The Sharks strip Joe Thornton of his captaincy, the latest on Raffi Torres and Alexander Semin and the Rangers sign prospect Kevin Hayes.

Joe Thornton is no longer captain of the Sharks.

Joe Thornton is no longer captain of the Sharks.

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: The Sharks have stripped Joe Thornton of his captaincy and will begin the season with a captain or assistants. The news came as a surprise to Thornton, who claimed he knew nothing of the plan. Sharks coach Todd McLellan claims the move was no indictment of their now-former captain and assistants.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McLellan can color this any way he likes, but this move is most definitely an indictment of Thornton’s leadership and of his assistants, which included Patrick Marleau and the now-departed Dan Boyle. It’s obvious the Sharks front office wants a change in leadership, especially after the club’s epic playoff collapse last spring against the Los Angeles Kings.

Will it entice Thornton and Marleau to accept being traded later this season or next summer? Maybe, though Marleau was stripped of the captaincy several years ago but remained a Shark.

Speaking of the Sharks, forward Raffi Torres will undergo a second surgery on his right knee and could miss half of the upcoming season.

NHL.COM: Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis countered a recent report claiming Alexander Semin hasn’t fully recovered from wrist surgery. Francis claims he’s been told there’s been no issues with Semin’s wrist, as he continues therapy while training twice daily. He expects Semin will be ready when training camp opens next month.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The New York Rangers won the Kevin Hayes sweepstakes, inking the former Blackhawks prospect to an entry-level contract.

CBS SPORTS: Despite a claim from Steve Moore’s brother claiming there was no settlement reached in Moore’s civil suit against Todd Bertuzzi, the Vancouver Canucks last night issued a statement confirming the settlement.

NHL.COM: The league has announced changes to its annual draft lottery. Over the next two years it will introduce a weighted system to determine the draft order.