SAN JOSE, Calif. --The language was blunt--almost as if Sharks general manager Doug Wilson felt the need to convince both players and fans that he was serious when he declared that his team is entering a rebuild.
"We're a tomorrow team," Wilson said Tuesday, using the accepted code for a hockey franchise that isn't considered a legitimate Stanley Cup contender and a harsh adjustment for a San Jose team that has made the playoffs each of the past 10 seasons.
The message has been consistent since the Sharks became the fourth team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead when they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in late April. But Wilson held court again, previewing the June27 NHL draft and reinforcing the idea that his team will have to take at least one step backward to regain its status as a serious Cup contender.
"This is a phase that this organization has never gone into in the past, and maybe should have many years ago," Wilson said.
Even though it likely means the absence of playoff revenue, Wilson said his plan had the blessing of owner Hasso Plattner. And he said Plattner did not set a time frame for a return to contender status.
Nor has Wilson, noting only that teams such as the Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins missed the playoffs for five or six years before establishing themselves among the NHL elite. Ideally, he suggested, it would be a shorter process in San Jose because skilled younger players such as Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are taking over the reins.
The general manager did not address the future of captain Joe Thornton or veteran Patrick Marleau, saying all conversations would be kept private. Both players have no-movement clauses in the three-year contracts that kick in July1, and would have to approve any deals.
But, Wilson emphasized, other players also have decisions to make.
--More roster changes may be coming, but Wilson also announced that goalie Alex Stalock and gritty forward Mike Brown will be back with the Sharks next season after signing new two-year contracts.
Both players would have become unrestricted free agents July1.
Stalock, 26, served as San Jose's backup netminder last season, posting a 12-5-2 record, .932 save percentage and 1.87 goals against average with two shutouts in 24 games. Stalock will compete with Antti Niemi for the starting job when training camp opens in September.
Brown was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers last October and was used sparingly in a fourth-line role. He finished the season with two goals, three assists and 75 penalty minutes in 48 games.
Stalock will earn $1.5 million next season and $1.7 million in 2015-16; Brown signed for $1.15 million in 2014-15 and $1.25 million the following year.
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