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San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks Need An Answer For The Blackhawks

San Jose SharksProfessional sports leagues have the best marketing departments. Because they’re promoting something that really has no down side and no real side effects when compared to other things in our world, they’re free to go all out to make their product look like the best thing since refrigerated indoor ice.

One of the best marketing terms of the modern sports era is ‘parity’. Leagues sell us on the idea that ‘parity’ is great for the fans - that on any given day, any team can beat any other team - and that everyone has an equal chance at a championship. Really? I look at ‘parity’ as meaning ‘we needed to keep the players from taking all our money so we instituted a salary cap to keep what’s ours, and meanwhile preventing free spenders from buying all the talent’.

The NFL salary cap was nicknamed ‘The Eddie Debartolo Rule’. Eddie loved winning and he paid anything to acquire talent. The result was 5 Super Bowl titles and 15 years of winning - a dynasty that may never be repeated ever again in professional sports. Even Eddie himself said he lost a lot of money over those 15 years and if he had to do it all over again he might not. If you were a fan of the 49ers, you LOVED it. If you were the opposition, you hated it.

With free agency and a salary cap, players move from team to team to earn a bigger paycheck. Because so many players move around your average team is just that, average. But if all the teams are average, then the competition level rises. The execution, style, finesse and sophistication might not be there, but the competition is. This is what pro sports call ‘parity’.

Here’s the thing - while most sports leagues have about 70-80% of their teams falling into the ‘average’ category, they do have their slice of ‘elite’ teams. Elite teams are the one’s with ownership willing to do whatever it takes to win - including hiring management smart enough to ‘navigate’ the rules. The way you build an elite team is you have to prove your dedication to winning. You don’t show this dedication by ’saying’ to the fans you’re dedicated, you show it behind the scenes - where the players tell other players ‘this team is for real’. I’m pretty sure teams show their dedication to winning on much of the stuff fans don’t see. How well do they treat their players? What kind of training facilities do they have? How well do they travel? The 49ers used to give everyone their own hotel room, not just their stars - when they traveled. These are the dollars that can be spent outside of the salary cap, and it’s those dollars (I believe) that make the difference.

Once the word gets out that you’re a team dedicated to ‘the cause’ it becomes easier to attract talent, and your success snowballs - but not forever.

So what’s my point? Whenever I watch football I can literally see the ‘layers’ in the NFL. The 49ers are not in the top layer, they’re right smack in the fat, middle layer - the ‘parity’ layer. In hockey the layers are a little harder to see. In football, with only a 16 game season, you know each week the team is bringing their best effort so it becomes easier to see the competition level. In hockey some teams just have a bad night so it’s harder to judge. One thing for sure, the San Jose Sharks are in that top layer - and they’ve been there for a while. Unfortunately for them, another team in that layer is the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Sharks may have avoided another embarrassing home loss to the Blackhawks but that’s no consolation for the fact that they still lost. Throw in the loss to the (injured) Detroit Red Wings and you have a team that struggles against the elite layer. Here we sit again with the philosophical question about the Sharks - no one argues their talent, it’s their mental fortitude that’s in question. If you can’t rise up to beat the Red Wings and Blackhawks - at home no less - how can you expect to to rise up in April when the games count for real?

I’d rather have the Sharks split season series’ with the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Nashville Predators types if they could beat the top teams when they have to.

Apparently the Sharks haven’t figured out the Blackhawks, so if they’re going to beat them someone else is going to have to show them how. I believe teams have been more successful against the New England Patriots because the New York Giants ‘figured’ them out in the Super Bowl. Ever since then teams have mimicked what the Giants did and have had better success.

Someone has to figure out how to exploit that Blackhawk “Harlem Globetrotter-esque” High Cycle, and once they do you can bet everyone else is going to do the same thing.

But until then the question remains - do the Sharks have what it takes or are we watching our window close?

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3 comments for “San Jose Sharks Need An Answer For The Blackhawks”

  1. sharksfan - You bring up some very good points and observations. It is very important to be able to get past the “elite” teams in the regular season so that you can instill confidence in your team.

    However, I would not say that it is essential for the team to win in the regular season. Now, obviously the Sharks have had some issues with going the long stretch in the playoffs and that might affect their attitude, but the playoffs are a whole different beast.

    It’s a very thin line, but all it takes is one win in the playoffs to give a team confidence in the fact that they can beat the other team. The Sharks definitely need to experience that win in the playoffs, but regardless of how many times they might be Chicago in the regular season it really means little to nothing in the playoffs.

    Posted by pittpenNo Gravatar | January 30, 2010, 9:22 pm
  2. What I really didn’t like was the press using Dan Boyle’s injury (scratched from the game) as a reason why the Sharks may have lost the game. If you’re going to go deep in the playoffs you have to have the ability to make up for the loss of a starter. If you’re down 4 or 5, that’s a different story. If the Sharks truly cannot compete on the same level missing one (albeit) star defenseman, then the Sharks might need to make a move.

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | January 31, 2010, 10:17 am
  3. I think that it is clear that the Sharks do need to make a move and pick up another defenseman. He does not have to be super star quality, just average or slightly above. But they need one to shore up the gaps and have the depths for the playoffs.
    I am disappointed that the Sharks have fared so poorly against Chicago this year, but I am not too worried about it. It is possible that the two teams will meet in the Conference Finals, but they will not meet again before that, and when the Sharks make it that far, they will have that confidence that Pittpen is talking about.

    Posted by unrulytravllerNo Gravatar | February 1, 2010, 8:55 am

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