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Wilson on Bringing Back Boughner, Bringing in Thompson & Madden

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It’s official: Bob Boughner will be the San Jose Sharks’ new head coach.

Along with dropping Boughner’s interim tag, the Sharks also announced that associate coach Rocky Thompson and assistant coach John Madden will be filling out Boughner’s staff. Evgeni Nabokov is also the permanent goaltending coach now.

In the AHL, Roy Sommer will be returning to the San Jose Barracuda as head coach, while Jimmy Bonneau and Mike Chiasson will be his assistant coaches once again. Dany Sabourin is being brought in as goaltending development coach.

San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson, Boughner, Thompson, and Madden were made available to the media today. Look for multiple articles from San Jose Hockey Now today on this event.

First, let’s get to some burning questions from Doug Wilson’s perspective.

What Took So Long?

As far back as May, most observers assumed Boughner would have his interim tag removed.

Wilson wouldn’t say if he specifically interviewed anybody else for the head coaching position, though he did allude to always having a long, thorough coaching search process.

He did say it wasn’t until this week that things were finalized with Boughner.

“It’s not just Bob, it’s the type of staff that he built around him. When Boogie presented it to me, and we looked at it, I said you know what? I think you really acquired the right people with the ingredients you said you were going to find,” Wilson said.

That suggests keeping Boughner around was contingent on Boughner and Wilson seeing eye to eye on Boughner’s coaching staff.

Why Bob?

Boughner went just 14-20-3 after replacing Peter DeBoer in December, failing to lift the San Jose Sharks back into the playoff picture.

Wilson, however, noted: “Bob did a tremendous job last season, getting our group back to playing with an identity and structure that we need in order to be successful. We saw a marked improvement in our play in several key areas during the second half of the season, before losing some key players to injury.”

Boughner and Wilson have talked before about how San Jose improved defensively in the second half of the season, shaving their Goals Against Per Game from 3.41 under DeBoer to 3.03 under Boughner. As the defense improved, however, the offense slid, going from 2.69 Goals For Per Game under DeBoer to 2.51 under Boughner.

It appears that Wilson is giving Boughner credit for defensive improvements, while citing season-ending injuries to Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Erik Karlsson for the corresponding offensive decline.

Boughner’s underwhelming two seasons as Florida’s head coach didn’t deter Wilson either.

“One of the thought processes of making this decision, much like Boston, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh, had head coaches come from within the organization, very familiar with the young players,” Wilson said. “It was the second coaching opportunities for Bruce Cassidy, Mike Sullivan, and Craig Berube, much like Boogie.”

Sullivan coached Joe Thornton in Boston for two years before waiting another decade to take Pittsburgh to back-to-back Stanley Cups; Cassidy had just a season and a half in Washington before waiting 14 years for a second chance with the Bruins; Berube got the better part of two seasons with Philadelphia, before helming the St. Louis Blues to the 2019 Stanley Cup.

“If you ask everyone [of these coaches], they’d say they did things a little different. Or they utilized some of the knowledge from the first time,” Wilson said. “They [also] came from within the organization, they knew a lot of the younger players.”

On Rocky Thompson

The Sharks power play was bad under DeBoer — ranked 23rd with a 16.0 percent success rate — and marginally better under Boughner — 20th at a 19 percent clip.

Thompson, who will be running the defense and the power play, is expected to inject new life into San Jose’s star-studded PP unit.

“Very creative mind. Very offensive-based, running a power play,” Wilson noted. “He will max out playing the way that matches the type of personnel that we have. Activating your defense, doing things differently on the power play. Rocky brings some great knowledge in that area.”

On John Madden

As bad as the power play was, the Sharks penalty kill was outstanding this year at a league-best 85.7 percent.

Madden will run the forwards and the penalty kill.

“Three Stanley Cups, won in college hockey. He’s a winner. Brilliant hockey mind. He coaches the way he played the game, all three zones, looking for edges,” Wilson said. “Boughner came to me, mentioned his name, interviewed him, then I did my research. He just fit the ingredients that Bob said he was looking for in a forward/penalty kill coach.”

Madden might have the most difficult job of them all: Boughner has to raise the 29th-best NHL team up, Thompson has to improve the 23rd-ranked power play, while Madden will be hard-pressed to improve on a league-best penalty kill

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Gary To

I really like these hirings of assistants, I wouldn’t hate to have Boudreau or Gallant instead of Bob but I am good with Bob as well. Btw, really appreciated your article on Rocky earlier.

andrew

Seems very meh considering the team didn’t win often at all with the guys we will have next season. Every season is different in its own way. Rocky Thompson has a lot of hype behind him so in the very least we have that to look forward to.

whiskerz

Definitely gonna be an interesting year. Hopefully new AC’s push the guys with new ideas.

Alicia

I’m going forward hopeful and optimistic. I was favoring a hire of an experienced head coach like Gallant or one of the others that are available, but if Boughie is our man, I’ll support that. I do like the look of the assistant coaches that are being brought in. I’m looking forward to what they will bring to the table. Fingers crossed that we can bring our play back up to the level that we are capable of.

Analytics

Rocky Thompson: “Leave analytics out of the locker room.”

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Credit: Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

George Kingston was the San Jose Sharks’ first head coach. Fast forward to 2015: He was the President of the NHL Coaches Association when he sent a fateful e-mail.

“George Kingston always sent out an e-mail asking for people who would want to present at the NHL’s coaches conference at the NHL entry draft,” San Jose Sharks associate coach Rocky Thompson told Oilersnation earlier this week. “I felt I needed to get my name out there, so I called him and said I’d like to present.”

Thompson’s career was at a crossroads when he took the stage at the 2015 NHL Coaches Association Global Coaches’ Clinic in Florida. He was a coach without a team — the Edmonton Oilers had just fired his head coach Dallas Eakins — and he didn’t know if incoming head coach Todd McLellan would keep him.

There were over 400 coaches in attendance: “He blew them away.”

Windsor Spitfires owner Bob Boughner was one of them: “What he said really hit home with me.”

The Spitfires hired Thompson as head coach and he led them to the 2017 Memorial Cup. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights followed up, selecting Thompson to be their first-ever AHL head coach, and he led the Chicago Wolves to the 2019 Calder Cup Finals.

Trevor Letowski on Rocky Thompson’s Analytical Bent

How Rocky Thompson’s AHL Coaching Stint Will Help Sharks

Watching Rocky Thompson’s PP Breakouts with an NHL Coach

And now, the circle from Kingston to Boughner to San Jose is complete: Last month, the San Jose Sharks tapped Thompson to be part of the head coach’s staff. Thompson will be running the defense and the power play.

San Jose Hockey Now caught up with Thompson in a wide-ranging interview earlier this month.

Curious how the San Jose Sharks might maximize Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns’s talents? How Phil Jackson and the triangle offense will apply to the Sharks? As a coach, how to use analytics the right way?

Thompson, to say the least, loves nerding out about hockey.

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Locked On Sharks

USNTDP coach Nick Fohr on Bordeleau’s Hockey IQ, Chmelevski’s Skating, Labanc’s Confidence

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Thomas Bordeleau

It’s Thomas Bordeleau Week here at San Jose Hockey Now!

Earlier this week, Kyle, Erik, and JD discussed some of the second-round pick’s scouting and statistical profiles:

Get to Know Thomas Bordeleau

Today, Sheng Peng joined the podcast, and we really got into detail on Bordeleau with his former USA Hockey National Team Development Program coach Nick Fohr.

Bordeleau isn’t the first San Jose Sharks prospect that Fohr has coached — the current USNTDP Associate Coach has worked with Kevin Labanc, Scott Reedy, and Sasha Chmelevski.

Nick Fohr Remembers Teenage Kevin Labanc: “Kevin was a scrawny little kid.”

Here’s a select transcription from this fun, informative interview — Fohr shares Bordeleau’s greatest strengths and weaknesses, discusses Chmelevski’s flawed-but- improving skating, and reveals what Labanc’s USNTDP teammates gave him a hard time about.

Nick Fohr, on Thomas Bordeleau’s greatest strength and weakness:

In Thomas’s case, he’s a very crafty, skilled forward that competes pretty hard. That was something he really improved on in the two years with us.

He really loves to rely on this skill.

He’s a cerebral player. He really takes in the game. He reads plays well up and down the ice sheet.

That being a strength of his, one of his weaknesses, he relies on his skill too much. That was something we talked with Thomas a lot: Although you are a skilled hockey player, you are not skilled enough to make it in the NHL on skill alone. You have to develop a little more bite, a little more aggressiveness. You gotta round your game out a little bit more defensively. Commit to those things and not rely on just being a skilled player. Those players don’t make it in the NHL anymore. They don’t. They used to. At least they don’t make it for a long, extended period of time.

Fohr, on Bordeleau’s hockey IQ:

If you ask a coach or a scout or a GM, what are your three most important things? People almost always throw hockey IQ at you.

For me, with Thomas, where you really see it, when you see the intelligence, when he gets the puck on his stick, his ability to manipulate the other team, manipulate the defender. For example, on the power play, when he has the puck on his tape, the way he postures the puck, the way he holds the puck on his stick, the way he postures his body, will tell one story to the defender, to get the defender to move. [That] opens up the play he really wants to make.

That’s a really, really, really hard skill. It takes a lot of hockey intelligence to do that, to understand the messages you’re sending to a defender. It’s a really elite trait of his.

Fohr, on Sasha Chmelevski’s skating:

The knock on him was always his skating. He kind of skated really wide. He didn’t recover his skating very well, so his feet were always really, really wide. So people were always worried about his skating, his ability to get around the rink.

I think he’s fixed that a little bit, as I’ve seen him over the years. But he’s similar to a Bordeleau type from his ability to make plays. They actually make pretty good comparables.

Fohr, on Kevin Labanc’s Twitter handle:

By the way, he’s got one of my favorite Twitter handles out there with @Str8ToTheBanc. He had that when he was here and I remember the guys gave him a hard time about it. But I loved it.

Fohr, on if Labanc’s USNTDP teammates were jealous that Labanc has such a cool last name:

(laughs) That was probably part of it. To have the cunning to him to be able to do that, right? Kevin never lacked the confidence to pull something off like that, that’s for sure.

Make sure to listen to the entire interview: It’s well worth your time if you’re interested in the draft process for USNTDP players (6:00), which San Jose Sharks scout concentrates on the USNTDP, what Bordeleau’s game looks like (10:00), and how his father (former NHL player Sebastien Bordeleau) helped shape his game (16:00). We also compare Labanc and Bordeleau (23:30) and get a Chmelevski update from Fohr (30:00).

Check out the podcast on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Keep up with all things San Jose Sharks here:

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San Jose Sharks

BREAKING: Sharks Are Talking to Conor Sheary

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Credit: Michael Miller (CC BY-SA 4.0)

When free agency began on October 9th, the question was, “Who would the San Jose Sharks sign?”

After almost two weeks of relative inactivity — besides adding familiar faces Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto and losing franchise icon Joe Thornton — the question became, “What’s Doug Wilson doing?”

What’s Doug Wilson Doing with Sharks Forwards?

San Jose Hockey Now has good news for Sharks fans: Wilson is still active in free agency. So who’s he looking at — Conor Sheary, Erik Haula, or Mikael Granlund? We’ve got the scoop!

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