Larry Robinson has an … interesting take on Sharks captaincy

21 Comments

The San Jose Sharks probably deserve credit for not totally panicking and clearing house after coughing up a 3-0 series lead against the Los Angeles Kings,* but the wave of odd commentary from management continues. Most recently, the rather curious takes revolve around the decision to strip Joe Thornton of the captaincy.

Fear the Fin transcribed assistant coach/hockey legend Larry Robinson’s thoughts regarding why a “shake-up” was needed to Montreal’s TSN 690:

“I don’t think this is to put all the onus on Joe or even Patrick for that matter but there’s definitely leadership that has to be found somewhere within and if it’s not Joe and if it’s not Patrick then we’re looking for somebody else to step forward and I think that’s the main reason we’re doing what we’re doing,” Robinson said. “We’re waiting for somebody now to step forward and take charge of this team.”

There have been some interesting themes developing from the various interviews shared by Robinson and GM Doug Wilson.

One is that Thornton’s occasionally biting sense of humor might have had its detriments for younger-yet-prominent Sharks.

” … You have to feel comfortable and if you had a problem or if you need something or are looking for a lift, you usually look to your leaders and your captains to get out there,” Robinson said. “And it’s possible that maybe Joe didn’t provide it for our team.”

Considering the narrative that the Sharks (and especially Thornton/Patrick Marleau) have been “too soft,” it’s interesting that the organizational feeling seems to imply that they actually seek a gentler approach from “Jumbo Joe.”

One other theme Robinson echoed is that they’d like to see the leadership torch passed from veterans to prime-age players. Robinson seems to believe that at 35, Thornton might actually feel liberated not to have to carry the burden of wearing the “C.”

Ultimately, the Sharks decided to sign Thornton and Marleau to contract extensions … presumably before they decided that they were having such a leadership crisis. The franchise decided to avoid the messy process of a true rebuild, yet each seems like every public statement opens the door for more hurt feelings and headaches.

Check out Fear the Fin’s perspective here and the full interview in this link.

* – Remember when the Boston Bruins didn’t panic after being “reverse-swept” and then won a Stanley Cup the following season? Just saying.

Related

Thornton heard about captaincy change from a reporter, not his team

The Sharks seemed to be having a “nervous breakdown” in June

Wilson talks “tomorrow team” and then sort of backpedals

Islanders’ D getting crowded with four-year deal for Adam Pelech

Getty
Leave a comment

If nothing else, quantity probably won’t be much of an issue for the New York Islanders’ defense in 2017-18.

GM Garth Snow locked down another blueliner on Monday, as he signed Adam Pelech to a four-year contract. The deal is worth $1.6 million per season ($6.4M overall), according to Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

Pelech, 22, played 44 games at the NHL level in 2016-17, collecting 10 points and struggling from an analytics standpoint. He also appeared in nine games with the Islanders in 2015-16.

Staple notes that this could make for a logjam – or, to put a positive spin on it, make for a lot of competition – particularly if the Isles can strike a deal with Calvin de Haan soon. If that pans out, they’d have eight defensemen who would need to go through waivers.

On the bright side, the Islanders’ defense looks respectable on paper, and that’s assuming that Pelech doesn’t take a step forward. If he does, this could be another respectable, under-the-radar move by Snow.

At the moment, it mainly seems like adding depth and flexibility, which isn’t the worst thing, either.

Plenty of opportunity on revamped Blackhawks defense

Getty
Leave a comment

For almost a decade, Niklas Hjalmarsson was a mainstay on the Blackhawks’ back end, quietly providing some of the most effective defense in the league.

But with Hjalmarsson in Arizona now, traded to the Coyotes for the younger-though-less-proven Connor Murphy, it remains to be seen how Chicago’s blue line will roll out next season.

In addition to Hjalmarsson, the ‘Hawks also bid adieu to Brian Campbell, Johnny Oduya, and Trevor van Riemsdyk this offseason.

Add up all the good-byes, and that’s a lot of minutes to replace.

“We’re going to see when we’re putting the pairs together, whether we’re going to reunite [Duncan Keith] and [Brent Seabrook] or look for some balance,” head coach Joel Quenneville said, per CSN Chicago. “There are a lot of options. We’ll look forward to that and sorting it out.”

The way it looks right now, the top four will be comprised of Keith, Seabrook, Murphy, and Michal Kempny. That’s two left shots — Keith and Kempny — and two righties — Seabrook and Murphy.

Read more: After major changes, Bowman thinks Blackhawks are in ‘good spot’

The bottom pairing, though, is anyone’s guess. Newly signed Czech defenseman Jan Rutta is in the mix. But so too are Jordan Oesterle, Gustav Forsling, Ville Pokka, Erik Gustafsson, Viktor Svedberg, and possibly even Luc Snuggerud.

Once training camp starts, it’ll be up to those young players to prove themselves.

“Just the amount of opportunity that is in front of me just drives me even more,” said Oesterle, whom the ‘Hawks signed July 1. “I want to be here and force their hand to keep me here.”

Veteran Michal Rozsival is also under contract for next season. However, he turns 39 in September, and with all that youth champing at the bit, the Blackhawks will be hoping they won’t need him much, if at all.

Chicago’s defense in 2016-17, ranked by total time on ice

Sheary’s agent — who’s also Dumoulin’s agent — hoping to avoid arbitration

Getty
1 Comment

Conor Sheary‘s agent is hopeful that an arbitration hearing won’t be needed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that same agent has reason to be optimistic, since he’s also the agent for Brian Dumoulin, who settled at the last minute today.

“Each (case) is so different,” Andrew Gross told the Post-Gazette this morning. “Ultimately, though, team and player would like to avoid going in that room. It’s not a pleasant experience.”

Sheary’s hearing isn’t scheduled until Aug. 4. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a 53-point regular season. In his young NHL career, he’s already won two Stanley Cups.

That said, the Penguins can’t afford to break the bank on an extension. After all, a big reason for their success has been having players like Sheary on affordable deals — a necessity with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang taking up so much cap space.

Sheary wasn’t all that productive in the 2017 playoffs either, scoring just two goals with five assists in 22 games, while finishing a team-worst minus-5 for the postseason.

“We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said last week.

Of course, Rutherford was also speaking about Dumoulin, and the two sides were able to reach an agreement on him.

You can probably expect a similar outcome with Sheary.

Just don’t bet the house on it.

Preds avoid arbitration with Austin Watson

Getty
Leave a comment

Another narrowly avoided arbitration to pass along.

The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million next season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

Watson’s hearing was scheduled for today.

From the press release:

Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract.