San Jose Sharks Fans, Take a Breath and Calm Down

Ever since the Sharks historic collapse in April the organization has made some questionable changes. These recent moves within the organization currently have Sharks fans losing their minds. Personally I do not agree with everything Doug Wilson and the Sharks organization has done but I cannot criticize something that is unfinished. If you include Tye McGinn and Mirco Mueller the Sharks only have twenty players on their roster leaving three more roster spots to fill. With over $14 million left in cap space the Sharks may add five more players to the team before summer is over either through free agency or via trades. Fans, writers and hockey analysts are acting like it is the end of the world when we are less than a week into the free agency period and a month into the offseason. People are making assumptions before a final roster has been decided or a single game has been played. This is media sensationalism at its finest.

Misunderstood

In retrospect all of these moves at their core are quite small which makes the sky is falling mentality quite strange. After the team was knocked out of the playoffs Doug Wilson made numerous public announcements and used the term “rebuild.” Regardless of what was said by the Sharks GM, actions speak louder than words do. The term “rebuild” can mean just about anything coming from the guy who invented the phrase “reset and refresh.” When the Sharks started to “reset and refresh” in the 2013 season they traded away Ryane Clowe, Douglas Murray and Michal Handzus in an effort to get faster and younger. Those three players had a combined 16 points in 85 games. So when looking at this years “rebuild” you have to assume that Doug Wilson is approaching it with the same mentality.

Have you ever said something you did not mean or it has been interpreted differently than you intended? Doug Wilson may have said the word “rebuild,” but that does not really mean anything until a player like Joe Thornton is actually traded. It is true that Dan Boyle and Marty Havlat were not brought back this season but both players were aging and no longer fit into the Sharks future plans. If San Jose kept both Havlat and Boyle they would only have about $5 million in cap space to resign Tommy Wingels, James Sheppard and Jason Demers. Finally, how can you take a so called rebuild seriously when every player making over $3 million except Antti Niemi has a no-trade or no-movement clause? Words are just words until action has been taken and right now no action has been taken, so there is no rebuild going on in San Jose.

Blown Out of Proportion

(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

John Scott has a total of 6 points in his NHL career.

The Sharks started their summer by resigning Alex Stalock and Mike Brown. They also added Tye McGinn, John Scott and issued qualifying offers to six restricted free agents. Overall they did not sign any major free agents to fill voids left in the lineup. Instead they chose to allocate about $2 million dollars in salary to John Scott and Mike Brown. Along with Adam Burish the Sharks are using $3.75 million dollars on three players who have a combined ten points over the past two seasons.

At first this looks terrible but when you look from a different perspective it really is not. These three players have played a combined 246 games over the last two seasons due to injuries and being scratched. Averaged out, each player makes about $1.23 million which is still a slight overpayment for basically two points a season. Still the Sharks are currently paying Marty Havlat $2 million dollars to not play for them. It does not count against the cap but for a team complaining about not making enough money from a TV deal that is concerning. While the Sharks may be making some controversial signings for fourth line players they are not burdening themselves with major cap moves. The Sharks overpaid by a few thousand instead of overpaying by a few million in the cases of Dave Bolland, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Deryk Engelland, and Leo Komarov. They also did not overextend themselves into lengthy unmovable contracts. All three players do not have no-trade clauses and their contracts expire within two years. The Sharks also have over $14 million left in cap space meaning anything can happen from now until the trade deadline in March.

Magnified By the Media

Photo courtesy of MLSFAN 20

Drew Remenda joined the Sharks TV crew in 1999.

Color commentator, Drew Remenda was let go and will not continue with the Sharks broadcast but perhaps it was better for both parties. We will never know what the inner workings of the CSN broadcast is like and at the end of the day the color commentator does not affect the score on the ice no matter how much fans may like him. Ice Girls were added to the Sharks staff showing that the NHL knows how to demean women too. Still is it really that shocking when so many other teams do it, and when we live in a country where sex sells? Having Ice Girls in San Jose will also not affect the team’s performance on the ice. These are two small changes that most fans may not like but neither will have any effect on the team itself. Most will forget about both changes immediately after the season starts.

To make things clear I do not support most of the changes the Sharks have made this offseason but I am level headed enough to realize that these changes will not effect the organization for the long haul. Remember this is a team that is still pursuing its first Stanley Cup. So far in 23 seasons nothing has worked and the Sharks are still trying to get the recipe right. In the 2003 season, the Sharks fired Darryl Sutter, traded Owen Nolan, fired Dean Lombardi and lost Teemu Selanne to free agency. The following season they went on to have their most successful season in franchise history, 6 wins from the Stanley Cup.

Andrew Wilson
Andrew graduated from the University of Nevada with a Bachelor's Degree in Community Health Sciences. He played soccer while in college but always had a passion for hockey despite growing up in Nevada. Andrew is a contributor for The Hockey Writers and Blades of Teal. You can find his own personal blog at http://thehockeyrant.wordpress.com/
Andrew Wilson

11 Comments

  1. “Ice Girls were added to the Sharks staff showing that the NHL knows how to demean women too.” Thank you for calling BS where it stands, but it DOES add to a cultural problem, and it will hurt an image that I wasn’t aware was so very unique to this team. I could just hope that the big wigs are aware of this, and the ice girls are nothing but ploy to be swept under the rug as they scramble to deal with house cleaning. However, I’ve been disappointed before.
    Also, sex doesn’t sell as well as we’re led to believe. It’s a spectacle, and spectacles grab people’s attention, but it doesn’t necessarily sell the whole package. http://goo.gl/nXeXcS

  2. MyNameIsJumbo says:

    I like the idea of the article. It is reactionary for fans to have this sort of reaction this soon. But when you look at the moves on the whole, Wilson was reactionary too. He started raging and calling for people’s heads and then did nothing. The moves to let go of Boyle and Havlat were expected and would’ve only been controversial had they kept them. The problem I have with the move is that it frees up cap space to do what? The defensive free agent market is miserable and as you pointed out, they don’t build through Free Agency anyways.
    My problem is that Doug Wilson demanded some sort of change and the only change he made was to add some guys that could beat up others. It seems like he plans to bring up some of the prospects and use the bruisers to protect them. But it is tough to gauge if he’ll strike lightning again as he did with Hertl.
    The Ice Girls thing? Well, it always seemed like San Jose was above that sort of thing. A classy organization that took the high road. Not one that fell victim to those crude tactics. While this doesn’t change the product on the ice, it changes the team. The reason we love a sports team is more than just their record. Sometimes it’s how they carry on their business. See: St Louis Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Oakland A’s.

  3. The Sharks biggest issue is quality depth. You saw how they fell apart with Vlasic went down in the playoffs. Now Boyle and Stuart are gone and they haven’t added anyone on defense instead planning to move Burns back to defense and use guys like Irwin and Tennyson in more important roles. Both are chancy at best. Many of us were hoping they’d take a real run at Niskinen but it didn’t happen. Now I fear that their back end is too vulnerable to succeed in the postseason again. One other “problem” I see. Thornton, Pavelski, Marleau, Braun, Vlasic and Niemi did not miss a single scheduled start due to injury. That is incredible “good fortune” and the odds of a repeat of that are slim. What will they do if one of their front line players misses significant time? Again, depth issues aren’t solved by signing a goon like John Scott. It seems the Sharks only goal this season is getting even with the Kings by physically taking them out of action.

    • Injuries this season were possibly the worst since the 2005 lockout.
      Only 7 players (JT, Pavs, Marleau, Braun, Vlasic, Niemi and Desjardins) were injury free this season.
      297 man games lost due to injury. The highest since 2010 was 166. No one has really talked about that, and it may have played a slight factor in the series.

      Do the Sharks have depth issues, yes. but if the team resigns Sheppard then out of Scott, Burish, Brown and Kennedy only two of those players will ever be in the starting lineup. So despite the signings the Sharks forwards will for the most part look just as good as the last two seasons…on paper anyway.

      As for defense San Jose really never got to see Brent Burns play defense much. One full season in 2012 and only about 15 games in 2013, but I do think the biggest problem right now is the back-end. Vlasic is the only defensemen without a question mark over his head. Burns has to learn the position again, Braun still has some rough edges, Demers has more even rough edges and Irwin is still a work in progress.

  4. Andrew,

    I’m glad to see an article, any article, written about the Sharks as they get so little coverage here in the Bay Area. I agree that we won’t truly be able to judge Wilson’s plan until the start of the season, or even perhaps after the trade deadline next year to see what his ‘rebuild’ ends up looking like. So far, the ‘rebuild’ is a joke and that is mainly due to the fact that Wilson signed #12 and #19 to 3 year extensions mid season last year, both with no movement clauses. I would have liked to have seen you (or anybody) point out the hypocrisy of Wilson blaming the players for the recent years failures when he himself is not only responsible for having built the team but also tying his own hands this off season with those extensions.

    I would also like somebody in the media to question the audacity of both Wilson and McClellan for both blaming the ‘culture’ when the coaching staff and GM should be the ones driving the culture of the team. That would be like me blaming my car failing to start because I didn’t put any gas in it.

    We’ll see what happens, whether or not Jumbo and/or Patty are on the team come next year but regardless my concern is that the same GM is assembling the same type of players who are being coached by the same Coach who is coaching the same system as has been for the last 7 years in SJ. There is no accountability at the top, so why would the players be expected to hold themselves accountable?

    Oh, and on a final note. Can somebody please point out the laugh-ability of the Sharks taking a player in the first round who’s major question-mark is ‘heart’ and ‘consistency’ when all we’ve heard since their season ended is how they want players with heart and consistency. Seriously?!

  5. And July 7 the Owners of the Sharks will announce Doug Wilson and his entire coaching and training staff are fired??? Yes? (hope)

  6. Andrew, you clearly have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. Yeah, the Ice Girls aren’t really a big deal, but when you add it all up, it’s something to distract the fans who aren’t paying attention to one simple fact: Hasso Plattner is all about bottom line, and cares NOTHING for winning, and as long as the Sharks fill the seats with their lackluster performance and playoff chokes, he’ll be happy with that. Doug Wilson spent too many Chicago winters to want to rock the boat in San Jose, and nobody else wants to rock it either, excepting the one man who had the guts to call the team’s fiasco of a season for what it was, and that was Drew Remenda. OK, I get firing a broadcaster who was critical of the team, but all he did was point out the truth, and instead of seriously trying to fix the problem, the fans get ice girls, a new broadcaster, and some seriously useless free agent activity. Where’s the shakeup? Where’s Thornton getting shipped someplace so we can get something useful? Where’s the search for a goaltender that doesn’t fold like a cheap suit? Nope, we get some nice distractions, and I’ll bet you one of the Ice Girls will have done a nude pictorial to distract us even further. I’m sorry, I said us, I USED to be a fan of this team, but after all these years, I deserve a better return on my investment.

    • “Yeah, the Ice Girls aren’t really a big deal, but when you add it all up, it’s something to distract the fans”

      You can only be distracted by non-personnel changes such as Ice Girls and Remenda if you allow yourself to be. No one but the fans control their own emotions.

      As for Drew Remenda one of the better color commentators in hockey, don’t you find it somewhat hypocritical to defend Remenda when he criticizes the team but then criticize Doug Wilson when he criticizes the team? I’m not making any implication just an observation that all media has done.

      As for roster shakeups I addressed this in the article. Every player making over 3 million per season (except Niemi) has some form of a no trade clause. So they control their own destiny. As for trying to move Niemi, right now Martin Brodeur can not even find a job just to put this into perspective.

      Things aren’t easy, it was confirmed San Jose was in on Vrbata, Ehrhoff and Niskanen. They lost all three and probably more UFAs. You can’t expect a team to win every free agent they want the world doesn’t work that way.

      Remember things started in the Bay Area way way way worse. http://thehockeywriters.com/san-jose-sharks-a-brief-history/

  7. Andrew, how long have you worked for the Sharks PR department? If you look around the network to other hockey boards you’ll see the Sharks lack of activity in the free agent market and signing of John Scott has the rest of the league laughing. Apparently, much like last year’s inactivity at the trade deadline Wilson is again signaling to the fans and the league that “we are good enough as is, we just got unlucky” (for the 8th or 9th consecutive year. As a “day one” Shark fan, yes I was at opening night at the Cow Palace, I think the problem with the organization comes down to one problem…..Doug Wilson can’t get past his ego to see how poor of a job he is doing.

    • As a Sharks fan since 1997, when I went to my first game live, I’ve witnessed both the good and the bad, just not the horrific early years. If you read the article I discussed the power of media sensationalism. You demonstrate this by saying,

      “If you look around the network to other hockey boards you’ll see the Sharks lack of activity in the free agent market and signing of John Scott has the rest of the league laughing.”

      That is media sensationalism

      Nowhere is this article do I support any of the offseason moves made by the Sharks because I in fact disagree with almost every one. Is it a rule that you have to write only about what you disagree with? I’m merely demonstrating the facts and how they have spiraled out of control. This article was simply meant to provide some clarity and show everyone that media sensationalism can make things look 10 times worse than they actually are. I find it very hard to judge a team that needs to add 3-5 more roster players to make the 23 man roster.

      I also know the Sharks history and how bad things can appear to be. http://thehockeywriters.com/san-jose-sharks-a-brief-history/

      I also know that UFAs do not win championships. http://thehockeywriters.com/san-jose-sharks-a-brief-history/

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