After watching the San Jose Sharks struggle in the playoffs year after year, I began to wonder what the problem was.
It's no secret that this team under Ron Wilson was fundamentally flawed when it came to seriously contending for a Stanley Cup. This season proved that the Sharks needed more than a top defenseman and "growth."
So what do they need?
Well, for one thing, getting rid of Ron Wilson was a step in the right direction.
Ron is a wonderful regular season coach, but his track record (which is second to none, just ask him) proves that he is a so-so coach in the playoffs. He is unable to get that something extra from his boys.
When it comes down to it, Ron Wilson is a one trick pony that motivates through threat of embarrassment in front of peers. At times he had fun with the guys too, but a coach must be able to get results from many different methods because no two players are identical.
Ron will land on his feet. Plenty of teams with coaching vacancies outside of Colorado and Ottawa would kill to consistently reach the second round. Could we hear Hanta Yo in Toron-to?
As far as replacements go, my top pick would be John Tortorella. Rumors suggest he will be available. While John has faltered in the regular season lately, he does have a Cup and a Jack Adams under his belt. He also seems like a coach players want to play for.
Tortorella will have fun and be one of the boys, but he's also not afraid to call a player out for not performing. The difference between Wilson and Tortorella is that RW would call players out for the sake of a change, without knowing what to expect. Tortorella seems to get mad and know exactly how the player will respond.
Outside of Tortorella, I think the Sharks should look at AHL coaches. There are some great coaches who have been at it for a long time. One of them is John Anderson of the Chicago Wolves.
John has three championships in the last ten years and can win wherever he goes. I have no clue if he would be available or interested though.
I wouldn't promote Worcester Sharks coach Roy Sommers, however.
And no, Barry Melrose is not on my list of candidates.
Hopefully he's not on Doug Wilson's either. The man hasn't coached in 12 years, the league has changed. If anyone hires him, it should be Tampa Bay for the exposure.
Joel Queneville is an option now, but he doesn't seem like much of an upgrade over Wilson. If Marc Crawford becomes available, he'd be my second choice.
So what else do the Sharks need to do?
Well, after watching the Dallas series, I realize that the Sharks lack multidimensional players. Joe Thornton passes. Jonathan Cheechoo shoots. Milan Michalek scores on the rush or out of the corners. Mike Grier, Patrick Rissmiller and Curtis Brown are all checkers. Joe Pavelski can shoot, kill penalties, and man a point on the powerplay. That's a multidimensional player.
But look at a guy like Brenden Morrow. Morrow will hit, get in your face, score and pass. He'll man the powerplay, penalty kill and be the shutdown guy. He even motivates.
Mike Modano can make a play, shoot, forecheck, set up the powerplay and lead. Even guys like Jere Lehtinen and Joel Lundqvist contribute in many ways.
The king of multidimensional would have to be Pavel Datsyuk. He could win a Selke for his defense and the Art Ross in the same season if he wanted to.Henrik Zetterberg could be thrown into that category too.
Doug Wilson recognizes a need and acquires that specific need. Sharks needed penalty killing and Grier and Brown are brought in. Sharks needed a playmaker. Enter Thornton. Sharks needed a veteran d-man. Hello Craig Rivet.
The next step for Wilson is to recognize a player that fills multiple roles. Three free agents to be caught my attention.
The first is Ryan Malone. While Malone will demand 5-6 million, I feel he could be had for around five given the other talent up front this year. Malone will forecheck, score goals, hit, fight, work the penalty kill, and win battles in the corners on the powerplay. He is the essence of multidimensional.
A more affordable player would be Andrew Brunette. Brunette plays with grit and can score when you ask him to. However, he seems like a role player who is capable of many roles, but will only fill one at a time. Still, he would contribute.
Another guy would be Sean Avery. Yeah I know, I'll get slammed for this one, but isn't he just the kind of player the Sharks need to get over that "gritless" hump? The guy scores 20 goals a year too.
Finally, the least likely of the bunch but the one I'm pulling for the most is Darcy Tucker. He'll most likely opt out of his contract in Toronto and be paid a couple million to become a free agent. He'll demand a lot, but he'll also give you a lot. He's at the top of my list of multidimensional players that could be had.
As far as trades go, I'd try to re-sign Brian Campbell before the draft and try to ship Matt Carle for a pick.
Columbus needs defensemen and a center. A dream deal would be Carle, Patrick Marleau and a late round pick for Nikolai Zherdev and first round pick, plus a young d-man.
It probably won't happen quite like that though.
I'd say try to move Carle. With Campbell around, he's expendable. Even if McLaren can't get right, there are other cheap, solid free agent names available. A first round pick for Carle and others would be nice, but this year I don't see that happening.
Marleau would have to go to net a first rounder and unless we get a first rounder, a young forward who can score now with potential, and a slightly less promising defenseman in return, I wouldn't trade Marleau (especially now that Wilson is out).
I'll write about any move the Sharks make in the weeks to come. Until then, I'm just finishing up the school year here at The Ohio State University so if I have time I'll throw an A's blog or two in here.
Thanks for readin...
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