Well, this is awkward.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson (above, left) hosted a town hall meeting with season ticket holders last night, and among the questions posed was one about the organization’s decision to strip the C from the sweater of longtime captain Joe Thornton (above, 19) last summer.
Wilson, as he had promised, was frank with his response.
“He cares about the game so much. The reason we took the C off him ... Joe carries the weight of the team on his shoulders, and he’s got such a big heart that when stress comes on him, he lashes out at people,” Wilson said, “And it kind of impacts them.
“The pressure and stress, I felt, was getting to Joe. And I sat him down and said we need other players to step up and share this. He got it. He didn't like it, but he got it and he understood it.”
Asked for a response to Wilson’s comments, Thornton was happy to oblige: “Doug needs to shut his mouth.”
Thornton made it clear from the start that he was unhappy with the decision to take away his C, so there’s little doubt that this feud has been simmering all season. The timing of the eruption, though, couldn’t be worse.
San Jose is in amn uphill battle for its postseason life. The Sharks have won four of their last five games to pull within three points of the final Western Conference wild-card spot—which is currently held by the Kings—but the odds are heavily stacked against them, especially with a seven-game road swing coming up.
Now they have acrimony hanging over their heads to boot.
That’s a blow to San Jose, but you can’t blame Thornton for his outburst. He’d already been humiliated once. There was seemingly no reason for Wilson to rub his nose in it.
Well, except for maybe for one really good reason.
It’s no secret that Wilson asked both Thornton and Patrick Marleau, another disgraced ex-captain, to waive their no-movement clauses last summer so that the club to ship them out as part of a rebuild. Both players refused.
Were Wilson’s comments a calculated move to make Thornton change his mind?
After what Wilson said, wouldn’t you want out?
Throw a pan of Jiffy Pop on the stove and settle in. This is going to get interesting.