‘I want players that want to play here, not just live here,’ says San Jose GM


Interesting stuff from Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News:

It was a 12-word mini-manifesto, offered in a staccato bite for maximum impact.

“I want players that want to play here,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told me, “not just live here.”

That was pretty much all Wilson chose to say in our phone conversation last week, and really, it was all Wilson had to communicate.

When he said the words, I actually stopped and asked if he meant to say what I think he just said.

So Wilson repeated: “I want players that want to play here, not just live here.”

Boom. Wilson, dropping the hammer. Though to be fair, it’s easy to see what he’s talking about.

In terms of desirable locales, hockey players are hard pressed to find one better than San Jose. It’s affluent, the weather’s nice, the fanbase is loyal and enthusiastic (Sharks have played to at least 97 percent attendance for the last six years) and the organization treats its players pretty well. The team literally rolled out the red carpet for Owen Nolan’s retirement ceremony in 2012, and Nolan made himself a staple in the community after leaving the organization in 2003 (he owns a bar in the city.)

So is there a bit of a “country club” atmosphere in San Jose, perhaps? Sure, and that’s likely what Wilson is getting at. There’s the all-too-real possibility he and the coaching staff feel complacency has crept into the dressing room, where the likes of Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton have resided for 16 and eight years, respectively.

If this offseason has taught us anything, it’s that Wilson and owner Hasso Plattner aren’t pinning the team’s lack of playoff success — and this year’s opening-round collapse to L.A. — on the coaching staff or front office. Following the Kings defeat, Plattner opted to follow Wilson’s advice for patience and retained head coach Todd McLellan, extended the contract of associate coach Larry Robinson and also kept assistant GM Joe Will in the fold.

So, changes coming to the San Jose roster?

Sure sounds like it.

Derek Roy signs in Swiss league

Derek Roy, Jeremy Smith, Chris Kelly
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Derek Roy has finally found work — but it’s not in the NHL.

Roy, who spent the entire preseason in Washington’s camp on a PTO, has signed with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Friday.

The news comes after Roy narrowly missed out on making the Caps roster, and just one year after he had something of a bounce-back campaign in Edmonton, scoring 22 points in 46 games while developing chemistry with young winger Nail Yakupov.

A 12-year NHL veteran, Roy is one of the more prominent names to be squeezed out of work this season, and head overseas. The 31-year-old has scored over 500 points in 738 career contests, and has twice represented Canada at the World Hockey Championships.

With Bern, Roy will play on one of Switzerland’s stronger teams, alongside a trio of ex-NHLers: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett and Cory Conacher.

Lehner’s injury ‘doesn’t look like it’s short term’

Robin Lehner
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Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.

Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.

When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.

“It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”

It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.

While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.