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San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks And The Chocolate Factory

San Jose SharksI’m lucky enough to be a San Jose Sharks partial season ticket holder. One of the perks is guaranteed tickets to the playoffs. When you commit to buy the playoff tickets the team sends you all your tickets before the playoffs begin. The tickets are in a strip like a roll of stamps. I get one ticket per round. Each ticket is labeled “Round 1”, “Round 2” etc. The 4th ticket is not like the other three, it has a silver border around it (you know, silver like the Stanley Cup). I liken it to the Golden Willy Wonka ticket. I desperately want to use the Golden Willy Wonka ticket. Last season we used one ticket and threw the rest out (not very eco friendly, but I did recycle them). This year I had one ticket left - the Golden Willy Wonka ticket. After going to my assigned game in Round 3 all I had left were the Willy Wonka tickets. Those tickets anxiously sat there, crying out ‘Use me!’.

I recycled the Willy Wonka tickets yesterday.

Sharks final skate of the season
Image from NHL.com

When the season started some 8 months ago (yes Sharks fans, the season get’s considerably longer the deeper your playoff run) we had our lunch bucket full of questions. I think they’ve been answered:

Does this team have the mental fortitude to go deep in the playoffs?

Does this team have the character to overcome adversity?

What are we going to do at the end of the season with Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov being free agents?
Sign Marleau at all costs. Regarding Nabokov - see below.

Going into next season we now have a new set of questions:

What are we going to do about our defense?
What are we going to do about our goaltending?

The program “War Room” on NHL Home Ice had an interesting discussion the other day. They were talking about Roberto Luongo - goaltender and team captain for the Vancouver Cancucks. Many took note of Luongo’s less-than-accpetable performance during the playoffs as well as his dislike for speaking to the media despite his captaincy. Obviously Luongo was offered the captaincy as an incentive to have him re-sign with the team last year, a contract that lasts a whopping 12-years.

What does that have to do with the Sharks? Someone reported that if you look at the history of great goaltenders, with the extremely rare, almost once-in-a-lifetime exception of your Patrick Roy/Martin Brodeur types, most great goaltenders only have 4-5 good years. The argument was that signing Luongo to a 12-year deal was absurd. Even if Luongo is a great goalie, at best he’d have 4 more good years in him - definitely not 12.

Nabokov took over as the Sharks’ full-time goalie in 2000. My calendar says it’s 2010.

On the other hand Nabokov’s statistics for goals against and save percentage have been pretty consistent over the length of his career - this year included. Even his playoff numbers have remained very consistent. The problem is his salary. Last year the Detroit Red Wings went to the Stanley Cup Finals spending around $2.5M for BOTH of their goalies. Nabokov made $6M this year. If Nabokov wants to stay a Shark I think he’ll need to give us a discount for another year. With Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi both restricted free agents, would you keep Nabokov or both Pavelski and Setoguchi?

Whatever General Manager Doug Wilson does, I just hope he doesn’t mortgage the future just to win next year (which I don’t think he will, he has always said he doesn’t want one, he wants a dynasty). Enjoy this year Blackhawk fans, because next year if you want to keep Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Keith Duncan you’re going to have to spend approximately $21M of an estimated $57M cap to keep those three. Combine that with the $20M you’ve committed to Marion Hossa, Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet and you’ve got $16M to spend on 14 other players.

* * * *

One of my favorite post-playoff elimination activities is to read the team injury report, it usually explains a lot. For example it’s no secret that Dany Heatley has been playing with a strained groin, but just how bad was the injury? I don’t know about you but it’s hard enough for me to get out of the car with a pulled groin so I can’t imagine what it’s like to play hockey like that. If hockey was like football everything would be different. We would be like ‘Wow - give him credit for going out there and playing with that partially torn ACL!’. Instead, we’re all about ‘What is WRONG with Joe Thornton?!”.

Joe Thornton skating away says it all
Image from NHL.com

* * * *

My friend Emmanuel looks at this time of year as ‘The Dead Zone’, that time of year where ‘all we have is baseball’. I know Son of OT has a different opinion, but for me it’s all about winter - the NHL, the NFL and snowboarding with my nephew. Once hockey ends the run is over and I find myself staring at this huge emptiness. Sorry, baseball moves too slow for me, I fall asleep between pitches. Thankfully we went to the conference finals so it we’re only staring at a 4 month chasm!

Thanks boys for an entertaining season - I sure had a lot of fun and I look forward to another year of high expectations!

Next up - free agency on July 1. See anyone you like?

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3 comments for “San Jose Sharks And The Chocolate Factory”

  1. Disappointing ending but I think the Sharks proved a lot to themselves and their critics this year. Yes, until they win the Cup there will always be the people saying that the Sharks cannot make that leap to champions. I believe that if the Sharks can take what they learned this year and apply it to next years they will have a better chance. Look at Chicago who lost in last year’s Western Conference Finals…

    It looks like we’re all looking forward to July 1st to get excited about hockey again. Congratulations for the great season of postings!

    Posted by pittpenNo Gravatar | May 24, 2010, 4:10 pm
  2. I would like Marleau, Pavs and Seto to stay. I think it is time for Nabby to either go, or become the back-up. I know that latter option might sound unrealistic, but I would prefer that to seeing him in goal again, which I liken to the “heart attack waiting to happen” that one gets from eating a Wendy’s baconator. Now don’t get me wrong, Nabby has been a solid goaltender for us, and he did show up for the most part in these playoffs, but he does tend to let in too many a “soft” goal, and while his numbers have balanced out and are consistent, his play isn’t always the case. This off-season is going to be more interesting this year than last, to be sure, and what I really hope for is a goalkeeper that plays consistently well and makes the other team EARN every goal they get, and a shoring up on defense. We need someone who can hit, but also has enough speed to keep up with the quicker forwards in the league. He doesn’t have to be offensive minded (we have those already) but sure, it would help.

    Posted by unrulytravllerNo Gravatar | May 26, 2010, 8:55 am
  3. I think the issue behind Nabby is very complicated. His numbers are still solid and he’s still near the top of the league. And if we were to let him go what ‘tried and true’ alternatives are there? Many of the other goalies in the playoffs were rookies and they played great, but most of them where not the starters at the beginning of the season - so none of this was exactly planned.

    Even if Nabby’s numbers are still solid, I think I finally understand “making big plays at the right time”. It’s not that Nabby lets in 3 goals a game, it’s that he lets in the soft one after the Sharks forwards have been attacking their butts off for 10 minutes. Nabby’s tendency to let in the wrong goal at the wrong time is counter productive to the team’s momentum and energy. His timing is lousy. I agree - this summer should be exciting!

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | May 26, 2010, 9:22 am

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