Editor's note: The above video is from May 28, when Peter DeBoer was introduced as head coach of the Sharks.
SAN JOSE -– One day in, new Sharks coach Pete DeBoer is apparently sticking to his word of not making too many drastic changes to the club. As he and management have said many times since he was hired in May, they believe the Sharks have the ability to quickly rebound from a playoff-less season and re-establish themselves as one of the league’s elites.
The Sharks opened their 24th training camp on Friday at Sharks Ice, less than three weeks away from the season opener on Oct. 7 in Los Angeles. It is the first under DeBoer after seven seasons with Todd McLellan.
“It's just minor adjustments, pretty easy to adapt to,” Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. “Nothing too hard to understand."
Joe Thornton said: “I don’t think it will be a long time to get used to his system. It’s relatively the same as Todd’s. Hopefully the more we get exhibition games under our belt, we’ll be ready to play his system.”
Along with DeBoer, there seems to be a different energy around the club already when compared to last September, when general manager Doug Wilson presented it a transitional year in which the team was prepared to take one step backward. There weren’t any players brought in that were going to drastically improve the club, the leadership structure was blown up after some harsh internal criticism, and it only got worse when a public rift between Wilson and Thornton came to light.
Now, though, Thornton and Wilson seem to have made amends. “Me and Doug are cool,” Thornton said, sounding sincere. Players like Joel Ward and Paul Martin were added via free agency, helping depth at both the forward and defense positions, while Martin Jones is an expected upgrade in net over previous starter Antti Niemi.
There is even some new sparkle to the practice facility, as the dressing room has been renovated along with the players-only areas. The first day of training camp is always a new beginning, but that’s especially true for the 2015-16 Sharks.
"There is a feeling. There's good energy in the room,” Joe Pavelski said. “When you walk into the building and you see the new hallway and new locker room, it just adds to that energy.
“Even when we were away in the summer and we added those pieces, there was an energy I could feel. I was excited when I got back and saw everybody and got out on the ice. We like the signings we've had and improvements, and we'll move forward from that and hopefully it will be positive."
Still, DeBoer is the biggest change of all, along with his brand new staff that includes Johan Hedberg, Steve Spott and Bob Boughner. The 47-year-old former Panthers and Devils coach was out on the ice for approximately three hours between the two groups the team is currently split up into, diagramming drills and barking out orders to his troops. Considering McLellan’s lengthy tenure, it was a new experience for most of the roster.
“There’s going to be an adjustment period. I don’t think it will be that long,” DeBoer said. “We’re not changing the entire program here.”
“The overall message was we’re excited to be here. They should be excited about the opportunity that this season presents. It’s going to be a long journey. There are going to be some bumps in the road. But we like our group and we see some fantastic potential here. Let’s put the workbooks on and get started.”
Thornton already seems encouraged.
“I think he has a powerful voice,” he said. “He comes in and tells us right away this is how we’re going to play. … Nothing against Todd, but maybe it was time to get a new voice in here. We’re all excited to have Pete behind the bench now.”
“You go through the same things and the same motions, it’s going to get stale at times," Tommy Wingels said. "A fresh voice helps, but he’s bringing new ideas to this team as well which should rejuvenate us, re-energize us and get is back to where we want to be.”