Ask Doug Wilson

31May07

First off, don’t forget to vote in the Rawk the Puck final! It’s today’s indie rock vs. yesterday’s modern rock in a battle for, um, elusive bragging rights.

Thanks to my FoxSports.com gig, I’ll be following up my post-playoff analysis of the Sharks with an interview with GM Doug Wilson (thanks also to the Sharks media relations folks for helping to set this up and PJ from Sharkspage). This is where you, the reader, comes in. I’m going to arm myself with questions from fans, so if you’ve got a question for Doug, leave it here in the comments. I’ll collect them and ask as many as I have time for in my phone interview with Doug. The full interview will be a FoxSports.com exclusive with follow-up and analysis right here on the good ol’ hockey blog.

Some ground rules:

1) The interview will be sometime during the week of June 11th. Get your questions in the comments of THIS post before then.
2) The media relations folks asked to limit any specific trade/free agency/draft questions as Doug doesn’t want to tip his hand one way or the other. I’ll be acting as a filter for the questions, but this is just a heads up.
3) Please be civil if you want your question asked. Questions such as “Y dont U trade Patrick Marleau because he suckz LOL” will be happily ignored. Good things to ask are something like “Where do you see Devin Setoguchi fitting in next season?” or “What did you see as the difference between the regular season power play and the playoff power play?”
4) Depending on how long Doug’s answers are, I have no idea how many questions I can get in. I’ll try to consolidate similar ones to maximize his time.

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11 Responses to “Ask Doug Wilson”

  1. 1 Ian

    The two teams in this year’s Cup finals represent two different ways of becoming elite teams. The Senators, using smart drafting and player development, have had a decade of regular season success after a brutal period of post-expansion cellar-dwelling (not unlike the Sharks), but only lately have gone deep in the playoffs. The Ducks, on the other hand, relatively suddenly went from being a middle-of-the-pack team to one of the top teams in the league. After their Cup finals appearance in ’03, they missed the playoffs the next year, completely revamped their roster, and in the last two years have made it to the Conference finals and this year, the Cup finals.

    As a long-time Sharks fan, we’ve been told that there’s a process involved in becoming a winning organization, and that at each level the team has been learning what it takes to win. The most frustrating aspect of this year’s collapse was how the team apparently learned nothing from the previous two playoffs, where they squandered series leads and never recovered.

    Why have the Sharks been unable to build on their regular season success? What do you think the biggest factor was in the Ducks and Senators taking the next step to being Cup finalists?

  2. 2 Ted

    The Sharks jumbled their top lines nearly all season long. Could Doug shed any light on what he envisions the top two lines might look like next year?

    Let’s say Michalek, Thornton, Marleau, and Cheechoo will be there. Who of Bernier, Bell, Pavelski, Clowe, or even Setoguchi does he think has the best chance?

  3. 3 Ted

    Oh and I guess a related question would be if Doug would like to see the lines being solidified more, or if he doesn’t mind all the jumbling.

  4. 4 elliot

    Doug Wilson said “the coaches admit there are things they can do better” – what are the main things that the coaches will do better next year?

  5. 5 RT

    For the last 2 seasons, the Sharks have had a very young, inexperienced blueline yet it appears that they felt the team was going to be a true Stanley Cup contender. However, if you look at the last several teams to make the Stanley Cup Finals, there were very few, if any, rookies on their rosters and none playing defense. (Indeed, when the Sharks made it to the conference finals in 2004, they had five veteran defensemen and only one inexperienced defenseman playing on any given night.)

    Although some of us saw the holes in the teams’ roster, the Rivet acquisition seemed to confirm that the Sharks were in dire need of veteran help on defense last season and even the season before. (Imagine how bad it would have been this season if Vlasic hadn’t performed like a veteran.) Why did it take so long to recognize this and acquire another veteran D? Going forward, what type of mix of veterans and youngsters on the blueline do you think will work in the post-season?

  6. 6 Mike

    1. Given’s Joe Thornton’s excellent performace with the Sharks since the trade, how interested are you in locking him into a long-term deal? How likely is that? Are any other players, like Michalek, in early negotiations?

    2. Do you think the absence of an outspoken ‘locker-room leader’ in the mold of a Chris Drury was a missing piece is this year’s playoff run? Or can talented teams with good accountability function without it?

  7. 7 WhiteDeath

    The meltdowns in the playoffs have seemed to be mental in nature (ie. the other team “wanted it” more).

    Does the Sharks organization use a sport psychology consultant? If not, after 3 years of playoff failures, is it something you’ve considered to correct the breakdowns?

  8. 8 Aaron

    1. You spent a lot of time talking to coaches and players before making any public comments about this season after the loss to Detroit. According to press reports you had some extended discussions with the coaching staff about their performance and the direction of the team moving forward. Were you able to uncover anything specific that you feel contributed to the collapse and can be fixed in this offseason?

    2. When you gave your first public comments regarding the season you were very careful not to say with certainty that Ron Wilson and his staff would be back. How seriously did you consider or look for new coaches? Often times teams make a coaching move before considering what other options may be available. In this case is that something you took into consideration, ie the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t?

    3a. Do you have an idea of which goalie you will move? Will that decision be based more on your evaluations of the goalies, or on what you can get back in a trade? Obviously there are advantages to moving each guy, with Nabakov’s salary being much higher while Toskala is cheaper now but will be in line for a big raise in the future. Are you looking for a deal that will help the team now (getting back veteran players), or a move for the future that will net a combination of prospects and draft picks?

    3b. Is there any chance you combine some current roster players with one of the goalies in a trade as a way to rid yourself of a contract or possibly increase the return on the trade? If we see the team quietly unload some salary should the fanbase see this as a cost-cutting move or as a precursor to a major free agent acquisition? Traditionally this franchise has not built through free agency because financially it couldn’t compete with the Detroits, NYs, and Phillys of the hockey world. With the new cap system now in year 3, do you anticipate any changes as far as how the team is constructed moving forward?

    4. You’ve been very proud (as you should be) of the team’s ability to put together a roster of young, cheap, talented players. You have also mentioned that part of the team’s progress will depend heavily on the development of those young players. How do you know when a change may be beneficial to both player and organization when it comes to these youngsters, and how long are you willing to wait for “progress?” You don’t want to hit the panic button early, but you also don’t want to wait for Joe and Patty and some other guys to get old while the kids to catch up. How do you personally evaluate each player in this regard?

    5. At various times throughout the season Coach Wilson publicly called out players for their performance, or lack thereof (Cheech was a “favorite” of Ron’s early in the year). Are you concerned that the players are kind of tuning these comments out because they happen so often?

    6. How important is continuity in the lineup in your eyes? There was a lot of line changes that occurred during the year from week to week and game to game. Do you think it’s better for players to have experience playing with everyone, or is it more important for players to develop chemistry with their linemates? I look at two lines in particular that have been two of the best in the league and have stayed constant almost all year. Both are now playing for the cup: Pahlsson, Moen, and Niedermeyer for the Ducks; Spezza, Heatley, Alfredsson for the Sens. Does it concern you that the Sharks used so many different line combinations on both the “defensive” line and the top scoring line?

  9. 9 colin

    It seems to me that Detroit beat the Sharks with solid, strategic play and adapting to the Shark’s game. Coach Wilson has always maintained that the way to win is “to play our game.” My impression is that this works great in the regular season (51 wins!), but not so well in the playoffs where you’re facing the same team repeatedly. Do you agree with this? Also, how much scouting does the Sharks organization do in the regular season for teams that will be in the playoffs and is this going to change after this year’s loss?

  10. 10 birdhouse in your soul

    I have two questions that are related as both center around building a team…

    1. People stated that after being eliminated by the Flames and then Oilers, the Sharks needed to get better at Special Teams and get tougher. It seems that the additions of Brown, Grier and Bell were towards that end… is there any area that the Sharks want to look to improve on through acquisitions this offseason?

    2. Billy Beane of the A’s has made statements in the past about building teams for regular season success as the playoffs is more of a crapshoot. Baseball obviously has a longer regular and shorter postseason than hockey, but do you feel there are parallels in the building of a hockey team?

  11. 11 James Mirtle

    How significant is the loss of Scott Hannan and how do you plan to replace him?


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