For those who missed it Sunday afternoon, the Worcester Sharks (14-15-2-1, 31 points) concluded their five game road trip (1-3-1-0) by giving an uninspired effort in an 8-2 annihilation at the hands of their Atlantic Division rival the Providence Bruins, who have outscored the Sharks 23-7 in five games (all Bruins wins) this season.
Season wise, the Sharks have been outscored 93-75 in 32 games. The Sharks do not have a player in the top 100 of AHL scoring as their leading scorers Freddie Hamilton, Daniil Tarasov and recent San Jose Sharks call-up Bracken Kearns each have 18 points (Hamilton has 11 goals, which leads the team, while Tarasov has nine and Kearns has five). With the lack of scoring power, is it any surprise the Worcester power play currently sits 22nd (14.5%) league wide?
In an effort to add more scoring in the lineup, Worcester has summoned Yanni Gourde from the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL and Bill Ballou of Telegram.com reported Monday morning that sources say Worcester is trying to add San Francisco Bulls leading scorer Tyler Gron, who has 29 points (17-12-29) in 31 games. However, based on recent history, why should Worcester fans be excited?
Gourde, who is currently the seventh leading scorer in the ECHL with 34 points (15-19-34), joined Worcester for the final four games of the 2011-12 season after being named the QMJHL MVP for his 124 point (37-87-124) season with the Victoriaville Tigers, and was signed by Worcester to an AHL contract for the 2012-13 season. The result? Gourde registered 14 points (8-6-14) in 54 games and 10 points (4-6-10) in eight games with the Bulls.
Conversely, Michael Sgarbossa, who San Jose traded away to the Colorado Avalanche along with Jamie McGinn and Mike Connolly for Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi (both of whom are no longer in San Jose) at the 2012 NHL trade deadline, finished as the second leading scorer for the Lake Erie Monsters with 44 points (19-25-44) in 2012-13, his first professional season, after registering 102 points (47-55-102) for the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL in 2011-12.
That begs the question, are Worcester's struggles due to the players or the system being implemented by Worcester head coach Roy Sommer? Keep in mind that Worcester's second leading scorer last season was Tim Kennedy, who finished with 37 points (13-24-37) in just 37 games played. Furthermore, Worcester has not had a 50 point scorer since Danny Groulx (14-52-66), Steven Zalewski (22-40-62), Dan DaSilva (21-32-53), Logan Couture (20-33-53) and Benn Ferriero (19-31-50) all achieved the feat in 2009-10.
If player body language is any indication, is it time for a new head coach in Worcester? Coach Sommer has been the only coach in Worcester history and was the only head coach for the Cleveland Barons (2001-06). If one includes the final three seasons of the Kentucky Thoroughblades (1998-2001), coach Sommer's teams have missed the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs eight times in 15 seasons, and of the seven times they did make the playoffs, they never advanced past the second round.
Something has to change. Worcester's fan base deserves much better than the product that has been put on the ice over the last several seasons (113-115-36 to date since 2010-11). If it were up to me, I would find (or even create) a new position within the Sharks organization that would best use coach Sommer's extensive hockey knowledge. As for who would be the head coach, I would take a chance and go with current development coach Mike Ricci.