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Sharks GM Wilson not ready to commit to bringing coach back

5/21/2007 - NHL San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- General manager Doug Wilson needed two
weeks to calm down after the San Jose Sharks' second-round exit
from the playoffs, and he's still not ready to make any quick
decisions on the futures of his players and coaches.

Saying he's "frustrated and disappointed" with the end of an
otherwise successful season, Doug Wilson plans to decide by next
week whether coach Ron Wilson will return to San Jose next season.

The general manager was at times both blunt and evasive Monday
in a wide-ranging interview, his first since San Jose was
eliminated by the Detroit Red Wings in six games two weeks ago.

"I have not had a feeling like this since I've been here,"
said Doug Wilson, the former Chicago defenseman who has molded San
Jose's remarkable talent pool into a perennial winner over the past
three seasons.

"We're not going to sit idly by. That's not what good teams
have historically done. ... There will be changes. I'm not going to
say, 'OK, everybody will take this experience and be better by
September.' We will not do that. We're trying to win Stanley Cups,
and we're trying to build a great organization."

Though the Sharks earned 51 victories and 107 points during the
best regular season in franchise history, they left the playoffs
with a precipitous slide after a promising first-round win over
Nashville. San Jose lost its final three games against Detroit, and
Doug Wilson still hasn't decided how to deal with the exposed
problems in the Sharks' leadership and strategy.

Firing the coach is an unlikely solution, but it's apparently
still on the table: Doug Wilson pointedly refused to guarantee Ron
Wilson will return to the club he has led to 138 regular-season
victories and four playoff series wins -- but no Stanley Cup finals
appearances -- over the past three seasons.

The Wilsons, who aren't related, went through a 12-hour meeting
last week evaluating every problem with the Sharks. Ron Wilson
asked for a few more days to find answers to Doug Wilson's
questions, and the two will meet again later in the week, with a
decision expected to be announced next week.

"We'll deal with the end of the process this week, and we'll go
from there Monday," said Doug Wilson, who extended Ron Wilson's
contract last season during a 10-game winless streak.

Though he has built a sturdy, young team with no obvious
weaknesses, Doug Wilson said he is determined to re-examine the
Sharks' structure. Any player seems available in a trade discussion
-- except Joe Thornton, last season's MVP, who's already had
informal discussions about a long-term contract.

"You can't just go get better players. You've got to make your
own players better," said Doug Wilson, who has made brilliant
deals for Thornton and defenseman Craig Rivet along with
less-successful swaps for Bill Guerin and Mark Bell in recent
months.

The Sharks' postseason collapse included Ron Wilson's thinly
veiled scolding for captain Patrick Marleau, who struggled
throughout the Detroit series despite a reputation for strong
postseason play. Marleau's leadership skills are questioned
repeatedly by fans who don't see how the taciturn son of a
Saskatchewan farmer can be an effective captain.

"I trust that dressing room," Doug Wilson said. "I don't
micromanage. There will be conversations that will take place.
We'll handle it."

He also said it's "highly unlikely" that goalies Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala both will return for next season. Both are
proven NHL netminders who shared an uneasy platoon until Toskala
got hurt this spring, and Wilson fully intends to trade one of the
goalies before training camp -- though he failed to find a similar
trade last summer.

"I don't think there's many goalies that would have done what
they did for us, but that will not continue," Wilson said.

Doug Wilson understands fans' concerns that the Sharks are
turning into the West Coast version of the Ottawa Senators, who
struggled through years of regular-season successes and playoff
failures before finally breaking through to the Stanley Cup finals
this year. The Sharks blew leads in three of their losses to
Detroit, including a pair of two-goal margins.

"I want excuses removed from this organization forever," Doug
Wilson said. "If anything, we're going to raise the expectations.
People say we underachieved. Well, you know what? We did, and the
only way we're going to overachieve is to win a Stanley Cup."