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I guess my first hope was close to the mark

J0e Th0rnton

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LAS VEGAS — It sounds like if the San Jose Sharks rebuild after their latest playoff failure, they will do it with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Both have no-movement clauses in their contracts. Both plan to stay.

“We’re looking forward to next year,” said Marleau at the NHL Awards on Monday. “It’s going to suck having to go through all the 82 games to get back into the playoffs to get to that point to actually do something about it.”

Asked if he and Thornton expected to be back, Marleau said: “Yeah. As of right now, yeah.”

General manager Doug Wilson has used the word “rebuild” since the Sharks became the fourth team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 lead and lose a best-of-7 series, falling to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round.

Wilson has explained the “rebuild” to Thornton and Marleau, as well as defenseman Brad Stuart and goaltender Antti Niemi. The Sharks will not trade picks, prospects or younger players for veterans; will not sign free agents who would leapfrog younger players; and will turn over leading roles to younger players. In short, they are no longer in win-now mode. They want to emphasize growth. Wilson has asked openly whether some veterans would want to be around for that.

It is a delicate situation. Just five months ago, Wilson signed Thornton and Marleau to three-year extensions. He gave them the no-movement clauses. He gave them a lot of money – Thornton’s average salary will be $6.75 million, Marleau’s $6.67 million – but both players accepted at least a little less than they could have made as unrestricted free agents July 1.

Wilson would say that he isn’t trying to force out Thornton and Marleau, that he is only trying to be up front and honest with them. He is being respectful of the deals he made by not asking them to waive the no-movement clauses or even to give him lists of teams to which they would accept a trade.

Under what circumstances would Marleau consider waiving his no-movement clause?

“Even if …” Marleau said, his voice trailing off. “We haven’t even really talked about that. I haven’t really thought about it.”

So, to be clear, Marleau won’t volunteer?

“I want to play in San Jose,” Marleau said. “I want to win there.”

Thornton feels the same. That’s why they signed those extensions in the first place.


Sharks defenseman Justin Braun and forwards Matt Nieto and Patrick Marleau get set for a faceoff against the Kings …

Though Thornton and Marleau are both about to turn 35, they are elite players. Thornton finished second in assists in the regular season with 65, three behind the leader – Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who is expected to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player Tuesday night. Both finished in the top 16 in scoring. Marleau is a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded for sportsmanship and a high standard of playing ability.

Blowing that 3-0 series lead to the Kings was crushing, and the Sharks have never made the Stanley Cup Final despite contending for years. But the Kings went on to win the Cup, and the Sharks remain good enough to contend.

“Something has to change,” Marleau said. “I think that’s what [the executives and coaches are] doing right now. They’re looking at every little thing to try to find the right thing. It’s going to be hard to figure out what exact thing it was that set it off. I mean, obviously we lose the way we did, but we lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, too.”

The Sharks lost top defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to injury and had goaltending issues. But there were other problems. Game 5 was particularly troubling. The Sharks had a chance to close out the series at home, came out flat and lost, 3-0.

In Marleau’s mind, the Kings adjusted after the Sharks outscored them 17-8 in Games 1 through 3. The Sharks didn’t respond in kind. They kept playing a wide-open style. They tried to do too much, managed the puck poorly, turned over the puck, strayed out of position and left themselves vulnerable to attack.

“I think maybe mentally we thought, ‘Oh, we can keep scoring all these goals,’ ” Marleau said. “But it wasn’t so much what we were doing. It was kind of what they weren’t doing. They tightened everything up, and we were still trying to make that happen. That’s one little part of it.”

Wilson told NHL Network that a group of Sharks told him the players were “co-workers and not teammates.” He pointed to how the Kings stuck together to win three seven-game series.

“I think he’s thinking that you can get more out of each other on the ice if you’re a tight-knit group,” Marleau said. “I think that’s what he’s trying to get at.”

Is that missing?

“Well, that’s something they’re looking at,” Marleau said. “I think for the most part that comes as young guys and older guys, just getting together away from the rink, but even going through the struggles. Obviously this is a huge struggle that we’re going through right now. I think that’s going to bring us together as well.”

Could Marleau sense a rift between younger guys and older guys?

“No,” Marleau said. “That’s the thing. None of this stuff usually comes out of the woodwork until something like this happens. Everybody thinks it’s fine, and everybody thinks it’s good. And then something like this happens, and you’re like, ‘Well, maybe it’s not as good as we thought it was.’

“I don’t see it as a big thing. Obviously you want that. You want to have a close-knit team. I think there’s certain things we can do as an organization to make that happen, whether it be going out, having a getaway together, a team-bonding thing, things like that.”

Wilson is making changes. He has already traded the rights to 38-year-old defenseman Dan Boyle, a pending unrestricted free agent. He will part with 35-year-old defenseman Scott Hannan via free agency and 33-year-old winger Martin Havlat via trade or buyout. Brent Burns will move from wing back to defense next season.

A looming question is the captaincy. Will coach Todd McLellan strip the ‘C’ from Thornton and give it to Logan Couture or Joe Pavelski? How would that affect Thornton?

“I think as far as the young guys, you want everybody to be in it together,” Marleau said. “I think to have them have more ownership of the team, that’s great. I think everybody needs to be in it as a team.”

Does Marleau fear an overreaction?

“I don’t know,” Marleaus said. “I look at it as what I have to do as a player, what we have to do. Obviously it’s a big kick in the gut. You have to get refocused, come back even that much more motivated in the off-season training and for next year, and I think we’re going to learn a lot about a lot of players coming back this next year after losing the way we did.”

Marleau said he has not thought about waiving his no-movement clause and leaving San Jose, but he has thought about this: The third team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 lead and lose a best-of-7 series was the Boston Bruins. They did it in 2010.

“They went through this and came back and won the Cup the next year,” Marleau said. “So like I said, we’re going to learn a lot about a lot of people.”





I kinda was hoping in my original blog here for this sort of scenario, rather than the ridiculous "Blow it up/Sell everybody" mentality that has swept Shark nation and WIlson's vague comments fueled the fire, to the point that I started to believe the "blow it up" talk.


So, if Wilson outright says he wants to emphasize growth, give the top offensive minutes to the younger players, and will not persue free agents or trade prospects and picks for veterans anymore, where does that leave the Sharks? Can some of the young guns move into these vacant positions and be effective? Do we Pray Mueller is the next Vlasic? Able to make the jump right away? Do we hope Tierney can do the same and transition to wing after his successful OHL final season?

Daniil Tarasov? The kid has mad skills offensively, but apparently, like Setoguchi, does not always show up to play. Considered a top 6 or bust winger.


What sense was there in the Brown resigning?


Konrad Abeltshauser? Matt Tennyson?  Will they jump up to D? Or will Irwin keep the #6 spot? Irwin is not expected to get much better than a 6/7, but  neither was Braun and now he is our 2nd best defenseman. Larry Robinson worked wonders with that kid.


Please god for the love of all that is holy, get rid of Brad Stuart. ill be all for the kids playing even if they suck so long as they get development time so long as you get rid of this 3.5 million dollar bag of suck. Stuart is GARBAGE. Braun has to come back and cover for him so much that he can rarely use his great skating and puck movement. Retain a million of his salary and dump him to Washington or someone who wants a veteran defenseman for a 3rd.


Likewise, I am assuming Havlat is gone just because Wilson literally told him so. But UGH, get rid of Burish and especially Kennedy. Kennedy's decline has been meteoric. Surely some dumb team will give up a mid/late pick for some of these guys if we retain salary.


Since Dinkeldork Wilson actually said he was comfortable with Niemi, I guess we have a platoon on our hands. Stalock is definitely stealing the #1 job though.


Wingels deserves the raise he is going to get, but give Demers nothing more than a bridge contract PLEASE, as I do not trust him yet. I suspect he will be Quarterbacking our PP since Burns cannot quarterback so much as he can be a trigger man. Lock Braun up long term the way you did Vlasic because he is going to earn much much more if you let him go till next season. Hell, even Sheppard began to grow on me by the end there. And I was a huge Sheppard critic.


Vlasic's contract still looks like the best thing I have ever seen.


Assuming we resign our RFA's, can I expect a lineup like this?


Youth development San jose
Tomas Hertl ($0.925m) / Logan Couture ($6.000m) / Matt Nieto ($0.759m)
Raffi Torres ($2.000m) / Joe Pavelski ($6.000m) / Tommy Wingels ($2.893m)
Patrick Marleau ($6.667m) / Joe Thornton ($6.750m) / Chris Tierney ($0.712m)
James Sheppard ($0.872m) / Andrew Desjardins ($0.750m) / Mike Brown ($1.200m)
Daniil Tarasov ($0.680m) /
Marc-Edouard Vlasic ($4.250m) / Brent Burns ($5.760m)
Mirco Mueller ($0.894m) / Justin Braun ($1.250m)
Matt Irwin ($1.000m) / Jason Demers ($3.500m)
Matt Tennyson ($0.874m) / Konrad Abeltshauser ($0.633m)
Alex Stalock ($1.600m)
Antti Niemi ($3.800m)
Martin Havlat ($0.000m)
Adam Burish ($0.000m)
RETAINED SALARIES (1.52% of upper limit)
Brad Stuart ($1.080m—30.00%)
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(estimations for 2014-15)
SALARY CAP: $71,100,000; CAP PAYROLL: $60,848,125; BONUSES: $1,435,000
CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $10,251,875


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