General manager Doug Wilson pointed a finger directly at himself Tuesday for the Sharks' shortcomings.
"I take first responsibility. The plan, the pieces that we put together, didn't work," Wilson said in his first public comments since the season ended. "Did we get everything out of this team? Did we have a successful season? The answers would be no on both of those counts."
Three days after the earliest postseason exit in franchise history, the Sharks were fielding questions about what went wrong and what comes next.
The answers about job security for Wilson and coach Todd McLellan won't arrive until sometime in the next week. By then, the general manager said, he expects to confer with team owners after individual meetings with players and the coaching staff that follow every season.
While Wilson talked about his faith in McLellan, the general manager stopped short of guaranteeing his coach will be behind the bench next season.
"I believe in Todd. I think he knows this game. But there are some things where we will all sit down and where we have to get better," Wilson said, a reference to San Jose's beleaguered penalty kill.
Earlier, McLellan said he expects to be back but acknowledged that he and Wilson had not discussed the subject.
"I'm very confident in what we do, I'm very confident in the coaching staff, and I firmly believe the players believe in us as a group as we believe in them," McLellan said.
Once the top decisions are made, the Sharks can begin to retool a team that fell far short of Stanley Cup expectations.
How deep into the team's core those changes can cut might be limited by no-trade clauses in several contracts. But one player in the spotlight for the team's postseason failure showed at least a hint of flexibility.
"We'll cross that bridge if it ever comes up," Patrick Marleau said when asked if he would be open to exploring other options if approached by the general manager.
Defenseman Dan Boyle acknowledged there is a window opening in his no-movement clause, but he stressed that he did not want to be playing elsewhere.
"I don't even want to think about that. I don't want to go anywhere," said Boyle, who turns 36 in July and led the team in minutes played.
Wilson and McLellan put the team's penalty kill at the top of their list of things in need of repair. The Sharks were 29th in the NHL short-handed, and their 76.9 percent success rate dropped to 66.7 percent in the playoffs.
"That impacts your game in a big way" that goes beyond opposition power-play goals, Wilson said. "You can't be aggressive, and that's a part of our game."
Despite the team's step backward, the general manager defended the offseason deals that brought defenseman Brent Burns and forward Marty Havlat from the Minnesota Wild.
"The year before, Burns ran wild like a wild stallion. I think he was better this year than before. I think his game is going in the right direction, and I think he's going to be a stud," said Wilson of the defenseman whose points total and hits dropped considerably. "We gave up a lot to get him, but that's based on supply and demand."
Injuries kept Havlat out of 43 games and he was a streaky scorer, but Wilson noted that without the winger, "we had guys playing roles that they weren't ready for."
The general manager said the two February deals that brought Dominic Moore, Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi were a result of the team's poor play on a nine-game trip in which it went 2-6-1.
"We had to change something, because we're not about to surrender. If we don't change something, we're not about to make the playoffs," Wilson said. "I think those players helped us at a time we needed to do something."
But in a season in which the Sharks had nine new players in their postseason lineup, the team took a step backward.