like performances he displayed in the 2012-2013 season. Yes, he’s let in some soft goals here and there, but let’s be honest here. It’s not his fault. All five guys should’ve been communicating with him and helping him out defensively.
Anyway, goaltending alone, Alex Stalock — who played his first full year as the back-up for the Sharks — played tremendously as a rookie. I don’t see Nemo getting traded at all in the off-season, but he’s going to have to prove himself worthy of the starter position again come preseason. Otherwise, I see Stalock taking number one goalie next season given he stays with the Sharks.
Again, the early postseason exit has raised a lot more questions. As of now, everything’s just speculation. One thing’s for sure, though. We’re going to be in for a very interesting offseason.
Tags: San Jose Sharks