Friday, March 13, 2015

Hot Take Alert - Jumbo vs. Wilson

Today a report by the always great David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury news reported that there is a war of words between Sharks general manager and former captain and with all due respects to Patrick Marleau the greatest player to ever don the teal jersey former captain Joe Thornton.   As Pollak reports when asked about removing the captaincy from Joe Thornton , Doug Wilson replied:

"He cares about the game so much. The reason we took the 'C' off him . . . Joe carries the weight of the team on his shoulders and he's got such a big heart that when stress comes on him he lashes out at people," Wilson said, "and it kind of impacts them. The pressure and stress, I felt, was getting to Joe," the general manager continued. "And I sat him down and said we need other players to step up and share this. He got it. He didn't like it, but he got it and he understood it."

When Pollak asked for Thornton's response to the story Thornton said the following:

"I think Doug just needs to shut his mouth," Thornton said after his team's morning practice. "I think that's the bottom line.  All I've got to say is I've been here every day working hard. I haven't taken a sabbatical. He just needs to stop lying, shut his mouth."

Harsh words for sure and obvious friction between the two parties that we have not really seen since the off season I personally thought Thornton had handled the demotion very well as this is the first we have heard about it for some time. 

So what is my take on all this?

First I think it was a mistake to remove the C from Thornton to begin with. I never bought into the idea he was burdened by the captaincy based on his play or by the reports around the team.  Where Patrick Marleau really responded well to no longer being the captain, Thornton has still been one of the best players on the ice for the Sharks period. That being said as stated above I thought Thornton handled the demotion well and I don't really pin the woes of the Sharks season on the lack of one guy wearing a felt letter, this team frankly has bigger issues.

Back in the offseason after the collapse of against the Los Angeles Kings I thought Doug Wilson was kind of erratic in his message that he claims was very clear from the beginning.  One thing I have always credited Wilson for was the ability to say a bunch of things without saying anything at all.  However I do have to tip my hat off to him for facing the fan base like he did last night and answering questions very candidly.  My take on the Sharks based on what I have read and listened too is that in the offseason was that Wilson thought he could probably get a real rebuild going by trying to make the Thornton and Marleau uncomfortable letting them know what the plan was more kids in the lineup seeing if they wanted to go somewhere to win in an overreaction to the LA series.  When it became clear that neither wanted to move he changed the script accordingly and here we are.  Now that's pure speculation on my part but does it really sound that farfetched?

So where does this leave the Sharks?

This is probably a distraction the Sharks didn't need as they try to keep their still slim (23.9%) playoff hopes alive.  How big is the rift between these two guys?  Most of us will never know for sure but they will have to at least co-exist until the offseason.  Now I don't see Doug Wilson being at any risk regardless of how the season pans out so the question will be can Joe Thornton put this behind him for the benefit of the team?  I for one hope so.  The one thing I do know when it comes to Joe Thornton is that when he is obviously angry he is a monster on the ice so after tomorrow maybe we will all be saying well played Doug Wilson, well played. 

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