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Analysis: Writing was on the wall for Wilson

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

When the San Jose Sharks went out in the second round of the playoffs, you just knew Ron Wilson was done as coach of the team.

Fact of the matter is, not even a trip to the Western Conference final would likely have been enough to save his job. Wilson needed a trip to the Stanley Cup final at the very least to save his job. And who knows? Maybe that wouldn’t have been enough.

The expectations for the Sharks were high this season, but they were not unrealistic. When you consider the team that wins the Stanley Cup or even plays in the final rarely goes deep into the playoffs the following year, as witnessed by Anaheim and Ottawa’s first round departures this season, it wasn’t foolhardy to suggest the Sharks were the favorites to win the Western Conference. Many had the Sharks as their pick to win the Cup.

Wilson has done a very good job with San Jose, leaving town with a 206-134-45 record and isn’t likely to be unemployed for too long. Having taken the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup final, he has proven his ability to lead a long shot to great heights. It is his inability to coax a favorite to reach its potential that is at issue.

By all accounts, Wilson did not relate well to the young players on the team, many of whom had given up speaking with him. You had to know things would ultimately come to a head when GM Doug Wilson presented young defenseman Matt Carle with a hefty contract extension and then watched as the coach made Carle a healthy scratch game after game.

Now it will be up to somebody else to try to motivate Joe Thornton and company to take their game to a higher level.

Ah, Joe Thornton. With the coach gone, there will be even more emphasis on Big Joe’s contribution. Another mediocre playoff performance could spell the end of his days on the West Coast.

A little hint to the coach that replaces Wilson: Somehow convince Thornton that it’s in his and his team’s best interest that he immediately stop being a perimeter player. It is no longer acceptable to set up on the outside and make saucer passes to his linemates. Go to the freaking net!


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