It really isn’t much of a shock that the Sharks have maintained a tight-lipped way of conducting business in the first few weeks of their off-season.
Keeping media and the fan base as out-of-the-know as possible is something the franchise excels at.
Team majority owner Hasso Plattner’s statement Wednesday followed that same vague pattern, not giving much insight into what’s in store for Team Teal during this off-season other than that he is “disappointed” with their collapse in the 2014 playoffs and that general manager Doug Wilson “has my complete support moving forward.”
Sure, that told us that Sharks front office and coaching staff probably isn’t getting a facelift. But not a whole lot else.
So when Wilson divulged the first roster moves in his first conference call since the team packed their bags for the summer, it came as a bit of a surprise.
But the general manager’s presser also lends a bit of hope that Sharks might be giving the roster a serious makeover, making the crucial upgrades it needs to avenge their epic 2014 collapse.
Wilson revealed in Thursday’s conference call with the media that defenseman Dan Boyle and forward Marty Havlat will not be returning in teal sweaters next season; Havlat, a clear disappointment in his tenure as a Shark, was informed of this news the morning of the conference call, Wilson said.
The news for either player wasn’t too surprising. Heck, Wilson’s comments about molding next season’s Sharks roster into a “harder, younger, more aggressive” team were enough to tell you that both players wouldn’t have stalls in that shiny SAP Center dressing room next season.
Whether you blame indifference or constant injury, Havlat figuratively had his foot out the door through the Sharks whole 2014 campaign. With $5 million left in the final year of his contract, it wouldn’t be surprising to see SJ buy out the deal in an effort to cut the chord with the 33-year-old winger for good.
Boyle’s departure on the other hand leaves a stinging feeling, as he definitely made a home for himself during his six season tenure in San Jose. Wilson was complimentary of Boyle’s services to the team when discussing the departure during Thursday’s call.
In talks with the media Friday following Wilson’s conference, Boyle called the team’s decision to part ways with him “pretty tough” and that he will “leave with regret” that he couldn’t help the team get a Stanley Cup.
But it’s hard to ignore that the 37-year-old — who is pending free agency — hadn’t been the same player since being clobbered and concussed by St. Louis Blues’ Maxim Lapierre this past season, ending the 2014 run with 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists) in 75 games played.
Perhaps the biggest surprise out of Thursday’s conference call was the announcement that big body Brent Burns will be returning to the blue line after spending a little over a season as a top line forward. No. 88 impressed on Joe Thornton’s wing in 2014.
Moving Burns back to defense is far from the Sharks biggest problem, so making the decision an early offseason priority seems odd. But with playoffs still in full swing, there are moves to be made before other teams in the league even reach their summer breaks. There’s still over a month until the NHL draft takes place.
The GM reiterated multiple times Thursday that Burns had been originally acquired as a defenseman, which doesn’t really answer the question as to why he is being moved back to D. Or why such a move is being made when San Jose has many other issues that need attention.
My personal questions: What is the Sharks solution to this past season’s goaltending shenanigans?
And: Wilson said in his call with the media that shaping this “younger” and “more aggressive” team was a process that San Jose was “two-thirds of the way” through creating. How do you shape this new style of team with a different mentality, when vets Thornton and Patrick Marleau still on the roster?
Wilson said that, as far as future roster moves are concerned, “no options should be off the table.”
This could only be the start of him making noticeable changes to prevent another season that ends in a playoff failure.