Truer words have never been spoken by Doug Wilson.
Wilson kicked off yesterday afternoon’s conference call with San Jose Sharks media by noting, “It’s been a while since March 11th. It seems like an eternity.”
Both Wilson and interim head coach Bob Boughner got back to hockey (mostly) in this 40-minute call. Here are a selection of quotes about Boughner’s job status, incoming NCAA or European players, buy-outs, re-signing Stefan Noesen and updates on Erik Karlsson, Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture’s injuries.
Doug Wilson: To date, none of our players or hockey staff have displayed any symptoms of the virus. None of them have been symptomatic or needed any test either, which has allowed testing to be for those who need it.
Evaluating Boughner’s Job Performance
DW: While our results this year weren’t where we needed them to be, I was pleased to see some of the overall play improve over the last half of the year. More often than not, we were playing the game the right way. Had a couple big wins against Pittsburgh, Toronto, good game against Dallas. In many cases, in many games, the high-danger scoring chances went way down. I thought we played as a team, with identity and structure, more so the second part of the year.
We haven’t completed our full review, which includes players and staff and everybody’s input. There is a process to that we follow. But I think Boogie and his staff did a lot of good things. They were hamstrung with many of our top players out at times. Almost a patchwork line-up.
But the things we were looking for, I thought were addressed. Boogie and I have talked a lot about clarifying how we want to play. And ultimately, getting your team to commit to playing the right way for longer periods of time, regardless of your talent level.
But there’s no doubt, the things that improved as the year went on, Boogie and his staff deserve a lot of credit.
Bob Boughner: Before the coaching change, we were 30th in the league giving up odd-man rushes. You can say whatever you want about the goaltending. In the second half of the season, after we switched things around, we were eighth in odd-man rushes against.
DW: Does Bob know our group and have the upper hand in this process? Absolutely. But I think you have to be thorough in this process.
Updates on Couture, Karlsson and Hertl
DW: Logan is feeling really good. He’s just about all the way back. Erik is close to being all the way back. Will certainly be 100 percent for next season. We got great news on Tomas Hertl. He’s well ahead of schedule, everything is going extremely well. There should be no doubts with him being ready for next season.
Following all the guidelines, he has been able to go to the facility, rehab with Ray Tufts. He has full flexibility and extension in his knee. He knows the process to go through. This is not an unknown for him. He’s got some strengthening to do, but he feels he’s well ahead of where he thought he would be. That’s been confirmed by Ray Tufts also.
Keeping Up Conditioning
BB: That’s the toughest part, not knowing a day when you’re coming back. Usually, most guys will go into an off-season with some kind of plan. It’ll start with some base training, strength training, and then you progress through training blocks, a power phase, a quickness phase.
That’ll be the biggest challenge for these guys, not having the equipment or the facilities to do what they want to do. Especially to skate. This is a situation that’s very foreign to everybody. Nobody has gone through this.
It’ll be interesting to see how these guys are going to maintain their fitness levels. Mike Potenza is in touch with these guys constantly. He’s sent these guys some guidelines to follow. But at the end of the day, it’s a really strange situation for everybody.
On Next Year’s Salary Cap
DW: It’s an unknown for everybody. But it’s the same for everybody. So you have to prepare accordingly.
Buying Out Players?
DW: Every team has that same concern. It’ll be mandated to us what the rules are going forward, what the cap is. Until then, we just focus on the things we can focus on.
Bringing Back UFA Stefan Noesen
DW: Bringing Stef in, he came from a very good organization. He had been playing very well in the AHL prior to getting called up by Pittsburgh. They had been suffering from a lot of injuries. I watched him play, and he just played the right way.
He’s come in and done a really good job for us. Quality guy. Very good teammate. I’d be premature if I don’t finish a review for this season and get our coaches’ thoughts, but he’s made a very positive impression on and off the ice.
On Brinson Pasichnuk, John Leonard and Jonathan Dahlen Playing in NHL This Year
DW: Potentially, both [seeing NHL games this year and next year]. These guys have all had really, really good years.
Dahlen’s had an outstanding year. I’ve got a call with him tomorrow. I’m really proud of how he’s gone and played this year.
Adding More Prospects
DW: We’re also working on a couple more things along those lines [of Pasichnuk and Leonard]. We’ll have some news in a few days. We’re keeping our scouts and staff busy.
Starting Next Year’s Training Camp Right
DW: One of the keys is getting everybody on the same page right from Day 1. That’s a priority.
The one thing we didn’t do this year is get off to a good start. I don’t think we had a great training camp. As a West Coast team, I think that really comes back as a difficult thing to overcome.
BB: Karlsson. The whole summer, he had an injury to deal with. Probably didn’t have the best start to the season, he would admit that himself. He really didn’t find his game until the 20-game mark.
We gave a lot of young guys some chances. In the long run, it helped, when we got to call some guys up. We saw great progression in Kellman, Gambrell. Gregor made an impression. Obviously, Mario made the team out of training camp.
The year before, it was also a long playoff push. You had a lot of guys play a lot of hockey. Couture, Hertl, Burns and Pickles. These guys have played a lot of deep playoff hockey.
If anything can come out of this situation, these guys are going to come back with a little bit of a bad taste in their mouth. Extra time, come back completely healthy, I think it’s important. The young guys are going to feel a little more comfortable, earn jobs in camp.
On What A GM’s Job Is Like Right Now
DW: We have five pages of things that we have to do on all areas of our organization. What makes it more difficult is unknown timelines. What you try to do is prioritize what needs to be done next. You don’t want to skip your process, you want to be very thorough. But in the pursuit of Brinson, for example, we had to be right on top of that. That went to the top of the list.
It’s been different. In some ways, it’s made us more collaborative. Is it possible this will change the way we do things in the future? Possibly. We’re finding creative ways to get our jobs done.