Friday, May 22, 2009

State of the Sharks

Against my better judgement, I watched the first two hours of the "State of the Sharks" event that was held at HP Pavilion on May 14th. A few things stood out that I feel I need to comment on.

First things first though. I have been a Sharks fan since the 92-93 season. I have seen highs and lows a plenty. I have never been as angry and depressed as much as I am right now. All of the playoff losses to Colorado and Dallas pales in comparison to the total frustration I am feeling. There's always disappointment when the season ends, but it has never lasted this long. This past season has so turned me off of sports I find myself missing more Cubs games than I hear.

Back to the "State of the Sharks". The thing that stood out the most was the very weakly concealed anger of Doug Wilson. Weeks after the embarrassing first round upset at the hands of the Ducks, Wilson is still fuming. One thing I can say with total confidence is that there will be major changes to the roster this off season. I can almost guarantee that there will be no fewer than four players who are currently on the roster who will not be on the team come October. It will not just be role players who could face the axe. It could be very likely that at least one Shark with an extra letter on the front of his jersey last year will be gone.

CEO Greg Jamison to me didn't show enough emotion one way or the other. Yes, he's the business face of the Sharks and the public liaison for the ownership group, still he could have at least sounded upset.

The most telling about just where the Sharks are right now was the responses that came from Todd McLellan. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but three things stood out to me. First, yes, the Sharks had more than their fair share of injuries last season and it did play a big part on why they seemed to lack focus during the last half of the season. However, as many times as McLellan referred to it, it seemed that he was looking for an easy way out. Second, the mental toughness angle also was brought up frequently. It almost seemed like he was trying to shift blame from himself to the players. Saying the mental toughness is something the players need to find on their own feels like a bit of a cop out. Lastly, in McLellan's favor, he did acknowledge that the coaching staff was responsible for the failures as much as the players. It did seem to me that there may be a shake up in the coaching staff before next season as well as player moves.

As far as the player angle goes, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski were on hand for a time to field questions as well. What was the most telling to me was not just what they said but how they said it. Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle did not give generic, canned answers to any question posed to them. They also were more serious than Marleau and Thornton were. Granted, Thornton and Marleau tried to inject a bit of humor into a solemn and serious occasion, but I think it was a bit misguided. When you wear the C and an A, you should not be trying to make jokes after your team became the joke of the NHL this year. Based on what he said and how he said it, I cannot believe that we fans, nor the coaching staff, can look to Joe Thornton to be a leader. Boston knew this after a few seasons. Hopefully the Sharks will learn this as well.

I have to say that this has the potential to be the most interesting July and August in Sharks franchise history. It will all start on June 26th. With no first round draft pick, Look for Wilson to wheel and deal. If the Sharks move into the first round, expect the changes I mentioned before to happen.

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