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2009 'State of the Sharks' Recap

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks held their annual “State of the Sharks” event with multiple members of the organization answering questions first hand from fans in the stands. Up at the table answering questions were: President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Jamison, Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson, Head Coach Todd McLellan, Development Coach Mike Ricci, Captain Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski.

WATCH: Hour 1 | Hour 2 | Hour 3 || LISTEN: Hour 1 | Hour 2 | Hour 3 |

Below are some excerpts from the evening.

Jamison’s Opening Remarks:

I’m going to say the words a couple more times then I’m done with them. We’re disappointed we’re sitting here tonight. We’d rather be doing something else. We know the fans are angry, frustrated, disappointed and supportive. We appreciate our ticket buyers and we want to be successful for you.

No one is more frustrated than these two (Wilson and McLellan) and myself. We are disappointed, but we are not quitters. We’ve had a lot of conversations and begun talking about next year.

We’re here to listen to your thoughts and comments and will answer to the best of our ability.

We are confident we can make the necessary adjustment to go forward. We want to make that happen very badly and we know you do too. I want to congratulate Todd and his outstanding staff on a great regular season. We’re looking forward to next year.

I do want to say on behalf of the ownership group, that this group is an incredible group of people who want this franchise to be as successful as they can be and we are looking forward to the future.

Wilson’s Opening Remarks:
I thought some of the anger and disappointment would diminish by not, but it hasn’t. In all my years with the organization, this is the most difficult time. When you get to the point of having to make the decisions we have to make, it is hard. We built this team with high expectations and will never lower the expectations. That to me would be unacceptable. I’ve been conducting an autopsy. You listen to all your people and I’m only half way through it. I’m in the process of separating excuses to get to the reality. The fans we have make this a special place to play and we make it a place players want to be. With that comes the responsibility of delivering results.

McLellan’s Opening Remarks:
This is an interesting night for me. I didn’t know what to expect. When I look around, I want to talk about you first. I can’t believe how many people are here. This is amazing. I truly thought I’d be talking to one section. It strikes me a little more about how passionate you are and how you can have that strong sense of frustration with us. I came from Hockeytown, but you should be proud of yourselves.

We assembled a group in June of last year when I was fortunate enough to come to San Jose. We really felt that all the things were in place. We really believed we had the tools in place. We had a number of goals in mind and we accomplished quite a few of them. We wanted playoff success and we failed there. There are consequences for that.

I’m excited about the foundation we’ve built in a short period. There are areas of the game we have to improve on. We accept that challenge and look forward to answering your questions.

On when this will become Joe Thornton’s team:

Thornton - I think ultimately there are a lot of key guys on the team. In some ways it’s my team. In some ways it’s Patty’s team. He is a captain and has a done a great job. We didn’t expect to be sitting here and we have to look each other in the eye.

On why in the Anaheim series their top guys beat our guys. What is your take and why do you think able to do that?

Marleau - I think the assessment is right on. Obviously we can be better throughout the team. Why it happened, it could be a number of reasons, but that is the soul searching we’re doing this summer. I’m sure we’ll find out.

Thornton - For what reason, I don’t know why. Their power play was more effective than ours. Their three big guys played well down the stretch. They’ve played great against Detroit, but we should have been better.

On the process slipping during the year. What do you use to measure the team’s success?
Wilson - This is one of the things that's frustrating about this group. They gave a great glimpse of what they are capable of. The results were not the level of the talent level. There is a perception that we didn’t win games down the stretch. We did win games, but it was different. Did we do a good enough job to play our hockey down the stretch?

We had 8-10 players out, but every team has to deal with it. In the playoffs, everyone has to deal with (injuries).

McLellan - From a coaching perspective, whether it’s game 1 or 75, our evaluation process doesn’t change. We look at ice time and chances for and against. We sit in the lockerroom before anybody goes home and we go over chances for and against. After that we’ll use faceoff stats. That’s one of the most competitive situations. When we didn’t play well, we didn’t win many. Our penalty kill and power play during the second half, the power play improved and the penalty kill diminished. A number of our penalty killers were injured.

Then we look at managing minutes. We take that information and we go through the video the next morning. Then go over it with the players.

The big thing we had in second half by losing players is we changed. Not by design, but by our confidence level. Our defensive play numbers improved, but the offensive play diminished. The biggest question we have as a coaching staff is what happened five-on-five. Did we become predictable? Were we creating as many chances? The last thing we look at was did our goaltender give us a chance to win every night. Did they create calmness or urgency?

On when down 2-0 in Anaheim what could we have done better to figure out what went wrong on home ice?
Boyle - We went to Anaheim down two games. It’s been two weeks and we’re still trying to come up with answer. We had a meeting a month before playoffs. I said home ice is a huge advantage and some people might disagree. I still don’t know why lost two games. I don’t think we were the same team the second half as the first. If we were, we wouldn’t be sitting here. The truth is I don’t know why. I thought we had a good third game in Anaheim, but Game 4 was by far our worst game and there is no excuse for that. Before that game I thought we could come back.

On Joe getting thrown out of the faceoff circle so often and explaining the rule:
Thornton - Great question. Apparently I don’t know the rules. I really don’t have an answer for that. I guess I cheat. In cards I don’t cheat at all. I get too excited when I go into the faceoff circle. I get thrown out way too much.

McLellan - The best cheaters win. Joe isn’t a very good cheater.

On what else the Sharks need:
Pavelski - I think we have everything we need. We step on the ice every night and there is not an open seat in the building. It’s been a disappointment in the way we finished and we want to try and give back to you (by winning it).

Boyle -
I was asked all year long to compare the Sharks to the team in Tampa (that won the Cup) and I said this is a more talented playoff team. In the playoffs everybody needs to step up. A lot of top guys take heat and they should. Our goaltending needs to be better, the D-men as a group need to be better. Their top guys were better than ours and their secondary players were better. I think our guys worked hard, but we need to execute better. But you’ve got to come better at the right time.

On who served as the emotional leader:
Marleau – That’s what great about the team we have, a bunch of guys are leaders. The guys up here are great leaders. At different times, different guys step up. That’s why it’s a team and why have 20 guys. If one guy doesn’t have it one night, we get it from a different guy.

Pavelski - In the playoffs, the secondary scoring wasn’t there and a big part of it was our line. Emotions go on the ice as well and in the first half guys stepped up and we lacked that in the playoffs.

On why the power play wasn’t as good in the playoffs:
McLellan - Every opponent you face offers different challenges. Anaheim prevents you from setting up in the zone and they prevented that against us. Once we got into the zone all year, we established a net presence and then established the shot. We felt strongly about letting players have their freedom. Part of our problem (against Anaheim) was gaining possession in the zone. Once we established it, we were not in front of the net enough.

Maybe we have to look at personal, but it’s an area for improvement.

On what the players would like to see changed:

Thornton - I want to play more, so coach should play me more.

Boyle - For starters, I’m not happy we’re here, but glad we’re upset. There are 14 other teams begging to make the playoffs and we're talking about winning the Stanley Cup. We’re going to get it done.

Pavelski - There is not much that has to be changed. For us as players the foundation was great. We’re looking at improving on that. We have an extra month unfortunately, but hopefully we can be stronger and faster and do it better.

On Staubitz not playing in the playoffs:
McLellan - When it comes to Brad Staubitz, we’re very excited to have a young player like that in our organization. He joined our organization as a defenseman and he’s in the transition to playing forward. We gave him a number of opportunities. I know he impressed me as a coach. I think he earned a lot of respect for his teammates. I think looking forward, I expect him to compete for a full-time position next year. As far as change, I think he provides some of that sandpaper and grit. But he needs time physically and mentally to develop his skills.

Brad has had a significant impact on Worcester’s success in the playoffs.

On whether it hurt that the Sharks slid into the Presidents’ Trophy:
Thornton - We didn't play our best the last month, but Anaheim was hungry. We had a great game with them right before the postseason. It’s not like we're not as hungry or motivated as they are. Sometimes it is nice as the eight seed and there is no pressure on you. They played that type of game the last month and we kind of floated into postseason.

McLellan - As a coaching staff we have to continue to take responsibility for that as well. We tried to cut some of our players back and maybe we took some urgency out of our players. We took Joe down to 22 and it may not seem like a (big drop), but it is to a great player.

After March 5, we had the third most points (in the West). It was alarming, because we didn’t feel like it. We were still putting up points. The number one team was St. Louis. Then Vancouver and San Jose. Obviously there is a difference in games played, but it was shocking to hear that stat. I don’t know about sliding in. I’m not sure we felt as good as we needed to about our game heading into the playoffs.

On the comparison between the Sharks and Detroit:
McLellan - At this point, it takes a physical commitment and a mental commitment. I believe we are really close to the physical part. What affects that sometimes is the mental part of the game and Detroit showed it in Game 7 tonight. We are asking ourselves as coaches right now, how can we help our players be mentally ready to be a top team.

What you have to understand about Detroit, they’ve been there. It made them stronger. We have to make decisions. Will this make us stronger or will we just walk away? I believe it (will make us stronger).

Wilson - We won’t stop pushing until we find a way. It is going to get done.

On JR coming back:

Wilson – I’ve known JR since he was 18 and he has a heart the size of this building. I haven’t talked to JR yet on purpose. It’s one thing to say you want to play. I know the heart is there. He has to make sure his body is healthy enough. This is the lineup for next year (holding up a piece of paper) and as you can see it’s blank. I’ll sit down with JR and see where he is at and Todd will have his input and we’ll build a team that is going to be a contender.

On people not in front of the net:
McLellan - I don’t think it was a lack of motivation. If that is the case, we have problems so deep, we don’t realize it. When they come to the rink, they want to win. Our goal is to create as many shooting opportunities as we can.

On people coming back from injuries:
McLellan - When players came back from their injuries, it was like putting the band back together, except the tune wasn’t very good. It was a worry of ours as a coaching staff that we would get a number of players back without many games or practices. When the playoffs come, the intensity elevates. It’s hard to explain, but you feel it.

On Thornton not shooting as much on the power play:
Thornton - When we’re on the pp, I never hear you telling me to shoot. I’ve gotta shoot more. I’ll shoot more for you next year.

What did we lack that Detroit had last season and do we have someone coming up to bring it in next year? Do we have the mental toughness?
McLellan - I think I addressed it a little earlier. The tools management gave us are similar to what Detroit has. We are very comparable to Detroit. There are some areas, but it’s the will versus the skill, their will and commitment. Detroit has gone through what we are going through and the players decided to make a significant difference. I expect that from our group next year.

Wilson - There is another level of players who have been here a few years who have to understand it’s their time too. We have a group of players ready to take a serious role. We’ll win as a team, but you have to have everybody.


On grit and commitment and are we too nice:

Wilson - To be honest, what we try to do is make this be a place for players to want to play. You’ve got the fans and ownership group. But for the right highly-motivated people, they accept that and go the extra mile. You can have all the talent you want, but you have to be a hockey rat. You’ve got to understand that guys have to want to win. I wish I could put Mike Ricci back in the lineup.

We’ve had some success, but our expectations are here and we’ve got to push though. In the playoffs, it’s how will you find a way to win. This starts with all of us. I don’t enjoy making people feel uncomfortable.

Ricci - Our kids in Worcester have played like champions and they will fight guys for jobs. The probably weren’t ready, but now they probably are ready to battle our guys for positions. They will find it on the opening day of camp when someone is ready to take their job. The first time I went to Worcester, I told them they had a great attitude. Our coaches were just trying to get enough healthy guys in the lineup and there was (little) competition and I think that hurt us.

On whether the players feel secure to play in San Jose next year:
Wilson - This is a results-oriented business. Unfortunately change does take place . The people really committed will be here. Change will take place. When we win the Stanley Cup changes will take place. This year it’s more difficult because we didn’t reach our goals.

On how would Ricci feel about coming back to play:

Ricci - I would love to play, but I don’t know if I could.

McLellan – Mike’s relationship between the players and coaches makes our job easier. He has a reputation as a leader and he is becoming in his own way a coach. There is usually a line drawn between the players and coaches and Mike can walk on both sides of the line.

On the Sharks legacy of playing smaller than their size in the playoffs:
Wilson – It’s not about size. If you’re going to certain places on the ice, you hope players take comments like that as motivation. We’ve had one of the best road records in hockey. The issue is, and it’s not physical, the mental commitment. How can you motivate each other? In hockey it’s called just being real. You can’t con a hockey player. If you let a teammate go, you’ve enabled the problem to (continue).

Our players know what needs to be done. You have to make the other team feel uncomfortable and we have to push through that. The only way to answer those comments is to go slay the dragon.

On what Todd’s high point was in his first year:
McLellan - Coming into San Jose as a young coach -- it’s an adventure. You have a clear idea of what you want, but there are a lot of variables. I don’t believe in teal and white games (scrimmages). Players don’t want to run over each other. But that night I saw some of the players grabbing the concept and I felt we could grow. That was a satisfying moment for a young coach. The players were very receptive. Any time we went after them, they responded positively. At that point, we felt we had permission to carry on.

On what should be expected for next season. Is it a rebuilding year?
Wilson - Since we started in 2003, we’ve expected every year to do everything we can to win. We think that every season the goal is to win. We won’t lower expectations. The expectations will be the same. There are teams playing now who the experts didn’t expect to be playing right now (hinting at Carolina).

On how the Sharks can reach deeper:
McLellan - There is simply a confidence in getting over the hump. Carolina just beat Boston in overtime. Carolina has been there and understands it. That is what you get from that.

On whether Patty is better suited without the C:

We are looking at leadership with the core group. Patty as a captain should be (part of that). He has the personality and skills to do it. I’ll sit down with him again and we’ll discuss what he wants to do. Together he and I will make the decision. Do we have other people that could do it? Absolutely. If it means Patty needs to take a step back to take the pressure off him from the hockey world, we would do that, but we’re not there yet. Our leadership group and our core have to be strong.

On trading for Huskins if he was hurt:

We planned on playing four rounds and Kent was ready to play at the end. We ended up not giving up a pick because he didn’t play. Moen was for the third line. We were aware of Kent’s situation. If he played, we gave up the pick. Since he didn’t, we didn’t.

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