Mike Ricci

Sharks on fixing issues under Boughner: ‘It’s on all of us in this room’

As with many coaches, after some time, the effect your voice has on your players wears off and new blood is needed. That’s been Peter DeBoer’s experience since becoming an NHL head coach in 2008.

Three seasons with the Panthers was followed by three-and-a-half yeah with the Devils, which brings us to his four-and-a-half season tenure with the Sharks, which ended Wednesday night with his firing. Each stop of his coaching journey has seen improvement, with his most successful job done in San Jose where the team made the Stanley Cup Final in his first season and reached the playoffs in his four full seasons in the Bay Area.

This 15-16-2 Sharks team should have been in the “Cup Contender” category nearly halfway through this season, but has turned out to be nothing but a disappointment. A five-game losing streak was the last straw for general manager Doug Wilson and it was time for a change.

“Probably, yeah,” said Joe Thornton when asked if a new voice was needed. “I love Pete. Pete’s a fantastic coach. He took this team to where it’s never been before. Nothing but heavy respect for Pete. But it might have been time for a new voice.”

The Sharks’ goaltending has been a huge issue since last season with a league-worst .892 even strength save percentage since the start of the 2018-19, per Natural Stat Trick. There’s also an issue of team defense. San Jose is tied with the Maple Leafs with 46 high-danger goals allowed, most in the NHL. It’s a baffling statistic given they also own the league’s best penalty kill at 88.3%. Systemically, there’s something wrong.

“We’ve talked about this since the beginning of the season,” Wilson said Thursday, “whether it’s focus, whether it’s attitude. Bob [Boughner] talked about when you’re killing penalties, it’s to prevent the other team from scoring, so you come back with urgency, even though you’re a man less. It’s positioning, sticks in the right lanes. I don’t like to use the word cheating, but you’re not hoping to go the other way. If you can apply that approach 5-on-5, you’d think you’d be very strong at it.

“If you can take the idea that it’s not just to prevent the other team from scoring, but now we want to get the puck back so we can attack offensively, that’s really the mindset you have to have. When we do that well, we’re a really good hockey team.”

Making a move to shake up this roster seems like a long-shot given the Sharks’ salary cap situation. The only notable move so far came in the way of bringing back Patrick Marleau, who has six goals and 11 points in 29 games.

The only change coming will be Bob Boughner moving from assistant to head coach and a new staff featuring San Jose’s AHL head coach Roy Sommer, and former Sharks Mike Ricci and Evgeni Nabokov.

“The players trust and believe in [Boughner],” Wilson said. “And I think he’ll bring that energy, juice and joy to the game I think our team is missing right now.”

We’ll see if Boughner learned from his two playoff-less seasons with the Panthers. Whatever new system and style he wants to institute will have to be executed by the players who have played their way into this situation.

“It’s on all of us in this room,” said Sharks captain Logan Couture. “When something like that happens, pro sports is such a what have you done for me lately business. As a player, when a coach loses their job, you feel you’re part of the reason why.”

“You put hockey aside. As a human being, you’re upset you’re not going to be able to work with that group anymore and see them every day,” Couture said. “I talked to most of them and just them that I had so much fun coming to the rink and playing for you guys.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Eric Lindros’ open-and-shut case for the Hockey Hall of Fame

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Peter Forsberg’s election to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday may have helped take care of something that should’ve happened already – make Eric Lindros’ case to be enshrined in Toronto.

The two giants of the ice are forever linked because of the June 30, 1992 trade that sent Lindros’ rights from the Quebec Nordiques to the Philadelphia Flyers. The blockbuster seven-player deal saw Lindros go to the Flyers in exchange for Forsberg, Steve Duchesne, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Kerry Huffman, and Philly’s 1993 first-round pick that turned into Jocelyn Thibault.

Both Lindros and Forsberg went on to have superstar careers.

Forsberg had greater team success winning the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001 with the Colorado Avalanche while Lindros made one Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1997 with the Flyers getting swept by the Detroit Red Wings. Forsberg won two Olympic gold medals in 1994 and 2006 with Sweden while Lindros won one in 2002 with Canada.

For Hockey Hall of Fame arguments, team titles are an easy way to distract from the point of the Hall of Fame. Getting elected to the Hall is based on individual success and, let’s face it, there are plenty of players who will never come close to making the Hall who have won multiple Stanley Cups.

When it came to individual accolades, their honors are similar. Both Forsberg (2003) and Lindros (1995) won Hart Trophies. Forsberg also won the Calder (1995) and Art Ross (2003). Both went to multiple All-Star Games and were season-end league all-stars as well.

When you look at the raw statistics and personal achievements between Lindros and Forsberg, suddenly things look a lot closer:

Forsberg:  (14 seasons – 708 GP)  249 G  636 A  885 PTS  690 PIM 1.250 PPG (points per-game)

Lindros:    (13 seasons – 760 GP)  372 G  493 A  865 PTS  1,398 PIM  1.138 PPG

Forsberg’s points per game total is eighth best all-time trailing Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, Sidney Crosby, Bobby Orr, Marcel Dionne, and Peter Stastny. He was a no-brainer Hall of Famer whether you loved him or hated him or wanted to hold his history of foot injuries against him.

source: Getty ImagesWhile Lindros’ PPG total pales in comparison, put that into perspective of how great Forsberg’s play was. Lindros’ PPG total is 19th best all-time. The next 11 players behind Lindros on that list are all in the Hall of Fame. Of those between Forsberg and Lindros, Kent Nilsson is the only one who isn’t currently playing that’s not in the Hall (Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Jaromir Jagr are still going strong).

Forsberg was rightly considered a no-brainer to make the Hall of Fame yet this was Lindros’ fifth turn on the ballot. Next year’s vote won’t be any easier for Lindros to crack through.

Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, and Alex Kovalev will be eligible for the first time and join a growing group of worthy candidates to be enshrined. Lidstrom will be a unanimous selection with Fedorov being arguably close to that as well.

That means Lindros will be fighting for recognition amongst other guys with gaudy numbers like Phil Housley, Alexander Mogilny, and Dave Andreychuk or those with brilliant international careers like Sergei Makarov.

There shouldn’t be a way for others, aside from Lidstrom, to make as strong of a claim to make the Hall of Fame next year as Lindros. Now with Forsberg earning his own spot in history, it’s time for the Hall of Fame committee to open the doors for “Big E.”

20 years ago, Eric Lindros got booed out of Quebec City

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20 years ago, Eric Lindros had to face his harshest critics. No, not fans in Philadelphia or New York City but the rabid collective in Quebec City.

It was on October 13, 1992 that Lindros and the Flyers faced off with the team they swung one of the biggest trades in NHL history with in the Quebec Nordiques.

At the time, Lindros was the biggest rookie sensation the NHL had seen since Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. If you weren’t around then, think of how crazed the league was when Sidney Crosby arrived and you have an idea how huge Lindros was.

Problem was, he didn’t want to play for the Nordiques and forced a trade out of town. After Nordiques owner Marcel Aubut got confused about who he was trading Lindros to (he had deals done with both the Rangers and Flyers) it was Philly where he ended up.

Philly traded Peter Forsberg, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, a 1993 first-round pick that became Jocelyn Thibault, $15 million, and future considerations (Chris Simon and a 1994 first-round pick) for Lindros — a blockbuster deal that would stun the league.

After all that drama, it was on this night 20 years ago that Lindros had to face the music in Quebec City at the Colisée as he was serenaded with boos and taunted for “crying his way out of town” with oversized pacifiers and all.

Nordiques fans got the last laugh that night as the home team won 6-3 but not before seeing Lindros score two goals in defeat.

PHT Morning Skate: Where we’re not going to cry over blocked shots

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Are you getting upset seeing teams go all out to block shots in the playoffs and help keep scoring down? Joe Haggerty would like it if you stopped crying about guys doing their best to help win the Stanley Cup. (CSNNE.com)

Bruce Garrioch says the Coyotes are done like dinner. Who knew the Kings were good at playing the part of roadrunners? (Ottawa Sun)

Hope you didn’t want to hear Martin Brodeur’s wit and wisdom on game days. He won’t be talking to the media then. (Fire & Ice)

Bet you didn’t know former Steelers coach Bill Cowher is a hockey fan. Bet you really didn’t know his son-in-law is Kings tough guy Kevin Westgarth. (NHL.com)

The Sharks might not fire Todd McLellan, but they might be giving him a new assistant coach. Candidates? How about Bryan Marchment or Mike Ricci. Yikes! (CSNBayArea.com)

Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk is having a whale of a time at Worlds. (News & Observer)

Mike Knuble is feeling good and wants to keep playing. Well he was well rested during the year… (Capitals Insider)

The London Knights are really happy to have Dale Hunter back in town in time for the Memorial Cup. (TSN)

Yup, people are mad at David Booth for hunting bears. (Calgary Sun)

In a stunning turn of events, Chicago columnist David Haugh thinks trading Patrick Kane would be a bad idea. (Chicago Tribune)

Count the Lightning and Steve Yzerman in the hunt for Swiss forward Damien Brunner. (Lightning Strikes)

Finally, Niklas Kronwall is still doing what he does best at Worlds: Laying monster hits. (YouTube)