Sharks Quietly Look Ahead- The San Jose Sharks have officially moved on from last season as a franchise. Though tough to do considering how the last season ultimately ended, realistically they have no other choice but to move on. The focus seemingly has come off of winning a Stanley Cup for now. The Sharks as a franchise now are looking to put together a team of the right players that will guide to move them forward into next season and beyond. The Sharks started out with a draft that for the most part found some players that with some seasoning and time could be impact players for the Sharks within a few seasons. The Sharks also took the “Moneyball” approach to free agency, and by doing so found a couple of players that will each bring something to the ice. Make no mistake, 2014-15 will be as much about growing pains as it will about being as competitive as they can be given the room under their salary cap structure. As a Sharks fan, Stanley Cup thoughts are nice but right now is simply not the franchise’s time for that. That may come down the road and fans (including myself) need to accept that it may be a couple of seasons before the Sharks are truly at that level again. That said, it does not mean the Sharks can’t or won’t compete. They are all professionals and are some of the best in the world at what they do. If the franchise is going to move forward, the Sharks are at least taking the approach of trying not to live in the past. What’s done is done at this point and the Sharks have taken the approach that the one thing they can do now is look ahead and built towards the future. It’s in the best interest of the franchises all things weighed and considered.

The good news about all of this is that the Sharks will be moving towards a young core with Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Tommy Wingels, Mark Eduoard-Vlasic, Brent Burns leading the way. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will still be important role players on the team, however the leadership will no longer be completely in their hands. Team Teal will more than likely be a drop off from 111 points from last season and that is to be expected. The Sharks at this point are still a playoff team, though a lower seeding between sixth and eight in the Western Conference is about where they will land by the end of the regular season. As far as the post season goes, getting out of the first round especially with having to go through the division will be a tall order at best. If the Sharks seed seventh or eighth, they may draw a first round opponent out of the Pacific Division, but going through most likely Chicago or St Louis will again be a lot to ask of this team. This is the landscape as it is now for Team Teal.

Wingels Resigned- The big news this week for the Sharks was the resigning of restricted free agent forward Tommy Wingels, 26, to a new three year deal. This is a good move by the Sharks for several reasons. Wingels is one of those players who only knows one way to play the game, extremely hard and all out on every shift. Wingels has been one of the best underrated players the Sharks have cultivated and is a true warrior. Wingels was the first person to challenge Dustin Brown of the LA Kings after his knee to knee hit on Thomas Hertl last December. Brown wanted no part of Wingels whatsoever and refused to drop the gloves when challenged. Wingels not only went to bat for Hertl, he went to bat for every player on the Sharks roster. Wingels is a solid contributor on the ice. In 77 regular season games, Wingels had 16 goals and 22 assists. Seven of his 16 goals scored were game winners. Having played in all but five of the Sharks regular season games last season, Wingels has been one of the Sharks more reliable players.

Wingels overall has appeared on 157 games for the Sharks and has 60 career points. When he is on the ice he always takes notes of who the opponent is and often times will give or relay instructions to his teammates. Wingels has all the qualities of someone who can be a true leader on the ice as he has earned the respect of his teammates and coaches. With the team Captaincy up for grabs this season, Wingels is at least a candidate for being either the team Captain or at the very least an Alternate. Wingels is someone who is not afraid to work hard and play harder. He is willing to do jobs for the Sharks that in the past were only done by players such as Owen Nolan, Ryane Clowe and Michael Ricci. Wingels is a complete package and is certainly worth every dollar the Sharks are paying him. He will be an asset the Team Teal can count on to do whatever it takes. All of this makes Wingels one of those “right players” a team needs to be successful in the long run.

Hannan & Sheppard Return- On Thursday the Sharks announced the re-signing of veteran free-agent defenseman Scott Hannan to a one-year contract reported worth a cool million. Hannan has three goals and nine assists in 56 games for Team Teal last season. Hannan, 35, began his NHL career with the Sharks after being drafted by the team in 1997. Hannan has just under one thousand career NHL games (568 with the Sharks), and has always been a player who has been a quite leader who knows how to grind with the best of them. He may not be able to play the game as he did much earlier in his career, but more often than not has found a way to be a solid contributor wherever he has gone. In addition to his career with the Sharks, Hannan has also spent time with Colorado, Calgary, Washington and Nashville before finally coming back home to San Jose.

The Sharks also re-signed restricted free-agent forward James Sheppard, 26, to a one-year deal this past Tuesday as well. Sheppard according to Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson has proven himself to be one of the hardest working players on the team. When Sheppard was acquired by the Sharks he was recovering from an injury that seemed to have set back his career. Once he finally got the call to come up to Team Teal, he showed that he can more than hold his own on the ice. Sheppard is not the best player on the team nor the flashiest. He probably won’t light up the scoreboard very often either. What Sheppard does bring to the table is a willingness to work hard and is a total team player on the ice. Like Hannan, he takes directions very well and is willing to battle for the puck, roll up his sleeves and get dirty. Sheppard in 67 regular season games for the Sharks last year scored four goals and had 16 assists. Sheppard is hardly a newcomer as he has spent his 323 game NHL career between the Sharks and the Minnesota Wild.

Both signings to some may not sound all that exciting at face value. However with both Hannan and Sheppard the Sharks have two players who when on the ice are hunting the puck actively and are not afraid to challenge the opposition. Both players in many ways do the little things that when executed well set the table for the team as a whole. When you look at most rosters in the NHL, it players like Hannan and Sheppard who play the small roles which can make a huge difference to the team. Hannan on his own is a veteran of many NHL games and his experience as a player will help to mentor the younger core of players who are going to play bigger roles with Team Teal this coming season.

Sharks Trade for Tye McGinn- Just before the July 4th holiday weekend Team Teal announced they acquired forward Tye McGinn from the Philadelphia Flyers. In exchange for McGinn the Flyers get a 3rd round draft pick from the Sharks. McGinn spent most of last season with the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms. There McGinn scored 20 goals and had 15 assists in 54 games played. McGinn also had a cup of coffee with the Flyers last season playing in 18 games. While in Philly, McGinn scored four goals and was someone who could always be counted on to hunt down the puck and was very tenacious at it. McGinn is the younger brother of former Shark Jamie McGinn, who recently signed a new two-year deal with Colorado.

I actually like this move because with the Sharks going to a younger bench, this will give McGinn a good opportunity to crack the Sharks opening day line up and be an everyday contributor. McGinn may not be quite at the level of his older bothers’ skill set (and fans really should not be expecting that either to be fair), however he has shown that he can play at the NHL level and maybe a good value for the Sharks in the long run. McGinn has good speed and can be a solid player on either the third or fourth line. What McGinn needs more than anything is just the time and space to show what he can do. If DW was looking for a player that can bring some good value to the franchise, McGinn just may be the player he was looking for. McGinn won’t solve all of the teams woes or short comings, however he will be one of those who goes to work each and every shift and will give it “Max effort” each time he sees the ice. That is all you can ask of him.

Other Sharks Signings- In addition to Wingels, Hannan, Sheppard and McGinn, the Sharks have also signed Taylor Fedun, Bryan Lerg, Michael Haley,John Scott and re-signed Matt Tennyson. Fedun has spent his time with the Edmonton Oilers organization mostly with their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City. Fedun had 10 goals and 28 assists in OKC last season and may be viewed by the Sharks as another player that can deliver a lot of punch for the value. Another AHL find by DW is Lerg, who was the team Captain for Lake Erie. Lerg is a player who in his time in the AHL has 76 goals and 78 assists in just under 300 AHL games. Lerg not only has a good scoring touch, but is not afraid to mix it up either as he has amassed over 100 penalty minutes. Lerg is a player that will back down to nobody and will always have the backs of his teammates. I like this signing a lot and will give DW credit here. Meanwhile Haley, like Lerg can take care of himself as he is not afraid to mix it up. Haley has spent most of his career in the minors with 57 goals in 369 career games. Haley last season played for the Hartford Wolf Pack, the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers.

The Sharks also signed former Buffalo Sabres enforcer John Scott to a one year contract.  In house, the Sharks also resigned Matt Tennyson to a two year deal. Tennyson has seen time with the parent club though spending most of the season with the Sharks AHL affiliate in Worcester. A number of these new names are not in any way household names now. Only time will tell if they even come close to that. Most of these new players will likely spend a good deal of time with the Worscester Sharks. The idea is here is to restock the AHL roster with the hopes that enough of these players will show that they can compete at the NHL level. This will at least give Team Teal some badly needed help at the AHL level. Also look for players such as Mirco Mueller to crack the teal line up. If the Teal-White game this week was any indication of what’s to come, training camp in September may turn out to be one of the most competitive in the history of the Sharks franchise. To keep it real, this is the direction the Sharks chose to go in. Fans will need to be more patient than ever. Let’s hope the Sharks will reward their fans patients soon enough and make all of this worth while in the long run.

Forbes 7 Most Valuable Franchises- Yahoo Sports reported on Forbes Magazine’s seven most valuable NHL franchise. The San Jose Sharks are not amongst them which may not be a huge surprise considering the news of their TV deal going public a few weeks ago. Surprising neither the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks made the list either. Who are the most valuable franchises are according to Forbes? Here’s the list**:

7) Vancouver Canucks. The oddity here is that the Canucks rose 15% in value as a franchise despite missing the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons last year. The franchise is worth approximately $300 million.

6) Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks having won two of the last five Stanley Cups hasn’t hurt them much as a franchise, not to mention playing in the third largest media market in the United States. With Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane being signed to 8 year, $84 million extensions each this past week, it will only increase the value of this storied franchise. The franchise net worth is approximately $306 million.

5) Boston Bruins. The Bruins approximate net worth is $325 million. The Bruins if not for their Cup victory in 2011 would have truly one the more tortured fan bases. At the same time, they also have one of the most loyal fan bases you will find anywhere.

4) Detroit Red Wings. Arguably one of the most successful franchises in NHL history. The Red Wings have the longest running streak of post season appearances with 23, having last missed the post season in the 1989-90 season. The franchise has won 11 Stanley Cups in their history, the most of any USA based team. Net worth of the franchise is approximately $336 million.

3) Montreal Canadians. The Canadians are to hockey what the New York Yankees are to baseball or what the Boston Celtics/Los Angeles Lakers are to basketball. 24 Stanley Cups to lead all franchises even though their last cup title was 21 years ago. It’s a special kind of history and legacy passed down from generation to generation. It means a lot in to the City of Montreal. Franchise net worth: $445 million.

2) New York Rangers. It certainly an advantage to be in the top media market in the USA, the Rangers have always more or less been New York City’s team of choice (with all due respect to the Islanders who really represent Long Island, and will soon represent Brooklyn). The Rangers have some of the most loyal fans in the game. If you ever have the privilege to see this team at Madison Square Garden, Go! It will be an experience. At the same time, be on time for the start of the game. Their fans expect as much from each other as they do from the Rangers team itself. It did not hurt that the Rangers made the Stanley Cup Finals this season despite the loss to the LA Kings. Franchise net worth: $507 Million.

1) Toronto Maple Leafs. The City of Toronto is arguable the hockey capital of North America (though I’m sure those in Montreal and New York would argue otherwise.). The Maple Leafs next to the Canadians are the second most successful franchise Stanley Cup-wise with 13 Lord Stanley Trophies. The only problem is that last one they won was in 1967. Despite the long cup drought, the franchise is swimming in money. Having the best TV deal in the entire league doesn’t hurt. Playing in Canada’s largest city and media market is a huge asset. If this franchise can even get their financial windfall to translate onto the ice, they will have something special. Maple Leafs Net worth: $550 Million.

A Good Move- This coming season will be a special one for St Louis Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz. Starting this season and likely for the remainder of his playing career Schwartz will now don the number 17 on his uniform, changing it from number 9. The reason for the switch is to allow Schwartz to honor his late sister Mandi who passed away from acute myeloid leukemia in 2011. Schwartz sister played for the women’s hockey team at Yale and wore #17. The number became available when Vladimir Sobotka left the Blues for Avangard Omsk of the KHL. Ever since the passing if Mandi Schawrtz, the Yale Women’s Hockey team has promoted causes that raise awareness for bone marrow transplants. The Blues hockey team held a practice at Yale University last January when the team was on the road versus the New York area teams to show their support, coinciding with the Yale’s Women’s Hockey teams fund-raising drive. Mandi’s #17 jersey still hangs in the Yale’s Women’s Hockey team’s locker room.

Heatley Is A Duck- Former Shark Dany Heatley signed a free agent deal with the Anaheim Ducks this week. The deal is for one year, the financial terms were not released to the media. Heatley has spent the last three seasons with the Minnesota Wild, having come over from the Sharks for the Martin Havlat experiment. Heatley, 33, has the second most power play goals of any player since 2001-02, when Heatley came into the league. Heatley also ranks fifth in goals scored since his entrance into the NHL. It will be interesting to see how things will work in Anaheim as Heatley has a reputation for wearing out his welcome everywhere he has played. However less may actually be expected from Heatley as the Ducks also added through free agency Ryan Kessler, and already have a loaded roster to begin with. This will be interesting to watch.

Leave The Ice Girls Alone- The San Jose Sharks announced this past week that they will for the first time in franchise history have "Ice Girls." Many Sharks fans are up and ire about it and are dead set against it. Some have gone as far as to actually set up a Facebook Page to protest the Sharks decision to use ice girls. Other "fans" have gone as far as to threaten to cancel their tickets if the Sharks use the ice girls even just one time. First of all, I have absolutely no problems with the ice girls one way or the other. I am fine with it if they are they, and I am fine with it if they are not. It's a non issued with me and frankly not the most important thing the Sharks should be doing anyway. Remember that the Sharks like any other sports franchise are there to market their product, and this is only something several NHL teams are already doing. San Jose and they Bay Area being "Too Good for that" is just BS. Let the ice girls be, they are harmless. All they are going to do is skate out during a few breaks in the action once a period and scoop up ice shavings, nothing else and nothing more. This is a non-issued and frankly a non-story really. If you want to cancel your tickets over it, that is your call but maybe just cool off a little first and think it through. Team Owner Hasso Plattner has already hinted threats to relocate if season ticket holders leave. The Sharks have much bigger PR problem resulting from the franchises record post season collapse last season.

Non-Hockey Item: LeBronCenter- If you are an avid viewer of ESPN (still) and are looking for any news not involving LeBron James, outside of their coverage of the World Cup you are out of luck. First off and for the record, LeBron made the right decision going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron left the Cavs four years ago to chase down a pair of titles with the Miami Heat. After the Heat got their arses handed to them by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA finals last month (Thank You Spurs!), it may have become clear to LeBron it was time for the Akron native to go home. Apparently LeBron has already mended fences with the Cleveland community and all of Northeast Ohio. LeBron made the right decision.

Now that this has happened...Hey ESPN! LeBron signed with the Cavs, that’s great but it’s old news already! Move on! I know I will never see hockey highlights on your network again let alone any NHL coverage. I’m fine with that, other networks have it now and treat the sport with the respect you’ll never show it (despite the fact ESPN2 was more or less built on the foundation that  NHL Hockey laid for it). It’s no longer SportsCenter. Now it’s LeBronCenter.

However now there are no more baseball highlights or if there are they are buried somewhere where you have to be fortunate enough to watching at the exact moment they show a highlight from any game (usually only involving either the Yankees or Red Sox). ESPN has a love affair with the NBA that is undeniable. That’s great. However ESPN seems to forget that the NBA and World Cup Soccer are not the world’s only sports. Oh wait, they did cover the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on the 4th of July. My bad. By the way, Congrats to Joey Chestnut (SJSU Alum).

Just remember ESPN: NHL > NBA.

...just my two cents...

The Kingshark

M2C #76



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