Ryane Clowe

Sharks Doug Wilson vote of confidence
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Sharks stick with GM Doug Wilson — for better or worse

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The San Jose Sharks are sticking with GM Doug Wilson despite a huge letdown of a season.

Majority owner Hasso Plattner gave Wilson a vote of confidence on Thursday. While it makes sense to comment on a disappointing season, it’s interesting to see it in an official release.

“While we are all very disappointed in the team’s performance thus far this season, Doug has a long history of leading our team to success,” Plattner said as part of the statement. “The last time we failed to meet our winning standards in the 2014-15 season, we were able to quickly rebound and re-establish a winning culture for the next several years. I am supportive of Doug’s plan to get our team back on track.”

Wilson has overseen a long run of Sharks success

Wilson deserves credit for a remarkably strong and consistent run since being named GM in May 2003. The oft-tanned executive must make other GMs feel like he’s a shark smelling blood at times. While the Joe Thornton trade is Wilson’s masterstroke, he often wins other trades — sometimes by a lot.

The Sharks have also won a lot since he took the reins.

The Sharks won four Pacific Division titles in a row from 2007-08 to 2010-11, grabbing the 2009 Presidents’ Trophy along the way. Those peak years ended with heartbreak, yet a run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final silenced a lot of the “choker” claims.

Each time the window appeared ready to close on the Sharks, Wilson would pull a rabbit out of a hat, drafting gems like Logan Couture or trading for key players such as Brent Burns.

Sharks seem stuck

Unfortunately, the 2019-20 season might represent Wilson running out of magic.

Strangely, the Sharks are so stuck that they might just be better off sticking with Wilson, though.

An incoming GM would only be able to do so much about an aging, expensive defense and other concerns. So, again, hoping Wilson has some tricks up his sleeves ranks as an understandable gamble.

Back on Jan. 13, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported (sub required) that the Sharks are looking more at a “reset” than a tear-down, trades-wise. LeBrun points to sensible pieces to auction, such as defenseman Brenden Dillon and defensive-leaning forward Melker Karlsson.

Maybe Wilson could pull off a sequel to getting a bucket of picks for marginal players, like he did with Ryane Clowe and Douglas Murray in 2013? If anyone can pull that off again, it’s Wilson.

The Sharks see little incentive to tank since Ottawa owns their 2020 first-rounder anyway. Taking baby steps seems like the only reasonable option, really.

How Wilson must succeed where he once failed

For all of the smart (and/or “smart at the time”) moves Wilson made, goaltending continues to doom the Sharks. Navigating that problem with better results should be Wilson’s top priority, even if it’s a tricky challenge.

Martin Jones served as a nice answer for a while, but the Jones – Aaron Dell tandem has been a disaster for some time. The Sharks could no longer outscore such problems in 2019-20. Jones and/or Dell show up on the wrong end of far too many charts like this GSAA one from Charting Hockey:

Jones, 30, stands as one of the more cringe-inducing Wilson contracts. He’s been abysmal, has a no-trade clause, and the $5.75M AAV runs through 2023-24. (You just cringed, didn’t you?)

(Did I mention that a different GM would face a huge mess if they wanted to blow this up? Yeah, it’s a dicey situation.)

Whether it’s making life easier for Jones or finding a different answer in net, the Sharks need to fix this. Doing so quickly is crucial, too, with an aging core.

Honestly, many of us — probably Wilson included — figured that this team would hit a wall eventually. It’s just that the wall popped up faster than expected, and the Sharks went splat.

It’s up to Wilson to make sure that the Sharks leap over that hurdle next time around, kind of like a … well, a killer whale.

Otherwise it could be, you know, crushing.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Report: Ryane Clowe’s NHL career is over

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For all intents and purposes, it sounds like Ryane Clowe‘s NHL playing days are finished.

That’s the report from the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti, who passes along word from New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero that Clowe “will be unable to play hockey now or in the future.”

Clowe, 32, admits that he’d rather continuing playing for the Devils, yet doctors recommend that he hang up his skates.

Shero told Gulitti that Clowe will go on IR or long-term injured reserve for the remaining three years of his contract, depending upon how his $4.85 million cap hit affects the Devils’ situation.

Clowe’s hard-hitting style helped him earn the five-year, $24.25 million contract the Devils handed him heading into 2013-14, but it ultimately caught up to him.

Concussion issues plagued him almost since day one with the Devils, doing little to silence critics of that deal.

While it’s clear Clowe wanted to try to play, it’s tough to imagine him being a difference-maker without taking physical risks. It’s a shame that Clowe isn’t the one making the call, but it might be the right move.

PHT Morning Skate: Five unusual, ‘virtually unbreakable’ records

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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.

Here are five unusual records that it’s hard to imagine anyone breaking. (Grantland.com)

Jonathan Bernier won’t let the arbitration process leave him sour. (MapleLeafs.nhl.com)

What are the NHL’s most unbreakable bromances? (Sportsnet)

New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero recently talked to Ryane Clowe, but it’s still unknown if the 32-year-old forward will be able to come back from a series of concussions. (NJ Advance Media)

Ian McCoshen has an opportunity to play a bigger role with Boston College next season as Michael Matheson and Noah Hanifin are moving on. (Panthers.nhl.com)

The Texas Stars added some veteran journeymen in Brennan Evans and John Muse. (AHL.com)

Devils’ Shero: No decision yet regarding Clowe’s future

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The New Jersey Devils have a new GM* in Ray Shero, but it doesn’t sound like Ryane Clowe’s murky future is any clearer.

Shero essentially said that it’s a status quo situation for Clowe, which basically means that he’s unsure if the power forward will be forced (or will flat-out choose) to retire. He told the Newark Star-Ledger that it’s not so much a good or a bad thing to say this, then.

“I don’t have that answer for you at this point,” Shero said. “That’s not negative or positive. I don’t know what the immediate future holds for Ryane. Certainly Lou has the background and file and knows everything about Ryane and where he is, so we’ll see where it goes. No decision as of today.”

Earlier this offseason, Clowe said the decision is “not in my hands right now,” but Shero said he believes the choice will come down to “a combination of the player, the organization and doctors.”

The elephant in the room might be style, though.

Even a “finesse” player must cope with the risks involved with playing despite a history of concussions, but Clowe is the hard-nosed type who may struggle to make a difference if he can’t really go all-out.

By Yahoo’s count, he delivered 621 hits from 2009-10 to 2014-15 (more than one per game). Even if you ignore hits absorbed, that’s a lot of collisions. He drops the gloves with frequency, as well, with peak years of 12 fights in 2010-11 and 11 in 2009-10, as well as five in each of 2012-13 and 2013-14.

That amounts to a ton of physical play, and that’s style is obviously Clowe’s calling card. He’d obviously have to play that gritty game to even be worthy of dressing in the Devils’ lineup.

Does this mean that the 32-year-old should quit right now? Not necessarily, but it doesn’t seem overly promising.

Clowe has three seasons remaining on his contract which brings an annual cap hit and salary of $4.85 million.

* – That’s still kind of weird, right?

Parise ‘never would’ve predicted’ Devils would miss playoffs three years in a row

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Though they’re not mathematically eliminated yet, the New Jersey Devils won’t make the postseason this year. It’ll mark the organization’s third straight miss, a fact that took their former captain by surprise.

“I never would’ve predicted they’d miss the playoffs three years in a row. Just because of the way things are run,” Minnesota forward Zach Parise said prior to Tuesday’s 6-2 blowout win over the Devils, per the Star-Ledger. “I hope they can pull off something at the end of the year, or next year, and get back in.”

Parise, who spent the first seven years of his career in New Jersey, went to the playoffs six times with the Devils — the only time the Devils missed during the Parise era was the 2010-11 campaign which, not coincidentally, was the year Parise missed 69 games after a torn meniscus in his right knee.

New Jersey’s last playoff appearance, also not coincidentally, was in Parise’s last year with the club, when the Devils lost in the Stanley Cup Final to Los Angeles. The current team barely resembles the one that captured the Eastern Conference crown three years ago; gone are the likes of Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Marek Zidlicky, Ryan Carter, Petr Sykora, Mark Fayne, Anton Volchenkov and Martin Brodeur.

The club also made a coaching change, firing Peter DeBoer and replacing him with an unconventional three-coach setup comprised of Adam Oates, Scott Stevens and GM Lou Lamoriello.

Lamoriello has been the target of heavy criticism over the last three years, as a number of his veteran acquisitions — Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder, Martin Havlat, Damien Brunner, Tuomo Ruutu — have failed to pan out.

Parise wasn’t about join the list of Lamoriello critics, however, saying that part of the Devils’ issues could be chalked up to bad luck.

“Guys have good years. Guys have off-years,” he explained. “When you have a group of people having off-years, you might miss the playoffs. If you have a group of people having a great year, you’re in.

“It’s hard to predict.”