Todd McLellan is neither primarily responsible nor blameless in the 2011-12 San Jose Sharks disappointing season
In the aftermath of the 2011-12 San Jose Sharks season, it is time to do what team general manager Doug Wilson calls an "autopsy." Management must scrutinize itself, coach Todd McLellan and staff as well as each player.
Management looks at what went wrong, what assets the team has and what changes will bring the highest chance of a championship in the fewest possible years. Setting aside the disappointment that comes from falling short, one should learn from history but look to the future.
Every consideration must be made setting aside the emotion of the moment. One does the franchise a disservice if one comes into an analysis looking to confirm the decision already made.
Since ownership does not change, the first employee they must consider is Wilson. However, I would start by holding the coach accountable before seeing how much of the team's failure (and yes, that is the only word to describe the body of work this season) falls on the GM.
If a coach is largely to blame for a team's failures, the GM can easily remedy the problem. Thus, over the week I will be grading his performance in the broad areas of approach, system and personnel.
This article deals with his approach to the game and to the job. This includes the attitude he projects to primarily players but also media and fans.
All coaches are hired because they have good hockey minds. Those who know the game teach it and manage teams.
How would you grade Todd McLellan's approach to coaching?
Coaches are also hired to be fired. But the best coaches are the ones entrenched in their jobs (Barry Trotz, Lindy Ruff, Mike Babcock), established enough to get players on page with them.
Ideally, the Sharks want to have a coach who can provide a foundation for years to come. Todd McLellan was supposed to be that man.
He has a good hockey mind. He understands the game, has a good vision of what needs to be done and has proven to be strategically sound.
He also sends a message to the public that his focus is on the basics, so you know he is preaching that to the team. (How much he is responsible for them not responding is dealt with in the personnel article.) He does not make excuses, is solutions-oriented, does not get too high in success or too low in failure.
That means he is good enough to coach in the NHL. But a good coach is not necessarily a great coach nor always the right coach.
Some mindsets work in some environments and with some players. Some of them know how to get a little more out of their players or give their players a little more to work with. That is where the next two articles come in...