Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No need to blow up the Sharks after playoff upset

It’s been 24 hours since the San Jose Sharks were eliminated in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and the reaction has been outrageous.

Some people have suggested general manager Doug Wilson, the man who assembled the roster, should be fired. Others think goalie Evgeni Nabokov should be traded. And I heard one expert sound the alarm and announce that the Sharks may be prepared to trade team stars Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau. Or both! For who? For what?

Wait a minute. This Sharks team in the regular season compiled franchise records for wins (53) and points (117) and won its first ever President’s Trophy and now, after losing four of six games to a pretty damn good No. 8 seed in the playoffs, you want to get rid of its best players?!

Let’s put down the torches and pitch forks for a minute and think this out.

OK, Wilson didn’t score well with some of his late season moves (Claude Lemieux? Travis Moen?) but he should not be made the scapegoat for the Sharks’ early playoff exit. That may not save his job, however, if Sharks investors aren’t pleased if fan discontent evolves into decreased ticket sales. For now, the general manager may need to skate on thin ice. That’s not bad.

As for the team’s stars? There’s no point to blow up the roster when the Sharks were edged out of the playoffs. Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller played better as the series wore on and Nabokov did not but back-up Brian Boucher isn’t ready to take over for Nabby.

Thornton and Marleau still struggled in the post season but they’ve been so valuable in the regular just to give up on them and ship them someplace else for the sake of feeling like you have to do SOMETHING. Yes,  the roster needs some tweaking because Jeremy Roenick and Lemieux and probably Rob Blake are gone. It needs a character guy more than anything else because the Sharks biggest problem may be lack of leadership in the dressing room.

So my suggestion – if you feel the urge to shake-up the Sharks – is relatively simple. It doesn’t mean adding a new player or two. It’s about changing just one letter – the `C’ on Marleau’s sweater. Put it up for grabs. Let all the players, even Marleau, earn the right to wear it and be team captain. 

To go forward next season, or much deeper into and the playoffs next season, the Sharks need one guy to step up and take charge. Just one. 


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