Archive for the ‘San Jose Sharks’ Category

Clowe back in Teal

August 5, 2008
Ryane Clowe

Ryane Clowe

Finally! Ryane Clowe agreed to a 1 year deal worth $1.6 million on Monday (story). This re-signing was much anticipated, but had been delayed for weeks due to disagreements on the length of the contract. Being that it is only a 1 year deal, the question is, who pushed for it?

Regardless, Clowe is an asset to the Sharks and will provide the physical grinding play needed up front along with his scoring touch. He missed most of last season due to injury, but returned to the line-up to score eight points (3 goals, 5 assists) in the final four games of the season. He was also a major contributor in the playoffs – tying the team lead for goals (five) and ranking second in points (nine). Welcome back Ryane!

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Richards, Yawney, Woodcroft join McLellan

July 23, 2008
Todd McLellan

Head Coach Todd McLellan

The trio of assistants will join head coach McLellan behind the bench (story). The immense success of these individuals in their previous roles/positions ranks the Sharks’ coaching staff among the tops in the league. The relatively fresh coaching perspectives that these untainted minds contain will help push the underachieving Sharks over the 2nd round hump and finally fulfill preseason predictions of the Sharks being in the finals. I see the new coaching staff making an immediate positive impact to the team, unlike the usual outcome of a coaching staff overhaul during the off-season. Finally, an experienced coaching staff that can let loose the reigns of the Sharks’ talent, whereas the previous staff seemed only to bind the talent of the team with a system that consistently fell short.

Corey Schwab has also been named the new goaltending development coach for the Sharks’ organization. He will work closely with Assistant GM Wayne Thomas who currently coaches the Sharks’ goaltenders at the NHL level. Schwab had the privilege of playing for our beloved Warren Strelow and will hope to continue his legacy.

Penguins’ AHL Coach to San Jose!

July 22, 2008
Todd Richards is rumored to be behind the San Jose bench in 08/09.

Todd Richards

There’s a legitimate rumor that Todd Richards of the Wilked-Barre Scranton Penguins is on his way to San Jose (rumor) to become an assistant coach to McLellan. The AHL team is an affiliation of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has a 98-49-5-8 record with the team, including a trip to the Calder Cup finals. With both coaches (McLellan and Richards) having tremendous success coaching in the AHL, I see this pairing as a great enhancement to the team. And paraphrasing McLellan, such a team of coaches may work in the team’s benefit as players do not have experience with them and can come into the new season without prejudice.

There’s also a rumor that ex-Chicago assistant Trent Yawney will be the other assistant to join McLellan behind the bench.

This should be a new and exciting brand of Sharks hockey headed by McLellan with emphasis on offense and puck control. I look forward to pre-season to get a glimpse of the new system.

NOTE: Official announcement of new assistant coaches expected in the next day or so.

Off-Season Rant: Drug Overdose and Preseason

July 16, 2008

Ok ok… so this isn’t about a sports athlete or even a person at all. It’s about my cats! But can you blame me? It’s off-season for the NHL and this event made me angry.

I took both of my cats (approximately 1 years old) to the vet yesterday after one of them had signs of having tapeworms (usually a result of fleas). As with anytime you take your pets in, they first do a quick physical exam of them including taking weight measurements. And the method they use to take the weight of each animal is to weigh the animal while still in its carrier, then weigh the carrier and subtract it from the total weight. Pretty simple, right?

Well they took the weight of each cat in their respective carriers and then forgot to subtract out the weight of the carrier! They then proceeded to give them a shot to treat the tapeworms, with the dosage of the shot being determined by the weight of the cat. Well, guess what? My cat doesn’t weigh 16 lbs.!!! They technically overdosed my cats! I discovered this after I dropped the cats off at home and headed to work. So, I called them up and asked about it. They basically said “oops” and told me to bring them back immediately if they begin to vomit or have diarrhea. Are you idiots??

I now had to skip out on work to keep an eye on the cats. The cats did have slight vomiting, however not enough to be of concern. They made it through the night and seem to be okay now. I’m not a huge cat person, but these cats are amazing and plus my wife would kill someone if something happened to them.

SOMETHING HOCKEY RELATED

Sharks announced their entire pre-season schedule for the 08/09 season (view). The usual opponents include the Ducks, Kings, Coyotes, and Canucks.

First Signs of a New Season

July 16, 2008

The Sharks development camp is currently in progress and will run throughout the week. This is the time where Sharks’ prospects will be put through rigorous workouts and drills, giving them a taste of NHL intensity hockey and a taste of the Sharks’ system. Young prospects like Couture (9th overall pick, 2007) will have a chance to learn the ropes of Sharks’ hockey and find out what areas they need to improve upon – all while trying to impress the incumbent coach McLellan.

PRE-SEASON

Sharks announced their entire pre-season schedule for the 08/09 season (view). The usual opponents include the Ducks, Kings, Coyotes, and Canucks. Training camp is all too close and the signs of a new season are already upon us.

O Captain! My Captain!

July 11, 2008
Marleau, Game 3 vs. Calgary (2008 Playoffs)

Marleau, Game 3 vs. Calgary (2008 Playoffs)

There’s no doubt Patrick Marleau will remain as the team captain of the Sharks. With veterans like Blake, Thornton, and Roenick in the line-up, there’s rumors of who will wear the “C.” After last season’s playoffs against Calgary, where Marleau took a beating in the first period only to come back harder after each shift, he has further proven his worthiness. And the management’s unwillingness to trade Marleau prior to his no-trade clause kicking in on July 1st shows that they still believe in him. The ultimate disrespect is stripping a guy from his captaincy after having it for so long (see Mike Modano). Marleau may not be the most vocal guy on the team, but he is most definitely the captain and encompasses everything that exemplifies a captain. Marleau will maintain his title until he retires, or God forbid, is traded.

WHAT ABOUT BLAKE OR THORNTON?

Ultimately this is Marleau’s team. He is the cornerstone of this team, coming up through the Sharks’ development system. To remove that cornerstone will cause the entire house to crumble. Blake is on a single year contract and players need to earn the captaincy over time, not expect it once they arrive. Thornton is the co-captain. If Marleau does get traded, Thornton would be the first in line to take over.

Blake/Boyle vs. Rivet/Campbell

July 10, 2008

There’s a lot of talk about how the Sharks’ defensive corps has not been improved by the recent trades. As a fan of the team, I thought I would throw my 2 cents out there.

The argument is essentially that we’ve replaced Campbell with Boyle and Rivet with Blake. Therefore, it’s a wash and we’re still in the same boat. Lets start with Rivet vs. Blake.

BLAKE VS. RIVET

Rob Blake

Rob Blake

Rivet is a great defenseman. I personally am sad to see him go as I’m sure most Sharks fans are. I think I speak for most Sharks fans when I say we would have liked to see McLaren moved as he is more of a liability on the ice than Rivet. However, I believe the pick-up of veteran Rob Blake outweighs the loss of Rivet. Blake is tremendous at both ends of the ice. He’s only two years removed from a 51 point season with a +2 in Colorado. He’s unarguably a great veteran leader on and off the ice with championship experience. I believe the last two seasons with LA have probably been somewhat frustrating for Blake as the Kings are merely a sideshow for the NBA Lakers and they do not receive the kind of management support required to build a great team. Even so, he still managed to produce 30+ point seasons. I think Blake playing on a serious cup-contending team (aka SJ) will be rejuvenated and excited about the prospects of winning again. I expect to see another 30+ point season from Blake and a tremendous spike in his +/- when playing with guys like Ehrhoff, Vlasic and Murray as well as in front of Vezina winner, er, finalist Nabokov. I don’t think his age is going to be a huge factor as some have suggested.

On the other hand, Rivet is also a tremendous leader and defenseman. He’s a solid stay-at-home type of guy who gets the job done consistently and quietly. He’s less known for his offensive prowess, but again, stability and consistency come to mind when thinking of him.

It comes down to this: If you were picking players to be on your team (salaries aside) and there were two guys left – Rivet and Blake – who would you choose? I would have to choose Blake. The offensive and leadership upside to Blake is something the Sharks need to get over the second round hump.

And if you’re still concerned about the loss of defensive-minded Rivet, remember that we also picked up defensive-minded Lukowich in the Boyle trade.

BOYLE VS. CAMPBELL

Dan Boyle

Dan Boyle

Lets first get out of the way that the loss of Carle and Wishart by the Sharks did not go unnoticed. Carle will be a great defenseman and showed that during his time with San Jose. Despite a poor outing last season and rumored disputes with Wilson, he is a promising young developing offensive-defenseman and is sure to produce well for Tampa. Wishart is along those same lines – another young promising prospect sure to do well. But you have to give to receive and the Sharks definitely gave up a future with these two talented men in addition to absorbing the contract of Boyle.

Boyle vs. Campbell is a little harder to dissect as both individuals are talented offensive defensemen. However, all emotions and feelings aside, if we just look at the numbers maybe we can develop a conclusion about the tradeoff.

Over the past five (5) seasons, newly acquired Boyle has totaled 233 points in 353 regular season games (0.66 pts/game). Campbell has 184 points in 362 games (0.51 pts/game). Of Boyle’s 233 points, 118 (51%) were on the power play and of Campbell’s 184 points, 73 (40%) were on the power play. Boyle has averaged about 25 minutes/game to Campbell’s 21 minutes/game. For the past 5 seasons, Boyle is a -10 in +/- rating (including the -29 in 37 games with TB last season) to Campbell’s +6 rating. Campbell just signed with Chicago for $7.1 million/yr to Boyle’s $6.667 million/yr.

Although the numbers are close, an edge seems to go to Boyle for offensive productivity. In addition to the above stats, Boyle’s overall shooting percentage and shots-on-goal is higher than Campbell’s, which seems to indicate a little more aggressiveness than his counterpart. Boyle seems to be very productive in the power play department (something the Sharks really need) and doesn’t mind spending time out on the ice, boasting the higher of the average ice times. Like Blake, if paired with one of San Jose’s defensive-minded defenseman and playing in front of Nabokov, I’m not too concerned about Boyle’s +/- rating.

Wash or not, overall I think it was good for Campbell to be closer to his family and a great pick-up by SJ to fill the void on the back-end – and not just for the playoff push this time, but for the entire season. The addition of such a caliber defenseman as Boyle for the entire season is something that has been missing from SJ for awhile.

SUMMARY

Blake and Boyle add a tremendous amount of experience and talent to the Sharks’ line-up. Overall, I believe the defensive group is better than it was prior to the beginning of the trading frenzy on July 1st. The Sharks gave up a little bit of their future to win now (including the losses to acquire Campbell late last season). However, the Sharks have been amazingly successful at drafting and developing talent and I rest assured that they will continue to do so. Therefore, the loss of guys like Carle, Wishart and Bernier are easier to swallow. Come October, the Sharks will have the best line-up of talent, experience, and desire than they have ever had in any previous October. Sharks fans hope they can finally take advantage of that.