Late in the Sharks practice, Head Coach Todd McLellan gathered his troops on the ice for a quick meeting. At that point he informed the group that Joe Thornton
would be the captain moving forward. There was the requisite hockey version of applause with sticks hitting the ice and a new era had begun in Sharks history. While they may not have known exactly what was happening at the moment, Thornton’s parents happened to be watching from the stands.
Some have said that Thornton has been the heartbeat of the club since he arrived and started posting dramatic offensive numbers. What people don’t see that those in the lockerroom do is Thornton strongly cares about his and his team’s performance. He definitely has the fun, smiling side that the cameras always show, but he also is a fiery competitor who wants to win at all costs.
There was much discussion with management, the players and his fellow coaches, but in the end, McLellan made the final decision. He also pegged his alternate captains.
will be our captain and Dan Boyle
will be a permanent assistant,” said McLellan. “Patrick Marleau
and Ryane Clowe
will alternate road and home (Marleau home, Clowe road). We had a really good assortment of choices and it basically came down to two players. We, and when I say we it is spread out through the organization, including management and the players, felt right now Jumbo would be the right guy at this time. He’s made some really big strides over the last couple of years, changed the way he approached and played the game. We believe this is the next step in that evolution.”
Wearing the “C” is more than just decoration on a jersey as it requires a player to facilitate a multitude of roles.
“He has to accept that responsibility and I know that he will,” said McLellan.
In addition, San Jose’s leadership council will continue to exist and provide a pack mentality to lifting the Sharks to another level.
“He’ll be very well supported,” said McLellan. “We’ve got one of the most competitive people in the league being his right hand man in Danny Boyle. After that there is a very good supporting cast that doesn’t end with a piece of felt on the shoulders.”
The reason the announcement came on training camp’s last day was McLellan did not want to leave a stone unturned.
“We needed to give the players an opportunity to voice their opinion through their actions and their words,” said McLellan. “It wasn’t something we wanted to rush throughout training camp. Now is the time. We expect high end leadership from the group and we felt this timing was the best.”
Now that he dons the “C” what will McLellan look for out of Jumbo Joe?
“I expect honesty between he and I, true honesty in his play, he has to lead by example,” said McLellan. “The verbal leadership gets way overrated. We don’t’ need cheerleaders on our team by any means. We need people that step up and speak their mind and back it up on the ice. Joe Thornton
is Joe Thornton
and he can’t be something he isn’t. He’s still got a demeanor about him that he is a fun guy to be around and he enjoys playing the game. He’s passionate about it and we’re not trying to change that. We want him to bring that to the rink every day, but we also want him to lead the group in the right direction.”
McLellan said the personalities and talents in the Sharks room did not make the decision an easy one.
“We could have gone with Dan Boyle
, we could have gone with Ryane Clowe
, we could have gone with Dougie Murray, we could have gone with a lot of people,” said McLellan. “Was it a tough choice, it was. It’s a good mix, but it doesn’t end there,” said McLellan. “There are the Pavelskis and the Murrays.”
McLellan has his starting netminder in mind, but that others won’t know today.
“We’ll let them (Niemi and Niittymaki) know after practice,” said McLellan.