Aug 6, 2014, 10:48 AM EDT
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.
Oct 31, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT
This one got a little testy.
Oct 31, 2014, 10:03 PM EDT
No penalty on the play, for those wondering. Appeared clean all the way.
Oct 31, 2014, 9:34 PM EDT
Oct 31, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT
Folks continue to rally around Mr. Hockey.
Oct 31, 2014, 8:44 PM EDT
What is going on with the defending champs?
Oct 31, 2014, 8:13 PM EDT
He’s on the left in that photo. Doing what his old man used to do.
Oct 31, 2014, 7:36 PM EDT
Has been on quite a roll down in Utica.
Oct 31, 2014, 7:04 PM EDT
Meanwhile, sounds like Carter Ashton makes his season debut.
Oct 31, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT
The hit occurred seconds before Vancouver scored.
Oct 31, 2014, 6:07 PM EDT
Hasn’t played since Oct. 8.
Oct 31, 2014, 5:36 PM EDT
Could play Saturday against Washington.
Oct 31, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
At the same time, Claude Julien admits the B’s “are still trying to find that confidence level that comes with winning on a regular basis.”
Oct 31, 2014, 4:14 PM EDT
All the latest from the blue paint.
Oct 31, 2014, 3:10 PM EDT
“I just haven’t come to that decision yet.”
Oct 31, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT
When Philly takes on the Panthers in Florida.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
Veteran forward is hurt again.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT
On a professional tryout contract.
Oct 31, 2014, 1:57 PM EDT
Former 13th overall pick doesn’t want to comment on trade rumors.
Oct 31, 2014, 1:48 PM EDT
Club is dealing with a team-wide bacterial infection.
Oct 31, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT
“He was the bettor. He bet on football games.” And that, according to Steve Bartlett, is all he did.
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