My totally random collection of thoughts on sports and athletes, the Sharks, Raiders, Niners, A’s, Giants and everything else!

San Jose Sharks Sign Brad Stuart – New look Defense the Answer?

As expected, defenseman Brad Stuart has signed with the San Jose Sharks to the tune of 3.6 million per for 3 years. It was no small secret that Stuart wanted to return “home” to his wife and daughter, who had to live in California during Stuart’s Red Wing tenure.

Stuart had 21 points and a plus-16 rating in 81 games for Detroit this past season, while playing huge roles in the penalty kill.

With the addition, it reshapes the Sharks defensive corps quite a bit while giving the Sharks a solid top 4 with Boyle, Burns, Vlasic and Stuart. Given Boyle’s age, some may be quick to relegate 22 to the second pairing…. not so fast I would counter.

Boyle struggled a tad early in the year due to injury ( broken foot ) and while fans were heaping dirt on the veteran, he answered and quieted his critics by rebounding nicely after the first month of the season.

With the 8th best Fenwick score on the team and best 5v5 rating from any Sharks defender, it’s clear that Boyle is as important as ever to the Sharks even strength success. Boiler also posted a team high 1.199 Corsi REL QoC, and was fourth on the team with a +1.7 RelCorsi.

Depending on how close you feel the team is to reaching the ever elusive Stanley Cup Finals ( shut up LA ), you may be inclined to see the Sharks roll out :

  • Boyle – Burns
  • Stuart – Vlasic
  • Braun – ????

Top Five Questions after signing Stuart:

5. How many minutes will Boyle play?

He’s led the team in minutes the past 2 seasons, and he still averaged 19.26, good for 2nd on the team. With his age as a factor and the kind of game he plays, the added depth will most certainly give Boiler a chance to be fresh come playoff time.

4. How hard will the coaching staff push Burns?

Brent was up and down in his first season with the Sharks, and it’s a fair question to ask whether or not the coaches gave him more minutes because of Doug Wilson. Given the high price the Sharks paid, it’s a fair question for a defender that led the team in giveaways, turnovers and looked lost some nights.

Burns did turn it up late in the season, scoring 24 points in 36 games from Jan. 7 through March 24, but overall I think it’s fair to say the Sharks haven’t gotten what they expected out of Burns.

Question is, how much are they willing to sacrifice to make sure Burns nets the proper return? If it’s merely a situation of giving him his minutes, I’m all for it. But take minutes away from Braun or possibly Demers, in the quest to pad Brent’s stats and that’s where I draw the line.

3. Will Jason Demers ever show up?

Pretty simple huh? After showing promise and being trusted more and more in late crucial situations in 2010, Demers fell on his face this past year and is quickly becoming an afterthought. With the addition of Stuart, and assuming Crankshaft does not get moved, Demers will have his work cut out for him to earn a roster spot.

2. What impact will Stuart have?

Sadly, I think he’ll just be marginally better than Burns was this year defensively, and won’t approach Brent’s production offensively. Depth and a big minute muncher, but at this stage of his career, it’s a long shot to expect Stuart to make a HUGE impact.

1. What other trades will go down?

Douglas Murray is quickly looking like the Shark without a seat when the music stops, and if so, who will Wilson bring in?

San Jose gave up a promising youngster in Devin Setoguchi, top prospect Charlie Coyle and dropped the team’s first pick in this year’s draft for Burns, and the lack of forward depth made the team look pedestrian.

In fact, one can argue the Sharks are worse off than when they made the Heatley trade, when we were looking for that scorer in the playoffs, remember that?

Whatever trades are to come, I am hoping that it won’t involve Rick Nash. Here’s to hoping against  hope.

Go Sharks.

The Razor Ralph Barbieri rips into KNBR on 95.7 FM ‘The Game’

The Razor is one of the more opinionated and strong willed radio talk show hosts that you will ever hear, his voice is unique and unflinchingly recognizable. His wit and razor sharp tongue earned him the nickname “The Razor” and for 28 years his unique voice serenaded my ears while tuning into the only sports-talk show in town, KNBR.

He’s got a unique sound and a definitive opinion, and quite honestly I couldn’t stand the man or his baited questions for the first half of his career. I thought he was pompous and self serving, and I’d often find a reason, however insignificant to turn off or not listen when Razor was speaking.

Over time, I’ve learned to enjoy Ralph and bear down through the obvious bait questions, and coupled with Tolbert they were easily my most favorite show on KNBR. Not to mention, he’s about the only host that knows the Sharks exist.

But all that changed when KNBR completely and utterly dismissed and disregarded their 28 year employee and vital cog in the Bay Area’s sports psyche. I then realized how much of my daily sports talk intake revolved around Barbieri, and how much I enjoyed the Razor and Mr. T Show.

After listening to Tom Tolbert’s heartfelt goodbye to his longtime partner, I felt even more compelled and sad for Barbieri and fortunate that I had the chance to listen to these 2 men exact their craft for so many years.

Tolbert’s emotions were evident as he spoke about the difficulty in letting go of Ralph and saying good-bye, his honesty and vulnerability was unlike anything I had ever heard on KNBR. Lamenting the fact that in the radio business, not many people get a chance to say bye to their listeners struck a chord with me in regards to Barbieri.

I already disliked the station quite a bit, given other oddly managed firings or promoting / demoting employees for a variety of reasons, none of which made any real sense.

KNBR’s long standing pro-Giants and pro-49ers stance / anti – A’s and Raiders, coupled with their older demographic and at times arrogant nature, had always rubbed me the wrong way. Being a product of the East Bay, and growing up loving the A’s, Raiders and Sharks didn’t help KNBR in the polls within my heart either.

So I made the jump to 95.7 The Game, and haven’t looked back ( with the exception of Tom Tolbert ) Does the quality of content on FM leave something to be desired? Sure, but I like the direction of the station and a few of the hosts, it’s refreshing to have a place to talk A’s, Sharks and Raiders and who doesn’t love the underdog?

So imagine my surprise when I heard that The Razor would make an appearance on “The Drive” with with Brandon Tierney and Eric Davis, and he’d be on for a full hour!

With rumors of “The Game” poaching the ranks within KNBR, I thought that Barbieri’s appearance would mark his decision to join the ranks of 95.7, which would certainly add more spice and throw gas onto the fire that is the battle of the airwaves in Northern California.

I was excited to hear from Barbieri, and hoped that the interview would be a momentous one.

After listening to the hour long segment, I left with more questions and less closure than I had going into the interview.

What I had hoped was a brief yet fiery dismantling of the cronies at KNBR, instead turned into a long drawn out session of complaining and rambling, with little to nothing in the way of cement evidence or wrongdoing. Ralph took the opportunity to try and drag the higher ups at KNBR through the mud, including Lee Hammer but instead ended up sounding confused, old, and without direction.

His voice giving out didn’t help, maybe rescheduling the interview might have been a better idea, in fact the whole interview didn’t have much of a purpose to be honest.

How his lawyer could have possibly advised this appearance is beyond me. She must not like to win, because Barbieri sounded weak and listless instead of strong and assertive, and was not what I was expecting.

Worse of all? Barbieri even whiffed when offered the chance to say goodbye to the legions of fans he had over the course of his illustrious career. Given the chance to say goodbye correctly, Barbieri instead rambled on, until faking a mistake in his “Angels” signoff line by uttering KNBR instead of The Game.

I mean Tierney and Davis couldn’t have been more accommodating, and literally served it up to Ralph on a golden platter and instead Ralph talked about shoes….

I’ll be following the progress of his lawsuit, because well…. I don’t like KNBR and the “peninsula” attitude, I don’t like big corporations, and further dislike the manner in which the company ( hell, ANY company ) dismisses a 28 year employee in such a disgraceful manner.

Good luck Ralph, I will miss you and I wish the best to you and your son but I wish you took the time on “The Drive” to say goodbye properly.

The Source :

Bay Area Sports Guy 

San Jose Sharks trade for Brad Stuart’s rights – Win, Lose or Draw?

In an early and surprising move, the San Jose Sharks sent forward Andrew Murray and a conditional seventh-round draft pick to the Detroit Red Wings for the rights to unrestricted free agent defenseman Brad Stuart ( according to CSN Bay Area )

Brad Stuart Vitals :

Brad Stuart, Defenseman #23
32 Years Old (November 6, 1979)
6’2″, 215 lbs
12 Full NHL Seasons (876 career regular season games played) – the last four seasons and change with Detroit
Drafted 3rd overall in 1998 by the San Jose Sharks

While it may appear on the surface that the Sharks win in this lopsided trade, the acquisition ( pending a signed contract ) of Stuart will most certainly raise more questions than solve them.

Before weighing in on the move, let’s be clear in that while this wasn’t a “hockey” trade and the Red Wings most likely weren’t going to bring Stuart back, it’s still a huge win for Doug Wilson and a win for the Red Wings as well.

After all, Holland moving Stuart for almost little to nothing surely reveals the level of interest in re-upping with the Red Wings.

While Detroit GM Ken Holland may have landed some late round keepers, it’s safe to assume that this move was done for Stuart, who wanted to be back with his family, given the likelihood of Murray making the Red Wings roster ( little to none ).

While Stuart is on the wrong side of 30 and was never a fluid skater to begin with, he brings depth, experience and ability on the PK. Brad Stuart, had six goals and 15 assists in 81 games last season, while posting a solid +16 rating while leading the Red Wings in hits 177.

Most importantly, he can be counted on from day one to step in and help correct a horrible penalty kill unit that floundered last season.

Sharks Win 

  • On the Penalty Kill – Stuart is more than capable of being a rock on the penalty kill unit, having logged 257:16 of penalty kill minutes.
  • Depth – Stuart allows the Sharks to roll multiple different pairings, depending on which Sharks stay and go. Boyle, Stuart, Vlasic, Murray, Burns is a pretty good top 5 so far.
  • Experience – Stuart has been through many battles and knows what it takes to win in the postseason. His role and experience can do wonders for youngsters on the team like Justin Braun.
  • While he’s not really known for it, Stuart can lay the wood and do it in crucial situations :
Sharks Lose 
  • Brad Stuart is on the wrong side of 30, and won’t add to overall team speed. In other words, he’s not going to be taking a puck on a  Drew Doughty end-to-end rush anytime soon.
  • Stuart allowed a team high 30 PPGA, shorthanded goals against as a defenseman.
  • Stuart was also second worse on the team in PPGA/30
  • Stuart didn’t look like himself late last season for the Winged Wheel, and struggled against Nashville with a -5 rating in the playoffs.
Sharks Draw?
  • Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Douglas Murray, Brent Burns and Justin Braun are penciled into the defensive pairings, could someone be on the outside looking in? ( more on that later )
  • Stuart’s signing means it’s unlikely the Sharks get involved in the Suter Sweepstakes.

With the expected signing of Stuart, you can bet that the Sharks blueline will look a lot tougher next year. Paired with Burns, Boyle or Vlasic would be a terrific duo with Stuart on the backend, the problem is will someone be moved?

The obvious target is fan favorite Douglas Murray, who looked a step too slow last year and struggled through injuries. And at 2.5 million a year may be priced too high for a bottom pairing defenseman, but priced just right for a trade scenario.

While Crankshaft may be the target and may end up being moved, I think the bolder move would be finding a trade partner for Dan Boyle. He’s still a high impact defender who can move the puck and add punch to a powerplay.

Boyle is signed through 2014 and is being paid almost $7 million a year, and will be 36 this upcoming year. After June 12, 2012 Boyle’s NTC has an exclusion that allows the club to move him to any one of the NHL teams, outside of a select eight that Boyle can dictate.

He’s a natural leader, a saavy puck handler and has been a terrific leader in the locker room for years….. But it’s time to move him while the Sharks still can and maximize the return.

My take?

It’s a huge win for the Sharks, let’s not try to confuse the issue. It would be nice to see Stuart come in, and start laying the wood and taking the team by the horns. If he is a first or second pairing defender that can eat 20+ minutes a night and play serious minutes on the pk, it’s a huge win. While many Sharks fans are quickly jumping on the negative bandwagon, saying that Stuart doesn’t hit anyone despite being having a huge frame, I say who cares?

Even if he reverts back to the big young defenseman who didn’t like to hit people, as I remember him last in teal, it’s still a big win.

Mike Rathje part II? a little harsh Sharks Fans.

Bottom line? trading A. Murray (a UFA) and a 2014 7th isn’t like giving up a roster asset, so little of value was spent to have exclusive negotiating rights.

Go Sharks.

Saints BountyGate : Goodell Lowers Hammer : Vilma out for year

The long wait is finally over as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell lowered the hammer on players involved in the Saints Bounty scandal.

Suspending DE Will Smith four games, and suspending defensive captain and middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the year. Anthony Hargrove ( now with the Green Bay Packers ) and Scott Fujita ( now with the Cleveland Browns ) were also suspended eight games, and four games respectively.

According to NFL insider Adam Schefter the players don’t look to be taking this lying down, saying ; “get ready for a massive multiple legal battle over this on several fronts.”

If Vilma and the others sue the NFL, it will only continue to perpetrate the perception that the Saints are arrogant and believe they are above the law.

Perceptions that didn’t die down with the tweets from Saints players ( including Drew Brees ) that sounded indignant that the NFL dare suspend or punish their team or coach.

According to ESPN’s reports, here are just some of the notes released from the NFL in regards to Bounty Gate.

• Vilma, also is alleged to have helped Williams create and fund the program. Also, the NFL said Vilma pledged $10,000 in cash to any Saints player who knocked former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner out of the 2009 divisional playoff game involving the teams and then repeated the pledge for Favre for the NFC title game.

• Hargrove submitted a signed declaration to the NFL not only that the Saints’ bounty program existed, but that he was an active participant in it. In addition, the NFL said that Hargrove told at least one player on another team that former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was a target of the Saints’ bounty pool in the 2009 NFC Championship Game and that Hargrove obstructed the league’s investigation in 2010 when he wasn’t truthful with investigators.

Look, I’ll be the first one to tell you that I hate the Saints… with a passion.

But no team deserves this kind of punishment, no region of fans deserves to have their team crippled in this fashion.

And they only have themselves to blame for it.

I think that Sean Payton is a brilliant offensive mind, and that Gregg Williams is the kind of coach I’d like to play for, but these two men allowed their egos to get the better of them.

Egos that grew into full fledged defiance and arrogance that is well documented throughout this process. Egos that have now destroyed the wonderful story of redemption and a region revived by the post-Katrina Super Bowl win.

The Worst Trades in San Jose Shark History – A look back

It’s always interesting being a Sharks fan, at least for myself because it allows me the rare chance to follow a sport I love while living in a state where, for the most part nobody really cares.

It’s also damn frustrating, because it’s hard to talk about the Sharks without some self serving baseball-football-basketball fan jumping in with their 2 cents. Nothing like listening to self-serving pundits talking about how Patrick Marleau’s struggling shooting percentage somehow relates to Alex Smith’s pass protection.

After a few minutes of that “analysis”, and I’m looking for the nearest sharp stick so that I might promptly shove it into my eardrum.

The lack of interest can split the fanbase down the middle, one side being too soft and coddling of our millionaire superstars who play a game for a living, no matter what the effort. And the other side is viewed as being too harsh and critical, in a sport where clutch play is celebrated and loved, while following this team.

For a die hard hockey fan such as myself and hopefully you as well reader, you can see how talking hockey to the average fan here in San Jose can be an exercise in futility.

When the average fan walks up to me and says the Sharks will be fine next year, and that all is needed is a few trades, I usually just smile and nod my head.

Sharks fans may look for the big fish trade like the Dan Boyle, Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton trades of the past, but the fact of the matter is the salary cap is making big trades damn near impossible.

The Sharks have been “tinkering” at the deadline the last few years, with little to no success, this year included. So when and “if” the Sharks fall to the Blues, there will be no lack of projections and predictions about exactly how the Sharks will get back to where they need to be.

One thing is for sure, however, with the top-heavy nature of this roster and payroll, Doug Wilson cannot make another mistake. I don’t envy his job because he’s going to have to make some tough choices should the Sharks bow out in the first round.

Speaking of mistakes, I’ve decided to revisit a few from the pages of Shark history, just for fun 🙂 Here then is a chance to look back at some of the worst trade mistakes in franchise history.

Bob Errey For a 7th-Round Draft Pick

While many fans may question the impact Bob Errey had as a San Jose Shark from a statistical perspective, he was a huge part of the team. For the young franchise struggling to find it’s way, Errey was an unquestioned leader in the locker room and an important part of the playoffs during the 1993-1994 season.

Errey was initially selected 15th-overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins and won two Stanley Cup rings in 1991 and 1992. Bob would also win a gold medal at the World Championships as a member of Team Canada in 1997.

He was one of the Sharks’ early franchise cornerstones and leaders and served a huge role as a captain from 1993-1995. Errey would tally 12 goals, 18 assists in 1993-1994 and chip in three goals and two assists in the playoff run that year for the Sharks.

Errey was moved out of town for a seventh-round draft pick and in favor of Jeff Odgers, a respectable player but not nearly as charismatic.

Errey would be reunited with former Peterborough Pete teammate Steve Yzerman and retire from hockey in 1999.

Miikka Kiprusoff to the Flames for a 2nd-Round Pick

“Kipper” joined the Sharks organization well before being officially recalled to the big club on March 5, 2001. Miikka would end the 2000 AHL season with the then-Sharks affiliate Kentucky Thoroughblades with a 2.48 goals against average and star in the All-Star game.

He backstopped the Thoroughblades to their first division title and post a 19-9-6 record for longtime Sharks coach Roy Sommer.

Kiprusoff would get his first start and win in the NHL against the “Mighty” Ducks of Anaheim on April 8th, 2001. With Evgeni Nabokov sidelined in the playoffs series against the Blues, Kipper would record 39 saves in the huge 3-2 victory.

Kiprusoff failed to capitalize in the 2002-2003 season with Nabokov holding out in a contract dispute. Instead of taking the next step he would go backward, losing his first three games and posting an ugly 5.65 goals against.

The next year with Nabokov and Vesa Toskala firmly entrenched ahead of him, Kiprusoff was traded on November 16th, 2003 to Calgary for a conditional second-round draft pick.

He made an immediate impact taking over for the injured Roman Turek, posting a NHL record low GAA of 1.69. He would be lights-out in the playoffs, winning 15 games; five by way of shutout. He would backstop the Flames within a game of the Stanley Cup championship.

Kipper would come back to haunt the Sharks multiple times during his career as a Flame, and has been a huge Shark killer in his career, especially at the Saddledome.

Tom Preissing and Josh Hennessy For Mark Bell

We all remember this trade as being one of the worst trades ever, but not from what the Sharks gave up. With Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo in the fold, the Sharks were looking to add that one left winger opposite of Cheech that would make the big difference.

Bell enjoyed moderate success as a Blackhawk in 2003-2004, recording 21 goals and 24 assists.

Instead of building on that as a San Jose Shark, Bell would bomb despite being paired on the top line with Thornton and Cheechoo. Head coach Ron Wilson lost his patience with Bell and relegated him to fourth line or completely scratched him.

To add insult to injury, Bell would make a series of professional blunders and simply was just too dumb to utilize his God-given talents.

In early September of 2006, Bell drove a rented Toyota Camry into the back of a stopped pickup truck in Milpitas, California.

The victim was an uninsured and unlicensed man and suffered severe head and neck trauma from the accident.

Bell would walk away from the incident and was arrested an hour later, blowing a .201 when given the breathalyzer test. His blood level would be tested when he was taken back to the station where the blood test would reveal a level of .15, almost twice the legal limit of .08 at least an hour after the accident.

I’d say that’s one hell of a party but it was 4 p.m.

Tom Preissing and Josh Hennessy to Chicago was initially viewed as a big win for the Sharks, although Preissing would enjoy modest success. After it was all said and done though, this trade was a huge mistake for a joke of a NHL player who just couldn’t get his head on straight.

Bell was mercifully shipped out of town with Toskala to Toronto for their 2008 first-round draft pick, a 2007 second-round pick and a 2009 fourth-round selection.

Igor Larianov For Ray Sheppard

What a magical season the 1993-1994 season was for the Sharks, who set a NHL record with a 58-point improvement from the year before. Igor Larianov and Sergei Makarov along with the young Sandis Ozolinsh would be part of a Russian revolution in San Jose.

Backstopped by the great Arturs Irbe with timely offense from the Russian top line, the Sharks would upend the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings in the first round.

Sharks’ hockey had to wait until January 15th, 1995 to resume due to the NHL lockout.

Upon their return, the Sharks struggled to regain the magic from the 1993-1994 season. The Sharks would again play the role of underdog, sending the Calgary Flames packing in seven games.

The Red Wings destroyed the Sharks in the second round, quickly dispatching them while outscoring the Sharks to the tune of 24-6 in the sweep.

A long and sad tale of how the Sharks would unravel would then play out, as one by one our heroes would fall.

Irbe would struggle after being bit by his dog and suffering nerve damage to his glove hand and wrist.

Makarov couldn’t make it out of training camp after reporting out of shape and not ready to play.

Ozolinsh was traded to Colorado after a contract dispute had him play a few games for the now defunct IHL San Francisco Spiders.

Worst of all, Larianov made his way into the doghouse after a run-in with fiery head coach Kevin Constantine in training camp. He was traded on October 24th, a sad day indeed for Sharks fans.

While Sheppard enjoyed some success as a Shark, but he was largely a one-dimensional player and was traded to Florida the following year.

The rebuilding would commence with Constantine and Chuck Grillo being dismissed, leading to the Dean Lombardi-era and the forgettable Al Sims.

Larianov joined the “Russian Five” in Detroit and win back-to-back Stanley Cups as well as scoring over 400 more points.

Steve Bernier and First-Round Pick for Brian Campbell

The Sharks approached the trade deadline in 2008 needing another puck-moving defensemen to bolster the breakout and man the power play. Doug Wilson would trade Steve Bernier and a first-round draft pick to Buffalo for Brian Campbell, who would fit the bill for the most part.

At the time of the trade, Campbell ranked seventh among NHL defensemen with 43 points (5 goals, 38 assists) in 62 games.

While the local media made much of the sexy trade at the deadline and what it brought to the team, many fans worried about the price of the rental. Much was made about Soupy’s childhood relationship with Joe Thornton and the Ottawa 67 connection with GM Wilson, leading to speculation that he would resign.

Campbell played decently, scoring three goals with 16 assists in 20 games down the stretch leading into the playoffs. He would also score the game-tying goal in the third period of the elimination game against the Dallas Stars in the conference semifinals.

Despite those contributions, he didn’t make the difference many fans envisioned and his decision to leave San Jose put him in the fan doghouse.

Despite some poor defensive coverage in the playoffs, Campbell also posted a plus-3 during that time.

Bill Guerin For Ville Nieminen, Jay Barriball and First-Round Pick

Doug Wilson played mad scientist and get burned in this classic tale of locker room chemistry gone awry. Looking for the power forward type of player who could crash the net and contribute along the boards, Wilson would trade for Bill Guerin on February 27, 2007.

Guerin was just 20 days removed from playing his 1,000th NHL game as a member of the St. Louis Blues.

Reunited with Doug Weight in the Gateway City, Guerin had resurrected his career and was a hot commodity at the deadline, initially making Wilson look like a genius.

A gritty, veteran power forward who could score in clutch situations, Guerin was supposed to help lead the Sharks in the playoffs. Instead his critical voice in the locker room would alienate himself from many Sharks and he would turn out to be the worst rental player to ever don the teal.

Who can forget the Game 4 gaffe against the Red Wings when the Sharks were poised to take the 3-1 series lead with just under a minute remaining. Guerin would get caught cheating up ice looking for the empty-net goal, and the Red Wings would even the score with just 30 seconds left.

Guerin would suffer a deep laceration to the face when he was struck by a Christian Ehrhoff slapshot in the following overtime.

Guerin would record just two points in nine playoff games before missing the rest of the postseason with the injury. He’s arguably the worst rental player trade in San Jose Shark history.

Ed Belfour For Chris Terreri, Michal Sykora, and Ulf Dahlen

Ed Belfour was one of the most intense and razor-sharp focused goalies in the NHL.

He went undrafted despite winning a college championship at North Dakota with a tremendous senior season. He went on to be signed as a free agent by the Chicago Blackhawks and in his rookie season he won 44 games in 74 starts and recorded four shutouts with a GAA of 2.47.

Awarded the Calder, Vezina and Jennings trophies that year, he was also nominated for the Hart as the NHL MVP.

Dean Lombardi would trade Chris Terreri, Michal Sykora, and Ulf Dahlen halfway through the 1996-1997 season for Belfour’s services.

The thinking was Belfour would give the Sharks their true bona fide goaltending star, and instead failed to live up to his hype. Crazy Eddie was absolutely horrible with a .884 save percentage and a 3.41 goals against in just 13 games.

There were more than a few whispers in regards to Belfour’s mysterious back injury and why it took so long for him to return.

Despite our team attempting to re-up the goaltender, he strung San Jose along just long enough for him to sign with the Stars the first minute that free agency opened.

Belfour deserved every bit of the venom that would spew forth from the Sharks fanbase, and if he isn’t the most hated ex-Shark, I just don’t know who is.

Owen Nolan For Alyn McCauley, Brad Boyes and a 1st-Round Pick

Yet another transitional period for the Sharks brings us this list’s worst trade in franchise history.

The team struggled mightily in 2002-2003 and would miss the playoffs despite a roster laden with offensive talents.

Darryl Sutter was fired on December 1st during a disappointing season due to Brad Stuart and Evgeni Nabokov contract disputes. The Sharks would have a record of just 8-12-2-2 through 24 games when Sutter was fired, and Ron Wilson was hired to lead the turnaround.

Teemu Selanne, Marco Sturm and Patrick Marleau would score 28 goals apiece and Vincent Damphousse would lead the team with 38 assists. Even with those combined contributions, it was clear that locker room chemistry had failed, and captain Owen Nolan was moved.

On March 5, 2003, the Sharks traded Nolan to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Alyn McCauley, Brad Boyes and a first-round draft choice in 2003.

It was one of the darkest days for Sharks fans as the singular face of the franchise and captain who held so many team records was gone. Dean Lombardi was dismissed just three days later and Doug Wilson would take the reins.

Now, many of you may say that McCauley provided a good return, and he did for the most part.

In 2003-2004, McCauley would have a good year posting 47 points in 82 games and another three points in 11 playoff games.

Boyes has become a much better player than he was during his time in San Jose. He was traded to Boston in a three-way deal that brought Curtis Brown to the Sharks. The first-round pick would be used to select Steve Bernier taken 16th overall.

Some names still on the board when Bernier was taken? Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry and Mike Richards. Yeah…

So was the return sufficient? Yes, on paper it was quite sufficient, but yet this trade was the one that will always stick in my mind as the worst in Shark history.

Nolan’s leadership, competitive fire and locker room presence were unmatched and to this day not found on the Sharks roster. I can remember when Owen was actually criticized for being too much of a fiery leader in the locker room.

Nolan was a fan favorite as soon as he arrived from Colorado/Quebec in the Ozolinsh trade. San Jose loved Nolan and he would take the reins of leadership without complaining about it.

After Kevin Constatine was shown the door in 1995-1996, and interim coach Jim Wiley could do no better, Owen was consistently the brightest light for the Sharks. Sharks fans loved Nolan despite the team finishing only ahead of lowly Ottawa with a 20-55-7 record.

The Sharks would sell out all 41 home games that season, a testament to the fans in San Jose and Northern California.

Nolan, even with all of his warts and coach-killer label, was and still is the face of the San Jose Sharks to many fans including this one.

Go Sharks

NHL Playoffs 2012 : Has the Window closed on the San Jose Sharks?

As the Sharks prepare for head out to St. Louis for Game 5 of the opening round, there’s a lot of questions about the team and where it’s heading.

No doubt being eliminated in St Louis will bring an offseason of change or so Sharks fans should hope.

Don’t get me wrong, this team still has plenty of fight and plenty of skill, but maybe the real question should be…

Is it enough?

Let’s face it, this Sharks team just isn’t elite anymore. There was a lot of talk entering the postseason about what was wrong with the Sharks??

Well, maybe there’s nothing wrong with the Sharks.. maybe they aren’t that good anymore, maybe the window has closed on this core, maybe they are who we thought they were?

While some may argue that 2008 was our best shot, I would venture to say that 2010 featured a far more superior team.

San Jose has regressed seriously since then in every single category that matters, starting with the awkward signing of Antti Niemi and the ensuing chain reaction of trades and events that followed.

Want proof?

Sharks lack depth – The 2010 team sported a third line that was simply dynamite, with Manny Malhotra, Torrey Mitchell and Logan Couture. Faceoff ability, excellent special teams ability and good speed.

The 2012 version of this team is either too small or too slow when McLellan switches Handzus and Winchester in for Dominic Moore and TJ Galiardi. Against the Blues, the Moore-Mitchell-Galiardi line looks horrible along the boards and in front.

Sharks not special – In 2010, the Sharks power play was fourth in the NHL with 65 goals in 309 chances. The Sharks were fifth on the kill with an 85-percent conversion rate.

The team was ranked 30th in the NHL entering the postseason this year, and the trend has continued in the playoffs, scoring on just 2 goals in 14 man advantages. That’s not championship caliber hockey, hell… it’s barely winning hockey.

This team infuriates me with the spotty special teams play, and the level of domination the Blues have taken over the Sharks is really unexplainable considering the high level talent on this roster.

Or is it really that high level anymore?

Patrick Marleau was almost invisible in the playoffs against the Blues, who outhit the Sharks and just imposed their will. Marleau just isn’t the same even strength player he once was, and that’s not a good sign for the recent resign.

Let’s be clear, he won’t fall off the cliff next season, Marleau will score plenty on the power play, end up with 25-30 goals but he’s on the wrong side of 30.

It’s clear that his slip in numbers was clearly a result of his reduced minutes with Jumbo on the top line. I’m not saying it’s easy to score 44 goals, but it doens’t hurt when you have the league’s top point producer in the last decade feeding you the puck.

Just ask Jonathan Cheechoo.

Sharks don’t play as a unit – What was looking like a lopsided matchup on paper, has played out to exactly that on the ice. The Blues are the sum of their parts, and collectively they have outplayed every single Shark, outside of maybe captain Joe Thornton.

As I eluded to in the Game 4 wrapup, the Blues depend on one another and trust that the line as a unit will get the job done. Too often you see the Sharks trying to do too much, and instead hurting the team, instead of playing as a team.

Until they start doing that, it’s not going to be much different for the men in teal when it comes to the quest for Lord Stanley’s chalice.

I am hoping for the Sharks best effort come Game 5, sadly that just might not be enough this time for San Jose.

Go Sharks

NHL Playoffs 2012 : Lack of focus sinks Sharks 2-1 in Game 4

The San Jose Sharks fell short in their bid to tie their opening series against the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 Thursday night, giving the Blues a stranglehold on the series 3-1. Head coach Todd McLellan made changes to the lineup, inserting Handzus and Winchester, while sitting Moore and Galiardi, trading some size for speed.

And for the most part, this tactic served the Sharks well for some stretches in the game as the size helped win some of the scrums for the puck. The Sharks had a decent jump and did a much better job winning the loose puck battles and being stronger along the boards. While the Sharks may have played a good game, at this stage it will take much more to force a Game 6 in San Jose.

A lot was made of the Sharks experience heading into this series, coming off 2 consecutive Western Conference Finals in a row but to this point the young Blues look much more composed and ready to play. The Sharks top line has been invisible to this point, outside of some late assists from Joe Thornton late in Game 3.

The Sharks leaders and “experience” has not netted them the results they have desired so far, with yet another costly penalty taken late in the game with the team trying to build a comeback.

Meanwhile Blues forwards like Andy Mcdonald and David Perron are leading their young and inexperienced team and downright embarrassing the Sharks with their work ethic and hustle. Further, the Blues are continuing the trend of scoring first, and sagging back to the 1-2-2 and stifling the Sharks with an aggressive forecheck.

Brian Elliott continued to look impenetrable with excellent rebound control and looking in control, and the Blues block shots better than any team I have seen in quite some time.

But it’s still another loss in what was almost a must-win game for San Jose, and was it ever a classic Sharks playoff loss.

Sharks fans will recognize the signature style of loss by the familiar problems for San Jose; struggling breakout, horrible shot selection, high neutral zone turnovers, and an overall inability to adjust.

Down 3-1 and heading to St Louis for Game 4, the Sharks just added more weight to their lunchpail and have a huge hill to climb.

Has the window closed on this team? Or are the Blues just that darn good? Whichever side of the coin you believe, the Sharks certainly looked nothing like a playoff team, let alone an elite one.

Elite? Is this team elite anymore? Honestly you’ve got to ask yourself that question given the age of the core and how horribly they have played for the most part outside of Joe Thornton.

Patrick Marleau finally made an appearance last night, although most of his play was marked by soft play along the boards and making questionable choices with the puck.

Factor in his horrible boarding penalty late in the third, that effectively neutralized the Sharks power play and it’s a fair estimation to say that he is struggling to make a difference right now.

Dan Boyle had a horrible game late and he seemed completely flummoxed by the Blues forecheck, especially with just a minute to go and a open net in his own zone.

Joe Pavelski continues to be ice cold, logging 5 shots and getting his helmet cuffed off his head ceremoniously in the third period.

Brent Burns, Martin Havlat, and Ryane Clowe each made several errors during the game, stepping out of their role and trying to do too much. This simply cannot continue to happen, when you are talking about a team that plays defense as well as the Blues do, you have got to make every chance count.

Instead the Sharks desperation has them trying to do too much individually, and hurting the collective.

This is a serious contrast in relation to the Blues, who seem to be more a sum of their parts versus the Sharks not trusting their linemates and trying to do too much.

San Jose keeps talking about the tough breaks and the funny bounces, but a good team makes their own breaks, creates their own bounces. And if this Sharks team wants to make any kind of noise this year, they are going to need to start making their own breaks and playing as a team.

Go Sharks

NHL Playoffs 2012 : Five Reasons the Kings Sweep the Canucks

Canada’s lost sons, the Vancouver Canucks may be getting their leading scorer in Daniel Sedin back in the lineup after quite an absence. Having lost their last six playoff games, a seventh loss means the Canucks will be golfing a tad earlier than they had planned.

While the Canucks put up a great effort in Game 3, they were unable to solve Jonathan Quick or put the clamps down on either Mike Richards or Dustin Brown.

This team is still extremely talented, and figures to come out firing on all cylinders. Problem is, they are still going to be swept tonight, and here’s five reasons why.

5. Dustin Penner is alive

The last time I saw a Dustin Penner play this way in the playoffs was when he was wearing a Duck sweater. Let’s just stop talking there #badmemories.

mmmm.... pancakes.... OW MY BACK!!!

4. Roberto Luongo is still Alain Vigneault’s man.

Easy enough to figure out right? Lu is still the man for head coach Alain Vigneault, despite the fact that Schneider has been superior than the over-rated Luongo. Vigneault claims to have already made his decision, but is not ready to claim his starter as of noon Wednesday.

3. Ryan Kesler and Dustin Brown

After winning over some critics last year with his play in the postseason, Kesler has reverted back to the same whining, diving antics that often detracted from what tremendous skill he did have.

All the little things this guy does on the ice are no good when he’s flopping around and allowing his emotions dictate his actions. He’s been held without a goal for the last 16 games, and it’s clear the Kings are completely in his head.

Dustin Brown

I’ll admit, I’ve said my share fair of barbs when it comes to the Los Angeles captain. I’ve called him overrated, a poor leader, and a choker, but not this year. After being dangled at the trade deadline, GM Dean Lombardi has certainly lit a fire under the captain.

He’s had an up and down year so far, but is putting it together when it counts. With four goals in the series, he has the same amount of goals as the entire Canucks roster.

2. Special Teams and Defense

Once one of the strongest teams in the NHL, the Canucks just aren’t the same on defense and the power play / penalty kill anymore.

The Kings have racked up five of the team’s nine goals via special teams, which also includes two shorthanded scores.

Alex Edler has also made some horrible mistakes this series, just a small snapshot of what exactly is wrong with the Canucks blueline.

1. Jonathan Quick

And you were expecting???? Quick has quietly joined the elite ranks of NHL goaltending this year. In stark contrast to his performance against these very same Canucks two years ago, Quick looks dominant and in the zone.

He’s allowed four goals in three games, and with four in his last 11 games he’s got as good of an Conn Smythe argument as anyone in the NHL right now.

Best of all? the Canucks don’t seem like they believe they can solve Quick, especially after Game 3 where Vancouver clearly outplayed LA but failed to get the job done.

Yes, the fourth win is the hardest. Yes the Canucks will be fighting for their lives. Yes this is uncharted territory for the Kings.

No, none of this sways my pick of LA sweeping Vancouver out of the playoffs

If you own a business in Vancouver, now might be the time to sell.

 



NHL Playoffs 2012 : Raffi Torres to spin the NHL Wheel of Morality

We’ve all seen the signs, the disturbing hits and cheap shots that have seemed to ramp up lately in the NHL. Things that cross the line of competitive fire and balance, into an ugly gray area of dirty play, cheap shots and intent to injure.

It’s been a disturbing trend of declining respect among their peers for NHL skaters, but last night’s hit on Marian Hossa is one of the more disgusting plays I have ever witnessed on NHL ice, even for a dirtbag like Raffi Torres.

I hate Raffi Torres, with every fiber of my being despite the fact he no longer pulls the Canucks sweater over his head before games.

Early in Game 3 of the Blackhawk-Coyotes series, Raffi “Soul Patch” Torres left his feet, delivering his shoulder squarely into the face of Blackhawk forward Marian Hossa. Hossa was immobilized and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Hossa was nowhere near the puck when the hit occurred.

With the cheapshot hit, Torres makes himself the next contestant to spin the NHL’s Wheel of Morality.

Problem is, the changes we were all promised last year with Colin Campbell’s resignation haven’t seemed to materialize.

Shana-ban has looked inconsistent with the surprisingly rough and tumble first round of the NHL playoffs.

In the first 22 playoff games, teams have racked up 804 penalty minutes, with the Flyers-Penguins series topping the charts in Game 3 with 158.

Shanahan has clearly missed on several opportunities so far, but this is the one clear chance for him to make Raffi Torres a shining example.

Make any excuse you wish for this hit, because it has no place in hockey. period.

Banning him for the rest of the postseason would be reasonable, the Hockey Files believes Torres should be gone for 10 days, but sadly I think that a repeat offender like Torres gets nothing but a slap on the wrist.

Here’s to hoping I’m wrong.

UPDATE : It looks as though Shanahan is serious about Torres, as the NHL just announced he’s been suspended indefinitely pending a hearing. As I’ve said before, this guy needs to be suspended for the duration of the playoffs as an example of his stupidity.

The hearing is set for Friday, April 20th.

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=628445

Riot Watch 2012 : Kings look to sweep Canucks in Game 4

The Los Angeles Kings ( and Dustin Brown ) look to put the finishing touches on their first round, and doing it in epic 8th seed style.

Assuming Los Angeles does sweep the President’s Trophy winners by winning in Game 4, it’ll be the first sweep in franchise history, and yet another disappointing finish to the Vancouver season.

The casual fan may look at the 0-3 hole, and spout the normal cliche sayings, about taking it one game at a time, about living in the moment, about taking care of business.

Yes, there will be experience on the ice Wednesday night, even the kind that knows how to come back from a 0-3 hole. Why is that so rare you ask? Only three NHL teams have overcome 0-3 deficits to win a best-of-seven playoff series, and there’s 2 guys that know just how to do that for the Canucks.

Sadly, they are wearing the wrong colors as it’s Kings’ forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, who accomplished the feat as Flyers just two years ago.

Why yes I am basking in the warm afterglow of Vancouver’s epic meltdown, because after leading the NHL yet again for the majority the season, the Canucks have self imploded after just 3 playoff games.

Why do I hate the Canucks? Why doesn’t everyone is the better question. Being perceived as a bunch of arrogant divers doesn’t help their image. But the way the team quits or folds like oragami while being portrayed as elite or acting as though they are elite is what rubs the casual fan the wrong way.

Which makes it all the more delicious that the Kings have completely untracked the Canucks, and while the meltdown isn’t as complete as say… the meltdown against the Blackhawks two years ago, it’s still plenty bad.

Dustin Byflugien couldn’t be prouder… unless of course his name was Dustin Brown, captain of the Kings who has scored 4 goals in the series… the same number of goals scored by the entire Canuck team so far.

He’s also been throwing his body around a little… care to ask Henrik Sedin?

The Canucks are hoping that superstar Daniel Sedin will be healthy enough to play, but this team looked beat in Game 2. If they hope to stave off elimination, the big question will be… who is Alain Vigneault going to turn to in net?

While common sense may dictate that Schneider get the nod again in net, as he did in Game 3, my vote is for Roberto Luongo.

And why not? in this tale of regular season success gone wrong, who else would make the perfect poster boy for President’s Cup failure?

Maybe the better question is, will Vancouver riot after being swept out of the playoffs? Will Vancouverites have the common sense to not trash their own city and pride after their beloved Canucks are swept?

Common sense says no….. they will not be doing that again… because we all believed them last year right? 😉

I was going to say something witty and clever here, but words somehow escape me

This actually hurts to say… but… Go Kings.