Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,
There have been few players in the offseason NHL headlines more than Joe Thornton, who was first the subject of rampant trade rumors and later stripped of the club’s captaincy after four seasons when management made it clear there was an issue in the dressing room that reared its head in the playoff debacle against Los Angeles. Don’t expect the attention surrounding Thornton to die down any time soon, either, as the Sharks will attempt to fix the self-identified problem with essentially the same group.
Whether than can be done is debatable, and it’s not a reach to suggest that the fate of the Sharks’ 2014-15 season hinges on how Thornton adjusts to a role change both on and off the ice. Sharks associate coach Larry Robinson suggested in an interview earlier this summer that not everyone in the dressing room was receptive to the affable Thornton’s brand of humor, so maybe easing off a bit in that department is a good place for him to start.
It’s wholly unfair to blame Thornton alone the Sharks’ dressing room problems, though.
Why didn’t the younger players that had an issue with his approach go either to him, or the head coach, or the general manager to relay that there was a problem? The Sharks want to turn the team over to the younger core of Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, but the fact that none of those players (or others) were able to repair the rift doesn’t exactly reflect positively upon them, either.
from David Pollak of the Mercury News,
Tortora, the team's top business executive, discussed other aspects of the team's finances in a wide-ranging, exclusive interview.
He said the Sharks finished roughly $10 million in the red last season, an improvement over the previous two years but still not the sustainable business model sought by owner Hasso Plattner, who covered nearly all of that loss in what has become an annual cash call.
To better its economic picture, the team is hoping to improve its long-term TV deal with its broadcast partner, Comcast. Those talks have been continuing, Tortora said, and Comcast "remains receptive to working with us."
One report earlier had suggested that if the Sharks continue to suffer financial losses, the team would consider moving from San Jose with a new arena near Levis' Stadium in Santa Clara as one potential option.
Tortora again played down that likelihood, saying "our focus has been to figure out a long-term solution to stay in San Jose." While the team does not see the need for a new arena, he added, it is important to work cooperatively with the city "to figure out a way to maintain and fund the necessary capital repairs that a 21-year-old facility needs."
from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,
... Whew. The summer sure hasn't gone the way that the Sharks wanted, has it?
"It's gone exactly the right way we wanted," Wilson told me on the phone the other day.
See? There's where we all might get confused.
But during a lengthy and healthy discussion of all these matters, Wilson finally figured out a different way to frame his message. Or maybe he finally just said out loud what he has been thinking all along.
"I really want people on this team who are comfortable feeling uncomfortable," Wilson said. "That includes the general manager, the coaches and the players."
In that case, mission accomplished.
Heck, even as a lowly journalist trying to explain the Sharks, I don't feel comfortable telling you what exactly is going to happen this winter or if the team can still put together a decent run at a playoff spot. But I'm comfortable with that. I guess. I think.
This much, I do know: Wilson has given his coach a challenging task.
from Eric Gilmore at NHL.com,
How will the Sharks respond after their stunning first-round loss? -- The Sharks were humiliated after losing four straight games to the Kings. Most likely, they'll use that meltdown as motivation.
"The way we ended was disappointing to say the least, but it's something that we're going to have to look into the mirror, each one of us, and look to each other and all start pushing in the same direction," defenseman Jason Demers said.
"I think we still have that team that can go all the way."
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
With a talented group of centers that includes Thornton, Couture and Pavelski, the Sharks remain stacked down the middle, a tremendous asset for any NHL team. Nolan likes the fact that, despite the shock of last April’s hasty exit, the Sharks did not tear down the entire roster in a knee-jerk reaction.
“I’m sure everyone is disappointed in the way they were put out of the playoffs, but I like the way they didn't panic,” Nolan said. “This team, as a whole, is a good hockey team. They didn't panic. They didn't blow the whole thing up.”
“I believe this is a solid hockey team that can win,” Nolan said. “We'll see how they approach [last season's playoff loss]. Hopefully, they don't dwell on it, but feed off of not wanting that to happen.”
Nolan thinks that will be an earnest point of emphasis once camp opens next month -– learning from mistakes of years past, avoiding the reputation of a team that can't deliver when it counts.
“You certainly don't want to be recognized as going out early,” Nolan said. “You'll have that [sick] feeling in your stomach of not wanting to go out that way again.”
"It's never an easy decision, and it's not the only decision, but there was definitely a shake-up needed. Especially after being up 3-0 and then losing four straight to a team that we should have never lost to. You always look to your leaders and we certainly look to all our top players, not just Joe and not just Patrick, but all of our top players as a whole and when you have one goal, two assists and collectively a minus-29 in your final four games, you have to start looking to shake things up a little bit."
-San Jose Sharks associate coach Larry Robinson on removing the 'C' and 'A' from Thornton and Marleau. Robinson appeared on TSN690 today in Montreal and Fear The Fin has more from Robinson.
from Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,
From the outside, particularly from some media that aren’t regularly in the dressing room or coach’s office, the team has been on the receiving end of some pretty harsh criticism. Some of it is certainly warranted. The Sharks were unable to trade either Thornton or Marleau, and signing the pair to three-year contract extensions with no trade clauses now seems like a mistake. At the very least, Wilson should have left himself with some flexibility there, or made them prove they had what it took to lead a team to another deep playoff run before re-upping them.
There’s more. If a guy like Joe Pavelski is eventually named captain (and he’s probably the best bet), it might cause an awkward situation in that he’ll have two former team captains sitting just a few feet away from his locker stall. The team didn’t add anyone of note other than bruiser John Scott, who likely won’t even be in the lineup half the time. A strong argument can be made, too, that the Sharks only needed to add a few pieces to a team that pushed the eventual Stanley Cup champs to seven games.
But much of that condemnation tends to conveniently forget or gloss over the issue in the dressing room, and that really is the biggest issue of all. Had there not been some sort of change, there’s no reason to believe that the Sharks wouldn’t flame out in the playoffs again, as they have so many times in the past.
via tweets from David Pollak,
SJSharks says Raffi Torres will miss first few months of season after repeat surgery on right knee because of infection.
And McLellan confirms #SJSharks will have no captain or assistants when training camp starts.
McLellan doesn't call it a "stripping" of the captaincy, says competition will be open and Thornton, like anyone else, a candidate.
added 6:10pm, San Jose Sharks release on Raffi Torres is below...
Outdoor hockey is returning to California for a second straight season, the National Hockey League announced Wednesday. This season's game features two teams which have become quite familiar with each other in recent years.
The San Jose Sharks will be the home team against the Los Angeles Kings at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara on Feb. 21, 2015 at 7 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET) as part of the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. The game will be broadcast by NBCSN and Hockey Night in Canada.
No two teams in the NHL have played against each other more than the Sharks and Kings have since the start of the 2010-11 season. They have played 41 games, including the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in the past three seasons, highlighted by seven-game series in each of the past two postseasons.
added 12:04pm, NHL release below plus logo for the game...
By Michael Shackil,
Levi’s Stadium will be the next big venue to host an NHL Stadium Series game during the upcoming 2014-2015 season. While the stadium held its first official sporting event last Saturday when soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes welcomed the Seattle Sounders, it was confirmed the stadium will play host to a February 21 game between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. This all comes after speculation surfaced following primary ticket outlet Ticketmaster.com leaking a subtle hint on Saturday, posting a link that allowed fans to purchase tickets for the Coors Light Stadium Series game in late February at Levi’s Stadium. The link has since been removed, but Ticketmaster’s brief slip-up suggested the since confirmed big event in the inaugural year of California’s newest stadium.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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