When Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan announced his coaching staff for the coming season, he brought along a slew of experience, from both a player background and in the coaching ranks. He also brought along winners in Trent Yawney, Todd Richards and Jay Woodcroft. These three men will be with the San Jose Sharks and McLellan virtually every day from the preseason, to the regular season to the end of the playoffs. It also marks an increase in staffing for the coaching staff that has traditionally been made up of two assistants.
Yawney comes loaded with experience, including a background very similar to McLellan. Yawney rose through the Blackhawks coaching ranks, spending five years as a head coach in the minors and time as an assistant in the NHL.
“We had similar paths to the NHL,” said McLellan.
Now they have one more step in common as Yawney is a former head coach (with the Blackhawks).
“He’s been a young head coach and I can draw on his experience,” said McLellan.
The two have ties that date to their Saskatoon roots as both played junior hockey for the Saskatoon Blades.
“We have a relationship that goes back to our playing days in junior,” said McLellan. “We kept in touch during our pro careers. We were teammates, but we did our own thing. Was he the guy I went to the movies with on Thursday night, no, but we saw the game the same way. We’ve been able to maintain that for around 20 years.”
While it seems as if they have been tied together all their lives, it is not quite so.
“He’s both a friend and a professional contact,” said McLellan. “After junior, we (went in different directions), now coaching has brought us back together.
McLellan admires Yawney from a standpoint that is more than just X’s and O’s.
“He has a great set of values in his family world and his hockey world,” said McLellan. “He’s not about to waiver and be all over the map. He played in almost 600 games in this league and that adds to his credibility. He is someone who can work with the D.”
RICHARDS Richards is from the same province as his head coach and brings his own level of achievement. The key portion of the success is that it has come in the postseason and that is what the Sharks have been seeking the past few campaigns.
“His career is not long as far as coaching, but he has been very, very successful,” said McLellan. “He’s been to the finals three times and won it once (in the AHL). He’s a June coach and a lot aren’t. I like that quality in him. He helps his teams play deep in the playoffs.”
Richards is one of those coaches that thoroughly has fun with his job.
“He’ll provide a lot of positive energy,” said McLellan. “He enjoys coming to the rink and has a positive relationship with the players. He played and coaches aggressively.”
WOODCROFT McLellan’s familiarity with Woodcroft comes from three recent seasons together in Detroit, cumulating in a Stanley Cup championship. Woodcroft’s dedication made quite the impression on the Sharks new head coach.
“He was our video coach in Detroit and his work ethic was second to none,” said McLellan. “He has a really good idea of what I want and the players enjoy being around him. He’s prepared to take on more.”
McLellan also enjoys other abilities that Woodcroft brings to the table, intangibles that helped the two win a Stanley Cup in Detroit.
“There are different ways to communicate with players and he has the ability to talk to them without always have to use the other coaches,” said McLellan.
The Sharks can now hope the winning credentials of their coaches gels with the high level of talent they will put on the ice each night.