Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

Sounding the fire alarms in Shark Territory

Here we go, into the offseason blame game.  It should be as fun as a Bud Light ad.  First, you get rid of the most visible under-performers, the players:

From a pure hockey standpoint, the smartest Sharks solution would be a maximum reboot and rebuild.  Older players would go out the door. They would be traded for draft picks or young prospects.  Over a few years, a new core of Sharks would be developed into winners. By 2017 or so, they’d be back among the league’s four or five best teams. -Mercury News

Well, yeah, but only if you keep the new youngsters around.  Train ‘em up and ship ‘em out, assuming you do find a bunch of good ones (which would be safer to assume if present depth could back you up), and you’re right back here.

Besides, if Marleau and Clowe and Niemi and Boyle were all gone, who would fans have to blame?  Well, there’s still Thornton, he will hang around and he’s fun to complain about.  But what if he keeps playing well?  Whose name will we scream in the ecstatic writhings of despair?  Meh, someone will step up.

A rebuild takes a whole lot of patience, and if you don’t have the patience to wait for a collection of more veteran players to gel, I doubt a rebuild would be to your liking either.

No need to fear:

Wilson ... thinks the best teams don’t rebuild. They make adjustments and reload. Wilson might have a plan to break up more of the team’s core ...and make a major deal to refashion and reframe the team back into a Cup contender. -Mercury News

Isn’t that what he did last summer, swapping headliners and lowliners alike?  That appears to have worked out only a little better than the early stages of a rebuild.

McLellan acknowledged. “We had a lot of changes early and started to come together. Then at the trade deadline, we brought three people in—great players who had an impact on our team. But it takes a while to become part of that group.” -Mercury News

I need to note the date: I feel not crazy, because that’s what I said: “too many new people!  Good bad or indifferent, too much newness to sort out in too little time!”  Maybe it’s that we’re both Libras so we make the same excuses.  In any case, a bunch of big splashy changes are not going to address this issue.

So change coaches?  That had a less than 50% success rate this season.  Maybe even odds are good enough?  I don’t think you can be equally angry with McLellan and Wilson both, even if, as Purdy argues, they are a package.  Either McLellan had all the right pieces and he screwed it up (with or without the help of his ACs) or Wilson scavenged the machine for shiny objects, and McLellan did what he could to keep it limping along with chewing gum and bailing twine.

If you don’t think you should get rid of McLellan, you fire Wilson, if anyone can figure out who fires him:

...it would seem Wilson’s status is safe for a rather quirky reason: It is not actually clear who does his performance review. -Mercury News

The real problem, Purdy goes on to explain, isn’t that there’s no one to fire him, but that there’s no one in the organization expert enough to find a replacement.

What would a good new GM do anyway?  Those things mentioned above?  Would he do them better?  Would he miraculously spare Sharks fans the chum-fest of a rebuild?  Anything can be done better, but if it is drastic it hurts.  No matter who does it, there will be pain.  I am against pain.

On the other hand, an overhaul would be a boon for the autograph collectors, all those new players to get signatures from.

But someone has to pay, someone has to be punished! Why?  Will that beat the Blues, last week?  No, move forward.

Like the Sharks, even after falling out of the first round, Wilson is still doing an above average job.  If Marc-Andre Fleury is an elite goaltender even after a horrific first round exit, if Malkin isn’t an overhyped flop after being owned by a 19 year old, then you must also consider Wilson’s past work when grading him.  It’s not always sunny in Lake Wobegone either.  If you don’t like above-average, you will really hate a spell (of indeterminate length) in the basement.

Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: dan+boyle, doug+wilson, fire, joe+thornton, patrick+marleau, rebuild, todd+mclellan



Well put and everyone will have an opinion (or more than one).
I keep coming back to this with regard to Wilson - Who do you think could do better? If Wilson goes, whomever comes in will want his own coach, so say goodbye to TM as well. And, neither of those are quick fixes as they’ll want to shake up the players too.

Something will need to be done, but something drastic will be a mid to long term thing. Some players will have to go for sure, and frankly some may actually welcome it.

But, your last line pretty well sums it up: If you don’t like above-average, you will really hate a spell (of indeterminate length) in the basement.

Posted by CV on 04/23/12 at 08:57 PM ET

petshark's avatar

Thanks, CV.  I think Purdy made too much of the organizational mysteries re: Wilson’s job security.  Even for people who have hockey backgrounds, finding the perfect replacement would be challenging.  I do think Wilson made some mistakes this season but it’s hard to judge without all the facts, and everyone makes mistakes.

Posted by petshark from Nor Cal, and on Twitter @petshark47 on 04/23/12 at 11:43 PM ET

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About Petshark: Talking Stick

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net

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