It's been a couple days since we got the great news about the Sharks hiring of a new head coach, and now we have to wait until camp to find out what changes will be made. What we already know is that he's been coaching for 14 years (11 as a head coach, and 3 as an assistant) and that his teams have never
missed the play-offs, and even winning championships and Coach of the Year.
Yet my need for more information has caused me to look elsewhere to find out more about what Mclellan is all about and plans to do with the team. There have been some great articles out there that give a little insight as to what may occur, and the type of coach we can expect McLellan to be.
First up: Pushing Forward by David Pollack
Here we learn that McLellan plans to push the players outside of their comfort zone, while also making sure they enjoy the process along the way. To do this, he notes that he's going to have to build relationships and learn where that zone is for each player. I was pleased when I read this quote too, since I felt RW had problems with motivating players, "A coach has to create an environment where a player wants to expend an extra ounce of energy, he wants to give a little bit more to his teammates, he wants to push himself when he doesn't feel like he should be pushed anymore."
His approach regarding the teams play, and I think many will be happy with this, is to create an "identity" for the team, and establish a system that requires them to use their speed up the middle to enter the zone and shoot the puck at the net hard and often (much like Detroit I imagine). "You can play with the puck all you want on the power play, but if you're not prepared to shoot it and go get it again, you don't have a power play," McLellan said, noting he still welcomed creativity from his players in that framework. Hopefully this will stop fans from feeling the need to yell at the players to shoot when in the offensive zone.
Next: With McLellan, Sharks pull Interesting Reversal by Ann Killion
In this one, McLellan notes his inexperience, but how that may actually work to the teams advantage. "I think my inexperience, if you want to call it that, is an asset for me right now," McLellan said. "The players will have to be who they are and not try to change their character to fit who they think I am. There are no preconceived notions." Yet, the desire to impress the new coach may have already kicked in. "General Manager Doug Wilson was thrilled to hear a report from the Sharks Ice facility that the weight room was filled to capacity Thursday morning. He takes it as a sign that every player is eager to impress the new boss." This is very encouraging to here since some players on the team have been accused of being poorly conditioned, and this change may be what was needed to get everyone back to their full physical potential.
Yet, given that the team has had the potential to be Stanley Cup winners for years now puts McLellan in the position of almost having to win it his first time around, or at least come closer than before. Some have speculated that part of the team's problem is a lack of grit a desperation surrounding them by the media, and even fans, given that SJ is a relatively mild manured city compared to some others involved in hockey. "I think if we have to look externally for motivation - like during dinner someone pokes you in the ribs and says, 'Hey, you didn't play well last night!' - then maybe we've got more work than I perceive," McLellan said. "I like to think that isn't the case."
Lastly regarding winning, "For the past three years, McLellan has seen how a team builds toward a championship, albeit in a decidedly different environment than the Sharks offer. Though he arrives with no head-coaching resume, he recently did something that counts for more than a dozen head-coaching gigs: He hoisted the Stanley Cup above his head. The next time I want to lay a hand on it," McLellan said, "I hope it will be in this building."
As a management major, I really appreciate how he realizes that he's the outsider coming in and how he needs to respect the roles of the players and the management in the organization, all while incorporating his plans into the system. As a hockey fan, I'm extremely excited that he wants the team to score more goals and to be more aggressive at driving towards the net. This was one area this past season that the team seemed to forget about, and hopefully with new leadership behind the bench, will be revived next season. Personally, I think McLellan will be exactly the type of change the Sharks need. His experience in the minors has proven he is good at developing the young players, which there are many, and his time in Detroit gave him the experience of interacting with veterans as well. Hopefully all these components will be what the Sharks need to take it to the next level.
(I tried to post the links to the specific articles, but for some reason it wouldn't let me. Here is the link to the Merc Sharks page where you can find both articles if interested: http://www.mercurynews.com/sharks