Tag: Joe Thornton

Todd McLellan

Would McLellan like to coach McDavid? ‘You can have the best player and still not have the best team’


No longer the head coach of the San Jose Sharks, Todd McLellan was asked today if he’d like to coach Connor McDavid, the likely first overall pick of the Edmonton Oilers.

McLellan’s answer was an interesting one.

“I would like to coach a great group of hockey players next year,” he said. “Connor McDavid is, obviously, everybody’s talking about him and his ability to come in and have an impact. I’m assuming that the Oilers will pick him number one.

“But one thing that I’ve learned: you can have the best player and still not have the best team. It’s about team. It’s about a group. It’s about the whole organization and the culture of the organization.

“Connor’s going to be a very exciting player to watch — again, I’m assuming in Edmonton — and he’ll have an impact on the league for years and years to come. But the bigger story is about the group as a whole.”

Take that as a shot at the Edmonton Oilers and their culture. Or, take it as a parting shot at the Sharks and theirs. Both clubs have been criticized for their losing ways — Edmonton despite three first-overall draft picks already in its lineup; San Jose for its failures to get the job done in the playoffs.

Maybe it wasn’t really a direct shot at anyone, and McLellan was just setting the table for his next opportunity.

Regardless, he wants to coach next season, and he’ll be a top candidate for vacancies in Toronto, Philadelphia, and Buffalo. And if there are openings anywhere else (Edmonton? Detroit?), probably those places too.

As for why he and the Sharks “mutually agreed” to part ways? McLellan said that with one year left on his contract and the team “clearly in a rebuild,” he felt “it was time.”

McLellan also shared some thoughts on his much-maligned former captain.

“I can tell you, ’til my last breath, I can tell you that I have a ton of respect for Joe Thornton,” he said.

“He’s a tremendous player, first of all. He cares immensely about the organization, about his teammates, and he has a strong passion for winning. And that may be one of the big misnomers out there, just because he is a relaxed guy and that type of stuff.

“But my respect level for him is very high. There’ll be a day when he’s going to be put into the Hall of Fame, and hopefully as he goes in there with all the awards, he can finish his career by winning a championship. I know that’s what his passion is all about.”

Report: Babcock, McLellan top Philly’s list to replace Berube

Getty Images

Didn’t take long for the Flyers’ wish list to go public after firing Craig Berube.

Per TSN and CSN Philadelphia, two coaches currently under contract — Detroit’s Mike Babcock and San Jose’s Todd McLellan — are the leading candidates shortlisted to replace Berube, who was dismissed earlier this morning.

Neither name will come as a big surprise. Babcock is in extremely high demand, with Toronto and Buffalo believed to be among the most interested suitors. The Leafs and Sabres, like the Flyers, have already fired their head coaches (Peter Horachek and Ted Nolan) this offseason.

As for McLellan, the situation is tricky. He left San Jose’s locker clean-out day amid major acrimony, with his job status questionable and Joe Thornton delivering a parting shot. McLellan seems as though he’s all but done with the Sharks, especially with numerous reports that he and the organization will agree to mutually part ways, but McLellan also said he doesn’t expect an answer on his future until he leaves to coach Team Canada at the World Championships on Apr. 24.

As for the Flyers’ timeline, GM Ron Hextall said he’d like to have a coach in place by the NHL Entry Draft, which goes in late June. Hextall also said he has no desire to keep the hire “in the family” and bring aboard a coach with former ties to the organization (see: Berube, John Stevens, Bill Barber.)

“We’re looking for the right guy,” Hextall explained. “Whether he has connections or not is not going to be part of the equation. I don’t care about that. We’re looking for the best coach possible to coach our team moving forward.”

Thornton now has harsh words for McLellan as Sharks mess festers

San Jose Sharks v Vancouver Canucks - Game Five

Bad feelings tend to flourish when teams suffer from losses and disappointing seasons, but it’s difficult to think of many situations where players and executives aired their grievances as publicly as the San Jose Sharks have.

It’s really been a mess since last summer, and if you expected media availability to be full of no-comments or diplomatic responses, then you probably weren’t close to Joe Thornton.

Not that long after Thornton told his general manager to shut his mouth, the Sharks’ former captain and frequent lighting rod made sarcastic comments toward his head coach Todd McLellan this time around, as CSNBayArea.com reports.

Q: There’s a lot of focus on the coaching staff. Do you sense any need for change?

Thornton: “I have no idea. Todd has to talk to his family. Maybe he should talk to this family as well in here. We’ll see what happens.”

Sheesh, that’s a little salty, huh?

It wasn’t the only sign that Thornton, 35, has some hard feelings for a coach who may or may not return next season. This seemingly sarcastic comment from his brother (and agent) about McLellan coaching Team Canada at the 2015 World Hockey Championships also suggests that all is not quite well:

For those wondering why the Sharks don’t just trade this problem away, do note that Thornton has a no-trade clause, so it may not be such a straightforward process … and that’s assuming they’d want to deal a guy who still is a big difference-maker on the ice.

The malaise hanging over the franchise is quite obvious, and it hasn’t been lost on players like Logan Couture, who admitted that he doesn’t think the culture is “great.”

Whether the Sharks make some big changes or largely stay put, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this franchise raise a few eyebrows before training camps for 2015-16 kick in.