- The Contrarian
- Written by Demetrios Fragopoulos
Don't let off-ice drama hoodwink you into underestimating the Sharks this season.
It was reported earlier this week that the San Jose Sharks have stripped Joe Thornton of the captaincy. They also mention that the two alternates, one of them being Patrick Marleau, were also relieved of their letters.
From the Mercury News, David Pollack writes “Sharks take away Thornton’s captaincy”. The article starts off by showing that there was some level of miscommunication between Coach Todd McLellan, Thornton and Patrick Marleau about what was going to happen. Eventually McLellan was clear about his “clean slate”.
McLellan was quoted as saying “We are going to have a fresh slate at training camp as far as leadership goes.” There is a little bit of politicking as well when he claims that technically Thornton hasn’t lost the ‘C’ because he could earn it back. “Thornton could end up being the captain. I don’t know, none of us know”.
Gino Reda of TSN’s That’s hockey interviews Pollack, “TH: What’s Next For Thornton?”, and asks if this is intended to get Thornton to waive his no trade clause, to which Pollack answers that Thornton has no intention to do that.
In another TSN That’s Hockey segment, “TH: Sharks Desperate for Change?” Reda talks with Dave Reid and Jason Strudwick. Reid believes that the Sharks have handled the situation poorly and that it will disrupt the team for the new season. Strudwick talks about having Thornton’s presence in the locker room casting a shadow over anything a new captain would say or do.
Desperate? Sure looks like it but Dave Reid points out that this has happened before with Marleau. Ah yes, how we forget these things. It did happen and it is playing out in a very similar manner too.
Gouche from Bleacher Report wrote “Patrick Marleau is Stripped of the C” and Greg Wyshynski, of Yahoo Sports, also wrote in his Puck Daddy Blog “Marleau stripped of captaincy by the Sharks” back in August 2009. Coincidence #1?
Back then, San Jose were the President’s Trophy winners and lost to the eighth seeded Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the playoffs. You know what occurred this past post season. Call it coincidence #2?
Todd McLellan said back then, “As of now, nobody is our captain” and “I want to see who’s stepping up to the front. When training camp starts on Sept. 12, you may walk into my office and say who’s your captain and I’ll probably tell you I’ll let you know when we know.”
In Gouche’s article he also states that “even though McLellan emphasized that he could earn the captaincy back in training camp I can’t help to wonder if perhaps they are trying to aggravate this 276- career goal scorer into waiving his no trade clause.” Coincidence #3 and #4?
“Aw, who are we kidding: No one knows what the Sharks need. But this is at least something halfway dramatic to shake the funk off these guys.” Said Wyshynski at the time. Did it work?
Rob Blake was named captain for the 2009-10 season and the Sharks got all the way to the conference finals, losing to the Blackhawks. In 2010-11, Thornton became the captain and they also went to the conference finals losing out to the Vancouver Canucks.
The talk about no-trade clauses and being desperate is more there by the media to get your attention than anything else. The change of captaincy will shake the funk off the team but there will not be any turmoil in the dressing room. Marleau is still on the team and no one talks about his presence impacting on Thornton.
Marleau had the ‘C’ for five seasons, Thornton for five as well. It is evolution and the ‘C’ will eventually go to a younger player. Maybe not this season, a la Rob Blake, but surely by the next one.
The fact that GM Doug Wilson didn’t trade Thornton or Marleau shows that they were not going to make any rash decisions.
Call this Sharknado 1 and Sharknado 2. Lots of hype but very little else. Certainly no turmoil. You can feel safe picking up these Sharks.