2011-12 San Jose Sharks: Does Doug Wilson Have a Handle on the Problem?
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He is widely viewed as the best hockey mind in management. He has earned it, turning a team that missed the playoffs into one with eight straight playoff appearances, five division titles and three conference finals berths.
Accordingly, he will remain the general manager of the San Jose Sharks into next season. But should he?
Having just concluded a series analyzing Todd McLellan, it is time to move on to Wilson. (Truth be told, I wanted to start with Wilson, but not knowing what conclusion I would come to until the analysis was done, I could not start at GM; if he is fired, the analysis on the coach is immaterial.)
The GM is responsible for all personnel, and personnel is all the GM is responsible for.
He hires his immediate support staff (who hire theirs) and makes decisions on players and coaches on payroll. Maybe he gets involved in marketing, but this is only important as it affects his available budget.
San Jose's only constraint is the salary cap. Thus, there are no disadvantages and no excuses.
We could look at the coaches and players and weigh good vs. bad. But in total, the results were not adequate and change is obviously needed.
Would Wilson firing McLellan provide enough change? It was insufficient previously, when the head that rolled was former coach Ron Wilson's.
How What would you give Doug Wilson for a cumulative grade over his eight seasons?
More must be done to alter the unsuccessful course of a team that peaked in January of 2009. The decisions made by management have not turned that trend around any more than the coaching or player performance have. Everyone has culpability.
Wilson understands this, but does he have the solution? He thought he did in 2008 when he chose to hire McLellan.
He wanted the team to move in a more offensive direction. His blueprint for success was the Detroit Red Wings' puck-possession style, and McLellan could bring that to San Jose.
Last summer, he changed his mind. The team was not getting over the hump, and needed to be more physical and defensive-minded.
Instead they regressed.
This could well be because McLellan was the wrong man to run that team. It could be that the players did not have the right mentality or style (they certainly had the size and skill).
Either way, Wilson is responsible for knowing that. He has continued to make cosmetic changes to the team and failed to get better results. The one summer he made a major change (2011) was the team's worst in his tenure.
But that was still just one guy. He needs to change the makeup of a team that is headed in the wrong direction.
We will only find out whether he understands the problem if he solves it. It may require the team taking a step back, but they are just a season removed from being a two-time conference finalist...
The best thing he can do is move the team forward like he appeared to when McLellan was hired. If you are going to fully rebuild, you might as well do it with another GM.
An examination of the resources he has left himself will help determine how likely the turnaround will be, and how quick. His history of acquiring (via trade, free agency and draft), developing and retaining talent gives a good indication of how much better this team can be next season.
Look for those examinations in the coming days.
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