There are Four Big Questions facing the San Jose Sharks in 2020-21.
Happy Hockey Day! The 2020-21 NHL Season begins today and, as a result, we begin to close out our Season Previews by looking at the San Jose Sharks.
It has been a rough ride for the Sharks as of late who completely fell off a cliff in 2019-20, missing the postseason for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
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Despite having two elite horses on the backend in Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, San Jose just couldn’t figure it out and they ended up firing Head Coach Pete DeBoer midway through the 2019-20 season.
With Bob Boughner now behind the bench, the Sharks will be looking for improvement this season but after losing the heart and soul of the franchise in Joe Thornton in Free Agency, you question whether they have an identity or not.
And, while there is talent on this team, the roster as a whole is incredibly flawed and General Manager Doug Wilson may have to do something dramatic at the Trade Deadline if things get off to a slow start.
So, without further ado, let’s delve into the 4 Big Questions the San Jose Sharks will have to answer in the 2020-21 NHL Season…
4. How will they adapt to life without Joe Thornton?
2020 was one hell of a weird year and, on early evidence, 2021 is going to follow the exact same pattern, especially when it comes to the NHL.
That will especially be the case in San Jose with the Sharks preparing to start a season without Joe Thornton on the roster for the first time since the 2005-06 season. That’s a hell of a long time.
Instead, Thornton will be opening up the 2020-21 NHL season with the Toronto Maple Leafs on a line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, with the veteran hoping that returning home brings him his best chance of finally winning a Stanley Cup.
Of course, seeing “Jumbo Joe” in a Maple Leafs jersey is never not going to be weird but, hey, we’ve gotten pretty used to life being weird over the last year or so.
However, how will Joe Thornton’s absence impact the San Jose Sharks?
For starters, taking that veteran leadership out of the room will hurt a team that seems to be lacking a real identity anyway, while Thornton was the very heartbeat of this franchise and he simply can’t be replaced.
Then there is his on-ice presence where, despite a regression due to father time catching up, the 41-year-old was still a valuable offensive weapon for the Sharks, recording 31 points (7 G, 24 A) in 70 regular-season games in 2019-20.
To take away 30 plus points from a team that ranked 27th in Goals For Per Game (2.57) last year is far from ideal, and someone will need to step up to replace the offense that is now gone due to Thornton’s absence.
Overall, losing Joe Thornton the man and the player could end up hurting the San Jose Sharks in 2020-21 and, as the old saying goes, you don’t know what you had until it is gone.