Monday, December 1, 2008

Sharks Fan's Thanksgiving List

The San Jose Sharks take on former coach Ron Wilson Tuesday night at HP Pavilion at 7:30pm PST. Last week, they took on former teammate Brian Campbell.

Between those two games was Thanksgiving. This got me to thinking about how we can be grateful to those who failed us if it helps us get the changes necessary to make things better.

After all, if it was not for the insecure department head at my old job in Milwaukee who fired me because I was a threat (I had applied for his job), I would not have gotten my new job and met my wife. If that new job hadn't treated me like a pawn, I wouldn't have left it for the great job I currently have.

But then, not all things I am grateful for when it comes to the Sharks are limited to what changes happened because of our short-comings. This team is on pace for 140 points, and while they certainly won't make it there, with that kind of success comes an abundance of material for a thanksgiving list.

Below are my top 10 things to be thankful for, starting with the two in which management has proven to me I was wrong:

1. The new coaching staff I was skeptical of. They have a handle on what it takes for success and how to motivate players to work a full 60 minutes. Players are blocking shots and making stellar saves with multiple-goal leads in the final minute of games.
2. Keeping Patrick Marleau, who I was sure would have to be traded to upgrade the blueline. Instead, Patty has committed to playing on the defensive side of the ice, too, and has been the Sharks best player so far in my mind. (I am also beginning to think I was wrong about Alexei Semenov, by the way.)
3. That Doug Wilson is in charge and not me, so the right changes could be made. That he could pull off the Dan Boyle trade and still sign Rob Blake (a change I called for) is amazing, and there is no better general manager in the league.
4. Greg Jamison opening up the purse strings and spending up to the cap, about $10 million more than previous years.
5. For the overachieving performances of Christian Ehrhoff and Devin Setoguchi--we had every reason to believe they would be good, but they are playing at an All-Star level.
6. For the adversity we have already faced and overcome. The following players have missed time: Evgeni Nabokov, Torrey Mitchell, Jonathan Cheechoo, Mike Grier, Marcel Goc, Dan Boyle, Douglas Murray, and Jody Shelley. But the Sharks keep winning.
7. Depth. The reason we have been able to endure all of these injuries is because we have so many players who can contribute. 15 Sharks have scored game-winning goals, and no one has more than two.
8. Dan Boyle, Brad Lukowich, and Rob Blake. By changing half of the blueline, the Sharks have added not only skill, but experience. There were many times last year that young defencemen like Ehrhoff were put in pressure cookers and doomed to make that mistake ion their own end; now there is a Stanley-Cup winning, calming influence nearby at all times.
9. Brian Campbell, for not only failing to be enough, but for showing Doug Wilson that adding skill to the blueline would make a big difference in the team's success. Then Campbell saved us from overpaying for him like Chicago did and we were able to upgrade more by losing him.
10. Douglas Murray's hits. I am all about the physical game, and that man flattens players who are trying to flatten him. To an enforcer like me, that is a more beautiful sight than a Joe Thornton tape-to-tape pass.

Then again, I caution everyone about getting too excited. Teams will make adjustments to counter our game, and we'll have to have answers for that. Plus, while games in November mean as much as games in March, they mean less than games in May; all of this means nothing if we don't win then.

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