Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sharks Reinstate Claude Lemieux

Wilson: "Thinking How To Mess Up The Season Is Hard"

Thinking of ways to keep people interested while winning streaks drag on is the burden of the San Jose Sharks. Unaccustomed to actually starting well as finishing well, the Sharks have found their minds wandering to keep themselves occupied. Their most recent move cannot be described any other way:

The NHL-leading Sharks recalled the four-time Cup winner Monday from their minor league affiliate in Worcester, Mass. Lemieux practiced in San Jose, and he's likely to play Tuesday night against Vancouver in the Sharks' final game before the All-Star break.

Claude Lemieux should add an interesting piece to an already interesting team – one that already has two elite centres and Jeremy Roenick.

But is there anything beyond an interesting story here? Can Claude Lemieux help this team be better – in the playoffs that is.

One would have to think that was Doug Wilson's actual logic. But can we really attribute logic to a man who invites a 43-year-old, 5.5 years into retirement, to come back and play for his stacked team? Can we really say that Doug Wilson is doing anything other than rolling the dice? After all, he built a team he hopes will win the Cup around Joe Thornton (not to mention Patrick Marleau).

I get the thinking too:

My players = All chokers
Claude Lemieux = Has always found ways to win (even Conn Smythes!)

Despite that, in my humble opinion, Claude Lemieux will not help the Sharks. You can't expect a reclamation project like him to come in and turn a team's stomachs around. Nor could you expect him to fare very well in the new faster NHL. He didn't help Phoenix at the end of his real playing days, did he? His effectiveness was spent more than 9 years ago.

If anything, with Thornton and Roenick already crowding the dressing room; I think he's a personality too far. What's more, some poor youngster who could be learning the ways of winning will now be relegated back down so Claude can exorcise his whim.

I wish Claude all the best, but I'm infinitely glad we didn't sign him. Normally, I'm the first to criticise Bob Gainey for canny manouevres he missed out on. But this is not a canny manoeuvre in my book, and I wholeheartedly disagree with JT's fanciful take on the matter:
If Gainey passed over Lemieux without at least considering making him an offer, I worry the Habs GM is too conservative or unimaginative to give his team a leg up on the other teams scrabbling to be the best...

And, what is it about the late 80s Habs that just won't retire. Chelios, Richer and his repeated attempts at comebacks and now this. If Larry Robinson wants back in, we have a gaping place open for him at 6th defenceman...

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