Kukla's Korner Hockey
The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired defenceman Roman Polak from the St. Louis Blues for Carl Gunnarsson and the 94th overall pick.
The veteran center truly believes that his best chance at winning a Stanley Cup is with the Sharks if a few changes are made, and it would mean more to do it there with long-time teammate Patrick Marleau, who he waited to make sure signed in San Jose before signing his own extension. Thornton hasn’t submitted a list of acceptable teams to GM Doug Wilson, and hasn’t been asked to do so either. That likely won’t change anytime soon. Because of that, it’s hard to envision a scenario where Thornton would okay a deal.
In theory, the Sharks could try to force him out by stripping him of the captaincy before the season starts, but the reality is that Thornton would probably accept a back seat on the leadership front to younger players like Logan Couture or Joe Pavelski if everyone felt it was the best path to a championship in San Jose.
-Craig Custance of ESPN on Joe Thornton. vVa ESPN Insider, but you can read a few other topics without a subscription.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
"I want to play in San Jose," Marleau said Monday at Media Day for the NHL Awards, where he is up for the Lady Byng Trophy. "I want to win there."
Marleau said he and San Jose captain Joe Thornton, the Sharks' longest tenured players, have already discussed next season and getting back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs to make amends for the team's collapse against the Los Angeles Kings. San Jose blew a 3-0 lead and lost to the Kings in seven games in the Western Conference First Round.
"We're looking forward to next year," Marleau said of him and Thornton. "It's going to [stink] having to go through all the 82 games to get back in the playoffs to get to that point to actually do something about it."...
Marleau and Thornton, though, are in control of their futures in San Jose with full no-trade clauses and three-year contracts that kick in this season. But Wilson's talk of a rebuild can be taken as a clear sign that he's telling them they should waive those no-trade clauses if asked.
Marleau said the topic has not been discussed yet with management and he hasn't thought about it. He doesn't seem to have any interest in doing so either.
I do believe we have a frustrated San Jose Sharks fan.
The content of the overnight email I received is below and was not modified...
from Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Friday made some of his most pointed comments to date regarding what he views as his team’s fatal flaw.
Appearing on the NHL Network’s NHL Live! program, Wilson was asked by host Steve Mears what needs to change regarding the team’s culture after the latest playoff failure.
“There’s a comment that was made by a group of my players, that we were co-workers and not teammates,” Wilson said.
“Really, what that means is they really hadn’t dug down to be there for each other and commit to what teammates have to do to be successful. Look at L.A. The things that they did, the game sevens where they just stuck with it, coming back against us, taking care of each other. Ours was somehow lost a little bit. Our players acknowledged it, I’ve listened to them, our coaches have acknowledged it.
"That’s what I’m talking about when it comes to culture, is being a great teammate and playing the way that we need them to play, not the way that they want to play.”
continued and below, listen/watch Doug Wilson on NHL Live yesterday...
from James A. Conley of Shnarped,
The Sharks have posted franchise valuation increases in every season since 2006 and hold the league’s second-longest playoff appearance streak at 10 seasons and counting.
The hockey is good in San Jose, and the fans are good as well — better than 97 percent attendance in 2013-14 for a franchise that is among hockey’s newest in a market that is one of its most unproven.
Like Pittsburgh, San Jose has a good product on the ice (if one that doesn’t always live up to expectations). But now, like Pittsburgh, the Sharks could be entering a period of turmoil off the ice.
It took a few years of viable hockey to turn Pittsburgh’s business model into a good one. Over the last decade, few teams can match the Sharks’ level of sustained success.
So if the on-ice product in San Jose is good (and it is), why are the Sharks suddenly in danger of being swept up by the NHL’s business undertow?
Certainly, a poorly negotiated television deal can’t be the straw that’s breaking the Sharks’ back?
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
The Sharks have told Antti Niemi that he will have to compete for the net with Alex Stalock. Niemi has one year left on his contract; Stalock just signed a two-year extension. They told Boyle that they wanted to make room for younger defensemen, and they have told Brad Stuart something similar. Stuart has a limited no-trade clause and one year left on his contract. Vlasic is already an elite player. Brent Burns is moving from the wing back to the blue line, as was the plan. The Sharks think highly of Justin Braun, Jason Demers and Matt Irwin, and then there is Mirco Mueller, the 19-year-old prospect the Sharks drafted 18th overall last year.
Thornton and Marleau are trickier. They are still elite players as they approach their 35th birthdays. Thornton ranked second in assists last season with 65, three behind the leader, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. Both were in the top 16 in scoring. Marleau won a gold medal with Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics. But Thornton had two goals and three points in the seven-game series against the Kings – including zero points in the final four losses. Marleau had three goals and seven points – including zero points in the final three losses.
It should be noted that the Sharks chose to re-sign Thornton and Marleau six months ago, and Wilson said this at the time according to the San Jose Mercury News: “What I love about them is not only do they make some of the other players around them much better, but they’ve really allowed the growth of the Logan Coutures and the Marc-Edouard Vlasics and the Joe Pavelskis.” McLellan said this: “I think they’re just going to keep the same level at least and maybe get better.”
SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Mike Brown to a two-year contract.
During the 2013-14 regular season, the 28-year-old Brown posted five points (two goals, three assists) and 75 penalty minutes in 48 games with San Jose. Brown also registered two points (one goal, one assist), a plus-one rating, and 26 penalty minutes in six postseason games, including scoring his first career postseason goal in game vs. Los Angeles.
SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has re-signed unrestricted free agent goaltender Alex Stalock to a two-year contract.
During the 2013-14 season, the 26-year-old Stalock posted a 12-5-2 overall record to go along with .932 SV%, 1.87 GAA, and two shutouts in 24 games. Stalock finished ninth in the League in goals-against average (1.87), but did not play in enough games to qualify among the League leaders. Furthermore, Stalock set a new Sharks franchise record for longest shutout streak, posting 178:55 of scoreless play ranging from Jan. 5 at Chicago to Jan. 27 vs. Los Angeles. In three relief appearances during the 2014 postseason, Stalock posted a .929 SV% and 2.05 GAA.
from David Pollak of the Mercury News,
What strikes me about the present situation is the fact Wilson himself is calling for a rebuilding period. When has he used that term before to describe what he’s doing? Never.
The Sharks are sensitive to the market they operate in. The philosophy has been a simple one that guides both the hockey side and the business side: Put a credible team on the ice every season, one that gets you into the playoffs where anything can happen. One of these years, everything will fall into place.
No, the second part of that hasn’t worked out as planned yet. So maybe it is time to come up with a new approach.
The concern has always been whether the San Jose fan base will stick with a team going through a rebuild. The prevailing wisdom is that, without a favorable local TV contract, the Sharks rely more on attendance than a lot of NHL teams. Maybe Chicago can survive a few years of half-empty buildings (see the 1990s and early 2000s), but not San Jose.
A knowledgeable source says the Sharks’ season-ticket base dipped 3,000 the last time the team didn’t make the playoffs in 2003, enough to get everybody’s attention.
Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea answered some emails today...
Who do you see the Sharks getting in return for either Thornton/Marleau? Who do you believe will benefit the team?
That all depends on how flexible they are with their no-trade clauses, but at this point, it’s hard to imagine the Sharks getting anything in return that would immediately help them to become a better team next season. The kind of club that would be interested in Thornton or Marleau would be looking to add a final piece to what it believes to be a team that’s close to winning a championship, so it’s doubtful it would want to part with a key ingredient for an aging veteran, even if both Sharks players still likely have some good years left.
I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve seen about the Sharks that make the argument that they will be worse next season if they trade Thornton or Marleau. Yeah, well, no kidding. That's completely missing the point of what Doug Wilson and Todd McLellan have said they want to do this offseason. Thornton centered the Sharks’ best and most consistent line in the regular season, was second in the league in assists, and Marleau is still a 30-goal scorer. Not even management is trying to convince anyone that the Sharks would be better on the ice without that pair, which suggests to me that they may be content getting prospects and/or high draft picks in return. Trading either or both of them would be about a culture change, with the ultimate goal of being an elite team again in a few years.
read on for more Q & A regarding the Sharks...
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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