Programming note: Flames-Sharks coverage starts tonight at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE – In recent days, Todd McLellan’s status as the Sharks’ head coach has come into question due to team’s inconsistent play over the first quarter of the season.
On Wednesday morning, several Sharks players voiced their support for McLellan, who is in his seventh year behind the bench in San Jose.
“I like what the coaching staff does here and how they work. There’s not much else to really be said,” Joe Pavelski said. “We have to play the game and they give us something every day to work towards. It’s about us getting a little better.”
Tommy Wingels said: “We’re the ones who are responsible for what happens. Those reports irritate us as a team, I think. Me specifically, I don’t think they’re warranted. That’s where I’ll leave it at.”
On Tuesday, a report surfaced that Sharks general manager Doug Wilson had already reached out to Dan Bylsma. Wilson quickly refuted that.
Certainly nothing is imminent regarding the team’s head coaching position. Internally, Sharks management knows that the club has had a difficult schedule with not much time to practice, thanks to 16 of their first 21 games on the road – the most road-heavy schedule to start a season in NHL history.
The evaluation of the team is ongoing, and the belief is that a fair assessment won’t really be possible until the Sharks have played some more games at home and had time to clean up some of the problems that have come into focus. After all, San Jose is trying to become a younger team, with guys like Mirco Mueller, Barclay Goodrow, Alex Stalock, Matt Nieto, Tomas Hertl and now Matt Tennyson still adapting to the NHL.
That said, home shootout losses to Florida and Arizona – neither of which looks like a playoff contender – haven’t been encouraging in the first two games of a six-game homestand.
Pavelski indicated that the message has been delivered that there are no immediate plans to make a change to the team’s coaching staff.
“As far as I’ve been told. Whether it carries any weight or not, I don’t know. But, we have an idea that this is going to be the group,” Pavelski said.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic has been with McLellan for the coach’s entire tenure in San Jose.
“I would be very disappointed if there was [a change],” Vlasic said. “He’s one of the best coaches in the league. Why would you get rid of him? He’s unbelievable. I think he’s been great since I’ve been here.”
“I like Todd. I really do. He’s a great coach – nice to the guys, hard on them when he needs to be. For me, I think he’s been great. I wouldn’t want to see him leave.”
Some wins may be necessary, starting with Wednesday against Calgary. Vlasic – who said that he figured these questions would arise due to the Sharks’ disappointing start – realizes that.
“I always think it’s funny. Like, I know it’s coming. If you lose the next one, [stuff] will hit the fan, big time,” Vlasic said.
“You just look at the record. Look at what we’ve done in the past. If it was 13-6, the [media] wouldn’t even say anything. Just add three more wins and we’re fine. But, we’re still fine.”