SAN JOSE — Todd McLellan will set the new longevity standard for a Sharks coach Friday night when his team faces the Columbus Blue Jackets. It will be his 435th game behind the San Jose bench, one more than Darryl Sutter spent there and 50 more than Ron Wilson lasted.
So does it feel like he arrived five-plus years ago, or just yesterday?
"Depends on the day," McLellan said.
Then he tried to put it in perspective.
"There's a hockey joke that you have a tattoo put on you when you spend some time in organizations," said McLellan, who worked with both the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild before arriving in San Jose in June 2008. "The Shark tattoo is the biggest one I've got and certainly one I hope will grow for many years. It's engrained when you win a championship, so that's still our goal."
McLellan tried to downplay his accomplishment, noting that the Sharks are still a relatively young franchise and that in the early years, head coaches usually don't last long in that setting.
"I've certainly enjoyed my time here," he continued. "It's been a great place for my family to evolve, and I appreciate the organization and the players allowing me the opportunity to be a Shark."
Veteran Patrick Marleau, who has been around long enough to play for the team's last three coaches, called McLellan a "great motivator."
"I think he knows how to treat people and that's the main thing," Marleau said. "Every player's a little bit different and he's really good at pinpointing that and working on that."
Mike Brown, who has only played 42 games as a Shark and acknowledged he has bounced around the league a lot, offered the newcomer's view of McLellan.
"He can get the guys going," Brown said. "He knows the group pretty well. He's a smart guy. He's the type of guy who can get his point across without yelling and raising his voice. He can be serious and he can be a good guy at the same time. He's good to be around."
"If there's any risk at all of Jason being sore or injured again tonight, he won't play," McLellan said. "If there's no risk, he will."
The Sharks will be missing Matt Nieto, who left Wednesday night's game after blocking a shot at the end of the second period. John McCarthy was called up from Worcester to take Nieto's spot in the lineup.