Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The San Jose Sharks - An Update

Now that the playoffs are over, I need to discard any animosity I have for the Chicago Blackhawks and congratulate them on their Stanley Cup win. It was deserved, they played very well, and not to mention, up until their win, the Blackhawks had the longest Cup drought out of any active NHL team - 49 years.

Now the 2009-2010 season is over, preparations for next season begin. Before I get into the current details, I would first like to congratulate the San Jose Sharks on their twentieth anniversary! For longtime Sharks fans like myself, I am sure we all remember those days of trekking all the way to the Daly City's Cow Palace to catch the first two seasons of hockey while the then-named San Jose Arena was being built. Silicon Valley hockey fans owe it to the Sharks for creating one of the country's most loyal and exciting sports franchises, and to further illustrate my point, San Jose can now be accurately called a hockey-loving "fin"atical home base! Since the Sharks came into prominence, new teams and even new ice rinks have been springing up all over the Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. Ice hockey went from unusual to mainstream.

Although the Cup has yet to come to San Jose, the team's promising results, stemming from many consecutive playoff entrances in the top-seeded position and the willingness to form a strong group of players, make that current dream a very possible reality in the near future. General Manager Doug Wilson, himself an ex-Shark (also the franchise's first Captain) with a very respectable NHL career, has been making great decisions, and as long as he remains at the helm, fans can expect great things out of the Sharks.

This, of course, brings us to some vital updates made between the playoffs and today. Despite the 2010 NHL Entry Draft taking place this weekend, where the Sharks have the 28th pick in the first round, there were a couple of big decisions that took place, as many of you fans know, with (expected) mixed emotions.

The first of which, and to me the most significant (and emotional), was the Sharks' decision not to re-sign star goaltender Evgeni "John" or "Zhenia" Nabokov, who as of now is an unrestricted free agent. Nabokov was originally picked up by the Sharks (the only NHL team he has played for) in the 1994 draft, although he never played until 2000, when he eventually replaced Steve Shields as the main goaltender of the team. As the starting goaltender, Nabokov had a very impressive campaign, putting up high save percentages and wins, helping lead the Sharks to consecutive playoffs.

Although it is hard to justify the means for trading Nabokov, there is a lot of talk about the salary cap hindering the ability to pay him, one of the NHL's best netminders. While some critics peg his inability to play in clutch situations, namely the playoffs, most of this criticism comes from frustrated fans who fail to recognize the great many fantastic saves he does make. Overall, however, there is a general outcry from loyal Sharks fans, the great majority of which claim he will "truly be missed." That is true. We will all miss you, Nabby!

The second piece of news came a couple weeks ago when Sharks' team captain and defenseman Rob Blake announced his retirement from hockey. Blake is mainly noted for his leadership both on and off the ice and his long campaign as captain of the Los Angeles Kings and his Stanley Cup win in 2001 with the Colorado Avalanche. He had a stellar NHL career, complete with multiple All-Star appearances, selection for the NHL First All-Star Team (in 1998), and winner of the prestigious defenseman award, the James Norris Trophy, also in 1998.

Thank you, Mr.Blake, for making your last great season in San Jose. We are honored to have had you here!

As new decisions and updates take place, I will try to keep them updated here. Thank you to all of you loyal fans who have supported and will continue to support your San Jose Sharks!

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