Examining Sharks' captain possibilities after Joe Pavelski's departure

Examining Sharks' captain possibilities after Joe Pavelski's departure

It's the day Sharks fans have been dreading for weeks now. After 13 seasons of rocking teal, Joe Pavelski is headed to the Lone Star State to play for the Dallas Stars.

The move is, of course, an emotional one. But as Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in his statement earlier Monday, "Under a cap system, these extremely difficult separations are a reality and, unfortunately, we could not find common ground on dollars and term to keep Joe in San Jose."

Pavelski's departure doesn't just leave a hole on offense. It also leaves a vacancy at the captain designation.

So the question moving forward is, of course, who will be the next Shark to rock the "C"?

While nothing is set in stone, the most likely candidate heading into next season is Logan Couture. The top-line center served as an alternate captain under Pavelski and seemed to take over some of the other captainly duties -- at least as far as addressing the media went -- when Pavelski was sidelined with injuries last season.

As one of San Jose's veteran players, he leads as an offensive force on the ice and as a voice of reason off of it. Couture also doesn't pull any punches when it comes to pinpointing where the Sharks are lacking if the team is going through a slump -- a good quality in any leader.

Keep in mind, Couture would captain the Sharks' ship differently than Pavelski did. And with a significant change in personnel, the dynamic in San Jose's dressing room is primed for a shakeup. Nevertheless, Couture seems like a good fit for the job.

Of course, that would leave at least one alternate captain position open on the team. Brent Burns has subbed in as an alternate captain over the last couple of seasons and seems like a lock to wear the "A" permanently now -- if not also a contender for the captaincy himself. No. 88 is regarded as one of the vocal leaders on the team, so keeping him in a leadership role makes sense.

Now, there's also the (likely) possibility that Joe Thornton returns to Team Teal and wears the other "A". Jumbo Joe has remained a leader in the Sharks' dressing room even after being stripped of the "C" a few year's back. Thornton has made it clear he wants to play for at least one more season and Wilson has said they want to have him back. In that case, the vet will likely retain that "A" on his sweater.

Others who could be in the mix? Marc-Edouard Vlasic's name will surely be brought up, given his tenure in San Jose's dressing room and that he has served as an alternate captain for Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships in the past.

It may be a stretch, but if there is a young player on the roster who could wiggle into an alternate captain role, it could be Tomas Hertl. The Czech forward took on a lot of responsibility last season with moving into a new role as a center and put a lot of pressure on himself to grow his game when Pavelski was out of the lineup. He also took it upon himself to help out two Czech rookies in Radim Simek and Lukas Radil get acclimated to the team. Moving into a bigger leadership role may seem a bit farfetched, but it isn't out of the question.

Of course, this is just speculation. Pavelski was a vocal leader and his departure is going to change the complexion of San Jose's locker room and how it's captained. 

[RELATED: Losing Pavelski is a painful but necessary move for Sharks]

For the time being, however, this looks like the most likely evolution of the Sharks' captaincy.

Why Patrick Marleau's goal song didn't play in Sharks' win over Ducks


Why Patrick Marleau's goal song didn't play in Sharks' win over Ducks

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks are ready to spice up their goal celebrations. In a 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night, San Jose brought the heat, but the SAP Center DJ failed to bring the expected flavor.

It wasn't his or her fault, though. It's sort of hard to play the right song when there is no song to be played.

Before being robbed of a much-deserved All-Star Game MVP award over the weekend in St. Louis, Tomas Hertl broke the news to Sharks fans that he and his fellow teammates would each have their own goal songs when the team returned from the All-Star break. Each player's song was supposed to be kept a surprise until they scored a goal, so when Stefan Noesen lit the lamp less than two minutes into the game Monday night, it came as a surprise to many -- Noesen included -- when the team's default goal song came on over the loudspeakers.

A few minutes later, Patrick Marleau scored to make it 2-0 San Jose. Again, 2 Unlimited's "Get Ready for This" played. In the second period, Marleau scored his second goal of the night. Same thing. So what gave?

It turns out that it was part operator error, part old-fashioned procrastination.

Noesen had actually picked a song out, and lucky for the Sharks, the SAP Center crowd would get to hear it before the night was over. Marleau, on the other hand, is still deliberating.

"Still working it out to see what it is," Marleau said of his yet-to-be-decided goal song after San Jose's win. "Probably leave it up to my family. They'll pick it."

Last week, Marleau's wife took to Twitter to ask Sharks fans for suggestions as to what his goal song should be. Apparently, none were to his liking, but his better half won't allow him to go without one for much longer.

After he scored his first goal of the night, Marleau's wife threatened to choose "Wheels on the Bus" on his behalf if he didn't figure one out soon. The couple has four boys between the ages of 5 and 13 so one would imagine Marleau has heard plenty of that song over the last decade.

Chances are, he has heard plenty of Noesen's song, too.

Early in the third period, Noesen ripped a slapshot from the slot into the back of Anaheim's net after receiving what he called an "all-world" pass from Erik Karlsson. The goal increased San Jose's lead to 4-1, and as fans rose out of their seats to celebrate the goal that put the game out of reach, their ears were greeted by the unmistakable sounds of "Hakuna Matata."

"I had something else picked out and then somebody else was watching 'The Lion King,' and I thought that would be kind of funny to put on and maybe get a little reaction from the crowd, too," Noesen said of his song choice. "And they seemed to enjoy it. It was fun."

[RELATED: Would Sharks really trade Thornton or Marleau this year?]

While Marleau still needs to come to a decision, Noesen plans to stick with his.

"Yeah, unless someone tells me otherwise," he said with a laugh following his first two-goal game with San Jose. "I thought it was good. They messed it up on the first one, and I wasn't sure if I'd ever have another chance to hear it.

"It was a good thing I got that nice pass."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in impressive 4-2 win over Ducks


Sharks takeaways: What we learned in impressive 4-2 win over Ducks


SAN JOSE -- It starts with one.

The Sharks (22-25-4) know they have a long way to go to get back in the playoff picture, so they're not looking too far ahead. They kept their focus on the task at hand Monday night at SAP Center, a divisional matchup against the long-time rival Anaheim Ducks (19-25-5), and handled business to the tune of a 4-2 win.

In both team's first game coming out of the All-Star break, both sides clearly benefitted from the time off, although San Jose seemed to get back in a groove slightly quicker, building a 2-0 advantage less than five minutes into the contest. Although the Ducks threatened at times throughout the game, the Sharks never relinquished the lead.

It wasn't a perfect game for San Jose by any means, but the team did enough to earn a much-needed victory. The rivals combined for 59 hits in the physical battle, while Aaron Dell was solid once again in net, stopping 26 of 28 shots.

Here are three takeaways from what the Sharks hope is the first of many wins in the second "half":

Strong start

Just as the Sharks started the post-All-Star-break portion of the schedule on the right foot, so too did they begin Monday night's game. From the opening faceoff, San Jose exhibited a jump that had been lacking the last time it took the ice. The Sharks had scored one goal over their previous two games, both losses. They doubled that total within the first five minutes Monday night.

San Jose appeared to follow the lead of its fourth line, which did precisely what it was supposed to do to get Team Teal on the board. Just under two minutes into the contest, the fourth line forced an offensive-zone turnover off a face-off. The puck found its way to Joel Kellman, who threw it at the net and had his shot deflected in by Stefan Noesen for the Sharks' first goal.

A couple minutes later, it was the third line's turn. After dumping the puck in on the forecheck, Dylan Gambrell was able to work it over to Patrick Marleau in the corner, who passed it in the direction of Marcus Sorensen, who was parked in front of the net. The pass was deflected by a Ducks defenseman, but fortunately for San Jose, it bounced right back to Marleau, who promptly lit the lamp.

Noesen and Marleau helped get the Sharks off to the start they needed, and neither was done scoring on the evening.

The ageless wonder

San Jose took the 2-0 lead into the second period, but saw it cut in half on Ondrej Kase's short-handed goal just over nine minutes into it. Anaheim had all the momentum at that point, and appeared poised to tie things up before long. Marleau had other ideas.

With less than five minutes remaining in the second period, The Ducks' defense misplayed a faceoff in San Jose's defensive zone. Marleau got behind them, and that was that.

Marleau didn't just get to the puck first. He retrieved it, opened up a lead and then padded the Sharks' advantage. He simply looked like the fastest player on either team Monday night, and after watching that goal, he still might rank among the fastest skaters in the entire league. Those other skaters, though? They're not 40 years old.

Marleau is. He has been better this season than he was in the last, and at this rate, there's no reason why he shouldn't be able to unseat Gordie Howe as the NHL's all-time leader in games played next year.

Special-team problems

In addition to Kase's short-handed goal, Anaheim's Nick Ritchie notched a power-play goal late in the third, and while it didn't change the final outcome, it did continue a concerning trend for San Jose. Including Monday's win, the Sharks have now allowed at least one power-play or short-handed goal in each of their last five games.

It's one thing to have an ineffective power play. It's entirely another to be a defensive liability, as well. San Jose has been able to rely on it's top-ranked penalty kill all season long, but clearly, even that is in a bit of a downspell. If the Sharks are going to do the unlikely and make it back to the postseason, the special teams dont just have to be better; they have to be special. Right now, they're a far cry from that.