Monday, April 23, 2012

Who's Out After Sharks Collapse

Remember how my last post was about how the Sharks stole Game 1 of their series. Well, they couldn't manage to steal another. In what is possible one of the worst playoff exits in recent memory for San Jose fans, the Sharks played terrible hockey and ended up losing the series without winning another game. They couldn't hold their 1-0 lead in the 3rd period in Game 5 and went on to lose in regulation, with Niemi surrendering two goals in the last 7 minutes of the game.

With the sharks playoff failure in mind, the question now falls to the front office management: who's out? A disappointing playoff exit such as this one always brings about buzz that a star player or coach is about to leave the team. Who will it be?

Todd McLellan
The first candidate is almost always the coach, in this case Todd McLellan. But I don't think he should go, nor do I think he will go. Remember, McLellan has a solid resume, taking the Sharks to the conference finals in 2 consecutive seasons. This one blemish should not dictate his future on the team. Many stars underproduced this season and he is not the reason for San Jose's lack of success.
Verdict: Safe

Joe Thornton
A change in captaincy is always an option, but in this case, given Joe Thornton's production, both in the regular season and the playoffs, he is absolutely untouchable. He is definitely not the reason for San Jose's failure.
Verdict: Undoubtedly Safe

Patrick Marleau
Now we're getting somewhere. Marleau has always kind of been the Sharks playoff scapegoat, a guy who produces well enough in the regular season but ends up hiding in a corner in the playoffs. He was stripped of his captaincy a few years back because his lack of playoff production. Is it now time for him to say goodbye to the Sharks? First of all, it is important to remember that Marleau has a no-trade clause. It'll be extremely hard to get rid of him. He will have to approve any suggested trade, and that means he will have to be dealt to a good team. No good team will want to part with one of their stars for the notoriously underperforming Patrick Marleau. Even though this move makes a lot of sense, I don't know if the front office will be able to work out a deal that is favorable to San Jose.
Verdict: Should happen, but won't due to contract

Antti Niemi
Although I don't blame Niemi for the series collapse, I do think he greatly underperformed this season and is on the chopping block. The only problem is, who might replace him? If the Sharks front office thinks that Thomas Greiss is ready to be a starting goalie in the NHL, then the Niemi move would probably be an obvious one. Otherwise, we could always poach a goalie from one of the illustrious goaltender tandems. We could acquire one of St. Louis' goalies as an option. But in the whole, I think one of the other players will be the first to go, if any.
Verdict: Tough to tell, a lot depends on Greiss' abilities

Ryane Clowe
Clowe has been as consistent for the Sharks as anybody since he joined them full time in 2006, but his name has been thrown out there as a possible candidate for jettison. And I don't agree at all. Clowe is one of my favorite players because of his toughness and physical play, something the Sharks have lacked recently. One of my knocks on the Sharks has always been their reluctance to play physical, but Clowe has embodied the opposite notion for much time now. He needs to stay, but who knows how the front office will view him.
Verdict: Shouldn't go, but might

Those seem to be the leading contenders for departure. Another possibility is that Doug Wilson himself gets replaced. If that happens, look for us to see the new San Jose Sharks, with Joe Pavelski as captain and Couture, Clowe, and Pavelski leading a younger brand of San Jose Sharks hockey.

It'll be interesting to see how this offseason plays out for the Sharks. They will either have to go with their aging veterans for a couple more years or begin a youth movement with Pavelski and Couture at the helm.

Whatever happens, it'll be fun to watch.

Go Sharks!

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