Ah, the NHL season is finally upon us. This is the time of year that we have waited so long for. The time when we cheer on our respective teams, and pray for the Stanley Cup.
For us San Jose Sharks fans, this is more than just the start of another new season. This may be the year that everything comes together, and we finally get the Cup. With our new additions and a brand new season, this should make for an exciting 2011-2012 campaign.
The New Guys
Welcome to San Jose: Brent Burns, Martin Havlat, Colin White, Jim Vandermeer, Brad Winchester and Michael Handzus. Thanks to an offseason makeover by GM Doug Wilson, a new group of established veterans will be joining the Sharks this season. Brent Burns, the most highly touted acquisition, should take some weight off of Dan Boyle's shoulders, and be a strong defenseman offensively and defensively. Havlat, a speedy winger, should see plenty of ice time and opportunity to show off that fast-skating ability. Plus, Havlat has shown that he is clutch in the postseason, scoring 12 goals in 28 playoff games.
Defensemen Colin White and Jim Vandermeer are two veteran, hard-nosed players brought over by Doug Wilson to solidify that last defensive pairing. Winchester, who made the team out of camp, is a gritty, wily veteran who will give the Sharks depth on that fourth line.
The Old Guys
Who can forget about the lovable "Jumbo" Joe Thornton, or Patrick Marleau, the most experienced and fastest skater on the team? Or how about Joe Pavelski or Ryane Clowe, two fixtures in the Sharks' offense last year. Defensemen Douglas Murray and Marc-Eduouard Vlasic cannot be underrated for their outstanding defensive play last year, and Dan Boyle's work definitely cannot be underestimated.
The Shark Tank
From the crazy antics of SJ Sharkie, to the screaming and supportive fans, the Sharks can thank their great fans for being their seventh man year after year. HP Pavilion, home of the Sharks, has been dubbed "the most intimidating place to play hockey" by many opposing players.
An exciting season lies ahead of us, and many questions still linger. Will the new players gel with the veterans? Will team leaders such as Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle continue to produce for this team? Will goalie Anti Niemi be the backstop that the Sharks need? Will there be a trade before the deadline? Will the Sharks win the Stanley Cup?
We will never know the answers to these questions until the season is well under way. However, what we do know is that we will enjoy all the drama that will commence on October 8, 2011 at the Shark Tank and hopefully end with a Stanley Cup parade through San Jose.
So sit back, relax, and get ready for another exciting season of Sharks' hockey!