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J0e Th0rnton

blog-0110716001403048550.gifDear Doug Wilson, this is for you.Midget.gif

Doug Wilson's comments today indicate he wants to trade everyone 30 and over for prospects and picks. Ill bold the comments and give my thoughts.

"I want players that want to play here, not just live here." Said in reference to player who wanted to return, not current

Most Shark fans think it is Setoguchi after hearing it is a former Shark who wants to come back.

"There has been a lot of roster turnover in the last 12 months, and there will be more going forward"

There has? TJ Galiardi, Ryane Clowe, Michael Handzus, Scott Gomez and now, Dan Boyle and Havlat. Other than Clowe and Boyle, none were impact players and Wilson for years has made perplexing decisions to give bloated contracts to spare parts on the bottom 6 and bottom D pairing, while letting good parts go, or trading them.

Trading Ehrhoff for nothing and replacing him with used goods and useless players like Huskins, Wallin, Vandermeer, Colin White, and numerous call up's who were downright awful like Semenov, Davison.

Letting bottom 6 guys who make a difference like Malhotra, Winnik, Mcginn go, but always filling the blanks with garbage like Burish, Kennedy, or past their prime players like Handzus or a 43 year old Claude Lemieux,

"When you're in a rebuild there's no panic or rush, so you do it at the right time. ... we're building for the future."

"When you assume it's any one of the players we move, you get picks for next year or prospects, which you can use as assets to acquire"

"But I don't want to diminish the opportunity for the young guys to take over this team ... because they've earned the right."

"The day I let Mike Ricci go was not a happy day. But I think the honesty of my job is to do what's right for the organization"

"It's going to be a challenge, but you go into is with eyes wide open,"

Instead of doing the right thing and going out and getting good players, you want to blow it up and rebuild? We don't need to rebuild. We have solid youth movement. Couture and Hertl at center, Nieto and Wingels on the wings. Vlasic and Braun on defense. Stalock in net. Tierney, a neast of a prospect who I think will do great things, and Mueller, who looks like another Vlasic in the system. All these guys are very young and great players. We also have a solid mix of Middling age guys like Burns and Pavelski and Torres, and Vets named Thornton and Marleau who are still playing elite Hockey at age 35 and signed with you for hometown discounts with the assurances that they would end their careers here. Going back on your word so soon Wilson? Unless you are planning on trading EVERYONE, there is no way this team is in "rebuild" mode. If you do plan on trading everyone, you should be fired before you can ruin the team. Already hundreds of Sharks season ticket holders on twitter voiced their support of keeping Thornton and not doing anything too rash. You lost in 7 games to the Stanley cup champs, and mostly due to an unfortunate injury to your Olympic gold medal best in the league defensive defenseman and one of the best puck movers in the game, Vlasic.

This season going into the playoffs, just about EVERY sharks fan was praying nobody on defense got hurt, or we were done like dinner(And look what happens). We were also praying Niemi would be moved for just about anyone given how bad he played all season and every previous playoff for us.

Niemi is a huge momentum killer due to his liability and inability to make routine saves, have a crappy glove hand, blocker side(in fact, any puck 18 inches off the ice is a true danger of going in), bad lateral movement, and bad rebound control....and he plays the puck like it is a bouncing grenade. Sharks fans everywhere break out in sweat every time he leaves te net to play the puck. He usually manages to give it to whoever the closest opposing player is

An illustration of where goals were scored against him this past season.

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Niemi let in almost 4 goals a game on average in the playoffs. FOUR. And a lot of them were routine saves for anyone with Lateral movement or a quick glove hand.

Our defense lacked anyone who can play more than 20 minutes a night without it showing except Vlasic. And Guess who goes down? Vlasic, the Iron man who never misses games. Meaning extra time on ice needs to be given to geriatric Hannan and Stuart, and Boyle, who has been sheltered at even strength and is obviously loing a step every month. Irwin and Braun were our best two defenders after Vlasic went down, and Braun looks afraid to even try anything because he has to support Stuart so much and Irwin was at best, a #6, but better than 3 of our vets.

The "New" system TMac wanted to employ with speed requires quick puck movement from defense to already streaking forwards, and chip and chase when you can't streak in. A virtual impossibility once Vlasic went down. The other half of the game is puck possession and board play. Something we were #2 in the league at all year. Want to guess who was #1? Yup, the kings.

The Forwards had to come all the way back to support defense so much that the kings were able to clog the center and force a chip and chase. Which, against anyone else, would have been fine since we are the #2 possession and board team in the league. Against the kings? No.

Yes, the powerplay was torrid. And who was the coach who continued to send out the exact same arrangement of players? Dan Boyle was once deadly with his quick release, but fumbled or hesitated on so many perfect Thornton saucer passes that the shooting lanes closed before he could do anything. More than 10 times, Quick's amazing glove hand robbed Pavelski or Marleau from a perfect Thornton pass that looked like a sure goal.

The bottom line is, if the players were ignoring the coach, he would have benched them a few shifts to get their attention. The only guy who was benched or lost powerplay time was Burns in game 6. And it is simply because Burns follows no system. Nobody knows what he is doing out there. he creates organized chaos up front because of that unpredictability. And Speaking of coaching, Why was Thornton given 75% defensive zone draws in the last 3 games like a checking forward? Pavelski got 20 more faceoffs in the last 3 games, and still did not win as many draws a Thornton. And Pavelski is the guy touted to be the all purpose two way player who gets all the important defensive zone draws. When the game is tied, fine, but when you need a goal, you start Jumbo joe, who wins all faceoffs, in the offensive zone.

I could and have been going on about this for weeks. but the bottom line is this. If you blow the team up right now when they are a piece away from winning it all instead of going out and getting a Niskanen UFA, you are stupid. Plain and simple. Look at Edmonton, Buffalo, Florida and the Islanders and tell me how well their rebuild is doing after giving their top players away. If you trade one of Thornton, Marleau or Pavelski, it better not be just to trade them. The return should be a top pairing left side defenseman like Keith Yandle or Roman Josi who can eat big minutes if an injury happens. We also have a hole up front with Burns being moved back to defense. I'd suggest Stastny so we can keep Pavelski on wing, but who knows with you.

The Bruins choked a 3-0 lead once after Krejci's injury changed the complection of the series and won the cup the next year, and the Sharks can do it too. All you need to do is get over your fear of impact UFA's. You have the cap room thanks to all the hometown discounts(Something many teams would kill for). You just need to pull the trigger.

In the past few years, you signed extensions at a hometown discount to Ehrhoff, Michalek, etc, only to turn around and ship them out at a whim, making players demand no movement clauses and no trade clauses if they are to take a hometown discount. Now immediately after signing two of the greatest loyal players ever to wear Sharks uniforms, you want to force them out of their no movement clauses?

Hate to break it to you, but if you do this, your reputation is about to take a huge nosedive in all subsquent negotiations with anyone. Not that it will matter since you will lose your Job as fast as MOC did when he traded Thornton and nobody will ever hire you again.

A Message to Hasso Plattner the Sharks owner. If the hundreds of season ticket holders telling you on twitter they will not renew if you trade away their loyal favorite players is not enough for you to step in and make sure nothing rash is done, then maybe you should remember the 3000 season ticket cancellations the year the Sharks traded fan favorite Owen Nolan to Toronto.

J0e Th0rnton

blog-0007393001400595270.gifHearing a million articles and speculations regarding Wilson's conference call and comments.

On one hand, he claimed he wants to move towards a younger, faster, more aggressive team and that no option is off the table. Talked about a shift in team culture and that they did not have that many restrictive contracts. On the other hand when asked if he regretted the contracts of Thornton and Marleau, he said "no". Mentioned how Couture, Pavelski, Thornton and Marleau were signed to fair below market value contracts.

Since Wilson has straight up told people part of the plan(Letting Boyle walk, Buying out Havlat, and moving Burns back to D) as well as trying immediately to resign Stalock, people are anxious to hear the other half of the plan.

Everyone assumes the answer is straight up trading Thornton/Marleau, but could the answer to a step back to move two steps forward be something else?

Numerous insider sources on twitter confirm Thornton has not been asked to waive his NMC, and that Marleau was called in to a meeting friday, but nobody knows what about.

When talking about handing the keys to the younger guys, could Wilson be implying that the youth core will be getting all the offensive zone minutes and Powerplay time, rather than trading Thornton/Marleau.

The Sharks youth certainly has the depth to cover the top two lines. Hertl can play all 3 position and Nieto solidified his spot. Wingels had a breakout year, and we all know Pavelski/Couture are solid 1st line center caliber two way players. Could the change be indicating Thornton and Marleau will not be traded, but in fact, be minimized in their veteran role to give Pavelski and Couture room to grow and lead the team?

If this speculation holds true, They would be the most expensive bottom 6 forwards in the league, but is that such a bad thing? Both were in such a role when they won gold medals.

The lines next year could very well look like...

Hertl/Pavelski/Wingels

????/Couture/Nieto

Marleau/Thornton/Sheppard

Torres/Desjardins/????Burish

A few holes to fill, but nothing too crazy. Depending on if they can trade/Buy out turnover machine Kennedy or less useful Burish.

Currently, the defense is:

Vlasic/Burns

Stuart/Braun

Irwin/Demers

And goal is Niemi/Stalock(Who is already loyal and in talks to resign). Could Niemi be moved for a younger backup or platoon goalie? Possibly. Word is, Stalock will have his chance to steal the top job

Stuart is a likely candidate to be shopped, despite his limited NTC. He was awful playing on the left side. irwin may develop more, but right now, should be a #7. People hope Mueller can be another Vlasic, but coming into the NHL at 19 is rare on defense. I would not bank on it.

Picking up Niskanen on Left D should be a priority. As another member mentioned, adding a boring but dependable guy like Ron Hainsey instead of bringing back Hannan or going with Irwin could have merit. not sure what DW was thinking spending on guys like Burish Kennedy while leaving holes in Defense.

Demers and Wingels are likely to earn decent extentions. 3 to 3.5 million each. Braun will need to be kept in mind as he is going to be worth an extension. Sheppard earned another year, but no more than 1.5 million.

Some Numbers I ran on capgeek.

CAPGEEK.COM ARMCHAIR GM ROSTER

Sharks tweaking 2015

FORWARDS

Tomas Hertl ($0.925m) / Joe Pavelski ($6.000m) / Tommy Wingels ($3.500m)

Logan Couture ($6.000m) / Matt Nieto ($0.759m)

Patrick Marleau ($6.667m) / Joe Thornton ($6.750m) / Adam Burish ($1.850m)

Raffi Torres ($2.000m) / Andrew Desjardins ($0.750m) / James Sheppard ($1.500m)

DEFENSEMEN

Marc-Edouard Vlasic ($4.250m) / Brent Burns ($5.760m)

Matt Niskanen ($5.500m) / Justin Braun ($1.250m)

Ron Hainsey ($2.000m) / Jason Demers ($3.500m)

Matt Irwin ($1.000m) /

GOALTENDERS

Antti Niemi ($3.800m)

Alex Stalock ($1.625m)

BUYOUTS

Martin Havlat ($0.000m)

Tyler Kennedy ($0.000m)

RETAINED SALARIES (1.01% of upper limit)

Brad Stuart ($0.720m—20.00%)

------

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)

(estimations for 2014-15)

SALARY CAP: $71,100,000; CAP PAYROLL: $66,105,833; BONUSES: $590,833

CAP SPACE (20-man roster): $4,994,167

Its possible Demers and Wingels get more or less, same with Sheppard. This does not take into account moving Niemi or an option for Logan Couture's LW, but there is still 5 million in cap space.

Thoughts?

J0e Th0rnton

blog-0226655001398642156.gif99975050_crop_650x440.jpg

Quite a listless game 5 from the Sharks as the kings came out and dominated, and Quick regained his form. Niemi was pulled for the second straight game, bringing the question, will Stalock start game 6? Stalock looked solid on several kings opportunities, and plays a much more aggresive game than Niemi.

Ill be honest, I was not particularly high on Stalock. While not pleased at Niemi's regression this season, I had only seen 3 games with Stalock playing this season. One was a win against Calgary, in which he allowed 2 goals on 13 shots, 84.6% save percentage, another was a loss to Carolina, he allowed 4 goals on 34 shots, and finally, in March a game against the Avalanche, where we lost 3-1, despite outshooting them 49-22. In Short, I was one of the Shark fans terrified at the idea of Niemi getting injured and having to rely on him.

Strangely, I always heard praise for him from people. Thus, I looked his stats up in other games recently as questions began to fly about Niemi. I must have caught the 3 worst games Stalock played all year, because his numbers are actually quite impressive and now I find myself checking Sharks news as more and more fans seem to want to give him the shot. I find myself among them. He has played a full game's worth of playoff Hockey and has yet to let in a goal, and he looked confident and solid, despite the situation. I loved his puck handling, almost like a 3rd defenseman, a skill Niemi never bothered to learn(In fact, when he handles the puck, I usually sweat or shudder). Another thing that impressed me in comparison to Niemi was Stalock's rebound control.

Niemi has not looked good this playoff other than a few streaky moments. His play in OT against the Kings in game 3 was stellar and his high of the playoffs thus far, but he has also looked below average on several goals. Letting in 4 goals a game is not going to cut it. I understand when a goal is not completely a goalies fault, and can blame certain players lack of coverage(Sheppard, Boyle, Hannan and Stuart, I am looking at you), but sometimes, the goalie has to come up big when being hung to dry, and other than that OT, Niemi has just not done that.

My Vote for game 6 is to start Stalock and give the future a chance to prove himself. Niemi being pulled 2 games in a row calls for it.

On to the uglier side of things......

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Stoll's hit looked routine to me, and the elbow did not look terribly hard to me, but the elbow after the fact certainly did something as Vlasic left the game in the first period and never returned and he is a virtual Iron man, rarely if ever missing time. TMac at the presser told us he has an upper body injury and is not guaranteed to play game 6. Furthermore, he did not skate with the team at practice today.

This is a huge blow to the Sharks. Vlasic is the undisputed best defenseman on the sharks. Defensively, he is Nick Lidstrom-esque, and his puck possession, retrieval and breakout passes are second to none on the team, making him much more important to offense than his stats indicate. Until this year, a lot of fans around the league did not even know who he was until they saw how solid he was in the Olympics.

Any forward on the team could have been taken out, and I would not panic because of our depth. On Defense, it is a different matter. The thought of Vlasic being out any amount of time is backbreaking. Please oh please Hockey God, let Vlasic be okay and healthy enough to play.

The options if he is out of course are a few things. Dress Irwin, who cannot give a check or take one without falling over(Against the kings? ugh) but has a good bomb of a shot, or move Burns back to defense, where he was just not playing as well for the Sharks as he is at forward. Since during the same practice that Vlasic missed they had Hertl playing in a top 6 role, with Pavelski centering the 3rd line, is is entirely possible Burns may move to Defense.

Overall, I would dress Irwin, but shelter his minutes. But I hope they do not need to. I Believe! Vlasic! You are IRON MAN.

Regarding other lineup changes, I am in favor of inserting Havlat. The player focus for me was originally Sheppard in the doghouse, and still kind of is, but his play along the boards has been a bright spot. But Brown has been less valuable the past 2 games. Havlat is nicknamed Mr Glass in San Jose, but he might just come out and play like he did in the Colorado game. He definitely has offensive upside over Brown, and right now we just can't score. When you hit an offensive wall, you change weapons. Havlat is made of glass, and usually needs time and space to work in the offensive zone that he does not get anymore, but he is capable of making those stretch passes that had us taking advantage of the kings slow defenders in the first few games. Apparently in the 5-1 win over the Avs I did not watch, he scored a hat trick and an assist and showed bursts of speed he just did not have before his surgery.

My proposed lines PRAYING VLASIC IS A-OK for game 6

Hertl/Thornton/Burns

Marleau/Couture/Nieto

Havlat/Pavelski/Wingels

Torres/Desjardins/Sheppard

Vlasic/Demers

Stuart/Braun

Hannan/Boyle

Irwin

Stalock

MAKE IT HAPPEN TMAC

May the force be with you Sharks!

J0e Th0rnton

blog-0229691001398176593.gifWelcome to Chompboard blog!

For those who do not know, Chompboard was once the biggest Sharks forum on the internet. Sadly, for reasons unknown, it shut down a few years back. It was a forum I frequented quite a bit. I named this blog in it's memory, and as an invite to former Chompboard members to join us on this great forum :)

Yes, that is an old picture of Nabokov, but it remains my favorite Picture with the Shark jaws of all time. Seems appropriate.

Game 3 is upon us tonight, and the Sharks thus far have looked amazing. A deeper, faster SJ team than any we have previously seen. Indeed, all 12 shark forwards have at least 2 points.

To recap game 1, the Sharks looked dominant for the first 2 periods and took their foot off the gas in the third, winning by 6-3.

Game 2 saw more shark control in the first, yet we were down 2-0. Then blazed ahead for 7 straight goals, winning 7-2.

Last year, the Sharks scored 10 goals total in 7 games against Quick. It is quite eye opening to see scores like that.

With a combined 214 hits in the first two games, it has been a physical but clean series. Outside of a few incidents like Richards spearing Couture.

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Game 3 is the first of the series in LA, where Sutter will control the matchups. Thus far, the hardest hitting series in the playoffs. This will be a real test for San Jose, as in home games they have been able to surgically dismantle Quick an the more gariatric Kings defenders with speed and east/west plays.

I have been calling for the removal of Sheppard from the lineup and inserting Havlat, but as the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Sheppard made some questionable 3rd period decisions in game 1(In fact, he was on the ice for every kings goal) and he is below average defensively. But at least he can play physically and along the boards. Havlat is equally below average in his own end, and avoids physical contact like the plague(With good reason. We call him Mr. Glass), but he is able to bring an offensive upside beyond Sheppard and can execute those types of transition passes that ruin the LA defense.

How Tmac will approach game 3, who can say. Sheppard and Brown will be the two Sutter is trying to get Kopitar's line out against. Brown has earned his spot in both games. The bigger question is, will Tmac move Pavelski to 3c? Currently on Thornton's wing with Burns at RW, that line has been great. As has the 2nd line of Marleau/Couture/Nieto. Nieto's speed with Marleau has been a joy to watch. Couture is Couture. Below average skating, but with incredible hockey sense and awareness. The line has gelled so well that breaking it up would be ridiculous. The 4th line has been better than I ever Imagined. Torres could be a 2nd line winger on many teams. If he keeps playing the edge, but not jumping over it(See Cooke last night) it could be the best 4th line in the NHL. Desjardins has been great and Brown has been, well, sending guys bowling into Quick.

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The defensive pairings are locked, mostly due to effectiveness. Demers needs Vlasic, and they just work. Vlasic has jumped into the play offensive more than in the past as well. hope to see this become a trend. Stuart/Braun......well, Braun would jump into the play more if he trusted Stuart, but Braun has become our 2nd best shutdown guy as well. Then the old guard pairing of Hannan/Boyle, which has given me fits defensively due to Boyle slowing reaction time, but has been okay.

All in all, I look forward to game 3 at the staples center. This team has come together and gelled at just the right time.

GO SHARKS GO!

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