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Sharks take captaincy away from Joe Thornton

San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton, left, and Patrick Marleau leave the bench after losing 7-3 to the Vancouver Canucks in Game 2 of the NHL Western Conference Final Stanley Cup playoff hockey series in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday May 18, 2011.

The Canadian Press

The San Jose Sharks have taken the captaincy away from Joe Thornton as the team looks to "re-establish the hierarchy" according to head coach Todd McLellan.

"If it's real evident (Thornton) is the guy, he'll be the captain," McLellan said, telling CSN Bay Area there would be an open competition to determine the next captain and alternates.

"If there's somebody else that assumes that role and is prepared to take it on and is doing a very good job, then they will be. To say we stripped him, no. We've cleaned the slate, and we're going to go forward."

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Thornton has been the captain of the Sharks since the 2010-11 season.

"It's a big honor, and it's a big responsibility," Thornton told the San Jose Mercury News, "so it's a little strange when they take it away from you."

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson suggested the team could borrow a page from the 2004 season when it rotated the captaincy among players following the trade of Owen Nolan.

The Sharks also announced that forward Raffi Torres will miss the start of the upcoming season after undergoing surgery for an infection in his previously surgically repaired right knee.

Torres initially got hurt last preseason and underwent surgery for a torn ACL. He returned in late February and played five games before sitting out the rest of the regular season. Torres played hurt through a seven-game, first-round loss to Los Angeles in the playoffs.

Torres had three goals and two assists in the regular season and two goals and one assist in the playoffs.

Files from the Associated Press were used in this report

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