Doug Murray

Steen becomes first locked-out NHLer in Swedish Elite League

St. Louis Blues forward Alex Steen has gone where no other NHLer has during the lockout — the Swedish Elite League.

The 28-year-0ld Swede has joined powerhouse club Modo, becoming the first NHLer to play in the SEL after the league reversed its earlier decision prohibiting locked out players.

The SEL website reported the news, confirming that Steen is eligible to play in Tuesday’s contest against Brynas.

Here’s more, from Matias Strozyk of Jatkoaika and Elite Prospects:

The move represents a homecoming of sorts as Steen played for Modo during the 2004-05 lockout year with a slew of NHL talent, including Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Peter Forsberg and the current Modo GM, Markus Naslund.

It’s not surprising that Steen’s pushed to get back into action. He missed 39 games last year with a concussion — though he did manage to rack up 28 points in the 43 games he played — and is looking to make good on the four-year, $13.45 million deal he signed with St. Louis in 2010.

Update: Steen is in the lineup for Modo against Brynas IF, wearing No. 20.

Is it time to blow up the San Jose Sharks?

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CSNBayArea.com’s Kevin Kurz caught up with Joe Thornton after the San Jose Sharks’ early first round exit (via a 3-1 loss in Game 5) and Jumbo Joe’s sentiment was simple: “[The St. Louis Blues] played great, but it’s a terrible feeling.” Thornton was talking about the five-game series in particular, but it’s tough not to wonder if that terrible feeling might be rooted in that sensation you get when an era is about to come to an end.

(In other words, maybe it’s the hockey answer to “We need to talk …”)

Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock was effusive with his praise of the Sharks, claiming that they made a five-game series feel like “a nine-game series.” Thornton’s effort was pretty evident during the series, but one might not say the same for other stars like Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau, who failed to register a single point in the five-game set.

Front office outlook

There’s likely to be the usual round of finger-pointing in San Jose, yet this year might feel different to some. GM Doug Wilson seemed to go all-in by trading for Brent Burns and Martin Havlat, but his trade deadline moves were mediocre at best. (Just watch a Sharks fan cringe when you utter the name “Jamie McGinn.”) Todd McLellan came into town with Red Wings clout and then coached in two series victories against his old employers, but now he’s out of the playoffs in five games just like his old team.

Team structure

If you look at the structure of the Sharks team at CapGeek, you get the feeling that everything is built to last until 2013-14 or so. Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Logan Couture and Dan Boyle’s deals run out after 2013-14. Meanwhile, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Doug Murray, Jason Demers and Ryane Clowe will need new contracts after 2012-13 while Antti Niemi and Burns are wrapped up a little longer.

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What does that all mean? Breaking up the Sharks would have to come in a series of conscious decisions. Front office people would need to be fired and players would need to be traded or bought out. If that happens, it sounds like it certainly wouldn’t be easy.

Then doesn’t necessarily mean such a decision would be wrong, either, though. What do you think? Should the Sharks make major changes or small tweaks? What exactly should that entail? Fill us in via your witty and revealing comments.