The coach of a California-based NHL club under pressure to get his team to the promise land, its a common theme in the Golden State unless your name is Darryl Sutter of course.
San Jose’s Todd McLellan, who by the way wasn’t fired during the off-season, despite having his name be linked to a number of coaching vacancies is back behind the Sharks bench for a seventh season.
This after his team collapsed in epic fashion blowing a 3-0 series lead to the LA Kings in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.
In May, Sharks’ majority owner Hasso Plattner voiced his disappointment in the team’s playoff failures in a statement. Plattner added he was confident that general manager Doug Wilson would make the appropriate changes moving forward.
Apparently keeping McLellan, who is believed to have two years remaining on his contract, around is part of that plan. His supporting staff, which includes associate coach Larry Robinson and assistants Jim Johnson and Jay Woodcroft, is still in tact as well.
McLellan has been at the helm for six seasons in the Bay Area after serving as an assistant coach on Mike Babcock’s staff in Detroit from 2005-08.
In San Jose, McLellan has guided the Sharks to six consecutive playoff appearances; however, they’ve reached the conference finals only twice.
Once getting to the final four, McLellan’s teams have won just one of eight games – that was a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Since then, McLellan hasn’t been able to get his team past the second round despite finishing in the top 3 of the Pacific Division each year.
Following his team’s most recent collapse, a 5-1 loss in Game 7 to the Kings, McLellan called it his lowest point.
“I’m responsible for this group,” he said while at the podium at the SAP Center. “Low point since I’ve been here … that’s an easy one to answer.”
Wilson is apparently willing to go down with the sinking ship.
He re-signed Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau to similar three-year contracts in January and tacked on no-movement clauses despite heading into a rebuild. Both have two years remaining on their deals after 2014-15 all but guaranteeing they’ll be in San Jose longer than McLellan and Wilson.
Wilson’s motto this off-season appears to be addition by subtraction.
He dealt defenseman Brad Stuart for a pair of draft picks and decided not to re-sign veteran Dan Boyle. Additionally, Wilson, who has been with the club since 2003, bought out forward Martin Havlat.
As it stands, it appears Wilson is banking on players such as sophomore Tomas Hertl and third-year NHLer Tommy Wingles, who had 16 goals in 77 games last season, to pick up the slack up front and help veterans Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture.
On the back end San Jose is hoping defenseman Mirco Mueller can make the leap and help fill out the top six.
According to CapGeek, San Jose has a little over $6 million to play with.
But without much significant help left on the free agent market, Sharks’ fans have to hope Wilson can make additions by trade or else its quite a similar looking team, which will once again try to get San Jose to that elusive Stanley Cup final.