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Change for the sake of change?
Let's hope not
5/14/08 - By Steve Flores

After five seasons at the helm of the Starship that is the San Jose Sharks Ron Wilson was relieved of his duties as Head Coach. We are all aware of Wilson's accomplishments as the Grand PooBah of the team - most coaching victories as coach of the Bay Area's NHL franchise etc. Wilson's regular season win totals have been most impressive. The Sharks found an identity under his wing and bought into his system lock, stock and barrel.

In fact the team accomplished pretty much everything (outside of the President's Trophy) that a team can achieve in the regular season. Wilson lost his job because of the team's post-season failures. The ironic twist to all of this is that Wilson probably did his best coaching job of his career in 2007-08. Many with an actual vote will cast it to him for the Jack Adams award as coach of the year in the NHL.

Say whatever negative things you might about him - as most bloggers have done - but Wilson and his coaching staff (Rob Zettler & Tim Hunter) always worked hard and always did their best to prepare the team for each and every game. Wilson is as strong an X's and O's coach as there is in the game. It will probably shock the 'Wilson haters' to see how quickly he gets another job if he so chooses. The man is one of the most highly regarded head-men in the business and he was the best coach the Sharks have ever had. Now, with all of that said, I am not saying that G.M. Doug Wilson did the wrong thing in letting RW go. In fact, as I have espoused in prior writing's that I believe the team should be allowed more free reign on the offensive side of the game. My concern is that the change was made for the wrong reasons.

I have too much respect for DW's abilities as a G.M. to ever believe that he decided to remove RW without having at least one solid replacement in mind: A replacement that he feels can push the team to the next level with a differing set of ideas or philosophies. My concerns are that DW may hire a guy that could actually curtail the team's improvement and or development.

The bulk of available coaches are those of a defensive mindset, which is not to say that this is how they would attempt to steer the team but it concerns me.

The popular name at this point is former Stanley Cup winning head guy Pat Burns. Burns has been out of coaching for awhile due to some health concerns but he is back with Team Canada and rumor is he is ready to re-take the reigns of an NHL club. Burns is a disciple of The New Jersey Devils school of thought. I respect the Devils and their Stanley Cup accomplishments I however still BLAME them most for the evil that is the 'neutral zone trap'. The Devils were always a defense first team and during the 'dead puck era' they were the best at boring us all to sleep until they hoisted the cup above their heads. Effective, yes. Exciting, uh NOOOOOOO!

I don't want to infer or label RW as a defensive-minded coach but the bottom line is that the Sharks were 'goal-scoring challenged' and most pundits feel that they have more ability on offense than they exhibit on the ice. If RW's system was to blame then a change to a different type of system seems not only logical but necessary.

Burns is highly respected by all. He knows the game. He has a history with Joe Thornton and by all accounts has the ability to deal with multiple personalities with the best of em. He may well be the right guy for the job. I only hope that if both sides decide that he is the right guy, that he finds a way to allow this team to actually see what they can do if given a bit more free reign on the offensive side of the blue line.

The Sharks will surely not be Burns' only suitors. He is a hot commodity and he will not come cheaply. The Sharks management is never going to be compared to the New York Yankees but I think DW will be allowed to make Burns a nice offer if he is the chosen one.

I do not know the answer to the Sharks post-season woes. I know for a fact that the blogging-haters are also clueless. Believe me Doug Wilson isn't 100 percent sure of the reasoning. I just hope that Wilson's decision to make the change results in the franchise finally beaming up 'The Stanley Cup' come 2009.



Contact Steve at stevybo@yahoo.com


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