This post may be entirely based on unwarranted fear, but in the event the Sharks are actually considering putting Micheal Haley on the opening night roster it had to be written. So, meaning no offense to Haley, who has certainly put in his time with the San Jose Barracuda, let’s outline (briefly) why this should not be a thing.
Let’s start with the kind of player Haley is. He’s a grinder by generous definition and a fighter by a more accurate one. He provides fighting and grit, something the Sharks lacked after sending Mike Brown packing — it’s also something the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t have. You know, the team that won the Stanley Cup.
In 72 games, Haley has four points and 222 penalty minutes. My evaluation of who he is as a player, and what he brings to the table, isn’t really up for debate. So if you feel like the Sharks need someone to get into staged fights with other players who fill the same role more than they need a gifted scorer like Nikolay Goldobin or a up-and-coming two-way player like Kevin labanc I have to wonder how much attention you paid to the team last year.
Yes, the Sharks made it through a tough and bruising Western Conference to get to the Stanley Cup Final — but they did it without the #grit many associate the conference with. Yes, San Jose is a heavy team that uses its size to control the puck, but it doesn’t hit for the sake of hitting.
The Sharks checked in at sixth in hits per minute, behind the following teams:
Pittsburgh finished 11th out of the 16 teams that made the playoffs last season. Hits (as a stat) don’t matter. Say it with me: Hits (as a stat) do not matter. There’s obviously a time and a place for hits to get the puck back, but saying a team has something special because it delivers more hits is incredibly flawed.
Haley brings fights more than he brings hits, something the Sharks might value in games against the Kings and Ducks. That, again, makes no sense. San Jose trounced the Kings in the playoffs without a fighter and the Sharks best defense against the Ducks is by not playing their game.
This is a Sharks team in transition — to make that transition work, they need to give young guys opportunities. I don’t care if it’s a preseason game, giving Haley a start instead of Goldobin or Labanc is damn near irresponsible. Give players who belong on the team a start, not someone who’s more accustomed to fisticuffs than scoring goals.