SAN JOSE- Thus far the Sharks offseason moves have been met with a blizzard of criticism in the stands and among the press.
National media posting offseason grades have given just one team an F, and it’s been given to the Sharks.
Furthermore, local fans and media have ripped San Jose for giving long time popular television color analyst Drew Remenda his walking papers. The Sharks wouldn’t give any actual reason for dismissing the widely adored commentator outside the cliché “we want to take the broadcast in a different direction” line. In actuality, multiple sources in the broadcast industry have confirmed Remenda was primarily let go for being too honest and critical of the home team.
Now if the lack of addressing key roster personnel issues (instead opting to sign both a middle weight and heavyweight fighter), and canning a beloved announcer, wasn’t enough, the Sharks have decided their female ice crew members will now be wearing midriff baring jerseys while the men will continue to wear normal track suit/jacket type material.
Understandably the whole cheerleading/ice cleaning combination job is a complicated issue. But any franchise has to know making a change like this will garner some significant public outrage, particularly one in the ever liberal Silicon Valley.
Remember, the Sharks are coming off the worst playoff collapse in franchise history, common sense would have them doing everything they can to get local public opinion back in their favor. And if that is what they are trying to do, they are failing miserably. As Mercury News Columnist Tim Kawakami wrote, they are having a nervous breakdown.
Sharks GM Doug Wilson recently admitted he doesn’t think his team is close enough to the other contenders. Which honestly anyone with half a hockey brain can call bull squat on.
The Sharks have iced a Stanley Cup contender for six straight years, (perhaps for even a decade as some might argue), and this past season they added two dynamite rookie forwards in Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto to an already lethal core.
The Sharks are better positioned now to make a Stanley Cup run than they ever have been before. Had they elected to keep Brent Burns at forward, and done nothing else but bring back Christian Ehrhoff, their 2014-15 opening night lineup could have looked like this:
Tomas Hertl—Joe Thornton—Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau—Logan Couture—Matt Nieto
Raffi Torres—Joe Pavelski—Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard—Andrew Desjardins—Tyler Kennedy
Marc-Edouard Vlasic—Jason Demers
Christian Ehrhoff—Justin Braun
Matt Irwin—Matt Tennyson
Nobody should take Wilson at his word that he thinks his team isn’t close enough. One free agent signing to fix their hole in the top four defense would have sufficed to keep this team on par with the best of the best if not the best on paper.
Now, I know what some of you are going to say, “Stanley Cups aren’t won on paper! And what about Wilson’s ‘co-workers but not teammates’ comments? Clearly they don’t have enough dressing room camaraderie!”
First of all, there has been no legitimate statistical evidence that has proven off ice friendships benefit on ice performance.
Secondly, while many people think the camaraderie problem to have involved (among others) Joe Thornton and Martin Havlat, those two were the only two teammates specifically cited by former Shark T. J. Galiardi for pumping him up during the 2012-13 season.
Galiardi said quote, “It’s a weird thing, you know, I think we had that big loss in L. A., and just after that I had a talk with Jumbo and Marty and we kind of just said ‘you know now’s the time, we need you and they said there’s no reason you should be a scratch on this team, you should be making a difference for us every night, and I think it just kind of flipped a switch.”
And finally, now former Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle, one of the hardest working, most respected players in the game was adamant over his entire six year San Jose tenure that the Sharks did in fact have what it takes.
A Stanley Cup winner with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, if Boyle felt that either the on ice or off ice chemistry wasn’t good enough compared to his cup winning Lightning group, he had the stature to speak up about it. Except he only ever had great things to say about the teams the Sharks had. Outside of admitting that the 2008-09 group may have been a bit top heavy, during his final San Jose interview, Boyle was at a loss for words as to why the other Sharks teams he was a part of couldn’t get it done.
So no, I’m not buying that Wilson thinks his team isn’t good enough and I’m not buying the reasoning being poor locker room chemistry. Not buying any of it.
As always for more on the Sharks follow Andrew on Twitter: @ViewFromBensch