McLellan out after 7 years as coach of San Jose Sharks
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Todd McLellan is out after seven years as coach of the San Jose Sharks.
The team announced Monday that McLellan and the Sharks agreed to part ways after the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003. McLellan had one year remaining on his contract.
McLellan had a successful run with the Sharks despite the latest disappointing season and an inability for the team to get over the playoff hump and make the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.
"I want to thank Todd and his staff for their years of service to the San Jose Sharks organization," general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "Sometimes a change is best for all parties involved but nothing will take away from what Todd and his staff accomplished here over the last seven seasons."
McLellan had a 311-163-66 regular-season record with the Sharks, the third best in the league since he took over before the 2008-09 season. He had the most wins and coached the most games of any Sharks coach in franchise history.
But San Jose finished 12th out of 14 teams in the Western Conference this season and missed the postseason, leading to the change.
"San Jose will always hold a special place for me and my family," McLellan said. "I would like to thank Doug and the Sharks organization for allowing me the opportunity to coach at the National Hockey League level. While we both agree that a change is in the best interest of myself and the team, I'm proud of what we accomplished as an organization."
McLellan, who won a Stanley Cup as an assistant in Detroit, got off to a successful start in his tenure in San Jose, winning the Presidents' Trophy as the top regular-season team in 2009. But the Sharks fell in the first round of the playoffs to Anaheim in another postseason disappointment for a franchise full of them.
The Sharks then made back-to-back trips to the conference finals the next two seasons, but won one playoff series in McLellan's final four seasons.
Last season's loss was the most devastating. San Jose took a 3-0 series lead over rival Los Angeles only to lose the final four games, becoming just the fourth NHL team to blow such a lead.
McLellan questioned after the series whether his message was still getting through to the players. Wilson kept McLellan on for another year to oversee a shift to younger players but the team never truly got over the sting of the playoff loss.
Wilson talked about the need to take a step backward with a youth movement and new leadership before being able to reach the ultimate goal of the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship.
Those comments rankled some of the players. Star Joe Thornton was stripped of his captaincy and then disagreed at the start of training camp with Wilson's assessment that the Sharks were a "tomorrow team."
That tension only grew as the season went on and boiled over when Wilson told season-ticket holders in March that Thornton had a tendency to lash out at people in stressful situations. Thornton responded that his GM should "shut his mouth" and "stop lying." The two publicly made up shortly after that but it wasn't enough to save the season.
Outside of a stretch of nine wins in 10 games between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Sharks never got on a roll this season. They frequently lost to teams at the bottom of the standings and lost their home dominance. San Jose won just 19 of 41 home games and struggled in goal, on defense and on the penalty kill.
The Sharks also announced that assistants Jim Johnson and Jay Woodcroft, and video coordinator Brett Heimlich have been let go. Associate coach Larry Robinson has moved into his full-time role of director of player development.