By Spencer Head, Staff Writer
The San Jose Sharks’ two Czech forwards, Michal Handzus and Martin Havlat, both were lacking in presence in the 2011-2012 season, in a metaphorical and literal sense respectively due to injuries.
Before and after his unconventional line-change injury that prevented him from playing for the majority of the season, Martin Havlat played well. In his first 26 games in teal, he put up 15 points, making his name as a passer and showing chemistry with linemates Ryan Clowe and Logan Couture early on in the season.
Upon his return from injury, he emerged as a key player on the Sharks, putting up 12 points in 13 games, including 5 points in the final four games of the regular season, a point streak that also carried over to his overtime winner in the first game of the playoffs.
Havlat needs to have this monumental effect on the game that Wilson envisioned when he finally had the opportunity to trade for him in 2011.
Michal Handzus, unlike Havlat, played most of the games throughout the regular season, but played poorly (to say the least) throughout the entire year. The organization and the fans looked forward to the depth and experience Handzus would add to the team and the penalty kill especially; however, Handzus did none of the above, leaving fans disappointed and forcing Doug Wilson to make a move for Dominic Moore before the trade deadline.
Handzus only put up 24 points and a minus-6 rating, his lowest points total since 2008 and second lowest point-per-game average of his 13 year career.
Unbeknownst to fans, though, was that Handzus struggled with a hip injury throughout the entire season according to a report by CSN California’s Kevin Kurz. In the interview with Kurz, Handzus says:
“I didn’t play well or help the team as much as I wanted to, or as much as the team wanted me to. I just put it behind me. It’s a new year, and I [will] try to prove to my teammates, management and fans that I can help the team. That’s my goal.”
Handzus played overseas in the lockout, one of 11 Sharks, and posted 19 points in 19 games with HC Banska Bystricka in the Slovak Extraliga. Hopefully this will give him an added edge in the shortened season and help the Sharks burst out of the gates with a winning record.
While they may not get as much attention as Thornton, Marleau, and the countless other Shark Superstars, these two Czechs will need to be at their best during this shortened season, and above all, be healthy in order to once again be a Stanley Cup contender.
Stay tuned for more important San Jose Sharks updates, and the continuation of Important Sharks Duos here on Sunbelt Hockey Journal.