There is that scene at the end of Steven Spielberg’s classic movie Jaws. The Shark has swallowed the scuba tank, Chief Martin Brody shoots the tank and the shark is blown to bits. Not often considered, but the recently eaten body of the late captain Quint (played so brilliantly by the great Robert Shaw) would have also been blown to bits in that explosion.
On the subject of sharks and captaincies being blown to bits, welcome to Ice Insights, an annual event for San Jose Shark season ticket holders, hosted by by Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson. There was real substance to some of Wilson’s answers worth mentioning. I’d go with Wilson’s nonsensical effort to justify Brent Burns remaining as a defenseman, but alas, no one will remember this event for that response. Or any other response, except one: Wilson’s answer to a question about the late captaincy of Joe Thornton.
Wilson cited the stress on Thornton and Thornton’s “lashing out” as important issues on why the ‘C’ got removed in the offseason. No need for Spielberg to add any special effects for this one. Thornton wasted little time in getting the media a response. It featured terms like “shut his mouth” and “stop lying”. Whatever battle Wilson picked, Thornton made certain this wasn’t going to end well for everyone associated with the teal. This struggle will have winners and losers. Sides are being chosen.
Nearly a year ago, there were clear signs of friction between players and management following last season’s playoff meltdown. The extent of that friction and any recovery had been unknown. No longer.
While the ‘C’ has been removed, Thornton still wears an ‘A’, which at this point, is the highest rank for a Shark player. Whether Thornton is currently the Sharks best player or team leader is debatable. What is not debatable, Thornton is among the team leaders in the locker room and among the team’s best players on the ice — and the Sharks are a better team with him than without him. Wilson continues to show he thinks his job is secure, otherwise he doesn’t pick this battle-royale with Thornton.
The GM threw it down at the player. The player went right back at the GM. And the GM is firing back at the player. The head coach, Todd McLellan, it should be noted, is not about to let himself get sucked into this, at least not publicly.
It is not worth providing further bite-by-bite commentary over the content specifics. This is not going away today or tomorrow or next week. Things have blown up and Shark parts, along with the captaincy, are all over the place. But unlike the movie Jaws, this one is not nearly over.