Kings of California, Good or Bad for San Jose?

Now that the Los Angeles Kings are the Stanley Cup Champions you have to wonder if Doug Wilson and the Sharks organization will stand firm on their promises to make changes this off-season. The organization, players and the fans should not feel any better that the Kings won the Stanley Cup as it does not change what happened nearly two months ago. Winning the Stanley Cup merely changes the Kings identity, not the Sharks identity. The facts have not changed as the Sharks still blew a 3-0 series lead in the first round solidifying the “choke” moniker that so many people label the team with. San Jose should feel the same way they did after Game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs going forward.

Not the First Time

Evgeni Nabokov brings playoff experience from his days with the San Jose Sharks. (Dave Nelson/wikimedia)
Evgeni Nabokov still holds records in wins and shutouts for San Jose. (Dave Nelson/wikimedia)

San Jose faces a lot of tough decisions this summer but it is not the first time they have been in this situation. This is the second time in team history that the Sharks have lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion in the playoffs.  The only other occurrence was in 2010 when San Jose was swept by the Chicago Blackhawks. In 2010, the Sharks faced a few tough decisions after their exit from the playoffs. The team had to choose between keeping either Evgeni Nabokov or Patrick Marleau as they did not have the cap space for both. They also had to replace their captain as Rob Blake decided to retire during the summer. San Jose eventually made their decisions by not resigning their best goaltender in franchise history and naming Joe Thornton captain. The Sharks returned to the Conference finals the very next year despite losing both Evgeni Nabokov and Rob Blake over the summer. San Jose can learn from this knowing that they can make major changes and still compete next year.

Winter Summer is Coming

During the 2013 season the Sharks began making changes as they traded Ryane Clowe, Douglas Murray, and Michal Handzus before the deadline. The idea was to add youth and speed on the fly instead of doing a full on rebuild or as Doug Wilson put it, “reset and refresh.” The team added Scott Hannan and controversial forward Raffi Torres at the deadline who surprisingly has become a fan favorite despite playing only 16 regular season games and 12 playoff games in two seasons. The changes continued during the summer as they traded TJ Galiardi and opted to not resign Tim Kennedy or Scott Gomez. The only new player added during the off-season was winger Tyler Kennedy. Overall the team did not make any major moves during the summer believing that their prospect pool would be enough to draw from.

(Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports)
Justin Braun was 2nd in blocked shots and time on ice during the 2014 season. (Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports)

When the 2014 season began the Sharks had a few breakthroughs with their young stars such as Matt Nieto, Tomas Hertl and Justin Braun. Unfortunately, the Sharks also ran into injury trouble and were among the top 5 in man games lost due to injury. Despite this, they only made one roster move during the season which was acquiring tough guy Mike Brown from the Oilers. Doug Wilson believed his team just needed to get healthy and that would be enough. For a short while he was right as the Sharks thrashed the Kings in the first two games of the playoffs. Then things started to change as the Kings began the comeback against a tired and already injured Sharks team. This eventually led to one of the most painful memories in Sharks history.

Your Move Doug Wilson

This brings us to the 2014 off-season where Doug Wilson has made numerous promises and statements including the following.

“I want players that want to play here, not just live here.”

“Every one of our young players will be given a chance to take whatever role they want.”

So far no organizational changes have been made but a few roster moves have been made. The rights to Dan Boyle have already been traded away and a buyout for Marty Havlat is expected soon. Alex Stalock was resigned for two years at a cap hit of $1.6 million dollars and Mike Brown was resigned for two years at a cap hit of $1.2 million dollars. Many could see the Sharks resigning Stalock to compete for the starting position in net but not the resigning of Mike Brown. Not only was Mike Brown resigned but he was given a raise of $500k after playing only 48 games in San Jose and posting 5 points. He has never posted more than 8 points in a season and now makes more money than Andrew Desjardins who posted 17 points in 81 games.  Still, summer is not over yet and if Mike Brown was resigned to replace Adam Burish, who only has 3 points in two seasons in San Jose, then it is not a terrible decision.

Whatever the reason, in Doug Wilson we trust.