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McLellan doesn’t rule out stripping Thornton of ‘C’

Jun 28, 2014, 12:29 PM EDT

Patrick Marleau Joe Thornton AP

The San Jose Sharks had three players who wore a ‘C’ or ‘A’ on their jerseys in 2013-14. Joe Thornton was the captain, while Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle were alternates.

And then San Jose blew a 3-0 series lead versus the Kings. Since that point, trade rumors have been swirling around Thornton and Marleau, the club cut ties with free-agent Boyle, and one newspaper columnist wrote that the Sharks might be “having a bit of a nervous breakdown right now.”

So it hasn’t been a whole lot of fun for general manager Doug Wilson, who was furious with his team after the collapse versus Los Angeles.

But Wilson is limited in what he can do. Both Thornton and Marleau have no-movement clauses and don’t want to leave San Jose, where they’re under contract through 2016-17.

That said, the pair of veterans may have to accept a leadership demotion, for lack of a better phrase, if they do stay.

“What would happen if nobody wore a letter on our team this year? Not a single guy?” head coach Todd McLellan said today, per ESPN.com. “What if nobody wore a letter? We’d still be the San Jose Sharks and we’d be a leadership group. What would happen?”

McLellan answered his own question: “I don’t know.”

Clearly, the Sharks feel something has to be done. Per Yahoo Sports, Wilson “has said some players told him in exit interviews that they felt like co-workers more than teammates.”

And that stands in stark contrast to what the Kings were saying after they won their second Stanley Cup in three years.

“We like each other. We love each other,” said overtime hero Alec Martinez. “L.A.s the only thing I’ve ever known, being drafted here. But from what guys say that have played elsewhere, what we have here is pretty special, in terms of guys really liking each other, and that’s a testament to [general manager Dean Lombardi] putting together a group of guys like that.”

Talk about a knife twisting in Wilson’s back.

It’s going to be an interesting offseason in San Jose.

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