The Sharks completely lost their "nasty" identity after the 2002 season ended. The '02-03 season saw McLaren arriving in January and Nolan moved to Toronto in March. Marchment was also traded in March, Sutter and Lombardi were fired, and the Sharks ended up with 28 wins.
McLaren was not really a part of the Sutter era.
2003-04 saw Patrick Marleau lead a team with low expectations to 10 playoff wins, something the Sharks have not duplicated in any other season.
04-05 was cancelled due to lockout, and Joe Thornton showed up in November of 2006 following a 10-game losing streak.
McLaren was much more a part of the Joe Thornton era than he was the Sutter era.