Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Another year, another heartbreaking end to a season for the San Jose Sharks. Just like last season, they were dispatched in seven games by the rival Los Angeles Kings. But this year the story hurts more for the Bay Area faithful.
It reads like a reoccurring nightmare; the particulars are a little different, but the ending is always the same. This time around, the Sharks cruised out to a 3-0 series lead in the first round against L.A., but then the unthinkable struck again. The Kings rallied and stunned the Sharks by winning four straight to move on, becoming just the fourth NHL team ever to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
Local media outlets such as the San Jose Mercury News didn't hold back in the aftermath, calling the Sharks' breakdown another epic collapse.
||Presidents' Trophy winners, 1st in Western Conference, 1st in Pacific
||Lost in conference quarterfinal (ANA def. SJ 4-2)
||1st in Western Conference, 1st in Pacific
||Lost in conference final (CHI def. SJ 4-0)
||1st in Pacific
||Lost in conference final (VAN def. SJ 4-1)
||2nd in Pacific
||Lost in conference quarterfinal (STL def. SJ 4-1)
||3rd in Pacific
||Lost in conference semifinal (LAK def. SJ 4-3)
||2nd in Pacific
||Lost in conference quarterfinal (LAK def. SJ 4-3)
In 62 career postseason games, McLellan is 30-32. His teams have been knocked out in the first round of the playoffs three times over his six seasons at the helm, including twice in the last three years.
It's honestly tough to say whether the first three seasons or the last three seasons have been more disappointing.
Early on, the Sharks were annual contenders for the Presidents' Trophy but failed twice to advance out of the Western Conference Final. The last three years, however, have seen a decline in play as a few of the Sharks' veteran stars have aged and the Kings and Ducks have risen to the top of the Pacific Division.
McLellan got the benefit of the doubt last season for a few reasons, the first and most obvious being that the 2012-13 campaign was a shortened one due to the lockout.
But while the Sharks suffered the same playoff fate this season as last season—a seven-game series loss to the Los Angeles Kings—the two series couldn't have been any more different.
Last year the teams met with a trip to the Western Conference Final on the line. The home team won every game, with L.A. capturing the crucial Game 7 in a thrilling 2-1 victory to send the Sharks packing.
This year, in the first round, the Sharks looked destined for revenge as they went up 3-0 on the Kings. They then got blanketed the rest of the series, and home ice meant little and less in Game 7 as they were blown out 5-1.
McLellan, at below .500 in the playoffs, hasn't been getting the job done for a while now, and the devastating blow the Sharks were dealt this postseason should be the final straw. While he is a prolific coach in the regular season, his playoff career with the Sharks hasn't been good enough.
With aging stars and reliable veterans likely to head out the door via retirement or free agency, McLellan should be joining them rather than heading back behind the bench in San Jose.