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Now Thornton and Marleau are ‘part of the solution’ in San Jose

Aug 12, 2014, 10:05 AM EST

Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton AP

Turns out it’s all the media’s fault there’s been so much speculation about San Jose trading Joe Thornton and/or Patrick Marleau.

In an interview with NHL.com, Sharks coach Todd McLellan, like his boss did a month ago, tried to clarify the “rebuild” to which the team has apparently committed after blowing a 3-0 series lead versus the Kings in the first round of the playoffs.

“We want to reset the hierarchy and culture in the organization, and that’s really where the term rebuild came from,” said McLellan. “We feel we have a tremendous talent pool. We feel the players that are with our organization are part of the solution and not the problem now. As a staff, we talked about the ability to push and win as much as we can while we get younger, while we adjust the roles a little bit and give some of the younger players more responsibility.

“The term or the word used like that can be confusing at times. I think a lot of people, especially in the media, immediately went to, ‘Well, they’re going to trade Thornton and Marleau.’ That’s not the case. We believe that those two are part of the solution, not part of the problem. That got a lot of play media-wise. That’s not what we were about. We think we have a very good hockey club and we think we need to tinker with a few things and continue to push forward.”

We wrote about this last week during San Jose Sharks Day on PHT. Is the club being forced to do all this clarifying because the media did, indeed, jump to conclusions about Thornton and Marleau? Or, is all this clarifying actually backtracking after the pair of veteran forwards refused to waive their no-movement clauses?

We’ll leave that for you to decide.

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

  1. lowenni - Aug 12, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    What a mess. All they’re doing is bashing and making the stars that want to play there disgruntled, whether or not they’re playing well enough. To keep flip-flopping in the analysis of the direction of the team and what they’ll do with their vets is a mistake. I really admire thornton’s loyalty to the team while listening to his GM talk about trading him and getting younger and his coach talk about the possibility of stripping him of the ‘C’. His contract is actually reasonable for a player of his caliber and whether or not he’s performed in the playoffs he’s certainly helped get them there, and he’s a hell of a player when he’s on. If they give him up they give up the depth in the middle that was the only reason they were contenders, and if they trade him to “rebuild” there’s no bet that they’ll get anyone nearly as talented to replace him either in trade or draft. Absolute mess Doug Wilson has made, he’s assembled a good team but I think also is quietly one of the worst GMs in the League. Maybe not so quiet anymore, he needs to fix this pronto or players are gonna want out.

    • clintct9 - Aug 12, 2014 at 5:07 PM

      How is Doug Wilson one of the worst GMs when he has assembled an all star team? I am a die hard San Jose Sharks fan and I am behind Doug 100 percent. Despite the fact that every piece of merchandise I buy from them comes with a “warning choking hazard” tag on it, I will continue to support the organization. Doug Wilson brought the first all star talent to San Jose back in the 90’s when he arrived here as a player and he has since continued to build an all star caliber team during his reign as GM. I think shopping Thornton and Patty is a good idea because the honestly have choked every year with a good supporting cast by their side. They both made every fan in San Jose and every member of the organization disgruntled, so there is no fault in questioning each of their abilities. Besides, we all know where the future or this team lies

      In Hertl we trust

    • ferrall70 - Aug 12, 2014 at 6:47 PM

      Management has never ever based the “stars”, they made everyone accountable including the stars. In fact, management never mentioned any names and when people tried to fill in the blanks or put names, Wilson and McLellan quickly lumped everyone else in the discussion. They never flip flopped on the direction. They said there would be a rebuild within the locker room specifically. The one mistake made was given these guys contracts during the middle of the season instead of waiting and making them earn it. It might be a reasonable amount, but I think they should have taken less money to give the team more cap flexibility and to make a statement about winning. What their families can’t live on 5 million a year? Joe Thornton makes players around him better and Marleau is an elite goal scorer. These are two guys you want on your team just not at the forefront of the team.

      It is perplexing to me how anyone can think Doug Wilson is anything but one of the best GMs in hockey. How many teams boast ten years of making the playoffs and always fielding an elite team. HE did orchestrate the trade that got Thornton. He has added many pieces along the way. He has made many right calls that did not work out due to circumstances. He inherited a mess and within a year had the team on the Conference Finals when the prior owners wanted to cut costs. He has done an incredible job and fans should feel lucky to have a GM like Doug Wilson..10 years of making the playoffs says a lot. Maybe you would rather have Jay Feaster or ,many other GMs who have failed to build competitive teams for years…..

  2. hockey412 - Aug 12, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    Good damage control, and he’s probably right, they are both still good players. They are right there, every year, until they hit the brakes and fizzle, like the Pens. Maybe dropping Thornton and Marleau back a bit in terms of minutes and giving more responsibility to the up and comers is all it will take.

    If not, who cares, it’s California and the weather’s always awesome.

    • rmccleary97 - Aug 12, 2014 at 11:07 AM

      At least the Pens have a Cup to fall back on. Thornton and Marleau can’t even fall back on a trip to the Finals.

      On cutting minutes to those two: here’s the most productive Sharks in terms of TOI/point last season:

      Thornton – 20:26
      Pavelski – 20:36
      Hertl – 22:42
      Couture – 23:13
      Marleau – 24:02
      Burns – 24:10

      After that, it drops off to Wingels (32:39) and then it goes way down to Nieto (38:44), Sheppard (40:46) and then you’re into the defense. In other words: while it may sound great to say “play the big two less” you’re going to be hard-pressed to squeeze more out of the other forwards on those top-2 lines and the drop in production to the next group is quite noticeable (and unlikely to be made up even in part).

      • 19to77 - Aug 12, 2014 at 11:39 AM

        In support of that point, notice that the #2 and #3 players behind Thornton are Pavelski and Hertl – his regular linemates. Drop his production, you drop their production. Thornton, for all the crap people give him, is still the most offensively potent player the Sharks have. He doesn’t fill the back of the net, but he enables everyone else to do so far better than they could otherwise. Pavelski, as good as he is, is not a natural 40-goal scorer. He could never do that with an average centre. That was the Thornton pass at work.

        Thornton ALSO carries a huge chunk of the weight in the defensive zone and remains their best possession player at forward:

        http://www.fearthefin.com/2014/7/16/5910139/joe-thornton-is-still-san-joses-underrated-mvp

        For a guy who’s spend his entire San Jose career under fire, he’s STILL their biggest difference-maker in all three zones. Point is, Sharks fans may want to put away the wood and nails, because crucifying the team’s best player is a questionable way by which to improve a hockey team.

      • ferrall70 - Aug 12, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        Those are stats for last season. They do not give an indication of what will happen when players are thrust into a new situation with new responsibilities. I am surprised as to what people were confused about when Wilson said rebuild, it was about the cultural change from the start and some cosmetic fixes. The Sharks will not be relying on the old guard anymore, and now we will be able to see what this new core is willing to do.

  3. 19to77 - Aug 12, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    This has been a summer of comically awful public relations by the Sharks. First they overreact to the Kings series and throw out the one word you can never take back in hockey – “Rebuild.” Then, after calming the hell down and realizing what that word actually MEANS, they start rambling about “rebuilding our culture” and all but directly accuse the older players on the team of a lack of commitment. Then, after trying to deal Thornton and Marleau and finally learning what that “no-trade clause” thing his players always ask for does, Doug Wilson wept bitter tears for a week or so, and hey! Look! Right on time, here he is insisting to everyone who will listen that they are and always will be a core part of the team. What a mess. I’m sure all that talk of “being a tomorrow team” really helps inspire confidence and a winning culture in his players, too.

    • skr213 - Aug 12, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      Don’t forget the pathetic move of announcing “Ice Girls”.

      • ferrall70 - Aug 12, 2014 at 4:55 PM

        announcing ice Girls was actually a genius decision. Unless you’re a woman you should not have any issue with it. If you’re a guy who is affronted by it, I would find that extremely disturbing. And the facts are 7 of the top 10 hottest Ice Girl squads in the NHL are of teams that have won Stanley Cups….

      • skr213 - Aug 12, 2014 at 7:12 PM

        ^ said the guy who doesn’t have a daughter.

      • 19to77 - Aug 12, 2014 at 8:58 PM

        Ferrall, are you a paid yes man or do you just fellate the Sharks organization free of charge?

      • ferrall70 - Aug 12, 2014 at 10:09 PM

        19to77, when looking at the Sharks you may want to make sure a proctologist has reattached your head to your neck first. I do not get overly negative people. I try to be constructive and critical when necessary, but I know where the blame lies for this team’s failure in the playoffs and it is all on the players. Wilson built a great team and they failed to execute. And I do not understand why people believe what they read in print on these rumor monger sites, no one from the Sharks ever said that Wilson tried to trade Thornton or Marleau. WIlson only said he was reviewing all options. People can infer what they want from speculation I prefer to look at facts.

    • ferrall70 - Aug 12, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      Sharks did not overreact at all to the Kings series. They do not clean house. They kept their equanimity and kept most of the team in tact while jettisoning Stuart for draft picks (unbelievable that could find a sucker I mean a team to do that), they traded Boyle who is not the same player he once was. They added some grit with John Scott (same thing the Blackhawks did a few seasons ago to protect Kane and Toews). I am not sure what people thought Doug Wilson meant by rebuild. He could not have been any clearer about changing the culture which meant they looked at all possibilities but the first and foremost handing over the team to the younger core. He only had to clarify because people either were too obtuse to figure out what he meant or panicked because of the word he used. Yes in the past they used the word “refresh”, but now you are making a change at the core and that is a rebuild. It does not mean you going through a fire sale, it means you’re changing the culture. Why do people think Wilson ever tried to trade Thornton and Marleau? Because some hack reporters and magazines said so? You ask both of those guys and neither of them was ever asked to waive a no trade clause. Secondly, if they were asked, the team has many ways to get a player to accept a trade including demoting them and not playing them. 99% of players will move if they are not wanted and Joe Thornton’s agent, his brother, even came out and said Joe would move if not wanted. If the young core plays up to the level of expectations, then tomorrow will become today soon enough. You cannot call a team a team of today if they have zero equity and credibility and every player on that team knows they have zero credibility after what happened in the playoffs. Thornton and Marleau will have the longest season of their careers because they know there is only one time of the year they can get exorcise the demons…they will be judged in May and June.

      • 19to77 - Aug 12, 2014 at 5:34 PM

        Who do you think players meant when they talked about “coworkers instead of teammates”? When Wilson condemned “players that just live here,” who do you think he meant? Brad Stuart? Dan Boyle?

        Take a look at this: http://www.csnbayarea.com/sharks/wilson-adamant-sharks-are-entering-rebuilding-phase

        “That’s really the ultimate question,” Wilson said. “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.’ I may go to the next guy who has won a Cup. He says, ‘I’ve won a Cup, I want to be here, I want to be part of it.’ I may want to have him because he just fits.

        Who do you THINK he’s talking about, I ask you? Stuart and Boyle were the only ones aside from Niemi who HAD won the Cup, so they weren’t who he was criticizing. Wilson’s spent the summer talking about players who don’t play hard enough and guys who should consider moving on – meaning players with trade protection. Set that against the backdrop of all he’s said about rebuilding the culture and hierarchy of the team while McLellan publicly ponders what it would be like if the team stripped everyone of their letters for next season, and you get a pretty friggin’ stark conclusion. Take the blinders off, dude.

      • ferrall70 - Aug 12, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        Players did not feel there was a do whatever you can type of commitment or that there would be a lack of reciprocity on having your teammates back.

        I do not know who he was referring to, maybe he was nor referring to any players specficially. But Stuart definitely fit that description as he forced a trade from Detroit to move closer to home. So if Stuart were one of the players he was referring to I would completely buy into that.

        Wilson is talking about people who will buy into the system. He wants people who will commit to do whatever it takes to win including sacrifice ice time. He could be referring to free agents too, and it was probably speaking in general terms rather than specifics. Again people can infer what they want, I viewed what he said as open ended questions. Wilson was criticizing everyone, the whole team is responsible for the loss as McLellan said. Both Wilson and McLellan were quick to make sure that people understood that they were not calling out only Marleau and Thornton. This was a collective loss.

        I have blinders off, try not being so negative with the armageddon viewpoint. Wilson has done a good job for 10 years he will get this figured out. HIS track record says he knows what he is doing.

    • faulkingallstar - Aug 12, 2014 at 5:44 PM

      Its not about just THIS series this is like the 10th disappointing playoff run in a row for the sharks and both Thornton and Marleau were no wheres to be seen when it mattered most, like usual. At what point does Doug Wilson say enough already their has to be consequences. For a decade DW has changed the team around Marleau and Thornton because “there supporting cast was never good enough”. This playoffs there were 6 players with more points than Thornton and he had the worst +/- on the team. How is that at all acceptable? As a sharks fan who has been watching the sharks for a while now I can garauntee you the sharks will never make the finals with Thornton being our leader. His game style of waiting and waiting and waiting and passing is completely ineffective in the playoffs where everything is 2x as fast as the reg season. I could care less if hes the best player in the reg season. I’d take honestly take someone who actually shows up in the playoffs over him any day.

  4. bcsteele - Aug 12, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    All I’ll say is with all this distraction and pretty well the same roster I see them going no further next year.

    • ferrall70 - Aug 12, 2014 at 6:53 PM

      what distraction? the dynamic within the team has changed…..hopefully it lands on Go this time

  5. sanjosecupcrazy - Aug 12, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    What a clusterf***.

  6. 19to77 - Aug 12, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    And another thing – remember how Wilson said that a number of players mentioned “feeling more like co-workers than players” in their year-end interviews? What do those players feel now? Unless Dan Boyle was somehow the source of all animosity in the Sharks locker room (and I’m not even going to consider that ridiculous thought), everyone who made those accusations is there, and probably everyone who they made them ABOUT is still there. This is just about the same damn team. What message does it send to the players when Wilson drops these tirades about rebuilds and culture changes, only to do as close as he possibly could to NOTHING?

    • ferrall70 - Aug 12, 2014 at 6:58 PM

      There was no animosity within the locker room, Wilson never had said animosity. Wilson wants these guys to work out within the locker room and for the first time make everyone feel uncomfortable. This off-season was more about trying to shock some players and get them out of their comfort level. The fact is we will never know what was actually said or who it was aimed at, could be very well some players felt Boyle and Stuart needed to move on. How do you know what has transpired yet when the season has not started? The change that is going on is not visible to you and me. It is only palpable to the players. When you undertake a cultural change, the fans cannot see that. We can only judge it base on wins and losses and where they end up in April, May and June.

  7. canada2014gold - Aug 12, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Awkward

  8. mcflower29 - Aug 12, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    the names thornton & marleau and the term part-of-the-solution just doesn’t seem to mix.

  9. mattyjp84 - Aug 12, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    I thought losing to the Kings was depressing and embarrassing. Man the way DW has handeled this offseason is laughable.
    This is not a great summer to be a sharks fan. Maybe just maybe this horrible slide into the abyss will get him fired and allow this team to go into a different direction. Though I’m not sure who would be a good replacement. Which is why I think he is still around at all.

  10. skr213 - Aug 12, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    No. No, they’re not.

  11. pantherpro - Aug 12, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    This is the year Patty and Jumbo lift the Hardware. Who wants our first cup to be raised by anyone other than Joe? If you feel any different you have no soul. I get chills thinking of Jumbo raising that Cup at the tank next year. Best story in sports when it happens!

    Sharkie ‘s Bro

    • mcflower29 - Aug 12, 2014 at 5:51 PM

      you’ve been playing too many shark exhibition modes on your xbox

  12. 5colorcowboy - Aug 12, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    Such foolish lies.
    Until Jumbo and his Stellar Passing which has become the Culture of the sharks (pass-ive) leaves, no one will grow into strong finishers. Btw a pass is only good if it leads to a finish ,Sharks have never been ,a strong finisher .
    Jumbo is old news , Team Canada doesn’t need him . Mediocrity at best

    • 19to77 - Aug 12, 2014 at 4:45 PM

      Uh… sure, but what does that have to do with anything? Team Canada has Getzlaf, Giroux, Tavares, Stamkos, Crosby, Bergeron, Toews, Duchene, hell, MacKinnon now too. Give it a year or two and throw McDavid into the mix. Team Canada has a comical wealth of centres, because Team Canada has a comical wealth of everything. What’s your point?

    • ferrall70 - Aug 12, 2014 at 7:03 PM

      Joe Thornton is still and top tier forward. Any team that has him will be better, he just cannot be your best player or leader. He has turned many mediocre scorers into great scorers: Cheechoo and Glen Murray… And prior to this last post season, Thornton was at many times the most dominant player on the ice during the playoffs. Thornton now has a bona fide scorer (Hertl) that he can play with……Hertl can skate and play the up tempo style. I believe Marleau and Thornton can be part of the solution if their heads are in the right place and they follow the game plan. If they deviate and have me a first attitude, this could go south quickly. But I am open to seeing what happens this season.

  13. ronniethec - Aug 12, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    I disagree that this summer is not a good time to be a Sharks fan. After all, Shark Week just started on TV yesterday.

  14. sharksfan97 - Aug 12, 2014 at 7:32 PM

    My perspective is things really can only get better from here. Some might argue that missing the PO would be worse, however if SJ missed the PO, not only would they not suffer the same measure of humiliation as this year but they’d also get a higher first round pick in a great 2015 draft.

    Additionally, many argue this year’s Shark’s team will be more of the same. I differ. First, they should have Hertl for an entire season and Raffi Torres will also be healthy. For SJ, they both have been difference makers when healthy. For example, in games 1 and 2 against LA when Torres played healthy he was a force. After that Torres’ knee was so bad he said he was skating on one leg. With Hertl and Torres in the fold this year, plus young additions (depending on their play) of Mueller, Tierney and maybe even Goldobin (who I have been blown away by) the chips could, again I emphasize could, go SJ’s way. If not, I still love this team, they are always entertaining, something they weren’t when they played dead puck hockey under Sutter.

    • ferrall70 - Aug 12, 2014 at 10:22 PM

      Missing the playoffs with virtually the same team would be far worse. It would be the final epitaph on this team. These guys miss the playoffs it would validate no heart that people stereotype them with. As a professional athlete you need to bounce back from great adversity, not making the playoffs would be essentially tantamount to quitting. These guys can absolute re-write their legacies if they make the playoffs and go far into the playoffs, and if they won the Cup that would be the ultimate vindication. Missing the playoffs is not really an option for these guys. Although the culture is being changed, the core still remains. They need to do something about that failure. If last season’s ignominious flame out does not fuel these guys like nothing else ever has, then truly they do not have the inner fortitude to win.

      I agree with you that this year will not be the same despite same cast of characters. Wilson needs to follow his own comments about wait to see what this team can do when completely healthy. Neither Torres nor Hertl were anywhere near being healthy in the playoffs. They played on sheer guts.

      People should realize what the Sharks are capable of and games 1-3 definitely were not a figment of peoples’ imaginations. Sharks dismantled the Kings, then they self destructed. Anyone who thinks the Kings won the series more than the Sharks lost is kidding themselves and letting the Sharks off the hook. The Sharks lost that series. They were clearly a better team than the Kings, but the Kings won on determination and grit.

  15. gohawks7 - Aug 13, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    If the problem he is referring to is playoff success….then he must be smoking something. Patty and Jumbo are not the solution to any kind of playoff success…sorry. Both them fold in big games and completely disappear. They are great players, but they are limited to regular season and early series playoff success. When the games get important….these 2 guys are nowhere to be seen.

    Combined, in 39 game 6 & 7’s….they have 4 goals, 6 assists and -23.
    In 29 elimination games…they have 3 pts and -13.

    Those are trends that do not reverse themselves. They show a lack of heart, guts and determination when the team needs them most. If this is his “solution”, then we will all be here again in 9 months pulling our hair out. GUARANTEED!

    • ferrall70 - Aug 13, 2014 at 8:11 PM

      These are humans not robots, of course they can reverse themselves. Barry Bonds was one of the worst playoff performers of all time until the 2002 season, I am not suggesting that Thornton and Marleau cheat and take steroids (or maybe I am), but a person can easily reverse a trend especially when it is a mental issue more than a physical.

      And your stats are wrong or we have a different understanding of what an elimination game is, Marleau alone has twice as many points in elimination games as you cited. An elimination game is a game in which either team can go home if they lose.

      No hockey player shows a lack of heart so I hope stop saying that sort of absurd stuff. marleau and Thornton have both played through severe injuries during the playoffs so clearly they have the heart. You cannot play hockey and lack guts, just not possible., It is a dangerous sport where you can have a career threatening or life threatening injury at any point in time. Fans need to stop with the hyperbole and BS and talk straight. These guys lack the mental fortitude to take it to another level when other people around them are able to find another gear even though they may not have as much talent. This is a mental thing that these guys need to work out.

      Stats do not tell the story always. How about face-offs and puck possession, there have been times where Thornton has clearly been the best and most dominant player on the ice during the playoffs, he had a lousy series against LA…a lousy series. We will never know what happened or what goes through his mind until he speaks about it.

      Sharks did do a good thing this off-season they assigned real accountability, but what they need to do is force these players to talk about the loss especially Thornton and Marleau make them feel real uncomfortable. Everyone hasa pressure point and maybe if they have to address failure long enough, they will be get sick of it and find a way to push through it.

      marleau and Thornton can be part of the solution absolutely. They however are the not the sole answers and cannot lead.

  16. kenover - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:12 AM

    Thornton and Marleau ARE the problem. Their post-season production is pitiful, their attitudes are complacent, and neither one took any responsibility for the disastrous loss in the playoffs. Leadership doesn’t only apply when you’re winning; you have to step up and be accountable when you’re losing – not whine and moan. Strip both of their letters and let them earn them back – or leave. With virtually no changes in the roster, this season is sure to be a repeat of last year. Or worse.

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