The San Jose Sharks will head into training camp this season without captains, head coach Todd McLellan said as he addressed local media Wednesday. That means Joe Thornton, the team’s captain since 2010, will not wear the C. Patrick Marleau, an alternate captain last season, has also been removed from that role.
According to David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News, McLellan said that the competition will be open and Thornton will be eligible to earn back his job as captain, like everyone else.
#SJSharks McLellan: "We’re just cleaning the slate. Joe Thornton could end up being the captain. I don’t know. None of us know."— David Pollak (@PollakOnSharks) August 20, 2014
It’s been a strange summer for the Sharks after their crushing playoff collapse at the hands of eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. General manager Doug Wilson talked about rebuilding on the fly, then later backtracked from those remarks and McLellan recently further backtracked from that kind of talk.
The head coach did tell NHL.com recently that he did want to see some change within the organization, just not drastic ones.
"We want to reset the hierarchy and culture in the organization, and that's really where the term rebuild came from. We feel we have a tremendous talent pool. We feel the players that are with our organization are part of the solution and not the problem now. As a staff, we talked about the ability to push and win as much as we can while we get younger, while we adjust the roles a little bit and give some of the younger players more responsibility."
That could mean players like Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture get a longer look to add a letter to their jerseys. Considering the impact Thornton and Marleau still have on this team from both an experience and production perspective still makes them seem like the more ideal candidates, however.
The only people that know what it's like in the San Jose dressing room are the ones that are in it regularly, though. If there's trouble at the top, then this is a way of snuffing it out. If there isn't, it's just preseason noise.
The Sharks have also made some questionable moves in free agency, like bringing in enforcer John Scott. It’s things like that, that make you wonder just how bad the Sharks have been taking their playoff ouster.
No question, the team has not done well enough in the postseason. The Sharks have seemingly been a Stanley Cup contender for years, but have no title to show for it. That said, they were one of the league’s best teams last season and changing things just for the sake of change doesn’t seem prudent.
The organization apparently is sending some sort of message to the players that more is expected and perhaps temporarily (or permanently) stripping the team’s leaders of their letters may work to that aim. But this seems more like wanting to seem like they’re doing something than actually doing something of value.
For everyone in the organization, from Wilson to McLellan to the players, this season is a crucial one. Another disappointing year could lead to a lot of people losing their jobs.
The roster as constructed doesn’t appear to have the same zip as last year’s despite only a few departures, so it will be interesting to see how the season plays out. Needless to say, it’s off to a rather interesting, if questionable start.