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McLellan and Sharks part ways
Sharks have yet another hole to fill
4/20/15 - By Mike Lee -

The dark cloud looming over Santa Clara Street got a little darker on Monday, when the Sharks announced that head coach Todd McLellan and the team have decided to mutually part ways. McLellan's 7-year tenure as bench boss of the Sharks ends after their spiraling crash in the 2014-15 season, which came on the heels of their playoff disaster last spring.

McLellan will have no issue finding work, as several teams have been rumored to be interested in his services. The most notable option for McLellan is the head coaching vacancy in Toronto, which would return the Canadian back to his homeland.

He took little time assessing his options, which also included the fact that he has to uproot his family. McLellan had made statements to the effect that his family had established a base in San Jose, and that moving them would factor into his own decisions.

The Sharks now have a big void they need to fill. McLellan holds franchise marks in win (311), games coached (540) and winning percentage (.637). This season was the first time he didn't qualify for the playoffs. That streak also broke a 12-year playoff appearance run for the Sharks.

Missing the party this season, coupled with the playoff implosion against Los Angeles last spring eventually led to McLellan's departure. While the parting was announced as a mutually agreed upon decision, it was likely McLellan's decision to sever himself from a franchise that's spinning out of control.

General Manager Doug Wilson hasn't exactly been crystal clear on the direction of the team, which has led to confusion and dissention in the ranks. Is the team rebuilding or not? The team tried instilling new leadership on the ice, but nobody knows who that really is. Without any formal leader in the locker room, and confusion in the direction of the team, McLellan has had enough.

There are too many other opportunities, and less turmoil. McLellan also doesn't make this move unless there is something already lined up. So if he lands a new job in the next week, we'll all know this was entirely his move.

The Sharks now find themselves with an even bigger mess. Joe Thornton is at odds with Wilson, which means that the team's top player isn't happy either. In what world is that the basis for the foundation of a championship caliber team?

There is still little clarity on what the Sharks intend to do to rectify their dismal performance this past season. There are no saviors laying in wait in the farm system, and the 9th round pick they'll use in the this summer's draft won't produce an NHL ready player next season, so now what?

San Jose does have some cap space, but it's unlikely that they'll be able to land any top tier players via free agency, because frankly there are no players of that caliber available. Shoring up holes in their defense needs to be a priority, but it's unlikely they will secure any bona fide blueline help unless they do it through a trade. That means they'll have to give up something in order for that to happen.

The rest of the league has improved while the Sharks have placed their fate in the hands of aging stars like Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Outside of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, the Sharks blueline is as porous as they come. A team that once focused on defense, has major holes to fill in that area.

They now also have a bigger hole to fill. The one that McLellan once occupied. It's not as if there are is a long list of master motivators out there, so Wilson's next move could likely determine his fate with the franchise. Another misstep and he'll likely be looking for work himself. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as the root of many of the Sharks ills lie on his shoulders.

With a new head coach, will also come the task of building a new coaching staff. Jim Johnson, Jay Woodcroft and Brett Heimlish were all given their walking papers on Monday. Larry Robinson will assume his role as director of player development.

More holes, more challenges.

No we get to wait and see. Again.


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