– The Montreal Canadiens may not be the only team that has a major facelift come October – the San Jose Sharks could be next in line. After winning the President’s Trophy as the team with the best record this season, the team is down 3-1 to the Anaheim Ducks, and are on the brink of elimination. The Ducks, with all due respect, are a good team, but few people expected San Jose to be down 3-1 in this series.
A first round exit could mean a lot of change in San Jose. Firstly, one would think that F Joe Thornton could be on his way out. Like many of his teammates, Big Joe’s numbers during the second season have been nowhere to be found.
Captain F Patrick Marleau had a much improved season from last year, as he recorded 38 goals this season. It’s hard to think that this could be anyone’s team but his.
F Jonathan Cheechoo is another player who badly needs a change of scenery. Cheechoo has fallen off the charts dramatically from his 56-goal season in 2005-06, but has shown that he belongs in the NHL. Despite recording a pathetic 29 points (for someone who once scored 56, as well as the kind of role the team is giving him), Cheechoo is a likely candidate to find a new home come October. The Sharks will have trouble dumping his salary ($7M for two years), but there will be takers.
One must also question the future of G Evgeni Nabokov? While he will get Vezina Trophy consideration, his playoff numbers this season have been atrocious. Could he too be on his way out?
But who will be making these potential changes? Current GM Doug Wilson has been the GM for the Sharks for four seasons now, and in each one, the Sharks have finished no worse than second in the Western Conference. The problem is, this team is allergic to post-season success, and despite their terrific regular seasons, this team has proven time and time again that they do not belong in the playoffs after stringing together years of post-season choking. It’s not a stretch to believe a first round loss to the Ducks would mean the firing of Wilson.
While the Sharks are not out of it yet, it appears that it’s only a matter of time. How much longer can this franchise believe that they’re successful without having a legitimate Stanley Cup run?
– Wild’ G Niklas Backstrom underwent hip surgery on Friday and doctors found a lot less damage in the cartilage than they originally thought. This is great news for Backstrom, as it looks like his recovery period will be three months, rather than the three-to-six month window doctors gave before the surgery. He will be ready for the start of training camp in September barring any major setbacks.
– Rangers’ coach John Tortorella might be suspended for his actions in Friday’s 4-0 loss to the Washington Capitals. Tortorella had to be restrained from his bench to prevent him from attacking a fan about seven minutes into the third period. Tortorella threw a water bottle into the stands and then grabbed a hockey stick, making gestures with it as if he was going to head into the stands. Tortorella has been preaching discipline to his players and even scratched F Sean Avery because of some untimely penalties Avery took. Tortorella, however, didn’t exactly lead them by example Friday.
– Dikembe Mutombo, 42, said he has retired from basketball after rupturing a quadriceps tendon in his left knee early in Houston’s loss to Portland in Game 2 of their playoff series on Tuesday. Mount Mutombo played for six teams, and was named defensive player of the year four times out of his 18 seasons. He ranks 17th in rebounds (12,359) and second in blocked shots with 3,289, second to Hakeem Olajuwon (3,830). The finger wag will be sorely missed.
– According to the Denver Post, the Eagles phoned the Broncos about WR Tony Scheffler’s availability recently. Philadelphia lost out to Atlanta for WR Tony Gonzalez, but could add more speed and youth with Scheffler, who has experience in a West Coast style offense like Andy Reid’s. The Denver Post says the Broncos won’t trade Scheffler unless they’re offered a first-round pick.
– The Lions agreed to terms with Georgia QB Matthew Stafford on a six-year/$72M contract and will select him with the first pick in the 2009 draft. The deal that guarantees $41.75M, topping Albert Haynesworth’s league record $41M guaranteed from the Redskins last month. No wonder the NFL wants to fix the rookie salary structure, although it isn’t happening before 2011. Stafford’s deal has a max value of $78M, and he’ll get the $72M over six seasons on just minimum playing time. Detroit can now concentrate on the #20 and #33 picks in the draft, where both lines and inside linebacker will be priorities. The St. Louis Rams are on the clock.
– According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Jets asked the Rams if QB Marc Bulger was available for trade. It’s believed that the Rams are committed to keeping Bulger, but this isn’t written in stone. In actuality St. Louis would probably love to move him and draft QB Mark Sanchez, but trading Bulger would cause a roughly $10M salary cap hit.
– Cardinals’ GM Rod Graves denies that the Cardinals have dropped their asking price on WR Anquan Boldin, or that there ever was an asking price to begin with.
“None of that is true. We’ve never said what we were looking for. All we’ve said is that we’re willing to listen and certainly would consider something of commensurate value.”
WR Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t believe Boldin wants to get traded, and Graves insists that an extension is more likely than a trade.
– Braves’ C Brian McCann’s ongoing eye problems are expected to land him on the disabled list Saturday.
The Braves have called catcher Clint Sammons from Triple-A Gwinnett in anticipation of the likely McCann move to the DL. McCann is expected to see another eye specialist next week and could wind up having Lasik surgery.
– The Diamondbacks said after Friday’s game that RHP Brandon Webb would be shut down for three weeks after his latest shoulder setback. Arizona is still maintaining that no MRIs have revealed any structural damage, but this seems like a big step to take if that truly was the case. That Webb will go three weeks without throwing suggests that it will be six weeks before he’s back starting for the Diamondbacks, even if there are no additional problems.
– The Yankees will place RHP Chien-Ming Wang (weakness in the adductor muscles of both hips) on the DL prior to Saturday’s game.
– The Braves have placed OF Garret Anderson (strained left quad) on 15-day DL.