Kukla's Korner Hockey
"Joe's not going anywhere. Joe is a San Jose Shark."
"He and I have not only a contractual agreement, but a handshake agreement. As I say, our relationship is extremely strong. I know Joe. I appreciate him. I've known him since the world juniors. I care about him a lot. He knows how I feel about him. I was actually complimenting him and supporting him when I was talking to our season-ticket holders."
San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson. Read more on this topic from Katie Strang of ESPN.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Many have been waiting for this moment in San Jose all season: the moment where the seams so tightly sewn by Wilson and the rest of the team come slowly undone, bursting to reveal the true nature of this team beneath.
And it provides a sharper edge to the proceedings that this undoing is occurring with less than a month to go in the regular season and with the Sharks still nibbling at the edges of the Western Conference playoffs -- having made 10 straight postseason appearances.
Wilson needled Thornton from afar by suggesting to season-ticket holders late last week that he took the captain's "C" from Thornton last offseason because he couldn't handle the pressure. Then Thornton suggested not too subtly that Wilson keep his yap shut and stop lying. The two might as well have planted a cartoon tub of TNT outside the Sharks' dressing room and dragged a long fuse to ownership's door.
It is clear now that barring some sort of monumental recovery by the team that would see them make up the five points they are now short of the playoffs and then make a decent showing in the postseason, ownership cannot allow the passive aggressiveness that has been this team's identity to continue.
No, this offseason will be a time for doing, not waiting and tinkering around the edges.
But who will be left standing?
from Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,
The Sharks practiced at home on Monday for the final time before leaving on a seven-game, 14-day road trip that will determine whether they are a playoff or a lottery team.
The first four stops will be in Canadian cities, including Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. Considering the recent off-ice events surrounding the club, and some of the media hotbeds they’ll be visiting, it’s safe to say that former captain Joe Thornton will get at least one question or 20 about the rift that has surfaced between him and general manager Doug Wilson.
Put another way, there will be many more reporters and cameras in the dressing room than there were on Monday at Sharks Ice, when a grand total of two – the San Jose Mercury News, and yours truly – were there chatting with players in the dressing room.
“It’s a little bit more attention, but nothing big,” Thornton said. “It’s just a couple more cameras. That’s all I can say. A couple more cameras, a couple more people in the locker room. We’re there to play hockey, and that’s the bottom line.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic said: “The guys are focused on winning. I don’t think they’re focused on anything else but winning.”
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
- Early in the 2005-06 season, the Boston Bruins stunned the hockey world when they traded Joe Thornton to San Jose for Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau. On the surface, the deal made no sense. Thornton was then a 26-year-old centre who’d averaged over 80 points a season over the three previous seasons in the middle of the dead-puck era. The three players the Bruins received in return were all second-liners.
In search of illumination, I asked a Bruins insider why they’d make that deal.
“Because Joe’s not a leader and he’ll never be a leader,” said the insider.
Thought about that last week when the feud between Sharks GM Doug Wilson and Thornton became public. Thornton has put up big numbers in San Jose but the Sharks have never made it out of the West with him as the team’s leader.
The Bruins, you may be aware, won the Stanley Cup five years after the trade.
- Spot quiz. What do Zach Sill, T.J. Brennan, Andrew MacWilliam, Joakim Lindstrom and Brandon Kozun have in common?
Class? Anyone? Anyone?
No, they are not five people who’ve never been in my kitchen. They all played for the Maple Leafs on Saturday night. It’s sad, really.
The topics from Elliotte Friedman and Damien Cox of Sportsnet include the Joe Thornton situation in San Jose, the GM meetings, the KHL saying they will not participate in the World Cup and the last topic was college free agents.
from Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News,
... in a phone interview with Wilson later Friday, the general manager insisted there was "zero chance" that he would be trading Thornton. The Sharks need him, Wilson said, to be part of the veteran base as they restock their roster with draft choices in need of development. Wilson added that if Thornton had heard the Thursday remarks in total context during the fan Q-and-A, he would not have perceived them in such a negative way.
For the record, if Thornton has been bothered on the ice by his captaincy diss, that's hard to see. He has 57 points in 64 games. That does not match his peak years. Yet as of Friday, he was still among the league's top six assist men and top 25 scorers.
Thornton has not slacked on defense, either. And by observation, his Sharks teammates do not seem to have lost any respect for him. There might even be empathy for his situation. In a dressing room popularity election between Thornton and Wilson, it's a sure bet Wilson would finish second. The sharpest portion of Thornton's verbal blast Friday was the accusation of Wilson "lying." The next sharpest, though, was the pointed reference Thornton made to not taking "a sabbatical" and being "here every day working hard." There's a segment of the Sharks' roster that believes Wilson misses too many road games and is not in the office at home as much as other general managers. The league obviously doesn't keep stats on that stuff. But even if the facts don't 100 percent match the accusation, it doesn't matter. If enough players believe they do, perception is reality.
Wilson, when asked about that perception, said that when he's missed road games this season, it's because of time he's spent analyzing prospects for an upcoming entry draft that will be very crucial for the Sharks. Also, the team's minor league AHL franchise is moving from Massachusetts to SAP Center next season, which has taken many planning hours.
Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger discussed the war of words in San Jose involving Doug Wilson and Joe Thornton.
Also discussed was the agenda for the General Managers meeting next week, college free agents and the talk of Ottaws being interested in Nazem Kadri earlier this season.
Watch here (not GEO blocked).
from David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News,
Long-simmering issues between Sharks general manager Doug Wilson and veteran center Joe Thornton boiled to the surface Friday when Thornton had a direct response to Wilson's latest explanation of why the 'C' was removed from his jersey.
"I think Doug just needs to shut his mouth," Thornton said after his team's morning practice. "I think that's the bottom line."
Thornton added: "All I've got to say is I've been here every day working hard. I haven't taken a sabbatical. He just needs to stop lying, shut his mouth."
In a Thursday night meeting with about 350 season-ticket holders, Wilson was asked again about the decision to strip Thornton of the captaincy. The Sharks have gone with four alternate captains this season and Thornton has that leadership role instead.
from David Pollak of the Mercury News,
One thing he made clear: February was a disaster with eight consecutive home losses and a 3-8-2 overall record.
“I would much rather be sitting here without having gone through February. The one game that pissed me off — and it epitomized our team — was the Detroit game. Detroit has a young team that’s transitioning like we are….. We dominate for the first period and then we went 30 minutes with one shot. That to me was kind of like hitting rock bottom.”
Q: Patrick Marleau is my favorite Shark and I think it’s wrong the way he’s being blamed when things aren’t going well.
First, Wilson rattled off Marleau’s career accomplishments and noted “he deserves a level of respect for that.”
Then he continued:
“I also understand though when you earn big contracts and you’ve got a high profile, you’ve got to take the bullet and Patty would be the first to say he’s never been minus-15 before and that’s a struggle. You own that, admit that. But Patty Marleau, when we talked this summer, wants to be part of it. This transition hopefully will be a quick transition....
“He cares. When you set expectations for a player like that, you see the lofty numbers that he’s had, with that comes criticism. You’ve got to get thick skin, you’ve got to deal with it. And all you can really do is go on the ice and play. I expect him to play his ass off the last 15 games.”
from David Pollak of the Mercury News
Conventional wisdom says the trades you don't make often are the ones that work out best. If the Sharks do make the playoffs this season, they may point to goaltender Antti Niemi as the latest example of that.
Niemi's name was circulating as one of several pending unrestricted free agents that Sharks general manager Doug Wilson was open to trading before the March 2 deadline. For whatever reason — maybe the return would not have been high enough, maybe Niemi was taken off the market — that did not happen.
Now, after his 39-save performance in San Jose's 2-1 shootout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Niemi acknowledged Tuesday that there may have been a minor change in his mindset once the deadline passed.
"It's hard to try not to think about it," said Niemi, who stopped seven of eight Pittsburgh shots in the shootout as well. "You still hear, especially from you guys (media), you hear the rumors. I don't think I thought about it too much, but of course it's gone now, so there's nothing to think about anymore."
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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