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McLellan era set to begin
New sheriff in town
9/19/08 - By Steve Flores

Although their first regular season game is still more than two weeks away the San Jose Sharks' Todd McLellan era begins Friday with the start of training camp. Hired by G.M. Doug Wilson, with the intent of pushing the 'under-achieving' Sharks into at least a Stanley Cup Final, McLellan's on-ice philosophy is a definite shift from that of his predecessor Ron Wilson.

The Sharks were 19th in goals scored a season ago. They were tops in Penalty killing and gave up the 3rd fewest amount of goals in the league. Ron Wilson's philosophy was one that stressed that the forwards always have a defensive mindset. No one can say that his style was poor as the team had excellent regular season success, but the playoffs - ah the playoffs have been another story!

To win games one must score goals. There needs to be offensive chances created and the Sharks, by design, have always had fewer chances at rebounds and creativity since their forwards were required to be ready to jump back on defense after most offensive rushes.

McLellan, a disciple of the Detroit Red Wing philosophy, wants more chances created on offense and he intends to have the team create and in turn take more shots.

This includes more chances from the blue line.

McLellan believes in an active set of defenders on the O-side of the game. He now has Dan Boyle and Rob Blake to provide this gear that the team has only ever really had from the short-lived and recently departed Brian Campbell.

McLellan has stated that he wants a 'motion' offense and that he needs to have guys in front and constantly moving. Motion leads to unpredictability and that is a style that the Sharks have never shown in their offensive game. Generally it's Joe Thornton setting up in his office and everyone standing around waiting for him to make a play. McLellan will find a way to play to Joe's strengths while infusing a new mindset into the other guys on the ice.

The Sharks have talent and to refuse to allow these players the chance to use their abilities to their full potential is criminal.

Ron Wilson's style curtailed their freedoms and chances on the ice. Yes, the Sharks won games, but the team has never been able to reap the ultimate rewards while applying his methods. I admit that I am a fan of offensive hockey. The game has slowed down so much since the era of the Edmonton Oilers, but let me impress upon you (for those that never got to experience that back-in-the day) that the game was so much fun to watch that the modern game simply is neither as exciting nor as much fun.

Of course you need the skill to pull off a high tempo game and the defensive part of the game must always be there, but the Sharks have never really been allowed to be 'unleashed' on the attack. I think McLellan is going let loose the dogs of war. The product will definitely be more fun to watch and hopefully will end up being both exciting and successful with a raising of that stunning silver cup at season's end.

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