San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton Expects Coach Todd McLellan to Return Next Season

Scott Semmler@@ScottSemmler22Analyst IIMay 15, 2012

WINNIPEG, CANADA - JANUARY 12: San Jose Sharks' head coach Todd McLellan looks from the bench as players Brad Winchester #10, Joe Thornton #19 and Patrick Marleau #12 watch during a break in play during a game against the Winnipeg Jets in NHL action at the MTS Centre on January 12, 2012 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
Marianne Helm/Getty Images

It is ultimately not San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton's decision, but one would think he has a pretty big say in who coaches the team next season.  Thornton had his say yesterday when he stated that he expects coach Todd McLellan to return and coach the Sharks next season.

McLellan's job is expected to be on the line after a disappointing season for the Sharks ended in a first-round defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Blues.  That was after San Jose had to make a surge up the Western Conference just to make the playoffs.

According to Kevin Kurz of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, Thornton sees nothing changing on the coaching front.

“He’s a great coach, and the guys love playing for him,” Thornton said of McLellan. “Ultimately it’s up to [general manager Doug Wilson] and the ownership to make that call. As the captain, he’s a darn good coach.”

The obvious speculation here would be that there is little doubt McLellan will not return as coach of the Sharks next season.  Despite a rocky season, he is still one of the better young coaches in the NHL, and the Sharks would be hard-pressed to find a better coach on the open market.

Another hint, along with Thornton's vote of approval for McLellan, is that Sharks' ownership gave its own vote of approval for GM Doug Wilson, whose job was also on the rocks after the up-and-down season.

With Wilson returning and a busy offseason set to ensue, one would have to think that both Wilson and McLellan will be given at least one more opportunity to prove what they can do with this franchise.

Ultimately, it is Wilson's decision whether or not to retain McLellan, but all signs point to McLellan being back on that bench next season.

Kurz is also reporting that Thornton expects the team's roster to change quite a bit.

“There’s probably going to be six or seven new players that come in, and that’s just the reality of the business,” he said.

At this point, the team really has no other choice but to change the personnel on the roster.  If the general manager and coach are not leaving, then change must be made with the players. Thornton seems to expect that.

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