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Wilson's run ends
Sharks in search of new head coach
5/12/08 - By Mike Lee

The axe fell on Ron Wilson's tenure in San Jose on Monday, bringing an end to one of the most fruitful and disappointing periods in Sharks history. Wilson was relieved of his duties as Sharks head coach after San Jose's brass evaluated the state of the franchise, which included a third straight 2nd round exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson made the announcement on Monday afternoon.

The baggage of yet another playoff disappointment was the straw that broke Wilson's back in San Jose after four plus seasons behind the bench for the Sharks. His 206 wins for San Jose ranks him first in coaching victories for San Jose, 14 ahead of the 192 victories that Darryl Sutter amassed.

"Ron helped foster a new era in San Jose Sharks hockey with some record-setting regular season performances," said Doug Wilson. "However, ultimately we have decided that it is time for a different voice and a different approach to lead this team. We are proud of what we've accomplished as an organization but we feel that this team is capable of achieving greater success. I want to thank Ron for his level of commitment and desire to make our organization successful. Our entire organization wishes him well."

His 28-24 mark in the playoffs for San Jose will forever taint the successes he had in the regular season. After a 4-2 series loss to Dallas last week, Wilson's job situation became a precarious one.

After losing to the Calgary Flames in the Conference Finals in 2004, the Sharks were expected to build on their playoff success. Those goals seemed to stall each Spring. First with a 2nd round exit to the Edmonton Oilers in 2006, another 2nd round exit against Detroit in 2007, then the too little, too late effort against Dallas this Spring.

The Sharks 49 win, 108 point season this year gave the Sharks home ice advantage in their first two series, but the Sharks lost that advantage to Calgary by splitting at home, and dropping the first two home games against the Stars. Dropping two games at home to Dallas proved insurmountable.

Wilson became the fall-guy, even though three of the four losses to Dallas came in overtime. The Stars stormed back to take Game 2 after Joe Pavelski tripped in his own zone and lost the puck to Brad Richards. That mistake would lead to a game-tying goal, and eventually the contest.

Dry wit, often mistaken for caustic sarcasm by the media, was a frequent tool employed by Wilson. That same tone supposedly didn't sit well with some players, even though many of the veterans lobbied for this job after their latest shortfall.

His coaching style stressed accountability in the defensive zone, but the Sharks struggled in the post season, especially on special teams. San Jose converted only 8 of 56 power play chances in the post season this year, but their woeful 75% penalty kill (33 of 44) was the difference against Dallas.

The Sharks did not specify the fates of assistants Rob Zettler and Tim Hunter, but both are expected to follow Wilson out the door.

The list of possible replacements is long, including Joel Quenneville, Paul Maurice, and yes, even Pat Burns. The Sharks need someone who will shake the comfort out of a roster that has grown accustomed to mediocre playoff performances.



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