Found April 23, 2012 on Red Light District Hockey:
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Are the Sharks still technically chokers?

Back in 2009, Joe Thornton and company drew the ire of their peers by losing in the first round after capturing the Presidents' Trophy. And despite consecutive appearances in the Western Conference Finals in 2010 and 2011, this organization has never really realized their true potential.

The only difference between this season and years past is the scapegoat. Who takes the blame for this lost season? Furthermore, what direction will the club take during the offseason?

Largely due to the success of their former teams, the Sharks still have most of their core under contract -- seven of their forwards have a contract next year as do five defensemen and both goalies. However, considering how this club struggled mightily to score goals, it might make sense to shake things up for the second consecutive offseason.

Last season, the Sharks made two blockbuster deals with the Minnesota Wild. During the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, they sent a hefty package of Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first round pick (Zack Phillips) to the Northwest for offensive defenseman Brent Burns. They later moved Dany Heatley to the Wild in exchange for oft-injured forward Martin Havlat.

Neither deal gained immediate dividends for San Jose as Burns struggled at times in a new system and Havlat, predictably, struggled to stay healthy. Therefore, shouldn't the onus sit on team GM Doug Wilson?

After all, it was Wilson who decided to remove two top-six forwards and replace them with question marks. Wilson also spent two draft picks (a third round pick was later traded for James Sheppard) and a highly-regarded prospect for those two talented but unproven assets.

Firing Wilson would be a justified move.

He had all the tools to bring the Stanley Cup to Northern California, and failed on numerous occasions to get them over the top. By that same token, head coach Todd McLellan could also take the blame despite leading the Sharks to three Pacific Division titles in four seasons. Making a front-office move would make more sense than trading an expensive player with a depreciated price tag.

Having said that, Wilson and company stay, and in turn could opt to move one or two of their uber-talented forwards -- Patrick Marleau? Ryane Clowe? -- as the neverending search for the right fit continues.

If they choose the latter option, it would make an intriguing offseason all the more exhilarating.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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