Sharks dump coaches, split with McLellan
In a decision that had been long foreshadowed, Todd McLellan‘s days as the head coach of the San Jose Sharks are over.
McLellan and the Sharks “mutually agreed to part ways,” the team announced in a press release on Monday. McLellan’s entire coaching staff — assistants Jim Johnson, Jay Woodcroft and video coordinator Brett Heimlich — were let go, while associate head coach Larry Robinson moved to a front office role as director of player development.
McLellan had been behind the bench for seven consecutive seasons, serving as the longest-tenured head coach in Sharks history with 540 games coached. His 311 wins is also the most in franchise history, and he finishes with a record of 311-163-66 behind the bench.
Under his tenure, the Sharks won three consecutive Pacific Division titles (2008-2011) and the Presidents’ trophy in the 2008-2009 season. They also reached the Western Conference Finals twice in 2010 and 2011.
“San Jose will always hold a special place for me and my family. I would like to thank Doug [Wilson] and the Sharks organization for allowing me the opportunity to coach at the National Hockey League level. While we both agree that a change is in the best interest of myself and the team, I’m proud of what we accomplished as an organization.”
The 47-year-old McLellan was brought in prior to the 2008-2009 season to replace Ron Wilson, who was let go largely because of his inability to win in the postseason.
It was more or less the same issue that led to McLellan’s demise. The Sharks were 30-32 in the postseason from 2008-2015, with zero Stanley Cup Finals appearances.
In his first season at the helm, the Sharks finished with 117 points and won the Presidents’ Trophy only to fall to the Ducks in the first round of the playoffs. The Sharks reached the conference finals in each of the next two seasons, but were swept by the Blackhawks in 2010 before falling 4-1 to the Canucks in 2011.
After another first-round exit in 2012 — a rather underachieving one — at the hands of the Blues, the Sharks were eliminated from the postseason the past two seasons by the Kings in heartbreaking fashion.
2013’s debacle saw the Sharks jump out to a 3-0 series lead against the Kings in the first round only to lose four consecutive games and watch as Los Angeles captured its second Stanley Cup title in three years. And in 2014, the Sharks missed the playoffs entirely for the first time in a decade.
That, one can surmise, was enough for management to put McLellan on the hot seat, and this season’s mediocre performance was the final straw. The Sharks finished with a 40-33-9 record, winding up fifth in the Pacific Division, out of the playoffs and just 19-17-5 at home.
Despite his shortcomings, McLellan kept the Sharks competitive and one of the elite teams in the NHL throughout his tenure. He made no shortage of tough decisions, such as stripping Patrick Marleau of the captaincy after the Sharks were eliminated by the Ducks in 2009, then doing the same to Joe Thornton this past season after falling to the Kings in the first round.
He oversaw the development of the Sharks’ present-day young nucleus, which includes Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and he successfully managed to split ice time between the pipes for Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock.
McLellan put the Sharks in a position to compete for a championship the majority of his tenure, but for one reason or another, his teams fell short.
However, the now former Sharks’ coach will have no shortage of options for his next coaching job; McLellan has already drawn interest from the Philadelphia Flyers and will be considered for other vacancies such as the Maple Leafs and Oilers.