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Sharks to name McLellan head coach
Former Red Wings assistant gets the nod
6/11/08 - By Mike Lee

The Sharks finally have their man. San Jose is set to introduce Detroit Red Wings assistant Todd McLellan as their new head coach in an 11am press conference on Thursday. McLellan becomes the 7th man in team history to take the reigns as head coach, succeeding Ron Wilson, who was fired following the Sharks 2nd round exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After two days of interviews with Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson, McLellan cancelled an interview with the Atlanta Thrashers. While working through a self-proclaimed list of "40 candidates", Wilson couldn't talk to McLellan until the Red Wings wrapped up the Stanley Cup last Wednesday.

Detroit granted the Sharks permission to talk to Mike Babcock's assistant and the two synched up on Monday afternoon. A second meeting followed on Tuesday, and Wilson made the decision that McLellan was his man.

The Sharks released a statement that they would be announcing their appointment early on Wednesday, but after TSN broke the story of McLellan's hiring, San Jose was forced to name their new hire.

"It's a very good feeling," McLellan said on the Sharks website. "From the first moment Doug called to the moment he offered the job, I felt comfortable. I think the Sharks have done a tremendous job. You don't get that close to 50 wins for a number of years in a row without a lot of talent. It's a matter of getting over the hump. There are some real parallels between the Wings and the Sharks."

One of the first things McLellan will get to work on in San Jose is establishing more consistency on the power play. He was responsible the Red Wings power play, which ranked third in the NHL in 2007-08 (20.7%) and first in 2005-06 (22.1%).

San Jose finished 10th in the league in power play conversions, but only after a strong finish late in the season. The Sharks struggled early in the season with the man advantage, even though they ranked 5th in the league in power play opportunities.

McLellan has spent 14 years in coaching roles throughout the development ranks. He spent four seasons as head coach of the Houston Aeros (AHL), where he won the Calder Cup in 2003, and a year as the head coach of the Cleveland Lumberjacks (IHL). McLellan served as head coach and general manager of the Swift Current Broncos (WHL). He was named WHL Coach of the Year in 2000 and WHL Executive of the Year in 1997.

His playing career lasted all of 5 games with the New York Islanders in 1987-88, before suffering a career ending shoulder injury. He was a 5th round pick of the Islanders in 1986 (106th overall), which is about the same place the Sharks will jump into the draft foray on June 21st. San Jose has the 117th overall pick (26th pick of the 4th round), which comes near the end of Day 2of the draft. Unless San Jose deals to move up, McLellan and his new team get to sit and watch 4 rounds of prospects go to other teams.

In 14 seasons as a coach, McLellan has never missed the playoffs, but the Sharks aren't looking to simply make the playoffs. McLellan has the challenge of trying to help his new team shed the proverbial playoff monkey that has dogged the Sharks the past three seasons.

There was no word on how McLellan's coaching staff will round out. Assistant Tim Hunter threw his hat into the ring when the head coaching position was still vacant, so it's not known how McLellan's hiring will play out with Hunter.

Kevin Dineen has also been mentioned as a possible assistant coaching possibility.


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