Expect the San Jose Hockey Country Club to make some serious moves in the next few hours — did Balls really say serious? — and they won’t come a nanosecond too soon, either.
The Sharks have been too comfortable for too long, content to have 17,000-plus fannies in the seats at the SAP Center and little more. But the fan base has grown very restless after an absolute waste of a season, and when that happens, even team owners who are based in Germany get the message. That would be Hasso Platner, naturally. Or maybe it’s Passo Hlatner, Balls forgets.
Exit Todd McLellan and Doug Wilson for starters.
As one of the more respected NHL coaches around, McLellan may be least to blame for the mess. On Tuesday, Hockey Canada selected him to coach its men’s team in the world hockey championships. That kind of job doesn’t go the Reggie Dunlops of the world, you know. Even so, McLellan has been around for seven seasons, and the SJHCC has more blown 3-0 leads than playoff victories in the last four. McLellan has done about all he can with this group. It’s time for some fresh blood.
The same can be said of Wilson, who has been at the controls for 12 seasons. The Sharks maxed out seven years ago, when they rolled to a league-high 117 points only to tank in the playoffs. It has been pretty much downhill since then.
The organization shouldn’t stop there. Next it can promote Joe Pavelski to team captain and Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to full-time assistants. (Um, shouldn’t this have been done last summer?) On a team that has more passengers than BART at rush hour, Pavelski is exactly the kind of career overachiever needed to change the culture in the dressing room. As good as he is now, Couture has the potential to become even better — if he ever realizes just how good he can be. If Pavelski can’t get it out of him, then maybe an expanded role will do it.
Which takes us to the face of the franchise.
It’s no secret that the SJHCC lacks depth up and down the roster. The best way to address the problem is to move the highest-paid player with the most value. That’s Joe Thornton, who will turn 36 years old this summer. Sure, his best days are behind him, but the guy still has all those instincts and all that experience, not to mention some of the softest hands in the game. Convince him to waive his no-trade clause. Then move him to a contender in return for the best package of younger veterans as well as prospects.
Now just do it.
TIME TO SIT ONE OUT: So what’s Warriors coach Steve Kerr to do in the regular-season finale at Oracle Arena tonight? Simple. Sit Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson for the entire game. Makes no sense for a core player to risk an injury, even if it’s for one second.
Oh, and Kerr can tell Green to zip it before a strained larynx takes him out of the playoffs.
MORE PRACTICE NEEDED? Then again, maybe Curry needs to play extended minutes in order to snap out of that funk of his.
At practice Tuesday, Curry converted 77 consecutive 3-pointers, which he said was his personal record. Problem was, he drained only 17 of his other 23 attempts. Balls would be very, very concerned about the six misses.
SHOOT FROM THE LIP: Everyone is entitled to a wrong opinion, and that includes Cleveland Cavaliers bricklayer Earl “J.R.” Smith III, who refers to teammate LeBron James as the “real MVP” this season.
“Not to knock anything from the other two guys [Curry and Houston’s James Harden],” Smith said this week. “They’re having great years — career years for both of them — but if you want to be realistic about it, you could give it to [James] every time.”
It’s just that, when a guy shoots less than 39 percent in the postseason, violates the NBA’s anti-drug program and draws a suspension for attempting to untie the shoelaces of opponents, does he really know the letters don’t stand for Most Volatile Player?
BORN TO BE WILD: Lawrence Phillips was never a very good teammate, so it comes as no surprise that he’s a suspect in the death of his cellmate in a Central California prison.
This is the same Phillips who is serving a long sentence for choking his girlfriend and driving his car into teenagers after a pickup football game. He also had domestic violence issues at Nebraska, which didn’t prevent his selection as the sixth pick in the 1996 draft.
So how is it that this guy closed out his career with the 49ers and not the Raiders?
THE LISTS: Who says Curry and the Warriors don’t get any love nationally? Curry has the second-most popular jersey this season, while Warriors merchandise ranks third overall, the NBA reported this week.
Here are the top five players and teams in sales since the start of the season:
1. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Stephen Curry, Warriors
3. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
4. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
5. Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers
1. Chicago Bulls
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