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.