Tuesday, August 23, 2011

30 Fans in 30 Days: Diane & the San Jose Sharks

As a lead-up to the new season, here at HockeyBroad we'll both be reviewing How Teams Spent Their Summer Vacation, and also profiling one fan from each team's fandom, covering 30 Teams In 30 Days. The teams will be profiled in order determined by their points standing last season, highest to lowest, with the exception of Chicago, which will be profiled last to coincide with the date of their Training Camp Festival.

Team 5 of 30: the San Jose Sharks

"We have a trade to announce..."

It was the first big bombshell of the 2011 Draft, although it wouldn't be the last. Devin Setoguchi, recently re-signed to a 3-year contract with the San Jose Sharks, was traded along with top prospect Charlie Coyle and a first-round pick in the 2011 Draft (which became Zack Phillips) to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for defenseman Brent Burns and a second-round pick for the 2012 Draft.

The Wild fans whooped with excitement as the trade was announced. Although the fans would miss Burns, there was much delight at what Setoguchi was bringing to the team: a scoring winger with playoff experience. Sharks fans were losing a popular player, but they were gaining something far more valuable: a rock-solid, All-Star defenseman who could perhaps be the missing link for their playoff issues.

But the Sharks weren't done dealing with the Wild. By the time mid-August rolled around, Setoguchi would be joined in the State of Hockey by Dany Heatley, and Martin Havlat and James Sheppard would be donning the teal for San Jose.  While the Setoguchi/Burns trade was pretty good for both teams immediate needs, the series of trades between the two teams added up very well in both directions -- and made the Sharks that much tougher to beat in the West.

The Sharks made a few more solid acquisitions during the summer - in particular, Michal Handzus from cross-division rivals LA Kings; Jim Vandermeer from the Edmonton Oilers; and Colin White, who'd spent his entire 11-year NHL career with the New Jersey Devils. The Sharks made a bunch of good moves to fill needs on their roster.

Antero Niittymaki was originally expected to be the Sharks' top goaltender last season, but an injury took him out midseason. Antti Niemi, who had had a shaky start to his season and was originally signed to the team on a one-year deal, took the reins in goal and never looked back, just as he had in Chicago the year before, proving once again to be the "Finnish Fortress" in goal. His second-half record was so good (Sharks played their final 44 games with a 28-12-4 record) that it helped improve his season stats to .920 sv% and a 2.38 GAA. Niemi was signed to a new 4-year contract in March, and Niittymaki and Thomas Griess will probably battle it out in training camp to be his backup this fall.
New to team - listed on current roster/team acquired from: Brent Burns (MN), Freddie Hamilton, Michal Handzus (LAK), Martin Havlat (MN), Andrew Murray (CBJ),  Matt Pelech (CGY), James Sheppard (MN), Jim Vandermeer (EDM), Colin White (NJD)
Players who appeared in games for the Sharks during the 2010-11 season that have been traded or not yet re-signed/(team now signed with): Ben Eager (EDM), Dany Heatley (MN), Kent Huskins (STL), Derek Joslin (CAR), Jamal Mayers (CHI), Scott Nichol (STL), Devin Setoguchi (MN), Niclas Wallin, Kyle Wellwood, Ian White (DET)
San Jose has regularly been in playoff contention, winning the Pacific Division for the past four years, and going to the Western Conference finals the past two - getting swept out by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, and losing 4-1 to the Vancouver Canucks in 2011. They're tired of always being the bridesmaid, never the bride; the Sharks have never won a Conference championship, although they did take home the President's Trophy in 2009. The Sharks are stacking their team with the aim to make it to the Final in the next year or two; this newly-strengthened San Jose team is certainly going to keep things very challenging in the West.


For the Sharks, we talked with Diane, who blogs about hockey & soccer over at www.dsguymon.blogspot.com.

Let's talk about your fandom. It's relatively short - just a couple of years - but you've jumped in feet-first.

I watched every single game of the past two seasons. Never missed even one. Skipped all kinds of stuff to watch the Sharks. My husband isn't a hockey fan, so he doesn't "get" my "obsession". The best part of being a Sharks fan is that my 18-year-old and my 11-year-old also share my fascination, so I actually have something to talk about to my boys, and it is something that we share.

 My dad and my brother were Sharks fans for many years before I became a fan. My dad would even leave my daughter's soccer games early to get home in time for his "Sharkies", which I didn't understand... until NOW! Now I am a bigger fan than both my dad and brother.

We usually get dressed up in church clothes and do the annual family photo; this year it was a little different... and a LOT better! (see picture, right)

Which player that your team signed/acquired this summer are you most excited to see take the ice this season?

Brent Burns

Taking into consideration your team's performance last year/recently, and any player/personnel (coaches, GMs, ownership) changes made in the past few months, talk about your team in 2011-2012: How do you think they've improved (or made worse)? What do they need to work on?

I am looking forward to the 2011-12 season for the Sharks because their roster has changed a lot. It will be interesting to see how well this "new" team does. I thought the Sharks have been SO close the past few seasons, so I was very surprised at how many changes they actually made. I am also amazed that they made so many deals with a bad team (Minnesota).

Whether or not you think your team will make the playoffs, where do you predict your team will place within their conference?

1st in the Western Conference

What was your favorite moment for your team last season?

I enjoyed just about EVERY part of last season, but the loudest cheering that came out of us was when Devin Setoguchi scored in overtime against the LA Kings in the playoffs. It was a game that looked like the Sharks were going to lose, but they came back and WON. Awesome!

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