As the San Jose Sharks head into the 2019-2020 season, I got a chance to interview the voice of Team Teal Randy Hahn about the upcoming season.
The San Jose Sharks had a thrilling year, and no one knows this better than the man who called the games, Randy Hahn. Team Teal had an absolutely monumental first round series against the Vegas Golden Knights capped off by a historic Game 7.
“As far as level of excitement, I don’t know of a sporting event I’ve witnessed, let alone got to call that can rival Game 7 against Vegas” Hahn said.
In some respects it reminds Hahn of the 1993-1994 season in which the team made the playoffs for the first time, and upset the Red Wings in the first round.
“At that time in the history of the team, it was huge,” Hahn said. “It meant credibility.”
Hahn also expressed how the Sharks can make it to the third round and possibly even further next season. However, San Jose has to do a better job of closing out series quicker.
“Will they be able to duplicate winning two Game 7’s back to back? I hope they don’t have to” Hahn said. “I think that is part of the reason why they didn’t make the Stanley Cup Final last season is because they played too many games.”
Last regular season was also filled with a lot of magical moments for the Sharks. Namely Joe Thornton‘s hat-trick against his former team the Boston Bruins, and scoring his 400th goal while playing the Predators.
“That was special. I think for Joe it was great to see him get that milestone” Hahn said. “Hopefully he gets a Stanley Cup to go along with it as well.”
Unfortunately a lot of heartbreak closed out last season, with a disappointing defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Final. Followed by the departure of captain Joe Pavelski. Despite his departure there is still no reason to lose optimism for the upcoming season.
“Erik Karlsson is going to need to have more than the two goals that he scored with us last season, and we need somebody who can take advantage of Brent Burns ability to get shots at the net like Pavelski did so often,” Hahn said. “It is still such a wait and see period.”
So although it will be daunting, the San Jose Sharks have what it takes to replace Joe Pavelski’s production.
Another important focus this off-season is naming the next captain. As of now Couture is the consensus pick among fans to get selected as the next captain of Team Teal. Hahn certainly agrees with that sentiment.
“Couture has proven he has all the qualities to lead a hockey team,” Hahn said.
Two of Pavelski’s predecessors at the spot of captain, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau still remain unsigned for San Jose, although they both have expressed interest in playing for the Sharks next season. In regards to Thornton, Hahn is confident that he will have a contract soon and will be suiting up at the start of next season. But he brought up an interesting argument in regards to potentially bringing back Patrick Marleau.
“The goal of next season is to win the Stanley Cup. Will Patrick Marleau help the Sharks win the Stanley Cup in his current state as a player?” Hahn said. “And that’s for Doug Wilson and our scouts to determine.”
Erik Karlsson was the main focal point this off-season. The two-time Norris trophy winner got resigned for a rather hefty sum. However EK65’s presence brings a lot of upside and hope heading into next season.
“Their is huge expectations for Erik Karlsson, as their should be and as I’m sure he expects,” Hahn said. “He is one of the premier players in the league, and has been especially for the last 5-6 years.”
Hahn continued to rave about the San Jose Sharks defense headed into next season.
“With a guy like Marc-Edouard Vlasic, I think the goal of the Sharks is to pair him with Karlsson next season,” Hahn said. “[Vlasic] being a tremendous defensive defender in the NHL and Karlsson being a tremendous offensive defender, and the second wave of offense coming from Brent Burns.”
Safe to say, the San Jose Sharks are set up for success with three elite defenseman on the team. But the defenseman are not the only thing to be excited for next season. Goaltender Martin Jones is another player to look out for.
“Martin Jones is an excellent goalie, I don’t think he is elite yet but next season I think he has a chance to be,” Hahn said. “The Sharks have a lot of confidence in Martin Jones and they know how good he can be.”
San Jose will likely see more progress from their up and coming goaltender. But also they are going to see the same thing from a lot of their young core that really shined last season.
Timo Meier is another player who appears to be highly regarded by Hahn.
“Timo had a great year, a 30 goal year. Next season if he can push, he’s got a chance to get to 40 goals,” Hahn said.
Another key figure in the next generation of Teal is Tomas Hertl. A player who has really established himself as a consistent center at the highest level.
“Tomas Hertl is an excellent center, a top line center,” Hahn said. “People say who is going to replace Joe Thornton? Well you’re seeing it, it’s Tomas Hertl.”
Kevin Labanc also established himself as among the best players on the Sharks roster last season.
“Kevin Labanc has a real opportunity because of the nature of his contract he signed, and because we’re thin at right-wing with Pavelski leaving and Donskoi leaving,” Hahn said. “He’s got a chance to move up the lineup from the third line where he played with Thornton and Sorensen last season, to quite possibly playing on that top line with Tomas Hertl.”
Another key focus for Team Teal next season is competing with their rival, the Vegas Golden Knights. Hahn made it clear that he’s excited for the first two games of next season, who both are against the rival Knights.
“In the final 11 minutes of Game 7 against Vegas, the Sharks biggest rival switched from the Kings to the Golden Knights, and it isn’t even close,” Hahn said. “Those two games are going to be amazing, what a great way to start the season.”
Hahn continued on about how significant this rivalry is to Sharks heading into next season, and what it means for the Pacific Division.
“At the end of the day, I think it’s going to be a dog fight all year between Vegas and San Jose for the 1 and 2 spot in the division,” Hahn said.
Needless to say, Team Teal has a lot of areas it needs to discuss next season, but the San Jose Sharks will be ready for it and are primed for a special season next year.