The Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose Sharks: one a year long dumpster fire and the other perennial playoff choke artist. Both teams are about to undergo some sole searching and big changes in the off season. We can already see that both teams are handling their struggles differently.
The Vancouver Canucks season has been marked by quick, seemingly rash decisions that have been influenced by team ownership. Roberto Luongo was traded at the deadline to end the goaltender controversy (after fans chanted that they wanted Luongo to play in the Heritage Classic). Mike Gillis was fired in the beginning of April, for what at the time was due to irreconcilable differences between Gillis and head coach John Tortorella and ownership. The firing of Gillis was seen by some as an endorsement of Tortorella by the Canucks owners. Trevor Linden was brought in as President and the search for a new GM began.
Then the Canucks fired John Tortorella this week. Shouldn’t the Canucks have waited until a new GM was selected before making a key personnel decision, like who will coach the team next year? What if the new GM thought John Tortorella was the best man for the job. Perhaps the GM candidates have all said they cannot see themselves working with Tortorella. Either way, it is another about-face by the Canucks front office and another quick decision.
Meanwhile, south of Vancouver in San Jose, Sharks fans are demanding change. After watching the Sharks give up a 3-0 series lead and allow the Kings to become the 4th team to come back from that deficit in NHL history, it comes as no surprise that any kind of change would be welcome to Sharks fans.
In comments to the media on locker-room cleanout day, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said that San Jose plans to take its time with evaluating how to right the ship:
Wilson says “status quo” not an option. Decisions will be made in 10-14 days to avoid emotional mistakes in the present. #SJSharks
— Brodie Brazil (@brodiebrazilCSN) May 2, 2014
While it is currently unknown whether Wilson will factor in San Jose’s future plans, a carefully thought out plan will serve better than reacting rashly to the collapse in round one.
The Sharks are not a bad hockey team and the fact they were one of the best teams in the regular season is a testament to that. That got a bad draw in the playoffs and had a mental breakdown after going up 3-0. That is not the type of thing you blow an entire team up over, as some have suggested will be necessary.
Wilson made it clear he would prefer to keep Todd McLellan behind the bench next season:
#SJSharks Wilson on decision-making process: “My recommendation is that our coaching staff be part of this going forward.”
— David Pollak (@PollakOnSharks) May 2, 2014
So far I feel the Sharks are reacting to their disappointing showing in the playoffs in the proper way. There have been no rash decisions and they are properly evaluating what needs to be done.
While the Canucks have had more time to prepare their off season plans, they have been prone to shooting from the hip and making change for change’s sake.