It appears the San Jose Sharks are, in fact, going into rebuilding mode following their playoff debacle against the Los Angeles Kings.
While general manager Doug Wilson did not come right out and use the word “rebuild,” he did use the hockey euphemism “tomorrow team,” which is the same as rebuilding.
So far, however, there hasn’t been a lot of movement. The Sharks traded away defenseman Dan Boyle to the New York Islanders for a draft pick but, other than that, San Jose’s two biggest targets — forward Patrick Marleau and center Joe Thornton — remain with the team.
I said in the past both should be moved, but I have come to a different conclusion lately. Marleau certainly needs to be traded. There is not a more Jekyll-and-Hyde player in the NHL and, despite being one of the best players in Sharks’ history, he has disappeared in the postseason one too many times and probably needs a change of scenery.
Thornton, however, still has value with the Sharks. While he is nowhere near being a prolific goal scorer, he is one of the best assist men in the National Hockey League and, while fans may be OK with a slightly down year, they may revolt if San Jose becomes one of the dregs in the NHL. Thornton would go a long way toward keeping the Sharks near the middle of the NHL rather than the bottom without him.
The other move the Sharks need to make is finding a reliable, steady goaltender. Current starter Antti Niemi is certainly not the answer and has not lived up to the reputation he built his rookie season as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup winning team in 2010. Over the last couple of years, he has allowed too many soft goals and certainly has not stepped up his game in the playoffs, which is when goaltenders need to really shine.
Backup Alex Stalock, who signed a contract extension Tuesday, proved to be a more than capable backup last season, but is he ready to move into a full time, starting role? Probably not, so that means the team needs to go out and find a bona fide No. 1.
It may take a while for the Sharks’ brass to find the right deals address all their needs, but the biggest move they’ve made so far is definitely not popular with the fans. The Sharks announced Tuesday that longtime television color analyst Drew Remenda won’t be back with the team next season.
This moves makes absolutely no sense. Remenda is one of the best analysts in sports — not just hockey. He has been a part of the Sharks organization for nearly its entire existence, whether as a coach in some capacity or as an announcer. He is beloved by Sharks fans and the fact he wasn’t brought back shows maybe the Sharks haven’t quite figured out what the term “rebuilding” means. Fans wanted a shakeup of the team on the ice, not in the broadcast booth.
I could easily spend most of the next month writing my twice-weekly column about the World Cup, but most may end up bored with that.
But, I can’t help but write something today about seeing defending champion Spain already eliminated with one game left to go in pool play. Coming off a disheartening 5-1 shellacking at the hands of Netherlands in its first game, Spain was stunned Wednesday by Chile, 2-0. With an 0-2 mark in pool play, Spain has no chance of advancing to the knockout round, becoming the fourth defending champ to be eliminated in group play the following Cup. It most recently happened to Italy, which won in 2006 but failed to get out of group play in 2010. Before that, France, the 1998 champ, went scoreless in three games while being bounced in the 2002 World Cup.
What happened to “La Furia Roja?” What happened to the “tiki-taka” style that made Spain the envy of the soccer world?
One, Spain got old in a hurry. It didn’t have the pace to keep up with either Holland or Chile. Second, I think the rest of the world has caught up to Spain’s style of putting together hundreds of passes, lulling a defense to sleep and then springing an attack. Chile showed how to beat that kind of play: pressure the ball at all points on the field, force the Spaniards to give up the ball before they were ready.
Third, and this is my biggest point, is a lack of a bona fide striker. Diego Costa and Fernando Torres, Spain’s top two forwards, all but disappeared in these first two games. But strikers haven’t been a focal point of Spain’s for years. It relies on a bunch of midfielders to create space and distribute. That works fine when playing from ahead — which Spain did for most of the 2010 World Cup. But not from behind, which is where Spain found itself against Holland and Chile.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You follow him on Twitter@CheckkThissOutt.