Wilson safe in San Jose; Carlyle the next coach?

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In case it wasn’t obvious earlier this week when he was entrusted to hold a press conference and talk about the future of the team, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson will be back next season.

From CSN Bay Area:

On Thursday, team owner Hasso Plattner issued a lengthy, and at times vague letter to fans, in which he touched on a number of topics regarding his club that missed the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons.

Although it wasn’t explicitly worded, according to a Sharks source, the letter partly serves as an endorsement for Wilson to return as the team’s top hockey executive for a 13th year.

Obviously, Wilson has some work to do this summer. At the top of the list is hiring a new coach to replace Todd McLellan.

Speaking of which…

San Jose also has eight picks in the upcoming draft, including the ninth overall selection.

The Sharks haven’t had a top-10 draft pick since they took Logan Couture ninth overall in 2007.

Thornton now has harsh words for McLellan as Sharks mess festers

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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.

Report: Eichel invited to join Team USA at Worlds

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Jack Eichel and Jimmy Vesey are hoping to join Team USA at next month’s World Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic.

Eichel is of course expected to be one of the top two picks at June’s NHL Draft. The 2015 Hobey Baker winner led Boston University to the final of the frozen four where they fell 4-3 to Providence on Saturday.

Vesey, a third-round pick of the Nashville Predators (66th overall in 2012), just completed his third year at Harvard.

Meanwhile, TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reports Tyler Ennis and Cody Eakin are both headed overseas to represent Canada at the tournament.

Ennis has represented Canada internationally at the Under-20 tournament while it’ll be Eakin’s first time playing for Team Canada.

Rishaug also reports Ryan Johansen, Logan Couture and Jamie Benn have declined invites from Hockey Canada.

NBC, NBCSN will combine to air three games today

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NBC and NBCSN will conclude its coverage of the 2014-15 regular season by airing three of Saturday’s games. They are:

San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings

Start Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Where to watch: NBC (Depending on your region) or you can watch the live stream by clicking here.

The San Jose Sharks went into this season hungry for redemption after Los Angeles overcame a 3-0 series deficit in the first round of the 2014 playoffs to eliminate them. Meanwhile, the Kings were going for its third Stanley Cup championship in the span of four years.

In the end neither squad will get what they want as they enter today’s contest without any hope of making the playoffs. So with the possibility of a 2015 postseason rematch gone, these two teams will have to settle for one final regular season contest.

“Both teams still have something to play for – they’re our rival,” San Jose’s Logan Couture told CSN Bay Area. “I’m sure the building will have some Sharks fans in it. We’re going to want to go out strong, and they’re going to want to go out strong, too.”

Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues

Start Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Where to watch: NBC (Depending on your region) or you can watch the live stream by clicking here.

The St. Louis Blues are entering the day with a chance to wrestle the top seed in the Western Conference away from the Anaheim Ducks. Doing so would mean opening the playoffs against the Winnipeg Jets instead of the Minnesota Wild or Chicago Blackhawks. Winning the Conference title would also of course guarantee that St. Louis would get the home-ice advantage in each series until the Stanley Cup Final.

The Wild are going into this game with control of the first Wild Card seed, but they have an opportunity to take the third Central Division seed away from Chicago. Minnesota winning this afternoon would put the pressure on Chicago tonight to secure at least one point tonight or slide in the standings.

On an individual level, Blues forwards Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko will both return today from their respective lower-body injuries. They’re two of St. Louis’ top-three scorers, so getting them back before the playoffs is huge.

Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning

Start Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where to watch: NBCSN or you can watch the live stream by clicking here.

Boston has made the playoffs for seven straight seasons and claimed the Presidents’ Trophy in 2013-14. Despite that, the Bruins have been wildly inconsistent this season and are consequently entering the day with a mediocre 41-27-13 record.

Boston is one point behind Pittsburgh in the battle for a Wild Card spot (something not many people would have predicted going into the campaign) and the Penguins control the tiebreaker ROW. That means a consolation point won’t be enough for the Bruins tonight; they have to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in order to even have a shot of making the playoffs.

Before the game starts, the Bruins will likely be watching Ottawa play Philadelphia (12:30 p.m. ET). A win by Ottawa, which controls the first Wild Card seed, wouldn’t knock Boston out of the playoff race, but it would lessen its odds. If Ottawa loses in regulation time to the Flyers, then the Bruins have the comfort of knowing that they will make the playoffs as long as they win tonight. If Ottawa wins or gets a consolation point, then the Bruins will need the lowly Buffalo Sabres to beat Pittsburgh in order for Boston to have a chance.

This game has some significance for Tampa Bay too. The Lightning currently hold the second seed in the Atlantic Division, but if they win and Montreal loses on Saturday, then Tampa Bay will take the division title.

NBC Sports Group to air three games on ‘Super Saturday,’ including Wild-Blues and B’s-Bolts

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All 30 NHL teams will play on Saturday as the league puts a bow on the 2014-15 regular season, and NBC will be right in the thick of ‘Super Saturday’ with a trio of games — two of which have major playoff implications.

From the network:

NBC will regionalize coverage at 3 p.m. ET, featuring T.J. Oshie and the St. Louis Blues hosting Zach Parise and the Minnesota Wild, while Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings welcome Logan Couture and the San Jose Sharks.

Coverage shifts to NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. ET, when Milan Lucic and the Boston Bruins travel to Tampa Bay to face Steven Stamkos and the Lightning.

The Minnesota-St. Louis game has significant postseason ramifications. Depending on results, the Wild could end up playing either Anaheim, Nashville or St. Louis in Round 1; the Blues will face either Minnesota, Chicago or Winnipeg. St. Louis could also finish as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, having already wrapped up the Central Division.

The Boston-Tampa Bay game could decide the Bruins’ season, depending on what Pittsburgh does in its final two games (versus the Isles and Sabres) and what Ottawa does in its last game against the Flyers on Saturday. If the results fall their way, the B’s could be playing for a wild card spot. This game will also be significant for the Bolts, who can still pass Montreal for top spot in the Atlantic Division.