What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s happening!

What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.

Why should you want to know?
Don’t you mind about the future?
Don’t you try to think ahead?
Save tomorrow for tomorrow;
Think about today instead.
— Jesus Christ Superstar (Tim Rice)

One of the hardest jobs in the newspaper industry may be the headline writer.  This person needs to summarize the associated article in a few words.

Sometimes they are funny, sometimes they make you think.

But often the sensationalism of the headlines belies what’s really happening.  In other words, sometimes it’s just so hard to get past the sensationalism to see the reality.

The headlines about the Sharks this summer have been about:

  • historic, epic, collapse
  • culture of failure (and playoff choking)
  • no change in head coach or general manager
  • how to define “rebuild”
  • co-workers vs teammates
  • trading away veteran D (Boyle, Stuart)
  • the dearth of players added to the organization (two free agents, one trade, entry draft players, three undrafted prospects — with the probability of one enforcer on the NHL roster); letting 18 players go from organization; resigning two UFAs (Brown, Hannan), five RFAs
  • while many of the other teams (in the state, division, conference, league) added free agents or made trades to improve to their organization
  • questions about goal tending with Niemi only having 87.7% save vs Stalock 93.2%
  • “tomorrow team”, pulling replacements from within the organization, especially with the often-derided quality of the Sharks prospects
  • the loss of Raffi Torres for perhaps half the season from complications from surgery last preseason (he’s played 16 regular season games with the Sharks since being acquired)
  • open season for a new captain at training camp
  • locker room problems
  • organizational panic

About the only positive headline was regarding the compliance buyout of Havlat which was almost universally applauded (and predicted).


So what does all this mean?  And does it really matter (to those inside the room, or is it mainly for placating the pundits outside the room)?

To answer the latter question first: it really doesn’t matter what those of us in the stands, press box or peanut gallery think.  It’s what the guys in the room and the Sharks “brass” think that matters.

The realities are:

  • Sharks lost Vlasic and the remaining defensive corps could not contain the Kings
  • The team stopped playing Sharks system
  • Sharks scoring dried up/Quick got hot
  • Exhaustion? Push to make playoffs, #2 division finish, compressed schedule due to Olympics (Mental and/or physical)
  • The Kings are a very good team

Is the fix to the problem merely “between the ears?” Or new personnel?

Or both?

With a summer of dealing with the fall out of the first round loss, that’s a lot of time to contemplate the pain from the loss, fix any resulting “issues,” and to set one’s resolve to not see that happen again.  (A new captain and alternates may help with that with new voices leading the team.)

Based one of Doug Wilson’s favorite books, it sounds like a new “bus driver”/captain is needed, and where folks sit “on the bus” needs to change, as well as some of who are on the bus.

Some of the less effective players are off the bus with the departure of Boyle and Havlat.  (That’s not to say they won’t be effective for their new teams, but they no longer fit with what the Sharks needed/wanted. Just like Clowe and Murray.)

If you think that Thornton or Marleau should be replaced on the ice by better players, pray tell, who?  They are some of the most offensively productive players in the league, even if they don’t get the headlines of Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, and Stamkos. If the Sharks did choose to trade them away, and the guys waived their no-movement clauses, it is highly unlikely the Sharks would be able to acquire similarly effective players. And it’s unlikely the Sharks will be drafting from the first row any time soon for a replacement.

So now the team is providing opportunities for younger players, and the team has said there are no guaranteed roster spots. It will be merit and skills, not tenure nor salary/contract that will determine if a player is on the NHL roster at the start of the season (or in the AHL or traded/waived). And that competition will extend to roles or pairing/lines.

What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.

Why should you want to know?
Why are you obsessed with fighting
Times and fates you can’t defy?
If you knew the path we’re riding,
You’d understand it less than I.
— Jesus Christ Superstar (Tim Rice)

Isn’t that as it should be? Making it public that the NHL roster will be up for full competition just puts all the players on notice they cannot “sit on their laurels” or “assume” they have a place on the opening night roster.

I’m expecting this upcoming training camp to be one of the most physical ever.  No “half speed” scrimmages nor “don’t mean anything” preseason games.  It may be “playoff intensity” for those in camp, wanting to ensure they are on the opening night roster.

So what if John Scott, noted enforcer, is on the training camp roster.  That is no guarantee that he’ll be on the opening night roster, nor that he’ll be in the line up any night of the regular season.

What of this path the Sharks are on?  Are they pretenders or contenders for the Stanley Cup? Contenders in my book.

From a distance, I’m seeing that these public gesturings and sentiments are (attempting) to change the external expectations (of pundits and fans). (But based on the current headlines, I don’t think those expectations have been significantly changed.)

The Sharks may need to pop the balloon of expectations filled with hot air and descend to the depths of the standings to sink way beneath the surface to then explosively display it’s status as an apex predator and attack from that depth with deadly consequences for their prey.