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Longtime Sharks Front Office Executive Wayne Thomas Retires

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) Vice President and Assistant General Manager Wayne Thomas formally announced his retirement from the NHL today.

“I am very proud to have been a part of this organization and its accomplishments,” said Thomas. “My only regret is not being part of a group that brought a Cup to San Jose. After 22 years of being part of the Hockey Operations of the Sharks, it is time to spend a little more time being a husband, father and grandfather.”

Thomas has spent 22 seasons with the Sharks organization. He most recently completed his 19th season as assistant general manager and his 14th as vice president, providing general manager Doug Wilson with an experienced, versatile and valuable assistant.

“For the last 22 years, Wayne Thomas has been one of the most beloved and respected members of the San Jose Sharks organization,” said Wilson. “He has a positive impact on numerous areas of our organization during his tenure but probably none so much as his work with our goaltenders. He mentored and coached many of the game’s most dominant netminders and he will always have a home here in San Jose.”

Thomas, 67, steps away from the game after more than 45 years of being a player, head coach, assistant coach, advance scout and executive. Before his promotion in March 1996, he was in his third season as Sharks assistant coach and assistant to the general manager.

An Ottawa, Ontario native, Thomas was intimately involved with all aspects of the Sharks on- and off-ice operations, such as evaluating players on the Sharks reserve list with special emphasis on goaltenders, scouting other NHL teams and taking an active role in other player personnel matters.

Thomas took on a more advanced, day-to-day role in working with the Sharks goaltenders on-and-off the ice. He also oversaw the development of the Sharks goaltenders in San Jose and as well as Sharks prospects in the American Hockey League and other amateur leagues.

Perhaps his most lasting impact will be his work on-and off-the-ice – alongside the late Warren Strelow – with the team’s goaltenders, which is an impressive list over the last 20 years: Arturs Irbe, Chris Terreri, Wade Flaherty, Mike Vernon, Kelly Hrudey, Steve Shields, Johan Hedberg, Evgeni Nabokov, Miikka Kiprusoff, Vesa Toskala, Brian Boucher, Thomas Greiss, Alex Stalock and Antti Niemi.

Thomas served an important role as a liaison between the coaches, training staff and the hockey department, facilitated the interaction of hockey department personnel within the organization, coordinated the construction of the NHL pre- and regular season schedules, assisted the efforts of the Sharks scouting staff and coordinated a variety of front office administrative matters.

He served as general manager for the Sharks American Hockey League franchise, playing a vital role of overseeing the Sharks top development affiliate and helping foster a strong element of development. Over the years under Wayne’s guidance, a multitude of players grew from prospects into NHL players, including names like: Scott Hannan, Mark Smith, Jonathan Cheechoo, Christian Ehrhoff, Marcel Goc, Ryane Clowe, Douglas Murray, Jamie McGinn – and most recently – Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture.

Reinforcing the link between the Sharks and their drafting and development system through the American Hockey League, from 2003-2014 the Sharks draft selections played the most games of any NHL team’s draft picks (7,232), despite the organization having the lowest average draft position of any NHL team during that span (131).

In his role as Sharks assistant coach from 1993-96, Thomas assisted with game strategy, advance scouting of opponents and performed individual work with the Sharks goaltenders. In addition, he collaborated with the general manager on a year-round basis regarding administrative matters.

Thomas joined the Sharks coaching and management staff for the 1993-94 season after spending three seasons (1990-93) as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues. Thomas also served in that capacity with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1987-88 and was head coach at Peoria (International Hockey League) from 1988-90 and at Salt Lake City from 1985-87. His 1985-86 squad captured the IHL's Turner Cup Championship.

A former NHL goaltender, his playing career consisted of 243 games over nine seasons, posting a 103-93-34 record with Montreal, Toronto and the New York Rangers. In his rookie season, Thomas was a member of the Canadiens 1972-73 Stanley Cup Championship squad. Additional career highlights included being selected to and getting the win at the 1976 NHL All-Star Game as a member of the Maple Leafs, posting 10 career shutouts — including one in his first NHL start — and a lifetime goals-against average of 3.34. After his retirement in 1981, Thomas spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Rangers.

Thomas has a bachelor's degree in physical education from the University of Wisconsin, where he played three years of hockey from 1967-70.

He is excited to spend more time with his grandkids Erik, Elsje and Harrison as well as with their parents; Abby & Hans and Gretchen & Tim.

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