Dear Doug Wilson:
First off, I’d like to welcome you back to Worcester. It’s been pretty cold here, and most everyone is hoping that it will warm up a little in the near future. Of course, we have lots of New England curmudgeons that think it will never heat up, but there are a few of us that still hold out some hope. Oh, I’m sorry, I’m not talking about the weather. I’m talking about the Worcester Sharks.
You see, in case you hadn’t heard we haven’t made the playoffs here in three seasons and are languishing near the bottom of the standings yet again. For an organization that prides itself in instilling a winning tradition in its prospects and players you’d think at some point you’d want your minor league team to, you know, win something. And I’m not talking about the Calder Cup, I’m really just referring to one small thing: win a single playoff game. Just like the NHL, in the AHL more than half the teams in the league make the playoffs. In seven seasons Worcester has only made the playoffs three times. Perhaps I misunderstand what “winning tradition” means.
Of course I’d love it if the WorSharks went all the way and won the Calder Cup, but that just doesn’t seem realistic when the philosophy of the organization is “draft and develop”. And, to be honest, that’s OK. We get it. Everything that goes on here is in part to make sure San Jose has the best team available at any given moment, with an eye still on the future as younger players emerge into potential NHL players. Only when I look at the WorSharks roster I don’t see that many future NHL players.
It’s very cool to turn on the TV and watch guys that have come though Worcester playing in the NHL. The problem is, there aren’t all that many. My count has 33 players that made their NHL debut after having played for the WorSharks. That seems like a lot, until you notice that there are many names like Lukas Kaspar, Mike Moore, Riley Armstrong, Brandon Mashinter, Steven Zalewski, and Mike Iggulden on the list. I’m not sure about San Jose, but we don’t see much of those guys on TV around here.
The fans here in Worcester were told that this season changes would be coming, that the WorSharks would be playing almost the exact same system as you do in San Jose and that would go a long way in making this team better. Again, in case you haven’t noticed, that doesn’t seem to be happening. And I’m not talking about making the team better, I’m talking about playing the same system as in San Jose.
It’s a rare occasion in San Jose to see a five foot pass between two players as the recipient of the pass is skating directly toward the passer with no hope of doing anything with the puck once he gets it. It’s a common occurrence here. You don’t see many players skating into each other in the offensive zone in San Jose. That happens all the time here. There’s lots of offensive zone movement in San Jose. In Worcester they look like trees out on the ice. I see tons of puck support in San Jose. Here, not so much. I see the big club creating traffic in front of the opposing net. In Worcester, I see wild goal mouth scrambles as the WorSharks forwards try in vain to put the puck in the net.
It’s obvious that you see things that I don’t, otherwise you would have stepped in ages ago to correct these issues. So I’m inviting you to come sit with me and explain what I’m not understanding. I have the absolute best seats in the house at the DCU Center, so our view of the game will be perfect as we talk about what we’re seeing on the ice. For all three games this weekend, seat 10 in row A of section 108 is yours. All you need to do is walk down and sit in it during the periods of play. The folks in row A will even make sure you’ll get your favorite beverage while we watch and chat. I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours in hockey,