Wednesday, May 16, 2007

First of many off-season musings

So I'm starting to compile lists and thoughts about the Sharks this offseason, but it's still a bit too early to launch into a who-should-we-get discussion. Unrestricted free agency doesn't officially start until July 1, so lots of movement and signings can still happen before we really know who's available. I've already made a list of every UFA defensemen, and I'll be posting about it soon. But first, I need to add my two cents about the two big Sharks issues right now.

1. Ron Wilson
I like Ron Wilson. He's a very experienced coach, and widely regarded as a fantastic in-game tactician. The question is, is he still the right coach for the Sharks? Clearly, in many people's minds, including that of Sharks management, the Sharks could have and should have gone further. The Red Wings played extremely well, and continue to do so, crushing the (not so mighty) Ducks last night 5-0. But as the old saw goes, have the players 'tuned out'? Are they 'not responding'?

Some especially are pointing to Wilson calling out Marleau in the Wings series, and how that was wrong, Mareau was offended, etc, etc. First thing- Marleau is a big boy, and supposedly the leader of the team. He deserved criticism. I don't think Wilson stepped over the line in his criticism, he didn't call him a pussy or a choker or anything like that. Maybe it wasn't the right thing to do at the time (hindsight is 20/20) but hell, Wilson had to do something. These relationships can be repaired. Lecavalier and Torts are talking again, and Vinny is a diva and Torts is a jerk.

So should Wilson go? Only if the Sharks can find the right coach to replace him. As as Grier said in the last post, there ain't a lot out there. I'm personally not that excited about anyone, even Ed Olczyk. I don't believe the Sharks are a team that needs to go out and have fun again. They need direction, but the latitude to create on the ice. I think Ron Wilson is a coach with that style. Ted Nolan is another. Hell, even John Tortorella would work- he's managed to handle three or four big stars.

What you don't do is pull the trigger to fire Wilson because you need a fall guy. And I have a lot of confidence in the GM, Doug Wilson, in this regard. There were many deals he could have made this past season for Toskala or Nabokov, and he waited for the right deal. He knows that this team is young, and built to have a lot of success in the next 3, 4 or more years. We're not the Preds, we don't have to win now.

2. Patrick Marleau
Basically, the criticism of Marleau came down to him playing subpar 10 games in a row. And yes, they were playoff games, so they mean more. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Marleau is not the only one on that list. But you don't ditch the captain, the face of the franchise for years, because he had a bad stretch. Look at Edmonton and Smyth. Look at Dallas and Modano. Stripping a captain of the C or trading him has consequences, in the locker room and in the stands. I'm open to the suggestion that the Sharks need a vocal leader in the locker room. Not every captain is a vocal one. Maybe they need to go out and get Drury, or Smyth, or Gomez. Same thing as above- if the Sharks can make the right deal, then they should. No one is off the table. You can't tell me you wouldn't trade Joe for Sidney Crosby.

But like the Ron Wilson situation, you don't panic. You don't ditch somebody just to show the fans, management, whoever, that you did something. Doug Wilson is calculating. Would I trade Marleau for Dan Boyle? Hell yes. Would I trade him for a second round pick, or even a first round pick? Absolutely not. Until there's a plan, everybody stays. Ditching good coaches and players without an idea of what you're going to do next is not a plan, it's a knee-jerk reaction.

1 comment:

Can'tStoptheGrier said...

Good post Mike. I agree with all your points. I don't think there needs to be a "fall guy", but I do think there will be some major retooling. Doug Wilson must alter the plan, since the current one appears to have some major holes.

Like I said before, the Wings will go to the Cup finals and lose. It is the annual Western Conference formula the last three years for teams that oust the Sharks - why not make it four??