2012-13 San Jose Sharks: 10 Songs from 'The Who' That Define Them
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I am guessing most San Jose Sharks fans reading blog posts are under 30. Thus, I need to give you a little background information: The Who is a rock band that put together some of the best albums ever.
Albums were bigger than compact discs, more fragile and made of black vinyl. You had to flip them over.
Never mind. This is your father's music. This is my music. And while Pink Floyd is better (they had lots of music before Dark Side of the Moon, too!), they are not as good a fit for expressing how I feel about the team right now.
The Who was loud, angry rock. They were once in the Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest band ever. They were edgy, smashing their instruments on stage and twirling the microphone like a flail.
Here are 10 songs from The Who followed by explanations of why they describe the Sharks as of this moment.
After signing reserve defenceman Matt Pelech today, the San Jose Sharks once again have an over-flowing shuttle from the NHL dressing room to their Worcester farm team.
Hence the moniker "Worcester Shuttle." But the Sharks need a magic bus, because the Shuttle does not bring anyone to San Jose worth keeping.
Over the four seasons that both Doug Wilson and Todd McLellan have manned their posts, the Sharks have had 14 different forwards spend parts of at least one season in both Worcester and San Jose. Six forwards have spent more than one year on the Shuttle.
They have played a total of 326 games and scored 65 points. Only Andrew Desjardins appears to have graduated, and one season in the every-day lineup is too short a sample to be sure.
With the Sharks roster as is and assuming they retain all the restricted free agents they signed to tenders, it is likely the team will have a whopping nine more players with NHL experience than they can dress.
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The Pinball Wizard was a persona of the lead character of the first-ever rock opera, Tommy. The one player who can still elevate the Worcester Shuttle to productive instead of just stocked is Tommy Wingels.
Wingels had more hits per game than any other San Jose Sharks skater. He did it in among the fewest minutes, to boot.
Meanwhile, he was adept at fighting for space in front of the opposing goalie, and possesses great skating ability.
He has enough skill to see him potentially making the jump from 33 games (and 38 in his career) to a top-six forward or at least a standout on the third line.
Who Are You?
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When Matt Pelech was re-signed to a one-year, $577,500 contract July 16, most of the hockey world asked, "Who are you?"
Pelech has played in six games in his NHL career and is already past his 25th birthday. He is likely to remain as little more than an extra (defender No. 10 in the credits) in the stage show that is the San Jose Sharks.
That makes him just like most of his fellow members of the shuttle. They are bit players whose roles can be filled by many and are seldom meaningful.
Frazer McLaren, John McCarthy, Brandon Mashinter, Bracken Kearns and John Matsumoto are likely to fight over a dozen or so games doled out to forwards on the Worcester Shuttle, while Pelech fights with Matt Irwin, Taylor Doherty and Danny Groulx for what few games might trickle through to an eighth defenceman.
At the end of their careers, Doherty is the only one on that list most fans are likely to know.
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Or maybe it should be called "Summertime Blue Jackets."
San Jose Sharks fans have heard one name on a daily basis for the last five months: Rick Nash.
Too bad Columbus GM Scott Howson is insane, asking the Sharks to give up a younger, cheaper and possibly already better player to get the scorer.
While the Sharks have been focused on a trade that they must now move on from, free agent after free agent who could have helped them has signed elsewhere.
San Jose has lost more than they have gained from a roster that performed worse than any other in nine years, bringing much angst to its faithful this summer.
You Better You Bet
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The worst facet of the 2011-12 San Jose Sharks game was the penalty kill. It was one goal from being the worst in the league, and it robbed players of their aggressiveness as they played to avoid penalties.
You (had) better get that fixed. You bet they did in the most positive sign of the summer. San Jose has added an unprecedented two coaches to help defensively.
Larry Robinson was given a new title for the franchise of associate coach. The team hopes he can bring some of the magic of his former Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils historic PK that gave up only 12 more goals than it scored all season.
But Jim Johnson also has a PK background. He raised the Washington Capitals PK from the bottom half to No. 2 in the league in his first year.
Over his two seasons there, the Caps made a transition into a more defensive team...and like the Sharks who sought the same transition via personnel last year, they had their worst season in years.
The Kids Are Alright
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The San Jose Sharks are short on young talent. That is what made saying no to sending your youngest player and only All-Star representative all the easier for GM Doug Wilson.
But beyond Logan Couture, there are four talents 25 and under who have the potential of being in the top half of their unit's depth charts by next season: Justin Braun, Jason Demers, Marc-Edouard Vlasic (the third defenceman spot currently being his) and Tommy Wingels.
All of them could have been lost by then. Instead, it looks like Wilson is keeping them all.
He committed to two of the three on his blue line, re-signing Braun to a three-year deal and Pickles to a five-year extension. He also locked up Wingels for two years and has thus far declined to trade Demers.
As far as worrying about having to relocate, the kids are alright.
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Why do the San Jose Sharks have so few young talents? Because unlike the bargain payroll teams, they are laden with veteran talent that relegates their young players to less ice time they need to develop into veteran talent.
Dan Boyle, Douglas Murray, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were all key players over all four of Todd McLellan's seasons as coach, and all are going to be at least 33 before the end of next season. Brad Stuart, Martin Havlat and Michal Handzus have probably also had their best hockey seasons already.
Not that these players are ready for retirement.
Boyle is the highest scoring defenceman in the league in his time under McLellan that represents the best four-year period of his career. He has developed a defensive game, ranking in the top-50 in the league in blocked shots last season.
Thornton has developed into an elite forward on the defensive end as well. His drop in points has more to do with that focus than it does with age.
Marleau is still among the fastest, most-skilled players in the NHL. Murray battled injuries, but prior to that had his two best seasons.
But they are almost old enough to be from my generation. I'm talkin'bout my g-g-g-g-generation that would actually think references to The Who are not totally outdated and no longer relevant to most of the people who read blogs online...
Right now, the San Jose Sharks have the look of an elite franchise. They have made more playoff and conference finals appearances, won more division titles and playoff series and had a better regular season point percentage than anyone but the Detroit Red Wings.
But they have no conference titles much less Stanley Cup rings. They are the only California team left without a title when they were thought to have the best chance of winning one right before the lockout.
In the process of chasing that elusive Cup, they have mortgaged their future. They have traded away four first-round picks in eight years and have almost no legitimate prospects for stardom left in their system.
Then they took a step back last year. Aging teams rarely get better, so one has to consider their perennial status as contenders a facade unless the Sharks can get closer than six wins from a title.
In other words, their eminence front is a put-on. (Look up the lyrics to the song, kids.)
Won't Get Fooled Again
The President's Trophy is not a championship. If it were, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson would be the second-best in the game.
The Sharks have been picked to win the trophy that does matter, the Stanley Cup, by a large number of prognosticators ever since taking making it to the Western Conference Finals in 2004. Each year they have not, there has been optimism that the team made the right moves.
Even I picked them to win it in 2009, and Sharks fans often accuse me of being a pessimist. But no matter Wilson's changes, the one constant has been the end result: Pessimism 8, optimism 0...
Meanwhile, the GM he replaced won a title with the coach he fired in Los Angeles. They are also a younger team that is poised to compete for titles longer than some Sharks will keep playing the game.
In the immortal words of George W. Bush: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...we won't get fooled again!"
I'm Free/We're Not Going to Take It
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Bill Guerin left the San Jose Sharks and won Lord Stanley's Cup two seasons later. The next year, Brian Campbell duplicated the two-year turnaround.
Perhaps there is something about the atmosphere around HP Pavilion. While high-pressure systems keep rain from falling, a low-pressure fanbase that maintains optimism year after year keeps streamers from raining down on the Shark Tank.
For this, I allow a B-side to the single. (B-sides were on the other side of small vinyl singles we called 45s because the were played at 45 revolutions per minute instead of 33 like the albums...oh, never mind!) And no, that B-side is not a song Twisted Sister made famous...
Through it I make this statement to Sharks fans: I'm free of setting myself up to be disappointed because I see this team lacking a championship mentality.
Join me in saying "We're not going to take it!"
It is time for some tough love and raising the bar for what is acceptable in San Jose.