The San Jose Sharks had a very disappointing season in 2011-2012. They made the playoffs, but only did so after a tooth-and-nail fight to the end when in past years they skated their way in practically unscathed. They also failed to finish in first place of the Pacific Division for the first time since 2006-2007 and didn't make it past the Western Conference Quarterfinals for just the fifth time in their 15th playoff appearance. In short, the Sharks came up short and it was yet another letdown for Sharks fans everywhere.
Among the things I noticed about the Sharks this past season was their lack of energy that seemingly took a hold of them throughout the season. I grew to know the Sharks to be a team full of fight - literally and figuratively - and at times it seems as if they struggled to find the energy to finish hockey games - and at times, get them started in 2011-2012. I just hope they can find some way to return their game to the level that we have come to know over the last decade.
It seems as if one way the Sharks will do that is by bringing back defenseman Brad Stuart, who was once a key member of the Sharks and an integral piece of the trade that brought Joe Thornton over to the Sharks in 2005-2006. I remember Stuart being a hard-nosed defenseman who could score and had premier passing ability. I haven't followed Stuart too closely since he left the Sharks but it looks as if his numbers have been down ever since leaving San Jose. The Sharks must have really wanted Stuart because they traded Andrew Murray and a conditional seventh-round pick to the Detroit Red Wings on June 10 in order to have the rights to negotiate with Stuart - as he was set to become a free agent on July 1.
Another facet that the Sharks thought would help the team was bringing back their head coach Todd McLellan. While I like the move to bring back Stuart, I'm not 100 percent certain McLellan is the answer to get the Sharks over the hump. McLellan's offensive strategy of dumping the puck and fore-checking does not match the composition of the Sharks.
The Sharks are a team that should be thriving on the power play and using their size and strength to play in front of the net. Once Devin Setoguchi was traded and McLellan continued to employ the same offensive strategy I knew trouble was to be had. Setoguchi was as fast as they come and the system worked in-part because of his speed; without it, the Sharks were lost for the most part. Hopefully along with the renewal of McLellan comes a shift in offensive strategy so the Sharks can get back to their winning ways.
Food for thought: What do you think about the returns of Brad Stuart and Todd McLellan to the Sharks? Which one if more exciting to you and did you like/dislike one move more than the other?
David is co-founder of wrapupp sports blog where fresh content is posted daily and present sports blogs and sports opinions - all with a West Coast bias. Growing up in the Bay Area, David is a huge supporter of all the local sports teams; the Giants, Athletics, Warriors, Sharks, 49ers, and Raiders. His one fault, admittedly, as many of his friends and family would say, is his love for the Los Angeles Lakers. Growing up, Magic Johnson was his favorite basketball player and he fell in love with the team. He chalks it up to, "Not knowing any better". Now his love for sports has turned just as academic as it is intuitive and he follows most all sports all over the nation.
You can follow David on Twitter: @officialwrapupp
SFGate.com. Brad Stuart takes pay cut to return to Sharks. NHL 2012.
Hockey-Reference.com. Brad Stuart. NHL 2012.
Hockey-Reference.com. Andrew Murray. NHL 2012.
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