McLellan doesn’t rule out stripping Thornton of ‘C’

16 Comments

The San Jose Sharks had three players who wore a ‘C’ or ‘A’ on their jerseys in 2013-14. Joe Thornton was the captain, while Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle were alternates.

And then San Jose blew a 3-0 series lead versus the Kings. Since that point, trade rumors have been swirling around Thornton and Marleau, the club cut ties with free-agent Boyle, and one newspaper columnist wrote that the Sharks might be “having a bit of a nervous breakdown right now.”

So it hasn’t been a whole lot of fun for general manager Doug Wilson, who was furious with his team after the collapse versus Los Angeles.

But Wilson is limited in what he can do. Both Thornton and Marleau have no-movement clauses and don’t want to leave San Jose, where they’re under contract through 2016-17.

That said, the pair of veterans may have to accept a leadership demotion, for lack of a better phrase, if they do stay.

“What would happen if nobody wore a letter on our team this year? Not a single guy?” head coach Todd McLellan said today, per ESPN.com. “What if nobody wore a letter? We’d still be the San Jose Sharks and we’d be a leadership group. What would happen?”

McLellan answered his own question: “I don’t know.”

Clearly, the Sharks feel something has to be done. Per Yahoo Sports, Wilson “has said some players told him in exit interviews that they felt like co-workers more than teammates.”

And that stands in stark contrast to what the Kings were saying after they won their second Stanley Cup in three years.

“We like each other. We love each other,” said overtime hero Alec Martinez. “L.A.s the only thing I’ve ever known, being drafted here. But from what guys say that have played elsewhere, what we have here is pretty special, in terms of guys really liking each other, and that’s a testament to [general manager Dean Lombardi] putting together a group of guys like that.”

Talk about a knife twisting in Wilson’s back.

It’s going to be an interesting offseason in San Jose.

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

Getty
Leave a comment

The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch where the Rangers failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

Getty
Leave a comment

There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fans, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong postseasons, even as their Cup win fades to the background ever so slightly. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

Leave a comment

Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to come to Craig Anderson‘s blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

Getty
9 Comments

When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.

It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: