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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

65102_sharks_blake_retirement_hockey-dougwilson

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.

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