What's Next For Sharks

This year's San Jose Sharks team is already being called the "one of the best NHL teams never to win a Stanley Cup." And that's not a compliment.

San Jose's first-round collapse to the Anaheim Ducks has Sharks fans pointing small firearms at their television sets, and it appears Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is even more livid. At a season-ending press conference Wednesday afternoon, the Mercury News quoted Wilson as getting pretty PG-13 in the proceedings.

"This result should sting and it should piss everybody off," Wilson said. "I apologize to our fans and our owners, because they've given us everything we needed."

We know that Wilson himself has been welcomed back for next season, per David Pollak at the Mercury News. So it's on Wilson to bust out the scalpels and carve this team up, and Wilson says so much himself. He even used the grisly term "autopsy".

"There's nothing that's off the table," Wilson said. "This is going to be a tough, painful summer, and it should be."

Wilson says that first year coach Todd McLellan will indeed be back next season. But what of our celebrated "elite" players Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Evgeni Nabokov?

"The team hasn't succeeded with them driving the bus," McLellan said, referring to those three. "That doesn't mean they can't do it, but I think the questions grow every year that you don't succeed."

But here's where it gets sticky for the Sharkies -- all three of those guys have a no-trade clause in their contracts. Nabokov's clause is conditional, his contract says the Sharks are permitted to trade him only if they miss the playoffs. It doesn't say anything about making the playoffs and then having an astonishing, historic meltdown against an expletive deleted eight-seed.

So here's where Wilson needs to get creative. You can technically trade these guys, you just need their consent to do it. Wilson must take a couple of these guys aside and convince them that they're better off elsewhere. Tell Thornton how great the surfing is in Tampa Bay. Convince Marleau how incredibly dope it would be to play in Canada again, say, Toronto or Ottowa. Persuade Nabby to go cruising on mopeds with Monta Ellis.

The Sharks will be back next year, and they're likely to be good again. But if they're going to raise ticket prices, they'd better bring in some new personnel that aren't going to tank.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who didn't shoot his television after the Game 5 loss, only because there are still three more episodes of "Lost".

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