Friday, May 1, 2009

Why Doug Wilson is to blame for the Sharks' failures and lack of offensive flair

And most importantly, this is why Doug Wilson is incapable of building a great hockey team. And if he is incapable of building a great hockey team, then he should no longer be the General Manager of the San Jose Sharks.


The real story here (that all the writers are missing out on) is that Ryan Getzlaf, Correy Perry, and Chris Pronger should all be Sharks!

In the 2003 draft, Doug Wilson picked Milan Michalek with the 6th overall pick when Ryan Getzlaf and Correy Perry were still available! Not to mention Dion Phaneuf was still available, Jeff Carter was still available, Zach Parise, Mike Richards, Braydon Coburn were all still available, and many other, better players than Michalek as well.

But Doug Wilson, being the 'excellent' general manager he is, being the general manager about whom Greg Jamison (who should also be fired) said "his body of work speaks for itself," passed on all of those great, elite, star players to pick a mediocre second line player at best (or for many teams an above average third player player) instead.

But that's not all. Doug Wilson also had the 15th overall pick in that draft. Guess who was still available? Ryan Getzlaf, Correy Perry, Zach Parise, Mike Richards, Shea Webber, Patrice Bergeron, Patrick O'Sullivan. But who does Doug Wilson pick? Steve Bernier.

Then to top it all off, Chris Pronger got offered to Wilson for a few mediocre prospects (none of them future star players), and Doug Wilson said no!

Could you imagine if the Sharks had Pronger, Getzlaf, and Perry, and the Ducks didn't? Who do you think would have won the series if Doug Wilson had gotten those players?

Doug Wilson made three huge mistakes during that time span, and Ducks' then General Manager Brian Burke capitalized on those mistakes. Doug Wilson passed on those players, and Brian Burke snatched them up, and that is the one and only biggest reason that the Ducks have won a Stanley Cup, and the reason the Sharks have not. And it is also the one and only biggest reason that the Ducks creamed the Sharks in their series.

The reason this is the real story is because there are parallels here since the Ducks just faced the Sharks, and Doug Wilson missed the great players and the Ducks got them and beat the Sharks with them. But a larger point is that the 2003 NHL entry draft was one of the deepest of all time, and almost every team in the NHL got a star, franchise player out of the first two rounds of that draft, if not two or more, but the Sharks got none, and right now that's what they're missing, a couple star franchise players who can't only pass and skate like Marleau and Thornton can, but who actually have the whole package, like Yzerman, Foresberg, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Getzlaf, Kane, Toews, Semin, and so on.

What do I mean by the whole package? The Sharks have no one besides Boyle who have the ability to skate, pass, shoot, and stickhandle. The Sharks have a few players who can skate, and an even fewer who can skate and pass, and one or two who can shoot well, but they have no one besides Dan Boyle who has the whole aforementioned package. In fact, besides Boyle, the Sharks do not even have one single player who can stickhandle defenders and goalies alike out of their skates, not to mention players who can do that as well as skate, pass, and shoot well. No Shark player aside from Boyle even made a "top five plays of the week" type show once this season, not to mention a "top 100 goals of the season" type of thing. The Sharks are sorely lacking in skill and in flair, and that's what they lacked against the Ducks. When they needed something exceptional, when they could not get the puck past Hiller, and they needed an amazing individual effort, something that would be playing on yubetube for weeks to come, something for the ages, they did not have it, not even once, not to mention multiple times. And if you want to win a Cup, you need to make those highlight plays. There is not one run to Cup in Stanley Cup history where a player did not make an exceptional skilled play to score a goal that would not have been scored otherwise, and with which his team would not have won otherwise.

Just look at the Tampa Bay Lightning's recent run to the Stanley Cup. They were almost out of it so many times, but every time they were, either Richards, St. Louis, Lecavalier, or even Dan Boyle stood up and pulled an incredibly skilled individual effort out of their hats to score that important goal. The problem with the Sharks is that they do not have one single forward who is skilled enough to score any of those goals that Lecavalier and St. Louis scored en route to the Cup. And until that is addressed--which, believe me, it won't be under the regime of Doug Wilson, the Sharks will never win the Cup. How do I know Doug Wilson will not add those types of players? Because Doug Wilson hates those types of players. He never drafts the skilled Russian forwards who are that mold of player. He passed on Parise, Getzlaf, Perry, and Richards, who are all that type of player. He prefers to acquire the much less skilled players who he thinks hustle more. The problem is, once you draft any group of given players, well, you can teach anyone to hustle in and backcheck hard in a matter of a few weeks time. All it takes is "you better start hustling and backchecking kid, or you won't make the NHL team." But when it comes to great stickhandling and just high skill in general, you cannot just teach that in a matter of weeks. That takes a lifetime of practice to develop. So Doug Wilson would be much better served to draft some highly talented players who do not hustle, and then teach them to hustle, as opposed to drafting players who do not have the skill, but do hustle, and ending up with the team he has now, a team lacking in talent.

And that really is what the Sharks lack most of all, and could have gotten with Perry and Getzlaf. People can talk all they want about a lack of leadership and effort, but when there is no room on the ice, you need forwards who can stickhandle past people and score those huge goals. Forwards with sublime skill. And like I said, the Sharks have none.

Additionally, Doug Wilson also traded away 40+ goal scorer Brad Boyes for someone named Jeff Jilson, a player who has never played a full season in the NHL, or scored more than 5 goals in a season in the NHL, and who only has 9 career NHL goals.

Let me recap what happened before this for you. Doug Wilson traded former Sharks' franchise player away Owen Nolan for 1st round draft choice Brad Boyes (and a few minor components, but Brad Boyes was the main piece in the deal). Then he traded Brad Boyes for someone who was never even good enough to feature regularly in the NHL. So what Doug Wilson really did was trade all-star Owen Nolan away for a minor league player in Jeff Jilson.

When you're a General Manager in the NHL, you don't get very many chances to acquire great players, and you only ever have a handful on your team. So when you squander almost every chance you have to acquire great players, in addition to actually trading away the great players you do have for almost nothing, then you have pretty much ruined your team's chances of ever winning a Stanley Cup in the near future. Doug Wilson has had so many chances to make this Sharks' team great. If he had even made half of the right choices over the last five to ten years in the draft and in regard to trades and which players to target via trade and free agency, the Sharks could have an all-star calibre lineup. But Doug Wilson's body of work does speak for itself. Take a look at the Sharks' offensive production in the playoffs over the past four seasons. Take a look at their even strength goal production since the all-star break this season (it was second worst in the entire NHL, once they stopped getting loads of open net rebound goals that is). Take a look at their offensive production in the '07-08' season (19th overall, behind Minnesota even). And take a look at all the early eliminations these past years. That is Doug Wilson's body of work. Does it speak for itself, like Greg Jamison said? It certainly does. It speaks loud and clear. And what it says to me is that Doug Wilson is not the reason this Sharks team is decent, but rather he is the one single biggest reason that this team is not great. If it was not for his terrible early round drafting philosophy, and the fact that he always thinks his teams are talented enough to win even when they aren't (so then he doesn't bother making them any better until after they've been embarrassed in the playoffs and he realizes they are not good enough), and just the nearly infinite number of other mistakes he's made since becoming General Manager of the San Jose Sharks... if it wasn't for those things, the Sharks would have a much better roster, and they would have won numerous Cups already. He does not have the hockey intelligence, the eye for talent, or the decision making ability to make this Sharks' team good enough to win a Cup. And perhaps just as importantly to the fans, he does not have the ability to make this Sharks team offensively skilled enough so that they are actually an entertaining team to watch all year long.

And because he lacks these qualities, the Sharks would be best suited to find a better GM.