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‘I want players that want to play here, not just live here,’ says San Jose GM

Jun 2, 2014, 10:36 AM EDT


Interesting stuff from Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News:

It was a 12-word mini-manifesto, offered in a staccato bite for maximum impact.

“I want players that want to play here,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told me, “not just live here.”

That was pretty much all Wilson chose to say in our phone conversation last week, and really, it was all Wilson had to communicate.

When he said the words, I actually stopped and asked if he meant to say what I think he just said.

So Wilson repeated: “I want players that want to play here, not just live here.”

Boom. Wilson, dropping the hammer. Though to be fair, it’s easy to see what he’s talking about.

In terms of desirable locales, hockey players are hard pressed to find one better than San Jose. It’s affluent, the weather’s nice, the fanbase is loyal and enthusiastic (Sharks have played to at least 97 percent attendance for the last six years) and the organization treats its players pretty well. The team literally rolled out the red carpet for Owen Nolan’s retirement ceremony in 2012, and Nolan made himself a staple in the community after leaving the organization in 2003 (he owns a bar in the city.)

So is there a bit of a “country club” atmosphere in San Jose, perhaps? Sure, and that’s likely what Wilson is getting at. There’s the all-too-real possibility he and the coaching staff feel complacency has crept into the dressing room, where the likes of Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton have resided for 16 and eight years, respectively.

If this offseason has taught us anything, it’s that Wilson and owner Hasso Plattner aren’t pinning the team’s lack of playoff success — and this year’s opening-round collapse to L.A. — on the coaching staff or front office. Following the Kings defeat, Plattner opted to follow Wilson’s advice for patience and retained head coach Todd McLellan, extended the contract of associate coach Larry Robinson and also kept assistant GM Joe Will in the fold.

So, changes coming to the San Jose roster?

Sure sounds like it.

  1. terrier92 - Jun 2, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Wilson is right. San Jose is a great area to live and Im sure some of the locker room is very comfortable. While they care about hockey it is not the pressure cooker some other cities are: ie Boston, Montreal, Toronto,Philly where if you dont win you hear about it on the street.

    • btlpper68 - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      In a paragraph, you basicly just said they have no fans

      • 19to77 - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        “(Sharks have played to at least 97 percent attendance for the last six years)”

        Uh. Well. About that whole “being wrong” thing you’re doing…

      • gp424 - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        No that is not what was said. What he said is true. In San Jose its okay to fail because Shark fans are forgiving, as long as players are nice to them, or say hi to them in public the fans are happy. Shark fans except excuses, and believe everything told to them. The team will try harder next year, and then the next year. Funny this same exact Wilson quote when googled is the same statement he has made many times in the past.

        And of course players want to play here. An accepting fan base, that places zero blame on anyone when the team fails. A great climate and country club atmosphere as well.

        There is a reason players that want to win a Stanley Cup won’t sign to play here. There is a reason Campbell said no, as did Moen, Guerin and Winnik, all these players want to win. The word around the NHL amongst players is if you want a great place to play, with no pressure an accepting fan base, a general manager who talks circles around the fans and media and a media willing to never say a bad word about the team, then SJ is place to go. If you want to win hockey’s ultimate prize then stay far away from SJ.

      • nogoodtomedead - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        gp424- So you know what the word around the NHL from the players is huh? How does that happen?

      • skr213 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:18 PM

        GP, please do share that google search result of Wilson saying that before. I just went through the first 10 pages of google search and did not see even one mention of that quote prior to yesterday. As for fans believing everything we’re told – that’s just stupid. Most of us actually grew up in traditional hockey markets and know what’s-what when a GM is blathering on. If you’re the same GP as elsewhere in Sharks blogs, then you are just one of those folks who has had it out for DW for years. Keep up that great armchair GM’ing, I’m sure you’ve fantasy leagued your way to many championships by now.

      • gp424 - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:30 PM


        Here you go

      • skr213 - Jun 3, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        Nice try GP. Did you think I just wouldn’t read it?? In that article he says “I want players who want to be here. If there is doubt, then there is no doubt.” That’s a 100% different statement than what he’s saying now, which is calling out the difference between players who want to “live” here versus players who want to “play” here – that old quote is just about wanting to “be” here.

  2. heynyc61 - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    No fans?? They sellout every game and have good tv ratings…

    • btlpper68 - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      Exactly my point

      • rauhj - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:36 PM

        Do you know what you are talking about? I would guess not so stop bothering those that can. Move on troll.

    • gp424 - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      We have fans, and we also must consider it is the ONLY Major PROFESSIONAL team in California’s 3rd largest city. Its not like there are lots of options out there. Yes SJ fans sellout the arena, but its not the hardcore fan. Go to any game, you’ll see the baseball crowd their. Oh offsides… What’s that… Oh this is my first game. Lots of that, plus the fact is that companies like Google, and Yahoo and many tech companies help sellout the arena by giving employees discounted tickets and buying large groups of tickets.

      • skr213 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:24 PM

        Your credibility just plummeted. Again, most folks at games in my experience are VERY hockey savvy. Again, most of us actually grew up in traditional hockey markets. You just get pissed all the time because people don’t share your idiotic view that DW is a bad GM. Let’s review some points about DW: (1) we have NO players over 30 signed to more than 3 year contracts (look around the league and see who else can say that), (2) ALL of our current contracts are below-market-value (so we can maneuver under the cap and trade those contracts when needed)(again, look around the league and let me know of any other top team that can say that), (3) we have a plethora of young talent that is ready to take on leadership roles, despite never having had to do a total rebuild like most other teams with this much youthful talent. In fact, I’d say DW’s only major misstep in the last 5 years was the McGinn trade.

      • tunesguy - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:26 PM

        You say “the ONLY Major PROFESSIONAL team in California’s 3rd largest city” as if San Jose is isolated from anything else which is ludicrous. The Giants play 48 miles away from the Shark Tank in SAP Center. The Oakland Raiders, A’s and Golden State Warriors play only 36 miles away. The San Jose Earthquakes play only 3 miles away and the SF 49ers used to play 44 miles away and will be just 8 miles away this season. There’s a ton of sports professional sports entertainment in the Bay Area to choose from. Throw in Stanford, Cal and SJSU and there are also top collegiate sports to spend money on. Consistently selling out is an achievement in the Bay Area – just ask the Raiders if they’d like to sell out.

        And the core of the season ticketholder base is definitely hard-core hockey fans. Casual, or new, fans do not purchase season tickets…

      • gp424 - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:39 PM

        SKR your are funny as hell, with your “most of us” and how many is most 10/15/20 or 14,000. Just make stuff up again are we skr. You think you know it all about how great of a GM Wilson is? Okay tell us how many championship teams has/did he play on? Coach for, be the GM for. Just because he is a former player does not automatically qualify him as a great GM. As it did not qualify Gretzky to be a great head coach. But the funniest part is the one about no players over 30 signed to more then 3 year contacts. LOL love how you qualify that to be more then. Because in reality as of right now both Marleau and Thornton are over 30 and signed to a current contract, and have new 3 year contracts that begin July 1, 2014. So in reality we do have 2 players over 30 with more then 3 years left on their contract since there new contracts have not even started yet. And below market rate based upon? You do not know how much any other player would get. But wanna talk over payment Rob Blake 5.O million = overpayment. How about Martin Havlat. I could go on, but then its just my opinion vs your opinion which means nothing to me. Our plethora of young talent includes who that is not already on the team. You act like we have a 6 top 6 forwards under 30 that are young, we dont. Wanna match our young talent up to that of say idk Anaheims.

  3. stepanup - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Good. From my perspective this cause of this team’s playoff shortcomings resides at the feet of the players. Too often in all of sports coaches and exec’s are the fall guys for players who become complacent or do not perform.

    • gp424 - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      So when the team’s GM trades for players like Tyler Kennedy, Martin Havlat and signs players like Adam Burish, and Antti Niemi, its the players fault. And when that same GM resigns unproductive players like Burish, Brad Stuart and others to contract extensions with No Movement or No Trade clauses in it. Then it’s the players fault? Sorry but when the GM makes stupid moves and signs the wrong players, or signs half the teams core to No Trade Clause contracts that a management issue. If a player wants to be here then he signs a contract without regard to a No Trade, No movement clause. Adding that in means it was an additional incentive to get the player to sign here.

      • nogoodtomedead - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        In all fairness- while I agree with some of what your saying- the trade for Havlat was for Heatley- both have been worthless since but saved the Sharks 2.5 mil a year in cap space. And Niemi- while hasn’t proven to be a difference maker has been an extremely solid and reasonably priced goalie (Vezina finalist last year)- so yeah- I see your point- not the best examples though

      • skr213 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        Wow. Your cred just keeps going down. Now Brad Stuart and Nemo were bad signings?? [shaking my head laughing]

      • gp424 - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:42 PM

        skr, hows the shoe shinning going for your boss. Your exactly the type of the fan the team markets too. Now take those blinders off and join the real world. Your joy at me losing credibility took a huge shot in your first post where you could not find a single Wilson quote that took me 1 minute to find. Maybe you should try to Google the exact quote made, but that might be too much to ask of someone with your brain power.

      • skr213 - Jun 3, 2014 at 4:02 PM

        *you’re – not your
        *to – not too
        the quote you found was not at all the same as the quote today (as discussed above)
        You want to talk about brain power after a post like that? What, did you manage to finish 8th grade English?

  4. terrier92 - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    No I know San Jose has great fans. My point was the area the entire area is not as hockey intense as other places No disrespect to great shark fans

  5. sjsblitz - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    Were devout, we just dont go crazy when things dont go our way. Very patient

    • gp424 - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:31 PM

      And this is exactly why complacency sets in. Their is no accountability from the fan base when the team fails year after year in the playoffs. Fans in San Jose just accept all the excuses offered by Doug Wilson and Hasso Plattner.

    • rauhj - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      Don’t go crazy??!! Are you paying attention? This latest collapse is the last straw for many Sharks fans. Even tho it hurts, we know that some of the core has to go. Track record speaks for itself. And the lack of guts displayed by the Sharks against the Kings was disturbing, particularly game 5 when the Sharks were complacent (and of fragile psyches)….at best. And at home.

      Sharks are built for the regular season where their flashiness shows for regular games but when it comes to gritting it out, they often fail to turn it up a notch in the playoffs.

      • cybernetikghost - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        You guys have pretty strong backs, the last couple of straws would have broken mine. If I were to hear “I’m not going to pick them to win the Cup anymore” about the team I cheer for because of their playoff history, that would get me a bit more than peeved.

  6. joey4id - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    Hey! I’ve moved to So Cal just for the weather, but that never prevented me from doing my job. Great to live where you can visit snow when you want to as opposed to the obligatory dump every year in the northeast. Ski one day, and surf the next. Not bad! Eh!

  7. gbart22 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Yes it’s the fact that the fans are patient that is the problem. Really? Give me a break would you prefer the fans be more like fans in Toronto who call for everyone’s head year after year which in turns leaves owners caving to fan pressure and making changes constantly and thus restarting the whole process of rebuilding over and over and over and never really getting ahead? You fire someone if you don’t believe in their plan and their vision of the organization and that’s the only time.

  8. bleested - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    Cups have been won in Anaheim, LA, Tampa and Dallas. Sharks failure is on Wilson, not the city of SJ or NorCal.

    • skr213 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      The Sharks failure is on the players. Period. They’ve got more than enough talent on the ice and a good coaching system.

  9. hosewater2 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:14 PM

    The Sharks have fans, and they deserve better than Drew Remenda.

    • cybernetikghost - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      What’s wrong with Drew? I’m not a sharks fan but I like the guy. Then again, as far as California analysts, he will never be worse than Hayward. Even if he tried desperately.

      • hookersdontsnuggle - Jun 2, 2014 at 7:26 PM

        Randy and Drew are the best duo in the league.

  10. dolphincult - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    I think its a jab at Ryan Miller myself

  11. thedude1500 - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    Usually it’s the opposite. Guys want to play for a certain team, but they live somewhere else in the off-season.

  12. johnmr12 - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    They were a win away from beating the team that is trying to win their second cup in three years. To hear the fans and GM talk, they got blown out by the 8th seed. As a kings fan, I hope they press the panic button and get rid of a bunch of guys.

  13. hookersdontsnuggle - Jun 2, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    Minus a few players, they can also go out to eat and no one will recognize them.

  14. spitfisher - Jun 2, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    They, San Jose should have traded Thornton last year while he was worth ( to some teams) something for a great set up man- Not resign him for a premium franchise player and goal scorer- which he is not.. Why? simple he hasn’t performed to a level in post season year after year. Look at his playoff points and goals. how long has it been 12 years? Do you want a similar result next year? great keep him on your roster. When you front load a line or two with max salaries, that the sort of result you get, total meltdown with your leaders and payroll carrying the flag. Just ask Pittsburgh or Washington, same thing different coast.

    He’s your veteran marque player that quite simply does NOT get it done nor does he inspire players around him, why? simple because he never has, not in San Jose and certainly not in Boston.

    A wholesale change is needed at SJ and should have been done 4-5 years ago. The GM is addressing it with his statement…finally

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