Tuesday, August 7, 2012

San Jose Sharks Summer Update

The summer heat is keeping many of us inside, except for those luck Sharks fans who live near the beach (or a lake/river). Our boys of winter have been relaxing, spending time with family & friends while those who acquired a few injuries during the long season are taking advantage to heal. So, we sit back watching the Olympics and check our favorite websites wondering who is staying and who will be returning for the 20-12-20-13 Ice Hockey season.


GM Doug Wilson and Coach Todd McClellan have been closed mouth after the quick ending to the Sharks post-season. The first addition was the re-signing of former Shark Brad Stuart, a solid defenseman on June 26th. The very same day the Sharks announced they had re-signed forward Andrew Desjardins.

With a slew of players holding up expired contracts, in varying states of status (free agents, restricted free agents, or unrestricted free agents), GM Wilson had some major decisions to think about. How much did he want to disturb his house of cards?

On July 1rst, the Sharks signed forward Adam Burish from Dallas.  July 2nd was a busy day. San Jose inked d-man Matt Irwin, goalie Alex Stalock, signed forward Bracken Kearns from Florida, and defenseman Danny Groulx. Our tealmen snaked two assistant coaches, Larry Robinson on July 9th and Jim Johnson on July 10th.

The Sharks entered the ECHL league again (the falcons folded a couple of season back) by agreeing to terms with the San Francisco Bulls. Hey, why couldn’t pick the “Spiders” as the name for the team? I already have a sweater, t-shirt, and pucks form the year the City had an ECHL team. Now it means I’m going need to make the drive down to SF just to buy a new sweater, t-shirt and puck for the Bulls. I liked the Spiders. I wish the Bulls luck and hope they have better longevity. I’ll have to make the trip to Las Vegas when the two team play one another.

Sorry, off the subject…

Doug was in a zone. On July 11th he and Vlasic came to terms. The next day, he re-signed forwards TJ Galiardi & Frazier McLaren, John McCarthy, and he brought in forward Jonathan Matsumoto from Florida. On the 16th, not done yet, GM Wilson was feeling generous, re-signing defenseman Matt Pelech.

Who isn’t coming back? Well, so far: forward Daniel Winnik was picked up by Anaheim on July 20th. Forward Benn Ferriero was signed by Pittsburgh on July 13th. On July 3rd, defenseman Mike Moore went to Nashville. Forward Torrey Mitchell went to Minnesota on July 1rst. Adam Murray, along with a conditional 7th round selection of the 2014 entry draft, was traded to Detroit for the rights to Brad Stuart.

Of the new players to the Sharks system, here are their stats (per the Sharks website):

Jonathan Matsumoto:

Matsumoto, 25, appeared in one game for Florida this season after being acquired from Carolina on Jan. 18 for A.J. Jenks. At the American Hockey League level, he combined to produce 60 points (23-37=60) in 76 games with Charlotte and San Antonio.
In 2010-11, Matsumoto posted two points (2-0=2) in 13 games with Carolina. He made his NHL debut on Nov. 1 at Philadelphia. In his second game, he scored his first two NHL goals on Nov. 3 vs. the Islanders.

Matsumoto has combined to post 281 points (124-157=281) in 392 career regular season games at the AHL level. He has also posted 28 points (10-18=28) in 41 career AHL Calder Cup Playoff games. Prior to turning pro, he spent three seasons at Bowling Green State University (CCHA) and posted 113 points (49-64=113) in 110 games played. The six-foot, 185-pound native of Ottawa, Ontario was originally selected by Philadelphia in the third round (79th overall) of the 2006 NHL Draft

Danny Groulx:

In his last season prior to competing in Russia, Groulx won the Eddie Shore Award, given to the AHL’s best defenseman, and was named to the AHL First All Star Team as a member of the Worcester Sharks, San Jose’s top development affiliate. That season, he led the league in points by a defenseman (14-52=66), which also led Worcester overall.

Since entering the professional ranks in 2002-03, Groulx has spent seven of those seasons in the American Hockey League playing for Grand Rapids, Manitoba, Hamilton, Rockford and Worcester totaling 495 regular season games played and 196 points (38-158=196). Aside from his time in Russia, he also spent the 2005-06 season playing for Kassel of the German Elite League. The six-foot, 205-pound native of LaSalle, Quebec was originally signed as free agent by Detroit on Aug. 12, 2002.

Bracken Kearns:

In 2011-12, Kearns made his NHL debut, appearing in five games for Florida and amassing 10 penalty minutes. He finished tied for second on San Antonio (AHL) in points (22-30=52), tied for third in goals and fourth in penalty minutes (58) in 69 games played. He added seven points (2-5=7) in 10 Calder Cup Playoff games as well.

Kearns, 31, has appeared in 407 career American Hockey League games with Cleveland, Milwaukee, Norfolk, Rockford and San Antonio registering 220 points (89-131=220) and 423 penalty minutes. The six-foot-one, 205-pound native of Vancouver, BC signed his first NHL contract with Phoenix on July 6, 2010.

Adam Burish:

Burish, 29, posted a career-high 19 points (6-13=19) in 65 games played for Dallas in 2011-12. He finished sixth on the team in plus/minus rating (+6), third in penalty minutes (76) and had a 55.8% winning percentage in the face off circle.

In five-plus seasons, he has played for Dallas and Chicago totaling 297 regular season games played, 54 points (25-29=54) and 490 penalty minutes. He has recorded a positive plus/minus rating in each of his last four seasons and averaged 1:26 of shorthanded time on ice per game last season.

Burish has appeared in 32 career playoff games split over two playoff runs with Chicago, including being a part of the Stanley Cup winning team in 2009-10. He has posted five points (3-2=5) and 32 penalty minutes in those games. The six-foot, 190-pound native of Madison, Wisconsin was originally selected by Chicago in the ninth round (282nd overall) of the 2002 NHL Draft.

Brad Stuart:

Last season, Stuart posted 21 points (6 goals, 15 assists) and was +16 in 81 regular season games for the Red Wings. He was first on the team in hits (177, T-16th among NHL defensemen) and second in blocked shots (115) and played in his 800th career NHL game on Oct. 21, 2011 vs. Columbus.

The 13-year NHL veteran has appeared in 876 career regular season games with San Jose, Boston, Calgary, Los Angeles and Detroit, amassing 305 points (74 goals, 231 assists) and 489 penalty minutes. He also added 37 points (nine goals, 28 assists) in 124 career playoff games with San Jose, Calgary and Detroit.
Originally drafted by San Jose in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft (first round, third overall), Stuart immediately made the jump to the NHL for the Sharks. The Rocky Mountain House, Alberta native posted 36 points (ten goals, 26 assists) in 82 games as a 20-year-old rookie, becoming the first Sharks defenseman to be named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and finishing second in Calder Memorial Trophy voting as the NHL’s top rookie.
The six-foot-two, 215-pounder played in 377 games with San Jose between 1999 and 2005, posting 153 points (36 goals, 117 assists). He was traded to Boston along with Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau in exchange for current Sharks captain Joe Thornton on Nov. 30, 2005.

Assistant Coach Larry Robinson:

Robinson served as head coach for the Los Angeles Kings from 1995-99 and for the New Jersey Devils from 1999-2002, and in 2005-06, including leading the team to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2000 and the Stanley Cup Final in 2001, before falling to the Colorado Avalanche in seven games. Robinson has also had stints as an assistant coach with New Jersey, including their 1995 and 2003 Stanley Cup Championship seasons and last season when the team advanced to the Stanley Cup Final against the Los Angeles Kings, falling in six games.
Inducted as a player into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995, Robinson is recognized as one of the finest defensemen to ever play the game. In 17 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens and Los Angeles Kings, he twice won the James Norris Trophy (1977 and 1980) as the NHL’s most outstanding defenseman and won the Conn Smyth Trophy (1978) as the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Robinson won six Stanley Cups as a player with Montreal (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1986) and holds the NHL record for playing 20 consecutive seasons in the playoffs, 17 of them with the Canadiens. His name appears on the Stanley Cup nine times as a player, head coach and assistant coach. A ten-time NHL All-Star, Robinson also had a distinguished international career playing for Team Canada in the 1976, 1981 and 1984 Canada Cup (he was Sharks GM Doug Wilson’s defense partner in 1984). He was named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team and NHL Second All-Star Team three times each.

In 1384 regular season games with Montreal and Los Angeles, Robinson posted 958 points (207 goals, 751 assists) and 793 penalty minutes. Among all-time NHL defensemen, he ranks ninth in points and assists, and 13th in games played. His +730 plus/minus rating is the highest among any player in NHL history (the second place player, Ray Bourque, is more than 200 points lower {528}).

Assistant Coach Jim Johnson:

A 14-year NHL defenseman, Johnson, 49, most recently was an assistant coach on Dale Hunter’s staff with the Washington Capitals. He has also served as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010 and interim head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes in 1999-2000. Prior to arriving in Washington in 2011, Johnson was coaching for Switzerland’s HC Lugano. While working with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, he also served as the head coach for the American Hockey League’s Norfolk Admirals during the 2009-10 season and as development coach for the Lightning in 2008-09.

Johnson also spent three seasons (2000-02) as an assistant coach with the U.S. National Junior Team. A stay-at-home defenseman in his playing days, Johnson had a standout career at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and was signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent in 1985. Johnson played 829 NHL games with Pittsburgh, Minnesota/Dallas, Washington and Phoenix, posting 195 points (29 goals, 166 assists) and 1197 penalty minutes before suffering a career-ending concussion in 1997.
Johnson also represented the United States at four World Championships (1985, 1986, 1987 and 1990) and one Canada Cup (1992).

What is next? With the Sharks losing out with the Rick Nash trade the big guy out there is Shane Doan. Shane has his selections, and has been seen in Vancouver.  If San Jose wants to get a power center or forward, it will cost them. There’s only so much room in their Cap space, not to mention a team willing to trade a big name player is going to want something tangible in return, Logan was a name rumored to be tossed around. The Sharks can’t afford to lose Couture, one of their best players.

Other news in the hockey spotlight is the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) talks.  The NHL Owners gave the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) a proposal on July 13th. Donald Fehr, the head of the NHLPA is supposed to make the player’s counter offer this week. Donald has three players with him, Rick DiPietro, Ron Hainsey, and Steve Montador. For those of you who aren’t up on the National Hockey League (NHL), the CBA in place expired on September 15th. If no new contract is signed, there won’t be a season this year, at least not right away. Compare this to the NBA’s contract, which was finally signed half-way in to what would have been their regular season.

I stand the ever present optimist, looking forward to opening day on October 12th against the Anaheim Ducks. It’s up to you guys…look to the greater good. As Red Green says, we’re all in this together.

Go Sharks!

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