Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Great Expectations?

How much is too much ... or not enough?

First, I would like to , yet again, apologize for not writing anything for so long.
 Apparently, while I wasn't looking some of you emailed me asking for more of my tirades. Life and ... well many excuses, are at fault for that.
I will try to get better.

Now, onto business:

The Sharks have started on a roll. They destroyed opposition left, right and sideways, kids were playing well, the fans lexicon got enriched with the acquisition of the term "Hertled", beer flowed at the tank and everybody was happy.

And then they weren't. Because lately the team has been playing sub-par at first, then really bad and more recently, completely shitty. Their defensive game has been shot to hell, the Sloth is not stopping much (unless you listen to Drew who thinks Sharks goalies are on the top of the world), their special teams are especially bad and they are not scoring with the same ease they used to. And stopped scoring altogether in the shootouts.

But this time I do not want to dissect their game. Nothing I would say would be really new. They have been through this and , invariably, it's almost the same story every time, players not executing, Coach is stubborn and the GM is ... golfing I would guess.

No, this time i want to talk about us, fans .. and what we feel, what we expect , what we should allow ourselves to hope, etc.
See I spend a lot of time on the Sharks board ( http://fans.sharks.nhl.com ). It's a neat place to kill some time, if you know some hockey, posses a sense of humor and have a tough skin. It is not a place for everybody but those who fit in, love it.
On that forum we have a weird cat, a guy who fancy himself a lord of sorts. We, lovingly (I had to add that so I don't be accused of libel) call him a queen.
I have had a heated exchange with him that made me thinking. Are people really that stupid?
It all happened after the Sharks game against Winnipeg. It was an ugly game filled with mistakes, missed assignments, poor work ethic and ultimately, despite an early fortuitous lead, a horrible choke, crash and loss by the Sharks.
This dude, however, comes with a serene post stating how much he enjoyed the game . When challenged he comes back with a few gems I would like to share here.
His general idea is the Sharks are a mediocre team, and his reasoning seems to start and end with this

 ... This team has no NHL superstars ...

  Those are his own words. He goes from the premise that Joe Thornton is washed out, Patrick Marleau is a total failure, Couture doesn't exist and so on. And in a way he is right, none of those are the few young and fresh superstars of today. But then Tampa has one of the biggest , Washington has a couple and so on. How did that help them so far? And let's look at production this year:
 Pavelski is no superstar but he has the same amount of points as Datsyuk, a guy who is consistently talked of as one of if not the best overall player in the world. Couture is one point behind and Marleau is only two, despite having a poor season so far and is on par with the Superstars that are Kane and Toews. And Joe Fatbutt is still being double matched most of the time and still the go to guy when the Sharks need a spark.
So yes .. The Sharks do not have Stamkos or Ovechkin .. but is that necessary? Overall the Sharks  have five forwards among the top 30 in points in the league right now. More than any other team present in that top 30.
Yet somehow this "Lord" who wears sandals at games, tries to tell me that :

  SJ is a middle of the pack NHL team
 Technically speaking, they are 5th in points in the league right now, so off the bat, according to current numbers, this guys is wrong.
He then goes on sand spurts this gem
They’re not underachieveing because they’re not collectively that good to begin with

Sooo what he is saying is the Sharks over-achieved to start the season and are now closer to their actual value.
 And here starts the debate. Is he right? Are the Sharks a team that should consider a loss to a lowly Winnipeg Jets team coming from behind?
Looking at the numbers we will see that the Sharks overall numbers for this season and last season and the season before, are not matching at all what happened in Winnipeg and the few games before.
Shots for, shots against, goals for, goals against , turnover ratio etc, nothing indicates that the Sharks have played at their "middle of the pack" norm, according to statistics. ( if anybody is interested in seeing numbers , let me know and I will post them, but there's too many to go over right now)
More than that, even to a non-astute viewer, it was clear in the past few games the Sharks are playing well bellow their usual level.Their passing is sub-par, the entries in the zone are chaotic, backchecks are horrible, their zone D is failing at the cracks because of missed assignments and bad reads .. and their goalie is not stopping much. That is supposed to be "normal" according to the Lord of brainfart, yet somehow for 10 games or so, that was not the case. Was that just pure luck? Apart for a couple of games it did not look like it.
And then we get to the core of what  was trying to build up to
 The over-expectations of how SJ stacks up against the other 29 teams I think is ridiculous.  It may explain why there's such deep disappointment after games in here lately. 
That quote along with the previous quotes and some other things that have been said and that I will leave them in the forum, points to a defeatist attitude and an expectation of fans to share such attitude.
Am I wrong? What should the expectations of the fans be? Should the fans prepare every season , and every game, for total failure out of fear of disappointment, even though their team showed signs that they could be an actual contender.
Should they be expecting and be content with eternal failure?
Should they give up on hopes and dreams because one madman says so?
What do you think, fans, and not just of the Sharks?
The alternative is to

Just watch the flow of great NHL hockey
even though it was far from great recently. The kind of flow seen from the Sharks recently is more suited to the beer leagues the Lord of sandals drunkenly waddles on skates every now and then, not on NHL ice.

So I ask again, is the Lord clueless, facetious and delusional or should we all embrace defeat, expect the worst and absently and dumbly cheer for every play that is not totally atrocious?

Let me know.

PS. And as usual I am sorry for any typos, grammar mistakes and so on.
If I keep writing these I will proofread them eventually :)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

We Have Liftoff !

And there will be blood

A new hockey season is upon NHL fans everywhere, young and old, hardcore and bandwagonner, drunk and sober. 
And it came with a bang. Just ask George Parros's head. I heard it all the way to the 24 hr Fitness on Santa Teresa.
He'll be fine. And so will be the season
one can hope.
Because the first day was ...
... well, to exemplify, let's look at my takes from the first day of hockey in the 2013/1014 NHL season.

1) Their Media streaming sucks. To be more exact, CI for mobile. It blew last night. Kept cutting off every 15-30 seconds and then it was taking up to a minute to fill it's buffers and play again.
Sure, you, the reader will say: "meh it's your phone or your signal sucked".
So , since I am a geek, I am going to beak it down for you:
The phone is a Galaxy S4.  Quad core 1.9Ghz proc, 2 G's of RAM, customized Android, all bloat removed, only 11 essential background processes enabled (your average off the shelf Android fun runs three times that or more) 
So it's not the phone.
The signal, according to Android, was : -83 dBm, 14 asu. That is basically 5 full bars with another to spare.
Speedtest showed 6.4 Mbps. A quick ping of the servers the app seemed to get the stream from showed a return time of 5.8ms and further testing showed a ridiculously low packet loss. Not to mention that HD Veetle and Netflix worked flawlessly.
So it wasn't the signal. It was their app/service. And it is a handsomely paid service, so fix it you moronic clouts. BTW if any of the NHL monkeys reads this, I have logs from last night if you need proof.

2) Montreal blows. Last season it was a fluke and if the first game is an indication, they will go back to their old suckee ways. They deserve it anyway since PKS was awarded the Norris. That is supposed to be awarded to the best all around defenseman, not the one that scores most points. Sure it is not his fault the Professional Hockey Writers' Association is a collection of moronic sensationalist media types, but Karma is a beoatch and MTL deserves some payback . 
I actually did like the game( or what I was able to see of it, no thanks to NHL) but it would have been a much better game if half of both MTL and TO squads suffered some form of groin injuries inflicted by a stout foot planted in the nether regions. Yes I like both that much :)

3) If Grabovski punches points at a quarter of the clip he did last night he will make the TO brass look like fools. Not that they are not already, but further proof is always welcome :) .The Caps though, I don't know, they looked good at times but horrendous some other times. They are in for a long season. Goaltending is still shaky and i am not sure they can hold defensively without a solid performance in goal. 

4) The Oilers are still a headless collection of young and dumb but extremely talented , and stupid, players. That ragtag collection of testosterone and testicles still waiting to drop can't seem to grasp the concept of total effort and doing your absolute best or stepping up or what have you. They seem to be so delighted about some good individual play they had made and get too caught on in the monent, only to mess up two three times a few seconds later. 
This is NOT the NBA or NFL. Get over yourselves and get back to work.
Or change the sport if you like to act like buffoons.

That is it for today. I will try to do this at least once a week this season.

Enjoy the season, fools!
And drop a line ... it doesn't bite.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

We'll Get Them Next Time , Boys!

We'll Get Them Next Time , Boys!

Is what the Sharks possibly told each-other after they pooped their collective pants in game 7.
It's what athletes do, even when they don't necessarily believe it, to try to lessen the pain of defeat, the crippling burning of failure that should burn the inside of any and all losers (although with the core of this team it's quite possible they have become numb to said pain .. but now I'm speculating).
It's the off-season, teams are gearing up for next "year", they trim fat, dump useless ballast and reload with fresh and energizing talent in their quest for the ultimate prize. 

And so do the Sharks!

Or do they?
Well let's see at what they have done so far.
Draft day. This is a day when teams line up and pick the future stars of hockey from a pull of youth. It's a day when a team's scouting personnel's keen eyes get their day of glory and a day when a team's GM and his staff get to show their vision.
It is also a day when, historically speaking, Mr Wilson has gotten ... mixed results, shall we say. Many years of dumping picks for band-aids or failed experiments or purely wasting them to jump up a few spots to get a guy they would have gotten anyway, while jumping over better prospects in the process, have left the Sharks cupboard VERY bare when it comes to top end or even mid-range talent. Or any talent if you really want to be honest. 
But no matter the past, the future is looking at us in the eyes, and the Sharks start the day with a lot of picks and with their lessons learned.
That is why the Sharks first move is:  trade one of their 2nd rounds picks for Tyler Kennedy's rights. So what, you say, but the guy was a decent producer at one point, for the Pens. Won a cup with them and all that jazz. Yea but see, in the mean time his production dropped and suffered a concussion that sort of neutered him to an extent. And don't forget who he played with in  Penguin land. And he was due a contract as well. And that he was a healthy scratch at length during the playoffs. The Sharks had guys on the team that pretty much emulated his numbers of late. Why the need for ? .. oh never mind let's move on, the Shark's will pick in 15 more minutes. 
Except they didn't because they just traded up TWO SPOTS giving up ANOTHER 2nd round pick to "get their guy", Mirco Mueller.  All respects to Mirco and his mobility on defense but that trade makes him a lot more "valuable" than the top 3 draft picks since they were worth only one first round pick , compared to our Mr Mueller who is now forever known as the kid worth two picks : a 1st and a 2nd. You better come in, play right away and be fantastic at it awhile score 20+ goals this season because, kid, that's what Doug thinks you're worth. Now, some will say : Wilson did it because CBJ were going to pick Mueller. Ok so? there were other players in the draft, some of them very promising  natural Left Wingers .. you know, the kind the Sharks sorely need . And then you trade up and you don't get Mantha who is a beast of a kid and if developed right could have a better impact than some of not all the top 5 picks? 
But the point is, another wasted pick. All of a sudden, the multitude of options at 2nd round, the possibility to do a little extra restocking went pretty much out the window.
Now truth be said I do like some of the Sharks later picks but there were two more players on that 2nd round list that could have been in the Sharks development camp this summer/fall.
So , yet again, Doug Wilson sticks to his reckless and, some would say, ruinous" habits of wasting chances. Because that is what the draft is: a process in which you stock up on chances.  Some people like to give themselves as many chances as possible, as little as they are. Not Doug Wilson, he bets all his money on 33 black, all the time.
That is ok, some would say. Doug will get them through free agency. 
Okidoky, let's move on to that. But first, there is a trade. T.J Galiardi has been traded to the Calgary Flames for a 4th round pick. In 2015. That really happened.
I understand that getting Kennedy might have made T.J. expendable, but ... giving up a 2nd round pick in a year with a good and deep draft class for someone you could probably have had on the open market , while basically dumping a guy who , by basic numbers, is really not worse, especially when you take in consideration, again, who Kennedy played with.
But what is done is done, free agency starts and:
 Greiss signs with Phoenix. No real surprise there, the Sharks have handled this guy absolutely horrific. They promised him many things, delivered him none, they left him without a goalie coach at a time when he really needed one, they shipped him to Sweetieland for a season so they can have their "Battle of the 1A and 1B Finnish goalies" in net, and that right after the whole summer they told him he's actually going to do battle with Nitty for the #1 spot. But Doug went and got the Sloth instead and buried Greiss on a team with horrible D. 
I am sad and glad at the same time. Grease Lightning ( as fans have taken to calling him) has now a new, possibly last, chance. He's going to work with a real goalie coach and could fix his issues and actually become a decent backup goalie in the NHL for years to come. The chance is small, as he's going to play behind Mike Smith who has been good in the last two years so not much playing time is going to be given to Greiss .. but who knows. Best of luck to you!
And then the Sharks go on and break the bank on .. absolutely nobody. They made the signing of Couture official, they did sign Kennedy, they kept Hannan for one more year and, of course, they signed Stalock the Saviour. And again they play the friggin slimy political games they did before, they announce there will be a "battle" between Stalock and Sateri on who is going to play with the big boys and who stays in Woostah. No they are not, you know damn well you'll give the job to Stalock, Wilson, why the lies? Stop acting so friggin "corporate" ... it doesn't suit you. And maybe that is what is needed, since Stalock will not see much playing time while Sateri will have a chance to get better as the actual starter in Woostah.
Except he probably won't ... he'll probably get worse ... since he's working with such a great goalie coach. 
This team, a team that once was a good goalie farm, is not a complete mess in goal. There is no real goalie coach with the big club( Wayne Thomas was/is/will always be clueless, besides he's too busty being a suit)  while in Woostah they have a guy that, judging by his results, really isn't very good, while their drafting of goalies has died. The Sharks goalie program died with the late Warren Strelow. What a shame!
Probably the most exciting news of the off-season, so far, is the announcement that Thomas Hertl will come to play hockey in North America. the Sharks org and fans alike can't wait what this kid is capable of. The Sharks seem to have opened up a spot for him, and they are banking on him coming in and making a difference.
Except this kid never played on an NHL rink. Or against the best hockey players in the world. He has seen success , it's true, but in a rather, inferior league where the speed of the game is .. well slower, and the checking is not really hard. He has found success by finding time and space on the ice. The kind of time and space he will surely have a lot less of in NHL. How will his game translate? Nobody knows but to assume it will be a smooth transition is very very optimistic. And then there is his skating. He has worked on it since he was drafted, but it is lacking still. He will have to get on that if said game translation is to be made smooth.
So there are hurdles with this kid but everybody and their dog is looking forward to seeing what will come out of him. and we all hope he'll have an instant impact and make the Crosby's of the world look like fools :) hehehehe

But WAIT .. STOP THE PRESSES .. the Sharks have signed their own product, a legend in becoming and a long time fan favorite, Rob Davison.

who has played in Europe most recently\
and not very good at that

and it's a two way contract


And there you have it. Up till now, it looks like the Sharks plan on addressing their issues ( scoring drought from top to bottom, slowness, predictability, immobility, depth and so on) so evident at times in the playoffs, with question marks like Kennedy and Hertl, while their core is getting older and slower and their production is diminishing rapidly. YEEEEEEY in Dougie we trust!

As fans, we can all hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Because , as of right now my prediction for next season : Second round, nice knowing you.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Die With Your (Skates) On

That seems like the logical way to go
'Cause if you're gonna die...

The long delayed, awaited, or dreaded, or completely unwanted blog in which yours truly puts a fork in them.

So ... did the Sharks keep their boots on?

A quick and dirty analysis would say: Yes.
The series went 7 games, it featured a couple overtimes, and no game was a blowout ( 5 of 7 were 1 goal games), home team won all games and in many of the stats the Sharks actually did better than the Kings.
On paper and in the minds of many stat freaks, all is well, the Sharks hang on to their boots until there was nothing left.
Unless you take a little deeper look.
And you start with: the beginning.  
Game 1, Sharks are the better team , by many standard, for most of the game BUT, they break down , to a man at the end of 1st giving up a soft goal by all standards. And then another one midway through second. 
They followed that like any championship type team would .. by scoring three unanswered goals and win ... mmmmnno,  actually they panicked, they started mailing in passes, forcing the issue along
 the boards and shooting a lot of low quality stuff without crashing the net. Yes, they dominated all stats but one, yes Niemi held the fort in the 3rd (giving them a chance as some optimists like to put it) after wetting his goalie cup in the 1st and second .. but the end result : LOSS.
Fans say "They should have won that" but you really "should" not win anything that .. you don't win. Period.
And then there was "the hit" the one hit that resulted in the league disgracing themselves with a ridiculous suspension and then an even more idiotic "signal sending" fine to the GM who defended his guy. That suspension was yet another testament to Shanny's legacy ( I really hope he's gone in the fall) of inconsistency and bias. The only consistent thing about Shanny and his bureau of idiots is the frequency with which they got things wrong.

Game 2,  
well this one was a doozy. If not for the epic collapse of the Boston Bruins in game 6 of the finals, this would have been the absolute most embarrassing loss for any team in the playoffs this year.  It still is an nasty one to stomach and a staple of what the Sharks are when push comes to shove. 
Game starts furious and infuriatingly Niemi let's in a goal which I consider soft. even strength, early in the 1st. No worries, plenty of hockey to play, let's get back to work ... sharks start taking back the game but then promptly give up a PP goal in the second. Wash, rinse, get back at it, Sharks start to take control of the game and don't you know Marleau and Stuart pull a couple of theatrical heroics and we're tied at the end of 2nd with the momentum swinging in Sharks favor. to prove that point Vlasic scores one to put the Sharks ahead. with the game under control we're slowly heading to the end of the 3rd , and the game .. when disaster strikes. First, a ridiculous penalty call on Stuart .. ridiculous mostly because the zebras let that sort of stuff go earlier in the game. then there was the highly debated delay of game and the Sharks are down two men for some number of seconds.
No problem you say, they've done this before, they'll kill the penalties and cruise on to victory. Except they don't . They give up two goals in less than 30 seconds, two goals that could have been prevented. 
I blame the skaters on that, I really do .. but mostly I blame Niemi and the coach. Niemi for reasons well known and the coach because he did not seize the opportunity to tweak his game plan and go for an increase in the the lead .. and because he stuck with forcing the issue along the boards all series long, when it was clear the Kings were prepared and equipped to handle most of that.
Epic colapse that came to bite then 
Because it would have prevented a game 7 .. and another early exit from the playoffs.

I will skip the next 4 games. They were the  typical " I will win in my own barn" type of games. Not that the Sharks didn't lose opportunities or blown chances or given up softies ... they did .. but it was bsaically a trade of blows.
And then came game 7.  The one game to win it all, the type of game where legends are made. 
First period, no score. Sharks with a bit of edge in some of the stats but it was just a hard fought period with not many chances on net. A cautios period by two tired and weary teams. That was expected. What was not expected happened in the second. The kings had some life for a while and . they scored two goals. Two absolutely preventable goals both on the part of the D and on the part of the goalie. Two soul jarring life sucking brain busting blunders. And the Sharks are down two nothing.
but then the third period comes and they go all out. Or so it would seem. they even score a goal to cut the deficit in half. But there was something missing. They show no creativity, their system is well read by the opposition and their attacks, while there were a number of them, were not of the ferocity you would expect. The danger level around Quick's net was not what you would want to see. Shots came and went but they did not go in, a lot of them were perimeter or low angle or "let's hit his logo" type. Sure they had legitimate chances but they just weren't good enough. Not as good as they should have been, not as good as this team can create.
and the absolutely most infuriating thing: they "stuck with the system". Dump and chase along the boards with a few minutes to go, for which the Kings were ready/ Pull the goalie and  .. do the same .. force the boards with no results.At no point they tried anything different. As if the coach was under a spell and his brain was completely impotent and the players were brainwashed. It was embarrassing to watch. No team should go down this way. Well that was until the bruins pooped their pants.

And so it was over. The blame  and excuses started falling: oh the refs did us in, Shanny ruined it for us, it was all Havlat's fault, there were too many injuries, at some point i think I heard someone blaming Nabber and Rathje.
And some of that is true.
but do you remember my keys to playoff success for the Sharks this year?
I called on Fatbutt, Marleau Pavel and Niemi to stand up and take this team to the promised land.
Well let's look how they fared in this elimination round:

Joe (Fatbutt) Thornton : 1 goal , three assists for the series. 4 points in 7 games. No points in game 7, no shots on goal in game 7. took a dumb penalty as well in game 7. did the captain do his job? Not in my book but you cast your own judgment please.

Joe (LilJoe) Pavelski, 4 assists in 7 games , no goals. At least he tried in game 7 more than others but still fell short.  I grade him above Fatbutt and probably did the best out of my "keys".

Antti (Auntie) Niemi, on the surface did his job somewhat with honor.  stats-wise he was not terrible as fearthefin and many other stat munchers will tell you. And i partially agree with them. But then he gave up absolutely ridiculous goals at the most inopportune times. And in two of the games, he was one of the top reasons the Sharks lost. He failed in my eyes .. again. With a big F .. as big as the F in his Flops.

And we come to Patrick ( Cap'n Blinky) Marleau. The most beloved Shark in history. The reason for many heartbreaks and fights over at the Sharks board.
1 goal and two assists for the series. No points in game 7 .. worse, no points in last 4 games of the series.  What more there is to say? Mr heartbreak does his job. But his fans still don't see that the combination of the soft spoken and kind Marleau and devil may care attitude in Fatbutt is poison to this team.

And the coaching did not help. How in the world did Mcleeloo get renewed for two more years? Can someone explain this to me? They had no other options? did Plattner told them to stay the course and fix their issue without swapping chairs? Please, if you konw, tell me. I want to understand this. Mcleeloo took an already decent team from Ronnie  right after Doug bolstered it with acquisitions like Boyle, and took it ONE step higher than Ronnie could. And since then it has been going down despite getting the "cup winning and Vezina candidate, Niemi ( whom from now I should call MrStat) , in goal, despite tweaking endlessly the lineup and some of the assistants, McLeeloo's teams simply do not succeed. they fall flat in their faces in a series that was theirs to lose .. and he gets re-signed?
Maybe there is something hidden  behind their decisions and I'll see the error in my thinking in the following two years .. but I have serious doubts.

And here we are now. Since they got kicked in the nads, they re-signed a couple of their pending free agents and they seemingly started a war with Havlat and his health issues. Now many say Havlat needs to be shown the door one way or another but nobody has come up with a solid and cheaper replacement for him. the reality is the Sharks need one or two Havlats ( when healthy. 
A lot can happen in the off-season , we shall see where it all ends but my disappointment  in this team, in this organization, continues. I was so exulted  after the first round, only to be shown the error of my ways in the second. This sharks still has no teeth.

'till a later date .. toodlydoo

your's truly, Da pimp.

PS, bitch all you want about what I said but don't complain about spelling and grammar. I tried to finish this countless times and every time I got angry. so i am not going proofread it. Deal with it :)



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Only the good die young

All the Evil seems to live forever...

This is the taste I have after the first round.
Well some of it
Regarding the East Coast.
Or some of it.

I kid I kid. What a round, eh? ( am I allowed to use that if I am not Canadian?)
The Canucks had to be scraped of the ice after the beating they were handed by the Sharks. The Ducks had no Wings, the Pens were saved by their backup goalie. That Boston series was all kinds of crazy till the end. the Sens showing the Price is not right and ultimately humiliating one of the the most arrogant team/fanbase in the league. The Rags  .. well they were basically willed in by their goalie and  .. ummm well some form of higher but non-celestial power, it seems.
It was a crazy round and I loved all of it.
Except the Penguins and the Rags moving on. That part I hate almost as much as I love what the Sharks did to the Canucks.
My "keys" were almost perfect. Marleau, Pavelski, Niemi and even Thornton played well or exceptionally well most of the time. And they will have to continue to do so. But enough gloating about my brilliance. It is obvious  I am not infallible otherwise a certain Crybaby would not be playing hockey still.
Round 2 is upon us and it starts tonight with the West. Two series with glorious potential. First the Blackhawks are going to try to pluck some Wings for their head pieces. This is a series almost everybody expects to turn into a quick and painless dumping of the wings ... But I am thinking it won't be that easy. Or at least I am hopeful it won't be that easy. At this point, Detroit has already overachieved, according to many , including me. so they must feel pretty good about themselves .. and they might continue to overachieve for another round. At this point I would probably start talking about match-ups, strategies on both sides so on and so forth but knowing both teams pretty well as well as some of the tendencies of the coaches, any "prediction" on that would likely only be valid for a few shifts of the first game. While both teams have clear defined game plans and styles, they both showed extreme ability to adapt. It is going to be a very entertaining series full of strategic fencing by the two coaches and their respective teams. While Chicago has the far better team overall, I do believe this Detroit team who stunned the Ducks, has a chance to put up a fight with their balance of wisdom and youth. the Detroit team that won that last game against the Ducks was not the Detroit team we saw mid-season, tired, broken, dejected.
Mark my words, this might be the most interesting series of this round. Or it might be as most "experts" predict, a boring beatdown by the indians.

At a somewhat opposite end of the spectrum , at least in the coaching department, you have the Sharks vs  LA Kinducks
( this was my dream first round series) 
These coaches are usually asking their players to abide by the system in a very strict manner. Typically. We have seen a bit of change in the Sharks though.  Certain players being allowed more liberties, certain players not being punished for failed attempts at creativity. There is change in the air but for the most part Todd Mclellan is a system guy and so is Coach Sutter. La will try to be punishing all over the ice, they will bang the key guys for the Sharks while trying to win the series relying quite a bit on their secondary scoring. Or at least that is my opinion at the moment. Many in the Sharks fan camp are worried that the loss of Clowe and Murray will be felt in a negative way in this series. I, for one, I am glad they are not with SJ for this series. Kings have been threatening in the first round  on speedy counterattacks. Exactly the kind of plays Clowe and Murray are absolutely horrible at.
Yes they were "the muscle" needed against a team like the Kings but do not forget the Sharks have showed a knack for creating PP's out of nothing. Sure, after all the media outcry following the antics from the first round and the Kings are not exactly that much more undisciplined, so the Sharks will have a harder time to get a PP going their way but the way Wingles and Torres are playing, sprinkled with the efforts of Desjardins and Sheppard and not forgetting Pavelski and Couture and even Fatbutt, the calls will come. And if the Sharks score on those opportunities,  nobody will miss the muscle lost in Clowe and Murray. Not to mention nobody will miss Clowe blowing up and costing the team a goal or three.
But , ultimately, what I am trying to get at, my opinion is that, this is not going to be a series won by secondary scoring as some experts claim, this will be won by the heavy guns and goalies. Especially goalies. If Quick out-duels Niemi by a large margin, it's game over. Niemi has to be just like in the first round. Safe and steady, no extra flopping about, no theatrics, just cover your percentages and worry about the first shot. Quick has showed some rust this season and a bit in post-season but he also tends to get better with pressure so I think the Sharks need to take advantage of him .. quick. As in score  and score a lot right of the bat, throw him of his game and keep him there. Shooting a million low percentage shots from the perimeter, right in his chest and pads  will only warm him up. Pick your spot, Sharks, and make shots count. Rattle his cage and keep at it because if he enters the zone , you'll be playing golf in two weeks.
That is my western coast "preview" attempt. I know, it's pathetic. Blame it on Sam Adams. East coast follows tomorrow.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

First Round Picks

Since every expert and their dog and cockatail made picks for the first round ,here are mine.
for those not familiar with my "system" when picking "brackets" I don't necessarily use "scientific" methods, in-depth analysis and advanced stats. My picks are usually based on gut feeling, my analysis is purely observational and in some cases i simply pick who I WISH they won the series not necessarily who I think WILL win the series.

And without any further ado:


Pittsburg Linuxes VS  NY Isles: I pick the Islanders. I am sick and tired of hearing how the Tuxedo birds will win it all again this year, how they are loaded with more talent than a horde of Korean geeks playing Starcraft 2. And I am sick and tired of hearing about the greatness of Crosby. So sorry, Iggy, you were always one of my favorite players .. but not cup for you again this year, just because you chose those crybabies. Nabber with Series MVP ... probably his last one in NHL giving Flower and extended Russian middle finger.
Suck it , Crosby!

Wash vs Rags: Ovechkin wins ... because  I hate the Rags. But no seriously the Caps were better down the stretch and all their main guys started clicking, and their D started resembling a D. King Henrik is going to pose a problem but there's enough firepower to take care of him , especially when Rags take a penalty.

Ottawa vs Mtl: Good lord, the two pansy frenchie fanbases getting at eachother .. how un-interesting. I pick Ottawa because  ... I find those fans a little less obnoxious than the ones in MTL. and because Price is not right nowadays.

Boston vs TO: Obviously Boston. Because they have Rask .. and Lucic and some other giant dude who plays for them. And because they play Toronto. Carlyle or no Carlyle, that team should not be in the playoffs. It's almost Blasphemy!

Meanwhile in the West:

Chitown vs Minny: Suter and Parisian sneaked into the playoffs and that is an even bigger crime than Toronto doing so. Therefore they will fall with a big thud. Probably kicked out of the ice with Brooms. Chitown for the Win.

Anaheim Vs Detroit: I hate Anaheim .. but i really like Selanne and Fasth. I hate Detroit .. but I absolutely love Datsyuk. Hard fought series but I did not like the contract Jiminnycricket got in goal for the dead wings so I will give this to Anaheim.

STL vs LA: I don't even have to waste any bits explaining why LA takes this series

Vancouver vs SJ: tough one. Sharks should walk all over the dainty divers .. but they do like to make things difficult and quite painful at times. In the end though, bobby Lou wants out of BC and I am sorry but Schneider is not what that skinny asian arsehole thinks he is. Sharks take this despite their tendency to piss me off :)

'Tis the season to be

'Tis the season to be ...

pumped up for the playoffs

It's finally here, The NHL Playoffs, the mother of all sporting championsips...
and the mother of all crushing disappointments for the fans of a team called SJ Sharks.
Yes, I will be Negative Nelly. 
Because I have to be.
Because there's just too much excitement and high hopes in some fan circles, too much exultance and exuberance .
Because there's too much ignorance.
Because the Sharks force me to be that way.

Yes, they did recover after the long stretch of scoring impotence and overall uselessness in the middle of the season. Yes they have made some good trades getting rid of large immovable objects who were dragging them down. Yes they made possibly one of the best "deadline" move of their past three season by getting Torres, Yes they have changed their game and yes they have  fought their way back into the playoffs and into some form of respectability ... according to some standards.
But it's not enough.
Not for me.

See, when I think of the Sharks, I like to think of "what they could be". And when you add up the talent+ experience+intangibles+potential, The Sharks can look absolutely SCARY to any team or fans of other teams.'
But , in real world, they are the ACTUAL Sharkswe know so well, not the ones in my almost-wet hockey dreams.
The Sharks from the real world are highly disappointing when it comes to the playoffs. I know, I know some of you will charge at me saying we are spoiled here in Calilalala land with the Sharks making the playoffs at will, it would seem, in recent years. Boohoo I say .. the dissapointment is even bigger when it happens in the playoffs. 
So what it would take for this team to actually see how it feels to play in the Stanley Cup finals? Well , easy peasy .. beat three teams, four times each. Can the Sharks do it? I believe they can. Will they do it? HAHAHAHA .. mmmmmm most likely not.
Mainly because they key people will falter. They have always found a way to. 
So who are main people and what/why do we have to talk about them?
Main pieces only because I really don't want to talk about why Matt Irwin should not be logging the minutes he does ... or how important Torres is , especially in the upcoming series or potential confrontations with Anaheim, LA or Chicago. There are four people I am looking at for success.
And they are:
The Cap is.. well .. they don't call him Fatbutt for nothing. Not that he's fat .. but at ( frequent) times he's a lard-arse mentally. 
He's "comfortable" when they are struggling  and he thinks they play a good game even when they are losing. ( I can dig out his actual quotes if anybody doubts these statements). This guy, who CAN still dominate a sheet of ice if he really wants to, has become more lackadaisical, about his approach to the game and of the game, every season. Some say what we see is it's just the off-ice attitude and that it doesn't reflect in his on-ice delivery. To that I say : "are you out of your freaking mind?, Have you paid any attention to what happens on that ice?" Yes, Drew, if you read this, it was directed at you. 
This guy is far more capable than what he's been delivering but for whatever reason you rarely seem him unload fully and thoroughly for more than a few shifts in a few games. Mr Thornton, my 2 cents say you will never win the silver chalice until you go into beast mode and stay that way until the final whistle of the final game. A very dear friend once said: true champions not only are not afraid to sweat blood, it's the only way they know how to sweat.  Despite the rise of certain young players, this is still "Fatbutt's team" ...and usually the way he goes so goes the team. So ... what's it going to be Mr. Thornton?
Next, the team's longest tenure player and this town biggest love story with any player in the team's history, the Beloved Blinky .. ok I am sorry, that is rude, Mrs Patrick Marleau, is  ... well ... streaky ... and nonchalant
and nice
infuriatingly nice at times. 
With Marleau, you always know what you get : a string of excellence and then long bouts of drought. His inconsistency is very consistent that way.
The problem is,  his droughts seem to come at the worst possible times, at times when you would expect the team's most loved and at times best player to come up with a rabbit or 5 out of his rear. But, it seems, when the team and fans are at the most time of need of a rabbit stew, Marleau starts cooking rabbit turds.  Cue in all the Marleau fans, led by some "media personalities", furiously waving stacks of papers with playoff stats on them screaming the "clutch-ness" (is that a word?) of their favorite fellow, from the top of their lungs, to which I will calmly reply : show me the data on his Stanley Cup Final games. Or at least the data on him clutchingly clinching a trip to said Final with a pair of timely goals.
Oh yes .. you can't show me that.
Marleau needs to show he has a pair and he has to show it all the time. Sweat blood Marleau.. it's not unfashionable. You can be brilliant. So be it.

Pavelski ... he's mad .. he's really mad. Couture stole his thunder. After all JuicyJuice is the talk of all the towns as "the next generation", "the future", the Messiah" .. ok maybe not that last one.
But What about Pavel? One of the most professionally correct professional if I ever saw one. A guy who can topple kingdoms with a simple quick wrister over the glove of the best goaltenders in the known universe.
Well Pavel has been partly slacking, partlyyyyyyy .. something else. What, though, is unknown. Some injury that is kept a secret? Some lingering issues from previous season(s) ? Or maybe he is in love? That disease has mortally damaged manny a players currently on the Sharks roster. Whatever the cause is, Pavel needs to find the antidote because the team needs him. The fans  need him, Couture needs him.
Are you shocked at my last sentence?  It is true, you know. Yes Couture was , probably, the best player for the Sharks the entire season, and most likely will be the best player for the Sharks in the playoffs, however long they are. But, remember how I said the way Fatbutt goes, so does the team? Why do you think I didn't say "Couture"? Because having Fatbutt on the ice forces certain match-ups from the opposition that work in Juicy's favor, for the most part. And especially when Fatbutt plays well, the matchups become even more favorable for Juicy. Well not imagine you insert a third Variable: Pavel and his line. Now imagine  a Sharks team in which Pavel plays up to his potential, and Fatbutt plays up to this potential, imagine the tough matchups the opp has to come up with and imagine the impact that will have on Juicy's numbers! Now imagine the opp not having to worry about Fatbutt and Pavel. Couture n'est pas plus.
Part of the reason this team is in the playoffs is the fact that each of Fatbutt, Juicy and Couture has his own line. I don't imagine Couture will take too many shifts off, he very rarey seems to do ( hard work is one of the reasons I still don't completely dislike the guy, with his arrogance and all) , which is why I think the performance of Fatbutt and Pavel are more important to the team, than that of Juicy.
Reader, at this point you must think I am nuts.
Wait till you see what else I have to say.

This team needs a good goalie. Or at least good goaltending from the Niemi (lovingly named "Sloth" by the fanbase...or at least some of them ... the ones that matter.) 
Aaaaaaand here come the pitchforks : but how dare I insinuate a goalie who put up those kind of numbers this year and already won a cup and might win Vezina, is not good or did not play good?
Weeeeellll, here's how it goes. I explained in a previous post my stance on our beloved Sloth. To me , he's simply not the right goalie for this team, as in not the goalie that can carry them , will them, push them, pull them drag them to a Stanley Cup. His numbers from this year mean nothing to me, yes he has improved his game, quite impressively in a few areas .. but he is still the goalie that will give up a back breaking sloftie short side on an easy  midrange shot or the typical 6th or 7th hole screwups he comes up with every now and then.
I simply don't care if he stops 3 billion perimeter shots or everything that comes down low, if he flops on his back for a second too long at the wrong moment, or if he forgets to hug his damn post, or if he trips over himself on a long range shot or if he rebounds straight to an opp player at full charge when the entire rest of the ice was empty.
Niemi needs to NOT give up that sloftie and MAKE that extra save he was brought in to make, that save that always eluded a much more technical Nabokov. I can visualize the incredulous look on the face of a certain color TV commentator who called Niemi "MVP" and some other "experts" who coined him a Vezina candidate .. but seriously ..,. that color comentator proved many times over the years he knows very little about us, goalies. Although he was always the "biggest fan" of every goalie the Sharks had.
But I digress.
These are the key elements needed for the Sharks to succeed .
Sure you can talk ad nauseam about other key elements like Boyle and Stuart and Havlat and the secondary scoring and the coaching and their itchy desperate fingers pulling the wrong strings at the first sign of things not going according to their plan. And size and speed and responsibilities and assignments and so on .. but mark my words, this team lives and dies by the actions of the four I mentioned.

As for the upcoming Vancouver Series? All the experts are saying Vancouver will win. I say they will choke in the vomit of the people who got sick watching them dive.
On a more serious note, The Sharks only need to play a sound middle of the ice  game, and crowd the net to win this series.

Hope for the best but prepare for the worst .. GO SHARKS

ok .. bring in on "readers" and as usual .. if you are complaining about grammar and typos .. I don't care.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Shark's midlife crysis

Twenty four games in.
Eleven wins
Thirteen losses
(barely)Negative goal differential
Middle of the Western Conference standings.

Sounds like anybody you know?

It is the middle of the shortened season. It is the "start" of the final push. It is the beginning of the battle for playoffs relevance, a battle to prove your self worth, a battle to climb out of mediocrity, a battle to rediscover yourself.

I have talked, previously, about core issues with this team. I have talked about possible solutions to their problems. I have talked about the importance of the homestand about to start at the time. At a glance, the Sharks did good on their end . They won two out of the three games of that particular homestand and managed to get a point in the other game. So far so good? Not so fast.
Two of the games went to the shootout. They won only one of them.  
Then they went to Vancouver, another shootout, but they managed to win it.
Then they got spanked by a Calagry team that is in the last place in the west, currently, then two losses in OT.
Well yea, the optimist will say, but they got points .
That is true.
But there is an alarming trend :
24 games played, 10 of them were not decided in regulation and went to OT and 7 of those went to shootouts. Yes they are 4-3 in the shootout this season which is ... a decent record some would say.
But let's look at the big picture:
As near as it makes little difference, the Sharks could not beat their counterparts in regulation in almost half of the games so far. What is worse, they lost all three games that didn't go to the shootout.
What is it with this team? Sure sure, I know they have problems scoring and ultimately this is the reason for this debacle  ... but aren't they scoring?
We talked about the "new" system, we talked about the lack of heart ( and balls), we talked about the lack of depth, we talked about the team culture, we talked about a coach losing his "voice" , so on and so forth.
But what goes beyond that, if anything?
Midlife crysis.
Every man finds himself, at some point in life, in a void. He has had his job/career for a number of years, possibly been successful at it in some shape or form, he quite possibly has a family and kids and he provided for them as best he can. Now the kids are in college or in their own jobs , or married, either way, mostly on their own. The job is monotonous , the co-workers are annoying, there really isn't much room to grow and the youngsters are taking over the office forcing toe man to become more guarded take less chances, play it safe. The wife is off with her gal pals doing some book club or Yoga or some ridiculous diet, and the man finds himself alone with his aches and pains. Suddenly , in that loneliness, his own mortality starts striking him. Then the man makes changes.
This is where the Sharks are.
The core of the team and of the organization has been around for a long time, they  have had some measure of success. But now they are older, things are stale, they can't find their identity, they are scared of taking chances, they are afraid to lose  but not willing to risk much for a win. Younger faster teams are brazen and in their faces, the coach is off in lala land doing things that have little effect.
There must be changes.
Will the Sharks go off and buy a fancy new sports car (trade for a shinny name) to impress the young girls ( fans)?
Will the Sharks clean up the back yard (secondary lines) only to wonder why the front yard is still wilted and dying?
Will the Sharks pick up some ridiculous hobby that will only drain their bank account ( switchback to the "old systems" only to allow more goals)?
Will the Sharks stop caring all together, mail the rest of the season in and go play golf with buddies ( self-explanatory)?
Or will the Sharks decide to stop moping about , fix the creaky door, plant new trees in the front yard, fix the leaky roof, upgrade the kitchen and go to the office, check themselves for manhood and start smacking around the dumb young puppies who are nipping at their heels and get those promotions and bonuses those little twerps took from them so far.
The time for changes is close.
What will they do?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The taming of the Shark

I did not keep my word.
I have failed to write anything in months. I wanted to but something kept me away.
First it was the anger of the, then, never ending lockout. Later it was the thrill of the return of NHL hockey. Then it was the astonishment created by the Sharks' fast start and a little later the disappointment of the unexplained struggles.
NHL hockey has returned to us: fast, loud, thumping, exciting. It is all we remembered and more. There are a ton of surprises. The Ducks were not supposed to be this good, Habs and Leafs were supposed to blow, Oilers were supposed to be better, Caps were supposed to rebound
And the Sharks were supposed to  ...
Well it is hard to tell what the Sharks were supposed to do. After the disappointment of last season many expected the coach to be let go an/or major changes to be made in the lineup. Some even whispered about the GM losing his job. Somehow, none of it happened. Doug Wilson is still in his high chair, he confirmed Todd Mclellan for  another year, and the annual bottom lines shakeup has occurred. The two "major" events of the post-season: Hiring Larry Robinson as AC and bringing "back" an aging, by some standards, Brad Stuart. The rest? Some people have been let go, some other people have been brought in ... and, of course, another annual event for the Sharks: the yearly Doug Wilson reclamation project: Scott Gomez.
All good then, on paper this was looking to shape up like an improvement over last year's .. debacle .. for lack of a better word.
And the Sharks started like a possessed team. The first four games in particular  were  of the "bash your opponent" nature. They were dominating all areas of the ice, they were scoring in any situation, they seemed fast and very compact. Then came the overtimes and shootouts. Sharks kept winning. Fans and media were talking about a Sharks team that can roll through anything the game throws at them. But to the more astute viewers, something was wrong. Then the scoring problems and losing started, culminating, last night, with a rather embarrassing loss to a Dallas team that, recently, has had a hard time keeping the puck out of their own net.
So, how is this possible? After that fast start, how can it be that this team has reached such levels of scoring impotence?
Well, there are various factors at play. First, those with some sense knew the season will start with all sorts of oddities. no training camp, not pre-season games, everybody will be in "tune-up" mode when the season got on the way. the Sharks were among the teams with quite a few "active" players during the lockout, either abroad or in North America's minor leagues. Some of the players who did not play got needed recovery/rest time. It worked wonders .. for a while. The the other teams started getting in "game shape", started finding out who they were, and they started pushing back against the Sharks.
No problem, the Sharks needed only to adapt and work harder. Unfortunately, it is not happening.
There are several problems at play:
  • The Sharks are getting older. Several years ago, Doug Wilson was preaching size, speed and youth. And the Sharks were big, young and relatively fast. Over time, adjustments were "required" to get them over the hill and into the idyllic garden of Lord Stanley's Cup. And slowly the youth and speed has been traded away. What the powers at be call "the core" got older. Draft picks were being handed in exchange for "experience and leadership" and the remaining picks did not exactly bring much of note into the farm. The result: a team that, man for man, cannot keep up with what seem to be today's good teams. No problem, that can be rectified through game speed, like the Wings ( a team Doug Wilson tried to emulate for a while) have done for years. Yea but:
  • The Sharks have become predictable. For the most part, the system put in place by Todd Mclellan has worked, initially. But everybody knows it now. Sure there were changes and small variations but the core of it is still as it was 5 yrs ago. The Coach has tried to change things but got scared when it didn't work and went back to his small bag of known tricks. Another problem with the system is that, it seems, all four lines have to play the same. Now that makes things consistent across the board and allows for the musical chairs game with the on-ice personnel to be done without many surprises .. or so it would seem. But it is not so. Because, it would seem, the system, offensively at least, is tailored around the likes of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. now, while the Sharks have players like Couture or Pavelski that can fit well in that system, the majority of the offensive core simply cannot. they can try, and even succeed for short periods of time and at far lesser levels but the truth is painfully obvious to all with a keen eye and a few working neurons, it simply doesn't work. And it makes you predictable. And it shortchanges, no, ignores particular sets of talents other players have. More on this later.
  • Farm, well there really isn't one. The Sharks farm is, currently, a feeder for bottom lines. there simply are NO prospects projected to blossom into a top 2-3 D-man or a viable top 6 offensive player, currently playing in Worchester. Most teams have a hope or two in their farm systems, whom they bring up once in a while for a short taste at the sweetness of the big boys game, the Sharks have NONE. Doug Wilson tactics have left the cupboard quite bare. There was/is some hope in the goaltending department but while there is talent, I am not so sure about the coaching their are getting. And there is the problem of the scouting staff and tactics: in my humble opinion is completely inadequate. One , very sore, point to be made: in the recent years, they have, almost entirely, ignored skating. I am sorry but what is one of the main requisites for hockey? And look what players have long careers in NHL: those who can skate.  
  • Team culture: much has been said among fans and some media, about the team culture in SJ. Easy going, family friendly, country club atmosphere. It is all true. I am not going to waste a lot of time on this, even though it is , probably , one of the main reasons this team has not won a cup during those years of excellence in the regular season and one of the main reasons they are faltering now, but I will give you an example that sums up all that has been said about this team's "philosophy". Some games ago, the Sharks lost to the Coyotes. in a post-game interview, the Captain, Joe Thornton, made a startling statement : he said he thought they played a good game, and that he is COMFORTABLE with the way they are playing. They have won one out of six games since, against a tired St Louis team featuring their third string goalie. Comfortable!
So how do you fix this?
There are, currently , a few trains of thought in this area:
  • The bottom six are not producing, must make changes . Well they just made changes last summer, and the summer before, and the one before that, and the one before that. No matter what they did , the bottom six simply failed to make notable contribution to scoring. Sure the current crop doesn't sounds very impressive but other teams have the same problem and they still make it work, more or less but definitely more than the Sharks. Maybe the problem is not just the on ice personnel, but it is also in the game they are asked to play. And we go back to the system implemented by the coach, a system that takes away from players' strengths and sacrifices their talents on the altar of the system. sure bringing new faces in might have positive results for a while, it had in the past, but it never lasted
  • Trade for a top 4 winger who can score. This once rings true more than it is obvious. The Sharks have a bevy of Centers but no natural scoring wingers. an no, Clowe is not a natural scoring winger. All their centers can score, but none is a bonafide sniper. The Sharks tried with Heatley for a while but he was one man and got slowed down by his skating , injuries and natural decline ... and I often felt .. well .. the system. The Sharks basically moved Heatley for Havlat but, while he is a winger and can score, he is more of a chance maker. He opens space not just for himself but for others, he is fairly strong with the puck and very crafty with it. But he is not the type of scorer we are talking about here. Not to mention that, after being tossed around the bottom lines for reasons known only to the coach, he seems now lost and unsure of what his place on the ice is. So yes this "solution" could help improve the Sharks ... but is it enough?
  • Fire the Coach. I have never been that impressed with Todd Mclellan. Yes he took the Sharks to consecutive WC Finals but he inherited a dominant team that , at the time of his hiring, also got a much needed boost on both D an O so naturally it was a better team than Ron Wilson had the previous year. I am not trying to knock down Todd Mclellan's achievements with this team but the fact is , since those trips to WCF, the team has gotten progressively worse and while many put the blame on players, Management etc, clearly a measure of fault needs to be put on the head coach himself. In the past couple of years, the on-ice personnel has changed, save for the core. They changed goalies, defenders, offense .. to no avail. Also , the past few years, The assistant coaches have been swapped to the point that only J. Woodcroft is left from the "original" crew of assistants. Whose turn is it now?
  • Don't move a finger. Stay put, let them work it out and figure it out for themselves. this team has a fairly solid core perfectly capable of getting themselves to brighter days. They have had a few sparks here and there in the last three games that would indicate something is moving in the right direction so there is a chance things will return to "normal". More effort on the part of the players, a few tweaks from the coaches and they might start winning again, and probably be consistent about it. There are a few bright spots: the goaltending of Niemi has been better than we've seen from him in the past (it still is not satisfactory for this grouchy "writer" and probably will never be unless he magically drags this team to a finals appearance, which I find extremely unlikely because, in my not so humble opinion he lacks a good number of qualities I find necessary for a goalie to be called "elite" in today's NHL), but save for a number of soft goals and flops and thuds that earned him the nickname, "sloth" among fans, he has been done a good enough job to enable his team to win on most nights.
Now, one has to wonder, is any of the above "solutions", individually, a viable one that will put the Sharks back into the top teams in the league, back into the "Cup Contender" category? Given the problems I listed, I tend to say : no.
Yes , each "solution" listed can make a difference on its own and help the Sharks regain some measure of pride and points but I have a sneaking suspicion none of them, individually will fully straighten the ship, because nonce of them will cover enough of the problems listed.
Ultimately it will the GM's decision, and the history say , he will make a couple of trades and hope for the best.
This blog entry would not be complete without my own personal outrageous and idiotic solution to save the world .. I mean the Sharks:
Give them this following homestand. do not touch anything for a week more see if there is anything to the few bright moments they have had in the last few games. If they can't pull themselves out, fire the coach, bring in a new one with some pedigree (Ruff is available wink wink) or try to pry John Hynes ( a guy I like and who I think could make a good NHL coach) from the baby Pens, and give him the rest of the season to see what he has to work with. then, in the summer, make the tough decisions.
If they manage to right the ship a little bit, get a couple of wins out of the three games they have at home, then  make a couple of tweaks and let them play the rest of the season out. Then, based on the results at the end of the season, make the tough decisions.
Of course, there is the third option. Fire the GM, let him bring his coach, trade away the old core, fix the drafting and development at the farm ( another thing that sorely lacks behind other organizations) and start the long and painful process of rebuilding. I am fine with that. In any case, this team will never win a Cup with the current lineup, coach and culture, baring a miracle, ofcourse.

Bash Away

PS, I was going to put in individual performances from the main names in the line-up but the team's record sort is sort of self-explanatory. They mostly sucked, almost to a man.