Sharks Part Ways With Boughner, Coaching Staff

San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner (right) and assistant coach John Madden (left) talks to the team on Sun Nov 28, 2021 against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center in Chicago. The Sharks fired Boughner and his assistant coaches on Fri Jul 1, 2022 no replacements have been disclosed yet. (AP News file photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks have parted ways with Head Coach Bob Boughner and most of the coaching staff. The announcement came on Thursday, a week before the NHL draft begins. The Sharks announcement read, in part:

“Interim General Manager Joe Will announced today that team has relieved Head Coach Bob Boughner, Assistant Coaches John Madden and John MacLean, and Assistant video Coach, Dan Darrow of their responsibilities.”

No replacements have been named at this time, just as no replacement for Doug Wilson has been named yet. The Sharks announcement continued, saying:

“it has become apparent that the organization is in the process of an evolution,” said Will. “The bottom line is we have missed the playoffs for the past three seasons, which isn’t acceptable to our owner, our organization, or to our fans. As part of this evolution and evaluation, we felt it was in the best interest of the club to allow the next Sharks general manager to have full autonomy related to the make-up of the on-ice coaching staff moving ahead.”

It would be difficult to argue with this logic, but it is also difficult to ignore the timing. With no coaching staff and only an acting General Manager, the team appears deep in limbo with the 2022 draft fast approaching.

The Sharks concluded their announcement by thanking the coaching staff and recognizing that they worked hard despite unusual challenges that they faced with the team. They concluded by saying: “This change is not an indictment of their performance as much as it is a recognition of the complete organizational reset that we feel is in the best interest of the team at this point.”

The draft will start on July 7.

Doug Wilson Steps Down, Search For New Sharks GM Begins

San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson at a news conference Sep 18, 2018 stepped down on Thu Apr 7, 2022 after 19 seasons as GM. Interim GM Joe Will is running the club until a new general manager is found (AP News file photo)

By Mary Lisa Walsh

SAN JOSE- Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson has been quietly but conspicuously absent for most of this season. Last Fall, shortly after being inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame, Wilson began a leave of absence for health reasons. Assistant GM Joe Will stepped in. On Thursday, the Sharks announced that their GM of 19 years had stepped down. In a press release, Wilson said of his decision:

“Finally, I want to thank everyone who has reached out during my leave of absence. While I have made great progress over the last several months, I feel it is in the best interest of the organization and myself to step down from my current duties and focus on my health and full recovery. I look forward to continuing my career in the NHL in the future.”

Thursday morning, the Sharks released a statement from owner Hasso Plattner:

“I want to personally thank Doug for his 19 seasons as general manager of the San Jose Sharks. Doug and his staff produced remarkable results over a span that very few NHL teams can match, highlighted by our 2016 Stanley Cup run. Doug has been an integral part of this franchise since the team’s inception in 1991, and his impact – on and off the ice – will continue to be felt long into the future. Doug, and his wife Kathy, will always have a place as members of the Sharks family.”

The team in charge of the search is made up of Sharks President Jonathan Becher, Interim General Manager Joe Will and Hasso Plattner. It does not seem that anyone expected Wilson to make this decision at this time. Of their plans so far, Becher said:

“Quite honestly, this is a late-breaking thing, so to say we have a hard list of criteria written down and I can cite them all would be exaggerating. Joe and I are going to meet this afternoon, put together the outline of the kind of person we’re looking for, probably bat around even some original ideas.”

Accordingly, the Sharks have no set timeline for finding a new GM. While they do not expect to fill the position before the draft, they anticipate finding someone before the next season starts. While the search is described as an external one, they have not absolutely ruled out choosing someone from within the organization.

Becher was asked whether they anticipate any changes to the team culture or style of play. He said:

“The culture of San Jose as a destination, as a family environment, that is highly unlikely to change as part of that. The culture of winning first, winning in the right way, that is unlikely to change. As I said in my opening remarks, Doug’s fingerprints are all over this thing and they’re unlikely to disappear. But as candidates come through they’re likely to have ideas that we haven’t thought of before and that’s what we want to be open to.”

Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner heard the news Thursday morning. He called the news “stunning,” and said: ” Doug means a lot to me personally, I know what he’s done with this organization and, you know, his legacy is tough to compare. I think that a lot of people in that dressing room, including myself, have a lot to be thankful to Doug for. It’s, I guess, a changing of the guard and we’re trying to get our head around that.”

Several Sharks players spoke with the media Thursday afternoon, expressing their surprise at the news and also gratitude for the support that Wilson gave to them through their careers in San Jose. Sharks captain Logan Couture said: “Definitely going to miss him. Hopefully see him down the road here and talk to him and all that. But, happy that he’s taking steps to, you know, get to where he needs to be and doing what’s best for himself and his family.”

San Jose Sharks podcast with Mary Lisa: Reviewing this week’s trades and how it benefits Sharks

Anthony Bitetto joins the San Jose Sharks in a deal that Nick Merkley to the New York Rangers. Sharks assistant general manager Joe Will said Bitetto will strengthen the Sharks blue line (photo from New York Rangers Twitter)

On the San Jose Sharks podcast with Mary Lisa:

#1 Mary Lisa let’s take a look at some of the moves that the San Jose Sharks made this week before the trade deadline they traded defenseman Jake Middleton to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick. The Sharks are looking to strengthen their position in goal do you see Kahkonen getting many starts out of the gate.

#2 Forward Nick Merkley went to the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Anthony Bitteto. Merkley was a mainstay for the Sharks AHL club the Barracuda developed and came up to the Sharks for Merkley to get the Rangers attention and join them Merkley did some impressive work on the ice.

#3 The Sharks sent forward Andrew Cogliano to the Colorado Avalanche for a 2024 fifth round draft pick. San Jose also traded goaltender Alexei Melnichuk to the Tampa Bay Lightning for center Antoine Morand.

#4 There is no secret that the Sharks are excited about obtaining Kahkonen, “Kaapo is a quick, athletic goaltender who has shown the ability to win consistently at every level he has played,” San Jose assistant general manager Joe Will said. 

#5 Anthony Bitteto is a plus as he joins the Sharks, Sharks assistant general manager Joe Will said that Bitteto gives the Sharks physical, additional depth on San Jose’s blueline. Bitteto has played in 39 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL with 15 points, four goals and 11 asissts.

Join Mary Lisa for the SJ Sharks podcasts each Wednesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

San Jose Sharks podcast with Len Shapiro: NHL teams zeroing in on Hertl; GM Will says Sharks looking forward to negotiating with Hertl

The San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl (48) is thrilled after scoring a first period goal against the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle on Thu Jan 20, 2022. Hertl is rumored to potentially to be sought by a number of teams. The NHL trade deadline is Mon Mar 21, 2022 (AP News photo file)

On the Sharks podcast with Len:

#1 Len, from all aspects the San Jose Sharks will could get some players for the future or a key player for Tomas Hertl but Sharks interim general manager Joe Will says he doesn’t want to do anything else outside of contract negotiations concerning Hertl.

#2 Hertl has said that he would even take less money to stay in San Jose and go somewhere else and play and play out his full financial potential when he could go all out in San Jose for the rest of his playing days.

#3 The Sharks and other teams pursuing Hertl are aware that Hertl at 6’3 presents a player who executes on the power play and penalty kill. Hertl also can score 30 goals a season, handles the center position as one of the best in the league. However things turn out Hertl is a presence.

#4 Other issues that Will will be dealing with is former Shark Evander Kane’s grievance regarding his termination from the team, general manager Doug Wilson is away for a persistent cough, Kevin Labanc and Nikolai Knyzhov’s are out with injuries, could William Eklund return this season, and head coach Bob Boughner will he be back after this season?

#5 The Sharks take on the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night at SAP Center and the return of former Shark Evander Kane. What kind of reception do you see him getting on Monday and do you see him playing with a little extra against his former teammates?

Join Len for the San Jose Sharks podcasts each Saturday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com