Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sharks All-Time Players: Mike's Take, Part 1

Gee, that subject is kinda grand in a Star Wars: Episode 5, The Empire Strikes Back kind of way.

I'm taking RudyKelly's challenge of coming up with a "Best Of" team (plus, there's not much to talk about right now and my own blog and business are waiting for server repair). I'm doing something slightly different, mostly because so many Sharks players have had up-and-down seasons, so I'm going to pick a single season to represent each player.

Also, you'll notice that the centers and right wings far outweigh the left wings. There really haven't been too many spectacular left wings in Sharks history (Ray Whitney became a great player after the Sharks dumped him). Perhaps Milan Michalek can change that some day.

1st Line:
C-Joe Thornton 05-06
MVP, league's leading scorer, and catalyst for turning a stuck-in-neutral San Jose Sharks into a league powerhouse, Joe Thornton will probably go down in history as one of, if not the most talented forward in Sharks history. From day one, Thornton was an absolute monster, and his first season in teal provided so many memorable "holy crap" moments -- from his booming slapshot off the post in his first shift in Buffalo to his total undressing of Washington's defense and Olaf Kolzig -- that the memory of Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart, and Wayne Primeau faded pretty darn fast.

RW-Jonathan Cheechoo 05-06
In 2005-06, you couldn't tab Thornton without mentioning Cheechoo. As Thornton's triggerman, a fully healthy Cheechoo (something that hasn't happened much over the past two seasons) fired off so many spot-on one-timers fed from Thornton that an early goal had you thinking, "Maybe he'll get another hat trick." But Cheechoo wasn't a one-trick pony that year; while groin issues have prevented Cheechoo from being able to be as scrappy as he could be, a good chunk of his goals in 05-06 came from being persistent all around the net for rebounds, second chances, and "hit it till the damn thing goes in" goals.

LW-Jeff Friesen 97-98
Ten years ago, Friesen was the projected franchise and future captain; seemingly on the upswing, Friesen broke 30 goals for the only time in his career. In that season, Friesen used his speed, hands, and wrist shot to become the Sharks' most dangerous weapon. He'll never recapture that, but we'll always have our memories of #39 speeding down the wing past opposing defenders.

By the way, did you hear Freeze is back in San Jose on a tryout?

2nd Line:
C-Patrick Marleau 05-06
While Marleau became captain and the go-to guy in 03-04, it wasn't until after the lockout when Marleau put it all together. Before the Thornton trade, Marleau was seemingly the only Sharks player that was effective that season; after the Thornton trade, Marleau became even more deadly with defensive pressure split between the two centers. while Thornton had Cheechoo on his wing, Marleau wound up with rookies Milan Michalek and Steve Bernier -- and even then, he propelled them to one of the best lines in the Western Conference that season.

RW-Owen Nolan 99-00
By the time 2000 rolled around, Owen Nolan was a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate. While ultimately potting 44 goals, Nolan was a force in all aspects -- special teams, hitting hard along the boards, and scoring goals through sheer force of will. That year, Nolan finished fifth in Hart Trophy voting and solidified Darryl Sutter's hunch in making him the captain.

LW-Milan Michalek 06-07
Michalek's sophomore campaign had him working up to star-player status, notching 26 goals and 40 assists, mostly on a line with Joe Thornton. This, much more so than in his rookie year, showed Sharks fans how devastating Michalek's speed could be. In fact, even on a team with Patrick Marleau, Michalek's bursts up the wing made him appear to be the fastest player on the team.

To be continued... (though PJ and Cheechew are welcome to make up their own list).


RudyKelly said...

How the fuck did San Jose lose to Edmonton?

Mike Chen said...

RK, I still wonder that.

heed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Earl Sleek said...

How the fuck did San Jose lose to Edmonton?

This was a year later, but I suspect it was their typical case of aquatus chokus.

I'll get to my list this weekend, Ducks fans. Through extreme self-discipline, I'm limiting myself to one Pahlsson and zero Friesens.

Doogie2K said...

How the fuck did San Jose lose to Edmonton?

Because Shawn Horcoff was better than Joe Thornton. And because Dwayne Roloson was God incarnate that year. And because Raffi Torres damned near decapitated Milan Michalek. And because Sergei Samsonov is apparently a faster skater than Vesa Toskala.

jamestobrien said...

I have a fear that I'd embarrass myself with a Stars list, since I'm not exactly a hardcore Stars fan. Perhaps I should farm out that duty?

Nonetheless, Chen, don't give-in to Lucas's prequel numbering system. We all know Empire Strikes Back was the second Star Wars movie. The last three never happened.

Kinda like Emmitt Smith in a Cardinals jersey.

Ian said...

Johan Garpenlov deserves an honorable mention for left wing, as does Kelly Kisio for center. If only for the terrible, terrible teams they were on, and how they had good seasons anyway.

I don't know if I like the idea of picking individual seasons for an all-time best list. I mean, Rob Gadreau (remember him?) had a great season the Sharks second year, but he should never be on an all-time greatest list, ever.

Mike Chen said...

I went back and forth on the individual season thing. The problem is that if you really look up and down the Sharks all-time roster (especially on D), there's no real sustainable strength other than at center and goal. Players had some good seasons but especially in the post-Irbe pre-Nabby days, offense in any form was thin.

I guess I'm looking at a combination of being an overall good career player with an outstanding season. When it's all said and done, Cheech may not be as dominant as Nolan was in his few superb seasons but he'll probably put up more overall goals. How you judge that depends on your context, and this was the one I ran with for this list. Next season, we can do it differently when we need summer discussion points!

Don't worry, though, players from those early teams will make an appearance. Craig Coxe (owner of the first goal in franchise history), however, will not.