Jamie Baker

Doug Wilson hopes Sharks' youngsters can help team finish on high note

Doug Wilson hopes Sharks' youngsters can help team finish on high note

The Sharks lost their first four games to the 2019-20 season, and it hasn't gotten much better since. San Jose is all but guaranteed to miss the playoffs for only the second time since Doug Wilson took over as general manager 16 seasons ago. Just as it has been for the players, the disappointing year has been tough on Wilson, too.

"It's been a challenge," Wilson told NBC Sports California's Jamie Baker ahead of the Sharks' game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. "But that happens in life. If you're going to have the success and the moments that you enjoy, then you've got to deal with these things. I'll be honest with you, you learn a lot about people through times like this. Emotions get into play, but what you've got to do is make sure you have clarity to make the right decisions going forward. So, that's the balance you're trying to find during these challenging times."

Wilson and San Jose got more clarity with the passing of the NHL's trade deadline on Monday, as the team sent veteran forwards Patrick Marleau and Barclay Goodrow to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively, in exchange for draft picks. The Sharks also received two draft picks from the Washington Capitals in the Brenden Dillon trade last week.

[RELATED: Wilson pleased with Sharks' haul, but work is just starting]

While the draft picks certainly will help as Wilson tries to build the roster back to a contending state this offseason, the departures of Marleau, Goodrow and Dillon have left large voids in the Sharks' lineup, and there are still 20 games left to play. With San Jose's playoff hopes already dashed, they have every reason to fill those voids with prospects from within the system that might or might not be part of the franchise's future moving forward.

It will be a different kind of finish to the regular season than the Sharks are accustomed to, but Wilson is looking forward to seeing what several of those younger players can do with their resulting opportunities.

"There's a lot of them," Wilson said of the prospects. "You take a look at Mario Ferraro -- I think right from Day 1 has been really good -- he's actually stepping up to the next level. You've got a kid, Lean Bergmann, that's been brought in. [Alex True] has come in and [Joel] Kellman's come in, and you're going to see a bunch of guys for the next 20 games or so. And out of this challenging time comes great opportunity. And I think the quality veterans that we have are continuing to instill us playing the right way, which means the young kids can come in and get into good habits. So, we're focused in on that, and there's a little juice and energy when you see these young guys come in."

There hasn't been much positive energy surrounding the Sharks this season. But maybe, just maybe, the youngsters can help San Jose finish the 2019-20 season on a relatively high note.

Bob Boughner intends to return Sharks to their expected level of play

Bob Boughner intends to return Sharks to their expected level of play

It's been a wild 24 hours for Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner.

There was no time to waste, though, as one day after Peter DeBoer was fired, he had to ready San Jose to play the visiting New York Rangers at SAP Center.

"It's been a roller-coaster, obviously," Boughner told NBC Sports California's Jamie Baker before taking the ice Thursday night. "Mixed emotions.

"Everybody know how close our staff was and what Pete meant to me, not only as someone with a great working relationship but also as a good friend and a mentor. So, that wasn't an easy day. The flip side of that is an opportunity here -- a unique opportunity to sort of get these guys and steer this ship back in the right direction, and try and get this team playing to the level I think it's capable of."

The Sharks entered the game having lost five in a row, and were coming off a road trip in which they earned just one out of a possible eight points. That ultimately spelled doom for DeBoer and resulted in Boughner being elevated to head coach -- at least for the time being -- the same position he held with the Florida Panthers for each of the last two seasons.

So, yes, Boughner does have previous NHL coaching experience, not to mention eight seasons as head coach of the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL. Still, just like any head coach, he'll rely heavily on his assistants.

Speaking of the assistant coaches, there were changes there, too. Out are Dave Barr, Steve Spott and Johan Hedberg. In are associate coach Roy Sommer, assistant coach Mike Ricci and goaltending coach Evgeni Nabokov.

Boughner admitted that the newly formed staff still is figuring out its respective duties and responsibilities, but because of their collective experience within the organization -- Sommer most recently was head coach of the San Jose Barracuda, while Ricci and Nabokov had been in developmental roles -- Boughner is confident he has put the right group together.

"They're guys that really are relationship guys," Boughner said of his staff. "They're good with people and good with establishing that relationship with the player, so I feel comfortable in that regard."

[RELATED: Sharks players share how DeBoer's firing shocked them]

So, what changes should we expect to see in the Sharks post-coaching change? In general, Boughner wants his team to become harder to play against on a nightly basis.

"I think it's just a general mindset that we have to be a more aggressive team, not so passive, and we want to hunt pucks," he said, "but at the end of the day, it's just playing inspired."

Nothing about the Sharks' play as of late has been inspiring. Surely they're hoping the coaching change will fix that.

Sharks broadcaster Jamie Baker shares mental health journey in HEADSTRONG

Sharks broadcaster Jamie Baker shares mental health journey in HEADSTRONG

Jamie Baker struggled for a long time. 

The Sharks broadcaster, who played 186 games for the franchise and clinched their 1994 Stanley Cup playoff upset of the Detroit Red Wings with the winning goal in Game 7, revealed to The Athletic's Katie Strang in March that he took multiple leaves of absence from the booth during the 2017-18 season, nearly ending his life as he struggled with his mental health. Baker previously had been diagnosed with depression and ADHD, but undergoing therapy and committing to lifestyle changes that have allowed him to, in his words, "re-train his brain."

"I'm re-training my brain so I can live in this with gratitude, with radical gratitude, radical acceptance, compassion, kindness," Baker said as part of NBC Sports' documentary "HEADSTRONG: Mental Health and Sports." "I don't have the impulsiveness I used to. This has all taken time, but this is worth it."

Every day, Baker writes in his gratitude journal, reads "The Daily Stoic" and practices yoga. He is on his third journal, having written about what he is grateful for every morning over the last year-and-a-half, and he says yoga now "is something I will do ... for the rest of my life."

Baker is embracing the opportunity to "re-train" his brain, and the commitment it requires as part of ending the stigmas surrounding it. He noted that awareness of caring for one's mental health isn't especially widespread. 

"We train our bodies to either look good or to be these athletic specimens," Baker said. "We educate our brains to go out and make money and do all this. Nobody trains their brain to deal with everything that life is going to throw with you. Good, bad and everything else. It's not part of the curriculum."

It's part of Baker's curriculum now, and he says he is much better for it. 

"I'm a happier version of me than I was for a long time," he said. " ... I recently wrote in [my gratitude journal], 'I like Jamie Baker.' That's good, because for a long time, I didn't. Not many people knew that."

[RELATED: Watch all of the vignettes from HEADSTRONG]

Baker's "HEADSTRONG" story will air Tuesday night on Sharks Pregame Live and Sharks Postgame Live on NBC Sports California. You can watch all of the "HEADSTRONG: Mental Health and Sports" vignettes right here. The full documentary will be playing all month on NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California.

Check our channel listings page for times and dates.