Former Sharks broadcaster Drew Remenda, whose contract was not renewed by the team at the conclusion of last season, gave his take on a number of topics regarding the Sharks during a half-hour interview with the San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami on Friday.
Remenda, now an analyst on Edmonton Oilers broadcasts, first touched on the state of the on-ice product. The Sharks will miss the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons.
He started with the goaltending tandem of Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock, as the Sharks sit 24th in the NHL in team goals-against average.
“That’s not all goaltending, but it certainly is an indication of where you need to improve, to start things off,” Remenda said. “The goaltending needs to be better, should have been better, could have been better.”
The team’s defense has also been an issue, after losing Brad Stuart and Dan Boyle in the offseason and moving Brent Burns back to the blue line.
“You look at that defense core, and even though there were some bright spots, you still look at it and say, ‘boy, they’re just not good enough on that back end,’” Remenda said. “They’re just not as good as the top teams that make the playoffs on that back end.”
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Finally, the offensive depth was also missing on the team’s bottom two lines, a common criticism over the past few seasons. “That third and fourth line scoring, they just didn’t have enough,” according to Remenda.
Of course, the Sharks’ on-ice issues only comprise half the story of their unproductive season. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson’s comments last offseason raised some eyebrows, as did his public feud in March with former captain Joe Thornton.
After the Sharks blew a 3-0 first round lead to the Kings last April, Wilson talked about entering into a rebuild phase, with “different players in core leadership roles.” The overwhelming indication was that he wasn’t happy with Thornton or some of the team’s other veteran leaders, like Patrick Marleau.
“After the playoffs last year, that was the first time I saw in Doug’s career where he let his emotions take over, and said some things he probably shouldn’t have said and should have certainly walked back,” Remenda said.
As for Thornton, Remenda believes he’s still viewed internally as the head of the team, despite losing the captaincy.
“He is considered still the leader in that room,” Remenda said. “The players that play with him love him. Those guys look at Joe as a friend first, teammate next, and they also know his ability as a hockey player.”
Marleau, on the other hand, is having a difficult campaign. The highest paid player on the Sharks this season, Marleau has just 19 goals, and perhaps let some feelings of ill will from the summer affect his play, Remenda said.
“Patty had an off year, and that doesn’t happen very often. You hope that he gets his head straight. I think he pouted a little bit early in the season with all that happened. Then he kind of didn’t get his feet moving and just kind of got off to a slow start, and never was able to get any traction out of the funk.”
The Sharks conclude their season on Saturday in Los Angeles.