All-Time Sharks, Part 2

Time to continue my post from many moons ago -- that is, the All-Time Sharks, selected on the strength of a single season. While RudyKelley may be looking at the big picture and Earl Sleek may be getting in the spirit of election season with public opinion polls, I'm getting into my theoretical time machine, plucking a bunch of players out of certain times in their career, and sticking them on to a sheet of ice together.

(You know how in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure the dynamic duo pluck Joan of Arc, Socrates, Napoleon, and other historical figures for an all-star history presentation? It's kind of like that, except with Owen Nolan and Jonathan Cheechoo.)

Here's Part 1 of my post to refresh your memory. And now, the third and fourth lines...

3rd Line:
C-Vincent Damphousse 99-00
There can be arguments for Igor Larionov in his pre-Hockeytown stay but I'm going with Damphousse during the true breakout season for the entire Sutter-era. Damphousse managed to create offense despite a ridiculously stifling Sutter emphasis on defense, he played the penalty kill and took face-offs, and he managed to make Dave Lowry look good during the playoffs (Owen Nolan had a big part in that too). Side note: I may be very critical of many of Darryl Sutter's strategic moves during his time in San Jose but sticking a grinder like Lowry on the top line to pester Chris Pronger in the St. Louis series was genius.

Rw-Sergei Makarov 93-94
Oh, that magical 93-94 season when the Red Wings were toast, a foreigner's grammar goof became a rallying cry ("Like wall!"), and Sergei Makarov's 68 points in 80 games led the team at the advanced age of 35. The Ov-attack of Makarov, Larionov, and Johan Garpenlov made the newly post-Cold War era seem so much more lovable, and Makarov gave Bay Area hockey fans goal-scoring skill they hadn't seen before and really, wouldn't see much of again for another five years or so. Side note #2: Todd Elik, the second-leading scorer on that squad, put up a whopping 98 points in 53 games for an Austrian team in the 2006-2007 season at age 40, beating out much younger former NHLer Tavis Hanson.

LW-Marco Sturm 03-04
Marco Sturm's point totals were fairly steady throughout his time with the Sharks, so why pick the season when a nasty crash into the boards forced his foot to bend one way and his leg to bend another? Well, before the injury, Sturm was on pace for a career year. Put on a pure-speed line with Patrick Marleau and Wayne Primeau (if you don't remember, Primeau was ridiculously fast and had no hands at all), the trio made plenty of defensemen look flat for a good stretch of that season. After that injury, Marleau went into a funk until the playoffs and the Sharks cowered against the might of Jarome Iginla in the Conference Final.

4th Line:
C-Mike Ricci 01-02
RW-Niklas Sundstrom 01-02
LW-Scott Thornton 01-02

While I picked the top three lines based on talent and statistics, I'm leaving the fourth line to a grinding/checking group -- but boy, could these guys score. This group comes together as a unit, and if you remember seeing them in action, you'll remember why they earned the monicker "Best 3rd line in hockey." When Darryl Sutter needed a goal, he'd tap his third line to work the boards until the could grind one out, sometimes even on the power play. The line had it all: Ricci's face-off abilities and strong work on the boards, Sundstrom's smooth hands and wicked passes, and Thornton's previously untapped goal-scoring abilities (that season with a career high of 26). For whatever reason, the chemistry fell apart the next year, and soon after, injuries slowed down Ricci and Thornton while Sundstrom was traded.

Still, something has to be said for a checking unit that kills penalties, shuts down the opposition's top line, and puts up almost a combined 150 points. Reech, Scotty, we still love you. Sunny, um, well, you're like that old college lab partner that was fun to talk to and got the job done even though you never became a good friend. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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