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Columnist: Sharks are ‘having a bit of a nervous breakdown right now’

Jun 19, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT

Doug Wilson AP

The San Jose Sharks might be the most intriguing team of the NHL offseason. And that says a lot, because there are a lot of intriguing teams out there. But here are just a few of the things we’re wondering about San Jose:

Does general manager Doug Wilson really believe his 111-point squad needs a rebuild? Or, is it just a way to force Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau to waive their no-trade clauses and move on? Because 111-point teams that come within a game of eliminating the Stanley Cup champs don’t typically need to be torn down.

Also, how much of what Wilson is saying has to do with the Sharks’ first-round loss to the Kings — a series San Jose led 3-0 — and how much has to do with the club’s financial picture?

Heck, how much of this is just Wilson’s anger and embarrassment talking?

Whatever the answers to those questions, columnist Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News thinks the Sharks might be “having a bit of a nervous breakdown right now, under financial and competitive pressure.”

The revamping of the roster has to happen because the Sharks can’t hold back all re-tooling just for that one Cup run when they’ve finally concluded that their most famous guys aren’t destined to lead anybody to a Cup.

Also, behind the scenes, it has been presumed for a few years now that the Sharks will be seeking a new arena very soon to replace SAP Center, which is almost always sold out and is a fine place to see a game but just doesn’t have the mega-revenue-generating features of the new wave of buildings.

I’ve heard for a while now that there is room in Santa Clara near Levi’s Stadium for a hockey arena and that there might have already been some informal conversations about the Sharks’ situation.

The Sharks are also reportedly trying to renegotiate their local TV deal, their financial losses, despite a passionate fan base and strong attendance figures, being nothing new. Fortunately, the club has an owner in Hasso Plattner with extremely deep pockets. And while the business may lose money on operations, franchise values of sports teams have skyrocketed in recent years.

Anyway, the latest rumor has Thornton interested in joining the New York Rangers, and only the New York Rangers.

We have a feeling it won’t be the last Sharks-related scuttlebutt of the summer.

  1. skr213 - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    Media made drama. The “rebuild” means trading Zen Joe and/or Marleau, not resigning Boyle, and allowing the younger guys to step into leadership roles (i.e. Couture will likely wear the C next year).

    • btlpper68 - Jun 19, 2014 at 2:19 PM

      Exactly by “rebuild” people think like hertl couture vlasic are getting traded. Settle down the team is just moving on from veterans that haven’t got it done

    • blomfeld - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:31 PM


      Prior to this year’s playoffs, I personally never had anything against either the Sharks or their fans. In fact, I always thought that they were kind of a ‘cool’ team and I viewed them as being ‘honorable’ WC brothers. But ever since our ‘glorious’ victory over them in round one this year, that’s now all ‘completely’ changed ! Yes sir ! Wilson makes me ‘positively’ sick, I find their fan’s behavior (Sharksfan66, Sharksfan88, Sharksfan99, etc) to be consistent with that of ‘vermin’ and quite frankly I hope that they relocate this ‘junk’ franchise to Alcatraz Island where it belongs !

      *** “it was apparently Wilson’s desire to ‘humiliate’ the Kings” … Bloomberg Sports News

      So you wanna ‘retool’ Wilson ? … okay, then start by retooling ‘yourself’ you human junk !

      • skr213 - Jun 20, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        pot kettle black on your point about fans.

  2. lowenni - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    I don’t quite understand this rebuild either. Yes, they’ve failed to live up to expectations, but they were also considered a contending team by many and they had a pretty loaded roster. I totally understand and mostly agree with moving on from Boyle, Marleau, and Thornton, but they should be getting back real good pieces if they move Marleau or Thornton. They still have Hertl, Couture, Pavelski, Vlasic and more to build around. They don’t need to blow everything up. They need to refresh, get younger, but the idea of completely “rebuilding” the team with the core they have seems like an overreaction to me. They don’t want to trade away too much.

    • skr213 - Jun 19, 2014 at 4:16 PM

      they’re not going to “blow everything up” and will keep those younger players you named. That’s why this is all just media driven drama.

    • 2timestanleycupchamps - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:38 PM

      its hard to live up to playoff expectations when you are skating with one hand around your neck. the sharks are a bunch of ‘chokers’ and will never win anything with this group. for another team to say they could see it in their eyes they were scared says more than any fan… those are their peers, the people they are competing against who pretty much called out the sharks saying they have no ‘sack’ have fun having another 100 point season and losing in the first round

  3. McFaddensPulledHammy - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    Don’t get why Wilson is blowing it up. They were up 3-0. They lost their best defensemen in Game 5 of that series. Not saying that M-E V would have won the series for them, but it’s hard to lose your best D man and win a series.

    Now if he thinks the team will not get over the hump with the roster currently constructed, that’s a different story.

    Why would the Rangers want Thornton? Oh, yeah. They could pair him with Nash and watch both of them wilt under the pressure of the playoffs.

    • stakex - Jun 19, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      Well it could be argued that even an over the hill Thornton is a far better center than anyone the Rangers have going into next season, and his puck moving ability could help both Rick Nash and the Rangers power play. I have to admit, a Nash/Thornton/Kreider line would be fun to watch, if they clicked.

      Of course, that’s all fantasy. Even if that rumor was true, which appears to be a pretty big if, and the Rangers were actually interested…. the numbers just don’t work at all. Not only do the Rangers not have the cap space to take on another big contract if they want to keep most of their key free agents, but what trade assets do they even have to send the other way? Lets not forget that the Rangers don’t have a 1st round pick this year or next, and the prospect pool is looking a bit thin.

  4. mshantz22 - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Everybody needs to realize that SJ needs to do a lot better in the playoffs this year for Wilson / McClellan to keep their jobs. Their roster is a bit stale. Some big changes need to be made to the SJ roster, but they have enough pieces to do this moving Thornton and Marleau for some younger guys / defense would be a good start. Not the biggest fan of Niemi, but goaltending probably isn’t the biggest problem the Sharks face.

  5. hookersdontsnuggle - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    As a sharks fan, this entire article worries me. I don’t want a rebuild and I don’t want a new shark tank.

  6. pjblake2redwings - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    no loyalty to the 3 biggest reasons this team has been so great in all their years. Trying to trade Jumbo Joe, no giving Boyle a contract when he played great last yr and talking about tradeing Marleau.. If I was Marleau I would have wanted out since the slap in the face of stripping him of his “C” now to do that to Joe.. smh

    • dreadpiratesteve - Jun 19, 2014 at 6:54 PM

      You mean having no loyalty to the guys who have made them the hockey equivalent of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride?”

  7. sirclinksalot - Jun 19, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    I’m a Kings fan, but I have a LOT of friends who are sharks fans. I don’t think they need to blow up the team, but it’s obvious they have a leadership problem. Our captain gets a LOT of crap because his on-ice stats may not be as high as most other captains, but he’s the leader of the team and that’s what the Sharks need.
    As far as getting some other players on the same line (saw the Thornton trade rumor to the Rangers), I think the Rangers are looking at what the Brown/Kopitar/Gaborik line did in the playoffs, which was amazing. But without “That 70’s Line” I doubt it would have been as big of an impact.
    Plus, is there REALLY anybody on the Rangers that would be worth the Thornton trade? I mean, there’s no direct 1:1 comparison and you don’t want the cap hit that would get the Sharks Nash.

    If Thornton only wants to go to the NYR the Sharks are either going to have to keep him or work out a 3-way trade with another team. Why Thornton wants to go to NYR is beyond me though. They aren’t getting back to the finals anytime soon.

    • DED - Jun 19, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      Rangers re-sign Boyle then trade him and Richards for Thornton. Ok, I know that’s insane, but what the hell else can I do right now but wildly speculate.

  8. sjsharks66 - Jun 19, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    Wilson sucks, they really need to ditch him. Time to start fresh with the staff.

    • skr213 - Jun 19, 2014 at 4:19 PM

      Would like to hear the exact signings and trades you believe he should have made that he didn’t? Would like to hear the exact contracts that he signed that you would have done differently? You always bag on him, but I never see you provide anything realistic that you would like to see done differently.

  9. phtjoey - Jun 19, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    rebuild, re-tool, or tweaking…. they need to make major changes. what happened over the course of the 82 game schedule becomes irrelevant when you disappoint and get an early boot out of the playoffs.

  10. spitfisher - Jun 19, 2014 at 5:31 PM

    rebuild, re-tool, or tweaking…. they need to make major changes. what happened over the course of the 82 game schedule becomes irrelevant when you disappoint and get an early boot out of the playoffs.

    Multiply that times 13 years with Thorton, does everyone see a pattern here?

  11. rupp246 - Jun 19, 2014 at 6:27 PM

    Sir stinks a lot, who r u kidding! The rangers will have a better team than last year. With just needing a few adjustments, they will definitely have a better regular season record than last year. Also they would take Thornton in a heartbeat if they can swing it.

    • pastabelly - Jun 20, 2014 at 8:08 AM

      The Rangers? Ha Ha!!! They have salary cap problems and will be dumping players and not taking on anybody new. At this point, the Rangers will have to scramble to sign Boyle and they’ll have to let Nash go and buy out Brad Richards.

  12. jkaflagg - Jun 19, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    Job # 1 – find a goalie. While it’s true Niemi has a Stanley Cup ring, it seems more and more than the Black Hawks knew that he was an average goalie on a great team when they let him go – and nothing we’ve seen in SJ that would change that opinion.

    As far as “leadership” goes, guys like Pavelski, Couture and Vlasic seem up to the task – but sometimes it’s harder for them to assert themselves with veterans like Marleau, Thornton, Burns and Boyle in the room. It’s easy to say “just get rid of those guys”, but you are not likely to get comparable players in return and you can fall behind quickly in the rugged Western Conference. And although the Sharks have done an admirable job finding and developing supporting players, their success has has kept them away from the top of the draft, where the Drew Doughtys and Jonathan Toews are found…..and it’s tough to win without your best players taking the lead.

    So it’s gonna be a challenge….I say keep the veterans unless you get a really good deal, FIND THE GOALIE, and hang in there…..

    • comeonnowguys - Jun 20, 2014 at 9:14 AM

      Blackhawks did play that perfectly, looking back in hindsight. At the time, he wanted $4M, Blackhawks clearly couldn’t pay him that, but still offered him (before he left) more than what he wound up initially getting from the Sharks.

      They kept the right player (Hjalmarrson) and didn’t overpay. Key move in the Hawks “rebuild” of 2011.

  13. gohawks7 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    It’s not just that they blew a 3-0 lead…it’s HOW they blew it. And it’s the same reason year after year. No pressure players….can’t win when opponents get physical….and they lack heart. If they didn’t lose to LA….they would have lost to Ana or Chi after going up 2-0 against either of them.

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