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Trying to make sense of the ‘rebuild’ in San Jose

Aug 6, 2014, 10:48 AM EDT

Patrick Marleau Joe Thornton AP

San Jose general manager Doug Wilson has always maintained that any conversations he had with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau would remain private. So it’s impossible to conclude, exactly, what’s been said between the club and the two veterans since the Sharks blew a 3-0 series lead versus the Kings in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.

That said, a lot of people have hazarded a guess. Because, in public, Wilson has thrown out cryptic comments like, “I want players that want to play here, not just live here,” and, “I don’t want to put a name on you, but you’re a guy that hasn’t won, had a long career, you want to go win. You might say, ‘this doesn’t fit for me.’”

Combine those remarks with the Sharks’ decision to not re-sign veteran Dan Boyle and to trade another veteran, Brad Stuart, and then consider Wilson’s stated intention to “turn the team over to the younger core, make some tough decisions, clarify our culture and the hierarchy of our team,” and you’d be excused if your conclusion was this:

Wilson wanted to trade Thornton and Marleau. Except the two players, each of whom hold a no-movement clause, refused to go.

(And you could hardly blame them for refusing to be forced out. The Sharks had only just re-signed the pair in January, giving each player a three-year contract that Wilson said at the time “fit with our team building philosophy.” Translation: they could’ve received more on the open market, but they really wanted to stay in San Jose, so they took a hometown discount.)

In July, Wilson was left to try and clarify the “rebuild.” Or maybe a better word for it was backtracking?

“I can understand when people say there are different types of rebuild,” he told the Mercury News. “We’re not going to finish last to try and draft people first or second. This is not something this franchise can do, because we already have some good players in key positions. You’re not going to see us with 50 points next year — we’re too good a team for that.”

Instead, Wilson said the Sharks intended to rebuild their culture and become a more tightly knit group — a plan that includes giving more leadership responsibilities to young players like Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun.

Where does that leave Thornton and Marleau? Hard to say. But it would be a surprise if Thornton were still wearing a ‘C’ and Marleau an ‘A’ come the start of the season.

Could that make for an awkward dynamic in the dressing room? Yep, it could. And that could be a distraction.

On the other hand, it could also turn out for the best. There are many who believe Wilson overreacted to the loss, devastating as it was, to the Kings, who went on to win their second Stanley Cup in three years. After all, the Boston Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead in 2010 and came back to win it all in 2011.

Granted, the Bruins didn’t have the history of postseason disappointments that the Sharks have. But San Jose was a very good team in the 2013-14 regular season. Its reward for finishing with 111 points? A match-up with Los Angeles. Which was a bit unlucky.

At any rate, San Jose is going to be a very interesting team to watch next season. And assuming the Sharks make the playoffs, which they should, an even more interesting team to watch then.

  1. thewaytonever - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    It will only be interesting in that it will be a question of when and how we choke this time.

  2. btlpper68 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    Doug prob did try and move them, and if he did it’s his fault he couldn’t becusse he hands those NTC out like candy on Halloween. It’s not a rebuild but more like dropping old dead weight and filling those spots wih youth

    • pjblake2redwings - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      dead weight?? Jumbo Joes 76 pts and Marleaus 70 pts last season is dead weight ? smh. I will take both in Detroit anyday of the week

      • bcdanby - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        I’ll take dustin browns 27pts and drew doughty’s 37pts in San Jose, over Marleau and Thorton because they just don’t have any effort in the post season. So, take em out in detroit, maybe they’d be a good fit on that team, or maybe detroit would be the best team in the NHL and then choke in the playoffs!

      • desertfan - Aug 7, 2014 at 6:22 AM

        Do you guys realize the talent in these two ???

        Measure the last 5 years vs say Toews and Kane.

        Or Getz and Perry.

        Putting the playoff losses on these two is unfair. Coaching, others etc.

        Two unbelievably talented guys.

        You should be thankful.

  3. btlpper68 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    Take a shot for everytime the word “choke” gets used in any of the shark article comment boxes today

    • nightfireop - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      i would be so wasted if i took up this offer .. lol

    • 19to77 - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:29 AM

      Ritualized suicide by alcohol poisoning. I like it.

  4. pantherpro - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    The cup goes through SJ this year !

    Jumbo Joe

    • nightfireop - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      oh really? is there a kings parade route running a course through san jose that i haven’t heard of?

    • svenme7 - Aug 7, 2014 at 3:02 AM

      Here is what happens to Sharks

  5. bsaures - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    I can tell you why they were not traded its pretty obvious how likely do you think they would have got anything close to what their value is in trade offers.

    • govtminion - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      At face value, probably true. But what looks like a bad trade at the time can sometimes be the turning point for a team to start that rebuilding process- in fact, if you want a good example, I’ll go with the last time Joe Thornton was traded somewhere. It’s not like the Bruins became a powerhouse overnight after he left town- in fact, it was YEARS- but it was a defining moment for the team on its way to the rebuilding process. It meant the team went a different direction, towards guys like Chara and Bergeron who eventually brought the team around- not sure they’d have been able to do any of that (especially bringing in Chara) had they kept Thornton.

    • jeremycrowhurst - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:55 PM

      What exactly is the value of a couple of 35 year-olds making $7M per season?

      Cap-killers can sell you tickets, but won’t get you anywhere in the playoffs.

    • gp424 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:51 PM

      It really depends what values other teams put on playoff chokers. Being honest what team that actually wants to wins Stanley cup would trade for them?

  6. ballistictrajectory - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    …Bruins didn’t have the history of postseason disappointments…

    Really? Do look back more than a couple of years next time…. There’s a reason why there’s a rivalry with Montreal and most of that is postseason disappointments.

    • Jason Brough - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      Yeah, I meant that particular Bruins squad. I don’t think anybody expected Chiarelli to blow it up because the 1979 team got caught with too many men on the ice.

      • ballistictrajectory - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        or the 1971 team ran into a Dryden… Something something in the 50’s, 40’s 30’s etc.

        The problem with the Sharks is the same one that dogged the B’s this past playoff. Overconfidence leading to underperformance. It’s a recurring theme with both teams.

      • govtminion - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:24 PM

        A Cup championship, another trip to the Finals two years later, the core of those teams still intact (more or less)… if they’re confident, it looks to me like they’d have pretty good reason to be.

        By comparison, let’s look back over the last… what, decade, I guess, and see what the Sharks have to show in the Thornton/Marleau era. There’s a trip to the Western finals in there… and…?

  7. cantescapekarma - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    Man, that really is some BS in my opinion – talk a couple of good veteran players into taking a home town discount to stay in San Jose. Then just a few months later try to trade them to some other team. They took a discount in what they’re paid because they wanted to be in San Jose. Now Wilson’s trying to trade that discounted contract to some other team (and place that they did not take that discount to play). Wilson should have just let them hit free agency then, or traded then before the new contract. I would I agine that this kind of crap by a GM will keep players away. Players do talk and I think that was a pretty crappy thing Wilsn tried to pull… Just because he is having a melt down after that loss in the playoffs (well, 4 losses in a row…).

    • gp424 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:55 PM

      Wish I could get a hometown discount where I get a raise and guarantee salary at my job. You say hometown discount I say without the no movement clauses they leave SJ and that my friend is not a discount

  8. billiam55 - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    i don’t get the john scott signing. not sure if thats part of a rebuild. tbh, there doesn’t need to be a rebuild. they had a great season but choked in the playoffs.

  9. vodkkajane - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    Honestly- and maybe I’m a bit biased being a Stars girl and all…but it certainly sounds like what Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff did in Dallas last year- other teams are taking note…. Rebuilding and putting together a new young team that can develop together- and also bring in a new wave of marketing to the people! :) I’m excited to see what both teams do this year!

    • govtminion - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:29 PM

      It worked remarkably well there- if not for the flashy show the Avalanche put on, the Stars and Blue Jackets would be the turnaround stories of the year in the 2014 season. I’ll be very interested to see if those three keep it up this year- and who follows suit in turning into a strong team this year.

  10. ronniethec - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    The Sharks are still a top 3 team in their division and a top 5 team in the western conference. There is no doubt that they will make the playoffs again. And there is no doubt that they will be beaten in the first or second round, probably by the Kings or Ducks. Why is this? Sub par GM and coach. Because they are the Sharks. And because the Kings will probably repeat.

  11. jkaflagg - Aug 6, 2014 at 4:08 PM

    The Thornton/Marleau issue is tough, because whatever else anyone thinks, they are very good hockey players. But the team does need to be led by the Pavekski/Coutoure/Vlasic group, and that could have happened if Wilson was not so quick to re-sign them….on the other hand, with another goal or two they get past LA and who knows what happens – that’s why it,’s all so frustrating for Sharks fans….

    One thing most can agree on, however…..they need an upgrade in goal. Niemi seems to be established as a solid goalie but not one who can steal a few games that are needed to battle through the Western Conference playoffs…and not sure if anyone is sold on Stalock.

  12. flyerspsu - Aug 6, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    not a “rebuild”, its a possible “retool”, they are still going to have at the very least Pavelski, Couture, Vlasic, Hertl, Hamhuis, and at least 1 and probably 2 of Burns, thornton and Marleau, they are going to make some tweaks w/ their core, not anything overwhelming like so many people are assuming

  13. skr213 - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    Where’s 66?? Fire Wilson!!

  14. gp424 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:59 PM

    Sounds like Jason is bucking for a job at the San Jose mercury news or in the Sharks with his hard hitting critical article. Another excuse filled article by a so-called writer

  15. kenover - Aug 7, 2014 at 3:55 AM

    Fire Doug Wilson first. He’s the one who signed these two over-the-hill, perennial chokers to new three-year, no trade contracts before the playoffs. Now you’d have to pay another team to take them and their bloated salaries off your hands. Thornton and Marleau should be demoted, at the very least, and the Sharks should give the C to Logan Couture. He’s the only player who stepped up and showed some heart in the disastrous rout. Thornton and Marleau never accepted any responsibility for the losses; they just whined and moaned. Not exactly leadership qualities!

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