1. Troy Brouwer on Alexander Semin, who makes his return to Washington as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday:
“Some nights you didn’t even know if he was gonna come to the rink,” Brouwer said. “It’s tough to play alongside guys like those because you don’t know what you’re gonna get out of ‘em.”
Well shit, Troy, don’t sugar coat it. Tell us how you really feel. Is Troy Brouwer wrong? Absolutely not, the Alex Semin who played in Washington was an enigma. Some nights he looked more talented than anyone in the league, including superstar teammate Alex Ovechkin. Other nights he looked like he was wearing Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.
Regardless of that, if you’re curious to see what one of the best five hockey players in the world looks like, watch Tuesday’s game. I’m guessing Semin wouldn’t mind jamming Brouwer’s words up his ass with a multi-point performance.
2. Do you ever get the impression that there’s a handful of players who are lucky that a guy like Brendan Shanahan is in charge of handing down rulings on player safety violations?
Brendan Shanahan was a tough dude. He was a nasty guy to play against. Was he reckless or blatantly dirty, like a Jarkko Ruutuu or Matt Cooke (pre-reformation)? No. But he wasn’t clean, by any stretch. He would hack you. He would hit you. He would fight you. He would probably punch you, a lot, in the face, even if you didn’t want to fight him.
So I get the sense that in Shanny’s world, he goes a little easier on that type of play than he does on, say, a head shot or a hit from behind. I daresay this is the world Ryane Clowe is living in today. His teammate was taken out by a really shitty, dirty hit on the part of Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw.
Clowe jumped off the bench and went directly at Shaw, while Pavelski stood there, clearly still on the ice and in the play. Yes, he was by the bench, but he wasn’t getting off the ice in any hurry. For that to be ruled a “legal line change” seems pretty generous to Mr. Clowe. I was sure he was gone for the full 10. Safe to say, Shanny should be getting a nice Christmas gift from Clowe, who saved about $320,000 as a result of Shannahan’s liberal interpretation of this particular incident.
3. Late to the party on this one, but while we’re talking about suspensions, how about Taylor Hall? There’s absolutely no reason to believe that he didn’t go after Clutterbuck on purpose, and here’s why:
Cal Clutterbuck is ANNOYING to play against. He hits everyone and everything. He hits hard, and he moves fast. His hits, I would imagine, hurt. He has never been suspended, because he’s the master of coloring JUST inside the lines. I would also imagine that, in the heat of the moment and without the benefit of replay, a lot of the guys he hits think the hit was probably dirty because it sucked so much to be on the receiving end of it.
So Taylor Hall, being a young, talented man, and the exact type of player that Cal Clutterbuck makes his living by making miserable, decided enough was enough. He decided to get even. He did something rash, hotheaded, and stupid. In short, he did something that pretty much any hockey player with a competitive spirit and a pulse has done, or will do, at some point in their career.
Do I condone it? No. Do I understand it? Of course. Does Taylor Hall regret it? Probably. As a player, and a lifelong fan of the game, do I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that Hall was legitimately trying to fuck Clutterbuck’s day up? Hell yes, I do.
4. I don’t buy that the “window is closing” for the San Jose Sharks veteran core. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are still going to be top-six forwards for another 3-5 years, Joe Pavelski for 5-7. Logan Couture is going to keep getting better. Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Jason Demers and Justin Braun are good players, and it’s safe to assume that Brad Stuart will be an effective depth guy through the end of his three-year contract.
The issue is not about whether the Sharks have young players jumping in and contributing in crucial, core roles. It’s not about whether they have prospects in the system that can replace the guys whose careers are winding down. The issue is that the Sharks don’t have any young players or prospects that are coming in and providing reasonable depth.
The San Jose Sharks are the ONLY team in the NHL that doesn’t have at least one player in the lineup who was drafted between 2009 and 2012. Every other team in the league has at least one. Now you could say this stat skewed a bit by shitty teams, whose young prospects wouldn’t be able to make the Sharks roster. But you’d be wrong.
San Jose’s third and fourth lines have been terrible. Any young prospect worth a sniff at the NHL level would have a shot at cracking the current roster. But the Sharks simply don’t have that type of player in the system, because their scouting staff doesn’t put enough emphasis on skill. They draft guys in the mid-to-late rounds who they are reasonably sure will be able to play NHL hockey, but they risk draft picks on guys who they think might have what it takes to be NHL all-stars.
That conservative approach to drafting means the Sharks can plug just about anyone in their system into the fourth line and get a decent 7-9 minutes out of them, but won’t ever see that player blossom into a significant depth scorer. Which is too bad, because depth scoring is how championships are won in the “new” NHL (which is not that new anymore).
5. Patrick Marleau is one goal away from 400 for his career, and has goals in each of his last two games. Given his tendency to score in bunches, one can safely assume that Marleau will probably reach that number on this current home stand.
Which leaves us, once again, looking at the legacy that Patrick Marleau has built up in San Jose. I won’t discuss his accomplishments or his more divisive qualities as a player; that’s been beaten to death – on this blog and elsewhere.
What I would like to do is examine the career of Patrick Marleau through the eyes of the only franchise he’s ever played for. Patrick Marleau is the statistical leader in just about every important category. He’s the only player to have played 1,000 games in a Sharks uniform. He’s the only player to score 300 goals as a San Jose Shark, and will be the only player to have scored 400 when he inevitably does so very soon.
Sadly, he’s also the only legitimate, home-grown star the Sharks have ever given us. Post 2006, it’s easy to look at this team as Joe Thornton’s. But Joe Thornton is not a lifelong San Jose Shark. Pre-2003, it’s easy to look at this team as Owen Nolan’s. But Owen Nolan was not a lifelong San Jose Shark, nor do his San Jose numbers come close to matching Patrick Marleau’s.
There have been other San Jose Sharks to generate more spotlight than Patrick Marleau, as well. Jonathan Cheechoo became the first (and only) Sharks draft pick to win the NHL scoring race when his 56 goals earned him the Rocket Richard trophy in 2006. Evgeni Nabokov became the first San Jose rookie to win the Calder Trophy in 2001, and put together quite a career for the Sharks, but nothing approaching number retirement legacy.
It’s hard to imagine, in the salary cap era, another 1,000+ game player for the San Jose Sharks. It’s even harder to imagine one who will rack up 400+ goals and 900+ points wearing teal. But it’s safe to say that this team will need to churn out a few more long lasting stars if the Sharks hope to remain a top tier team in the future.