The Sharks signed center Michal Handzus in the summer of 2011 to a two-year deal worth $2.5 million per season. He was brought in to strengthen the team's third line and help out the then-struggling penalty kill unit.
Instead, Handzus struggled to contribute during his first year with the team. He was in and out of the lineup and managed just seven goals and 17 assists in 67 games. The penalty kill was unimproved, ranking second-worst in the NHL at 76.9 percent.
Last season, Handzus was again unable to make an impact. He suited up in 28 games for the Sharks, registering a frugal two points (one goal and one assist).
General manager Doug Wilson decided that the 36-year-old veteran wasn't a good fit and dealt him to Chicago at the trade deadline. Handzus proceeded to improve his productivity drastically, putting up six points in 11 regular season games with the Blackhawks.
His strong play continued through the postseason, where he potted three goals and added eight assists for 11 points in 23 games while playing upwards of 16 minutes per game.
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Handzus was a key piece of Chicago's Stanley Cup-winning recipe. A veteran of 13 years, he had played 950 regular season games and 97 playoff games in his career without a Cup.
“Sometimes you wonder (if you’ll win it), but you gotta believe,” Handzus said. “Obviously you gotta be lucky and you gotta be in the right spot and I did. I’m thankful to God that I was here.”
Originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues in 1995, Handzus broke into the league in 1998. He spent three seasons with the Blues before beginning a tour of the league that took him through Phoenix, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Jose.