On Tuesday night, the Sharks held their annual State of the Sharks event. Season ticket holders, as well as the general public, were invited to ask question of the club's management, head coach and players.
About 1,200 Sharks enthusiasts filled three lower bowl sections inside HP Pavilion to ask the difficult questions or to simply say "hi" to the Sharks representatives. On the stage fielding questions were: President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Jamison, Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson, Head Coach Ron Wilson, Director of Amateur Scouting Tim Burke, Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and Center Mark Smith.
The open-mike session, hosted by Sharks radio play-by-play man Dan Rusanowsky, lasted for three hours and every question asked was answered.
"I tell them to ask any question they have because if they don't, it defeats the purpose," said Jamison. "They may not have liked every answer, but I think the people respected the honesty."
Even though some questions were very direct, the opportunity to speak directly to the fans always makes it fun for San Jose's top hockey executive.
"I enjoy the opportunity to interact," said Doug Wilson. "The fans have their questions and I enjoy answering them. It is my responsibility to share my thoughts on questions they have."
It can be as much fun for the fans as well.
"This is my third one," said Shark Pak holder Steve Mooney. "I like it as much as the games. I like the fans questions and I get an idea of what the team is doing. I love the whole franchise and the way the team plays.
Below are selected quotes from the evening.
Doug Wilson on what type of player he wants for the Sharks, whether it is via the draft, trade or free agency. "They have to have five things. Character. Hockey sense. A love for the game, sometimes we call them rink rats. They have to accept responsibility for making others on the team better. They have to perform the best when it matters the most."
Doug Wilson on what he likes about Ron Wilson's coaching. "He coaches both ends of the ice. Most are strong at one end or the other. Ron has a passion for the game, and grasps concepts and can take them to another level."
Ron Wilson on virtually his entire team returning from 2005-06. "I think I am the only coach who came back to essentially the same team. I read all the questions about why we didn't get this guy or that guy, but I'm happy where we are now."
Ron Wilson on what he missed during the labor stoppage. "I missed working with the players. Everyone knows I played a little golf, but individual sports can't compare to the hard work that goes into winning as a team. I can't wait to go on the ice in September, even though I haven't been on skates in 15 months."
Ron Wilson on the rules changes. "You have to take all the rules together. One rule change won't do that much. With no red line, the goalie not being able to play the puck as much (and the other rule changes), it helps offensively. I think all the rule changes are great. The defenders are limited in their use of the stick. Fast teams like Ottawa, Tampa Bay and ourselves will really be on top of people. If a player gains an advantage, you can't cheat to eliminate the advantage. A lot of the defensemen in the league are going to be in trouble, but I like our defense."
Doug Wilson on Mike Rathje leaving. "Mike made a decision that was best for him and we wish him well as we do every one whose played here. Just like when people asked who will score with Owen Nolan and Teemu Selanne left, people like Johnathan Cheechoo and Nils Ekman stepped in. We have several young veterans who will benefit from the new rules. A lot of our players grew up without the red line (in college and some European leagues)."
Nabokov on the rules changes. "We want a more exciting game and for it to be more fun."
Smith on the rule changes. "They will be really good for our team. Now that 6'9" defenseman can't haul down a 5'11' forward like me."
Ron Wilson on the shootouts. "At the end of the night there will be a winner and a loser. There should be more penalty shots, but since there aren't . . . "
Ron Wilson on the power play. "A lot of people worry about the percentage, but our team scored power play goals at the right time. We greatly improved over the course of the year. Hopefully Brad Stuart will be 100 percent healthy this year and Christian Ehrhoff has great offensive ability."
Doug Wilson on Korolyuk's status. "Normally you don't take a player to arbitration who is coming off a good year, but this takes the money factor out of it. He'll let us know in the next week whether he wants to stay in Russia or if he wants to play in the NHL. If he plays in the NHL, he wants to play here. What Ron did as a coach, Alex will always appreciate that."
Doug Wilson on whether the refs will adapt to the new rules. "I think the officials welcome them. They have the support of the GM's and coaches. We agreed to the rules so now we should shut our yaps. They are going to stick to the rules."
Greg Jamison on HP Pavilion improvements. "The lockout slowed us down on a new sound system and video board. The number of games in high definition on Fox Sports Next will increase and we want to add High Definition in the arena."
Nabokov on how the new rules will affect his style. "I don't think they will affect my style. It will be interesting to see the different equipment. I have no idea how much smaller it will be. I'm going to play the same way I always have."
Doug Wilson on the schedule bringing Eastern Conference teams here once every three years. "Really heated rivalries come from familiarity. Plus, no team from the Pacific time zone has ever won the Cup. If it benefits our team on our journey to the Cup, I'm for it as a GM."
Doug Wilson on Scott Niedermayer signing with Anaheim. "Scott Niedermayer has one huge flaw and that is he doesn't have any more brothers."
Doug Wilson on the Sharks not dipping into the free agent pool. "Three teams not radically exploring the unrestricted free agent market because of the way they are built are Ottawa, Tampa Bay and ourselves. If that is the company I'm to be judged with, I'll take that."
Nabokov on whether he will sign an extension. "I want to stay here."
Doug Wilson on Nabokov possibly signing an extension. "First off, Evgeni is signed for this year, which is different from the recent signings. He is one of the top goalies in the game and he knows how I feel about him."
Doug Wilson on Miroslav Zalesak signing with Washington. "He is a great example of a player who ran into a road block in our system and had people jump ahead of him. He deserves to play in the NHL. At some point a players deserve not to be held up in the minors the way Montreal used to stockpile players. Others just snuck in ahead of him."