I knew GM Doug Wilson was up to something. I just didn’t realize it would be all personnel changes.
Adding to yesterday’s announcement that Hall-of-Famer and all-around badass Larry Robinson will be the Sharks’ new associate coach, today Wilson unveiled part two of his master shake-up: the hiring of former Capitals assistant coach (and retired NHLer) Jim Johnson. It was also announced that Sharks development coach (and former Sharks forward) Mike Ricci will have additional job responsibilities this season.
There is only so much room on the bench, and head coach Todd McClellan confirmed that assistant coach Matt Shaw will not be returning next season. McClellan said assistant coach Jay Woodcroft will be returning, though.
Johnson played as a defenseman for various clubs over a 14-year career, and has served as an assistant coach off-and-on, with a brief stint as interim head coach in Phoenix, since. Ricci will be working more closely with the team in his new “role,” and McClellan mentioned the penalty kill in particular.
With this new crop of defensive-minded, former-player coaches focusing on the penalty kill, it will be a shock if San Jose’s inadequate PK doesn’t see an improvement.
Now, for the big question: Is Wilson limiting himself to coaching changes, or will the Sharks be making any player moves soon? Other than signing Adam Burish and Brad Stuart, the only move Wilson has made has been to re-sign the Sharks’ only restricted free agent, TJ Galiardi, to a one-year, $950,000 contract. And even that was only after Galiardi threatened to take the team to arbitration.
Rick Nash still hasn’t picked his date to the dance, and Shane Doan has expressed interest in the Sharks. But it’s doubtful the Sharks could sign either of those with their current $5.5 million in cap space.