Sharks: Ron Wilson a Fish Out of Water

Andrew GillisContributor IMay 14, 2008

The most successful coach in San Jose Sharks franchise history is now on the job search.

General Manager Doug Wilson fired Coach Ron Wilson Monday on account of being ousted from the playoffs four straight seasons, three of which took place in the second round.

Coach Ron Wilson had plenty to work with behind the bench. With Joe Thornton, the most consistently productive player in the league leading the high powered rush offense, this team was favored to win it all for two straight seasons.

Expectations ran high and were also let down. Following a valiant effort to climb back from being down 3-0 to the Dallas Stars in this year’s second round of the playoffs, game six was lost in a four overtime thriller.

The skates looked heavy and the sticks were gripped just a little too tight throughout the 2008 playoffs for the San Jose Sharks. General manager Doug Wilson has had enough of it.

In the playoffs, the Sharks lacked the fire and tenancity that lead them to an outstanding regular season finish. Brian Campbell was a great end of the season acquisition for the Sharks, but that extra juice just wasn’t apparent in the playoffs.

What is it that led the bitter end of Ron Wilson’s days as a Shark? The team did not lack a leader. They did not lack experience. They did not lack goaltending. They certainly did not lack the offensive strike.

What they lacked was heart.

For being one of the most stacked teams in the entire league, Dallas should have been a six game series in favor of San Jose. Getting to the third round and potentially playing Detroit would have been a serious battle. It would surely secured Wilson’s job for next season.

Once again it was another painful, jaw-dropping season for any Sharks fan and it was time for change.

This team should have won the first three games in the second round against Brendan Morrow’s Stars. They gave up leads in each game. The most shocking comeback was game two. The Sharks held a 2-1 lead going in to the third period, only to give it up and lose 5-2.

Initially, the guilt was pointed to the ineffective playoff performance of Brian Campbell and the shaky play of Joe Thornton. Now the finger is pointed to behind the bench.

Heart can be touched by a coach and in the locker room a speech can light a team up. There was not once in the entire playoffs that the Sharks came out looking like the favored Stanley Cup Champion (other than the first four minutes against Calgary that eventually turned into a 4-3 loss).

Doug Wilson has given Ron the support and talent to coach and gave him the opportunity to spend the day with Lord Stanley’s Cup. The opportunity was never seized and now Ron Wilson will be looking to do it somewhere else.

The future of San Jose is shining. Coaching prospects are fluent throughout the NHL. Currently the best fit looks to be Joel Quenneville, recently let go by the Colorado Avalanche.

Quenneville knows how to handle the fast pace offense and can certainly develop a strong group of guys to stand on the blue line. He has the resume to fit the Sharks' needs. He knows how to handle the talent San Jose has. 

Firing Ron Wilson was a risky move that had to be done by GM Doug Wilson. His hands were full and he gave Ron exactly what he needed to put together a Stanley Cup caliber team. This was the year for Ron Wilson to show what tricks he had up his sleeve, to show that he had exactly what San Jose needed to win it all.

I guess the hockey world will have to wait to see Wilson behind a new bench for that.