The San Jose Sharks held their annual sackcloth-and-ashes-sprinkled-atop-a-brackish-tomato-bisque postseason session with the media, and you might expect, changes were promised.
Not with the coaching staff where Todd McLellan et. al. had right to feel hard done by the employees. Probably not with general manager Doug Wilson, though his contracts with the team’s core players tend to limit the amount of change allowed.
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And besides, if the Sharks wanted us to pay attention to the regularly scheduled mea culpa, they’d have trotted out the mega-billionaire owner Hasso (Brandon) Plattner to do the talking – and the whacking.
But billionaires don’t deal with the hoi, let alone the polloi, and because Wilson wasn’t ready to name names, we are left to do the naming ourselves. These are not done to please the customers – the Sharks have been trying to please the customers for years to no great effect come April, so screw ‘em. They should be unhappy too, just to keep the bad vibes going.
So here is our multi-step plan for what the Sharks should do to deny and destroy their past. We can't help their future, but we know when people should feel lousy about themselves, and this is that time in spades.
1. Get Plattner Drunk, And Then Get Him Angry. Nothing inspires change quite like a man worth $9.5 billion on a Teutonic rampage.
2. Give McLellan Greater Latitude With The Roster. More specifically, give him two mulligans to get rid of players he can no longer stand, and then do it, cap hit or no cap hit. This collapse isn’t on him, so he should get to do a little career venting on players who frankly nauseate him – and it doesn’t matter who they are.
3. Get Wilson To Learn Public Relations From Brian Burke. The fan base needs more fulmination, screaming and snarl in these angry times, and Wilson can set the tone with more pointed criticisms of the officiating, the league office, Pierre McGuire, or anyone else who torques him off. If you’re going to be angry, be angry all the way.
3A. We just threw McGuire in on a lark. It could just as well be Mike Emrick, Ray Ferraro, Pat Foley, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Bob McKenzie or a miscellaneous blogger (say, Fear The Fin, Puck Daddy, Down Goes Brown, or The Active Stick). Doesn’t matter, as long as Wilson starts turning red every now and then.
4. Joe Thornton comes out later after games and stays longer to dissect his team the way a captain should.
5. S.J. Sharkie is fired and its costume burned in a ritual blaze on Santa Clara Street, either empty or filled. It doesn’t much matter. What’s he, she or it ever done to help the club win? Nothing. No time for sentiment, so hand me that propane torch.
6. Hire a new S.J. Sharkie and set that one on fire too. Sometimes you have to teach through repetition.
7. Tear down all the banners from the rafters. If you want people to think you’ve done nothing, and you do, reminders of the things you have done are just obnoxious.
8. Have Plattner and Wilson hold a town hall meeting at which the message is clear: “We have done nothing to earn your trust, so don’t trust us. Make us prove it.”
9. Cut prices. You’ve got the money, enough to buy the top 17 teams in the league based on the Forbes valuations alone. Start spreading it around. Call it a Crappy Aprils Through History Rebate. Sell We’re Sorry nachos, Be Angry With Us beers, and Try To Choke This Down bratwursts. Pun very much intended.
10. Sell a Raffi Torres swimsuit calendar, which is mostly just pictures of his eyes in different summery backdrops. He’d scare Vladimir Putin into putting a shirt back on.
11. Ban the Beat L.A. chant, since is painfully obvious to everyone that what the fans actually want from their team is to Be L.A.
12. Replace the Shark logo at center ice with a gigantic Darryl Sutter picture, preferably one where he is swallowing his own face. Sure the kids might cry, but it toughens them up for when they have kids of their own.
13. Bring John Tortorella in for a pep talk once a month.
14. Insist that Gary Bettman come out to San Jose more often during the regular season, and tell the players, “You can take the playoffs seriously, or he’ll come out then, too.” It’s called aversion therapy. It almost always works.
15. If not, a perpetual audio loop of Don Cherry in the locker room to replace Pharrell Williams ought to shake them up sufficiently.
16. Trade one good player to Buffalo for nothing, and tell the rest of the team, “You think we care about your comfort? We just did this for the hell of it.”
17. If that doesn’t work, sign Dustin Brown. His new teammates will love that.
18. Set one more S.J. Sharkie on fire before every playoff game. It ain’t the octopus, and hovering soot off the ice is a lot more difficult than picking up a dead octopus, but you have to make your own traditions.
In other words, the Sharks should remember this season for all time, and the best way to do so is to say it with arson. Trust me, it will be cathartic, and right now catharsis is more than merely clearly indicated. It’s all they’ve got.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com