The San Jose Sharks are in the midst of one heckuva offseason — in June, Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News suggested the club was “having a nervous breakdown” — and on Wednesday, the men in teal continued their bizarre summer by stripping Joe Thornton of his captaincy… without telling him first.
From David Pollak at the Merc:
Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Wednesday that the team will begin without a captain or assistants, part of the franchise’s intent to change the locker room hierarchy following San Jose’s epic playoff loss to the Los Angeles Kings after winning the first three games.
That was all news to Thornton, who said he didn’t know that he had lost his captaincy until being informed by a reporter.
“I talked with Todd today, and he never mentioned anything about captains or assistant captains,” said Thornton.
Later, McLellan acknowledged that he could have been clearer in his “clean slate” talk with Thornton, and that the matter had been clarified.
The strangest part in all of this? Stripping Thornton’s “C” came nearly five years to the day of losing his alternate captaincy back in 2009, when the Sharks also took away Patrick Marleau’s “C”. That shakeup came after a massive playoff disappointment (sound familiar?) in which the Sharks won 53 regular season games before getting bounced in the opening round by Anaheim. That led McLellan to overhaul his entire leadership group (sound familiar?) and go into training camp with no captains or alternates (sound familiar?).
Marleau was eventually replaced by Rob Blake as team captain the following season, with Thornton — who, remember, already had his “A” taken away — re-installed as an alternate. Jumbo was then promoted to captain following Blake’s retirement in 2010, and Marleau was brought back into the leadership group as an alternate.
So, basically, the moral of the story is if Marleau and Thornton wait long enough, they’ll probably get their letters back eventually.