24 May 19
Even though I haven’t coached this century, except for coaching my boys to a bronze medal at 2014 Western Canadian U18 Ball Hockey Championships, I still have some coaching habits.
I always like to watch a game a second time the next day. When Todd McLellan coached the Sharks, he allowed me to join him the next morning to watch the game with the coaches. I loved that; I didn’t love waking up at 5:30 to do it though. Even to this day as a broadcaster, I will re-watch the game I called the night before — with the sound muted, of course.
It’s a great exercise. It allows a clearer, more detached, more impartial view of the game. Watching a game live, the emotion and drama in the heat of the moment can cloud anybody’s analytical skills.
So after watching the Sharks again bow out of the 2019 playoffs I can affirm Peter DeBoer’s remarks after Game 6 in St. Louis.
The 5-1 score was not reflective of the effort the Sharks dispensed. They did make the Blues “earn it.”
Effort, work, heart. Use whatever word you want. The Sharks displayed a ton of it. Not just in the final game, missing three of their top performers, but throughout the entire playoff run.
I know that does not ease the disappointment of seeing your team bow out so frustratingly close to another Stanley Cup Final. The look on Joe Thornton’s face said it all, a heartbreaking contemplation of coming so close while still being so far away
It is simple to break down the St. Louis series. The punishment the Blues dished out game after game worked to perfection. Exhibit A: No Pavelski, No Hertl, No Karlsson for part of Game 5 and all of Game 6.
The Sharks offense was stymied by an imposing defenseive core and dedicated backtracking forwards. Do you remember any odd man attacks the Sharks were able to generate? Yeah, neither do I.
Time and space were luxuries the Sharks did not have. When they did find a sliver of space and got a chance on net, the Blues brilliant rookie tender, Jordan Binnington, made saves that disguised and defied his rookie status.
The healthier, better executing team won. I don’t think there is any shame in that if your team gave every ounce of energy in opposition. You can be confident the Sharks “maxed out.” They competed hard but didn’t have enough. It’s a hard pill to swallow.
One of the great American writers and orators from the 1800’s, Robert Ingersoll, wrote:“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”
The Sharks didn’t lose heart. They displayed courage and took their defeat as they have won and lost all year — as a team. But this will not be the team when the Sharks return to the ice next September.
With the end of the playoffs comes the very tough offseason where it’s very likely that some of your favorite Sharks will become your favorite former Sharks. GM Doug Wilson has some very busy days and sleepless nights ahead.[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section”]
According to CapFriendly, the Sharks have 15 players signed for a total of $58,296,667. That leaves $24,703,333, based on the salary cap going up to $83 million.
The good news is that Doug has done a good job locking up key players to contracts with good term and respectable salaries relative to the rest of the league. Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Martin Jones and Evander Kane are locked up.
Doug will need to address his restricted free agents. Timo Meier — 30 goals at 22 years old — has without a doubt earned himself a big raise. He’s probably looking at something north of $6 million per year and a term of 4 or 5 years.
Kevin LaBanc, Joakim Ryan and Dylan Gambrell will shrink the cap space by an estimated $12-13 million.
Then there are the unrestricted free agents, those who can leave: The big three, Erik Karlsson and two of the greatest Sharks of all time, Joe Pavelski and Jumbo Joe Thornton. Add Gus Nyquist, Joonas Donskoi and Micheal Hayley… the numbers simply cannot be crunched enough.
That is the biggest heartbreak of all.