It was a turbulent season for the San Jose Sharks, and it appears more rough waters lie on the horizon.
The team has “mutually agreed to part ways” with head coach Todd McLellan, the team announced Monday morning. The Sharks have also relieved assistant coaches Jim Johnson and Jay Woodcroft, as well as video coordinator Brett Heimlich.
McLellan is being shown the door despite holding the record as the franchise’s winningest head coach with an overall record of 311-163-66. Between 2008 and 2014-15, he led the Sharks to three-straight Pacific Division titles from 2008-2010 and one President’s Trophy.
But it was what McLellan didn’t lead the Sharks too — an illusive shot at a Stanley Cup Championship — that ultimately spelled his departure.
McLellan played scapegoat for many of the Sharks’ failures over his tenure, while much of the turmoil this season has actually been centered around general manager Doug Wilson. With the move, it appears franchise owner Hasso Plattner is pushing all in on the idea that Wilson will be the one to save this team moving forward.
“I want to thank Todd and his staff for their years of service to the San Jose Sharks organization,” Wilson said in the announcement. “Sometimes a change is best for all parties involved but nothing will take away from what Todd and his staff accomplished here over the last seven seasons.”
“San Jose will always hold a special place for me and my family,” McLellan said. “I would like to thank Doug and the Sharks organization for allowing me the opportunity to coach at the National Hockey League level. While we both agree that a change is in the best interest of myself and the team, I’m proud of what we accomplished as an organization.”
While McLellan should see a ripe market for his services, the Sharks will now begin their first head coaching search since the 2008 season — a search that will not include the services of Larry Robinson, who is taking on a full-time role as the team’s director of player development.
And unlike 2008, there are few home runs to be had around NHL coaching circles. And what’s worse: the problems surrounding the Sharks seem to run much deeper than players simply growing tired of a good head coach’s message.
While long time team captain Joe Thornton’s comments about McLellan needing “to talk to his family as well in here” threw logs on the fire smoldering at the SAP Center, it was his pot shot at the still-standing GM that really turned heads. Thornton, Wilson and their well-publicized feud still remain, and just as Thornton has a no trade clause lurking in the ink of his contract, it seems Wilson isn’t going anywhere soon either. Any move to cut ties with Wilson would have come down with the rest of the firing — err, mutual partings — today. He’s sticking around.
Sharks fans looking for a light at the end of the tunnel simply need to keep walking. Changes like these may have produced positive outcomes had they happened a few years ago, but with San Jose more upside down than its been in over a decade, this tunnel has a long way to go.