On Saturday, the NHL fined the San Jose Sharks $100,000 for comments made by GM Doug Wilson regarding the Raffi Torres suspension.
While expensive, this might’ve been what Wilson wanted.
The Sharks head into Saturday’s Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals down 0-2 to the Kings, a series that featured a wild Game 2 in which LA scored twice in the final 1:43 to erase a one-goal deficit and capture a stunning win.
For the Sharks, that loss was tough to swallow.
They rallied from a two-goal deficit and looked on their way to stealing home-ice advantage before a pair of penalties — including a controversial “over the glass” call to defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic for delay of game — allowed LA to score two powerplay goals.
There were plenty of questions being asked of San Jose in the aftermath. Many focused on the Vlasic penalty — the Sharks organization felt his clearing attempt ricocheted off Jeff Carter’s stick — and whispers started:
Could they handle the gut-punch loss? Was this going to be another in a long line of playoff disappointments in San Jose?
So maybe, just maybe, Wilson wanted to take the heat off his club.
Consider, for a second, the lengths Wilson went to defend Torres — who, while an impactful player, is hardly the face of the franchise. Torres has been with the Sharks for all of six weeks and 16 games. (He’s the true definition of a playoff rental; his contract expires in July.)
Then, consider Wilson’s and the organization’s history with the NHL.
The Sharks rarely voice public displeasure or carry the reputation of a contentious club, especially when it comes the league discipline. And since Brendan Shanahan arrived as the NHL’s discipline czar, punishment for the club has been minimal — Ryane Clowe was fined last year and suspended (two games) this year; Vlasic was fined this season.
Then came Torres, and Wilson’s 414-word rebuke.
If Wilson is indeed trying to deflect attention from his club, he wouldn’t be the first GM to do so. Brian “Sedin is not Swedish for punch me, or headlock me in a scrum” Burke and Mike Gillis (who was fined for his attempt) have both done it in the playoffs, when times are desperate and management is willing to try anything to get an edge.
Of course, Wilson will have to wait until tonight to find out if he got said edge. Should the Sharks lose, this’ll end up as nothing more than an expensive attempt at one.