Well things are getting quiet in Sochi. The 22nd Winter Olympics are now in the books and Canada has won ice hockey for their 2nd straight time. The Canadians started slowly but got better in each game. The Gold was clinched early Saturday morning in an impressive 3-0 win over the Swedes. Kudos go to the Sharks two Gold medal winners, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Marleau was a member of the 2010 Gold medal Canadian team and now owns 2 Olympic prizes. Vlasic was a first time Olympian and will certainly represent Canada again in the future. Sharks netminder Antti Niemi, despite not seeing action, picked up Bronze as a member of the 3rd place finishers Finland. Standout center Joe Pavelski played well for the Americans. Back to back losses to Canada and Finland pushed the USA off the podium.
The NHL’s future participation in the Olympics is questionable. The New York Islanders’ captain and leading scorer John Tavaras suffered a severe season ending injury while Red Wings captain re-aggravated a back injury which will end his regular season. With the 2018 Olympic venue in South Korea, the time difference along with it being a non hockey country may seal the end of the NHL’s participation in the Winter Games. A pre or mid-season World Cup tournament may wind up being the best option for International hockey. A huge factor may come to dollars and cents as the league and players could split any revenue.
As the Olympians return to North America, the NHL’s remaining season will be a sprint to the playoffs. Following Thursday night’s game in Philadelphia the Sharks have just 22 games to go. It’s perfect timing for the returns of Logan Couture, Raffi Torres and Adam Burish from injury. A huge question is... can the Sharks chase down the Anaheim Ducks for 1st place in the Pacific Division. With so few games remaining it looks like a tough order for San Jose. If Anaheim continues to rack up points the story may turn to the Sharks and Kings battling for home ice advantage in a head to head 1st round playoff series.
It will be interesting to see if this could be the year that NHL Superstar Sidney Crosby plays an entire season. Through the years Crosby has been hampered by injuries. Crosby is leading the league in scoring and is essential to the success of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sid the Kid is arguably the face of the league and its top box office attraction.
I’m hearing that next week, March 8th a long-time fan favorite, Marco Sturm, will be visiting San Jose to take in a game. Earlier this winter Sturm announced his retirement from pro hockey as a member of the DEL’s (German League) Cologne Sharks. It’s a coincident that Marco started and ended his career as a ‘Shark’. He was a fleet footed forward who played in all situations…even strength, powerplay and penalty killing. He may have spent his career in San Jose except for the fact that Joe Thornton became available. A high price was the cost for Jumbo and the Sharks needed to part with Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau. It will be great to see Marco who played with heart, flair and a big smile on his face.
How great is it to see the NHL back in business? Enjoy the games!