For the first time in 11 seasons, the Sharks failed to make the playoffs in 2015 creating a wild year in San Jose. Here’s a look back at the year:
3. Outdoor game
The NHL’s outdoor games have become the league’s signature regular season events, and the only one not called the Winter Classic last year was the Sharks-Kings Stadium Series matchup at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Somewhat surprisingly, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced in a press conference way back on Oct. 2, 2014, that he expected the game on Feb. 21 to be a sellout. It was indeed, as 70,205 fans packed the home of the 49ers to see Los Angeles get past San Jose, 2-1, in a testament to how popular hockey has become in California and the the Bay Area, specifically.
2. Rift surfaces between Wilson and Thornton
In the ultimate example of the Sharks’ dysfunctional 2014-15 season, Joe Thornton and Doug Wilson went public with their criticism of one another in March. After Wilson explained to season ticket holders that part of the reason Thornton was removed as captain was due to his tendency to “lash out” at teammates, Thornton suggested that Wilson “shut his mouth” and “stop lying.” Although the pair has apparently put that spat behind them, the question remains whether Wilson and Thornton can co-exist in an organization that still has Stanley Cup aspirations.
1. Replacing McLellan with DeBoer
The news itself was unsurprising, when the Sharks and Todd McLellan announced on April 20 that they had “mutually parted ways.” The well-respected coach was ready for a change and would have no shortage of options, while the declining Sharks team missed the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons. It was time to move on from the man who was the Sharks’ longest-tenured and all-time winningest coach. Enter Pete DeBoer, who previously coached in Florida and New Jersey, and who is tasked with getting the Sharks back to the postseason. Halfway through DeBoer’s first season, the results have been mixed.