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Sharks and McLellan Agree to Part Ways

(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)

After seven season, the San Jose Sharks announced that they were parting ways with head coach Todd McLellan. From Monday’s press release:

The San Jose Sharks and Todd McLellan have mutually agreed to part ways.

In related moves, Assistant Coaches Jim Johnson and Jay Woodcroft, and Video Coordinator Brett Heimlich have been relieved of their duties. Associate Coach Larry Robinson moved into his full-time role of director of player development at the conclusion of the 2014-15 regular season.

‘I want to thank Todd and his staff for their years of service to the San Jose Sharks organization,” said Wilson. “Sometimes a change is best for all parties involved but nothing will take away from what Todd and his staff ccomplished here over the last seven seasons.’

It seemed like time for Todd McLellan to move on last summer, so it is hardly surprising that he is doing so now. It is equally understandable that the Sharks did not ask him to go last season. The Sharks have the more difficult work ahead: finding a new coach will be harder than finding a new situation for McLellan. His options are probably not limited to those teams that have already fired their coaches likeToronto, Philadelphia or Buffalo. Several teams might consider firing their current coach if they can convince McLellan to join them.

In a conference call Monday morning, McLellan was asked if he has given thought to where he will go next:

Today is an emotional day, as I mentioned, with family, and my mind is in a lot of different places right now. I think finishing off what was happening here in San Jose, and getting ready for a new adventure is something I’ll be looking forward to. I don’t know what will happen over the next week but I do know Friday my son and I are getting on a plane … and Jay Woodcroft I should include in that, are going to get on a plane and we’re going over to Europe to make a real strong committment to Team Canada and its effort over there. I look forward to meeting new players, new people, new staff. I think it’s exciting and a little bit refreshing or invigorating for me to be doing that now. Where I go from here, I guess I somewhat control but there’s other people out there that have to make decisions. I’m comfortable with my career as a coach so far, I don’t have any regrets here in San Jose and I feel good moving forward.

Was this really a mutual parting of the ways? Did the Sharks ask McLellan to leave? “I participated in the decision, I definitely did.” He continued:

The hardest part for me was the players and the staff, because they’re like family members, and then at home, my family. At the end of the year I mentioned that I have to come home and discuss it with my family, get my family together. When we sat down it wasn’t about loading up the moving truck and leaving. We like San Jose, we’re passionate about the community, we have a lot of good friends here. My youngest son is deeply entrenched in his high school and is involved in a number of programs there. So our discussion was can we do this being apart from each other, not packing the moving van but can we be apart. That was a huge priority for me. So my wife and two boys sat down and we really talked about it and we made a decision that we thought we could do this.

McLellan was asked by various reporters about his next destination. I thought that the most telling answer was to Edmonton’s Jim Matheson. Matheson asked if he would like to coach Connor McDavid:

I would like to coach a great group of hockey players next year. And Connor McDavid, everybody is talking about him and his ability to come and have an impact. I’m assuming that the Oilers will pick him number one. But. one thing that I have learned: you can have the best player and still not have the best team. It’s about team, it’s about a group, it’s about the whole organization, the culture of the organization and Connor is going to be a very exciting player to watch, again I’m assuming in Edmonton, and he’ll have an impact on the league for years and years to come. But it’s often bigger, the bigger story is the group as a whole.

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