Ryan Warsofsky

Nine takeaways from Warsofsky's first press conference as Sharks coach

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Editor's Note: Sheng Peng will be a regular contributor to NBC Sports California’s Sharks coverage. You can read more of his coverage on San Jose Hockey Now, listen to him on the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast, and follow him on Twitter at @Sheng_Peng.

It’s a new era for the Sharks … they hope.

Ryan Warsofsky was introduced Monday as head coach, the 11th in franchise history.

His predecessor, David Quinn — Warsofsky was an assistant coach under Quinn — lasted just two seasons, helming arguably the worst NHL team in three decades last season.

Bob Boughner, Quinn’s predecessor, lasted two-and-a-half seasons.

Pete DeBoer, Boughner’s predecessor, was the last head coach to lead the Sharks to the Stanley Cup playoffs, all the way back in 2018-19.

So, what’s going to be different under Warsofsky?

Obviously, having the No. 1 overall pick of the 2024 NHL Draft, and last year’s fourth-overall pick Will Smith in the organization, should mean that brighter days, finally, are ahead for the Sharks.

What else?

Warsofsky, general manager Mike Grier and president Jonathan Becher spoke to that, other head coach candidates, and Logan Couture’s place in the organization today.

What’s Going To Be Different?

Warsofsky: “I'm not going to sit here [in June] and tell you what our system is going to be and give other teams an advantage, but it will be different.”

Takeaway: Massachusetts native Warsofsky admitted later that he’s “a big [Bill] Belichick guy," so he might end up being more guarded than Quinn and Boughner were. He had to admit though …

Warsofsky: “The numbers weren't great, the analytics weren't great. We have to make changes. There has to be a system in place that our players know what's going on, they understand the system. We're not teaching the system in games 62 and 65, there's some predictability with it. When we have the puck, we know what we want to do with it, and when we don't have the puck, we know what we want to do to get it back. That's kind of my vision, and the structure part will develop through the summer.”

Takeaway: Ex-Shark Jason Demers, in an interview with Brodie Brazil in May, intimated that Sharks players had “a lot of confusion” structurally last year. Will this change under Warsofsky, who has a reputation for clear and direct communication?


Grier: “You can see the passion and the emotion that Ryan has. That meant a lot to me and the staff.”

Takeaway: Warsofsky visibly choked up in his introductory remarks, thanking everybody who got him his first NHL head-coaching gig. He made sure to shout out Quinn, who he called “a really good man” and “a really good friend." This “heart on the sleeve” display isn’t necessarily the norm in a non-postgame press conference, so that’s something else that seems to be different about Warsofsky than most coaches. Hopefully, this passion will rub off on a group that looked checked out at times last year.

Why Promote a Coach From Last Year’s Team?

Grier: “He stayed positive throughout. He did a great job communicating and coaching our defense. I think if you ask Henry Thrun, Ty Emberson, and Shakir [Mukhamadullin] when [he was] up here, the care he gave them each and every day, and the ability to keep working and developing them and spending time with them through video and on the ice when it would have been easy to just, as soon as practice is over, hit the road and get out of there. He never did that. He never hid from the situation we were in, and he kept putting the time in and working with these kids. That's something that meant a lot to me as a GM.”

Takeaway: It’s an obvious question — why give the head coach job to a staff member from last year’s 47-point disaster? Obviously, Grier isn’t hanging that dismal performance on Warsofsky, praising the character that he showed through tough times. It’s easy to criticize an internal promotion like this — the optics are bad, no doubt — but don’t forget, Warsofsky was considered an up-and-coming head coach candidate just two years ago, when the Sharks interviewed him for that role before opting for Quinn. It’s not like he forgot how to coach over the last two seasons. As always, let’s see Warsofsky’s results before passing judgment.


Grier: “He's done a good job developing players in Chicago [in the AHL]. I think what's underestimated is that he had two different organizations trying to give him young players to work with and develop, and he did a great job and ended up winning a Calder Cup down there with that group … We're going to be young, he's a young coach, and hopefully, the whole crew can just kind of grow together and win together and then take next step.”

Takeaway: Warsofsky, 36, now is the youngest head coach in the NHL. He won the Calder Cup with the Chicago Wolves in 2022, and in his time as the Carolina Hurricanes’ AHL head coach, also had his hands on Nashville Predators prospects. Among the NHL’ers who developed under Warsofsky are Seth Jarvis, Jalen Chatfield, Luke Evangelista, and Tommy Novak.

Warsofsky: “I'm not that far away from this generation that's coming. I think everyone's taught differently, and it's my job to understand that, and to figure out these players — not just as players, but as human beings first. I'll get to know them as a human being, then I'll get going on them as a player … How they're taught, are they a visual learner, do they look through video, does it need to be on-ice instruction? That's going to be my job with the younger generation that's coming.”

Takeaway: Then-Wolves GM Wendell Young told San Jose Hockey Now that Warsofsky was first and foremost a relationship-focused coach, and Warsofsky echoed that in everything that he said Monday. After the press conference, Warsofsky was asked if the injured Logan Couture would be ready for camp, and while he seemed to know the answer to that, he stressed that while they had many conversations recently, none of them were really about hockey, and were instead about Couture’s family and general well-being. Anyway, for Warsofsky, it will be paramount for him to establish a strong relationship with the future of the Sharks, Macklin Celebrini, Smith and company. He seems equipped for it, very flexible to each individual’s needs, instead of a my-way-or-the-high-way approach.

Trading Couture?

Grier: “One more thing I want to put to bed for you media guys. Stuff's out there that I'm looking to trade Logan Couture. That is absolutely false. If you look at us bringing in young players here, and having a young team, he's exactly the type of person you want to have around your young players. He's our captain, he's our leader.”

Takeaway: Grier went out of his way at the end of the presser — he wasn’t asked about Couture at all — to squash the notion that the Sharks were dealing their captain. Anyway, what kind of offers would be out there for a 35-year-old, owed $8 million AAV in each of the next three years, who played just six games last year because of a deep groin issue? San Jose can’t even grease the wheels for a move because they’re out of salary retention slots until the end of the 2024-25 NHL season. Frankly, it doesn’t make any sense to discuss a Couture trade until he proves that he’s healthy and the Sharks have a salary retention slot available once again.

Warsofsky: “I grew up in Boston watching Patrice Bergeron. [Couture] is the Patrice Bergeron of the West Coast. The way he plays, the way he prepares, the way he leads this group. He's an addition to the coaching staff in ways.”

Takeaway: Warsofsky is a big Couture fan too!

Marco Sturm?

Grier: “That's not accurate [that Sturm was a finalist for the job]. I talked to Marco, he did interview. He did a good job, and I spoke to him afterwards and let him know that Ryan was just a better fit. We had a good conversation about some of the things he can, in my view, improve for his next job, but he's a good coach, a good person, and very passionate about the Sharks.”

Takeaway: Two weeks ago, sources told SJHN that Warsofsky was the “front runner” for the Sharks job — and also, a source added, that it was down to Warsofsky and fan-favorite Marco Sturm. Insider Elliotte Friedman would later echo this rumor. Grier pushed back on the Sturm part today: If not Sturm then, it’ll be curious to learn, in the coming years, who the finalists were, if any, besides Warsofsky.

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