Jul 19, 2018

Hey 'Cuda Country, what's going on? In last week’s blog, I said not a lot goes on in the hockey world from mid-July to late August. After the NHL Draft, free agency, development camp, and the release of next year's schedule, the news cycle comes to a screeching halt. Because I anticipated a quiet few weeks, my blog was going to begin a heavy emphasis on our company softball team, but I should have known better. Don’t worry I’m still going to break down a disappointing result in week two, but first we’ve got some hockey news in July. On Wednesday, the Sharks announced three separate signings. They locked up former ‘Cuda forward Chris Tierney for two more years and inked first-round pick Ryan Merkley and Barracuda forward Alex True to three-year entry-level deals.

Being that this is a Barracuda-centric blog, I want to touch on True’s contract. First, it’s entirely deserved. Alex signed a two-year AHL contract, a prove it deal, out of development camp last year, skipping out on his final season of junior hockey eligibility with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League. Proven on the international stage with Denmark and in the WHL, True was a wildcard going into last season with the Barracuda since he had went undrafted and had no pro experience, but he quickly solidified himself as an asset up the middle for Roy Sommer’s team. True was the only ‘Cuda skater to appear in all 68 games, and he finished his stellar rookie campaign second on the team in goals (15), fourth in points (28), second in power-play goals (7), and fourth in shots (121).

You can’t talk about the Copenhagen native without mentioning his size. He’s listed at six-foot-five, 205-pounds and he’s just 21 years of age. He’s got plenty of room to continue to fill in his massive frame, which is intriguing. What makes me so excited about Alex and his development is he has already shown the ability to take his game to another level in big moments. All you have to do is look back at the final game of 2017-18 at Stockton. The Barracuda needed a win against the Heat and a San Diego loss to complete an improbable clinching of a playoff spot. True scored both goals in San Jose’s 2-1 win and as we all know, the Roadrunners would beat the Gulls, propelling San Jose into the Calder Cup playoffs.

The year before, True was a dominant force in the playoffs in the WHL and then the Memorial Cup, tying for the team lead in goals during the playoffs (12) and averaging 1.10 points per-game over the 22 playoff games he skated in.

I asked Alex during development camp if he felt a lot more comfortable this year since he was coming off a strong season and didn’t have the pressure associated with not having a contract. I just assumed he’d agree and say, it is different, and I feel a lot more comfortable this year, knowing that I’ll be back in San Jose. But he didn’t, he instead went the opposite direction, “You could say that, but the preparation is still the same. I’m still going to work extremely hard in the summer, so it’s not a real big change for me.” I thought the quote was extremely revealing of the type of player he is and wants to be.

Heaviy involved on the power-play and penalty kill a season ago, True will be given even more opportunity with the Barracuda in 2018-19 since the team is once again expected to be one of the AHL’s youngest. The Barracuda could have up to 14 first-year AHL players next season, and I'd expect the sophomore to take on more of a leadership role.

Ok, ok, I touched on the hockey talk, and now we can move on to more pressing matters.

Last year's company softball team made it all the way to the championship game before falling in the final inning (humblebrag). With nearly the entire team returning and a renewed sense of commitment, expectations are higher than ever. After kicking off the season with a week one victory, an overwhelming amount of absences from yesterday’s game left the squad limited and searching for an identity. Uncharacteristic errors, lack of timely hitting, blaring outfield sun, and a limited bench was too high of a hill to climb… we were mercy ruled after five innings.

Notable absences from Wednesday’s game:

Nate and Taylor Hone - Sharks Productions

  • In another state, working on a highly confidential project featuring a extremely unique and popular member of the Sharks (Can’t say any more, may get in trouble)

Austin Webb – Sharks Productions

  • At the annual IDEA conference in Indianapolis, Indiana

Ben Guerrero – Media Relations Manager

  • On the 15-day DL with a lower-body injury suffered in week one

Missy Zielinski – Sharks Foundation Coordinator

  • Absence undisclosed

Ryan Stenn – Team Services Coordinator

  • Absence undisclosed

Joanna Schimmel – Broadcast Operations and Media Relations Manager

  • On an African safari

No major injury news of note besides our shortstop, Joey Goldstein, having trouble turning his neck without it being followed by his entire body due to a bad night of sleep. Joey still found a way to rip a gapper and provide solid defense from a very important softball position.

Also, we got new bats this season, which has really increased team moral but some of the smaller members of the club have been lobbying for the return of “Tooth Pick”, the little league size softball bat that was extremely successful for many last year. It sounds like it will make its triumph return next week if all goes as planned.

Unfortunately, I will be out of next week's game do to a wake surfing/fishing/boating/tubing/hiking/biking appointment in Tahoe. I’ll provide softball updates from what I can gather from our group text and fill you in on my trip to Tahoe.

Unless there’s some hockey news, this is going to be the direction MY blog is going to go for the next few weeks, so saddle up.

Have a wonderful weekend and week, and I’ll talk to you all next Thursday.

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