Competition among Sharks forwards

Competition among Sharks forwards
September 21, 2011, 3:13 pm
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Go ahead and ink in Joe Thornton, centering Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski. There's San Jose's top line to begin the season. And it's pretty clear to see Todd McLellan following that with Logan Couture, flanked by Ryane Clowe and Martin Havlat. That's a proven, potent top 6 to shoulder some heavy minutes.But how will the Sharks other six forwards shake out this season? Besides the assumed obvious of Michal Handzus centering the 3rd line... there are a lot of uncertainties... things written in pencil... translation, jobs for the taking. Seems like you might have a fair amount of competition at camp, coach?
"Those positions are wide open," McLellan told me. And then he expanded."We've done this in the past, where we've opened up some spots for youth. In that case they're just happy to make the team, and we're not going to stand for that. That's not what we're about. They have to make the team, then make an impact. Night in and night out they bring something to the table that can affect the outcome of a game and we expect to see it from them this year," said the 4th year Sharks head coach.Torrey Mitchell is another player who most feel is a logical choice on the 3rd line; a quick skater who could bring energy and help forecheck the opponent deep in their own end during some very important shifts. He broke down the subliminal benefits of internal competition among players at Sharks training camp."It pushes guys to the limit," said Mitchell. "It puts guys in uncomfortable positions, mentally and physically. We have that in our training camp, and that's all you can ask for, as coaches, and for (General Manager) Doug Wilson."Wilson, by the way, is a huge proponent of competition in camp."If you dont like competition, you're in the wrong business," the GM told me.He mentioned two players who have previously seized opportunities with the team, through internal competition: Logan Couture and Andrew Desjardins. Couture, was the youngest player on the Sharks last year who through much effort, developed from prospect to very important piece, very quickly. Desjardins spent much of the season with San Jose's AHL affiliate, but proved his worth there impressing upon coaches, and earned notable roles in the Sharks postseason run. Simply put, the chemistry of youth, and healthy internal competition, has the chance to greatly help San Jose become a deeper team. As well, it will likely leave things fairly wide open until the start of the regular season. Said Wilson: "The opportunity is there, if you want to take a spot on this team, go earn it."