SAN JOSE (AP) — Pete DeBoer has spent little time since taking over as coach of the San Jose Sharks figuring what went wrong last year when the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
He’d rather let the players make their own impressions when training camp starts Friday.
Players who struggled last year can get a fresh start with a new staff and those who excelled will know they need to keep working hard to get their opportunities instead of resting on past accomplishments.
DeBoer got to see some of the organization’s prospects compete on Saturday at the start of a two-game rookie miniseries against players from the Anaheim Ducks.
The veterans report to camp on Friday and that is when the real work will start.
DeBoer, entering his third head coaching job in the NHL, doesn’t believe it will take long to get the Sharks well versed in his system of hockey that stresses aggressive play in all three zones.
While it took until about Christmas for the New Jersey Devils to get up to speed when he took over their team in 2011, fewer changes are needed in San Jose.
“We’re not going to make wholesale systematic changes,” he said. “Our focus really will be not as much on the system but on our commitment within the system to do things that maybe this group got away from. That’s being harder to play against, being tougher defensively and being tougher in front of the other team’s net offensively.”
DeBoer said he will name a captain before the start of the regular season next month. The Sharks stripped Joe Thornton of the captaincy last summer and spent last season with Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic sharing the role of captains and alternates.
“We’re going to spend a lot of time with the group talking to individuals, getting the sense of who’s fitting where and we’ll make those decisions,” DeBoer said. “Whoever wears those letters, the leadership group of this team will be much bigger than just the guys wearing the Cs and As.”
DeBoer said the Sharks should come into camp extremely healthy with the only real questions surrounding forward Raffi Torres. Torres has played just 12 regular or postseason games the past two years because of knee injuries.
Torres’ physical play and energy were a missing ingredient last season and DeBoer hopes to having him on the ice during training camp.
“He’s heading in the right direction, which is probably the best way I can term it,” he said. “We’ll see. We’re all cautiously optimistic.”
In other news, the Sharks announced that former goalie Evgeni Nabokov will serve as a goaltending development coach and special assignment scout. Nabokov will work with the organization’s prospects and spend most of his time with the minor league teams.