Long rumored to be hot and heavy for Bryan Campbell, instead they acquired a long in the tooth, way past his prime, barely holding on, Rob Blake.
And it’s brilliant.
The Sharks are most famous for drafting Germans, developing goaltenders and inspiring females to say “wow, nice uniforms.” What they haven’t been (since entering the NHL as the second coming of the Oakland Seals) is balanced.
As an example, here are the ages and career NHL games of their defenders last season:
- Craig Rivet 32 (744 games)
- Kyle McLaren 30 (719 games)
- Bryan Campbell 28 (411 games)
- Doug Murray 27 (135 games)
- Christian Erhoff 25 (264 games)
- Matt Carle 22 (151 games)
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic 20 (163 games)
These are the men who either played 40 or more games with the big club or came over for the Stanley run. Basically, they ran with two veterans (Rivet against soft parade, McLaren against tough opponents, plus Ozolinsh who is not listed here) and then quality young Ehrhoff and role player Murray. Young up and comer Vlasic (who may play over 500 NHL games before age 25, almost impossible to do) played well against good opposition while Matt Carle seemed to lose his way.
What don’t they have? A horse. A mean prick. A guy who will punch you in the face or the back of the head. Rob freaking Blake. Now they need to sign Jason Smith, figure out if McLaren (who can also fill the role) is healthy or not and then make room for the puck movers Carle and Vlasic who both looked scared of their own shadows for much of the important part (playoffs) of the season.
I know McLaren is tough, hell Doug Murray can crunch people. But this defense needs a leader, and Rob Blake most certainly is exactly that. Good move Sharks.