Look, I'm not going to lead you astray on this one. While - yes - I did attend Game 4 of BoC, my analysis of the game itself would be completely useless. In fact, I think my understanding of this game decreased the more I watched it. Let me share the few things I DO remember from the game.
- Spade was the lucky winner of the "sit with James sweepstakes" but he'd be a liar if he said I was a good (or bad) guy. Why? Because we were blind drunk by the second period and therefore interacted on a mostly sub-human level (which is a good thing, seriously). That being said, Spade seems like an above-solid dude with an an equally solid goatee.
- Both Ducks and Sharks fans are largely docile humans. Every time I tried to start some shit, I ran into a wall of easy going-ness. Fuckin' happy people.
- There was one dude in a Joe Thornton jersey that I heckled on our way from the Honda Center to the bar. His come back was about my belly. I wish I was sober enough to use this retort: "Hey, at least my gut shows up in the playoffs." Har har har.
- I was almost able to take a camera phone photo with some random chick that was shaking her boobs on the Jumbotron. It would be more accurate to blame the failure on my drunken phone shortcomings but instead I'll blame her not-especially-amused boyfriend for the letdown. Oh well. Guess you'll have to take my word for it.
- Was talking to some (much, much, MUCH) more knowledgeable Sharks fans about the future of the franchise after the game. The sentiment (reasonable enough) was that the team should trade Jumbo Joe or Patrick Marleau.
Conceptually, that makes some good sense: Marleau and Joe are the "leaders" of the team on multiple levels. Even if you rush to defend the top two picks of the 1997 draft, you only have so many huge contracts you can throw around and need to make them count. These things aren't lost on me.
But my question is: how can you possibly get anywhere near equal value for those guys?
NHL history includes very few superstar trades that work out for the team letting a big name guy loose. Usually a team unloads a superstar because they cannot afford him (Ottawa trading Marian Hossa), because the team has an unclear vision (Thornton's first trade) or because the GM is just a flat-out imbecile (Roberto Luongo traded for a neck breaker; just about every move made by Mike Milbury).
It must be difficult to live in the "THAT close" zone. Sharks fans are hurting right now, but SJ still has a reason to feel that they're on the cusp. Why not take one more shot with the core still being in prime years?
Joe Thornton - 30 years old
Patrick Marleau - 30 years old
Dan Boyle - 33 years old
Evgeni Nabokov - 34 years old
Combine those guys with some younger players who still have potential to improve (particularly Vlasic, Pavelski and Setoguchi) and you have to think it's worth another run. Trade Jon Cheechoo? That probably works, but trading one of the two stud centers would disembowel a team that still has good hockey to play.
The team made moves to get older and more experienced, which made some people think this season was a "now or never" year. Especially since they had their greatest regular season ever. Don't forget, though, that it occasionally takes more than one year for a big move to yield a Cup (take Ray Bourque's trip to Colorado as an example).
My ultimate advice for Sharks fans: lick your wounds, enjoy your blissful existence outside of hockey and go surfing. It's all going to be OK.