Doug Wilson's Fantastic 4: "What is the true cost of a man's mistakes?"
Doug Wilson has built some pretty heroic teams in the past. But not every acquisition can be an Avenger. Some turn out like the new Fantastic 4 movie: awful.(There may be some spoilers from the movie... As if I could spoil it worse than they did.)
Outside of my love for hockey, I have a major soft spot for superhero movies. So, I went to see the new Fantastic 4 movie last week. I knew the reviews were terrible (8% on Rotten Tomatoes!), but it's a superhero movie: how badly can you really screw it up? The answer is very badly.
If you want to see five pretty talented actors used terribly as they stand in two different laboratories for 90% of the movie, with only about 15 minutes of actual superhero action and a plot that makes absolutely no sense, then this is the movie for you!
But you know what they say, creativity is born out of boredom. And so during the movie, I thought: Doug Wilson has built many teams. Sometimes the additions are good like the Avengers, or great like the Guardians of the Galaxy. Other times, they're bad - like this damn movie.
If each of the Sharks' acquisitions made in the Doug Wilson era was a superhero, who would be the most disappointing? Who would be the Fantastic 4?
Really, It's a natural comparison. Also it's a flimsy excuse to Photoshop players' faces onto things and make dumb jokes.
The Thing - Michal Handzus
Michal Handzus was brought to the team to do some heavy lifting in tough situations. When he was signed in 2011, ideally, the team was hoping he could be a durable, tough minutes defensive-specialist, providing good penalty killing and even chipping in with a decent amount of offense. He was a former all-star, and a former runner-up for the Selke Trophy.
Unfortunately, what the Sharks got was a slow, black hole of possession that was showing his age after years of tough assignments. In admittedly heavy defensive minutes, Handzus' possession numbers were the worst on the team among significant players. His offense and durability also seemed to fade as well. While he had a relatively respectable 24 points in 67 games in 2011-12 and honestly did help the team in the shootout, he scored only 2 points in 28 with the Sharks in the 2012-13 season before being traded to the Blackhawks in April of that season.
Handzus is The Thing because when he was brought in, people were expecting a rock. Someone who could give and take some damage in tough situations. This is just what I expected from the Thing in the movie. The trailers showed him ripping up tanks, dropping out of a plane, and being a general badass. Unfortunately, in the movie, 90% of his action scenes are only shown on screens in background shots of people talking. Handzus' best moments were also only watched on screens by Sharks fans when he was somehow raising a Stanley Cup with Chicago as their second-line center.
The Invisible Woman - Adam Burish
Hopes weren't quite as high for Adam Burish when he was brought in to the team on the first day of free agency in 2012. That being said, he was coming off the best two years of his career with Dallas with 14 and 19 points. He was given similar minutes in Dallas and San Jose: not tough competition, but mostly in defensive zone starts. But in San Jose, his possession game was among the worst on the team. In his standard stats, he only ended up putting up 6 points in 81 games spread out through three years and was a combined -17.
Adam Burish is the Invisible
Woman Man Person because I really wish he could have contributed more. He seemed like a great teammate and a hilarious person. I love hard working fourth liners who can chip in here and there - I have Jed Ortmeyer and James Sheppard jerseys, for crying out loud. Unfortunately, his offensive game was nearly invisible. And in other aspects of his game, you wish he would have just disappeared. In the movie, Sue Storm, played by Kate Mara - who I really like, doesn't contribute much at all. She doesn't even go to the alternate dimension to get her powers! She gets them by accident! Ugh! What were you thinking!? And how did she go from barely being able to fly to lifting her, Reed and The Thing through an inter-dimensional portal!? ...I think I lost my metaphor here. In both cases, a good, funny person was mishandled all around.
The Human Torch - Martin Havlat
In 2011, the Sharks acquired Martin Havlat in a 1-for-1 swap for Dany Heatley. The Sharks needed some extra wiggle-room under the cap and decided 4 years of Havlat's $5m cap hit was better than 3 years of Heatley's $7.5m. Although Havlat had some injury problems in the past, he had played in 73 or more games in the three seasons prior. Havlat was also not far removed from being roughly a point-per-game player. Injuries were a major issue in San Jose, however. His 3 seasons saw him dress for just 39, 40 and 48 games. In those games, however, he wasn't half-bad, as was terribly used by the coaching staff. In his Sharks tenure, he scored at 43-point-pace playing anywhere from the second to fourth lines.
Martin Havlat is The Human Torch because he had his moments: the OT winner in the playoffs versus the Kings, a hat-trick on fan appreciation night. Likewise, in the movie, the Human Torch actually had a few moments that were pretty alright. Some people were upset with Michael B. Jordan's casting for bad reasons. Havlat can totally relate. The Sharks sure didn't win the Havlat/Heatley trade, but they didn't lose it either. People were mad at him because injuries slowed the former star forward and drove him out of the lineup and the league. Well, guess what, that describes both Havlat and Heatley. It's finally time to give him a break. It was a good move to make at the time, but one that still ended up backfiring. Also, Havlat is totally the Human Torch because out of all the players, he'd be the most likely to spontaneously combust.
Mr. Fantastic - Mark Messier
Fun fact: Did you know that Doug Wilson's first trade as Sharks GM was for Mark Messier? That's right, in the 2004 offseason, Wilson acquired his negotiating rights from the Rangers for future considerations. (Ohhh! That must be why the return for James Sheppard was so low!) Messier decided, however, to retire. I'm sure the impending lockout didn't help much either.
Why is Messier Mr. Fantastic? Leadership! Mr Fantastic, a.k.a. Reed Richards, is the leader of the group. Messier literally has the award for leadership named after him. Unlike Reed, Messier was a little old when he was acquired, like Reed SHOULD have been in the movie. Not a 28-year old playing a 17-year old. Is this one a stretch? Totally. But isn't a stretch appropriate for Mr. Fantastic? *rimshot*
Bonus: Dr. Doom - Raffi Torres
The only current Shark on this list, Raffi Torres IS Doom. Actor Toby Kebbel was actually a pretty good Victor Von Doom in the movie. He was a total dick, but somehow managed to stand out in this awful movie. I still don't really understand why or how, but once he got his powers, he blew up a bunch of people's heads in surprisingly gruesome ways. Sound familiar? Raffi is no stranger to head-shots, and was as close to a supervillain as possible in the NHL when he was acquired in 2013.
And once he got to San Jose, he was surprisingly awesome, bringing a fast, physical edge and scoring big goals. Unfortunately for both Raffi and Dr. Doom, their roles were ridiculously short-lived. Doom's action scenes were about 5 minutes of the whole movie. Raffi Torres has played 16 regular season games in the past 2 years for the Sharks. Where are the people who hated Havlat for his injuries now? Anyway, here's hoping that Raffi comes back from his Frankenstein surgery as his old self to terrorize the NHL once more.
And here's hoping Fox finally realizes the don't know how to make a Fantastic 4 movie and gives the rights back to Marvel Studios.
So, what do you think? Does someone else fit these roles better? Or other superheroes? Let me know in the comments. And please feel encouraged to Photoshop your ideas. We haven't had a Photoshop Expo here at FTF in far too long.