If you’re like me, and you picked the San Jose Sharks to win the Stanley Cup, you:
a) will never have faith in them again
b) have a bitter taste in your mouth
c) are filled with rage
d) are frothing for turnover so you never, ever have to see this year’s team again.
Since blowing a 3-0 series lead to Los Angeles (tricking those of us who picked them to start the bragging process) in one of the most historic meltdowns in NHL history, all sorts of speculation has surfaced regarding the future of this franchise. That coach Todd McLellan would soon be looking for a new job seemed a sure thing and GM Doug Wilson was even believed to be on the firing line. Would the Sharks keep Antti Niemi, who they elected not to start in Game 6? Will Dan Boyle be re-signed? And how about those long-term contracts recently given to Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau: would they trade them?
For the first time since the loss, Sharks owner Hasso Plattner spoke out by releasing a statement regarding his coach and GM:
“I am very disappointed in the way our team finished the 2013-14 season. Gaining a 3-0 series advantage and being unable to advance is a major blow to our organization and fan base. Our teams have been consistently built to go deep into the playoffs and this goal won't change.
Doug Wilson and I have met over the past two weeks. He has shared his support of the coaching staff, as well as his recommended changes to our team’s roster, and he has my complete support moving forward.
I want to thank our extremely loyal fans and partners for their continued support and to let them know that we are not satisfied with the status quo of the last several seasons.
I am confident that with the proposed changes, Doug and his staff will build a team we can all be proud of.”
The management positions may be safe, but you better believe there’s still change on the way, as Plattner mentions he's discussed with Wilson. Now we know it’s for sure coming to the roster.
The first casualty will likely be Boyle, who would require significant investment to re-sign, which would further tie Wilson to a failed roster. Martin Havlat needs to go, by buyout or trade. How about Niemi? Since McLellan will still be around, can the same coach run with a goalie he shied away from in a crucial Game 6? Remember, Niemi was a Vezina finalist as recently as last season.
The Sharks’ plight gets really interesting when you start considering Thornton (NMC), Marleau (NMC) and Brent Burns (Modified NTC), who are all signed through 2016-17, and Joe Pavelski or even possibly Logan Couture, who are both signed through 2018-19. It would be hard to imagine all of these forwards returning next season, even if it is hard to imagine trading any of these talents.
You’d think the untouchables on the roster would be the younger players: Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Tomas Hertl and, really, even Couture…I think. But that’s about all, isn’t it? This is what it’s come to in San Jose – something big has to happen to this roster now. And it will be great theater when it does.
Remember last year’s draft, when the Cory Schneider trade was the big, shocking trade story? He was only one player.
The Sharks Watch involves a whole team about to take a sharp left turn. Where it goes, nobody knows.