Editor's note: Over the next month, CSNCalifornia.com Sharks Insider Kevin Kurz and Postgame Live reporter Brodie Brazil will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.
Sharks spotlight -- the series
Michal HandzusAge: 35 F
In his first season with the Sharks since signing a two-year deal as a free agent last summer, Michal Handzus had seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points and 18 penalty minutes. He was scoreless in two playoff games.
Kurz says: It wasnt a good season for Handzus, who was supposed to be the Sharks third-line center, provide strong, steady defensive play and contribute on the penalty kill. He did neither, and his lackluster play forced the Sharks to acquire Dominic Moore from the Tampa Bay Lightning just before the trade deadline. Although he battled some injuries down the stretch, Handzus had already fallen out of favor with the coaching staff and was only inserted into the lineup in the first round against St. Louis because Moore was unavailable.
Brodie says: It was an upbeat move to acquire Handzus as a free agent last summer. Not only had the Sharks witnessed the centerman firsthand in the postseason prior, but it also meant snatching a reliable veteran away from the division opponent L.A. Kings. However, stats prove that Handzus had one of his least productive seasons as an NHL player. Handzus played, on average, more than 14 minutes per game, and centered the third line on a regular basis for a majority of the season. He averaged 1:22 TOI shorthanded, and 1:05 TOI on the power play, per game.2012-13 expectationsKurz says: Handzus is the consummate professional, and has been for a long time. The fact that he had an ineffective year seemed to weigh on him pretty heavily. Unfortunately for the aging veteran, the game may have simply passed him by at this point in his career. Handzus still has a year left on his contract at 2.5 million and a reported no movement clause, so San Jose may be stuck with him for another season unless it decides to buy out the final year of his deal or Handzus retires. Either is a possibility.RELATED: Handzus stats splits game logs
Brodie says: What I am about to say is not a matter of making excuses for a player, but instead, bringing light to a fact which is not widely known. Handzus lost a best friend (and in fact, the best man at his wedding) Pavol Demitra, just weeks before the season began. Demitra was part of the KHLs Lokomotiv team, which tragically perished in a Russian plane crash en-route to a road game. A tragedy for the hockey community, and personal devastation for Handzus, who had to carry this weight on his own shoulders while at the same time adapting to a new team. Not to mention that with the season beginning, he lacked personal time to deal with the grief. I believe this forced Handzus behind the curve, for much of the season -- one in which he never caught up to the kind of player he truly is.My point: If there is one Shark player worth giving the benefit of the doubt, its Handzus. Put yourself in his shoes and calculate the situation. I look forward to seeing him in a much better life circumstance to start next season, than last.
Up next: Ryane Clowe