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Sharks reportedly strip captaincy from Joe Thornton after four seasons

Sharks reportedly strip captaincy from Joe Thornton after four seasons Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Maybe Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau should have waived those no-trade clauses after all.

A report from San Jose beat writer Kevin Kurz quotes Sharks GM Doug Wilson and coach Todd McLellan as confirming the team will enter the 2014-15 season with no captain and no alternates. That means Thornton has had the C ripped off his chest after four seasons and Marleau, a former captain of the club, has lost his A.

While the execution is laughably awkward, the decision shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Wilson said shortly after the team's season came to a soul-crushing end with four consecutive losses to the Kings that the Sharks would employ “new players in core leadership roles” this year. It was expected that Thornton and Marleau would be shipped out to clear the decks for Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and others to step up, but Wilson failed to convince the two veterans to waive their no-movement clauses and was forced to scuttle the promised rebuild.

Given the low-key temperament of the two, they'll handle this the way they handled the trade talk: with the laid back cool of Spiccoli dealing with a surprise tutoring visit from Mr. Hand. But you have to marvel at the ineptitude displayed by the San Jose brass here. If they'd simply stripped the letters off the vets and handed them to the kids, the sting lasts a couple days, tops. Instead, their open-ended non-solution means the issue will be a front-burner distraction for fans and media until they commit to moving forward.

This team needed change. What it got was another false start in a summer that's been defined by them in San Jose. 

UPDATE: Just when it seemed like the Sharks had completely bumbled this decision, they managed to add another stunning layer of incompetence. According to beat writer David Pollack, Thornton didn't know he'd been stripped of the C until informed by the reporter. Even more awesome? "I talked with Todd today, and he never mentioned anything about captains or assistant captains," Thornton said.

Yep. That happened.

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