San Jose Sharks launch GM search after Doug Wilson leaves

SAN JOSE — Sharks president Jonathan Becher made some joking manners after Doug Wilson announced he would step down as the team’s general manager, saying that his phone calls from individuals arriving about job openings were already buzzing.

Wilson, who was on medical leave, announced Thursday that he was parting ways with the organization to focus on his well-being, with the sharks beginning their first general search in two decades.

Wilson, 64, had been away from the team since late November for undisclosed health reasons.

Beecher, interim general manager Joe Will and owner Hasso Plattner will lead the search committee. For now, the team is looking for an external replacement, so it appears that potential internal candidates for the full-time position such as Will, Sharks’ director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr., and scout Ned Colletti will not be immediately considered.

“One of the reasons we’re looking externally is that we’ll get new ideas, we’ll hear new things,” Beecher said. “We’re not necessarily going to do things exactly the same way. By definition, a new GM will have new ideas.”

The Sharks don’t have a specific timeline for hires, so they think they won’t need to hire anyone before the NHL Draft on July 7-8 or before free agency begins next week.

“We’ll see where it goes,” Will said. “But I have no doubt that there are going to be some very good candidates out there. At that point, we will be going through it and who is really best suited to mesh with our needs in San Jose.

The Sharks will crash out of the playoffs for the third year in a row but feel they can be in a more competitive position next season.

“At the end of the day, general managers are general managers, they have the ability to do what they need to do for the club,” Will said. “But having said that, the (recruitment) decision will be based on aligning with the core philosophy of the organisation.”

Some possible candidates (in alphabetical order):

Sean Burke: Burke, 55, a scout and goalscoring director for the Montreal Canadiens, recently interviewed for a formerly open general manager job in Vancouver, so he’s certainly no stranger to the process.

Burke was part of the Coyotes’ management group for six seasons, holding the titles of Director of Player Development and Assistant General Manager. He also played for 18 NHL seasons and represented Canada at the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics, and was the GM of Team Canada at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang. Maybe it’s his time to lead the NHL franchise.

Matthew Darche: Darche, 45, played pro hockey for 12 seasons, including a year in the Sharks organization, though mostly in the AHL with Worcester. His front office experience is more relevant, as he is in his third season as Tampa Bay’s director of hockey operations, working alongside Lightning GM Julian Brisbois.

Darche was a finalist for jobs in Vancouver and Chicago and is largely seen as an up-and-comer in the front office world.

Chris McFarland: The Colorado Avalanche is in its seventh season as assistant general manager, serving as GM Joe Sakic’s right-hand man.

McFarland, 51, also spent 16 years in the hockey operations department of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Colorado’s change from a cellar-resident to a Stanley Cup contender a few years ago now makes McFarland a promising potential candidate.

Scott Mellenby: Melanby, 55, worked with the Canadiens for nine seasons, but resigned from his position as the team’s assistant general manager after Mark Bergevin had not been promoted to the GM chair in November.

Melanby’s name has popped up more than once whenever an NHL GM job opens, and would certainly be a more conservative pick for the Sharks if they went in his direction. In addition to his front office experience, he also played 1,431 games in the NHL in 21 seasons.

Scott Nicol: Nicole, 47, is certainly familiar to Sharks fans after playing two seasons for the team from 2009 to 2011. He has served as the team’s director of player development at the Nashville organization since 2013, having been the GM of the Milwaukee Admirals since 2018. and is in his first season as a hunter assistant GM.

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