After a year in which playing without a captain proved to be a massive distraction, the San Jose Sharks are reversing course for 2015-16 — in fact, one of the first things new head coach Peter DeBoer confirmed upon getting hired is that someone would wear the “C” this year.
Probably a good idea.
Last year’s saga, you’ll recall, began with the club stripping Joe Thornton of his captaincy, then implementing a four-man alternate captain/leadership group comprised of Patrick Marleau (who had his “A” stripped, then given back), Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic… and Joe Thornton.
Yeah, I know. Crazy it didn’t work out!
The situation festered throughout the season, reaching a boiling point in late February and early March. After McLellan went on radio and said the Sharks were “better led” without a captain — which some saw as a shot at Thornton — GM Doug Wilson told a group of ticketholders that Thornton was stripped because the “pressure and stress” of serving as team captain caused him to lash out at people.
Thornton responded, quite appropriately, by lashing out at Wilson.
“I think Doug just needs to shut his mouth. I think that’s the bottom line,” he said. “All I’ve got to say is I’ve been here every day working hard. I haven’t taken a sabbatical.
“He just needs to stop lying, shut his mouth.”
This Tet-a-tet forced owner Hasso Plattner to intervene and tell all parties to quit airing the team’s dirty laundry. After missing the playoffs, the Sharks and McLellan “mutually agreed to part ways,” but not before Thornton took a parting shot at his (now former) head coach.
Soooo… does this pretty much rule Thornton out as the next captain?
One would have to think so. Jumbo turned 36 in July and will be a free agent after next season, so the Sharks will likely look to the future, continuing that “tomorrow team” notion that Wilson seems to have stopped talking about entirely.
The team also has candidates ready to make the leap to captain. Pavelski and Vlasic top the list, and McLellan previously talked up Logan Couture as a leader-in-the-making.
With that said, let’s get to the vote. Feel free to add additional candidates in the comments section.