Sunday not-so-funday for Sharks


Sunday not-so-funday for Sharks

SAN JOSE It wasnt quite the textbook definition of a bag skate, as there were, in fact, pucks on the ice when the Sharks filtered out for their closed-door practice on Sunday on what was originally a day off.

But by the time the 50-minute session concluded with some one-on-one battle drills along the boards, after some high intensity drills and end-to-end rushes, most everyone on the team was in need of a breather. The players exited en masse after a Thats it, were done, proclamation from head coach Todd McLellan.

The Sharks have just one win in their last four games, and that only came via the shootout on Thursday against Montreal, after Ryane Clowes late goal forced the game past regulation.

Saturdays effort against the high-flying Panthers, a 5-3 loss that featured numerous misplays with the puck and a general lack of focus, were the biggest reasons for the Sunday-not-so-funday.

The intensity level wasnt a surprise.

It was pretty obvious. I think we all knew, said Brent Burns.

The coaching staff didnt take any pleasure in the day, but McLellan wanted to serve up a reminder to his club that it has to be more mentally prepared.

These days arent good for anyone, he said. Theyre not good for the players, because of the hectic schedule, and we get no satisfaction out of it. But, the goal was to remind them that the work ethic and commitment level has to come first. It comes before anything else systems, talent, power play, penalty kill.

Were human, and we all have to be reminded sometimes. I have to be reminded, my kids have to be reminded, and our team has to be reminded how important work ethic and commitment level is. Thats all today was.

McLellan saw some problems in the teams game dating back to its recent four-game winning streak from Nov. 17-23. He thought it was corrected when the Sharks lost a hard fought battle to Vancouver a week ago, in which the team played hard despite a 3-2 loss.

That was followed up by a poor effort in a 2-0 defeat in Los Angeles last Monday, Thursdays shootout win against Montreal, and Saturdays error-filled loss to Florida.

Former Wild and Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire used to talk about his team getting sick, and he used the analogy of the flu. By the times the symptoms show up, the bugs already in you, said McLellan.

We won four games and played some good periods and some average periods, but we felt we were getting sick a little bit. We addressed it, and I thought we responded well against Vancouver, but the germ is still in the team. Weve got to get it out.

Although they likely would have preferred to sleep in and watch football on Sunday, Burns said it was probably a beneficial day for the club.

I dont think its ever bad to do that, said Burns. You go out there, get a good skate, battle and kind of get back to basics.

Joe Thornton said: Its no problem. Thats what we do. We skate, were hockey players.

Odds and ends: Douglas Murray did not skate, taking a maintenance day, but McLellan said he should be ready for Tuesdays game against Minnesota. Marty Havlat showed no ill-effects from taking a knee to the back of the head from Floridas Sean Bergenheim, in which he was slow to get up. McLellan hinted that he might switch up his defense pairings before Tuesdays game.

Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?


Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?

No one asked, but I’m going to begin this week’s mailbag with my prediction for the Stanley Cup Final – Preds in six. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to a few of your questions…

Most likely to be moved this off-season? (Nik @niknisj25)

If the Sharks do make a move – and I’ve argued here that I think it may be time for a shakeup – they’ll surely be looking for someone up front to boost the offense. In that case, they’d likely have to sacrifice a defenseman or two.

The Sharks defense is the strength of the organization at the moment, as they had one of the best one-through-seven groups in the NHL this season. But it’s also an expensive one. The Sharks have nearly $27 million committed to their top seven defensemen next season, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic is due for a hefty raise beginning in 2018-19.

One name that could be intriguing to other teams is Justin Braun. The 30-year-old has been a part of the Sharks’ top shut down pair with Vlasic for several seasons now, and is signed for the next three years at a reasonable $3.8 million cap hit. The Sharks could potentially move him for offensive help, and slot in a guy like David Schlemko alongside Vlasic, while finally giving Dylan DeMelo a chance to play on a nightly basis on the third pair. A Vlasic-Schlemko pair could be more offensive than Vlasic-Braun, too, because as adept as they were at keeping the puck out of their own net, the Sharks didn’t get many goals from their defenders outside of Burns.

Of course, the upcoming expansion draft all but assures that nothing will happen until Las Vegas selects its team on June 21. If the Sharks lose a defenseman to the Golden Knights, they’ll be more reluctant to move another one. Still, with guys like Joakim Ryan, Tim Heed, Julius Bergman, Mirco Mueller and now Radim Simek in the pipeline, the club might be able to handle a couple departures.

How do we fix the power play next season? Bring in a coach that could help us? Change up the lines, or style of play? (adam smith @kickback408)

One thing that won’t be happening is a new coach, as Doug Wilson recently confirmed that Steve Spott would be back alongside Pete DeBoer. Bob Boughner could move on if he gets hired as a head coach elsewhere, but Boughner’s focus is the team’s defense and penalty kill.

Obviously, the future of the power play depends on who is on the roster, beginning with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Both saw their power play production dip this season.

Thornton went from 29 power play points in 2015-16 to 19 this season (he had eight power play goals in 2015-16, and just one this season). Marleau saw a decline from 25 power play points in 2015-16 to 16 last season. Even if both return, it may be time to try other bodies on the top unit.

Do you see Meier, Labanc and/or Sorensen having a breakout season next year? Or anyone else on the Barracuda? (Colin Dunn @ColinDunnACA)

Someone better had, because this team needs to start getting younger, and soon. One of the bigger disappointments of the 2016-17 season is that none of them apparently showed the coaching staff that they were prepared to play on a nightly basis at the NHL level.

Timo Meier and Marcus Sorensen, I would surmise, are at the top of the depth chart as far as forwards go. Their line in the playoffs with center Chris Tierney was the Sharks’ best through the early part of the series with Edmonton. As for Kevin Labanc, I think he’s fallen a bit since he had a brief run of success for the Sharks in December.

While the Sharks did a good job stockpiling some young players through the 2013-15 drafts, they’ve traded away a number of picks in recent years. In last year’s draft they didn’t have a first or third round pick; this year they don’t have any picks in the second, third or fourth rounds; and in 2018 they are already without their second and third round picks. 

It’s great to accumulate young players, but at some point they have to break through. Now is the time.

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

After five seasons with the Sharks, Larry Robinson is leaving the organization.

Robinson, 65, spent the last three seasons as the club's director of player development. He served as an associate coach from 2012-14.

TSN in Montreal and the Montreal Gazette originally reported the news.

The Sharks confirmed that Robinson's contract would be expiring, and general manager Doug Wilson told NBC Sports California that the divorce was amicable, and "because of geography." Robinson lives in Florida.

According to the Montreal Gazette

Robinson’s contract with the Sharks expires on July 1, but agent Donnie Cape said Thursday that San Jose general manager Doug Wilson has given him permission to speak with other teams. Robinson lives in Bradenton, Fla., and the long travel distance to San Jose is one of big the reasons he’s looking for a new team to work for.

Robinson seemed to ponder retirement in 2014, but signed a three-year extension to remain in the Sharks' front office. He worked mostly from his home in Florida the past two seasons, making occasional trips to San Jose, including during training camp.

In the summer of 2015, Robinson underwent surgery for skin cancer.

Recognized as one of the best defensemen in NHL history, Robinson won six Stanley Cup championships with the Montreal Canadiens as a player, and holds the NHL record for playing 20 straight seasons in the playoffs. A 10-time All-Star and two-time Norris Trophy winner, Robinson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.

Robinson was the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings from 1995-99, and the New Jersey Devils from 1999-2002 and again in 2005-06. He led the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2000. Robinson has nine Stanley Cup rings as a player and coach.

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The Sharks did not renew the contract of pro scout Jason Rowe, who had been with the organization for the past nine seasons. Rowe focused on eastern NHL and AHL teams.