WorSharks hold “State of the Sharks” gathering featuring San Jose hockey operations

By Darryl Hunt - Last updated: Sunday, January 15, 2012 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

Sunday afternoon the San Jose Sharks hockey operations held their first “State of the Sharks” gathering in Worcester where they answered the questions of season ticket holders, fans, and several media outlets. The panel members included Doug Wilson, Wayne Thomas, Tim Burke, John Ferguson Jr., Bryan Marchment, and Mike Ricci. The original plan was for Sharkspage to record all of the answers given by the panel and then edit in the questions for a seamless presentation. That idea would have worked well as my 60 minute flip camera had more than enough space to record all the answers. My brand new batteries had a different plan, so I was limited to the first 20 minutes or so because I brought no extra batteries. Lesson learned.

Looking back on the event, Wilson’s opening remarks and the first two answers were actually the most important of all the information given. The rest of the answers I took notes on are below the videos. The videos aren’t super quality because of the lighting high behind the panel, but the audio is really all that’s needed and that came out fine.

Wilson’s opening remarks

Wilson and Burke on veteran leadership

Wilson and Thomas on putting a roster together

Some other topics brought up were
* The lack of true play making centers on the roster. Wilson and Thomas addressed some of that earlier on the video, but Burke specifically mentioned Freddie Hamilton and Micheal Sgarbossa as young players that will make an impact in that area next season. Burke also mentioned the Sharks have their eyes on some free agents, and drew a laugh from the spectators when he obviously refused to mention names when prompted.

* The number of goaltenders on the roster. Wilson was very candid that “more is better” because they “can disappear fast” due to injuries. He mentioned that last year was very hard on the organization with all the injuries in that position, and he and Thomas were “holding their breaths” at points last season because of how far down the depth chart they had gone and that the cupboard was bare if there were more injuries. Thomas called the current situation a “fortunate problem to have”.

* Info on Alex Stalock: After his injury the Sharks were so concerned for his future they sought out the best surgeon in that field and flew Stalock out to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota on a private jet owned by one of the owners of SVSE. It was announced that Stalock is “fully recovered” and the plan is for him to play “in seven to ten days” for the WorSharks.

* How it’s decided on which player is recalled. In most cases San Jose head coach Todd McLellan calls WorSharks head coach Roy Sommer and they discuss the role the recalled player is needed for and based on Sommer’s input on how well that player is current playing a decision is made. Wilson came right and said he knows those recalls hurt Worcester’s roster, but that’s what life is about in minor league hockey. When asked about recalls just prior to WorSharks games Wilson said the timing is all based on making sure all of San Jose’s roster spots were covered, and again noted that’s one of the issues that just happens to minor league teams. That topic rolled into the next one…

* The lack of Sharks owned players in the ECHL. This was probably the most eye opening answer given in the entire program, and one that now WorSharks fans have heard seems pretty obvious: the vast majority of ECHL players don’t want to sign two-way contracts with AHL clubs because it inhibits them in getting chances to make the next level full time. Thomas noted “it’s not like baseball” where players are owned by teams throughout the levels because while the NHL to AHL relationship between clubs is “very tight” the relationship between AHL teams and ECHL teams isn’t so rigid. The team has its eye on some players that they can sign out of the ECHL/CHL based on need and availability.

* Having a preseason game in Worcester. Wilson said it’s been talked about in the past, but to fly 6,000 miles to play one or two games makes no sense financially and the additional wear and tear of trips across the country and back before the season even starts makes it unlikely. He did note that if the NHL were to start San Jose’s season on the East coast it would make playing a preseason game in Worcester much more attractive and in that case they would certainly look into it.

* Why Dan DaSilva was not re-signed. Thomas was pretty candid about that, and said DaSilva was looking for an NHL contract and San Jose was not able to offer him one and that they had other players penciled into the spots he might possibly have occupied. Thomas continued that he liked DaSilva as a player and was up front with him about the situation.

* The continued rumors of San Jose moving their affiliate out west. Wilson almost laughed out loud as he said those rumors have been around “for 15 years” and that he and the organization feel that Worcester is the perfect place for developing prospects. Everyone on the panel chimed in on the issue, including Marchment who related his experiences in the AHL while playing in Moncton. He said that by having the team in Worcester so close to other teams that there are virtually no days lost to travel, and because of that every day is a practice or development day. Previously the Sharks have brushed off the issue about recalling prospects, indicating that there are several airports within an short drive from Worcester that allow access to most NHL cities.

* Making the “State of the Sharks” meeting in Worcester a yearly event. Wilson indicated he was all for it. Because the team holds its organizational meetings every year in Worcester there really is no reason to not hold one yearly.

After the gathering Sharkspage was hoping to have a few moments with Wilson for some questions, but that didn’t totally pan out as there was several folks looking for autographs and pictures and his time was short, but Wilson did laughingly tell a great story when asked about Calgary defenseman Chris Butler tying Wilson’s mark of going minus-seven in a game. He mentioned that center Dean Evason was a little emotional about being minus-5 and couldn’t take the draw until Wilson told Evason that he was minus-7 and to get in the face-off circle (as you might expect in a hockey story, there was the hint of some foul language being used in that conversation). Wilson also mentioned that Neil Wilkinson was responsible for him being minus-7 because he short shifted in front of Wilson and Wilson had one skate on the ice for one of the goals which gave him the minus instead of Wilkinson.

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