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So…what happens if the Sharks don’t make the playoffs?

Mar 30, 2012, 11:42 AM EDT

Joe Thornton Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks are in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs. Two straight losses to Anaheim and Phoenix have them tied in points with eighth-place Los Angeles in the West, but the Kings have a game in hand.

The last time the Sharks failed to qualify for the playoffs was the 2002-03 season. To put that in perspective, 2003-04 was the last time the Leafs made the playoffs, and we all know the Leafs haven’t made the playoffs in, like, forever.

San Jose still controls its destiny with two games remaining against each of the Dallas Stars and Kings. However, it’s worth wondering what the fallout could be if the Sharks finish on the outside looking in. And even if they do squeak in, what happens if they’re eliminated in the first round?

On the one hand, San Jose’s only one season removed from an appearance in the conference finals. It’s not an old team by any means. Michal Handzus is the elder statesman, and he’s only 35. The Sharks should be in their prime.

On the other, there’s no excuse for this team to miss the playoffs. Martin Havlat’s the only Shark that’s missed significant time with an injury. The rest of the core – Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle, Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Ryan Clowe – has missed a combined eight games.

We’ve been down this path before with San Jose. The calls for the team to be blown up. Trade Thornton. Trade Marleau. Fire GM Doug Wilson. If the Sharks miss the playoffs, those options won’t seem so drastic.

  1. govtminion - Mar 30, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    For starters, we look back on the flurry of trades last summer, we look at the Sharks and Wild both missing the playoffs, and we scratch our heads in confusion.

  2. michiganhockey11 - Mar 30, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    Joe Thorton will forever be known as a choke artist??

    • firstandonlywarning - Mar 30, 2012 at 1:33 PM

      Too late

      • stevedurbano - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:32 PM

        Too soon, I think

  3. davebabychreturns - Mar 30, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    I wonder when the heat is going to find its way to Todd McLellan? I’m not following the Sharks closely this year and I know he has a strong pedigree (OMG! Former Red Wing staffer!) and some recent success, but normally when a team missing the playoffs is a catastrophe the coach is the first one to go.

  4. elvispocomo - Mar 30, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    I wouldn’t have advocated it in the past despite their poor playoff performance, and I think the Minny trades will be a positive for them, but they need to look at a retool this summer if they can’t put it together. I wouldn’t say rebuild, but there needs to be a fairly significant change if they see problem areas that will make this year’s performance a habit.

  5. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 30, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    FIRESALE!! Everyone must go!!

    • tarotsujimoto74 - Mar 30, 2012 at 12:50 PM

      OHH MY GODDDD THERE’S A FIRE!!!!!!!……sale

  6. jkay1818 - Mar 30, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Karma. It feels like yesterday although it was the first month of the season when the Rangers destroyed the sharks in every asset of the game and Joe Thornton of all people, one of the most unclutch and biggest choke artists blasted the Rangers and called them the softest team they have faced all season. Fast Forward to April and…..I dont understand some of the trades they pulled off, although they werent winning the cup with the old team either. Factor in Thornton’s inability to be anything clutch, a bunch of aging stars………and presto.

    • comeonnowguys - Mar 30, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      ^^ This. So much this. All day this. ^^

      No-Show Joe.

      • sharks123 - Mar 30, 2012 at 12:33 PM

        He’s far from no show Joe. You must not have watched him the last 2 years. Sharks never get to the final 4 two years in a row with him not showing up. He’s a very different player then he was a few years back. Stupid comment after the Rangers game, I think he apologized for it. Marlear is the one that disappears, not Joe.

      • drewsylvania - Mar 30, 2012 at 12:57 PM

        Marleau doesn’t disappear, either–his playoff points per game are nearly identical to Joe’s.

      • firstandonlywarning - Mar 30, 2012 at 1:35 PM

        Ya Joe has SOMEWHAT redeemed himself lately in the playoffs, but like Marleau (how has had playoffs where he was awesome) they are too far inbetween

      • WeWantTheCup - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:28 PM

        Marleau showed up in the playoffs last year, he showed up and got a 5 minute major for imitating a punching bag in front of Kevin Bieksa. Jumbo and Marleau just don’t have the heart to carry a team through the playoffs. No-Show Joe and Patrick Mar-NO

    • drewsylvania - Mar 30, 2012 at 12:55 PM

      Thornton has 64 points in his last 77 playoff games (six trips to the playoffs). I wouldn’t call him “one of the most unclutch and biggest choke artists”. Most of his “bad in the playoffs reputation” was earned during his last postseason in Boston, where in seven games he put up an execrable zero points.

      • govtminion - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:40 PM

        I admit, that DID make it a bit easier to swallow that trade when it happened. Immediate shock, followed by “well, he DID kind of suck…”, followed by “well, Marco Sturm is pretty cool”, followed by “…man, this team is going to suck for decades.”

        (Fortunately I was wrong about that last part.)

    • barkar942 - Mar 30, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      I think Torts said something like “He should shut up and just play”! And something else like “What has he won? He should talk?”
      I guess the Rangers aren’t so soft after all!
      Perhaps Joe didn’t understand the difference between “being soft” and “Being Commited”!

  7. 8man - Mar 30, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    I remember when the Bruins (Mike O’Connell) traded Thornton the Sharks. It was then I realized that San Jose would win a cup, maybe two, long before Boston would. Who knew? A personalized 8×10 and a picture of me shaking his hand still hang in the cave.

  8. gsprulz - Mar 30, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    the fall of the sharks isn’t on Thornton. Dude has over 70 points, he’s definitely doing his share while Patrick Marleau hasn’t scored a goal in like 17 games. Pointing the finger at the wrong guy.

  9. phillyphever - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Last time the Leafs made the playoffs was the 03-04 season, not the 02-03 season. I should know, the Flyers eliminated them that year (JR anyone).

    • Jason Brough - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:28 PM

      You’re right. Thanks.

  10. nogoodtomedead - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Why is it always Marleau or Thornton? They are both excellent players- I’m not making excuses for Patty but why is the fan-base so hard on him? He’s a top player- maybe he isn’t Malkin- but for those who want to trade him what value do you expect in return? Do you actually think you’ll get the same caliber or player in return? Look at his career numbers- you should be happy he is on the team. But when the Sharks lose its always because Patty didn’t score. It’s never because Boyle fumbles the puck around at the blue-line on power plays, or Murray’s dumb, slow, oafish ass is out of position. Its never because Thornton uses his 6-4, 230 frame to sit on the half-boards and try and feed passes across the ice without ever making the D worry about him shooting. I’m as frustrated with this team as anybody- I’m not sure what the fix is because every summer I feel like we address issues- but we aren’t getting better. But bottom line- the stars on this team are who were are stuck with now. I guarantee you don’t get equal return in a trade for Marleau or Thornton unless you blow it up, rebuild with prospects- and those prospects end up being stars on the level of Marleau or Thornton- which isn’t likely.

  11. nogoodtomedead - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    Just to follow up- Maleau’s career numbers: 385 G/440 A= 825 pts +27. So I’m just wondering- what potential 500 goal scorer are we going to swap Patty for to lead us to the cup? C’mon armchair GM’s!!

    • iamanidiotfan - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:35 PM

      Well, since you asked…Rick Nash wants out of Columbus. He’s a potential 500 goal scorer just entering his prime and has shown chemistry with Thornton.

      Marleau, a prospect and a pick would let Columbus argue they didn’t get fleeced. Would the Sharks do that? I haven’t followed them enough to know.

      • nogoodtomedead - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:38 PM

        I wouldn’t expect it. I’m sure the Sharks would be happy to have Nash. But Marleau has a no-trade- does he want to go to Columbus? Does Columbus want to pay 6.5 mil to a player at the tail end of his prime while trying to re-build? Would a typically low (but looking more like a mid round) pick really sweeten the deal? I’m just saying- the proposed solutions of Marleau is a bum- ship him out! isn’t easily solved.

  12. nogoodtomedead - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    Sorry- Marleau- I got fired up and had me a typo!

    • iamanidiotfan - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:29 PM

      As a hockey trade, Marleau and a pick for Nash makes sense, but since Marleau has a NTC, it probably won’t go anywhere.

      That’s a no-win situation in Columbus. Just about any established NHLer who could make a difference probably has a no-trade clause, and if they don’t, Columbus probably wouldn’t want them as part of a Nash trade.

  13. ikillchicken - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    I don’t know what they Sharks should do, but I can tell you what they should NOT do: Trade Jamie McGinn. This kid is a real up and comer. He’s tough, he hits, and he’s got a real underrated scoring touch. He’s absolutely right on the verge of having a real breakout season. Yeah. This kid is a real bright spot on an otherwise troubling team. Definitely a guy you don’t want to trade.

    Oh whats that? They already traded him?

  14. claysbar - Mar 30, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    Just roughly scanned the comments, but letting a world class goalie go really shows huh?

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