Ron Wilson's firing came just eight days after the Sharks' second round loss to their Pacific Division rivals, the Dallas Stars. This was the third straight second round playoff exit in a row, once again falling short of expectations.
With expectations of being a serious Cup contender, a second round playoff exit was not acceptable. Doug Wilson had finally seen enough and felt no need to lock himself away for a month.
Wilson's inability to take any part of the blame for the third straight second round loss and the belief he had lost the Sharks' dressing room are believed to be among reasons that led to his firing.
Looking at Wilson's track record, the Sharks got everything they expected. They got the regular season mastermind who has won an impressive 518 games in the regular season but they also got the coach who struggles to find playoff success with only one Stanley Cup Finals appearance to his name, in which Wilson and his Capitals were eliminated in four straight by the Detroit Red Wings.
At times, the Sharks looked under-motivated and turned in many lackluster performances. The question now becomes "Who's next?"
The era of a soft coach is over in San Jose and it's now time to turn to a tough guy who can light a fire under guys like Thornton and Marleau when the game is on the line. It's time for a guy who can win in the playoffs and take these talented Sharks to the next level.
One guy who might fit the description is Pat Burns. He is not there to be your friend, but a coach there to win games. Burns has won a Cup, three Jack Adams awards, and only one losing season in which he had coached the full year.
Burns would make the risky moves that Wilson may have been reluctant to make when it comes to crunch time. Early in the season Joe Pavelski played fourth line minutes but put up similar numbers and scored just as many goals as second liner Patrick Marleau.
Despite the veteran leadership qualities of many other Sharks such as Craig Rivet and Jeremy Roenick, the C stayed on the at the time underachieving Marleau.
When the Sharks were struggling to put wins on the board, the lines were constantly being shuffled shift by shift instead of allowing for line chemistry to build. All shaky decisions on the part of the coach that would not have been flaws in a Burns-led Sharks.
Walking into San Jose is a dream job for any coach. A team loaded with talent and an organization committed to winning makes a perfect scenario for anyone currently on the unemployment list looking to get back into the action.
The summer of 2008 will be a summer of many changes in San Jose and a long one for Doug Wilson. Big decisions will be made concerning this team, its players and the future.
Only time will tell who will actually be behind the bench for the Sharks next season. Let's just hope he is the guy who can them over the hump!
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