SAN JOSE – The last time the Sharks had a vacancy at their head coaching position, general manager Doug Wilson, by his count, spoke with 21 different candidates for the job. He chose Todd McLellan four weeks and one day after firing Ron Wilson.
Expect another exhaustive search this time around, too, now that the club and McLellan have agreed to part ways. There is no timetable.
"We don't want to rush,” said Wilson, when asked if he’d like a coach in place prior to the NHL draft in late June. “There are people that would like to coach here. We've got a lot of good players. We're in a good position to go forward. There will be some coaches that will probably become available in the next little while, so I don't want to rush the decision from a shortened pool."
Among the potential candidates are Dan Bylsma, who was let go by Pittsburgh after last season; Peter DeBoer, fired by New Jersey mid-season, and Dave Tippett, who has an uncertain future in Arizona. Several other names are sure to emerge over the next few weeks.
Wilson said on Monday that he has already answered the phone.
“It doesn’t take long in this business,” he said. “We do have some good players. Our coaching staff has certainly coached up some of the young guys who didn’t have great years this year, but we know they’re good players. We have some quality veterans. We have some young players who are playing in Worcester who will come and compete with this team. We’re trending upward, and we’re going to bounce back very quickly.”
When McLellan was hired in the summer of 2008, he was still a relative unknown. Although he was part of a Stanley Cup winning team in Detroit under Mike Babcock, McLellan had never before been the bench boss of an NHL club.
Wilson was asked if he would go that route again, or if he was looking for an established name.
“We’ll look at all combinations,” Wilson said. “There’s a protocol that we have to go through. There are teams that are still playing. There’s college. There are junior coaches. We’re looking for the best person.”
As for Wilson's status, he admitted that he hasn’t yet had a face-to-face meeting with owner Hasso Plattner, but every indication is that the 12-year general manager isn’t going anywhere. That shouldn’t be overly surprising, as Wilson stated last summer that the 2013-14 season was going to be a transitional year in which young players were going to get more time, and Plattner was on board with the plan after the latest playoff disappointment.
Plattner remains very involved despite staying out the public eye, according to Wilson.
“He may not like to talk to [the media], but he is very involved in this franchise,” Wilson said. “Our plan last summer in the transition, he was completely up to speed with, as was everybody in our organization. While he knew there would be potential for some pain in the transition, expectations were higher than we accomplished.”