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