The San Jose Sharks training camp schedule begins Thursday, Sept. 12. Even though their 2013 Stanley Cup playoff run was better than 80 percent of the league, they have questions coming into the 2013-14 NHL season.
Perhaps chief among them is urgency. Their own general manager called them out as a 57-minute a game team in a 60-minute a game league. Even if the five percent of the time you are not hustling is when you have a lead and it is because you are tired, you will pay for that approach.
Going all-out all the time is the only way to win a Stanley Cup. The 2013 Sharks seemed to learn that through the humility of being outside of the playoffs with fewer than 20 games to go and having Doug Wilson be a seller leading up to the NHL trade deadline before buying a little talent back.
They played with intensity and urgency, and the dressing room became really tight-knit. It showed on the ice in winning the first series by sweep in San Jose history in the first round, exacting some revenge on the Vancouver Canucks for a 4-1 loss in the 2011 Western Conference finals. Even in their loss to the Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Kings in the second round last season, the Sharks went down with a spectacular fight.
Everyone in that front office, behind the bench and in that dressing room believes in this team. But the reduced salary cap made it difficult for San Jose to keep players, much less add to the talent that was no better than third best in the Western Conference.
Thus like most NHL teams, the Sharks have questions going into training camp, with five standing out more than the others.