San Jose Shark Reception Must See Reconstruction As Essential
The San Jose Sharks are having poor consecutive seasons. The recently concluded 2021 season saw the Sharks finish at a pace equivalent to 71 points in an 82-game season. The previous season, they finished at a rate of 74 points in an 82-game season. The typical threshold for a playoff team is around 95 points. In other words, the Sharks were and still are far from being a marginal contender for the playoffs. Even further from the playoffs. And very clearly, even further from being a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup. Here is the San Jose shark landscape. The question facing the San Jose Sharks front office, and pretty much every other organization, is, “How do you build a Stanley Cup champion?” For sharks, the road is clearly long. To get there, the essential element of the San Jose Sharks begins with one word: honesty.
Honesty in shark territory
Honesty starts at the top, and to be frank, the first signs are not encouraging. In a recent interview, general manager Doug Wilson cited significant needs as a third-line center and improvement in goaltenders. it is difficult to argue either point. But to suggest that this team is a third-line cross and an improved goalie far from real importance is, to be honest, illusory.
Head Coach Bob Boughner was not much better with his assessment, “When you look at the scans, you almost have to remove the top 10 and the last 10 games to get a real view.”
And in case some are unclear on this concept, I’m not suggesting the coach or GM are lying. But they fail to honestly assess this team, where they are and what is possible.
The missing word
Restock. Fill. Reload. Reset. Restore. I call them R-words. These are the words that shark management uses. It’s all garbage. But worst of all, they are not being honest.
The essential element of the San Jose Sharks is honesty. Honesty, painful as it is, draws the right conclusion.
The R word that the Sharks team should use is rebuild.
The approach we take for a reconstruction is completely different from the approach we take for any of these other R words.
A rebuild starts by choosing a future date when you think the team can become competitive again, and then see if there is a plan to get you there. If the plan doesn’t work, you set a different date and work on the next plan.
As far as I know, the Sharks probably won’t be competitive until 2025, and if things go well, they will be very competitive for the rest of the decade. Hopefully the Stanley Cup is competitive.
Simply put, too much has to be right for a shorter period to work.
So, in practice, what does rebuilding mean for the Sharks?
It means that you give up doing things that help “now” for things that help “later.” One example is the area of buyouts. A buyout in 2021 helps in 2022, 2023 and 2024. But hurts in 2025, 2026 and beyond.
The most commonly considered takeover candidates are Erik Karlsson, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Martin Jones. A Jones buyout hits the Sharks’ salary cap for six years, Vlasic for 10 years, Karlsson for 12 years (until 2033 !!). Buyouts are for teams who want better “now” and are willing to sacrifice themselves “later”. This shouldn’t be the Sharks’ approach.
Another essential aspect of honesty is telling players that there will be a multi-year rebuild. If the players do not want to stick around, the Sharks management must respect their choices and try to trade them. If the trades do not take place during the offseason, these players need to know that the better they play next season, the more demand from other teams will be. If they want to get out of the rebuild, they have some control over it with their game.
While we noted that the GM and head coach have issues with reality, Evander Kane didn’t. He stated, “No one wants to undergo reconstruction. I know that doesn’t interest me. I know a lot of the guys on the team don’t care about this.
The honesty of Evander Kane
Since Kane spoke honestly, I’ll use this as a case study. If Kane doesn’t want to stay for a rebuild, that’s fine. There’s no reason to blame a player who isn’t interested in spending a few seasons going nowhere.
If the plan is to be good in 2025, anything that serves this plan is positive.
In 2025, Kane’s contract ends. He will be 34, a time when the power of attackers often diminishes significantly. If the goal is to be good in 2025, Kane is probably not a part of that process.
Kane is a “now” player. He’s just had a solid season, leading the team in just about anything worth leading the team. He’s a really good player in a situation that doesn’t suit him. It’s being honest.
There are other life factors beyond the “I want to win a Stanley Cup” mindset. But if that matters to Kane, it makes sense that Kane would be traded. Traded to a real contender where Kane can make a difference next season. For the Sharks, that means getting high draft picks. The team is worse in 2022 and better in 2025.
Trading Kane is a three-way victory. it’s better for the player, better for the Sharks and better for the team that acquires it.
The essential element of San Jose sharks
Sharks must recognize the obvious. The era of continuous success defined by the prime numbers of Vlasic, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau among others, those days are over. And also, the attempt to keep the Stanley Cup window open by acquiring players like Kane and Karlsson just didn’t work out as hoped.
The Sharks have made some important long-term deals that will bring good players to the end of their careers. The approach was both rational and risky. It made sense that the Sharks could win a Stanley Cup before it all fell apart. But things fell apart sooner than expected. The plan was sound, but it didn’t work. The time for a new plan is now.
Delaying a rebuild puts the Sharks on an extended path to absolutely nowhere. The types of decisions a team make are completely different from a “now” perspective versus a “later” perspective.
Unless and until the leadership of the Sharks realizes that the right word is “rebuild”, this organization is doomed to failure.
I’m just being honest.
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