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All year, the Sharks captaincy situation had been the proverbial elephant in the room. It was discussed in hushed tones – and there were always some insinuations. And now with the team back playing well and in the playoff hunt again, the elephant is about to sit on general manager Doug Wilson and crush him.
One day after Wilson said to a bunch of season ticket holders that he stripped Joe Thornton of his captain’s ‘C’ last summer because he felt the “pressure” and “stress” was getting to the Jumbo one, Thornton struck back. Oh boy did he strike back. Like freaking "Emperor Strikes Back" style.
Said Thornton to David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News:
"I think Doug just needs to shut his mouth," Thornton said after his team's morning practice. "I think that's the bottom line.
Thornton added: "All I've got to say is I've been here every day working hard. I haven't taken a sabbatical. He just needs to stop lying, shut his mouth."
Boom. And with that, we have ourselves an obvious and open feud in San Jose. Former captain says his GM needs to shut his mouth. Says he's lying. This sounds like a daytime Soap Opera.
There was more Wilson said than just the pressure and stress element. Here is the quote in its entirety via the Merc where Wilson apparently prefaced his answer by saying he was a big Thornton fan:
“He cares about the game so much. The reason we took the 'C' off him ... Joe carries the weight of the team on his shoulders, and he's got such a big heart that when stress comes on him, he lashes out at people," Wilson said, "and it kind of impacts them.
"The pressure and stress, I felt, was getting to Joe," the general manager said. "And I sat him down and said we need other players to step up and share this. He got it. He didn't like it, but he got it and he understood it."
This is like one of those situations where if you’re a PR guy standing there, you’re probably thinking in your head “please stop talking, please stop talking, please stop talking.”
You know what the general manager is trying to say, but it's just not coming out the right way.
Wilson decided to use CSN Bay Area to get his point across as response to Thornton:
“If he’s got an issue, he knows exactly where I am, and I’ll be glad to talk to him about it,” Wilson told CSNCalifornia.com. “There’s zero issue here. I was asked a question at a season ticket holder function, and my response was to do my job and be accountable to our season ticket holders and tell the truth. It’s nothing I haven’t said before.”
On any question on the captaincy issue, Wilson should have really given a “no comment” or just talked about why he likes a guy with a no movement clause who is under contract for the next two years and is still arguably his team’s best offensive player. Apparently Thornton doesn't see it as the truth.
Saying your GM should shut up is one thing. Calling him a liar? That shows he's lost a lot of respect in the room, because let's face it, Thornton is still basically the de facto capatin ... BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T NAME ANOTHER CAPTAIN!
Plus, the Sharks are starting to finally make progress down the stretch. They’re just three points back of both Los Angeles and Calgary for the final playoff spots in the Wild Card and the Pacific Division. They’ve won four of their last five. Antti Niemi – an expiring deal who Wilson didn’t trade at the deadline, has been very solid for his team.
Again, why would you bring it up again! This problem has been in the news far too long to not take a toll on a locker room. This turmoil is completely pointless and has been handled so poorly. And now it appears ready to derail what could be a San Jose playoff push.
It’s not like Thornton isn’t culpable here either. The best response in this situation, which has been so incredibly hashed out, is no response.
But sometimes, you’ve been poked and prodded enough times to where you feel like you need to make a statement on it. Thornton hasn’t said much on the captaincy situation this year. And he hasn’t delved much into what has been a seemingly fractured relationship with his general manager. We now know how he feels.
By all accounts, it sounds like the players in that room are tired of Wilson and this situation jerking them around when they're still supposedly in a window of opportunity. Is this some weird mind game to get them all to bond against him and hence become closer? Instead it seems to be tearing them apart.
So what's next? A meeting of the minds? A force battle between the two? Geez, just give the 'C' to Joe Pavelski and be done with it.
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