Issues that were likely long simmering boiled over a day after general manager Doug Wilson was fielding questions from season ticket holders. The stripping of Joe Thornton’s captaincy has been a sore spot with the Sharks for some time among many in the San Jose fanbase and Wilson clearly felt obliged to explain why he had done such a thing last summer.
“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.”
Uh oh. There’s so much loaded into that answer that one has to imagine Thornton with steam coming out of his ears. And that’s basically what happened when the former captain and current de facto captain spoke to the San Jose Mercury News.
“I think Doug just needs to shut his mouth,” Thornton said. “I think that’s the bottom line. All I’ve got to say is I’ve been here every day working hard. I haven’t taken a sabbatical. He just needs to stop lying, shut his mouth.”
Remember, this is no former player talking about a general manager he used to work with. And this is no former general manager. This is a heated, contentious situation between two very active components of the same very active organization. They’re going to have to coexist here and it looks like there’s blood in the water.
The Sharks are just three points back of the final playoff spots in the wild card and Pacific Division and they’ve won four of their last five games. They’re on the rise, fighting for the post-season and looking for any edge they can get. So the timing on this sort of explosion quite frankly couldn’t be any worse.
And the lack of control on display here, from both Thornton and Wilson, is just unreal. Why would you say that? Things have broken down to the extent that you have a player, and not just any player, calling his general manager a liar.
“If he’s got an issue, he knows exactly where I am, and I’ll be glad to talk to him about it,” said Wilson in response. “There’s zero issue here. I was asked a question at a season ticket holder function, and my response was to do my job and be accountable to our season ticket holders and tell the truth. It’s nothing I haven’t said before.”
“Zero issue here,” huh? Anyone who believes that is invited to have a look at some beachfront property I have in Newfoundland.
The fact is that this issue has to die and die soon. The Sharks must quell whatever’s going on between Wilson and Thornton, at least until the club can enjoy one of its characteristically poor playoff performances. And then, under the watchful eye of the summer sun, let the two of them have it at once and for all.