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Preview/Lines #70: Sharks Pay Tribute to Wilson

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Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

This afternoon, the San Jose Sharks reacted to the news that general manager Doug Wilson stepping down.

Players Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Erik Karlsson, and Brent Burns, along with head coach Bob Boughner and assistant general manager Joe Will took to the mic to explain what Wilson meant to them and this organization. 

What stands out is that Doug Wilson was a GM that the players felt a close personal connection to. He wasn’t just someone who hired or fired them.

As shocking as the news may have seemed to fans, it caught Boughner off guard as well, after he learned of the news of Wilson’s departure this morning. 

“Doug means a lot to me personally. I know what he’s done with this organization, and his legacy is tough to compare. I think that a lot of people in that dressing room, including myself have a lot to be thankful to Doug for… I think of this as sort of celebrating Doug’s legacy and what he’s done here as a player, as part of management, as a general manager – the success that he’s brought to this organization, and really, I think if there’s one name you could think of that’s built this franchise from the bottom up, it’s Doug,” said Boughner. 

“I just felt that there was an instant connection with Doug and I, and I think that we see things similarly, and I think that it’s that personal touch with the player – It’s the connection you make with the player and I think that’s what Doug was great at.

“Working for Doug was a very easy thing, because he had a direction, and he was such a master of sticking to what he believed in and, making sure everybody around them had no excuses, and every tool they needed to be successful, and he supported people in the right ways. That’s not just at our level at the staff level, but even the players.” 

Joe Will echoed Wilson’s impact on the culture of the San Jose Sharks’ organization. 

“For me personally, I just want to thank Doug – he’s been my boss for all these years. He’s been very empowering of people, [and his] philosophy is to give people the tools to succeed. So I just personally want to thank him for that.  I’ve been able to grow in my career based on doing that and the relationships he has with the players and the staff and many of you personally, many fans here, is second to none.” 

Tomas Hertl illuminated the sort of personal relationship that Wilson cultivated with his players. 

“He helped my career, kept me here…it’s tough to see a guy like that step away…When my son was born [Wilson reached out] and I think we got even a present from him, and, even during this time, he always asks about family first.”

Brent Burns felt similarly. 

“I had a little bit of a relationship with him before that, but obviously, that was a crazy time for me, when I got traded here. Drafted in Minnesota, and then my son was born four days before that, too. So we were still in the hospital with him.

“And yeah, they were just great. I mean, everybody was obviously there too. So it’s kind of like you get to meet everybody from the organization right away. Rosemary [Tebaldi] just helping us out with everything. We were in shambles at the time. Yeah, it was great.

“With Doug, I had a little bit of relationship before so it was a little bit more of a comfort and that was a big help and, you know, that just continued on from there. Obviously, with the position he played and the communication and everything. He’s helped me through a lot. So it’s bittersweet obviously, it’s about more than the hockey side of it and, and get things right. It’ll be, it’d be tough to not have him around and to have that help.” 

Burns mentioned that he’ll miss having FaceTime calls with Doug to talk about his game or other things.

Erik Karlsson, like all of the Sharks, owes a lot to Wilson. 

“When I first got to meet him, he’s a very humble man. He’s a very down-to-earth guy that connects to you on a personal level before you go to the professional…He brought me here and he signed me here. He believed in me, so you know, that’s always something that’s you know, that you’re very grateful for and appreciative of.”

Logan Couture had much of the same sentiment to share. 

“I owe a lot to him. He drafted me in 2007, and signed me to four contracts now. He’s helped me a lot, personally, hockey-wise – he’s always been in my corner, and I’m so grateful for the time that I got to spend with him. He’s a Hall of Fame player. He’s an incredible General Manager. We had a lot of good years here. 

“Doug has always been a guy that reaches out and wants to help us it’s his biggest thing, and he wants to give you an opportunity to do what you love to do, but he also is going to be there to help you whether it’s hockey wise, or in your own personal life – Doug was always a guy that was in my corner. He was someone that I could talk to, regardless of what it was about.” 

Special thanks to Lizz Child for her help on this piece.

San Jose Sharks (29-31-9)

With Wilson stepping down, the Sharks are understandably in flux. Here’s how their lines shook out in their last practice, but the lineup is subject to change ahead of puck drop. 

Calgary Flames (42-19-9)

The Flames are enjoying their place at the top of the Pacific Division, and are looking to cruise into the playoffs with another win. This is how the Flames’ lines may stack up against the Sharks, per the Daily Faceoff.

Flames centre Sean Monahan to have season-ending surgery

Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk 

Mangiapane – Backlund – Toffoli 

Dube – Ruzicka – Coleman 

Lucic – Carpenter – Lewis

Hanifin – Andersson 

Stone – Tanev

Zadorov – Gudbranson 

Vladar, Markstrom 

Where to watch

Puck drop between the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks is at 7:30 PM PT/10:30 PM ET at the SAP Center. Watch it live on ESPN+, SportsNet West, and NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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