Sharks coach Todd McLellan named Joe Thornton captain today — a minor surprise for Sharks fans. A lot of fans, including myself, expected Dan Boyle to be named the 11th captain in Sharks history. Turns out Boyle will be a permanent alternate captain, with Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe alternating the second ‘A’ for home and road games.
Probably the immediate reaction from most hockey fans is that we’ve seen Thornton be a captain before — in Boston — and how it failed miserably.
Thornton, 31, says he’s much more mature now being a father and having more experience as a person and hockey player. While you can’t deny that, he still is very much the same type of person he’s always been. A laid-back, glass half-full type of guy. With that said, let’s take a look at a few of the pros and cons of his captaincy.
- He’s positive. Jumbo Joe will never panic; that word is not in his vocabulary. After every game, he’ll give some version of the phrase, “We’ll be fine,” either after a win or a loss. What’s intriguing about this is Boyle is the opposite. Boyle wears his heart on his sleeve, giving the Sharks a nice dynamic in leadership.
- He’s the face of the franchise. This doesn’t pertain much to play on the ice, I know, but it could be a good marketing tool for the Sharks in reaching out to potential NHL fans. Hockey fan or not, a lot of people know the name “Joe Thornton.” Now they can ID him more easily with the team in San Jose and as a captain.
- Regular season prowess. In order to win the Stanley Cup, you have to make the playoffs. While the Sharks have claimed the top spot the last two years, Thornton’s point totals have fell to the upper 80’s. Having the captaincy could make him step his game up in the 82-game audition for the playoffs.
- It’s a contract year. This could change in the first month of the season, with rumors of an extension going on for some time now. But if GM Doug Wilson chooses to let the season play out, it could be even better play from Thornton, who will be looking to cash in. I think the captaincy also puts to rest the trade speculation, but you never know with Wilson. But in all honesty, I see an extension for Thornton by December.
- He’s positive. Yep, this is exactly the same thing as the “pro” above. Having a captain who is always looking at the bright side of things isn’t always good. Thornton mentioned he likes to keep things light and fun off the ice and serious on it. Sometimes you need someone to step up in the locker room, off the ice, and tell the players what needs to change. When it comes to speeches, I’ve always thought of Joe up in front of the players cracking jokes while trying to convey a serious point.
- Inconsistent passion. Contrary to how Joe says he is extremely passionate about the game, he fails to bring it all every night. You can find him coasting around the ice on some nights, not really caring, and committing atrocious turnovers from lazy passes. That is not captain material.
- Postseason pressure. Joe answered most critics this past postseason playing his heart out. It was amazing to watch, but can he keep it up? Rumor has it McLellan tried to get Thornton to play a rougher style (Only what fans have been screaming for forever) and it worked. Hopefully, Thornton still knows how to flip the switch a notch higher come April, May and June, and this will turn into a “pro.”
- Distractions. The weakest “con” of them all, Thornton did just have a baby and a lot of attention must be given to “Mini Joe.” One of Thornton’s quotes was something like, “I already look after one guy, now I have to look over 22.” It was a quip, but if you’d like to overanalyze, it kind of sounded like looking over 22 players is a burden,
Bottom line: The jury’s still out on Thornton being captain, but no doubt the majority of NHL fans are laughing at the Sharks right now. I’m very weary of the move and would have preferred Boyle be captain with Joe Pavelski getting an ‘A.’ But I’m not a coach or see the inner-workings of the locker room, so for now it’s just about supporting the decision and cheering for the Sharks.
It’s been a while since the last hockey game of the 2009-10 season, and the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks (bleh) are being dismantled.
Sharks public enemy No. 1 Dustin Byfuglien was traded to Atlanta, and a slew of other bottom-half forwards left Chicago.
San Jose has gotten in on the fun by signing Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (RFA) to an offer sheet. Four years, $3.5 million per year.
Not bad, Doug Wilson. Not bad.
Hjalmarsson would be an excellent pickup for the Sharks, whose defense is the weak link of the team. Behind the incredibly bizarre resigning of Niclas Wallin for $2.5 million per year, and Jay Leach being resigned, Sharks fans have been left wondering if DW is really leaving the defense for dead.
There is hope that Douglas Murray or Devin Setoguchi could be traded for Toronto d-man Tomas Kaberle. If DW could somehow maneuver around the cap to sign Hjalmarsson and Kaberle, the defense would be a definite upgrade.
Whether they trade for Kaberle or not, another top-4 defenseman must be added. Former goalie Evgeni Nabokov was not resigned and will now play in the KHL in Russia. DW decided to sign Antero Niitymaki, which again left Sharks fans puzzled.
I’ve always seen Niity as a viable goaltender and hard to beat. Of course, now that he’s on the team, I’m worried about him — especially considering there were other options such as Chris Mason and Marty Turco who have better resumes.
That leaves the offense. Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski were signed for what looks like hometown discounts. The top four players seem to be set in stone. Ryane Clowe and Devin Setoguchi have long been trade bait to fans including this one. If one were traded for a defenseman, that would leave a fairly significant hole to be filled by a youngster.
I’d rather sign another winger as the Sharks have way too many centers to go around. Logan Couture, Torrey Mitchell, Scott Nichol, and now-rumored Mike Modano would be fighting for two center spots on the bottom lines.
Owen Nolan or Arron Asham are options at wing but salary would be the biggest question there.
Either way, I expect one or two trades to clear some space and a few more free agents to be signed.
Hopefully, this new roster will be enough to win the Cup.
Quite the rough-and-tumble game for the Sharks as they held on to all but eliminate the Calgary Flames from the playoffs, winning 2-1. No Jarome Iginla in the playoffs, no worries.
Most impressive was the Sharks ability to withstand and neutralize any sort of Calgary onslaught at the beginning of the game.
It wouldn’t have come as a shock to see an early Flames 2-0 lead. Sharks coach Todd McLellan may have been right, before the game, when he said they were well aware the Flames would be desperate.
Pardon me for questioning the Sharks psyche. It’s not like I’ve had any reason to.
Part of the solution was Evgeni Nabokov. Nabby played great tonight, and it’s slowly becoming realized that he’s getting into a rhythm. Perfect timing.
Even more fantastic is the Sharks secondary scoring is hot. Jamie McGinn scored in the second period for his second consecutive game with a goal. McLellan’s been on his case to pick up the pace and it’s working.
Logan Couture played well again also. One thing I notice about him is that he takes the shot — always. It doesn’t matter where he’s at, he will take it. He does it more than Dany Heatley does. Great things are coming from Logan in the playoffs.
Ryane Clowe continued his scorching pace with yet another assist.
After that forgettable debacle in Dallas, Jason Demers returned to the lineup and added an assist.
The planets may be aligning folks — and now that I said that, watch the Sharks lose 8-0 to Vancouver next game.
None of the big three registered a point or a +/- rating. That might be alarming to some but not for me right now. What was alarming was the laziness of Patrick Marleau defensively. He may have caught the Jumbo-shrimp syndrome; he coasted around the defensive zone not pressuring anyone.
Patty’s played well enough all year that I’ll let the last few games slide so long as it ends in the coming days.
A big criticism tonight was the third period. San Jose couldn’t generate any consistent forecheck, which kept Nabby on his toes. Luckily he obliged, but the Sharks have to learn to push back in situations like those.
In the meantime, I’ll rejoice for another Pacific Division title — until next week.
Hit-O-Meter: SJ 11 CGY 22; Four players had two.
For those wondering, Rob Blake scored the first goal. No suspension for that hit on Mueller, and there should not have been.
All away games are done with for the regular season. San Jose returns home for the last two games. Vancouver is in town Thursday.
Quite the frustrating game for the Sharks as they fell to the Colorado Avalanche, 5-4 in overtime. The Avs are still battling for a playoff berth and showed that in their intensity throughout the game.
It’s really hard to describe the Sharks. I don’t think they played badly, but they weren’t very good either.
Things were looking up for San Jose when they scored two goals in the first to take a 2-0 lead. In his first game back from injury, Joe Thornton assisted on the first goal, so there’s no worries about a slump.
Colorado got lucky when Kyle Quincey stormed out of the penalty box on a breakaway and beat Evgeni Nabokov, which made it 2-1 Sharks.
It was all Avalanche in the second frame. For the second game in a row, the Sharks blew a two-goal lead, and even worse this time was they allowed four straight goals. Joe Sakic-lookalike Peter Mueller scored twice. He’s become one of my more hated players so quickly.
Patrick Marleau scored his first goal in 14 road games, and Joe Pavelski knotted it up with five minutes left.
I was worried about a letdown after the score was 4-2, and for a moment, the Sharks looked like they gave up. But Marleau’s goal re-energized everyone briefly.
Ryane Clowe, who looked like a slightly perturbed bulldog tonight, took a penalty at the very end of regulation to put Colorado on the power play in overtime.
That basically did the Sharks in. Even after the power play, Colorado kept the pressure in the offensive zone. They scored to win the game and put themselves two points ahead of Calgary.
These last few games are great for the Sharks because they’re all against playoff teams (one potentially)– Calgary, Vancouver and Phoenix. Last year, the Sharks had to sift through bottom dwellers, which got them in the lazy, coasting mood.
I do like seeing the goals spread out as of late. Tonight, Douglas Murray and Jamie McGinn had goals along with Marleau and Pavelski. That’s what has to happen come playoff time.
Speaking of, the playoffs start in ten days! It’s time to start getting excited and canceling all your late night plans— well maybe gather your friends in front of a TV, hockey fans or not. The Stanley Cup playoffs are the most exciting postseason in sports. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Hit-O-Meter: SJ 16 COL 26; Murray led with five.
Colorado outshot the Sharks 40-22.
Calgary players won’t be too happy the Sharks lost tonight. The Flames have their chance at San Jose on Tuesday, in Calgary.
Quite the HA HA! game for the Sharks as they beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2. That’s a little Gus Johnson reference for all you March Madness fans.
After taking out two bottom feeders in Minnesota and Dallas, the Sharks proved that they may very well be regaining old form by beating Vancouver. It wasn’t a full 60 minute game, but San Jose wasn’t built in a day.
Vancouver won the first period with a constant forecheck and a goal by the annoying Sedin line. Add the twins to my giant list of people who I can’t stand. That’s all you hear about with the Canucks — Sedin this, Sedin that. They’d be nothing without them. I’m sick of it.
But alas, it wasn’t to be the Swedish meatballs’ night. The Sharks dominated the second period as they do all the time. Three goals came to fruition with Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski netting them.
Heatley shot a wrister on the power play to tie the game, 1-1. Marleau scored on a breakaway after deking Roberto Luongo. No “Luuu” chants here. Patty had a more explosive reaction than usual, which was awesome to see. It’s his 42nd goal. He also recorded three assists for a four-point night.
Pavelski took notes from the nearby San Francisco Giants and batted the puck into the net after an initial shot deflected into the air.
Then — PANIC. Joe Thornton rammed awkwardly into the boards and went down in a heap. Jumbo needed extra help to get to the locker room. Any ripping of Thornton can cease now. If there is one positive, it’s that he hasn’t missed a game in a Shark uniform (I’m fairly certain of that).
He’s getting a bit more energetic while working with Ryane Clowe and Torrey Mitchell on the third line. It looked to be his left knee that was injured. But we all know what we’ll hear tomorrow morning: “Lower body injury.” That’s Top-5 worst things about hockey — the crappy injury reports.
I hope he’s all right.
The Sharks sunk back into old play again and struggled in the third period. Vancouver barraged them with wave after wave, but somehow San Jose withstood it. They did allow one Canuck goal, but Clowe sealed it in the final seconds with an empty netter.
So, while I’d like the headline to be “Sharks continue winning ways,” it’s going to be “Thornton leaves game injured, return questionable.”
Manny Malhotra was struck in the face by a puck late in the game, and blood poured out of his face. Not sure where exactly it hit, but the blood wasn’t stopping. Stitches will probably seal that right up, though. I can’t fathom being hit by a frozen puck in the face.
Hit-O-Meter: SJ 39 VAN 24; Clowe led with seven.
Scott Nichol returned from injury after missing two games. Rob Blake was back on the ice tonight as well after missing almost all of the third period versus Dallas. Blake had two assists on the night to continue his hot streak.
It’s another back-to-back for the Sharks as the Avalanche will be at the Shark Tank, Sunday.
Quite the vengeance game for the Sharks as they shut out the Dallas Stars 3-0. After last week’s debacle to the Stars, it was great to see the Sharks rebound by blanking them. Enjoy the playoffs from the couch, Stars!
San Jose continued the defensive focus tonight, and with the exception of the early stages of the game, there weren’t many turnovers to report. Hard to believe I know.
The lines were pretty much the same from last time with the big three broken up. I don’t see any reason to bring them back together anytime soon either.
The win helped clinch a playoff spot for the Sharks, but that was already a foregone conclusion. I have this awful feeling the Sharks are going to play Detroit in the first round. That would be the worst luck in the world. I’d much rather see Chicago play them so their fans can endure what we did last year against Anaheim. Bye bye Chicago.
It was also goalie Evgeni Nabokov’s 50th career shutout. I’m sure some Sharks fans will say it was bound to happen sooner or later. These would be the same ones saying his play declines with more starts.
Dan Boyle and Rob Blake scored goals in the second period on the power play. Blake was injured at some point during the game as he didn’t play but half a minute in the third. Hopefully, it’s not too serious. The last thing the Sharks need is another defenseman to go down.
Logan Couture scored his second career goal in the third period after Devin Setoguchi made a tough drive to the net. Setoguchi hasn’t been lighting the lamp much at all but his physicality rivals Ryane Clowe this year.
But with all Dallas game, you have to deal with rats like Steve Ott and Stephane Robidas. Robidas already showcased his recklessness last game when he steamrolled Clowe into the boards. This time he went after Couture in the corner and Couture was slow to get up.
It was incredibly disappointing to not see any Shark go after him. This guy deserves some payback and needs his teeth knocked out.
Now Steve Ott thought it would be a good idea to elbow Patrick Marleau in the head behind the play. I am so disgusted by Ott. He is not a hockey player anymore than Lindsay Lohan is straight edge. Ott dropped the gloves with Marleau but Patty was overwhelmed by the goon before he could do anything.
Luckily, Ott was tossed from the game like he should have been. I hope he gets suspended for that elbow; I’m not entirely sure if it was really brutal because the camera didn’t zoom in, but it’d be a good precedent to suspend him following the head shot rule passing today.
A Bitz Late
Brad Staubitz fought Krys Barch in a minor tussle. Bitz got the better of him and took the victory. Been a while since I’ve been able to say that.
Hit-O-Meter: SJ 21 DAL 24; Setoguchi led with three.
The Canucks march into town Saturday.