SAN JOSE — The bar might not be high for the Sharks this season, but the leash could be short.
General manager Mike Grier stepped up for beleaguered coach David Quinn and players after practice Monday, standing in for them during their usual post-practice media availability. No one was ducking reporters, but the timing of Grier’s 45-minute session, from an ex-player renown for standing up for his teammates, was unmistakable.
The Sharks are 0-10-1 and coming off a 10-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday and a 10-2 defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. That’s the first time since the Boston Bruins in December 1965 that an NHL team has given up 10 or more goals in back-to-back games.
“We expected some pain as we go through this situation,” Grier said of the rebuilding Sharks. “But the last two games, in particular, it hasn’t been good enough. The compete, the effort, it’s not good enough. It’s unacceptable.”
To put the Sharks back on the right track, Grier did something for the first time as a GM.
“I met with the players today,” Grier said. “It was one-way. I just felt they needed to hear from me and what I’m seeing and what I expect from them. I let them know what was happening was not acceptable.”
This is the first time that Grier, who regularly interacts with his players one-on-one or in small groups, has held a team meeting.
“There’s certain things that I won’t tolerate,” Grier said. “Some of that stuff has been happening.”
This is what’s expected and hasn’t been happening consistently for the Sharks.
“I just need to see better compete. More push-back,” Grier said. “Like I said from Day 1, I wanted us to be a competitive, hard-to-play-against team.”
That’s the bar for Quinn and his coaching staff. It’s not high, but it’s also a far cry from what we’ve seen so far on the ice.
The Sharks currently sport a minus-42 goal differential, an all-time NHL low through the first 11 games of a season. Right now, they’re on pace for a minus-313 goal differential, which would be the worst single-season mark in league history.
The 1974-75 Washington Capitals, who had an all-time NHL-low 21 points in 80 games during their expansion campaign, experienced a minus-265 goal differential.
Grier believes this Sharks roster is better than that. So can Quinn and his coaching staff get San Jose above embarrassing and back to respectability? That’s how he’ll be judged.
Remember, the Sharks are in a rebuild. It’s not that they’re losing, it’s how they’re losing.
“A lot of it is going to depend on growth, the growth we see. It’s not so much the wins and losses, but our guys improving, their growth with the team and growth in individuals,” Grier said. “I think that’s a big part of it. That’ll show me that the players are still buying into what [the coaches are] preaching and teaching and telling them. That’s a big barometer.”
Grier still believes Quinn is the man to lead the Sharks’ rebuild.
“I think the players respect Quinny, and I think one of his biggest qualities is that he communicates well. So, I think the players know what’s expected of them,” Grier said. “I think they know where they stand with him.”
Grier also believes the answers — at least to be competitive — are in the San Jose locker room. So, don’t expect any blockbuster trades that deviate from the rebuild.
“The broader plan is what takes precedent here,” Grier said. “We’ve got to kind of stay with it. Stay with the vision. I think a lot of times you get yourself in trouble if you’re just trying to make moves for the short term. It affects the long term.”
But if the embarrassment continues? The Sharks’ struggles certainly have reached owner Hasso Plattner.
“I’ve been in contact with him over the last few days, to lose the way we’ve lost, I’m sure has been alarming to him,” Grier said. “The fans deserve better. The organization deserves better. Hasso deserves better. It’s not anything I take lightly.”
The Sharks have four games this week, Tuesday and Thursday at SAP Center against the Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers, respectively, and Friday at the Vegas Golden Knights and Sunday at the Anaheim Ducks.
“We’ll see how they respond here over the next week, in the next couple of games, as we go forward,” Grier said. “If I don’t see what I want to see, we’ll be evaluating everything and looking at everything. This can’t go on for much longer. The response isn’t there and I’m not seeing what I need to see, then everything will be evaluated, and I’m sure there’ll be some changes made.
“Starting with me, everyone’s got to be better. I got to be better. Coaches got to be better. The players have to be better. Everyone has to be better.”
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Source: Yahoo Sports