The idea of Joe Thornton waiving his no-movement clause was dismissed by his brother and agent John in a TVA Sports report carried by Pro Hockey Talk Monday, June 23. The San Jose Sharks were referred to as the only team on his list, though the notion that would only change if fans did not want him to stay was reinforced.
This could be part of the posturing, but ultimately the only things he is not guaranteed are the captaincy and playing time. If he truly took a step back from setting San Jose's tone as well as having the actual letter on his sweater removed, the team's makeup could change.
Examiner.com received no comment from John Thornton about whether his brother would be open to giving up the "C" for the 2014-15 NHL season. He would join Patrick Marleau to give the Sharks an unprecedented two former captains on the roster, but there is theoretically no reason it could not work.
If they had to earn playing time, that pushes everyone to be better. Maybe it will even get Thornton to change his approach of slowing the attack and passing to the team's preferred pushing the play and firing the puck at the net. The team could be better for it.
It could also be a disaster waiting to happen. The truth is likely somewhere in between, and the reality is general manager Doug Wilson was not talking about anyone that is officially a former player when he made his statement earlier in June:
I want players that want to play here, not just live here.
It makes no sense for him to suddenly offer an unsolicited comment on an unspecified trade and a lot more sense that he was summing up a phone interview about the team's future. The potential Wilson is now in interested in strengthening his position both with the Thorntons and with potential trading partners is much higher.
It also makes more sense that his original comment was building a message about the changes that would take place in San Jose. He may have even been referring to John Thornton's statement when the contract extension was signed in January:
Joe loves playing there. He could never really see himself going someplace else.
That would be consistent with Monday's continued message of rebuilding and focus on the NHL draft this coming weekend in a video interview with radio play-by-play man Dan Rusanowsky. Getting rid of Dan Boyle and Martin Havlat does not constitute a rebuild, so there has to be more planned. How could Wilson call anything a rebuild bringing back both Thornton and Marleau, the oldest significant Sharks?
Hence, backtracking better explains why Wilson mentioned talking about trades only if Thornton was not on board with the way the team wanted to go. The general manager is pushing back in a public relations battle after the obligatory appeal to the fans from the brothers.
If that is what is happening, you can bet the Thorntons know it. In that case, why would he want to stay where they were not wanted by management in addition to fans? Why not accept a trade to another contending team?
Wilson would have to increase the value of his asset and the Thorntons have to keep their leverage to make sure the situation is good for him. That makes the recent dialogue necessary for both parties.
On the other hand, Thornton could feel he owes it to the fans and management to be part of at least a Stanley Cup finals team. Wilson could simply be questioning his commitment, but deserves to lie in the bed he made when agreeing to no-movement clauses for two 34-year old forwards.
Meanwhile, Yahoo posted a similar article Monday about Marleau wanting to stay in San Jose to win a Stanley Cup for the team and fans he has played for his entire career. It would be understandable if he would not waive his no-movement clause for any team.
The Sharks could be stuck with essentially the same team that has failed in each of the last two seasons. On the other hand, they could have their top two players for years—still very good players as they approach 35—in a different sweater when the 2014-15 NHL season starts.
How anyone could bet on a team that has this many potential variables is unknown. Nevertheless, CSN Bay Area even linked early odds provided by Bovada that place the team at 14:1 to win the 2015 Stanley Cup after the release of the 2014-15 NHL schedule. That ranks seventh behind the six pictured teams.
Insider Kevin Kurz went into detail about San Jose's schedule Monday, all the way to how many games are on what days of the week. David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury News chose instead to speculate in his blog, Working the Corners Monday that the February 21 game against the Los Angeles Kings would be ideal for the outdoor contest.
Perhaps they may want to go in a different direction than having a second outdoor game in California featuring the current Stanley Cup champions in two seasons. However, his reasoning on timing and appeal of the matchup are sound...unless the Sharks force a rebuild that means the departure of Thornton and Marleau for mostly undeveloped talent.