Elliotte Friedman was on Toronto’s Sportsnet 590 on Friday morning.
As part of a larger discussion on the San Jose Sharks, and specifically on what’s happened to heal the wounds of the past:
“I think a lot of it is it was stale. There’s no question that a lot of those guys had been together for a long time. I think that last year was a hard year between Doug Wilson, Todd McLellan, Joe Thornton, and, to a lesser degree, Patrick Marleau.
“… I think sometimes marriages just go bland. They lose their fire. They lose their emotion. People start to annoy each other as opposed to make each other happy.
“It’s always tough, because when you’re a coach and you leave, and the team does well, people say, ‘Oh, it’s the coach’s fault.’
“I don’t think it was all Todd McLellan’s fault. I just think that team needed a different voice.
“I think the other thing that happened was Doug Wilson, I honestly believe that his players looked at what he did in the off-season – Martin Jones, Paul Martin, and Joel Ward – and they said, ‘Holy Cow, this guy had a great off-season, our general manager.’
“Very quietly – well, not so quietly because Jones is the goalie – but the other two have become critical players. I think those guys looked around and said, ‘Honestly, our team is so much better.’
“I think the other thing too is that Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, they stepped back and they said, ’You know what? This is Joe Pavelski’s team now. This is Brent Burns’ team now.’
“Burns especially. Pavelski is your professional, hard-grinding, serious guy. But Burns is Captain Caveman. People love him. I think the emergence of Burns and allowing him to get more of a leadership role, I think it’s taken the edge off. I think people look at him, and they laugh, and they say, ‘What a guy. He loves life.’
“I think seeing Thornton with that beard too – I just think he’s said, ‘You know what? I’m 30-something years old. I’ve played for almost 20 years. I’ve seen everything. Screw it. I’m going to enjoy it now.’
“And I think that’s really changed the team.”
Source: Sportsnet 590/ Transcript: Nichols