Joe Thornton (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Sharks took a dramatic step back this season and even with expectations tempered heading in, the campaign was a disappointment. Now the franchise's stars have vented and the off-season seems like it will be volatile.
When San Jose GM Doug Wilson referred to his Sharks as a "tomorrow team" in the summer, he certainly tempered expectations as to what the ceiling of the 2014-15 squad was. But how many people thought the Sharks would miss the playoffs altogether? Can't say I predicted that.
And clearly some of San Jose's best players didn't anticipate it either, as they had strong words for the organization before heading out for the summer. Several of these ripostes have been collected by the San Jose Mercury News. First, we have two-way center Logan Couture, talking about the team's overall culture:
"Not great," he said. "That's my personal opinion and that's all I'm going to say about it."
Couture, who has always struck me as passionate about winning, didn't advocate for a coaching change, but did say the players were inconsistent and should have displayed more hunger this year after their gut-wrenching first-round playoff loss to Los Angeles last season.
Then there was veteran pivot Joe Thornton, who had already second-handedly told Wilson to "shut his mouth" a month ago. The status of coach Todd McLellan has been a hot topic and 'Jumbo Joe' had some pointed words on the bench boss, too.
"Todd has to talk to his family," Thornton said. "Maybe he should talk to this family as well in here. We'll see what happens."
Thornton went on to say that an improvement in team culture would have to come from the coaches on down and also echoed Couture's disappointment in how the team responded to last year's playoff loss.
So what happens now? McLellan is over in Europe coaching Canada's world championship squad and though a decision on his Sharks future had originally been thought of coming as soon as Wednesday, that obviously didn't happen.
But something has to change in San Jose this summer. Both Wilson and McLellan could be fired and no one would bat an eye, but the duo has also been given a lot of leash by ownership in the past. You would think Thornton's agitated remarks would mean he wants out, but I'm not so sure about that. He and Couture were clearly angry at the playoff miss and I don't see them as the types of players who run away from a challenge.
Plus, there's the matter of Thornton's no-trade clause: Though it's been said in the past that both he and Patrick Marleau (also armed with a no-trade clause) would be willing to move if they weren't wanted anymore, is that sentiment still there?
Whatever happens, it's going to be another crazy summer in San Jose.