One of those rights paid off in spades today, as Doug Wilson addressed a group of about 150 Bellarmine faculty, staff, and alumni over lunch.
The GM began by talking about his background and that he never went to college. He told some stories from his playing days and mentioned his introduction to the business world by taking a job at a Coca-Cola distributor during the NHL off-season. Doug talked about his son going to Bellarmine and the opportunities that presented to him.
After about 20 minutes, Wilson opened the floor to questions and specifically stated, "It's your team, you have the right to ask anything." So awesome. It made me feel like I went to a college with a legitimate sports program (you know what I'm talking about, Plank).
Here's what I recall:
- Some guy stood up and said he asked Wilson at the State of the Sharks to convince him that firing Ron Wilson was the right move. The guy said he was totally wrong and Doug Wilson was right. Well, obviously, you fucking moron. Everyone knew Ron Wilson had to go.
- I asked the second question about how he managed to restructure the blue line in the offseason, in particular by acquiring Dan Boyle. He then told the story of how Boyle became available. This might be a shock to you, but apparently the people that traded Dan Boyle have no fucking clue how to run a hockey team. Do you know how one owner, Oren Koules, made his money? He produced 5 shitty "Saw" movies. Do you know the real reason the other owner, Len Barrie, wanted Dan Boyle out of town? The two played together for the Florida Panthers from 1999 to 2001, and apparently Barrie held some grudge from their playing days. This dream team of incompetence thought it would be a good idea to dump their most talented D-man in a fire sale. Wilson went on to compare and contrast that move with the Joe Thornton trade. He said in both cases the Sharks organization saw an opportunity to improve and bring in a high-character talent, but in Boston's situation the GM got thrown under a bus for making a long term move, whereas Tampa made the move out of spite.
- 2 different questions focused on the recovery time for Roenick and Mitchell. Roenick should be back for tomorrow's game. Wilson compared him to the Black Knight in that he'd go out there and try to headbutt people if the doctors would let him. Mitchell should be back "before the end of March". You probably heard that while playing in Worcester, Torrey reinjured the same leg he broke in the preseason. Apparently there are 2 rods supporting Mitchell's tibia, and when he reinjured the leg nothing broke, but the rods got twisted like a high ankle sprain. Nasty stuff. Wilson talked about how the Sharks are one of the few pro sports teams that has injured players travel with the team rather than treating them like lepers.
- "Who would you be the first person you would draft if you were building a team from scratch, other than a current Shark?" Wilson acknowledged it was a great question. He said Alex Ovechkin, from the standpoint that not only is he supremely talented and hard working, but also has an incredible love for the game. Wilson asked the questioner the same question back, who replied Jarome Iginla. Wilson gave a bit of a snide chuckle and said, "oh really?" Wilson then talked about how Iginla does have that same love of the game, but doesn't bring the fire every night. He also acknowledged that he's biaised because he hates Calgary. Great insight.
- There was a question about the high hit on Marleau last night and about how Wilson played without a helmet during his days. Wilson said he didn't wear a helmet because that was the culture at the time, and that his brother and Bobby Orr (hero and one-time D-partner) didn't wear one so he didn't either. One year, Doug fractured his skull, so he returned the following year wearing a helmet. That year he had more bruises, scrapes, and cuts on his head than he ever had before. When he wore the helmet, more players took liberties and got their sticks up high on him. He said now, of course, helmets and shields are a necessity, but the most important thing is the NHL cracking down on headhunters. Like Denis Gauthier.
- "Is Sean Avery good for hockey?" As soon as the question was posed, Wilson immediately responded, "He'll never be a San Jose Shark." Then Wilson amended that statement by saying if Avery truly has a medical or psychological problem, he would deserve another chance in the league.
Big hat tip to my buddy Kenny for knowing that my love of the Sharks exceeds my hatred of alumni events and telling me about this. He also helped out with this classic CB post. Check out his blog here.