San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson met with the press on Monday afternoon to discuss his plans for the club’s future. If you were hoping for a retooling of the Shark’s player make-up then you may just get what your looking for. If you were hoping for a new face behind the bench — don’t hold your breath.
“Todd is our coach, and has been our coach,” Wilson said, confirming that McLellan will be back for his fifth year as San Jose’s headman. The decision to go forward with Todd McLellan took longer than some Sharks fans expected, not just because Wilson was facing a tough decision regarding his head coach, but also because McLellan was rehabbing some injuries.
“I liked the idea of giving him a little bit of time, not just the emotions but also how he was feeling,” Wilson said. McLellan suffered a concussion after being hit in the head by Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella’s stick in late February. He was also struck by Joe Thornton’s stick a few weeks later and suffered from migraines as a result. Now fully recovered, McLellan is back and ready for another season as San Jose’s head coach, and this time he won’t be bearing all the responsibility of the Sharks’ struggles.
Wilson did not rule out the possibility of making some alterations to the assistant coaching staff yesterday, as they share responsibility for planning the team’s nuances — like their oft-criticized penalty kill, for example.
That was a duty previously held by assistant coach Jay Woodcroft, but it sounds like the Sharks are shopping around for some new coaching talent in that area.
“That can come from internal, or external,” McLellan said. “There are coaches that have coached in the past that maybe aren’t coaching now that want to get back into it. There are a number of different avenues that we can look at if we desire to bring that type of person in.” They had better find the right person, as the Sharks penalty kill has been ranked near the bottom of the league for the past two seasons.
The coaching staff wasn’t the only topic discussed yesterday. Wilson also addressed the team’s roster, a group that boasts 11 free agents, both restricted and unrestricted. This is an area where fans can expect some major changes, as Wilson has never been afraid to make a splash or cut dead weight. So who’s staying and who’s going?
“I’m not going to give you names, but there are probably five or six that we will not be negotiating with prior to July 1,” Wilson said.
Included in the list of unrestricted free agents are Daniel Winnik, Torrey Mitchell, Colin White, Dominic Moore, Brad Winchester and Jim Vandemeer. Some restricted free agents include Tommy Wingels, TJ Galiardi, Ben Ferriero, Andrew Desjardins and Justin Braun.
Stock is up on Winnik, Wingels, Ferriero and Braun, as all of whom were major contributors to the Sharks success last year. The future with the Sharks looks grim for the others, however, as most underperformed in their time with the team. The longest-standing member of this group, Mitchell, will be a tough one to let go for Sharks fans, as he has shown speed and flashes of brilliance in his 6-year career with the Sharks but has been held back by injuries.
It appears as if the Sharks will be going into the 2012-13 season with the same offseason formula as years past: trust in the coaching staff while altering the roster. This plan worked well enough during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, as the Sharks found their way to back-to-back Western Conference Finals. But it resulted in a disappointing first round exit in 2012. Doug Wilson better make all the right moves this year, though, because if the 2013 season ends in similar disappointment, HE may be the one that finds himself packing up his office.