San Jose Sharks summer more uncertain with a new coach

San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl, left, of the Czech Republic, battles with Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, April 11, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Last week we said the Sharks were like the movie “Highlander” between Todd McLellan, Joe Thornton and Doug Wilson. 

In that case, McLellan, now the former head coach, got his head chopped off, and it’s between Thornton, the superstar player, and Wilson, the general manager, to duke it out for “The Prize.” Because in this case with the Sharks, in the end “there can be only one” guy remaining out of this trio. So, McLellan is Sunda Kastagir – the guy who loses before the final showdown between Connor MacLeod and the Kurgan. 

On McLellan’s conference call, he was already getting questions about possibly coaching Connor McDavid with Edmonton and his relationship with Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan. 

McLellan will find a new job, and it will happen quickly. He is this summer’s Barry Trotz. He gets to leave a less enviable position for a more desirable spot. It’s still amazing to me that San Jose is considered that much of a mess. That place was the ‘it’ location in the NHL for so long.

As for the Sharks, this is the first step in … who knows what. There’s still a majorly fractured situation between Thornton and Wilson. Thornton has a no-trade clause. Wilson won’t ask him to waive it. The two can’t coexist. Ugh. 

We asked McLellan about this on his teleconference Monday.

“Those are questions, the repair work, those are questions for the group that’s here. I can tell you, and til my last breath, I have a ton of respect for Joe Thornton,” McLellan said, predictably not taking any level of bait Thornton left for him in his goodbye interview. “As far as the repair work, that’s for Jumbo and Doug and whoever else to talk about. I would like the world to know that I have a ton of respect for this guy (Thornton).” 

If you’re not the guy making the change, you’re the one being changed. And as CSN Bay Area’s Ray Ratto shows, this wasn’t a mutual parting of ways with McLellan. It was indeed a firing. 

Meanwhile, Doug Wilson now gets to do something he hasn’t had to do in more than a decade — redefine the franchise. His stance on the benefits of incremental change has to change, as the evidence that this team has dead-ended itself is now too overwhelming to ignore or wallpaper.

According to the San Jose Mercury News’ David Pollak, Wilson hasn’t been assured a return next season.

Question. Do you want the guy who helped cause this mess with a contending team responsible for solving the problem? 

There is precedence – David Poile was able to dig himself out of two straight non-playoff years (and contract debacles with Shea Weber and Ryan Suter) with Nashville. Now the Predators are back in the postseason and seem set up for a more sustainable future. General managers tend to have stronger plans than we give them credit – at least some of them do. 

Does a new coach change any problems? Not in San Jose, where this past year has not added up.

The pieces are there. Even if Thornton and Patrick Marleau are aging, they’re still effective. Expect 30-plus goals from Joe Pavelski again and Logan Couture to be solid. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brent Burns are both good assets on the blueline. Lose Antti Niemi’s contract – though Wilson didn’t deal him at the trade deadline when he could have grabbed a piece for him – use it somewhere else. Hey you’re not in bad shape! 

But is Wilson really the guy to do this? He should be praised – and deservedly so – for helping turn San Jose into a destination for players.

Buffalo says it’s Hockey Heaven and Detroit calls itself Hockeytown. But how about playing in front of a packed building one day, then going hiking in the redwood forest the next, or hitting up the beach? Remember Joe Pavelski on a putting green in the dead of winter in shorts in the EPIX Road to the Stadium Series shows? As someone who has been to San Jose, it’s a great mix of a passionate hockey fanbase and laidback lifestyle. 

We’ve heaped blame on Wilson a lot on this blog plenty for the disjointed state of a team that really should be better. McLellan said the team was “clearly in a rebuild” even though you can seriously beg to differ. No team with a still effective Thornton, Pavelski, Couture, Marleau, Burns or Vlasic is in a rebuild.

Nice to see McLellan sticking with Wilson’s message on the way out the door. Guess this was part of the mutual ‘see ya laters’ between the two.

They’re still a few moves away, not a full team-wide destruction. One day they’ll realize this. If not, it’s too late for the Sharks … and for no good reason.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Faldo, Watson will bid farewell to Open Championship at St. Andrews

The 2015 Open Championship in July will be the last for two of its greatest champions.

Three-time Claret Jug winner Nick Faldo announced Monday that he would join five-time winner Tom Watson in making the tournament at the Old Course at St. Andrews his farewell to the game’s oldest major.

Both players will participate in the four-hole Champions Challenge, bringing together past Open winners in a pre-tournament exhibition on hole Nos. 1, 2, 17 and 18.

Faldo has played sparingly, even in the majors, since moving from inside the ropes to inside the broadcast booth. However, the 58-year-old six-time major winner will make a third-consecutive Open appearance. He shot 76-77 to miss the cut a year ago at Royal Liverpool.

That’s not been the case for Tom Watson. Earlier this month, 65-year-old became the oldest player to break par in a competitive round at the Masters with an opening 1-under 71. He then made the cut the next week at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town. However, Watson, who lost in a 2009 playoff to Stewart Cink at Turnberry that would have made him the oldest major champion by some 11 years, hinted that the 2016 Masters would be his last.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Bubba Watson takes BP with a golf club for a great trick shot

Bubba Watson was in China this week to play a post-Masters event, the Shenzhen International on the European Tour. 

One of the perks of playing in the event, aside from a hefty appearance fee for the two-time Masters winner, was playing Night Golf at host Genzon Golf Club’s Course B. (Yeah, that’s what it’s called.) After playing traditional golf one night, Watson decided he’d have a little fun with the help of caddie Ted Scott.

Watson had Scott climb up a lighting pole on the course to catch a ball he wedged up into his hands. Then the left-hander grabbed his pink Ping driver and had Scott pitch the same ball down toward him. Watson blasted the ball perfectly from midair down the fairway for one great trick shot.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Jim Furyk ends almost five-year winless drought at RBC Heritage

It was a long time in coming, but with a 12-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff at the RBC Heritage, Jim Furyk is once again a winner on the PGA Tour.

Furyk beat Kevin Kisner with his 11th birdie in 20 holes played on Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, S.C. In regulation, Furyk made nine birdies against just one dropped shot, turning in 8-under 63. However, Kisner’s 64, including a 72nd-hole birdie, forced overtime at 18-under 266.

On the first playoff hole, Furyk, playing first, stuck his approach shot to the 18th close for birdie. Kisner hit an impressive shot, too, just outside of Furyk. Both players made birdie to send the playoff to the 17th hole.

Again, Furyk found the range on the tough par 3 and then sank the winning putt for his first victory since the 2010 Tour Championship. Furyk celebrated his 17th PGA Tour win with fist pumps resembling the ones he made in similarly inclement Atlanta weather almost five years ago to win the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bounty.

The 2003 U.S. Open champion hasn’t faced a lack of chances to win since the culmination of that three-win season. He’s been 0-for-9 with at least a share of the 54-hole lead since that Tour Championship win — a statistic that didn’t improve on Sunday as he trailed Troy Merritt by four heading into the final round. The 44-year-old had finished second seven times and won almost $15 million on the PGA Tour since that last win. 

Merritt finished two shots out of the playoff after shooting a third 69 on the week. Defending champion Matt Kuchar was solo fifth at 14-under total, and new Masters champion Jordan Spieth finished eight shots back and T-11.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Cubs fan catches foul ball in full beer cup, proceeds to chug beer

Step aside, Kris Bryant, Starlin Castro and all other professional baseball players in attendance at Wrigley Field on Saturday afternoon, for you are not the star we wish to honor.

Instead, we’d like to turn everybody’s attention to the fan seated second row in the upper deck along the third base line, as it was her ninth-inning catch of Yonder Alonso’s foul ball that ended up stealing the entire afternoon.

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Equipped with only a full beer cup to collect her souvenir, this fan made the best use possible of said cup under the circumstances. Without thinking twice, she extended her cup as the baseball quickly approached, and then watched as it dropped perfectly within its confines. 

It was one of those plays you couldn’t make twice if you tried it 200 times, but fortunately for her she was 1 for 1 at being awesome on Saturday. Well, actually, 2 for 2 if you count the celebration. 

Again, without hesitation, she raised the overflowing cup over her head and chugged what remained to cheers from the Wrigley Field crowd. 

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Granted, chugging beer with a game used baseball in them is not something we’d advise trying often. However, under these circumstances, there was no other way to celebrate. 

As for the Cubs, they celebrated too on Saturday, though in a much more understated manner. After blowing a four-run ninth-inning lead, they rallied to score the game-winner off Padres’ Craig Kimbrel in the 11th. Starlin Castro played on-field hero with the walk-off single, while Kris Bryant reached base five times in his second career game

BLS H/N: Deadspin

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!