Has the job of NHL General Manager ever been more challenging than it is this week? The trade deadline is Noon Pacific time Wednesday. Between now and the deadline there will be 16 games played, 9 tonight and 7 more tomorrow. As of today there are 11 teams not in a playoff spot that are only 4 or fewer points away from getting in. What to do?
There’s so much to take into consideration. If you’re close to making the playoffs do you add to your team in the hopes of getting in? Or even if you think you can get into the playoffs do you really believe your team has a chance of going deep or will it be a one and done? Are you a buyer? Are you a seller? Do you stand pat and put your faith in the group you already have? Are you sending your team a negative message if you don’t add to the roster or if you subtract from the roster?
There are lots of questions and a myriad of answers. This is a week when the NHL’s General Managers are earning their pay and a week upon which they will be judged going forward.
I’m Randy Hahn.
Truncated - "shortened by or as if having a part cut of"
Unpredictable - "not predictable; not to be foreseen or foretold"
Uncomfortable - "causing discomfort or distress"
Sharks - "mostly marine fishes, certain species which are large, voracious and dangerous to humans"
Realization - "the making or being made real of something imagined, planned"
Home - "a house, apartment or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family or household"
Home - "the place in which one's domestic affections are centered"
This truncated season has been unpredictable and since the Murray trade the Sharks players have shown they are uncomfortable with the realization that home as they know it could change via a trade unless they play well at home, which they have done so far by shutting out the Ducks and Wings in back to back games.
Stay tuned hockey fans, this improbable season is just kicking into high gear and don't try and figure out what's going to happen, just enjoy the ride.
It’s always such a pleasure to call the action when the San Jose Sharks face the Detroit Red Wings. The style of hockey that is played is, all at once, fast, hard skating, thrilling, and clean. It brings back memories of some great Sharks triumphs along with some bitter Sharks disappointments, but it really sets the tone for the way that professional hockey ought to be played.
When the Sharks last faced the Red Wings in the 2011 playoffs, all of hockey got more of the same. That series was the finest of all of the series played that season, with the possible exception of the seven-game Final series between Vancouver and Boston.
Last night, at HP Pavilion, another awesome game was played between these two long-time rivals, and the Sharks captured the victory, 2-0. Antti Niemi was outstanding in net, but it took contributions from everyone working together in order to get to the desired result.
You have to tip your hat to the Red Wings for putting together a solid effort of their own that was typical of their history. In fact, one of the more spectacular individual moments in the game occurred when Pavel Datsyuk performed some magic in a one-on-one situation with Logan Couture. Check the evidence here, from the point of view of the Detroit telecast:
Logan Couture is one of the most competitive and talented players on the Sharks roster, so when you watch what Datsyuk did, you see why he has to be one of the truly best players in the game. Couture, by the way, had an excellent night in all three zones, and celebrated his 24th birthday in style with the Sharks win.
Let the homestand continue!
It is amazing what a trade can do. Even though General Manager Doug Wilson insisted that the trade of Douglas Murray was not meant to send a message to the rest of the team.
However, every trade sends a message intended or unintended.
Joe Pavelski said it best in an interview during the game in Anaheim.
"That's on us." He emphatically stated in regard to a good friend and teammate leaving the team.
He further explained that if the team and individuals had performed better then no one would have been traded.
Since the trade, the Sharks have played two games that are two of the best they have played this season. Two games where the team didn't lean on one line or a goaltender to steal the game. Two games where you can point out every player making a positive impact and competing every shift for 60 minutes.
Message or no message, the GM has certainly got the attention of his team.
It’s impossible to know what stretch of the Sharks season will end up being the most important to their playoff hopes. Maybe it was the 7 game winning streak at the beginning of the year that gave them a cushion? Or it could come down to the final two games of the season on the road in Phoenix and LA. But the next 4 home games against Anaheim, Detroit, Phoenix and Vancouver will certainly tell us a lot about where the team is heading and perhaps where some individual players are or are not heading.
The NHL trade deadline is a week from today. As of this morning the Sharks are in a playoff spot, 8th in the West. If the next 4 games go well they’ll be in good shape at the deadline. If things go sideways they could fall out of the top 8 in a hurry.
I’m not required to provide “keys to the game”. That duty is left for far more advanced hockey minds than mine. (Remenda, Baker, Hedican, Brown) But these are MY Great White Bites, so here are my keys to victory tonight against Anaheim.
Urgency and focus.
It was great that the Sharks broke out against Anaheim Monday and scored 5 goals. But it’s hardly time to start feeling comfortable. I’m guessing the Ducks are going to be in a snarly mood tonight and the Sharks have to match that with urgency from the first drop of the puck.
And then there’s the issue of focus. When things have gone bad for the Sharks it’s usually been a loss of focus/composure over a 2 or 3-minute stretch that sees the game get away from them. They overcame some adversity within that game Monday and settled down to close it out. That needs to happen again tonight.
I’m Randy Hahn.
• Douglas Murray, aka the Crankshaft, introduced all of us to his patented “head down, eyes up, hit-back.” Cranker would have his head down to lure opponents to come and hit him but unbeknownst to them his eyes were up – meaning just before they hit him he planted his 245 lb. middle linebacker body and offered the hit-back. Opponents would get credit for a hit yet they ended up going down …. Hard! Good luck in Pittsburgh Cranker and thanks for all great memories in San Jose. You will be missed both on and off the ice!
• With Jon Cooper getting the Head Coaching position in Tampa Bay a void was left for their AHL team, the Syracuse Crunch. Ex-Shark player and assistant coach Rob Zettler was named Head Coach of Syracuse – congrats to Zetts who is one of the best guys I have ever met.
• The Sharks just completed a stretch of 15 games out of 20 on the road. The Sharks spent 28 of the last 43 days on the road and a rough estimate of about 42 hours of time in the air. Remembering your hotel room is the least of your concern, especially when the wins were hard to come by. The good news is this tough stretch of the season is now in the rear view mirror and the Sharks are still clinging to a playoff spot.
• What’s in store – 7 home games in a row, 13 straight days in San Jose and not having to eat every meal in a restaurant. Here’s to some good home cooking both at home and on the ice where the Sharks have a home record of 8-1-4.
It’s great to be back in San Jose where we have the best fans in the NHL.
What is “Billy Mosienko Time?”
For those of you who have listened to our broadcasts, you know that it means that a team needs more than one goal to force overtime, but time is dwindling in the game. It’s named for the late Billy Mosienko, who scored three goals in just 21 seconds for the Chicago Blackhawks on March 23, 1952, at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.
What is “Teemu Selanne Time?”
For those of you who have seen the Finnish Flash play, it usually means that it’s a Sharks game where he is on the opposing roster. Selanne scored his first NHL goal against the Sharks at the Cow Palace, way back in October of 1992, and he’s close to becoming the first player to record 100 points against San Jose in his career. But so far this season, Selanne has not recorded a single point against Sharks Hockey, and the team is hoping that stays that way in the final two games of the season series.
What is “Marleau Time?”
It’s the third period, where Patrick Marleau has scored more goals than anyone since the 2005-06 NHL season. Marleau has two goals on this trip, and one of them, scored on March 18th at the Honda Center against the Ducks, came at the 19:31 mark of the second period, which is pretty close to being “Marleau Time.”
What is “Sharks Hockey Time?”
When the Sharks really need to record a win, they tend to gather all of their energies and get it done with a combination of determination, resolve, goaltending, and timely play. As the road trip concludes, what is definitely needed is a little “Sharks Hockey Time,” which might need some “Marleau Time,” but hopefully no “Billy Mosienko Time” and definitely no “Selanne Time.”
See you on the radio tonight.
I have been sequestered into digital silence because I broke my computer. Broke being a euphemism for completely wiping out the hard drive. In the age of computer notebooks, tablets and smart phones, I'm getting dumber.
Now for my GWB.
The Sharks gave up another first goal of a career recently. It is fifth first the Sharks have given up this season. In fact 81 players scored the first goal of their career vs the Sharks.
I tossed that number at Joe Thornton the other day and he asked which player of the 81 had gone on to score the most goals in his career.
Great question, far too good for me to answer, so enter The great Darin Stephens our graphics and stats man from Comcast SportsNet.
The top five goal scorers who tallied their first vs the Sharks are:
- Teemu Selanne-670 (and counting)
- Jason Arnott-419
- Tomas Holmstrom-243
- JP Dumont-214
- Valeri Kamensky-200
It is a freak stat to be sure but interesting nonetheless.
Sitting here in front of my computer at the Sharks Saint Paul hotel, I can’t remember a game where there were so many “connections” like tomorrows’ against the Minnesota Wild.
Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell all played for the Sharks and Charlie Coyle was drafted and developed by the Sharks and ended up with the Wild as part of the Brent Burns trade. On the other side Burns, Martin Havlat and James Sheppard all played for Minnesota. But the connections don’t end there.
Todd McLellan spent 4 years in the Wild organization as their AHL Head Coach at Houston and won a championship there. Assistant Coach Jim Johnson is a University of Minnesota-Duluth Hall of Famer. Defenseman Justin Braun was born in Vadnais Heights, just outside the Twin Cities. Goaltender Alex Stalock was born and raised here in St. Paul and won a WCHA championship with UMD, Johnson’s alma mater. Sharks Assistant General Manger Joe Will worked for the old Minnesota North Stars before he joined the Sharks and scouts Pat Funk and Rob Grillo are both Minnesota guys.
And last but not least there’s the immensely popular Sharks former Assistant Equipment Manager Rick “Rickey Bobby” Bronwell, who now holds down the same position with the Wild.
Connections aside it’ll be “All Business” tomorrow as the Sharks and Wild meet for the first time this season and continue the battle to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Skating - quickness, speed, mobility, agility, backwards
Hockey Sense - ability to anticipate and make the right decisions ... quickly
Compete Level / Win Battles - have to win battles to get the puck
Puck Skills - stickhandling, quick hands, puck protection, making and catching passes
Ability to Score - some players have the knack, others don't
Size / Strength - helps to win battles and endure a grueling schedule
Leadership - ability to make others better
Intangibles - discipline, experience, good details/habits, work ethic, not injury prone
It takes a combination of all these attributes to be a great player and to build a great team. The fastest team doesn't necessarily win, neither does the biggest or the most skilled. Building a team is like making a great stew, you need just the right ingredients and they have to all compliment each other.
The Sharks along with every other team they are competing with to make the playoffs are trying to find just the right ingredients. Isn't that what makes hockey, and sports for that matter so interesting; watching teams try and find that right mix of character of chemistry. The Giants did it as did the A's and 49ers and now the Sharks are trying to do the same thing.
Don't forget to set your clocks for 11am PST on Saturday - that's game time against the Wild. Should be a great game.