Hello to all during a summer in which the news has been filled about rising fuel costs, job losses, flooding, a declining home market, forest fires, and a war that still will not end.
But in these times, there has been plenty of wonderful and fantastic news to all who are either die-hard fans or slight fans of the San Jose Sharks.
The moves Doug Wilson has made have both been expected and surprising.
This San Jose offseason has been filled with plenty of buzz, news, and steps toward winning a Stanley Cup.
First, way back when the playoffs were still being decided and the San Jose Sharks had been ousted. Ron Wilson was making comments where he assumed his job was safe. Obviously, it was not, and Ron Wilson was finally relieved of his duties.
This was the first piece of great news for the Sharks. I never liked Ron Wilson, he was able to make consistently good teams during the season, but could never switch the Sharks into playoff, overdrive gear. And would make ridiculous comments and had ridiculous sayings. With him coaching 90 miles north of me in Toronto, it will be quite the dramatic show between him, and the crazy Toronto media.
Then came the State of the Sharks, where Greg Jamison uses it to rally himself up as a great owner. Blah, blah, blah. He continues to avoid the big questions when asked, and somehow still claims the Sharks are losing money. The only news from that was that JR would return.
The next move was the hiring process. Apparantly Doug Wilson had a list of over 40 candidates, including Joel Quinnville who was spotted in San Jose. To me, Doug Wilson had to lengthen the process because his ideal candidate was busy winning a Stanley Cup.
And, a few days later the young, and proven winner, Todd McLellan was named the next skipper of the San Jose racing yacht. Todd McLellan has been winning at every level of hockey since he began coaching, and now will take his winning ways to San Jose.
McLellan's plan to create a puck possession hockey team is what many fans, including myself, have wanted this team to be. Not a team that plays dump and chase, and so much focus on defense that it keeps fast players from using all their speed.
So far, Doug Wilson has decided what kind of team he wants, who he wants to lead, and what style of hockey the Sharks will be playing. Next, the team announced ticket price increases to allow the Sharks to spend more money on players to bring in.
The ticket prices are, in my mind, flat out extortion. Sure, tickets are not as expensive as other cities, but hockey depends on fans coming, and in our current economy, it is harder on people to spend alot of money.
Since San Jose and Buffalo have been making so many deals, the Sabres should tell the Sharks about their variable pricing strategy. It is a great way to raise ticket prices, revenue while making other games cheaper.
(If you have no idea what I am talking about, ask me about it and I can explain it more in depth.)
Anyways, so the Sharks say their going to spend more money this season.
The draft came and gone, with rumors abound that San Jose would trade Marleau, which was totally ridiculous. Especially after the fact that McLellan refered to Patty/Joe to Datsyuk/Zetterberg in Detroit.
So the Sharks couldn't draft til the 3rd round and picked up Justin Daniels, Samuel Groulx, Harri Sateri (I am going to call him Harry Carry!), Julien and Jason Demers, Tommy Wingels, and Drew Daniels.
Next, the Sharks resigned Boucher, the steady backup; Pavelski, who's goal in game 5 in OT has become one of my favorite Sharks goals, right along witth Andrei Zyuzin's goal against Dallas in 1998; and Roenick, The Renaissance man right here in San Jose.
Also, the scariest looking player in the league, Jody Shelley, resigned and I look forward to the looming battles with Sean Avery, who is now in Dallas.
With the Sharks not making any significant moves at the draft and Brian Campbell being yet to resign, it was clear that the Sharks were planning something come free agency.
It was clear to me that Campbell would be leaving when he began making comments that there has been a lot of tossing and turning at night trying to figure out where he would end up. The fans know it is a business, so don't jerk our chain around saying you are having trouble figuring out where you're landing when we all damn well know you are headed to the highest bidder.
And, don't say part of you feels guilty when you take a 8 year, 56 million dollar deal. Just leave, take your money, and have fun playing for a team that most likely will not make the playoffs next year. If you don't want us, we sure as hell do not want you on our team.
Which, by the way, Chicago is not in the eastern conference or near Buffalo at all for that matter.
So on the first day of Free Agency, the only news was that Campbell had departed for Chicago, leaving a huge hole in the lineup. However, Doug Wilson is the man with the plan.
In just a few, crazy, quick paced days, Doug Wilson completely changed up the makeup of the San Jose Shark defense.
First, he signed veteran free agent Rob Blake for a 1 year, 5 million deal. I am pumped about Rob Blake. I understand he is old, his points have trailed off, and his salary is too much but let's break it down.
First, Rob Blake is one tough S.O.B., he packs bone crushing hits, a glass breaking shot, and will do well on the powerplay. Secondly, he has been playing for the L.A. Kings the past 2 seasons. My points would trail off playing for a tem that bad. When you play for a team that has a great chance of winning, it increases your motivation and drive drastically.
My point: look at Jeremy Roenick who was semi-retired. His salary is too high, but come June, hopefully nobody is going to complain.
Now with Blake signed, there were rumors of the Sharks still going after Dan Boyle. Some worried if picking up Blake would hurt the chances of getting Boyle.
Well, those who worried, woke up the following morning to find out the Sharks had acquired Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich for Matt Carle, Ty Wishart, and 2 future draft picks.
The San Jose racing yacht just became the San Jose highspeed, powerboat. Those ones that make you go deaf if you are even within 500 yards of it.
And finally, because of the new defenseman San Jose traded Craig Rivet for future picks from the Buffalo Sabres. I liked Craig Rivet alot, and once again thank you to Doug Wilson and Darcy Regier for sending him to Buffalo where I can continue to watch him defend his teammates, turn on the kill switch and beat down serious opponents.
Buffalo fans, Rivet is a great pickup, unlike Bernier. Rivet will be great, and not just the first game he is here. Rivet is an honest player, will always protect his teammates, and is the type of player Buffalo sports fans love to cheer on. He, Paul Gaustad, and Adam Mair should be the captains for the Sabres. Seriously.
And, now we are here on this Sunday July 6th, 2008. The Sharks have completely changed their team makeup without sacrificing anybody on offense.
Doug Wilson has done a good job with the team so far this offseason. Sure, there are a few spots where I wish he would have done better. Blake is overpaid, I hate losing Rivet, and losing Wishart is tough, but you do what you can to get better.
Doug Wilson cannot be perfect, but he has actively pursued players on Free Agency this year, and is commited to winning in San Jose. He has hired a guy who I know will lead the Sharks to the Cup.
So while we discuss what moves have been made and look to the future, I cannot wait for the next hockey season to begin. The Sharks are dead serious now.
I am so excited for the Sharks, and anyone who follows them, even slighty, make it known that you are a Sharks fan. The other day at a gas station in Buffalo, I saw a guy wearing an autographed Pat Falloon jersey. It was awesome to see.
So far, this offseason has been good for Sharks and the fans. Doug Wilson has made some big time moves, and we have unfinished business in the playoffs. Next season is going to be completely different and it will be a great experience for all of us. The team has changed, but the goal has not. And never will.
Before you know it, the new season will be upon us. We have new players, a new coach, a new style, and a new attitude. I cannot wait to see how things look come training camp and preseason.