Kukla's Korner Hockey
from James A. Conley of Shnarped,
The Sharks have posted franchise valuation increases in every season since 2006 and hold the league’s second-longest playoff appearance streak at 10 seasons and counting.
The hockey is good in San Jose, and the fans are good as well — better than 97 percent attendance in 2013-14 for a franchise that is among hockey’s newest in a market that is one of its most unproven.
Like Pittsburgh, San Jose has a good product on the ice (if one that doesn’t always live up to expectations). But now, like Pittsburgh, the Sharks could be entering a period of turmoil off the ice.
It took a few years of viable hockey to turn Pittsburgh’s business model into a good one. Over the last decade, few teams can match the Sharks’ level of sustained success.
So if the on-ice product in San Jose is good (and it is), why are the Sharks suddenly in danger of being swept up by the NHL’s business undertow?
Certainly, a poorly negotiated television deal can’t be the straw that’s breaking the Sharks’ back?
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
The Sharks have told Antti Niemi that he will have to compete for the net with Alex Stalock. Niemi has one year left on his contract; Stalock just signed a two-year extension. They told Boyle that they wanted to make room for younger defensemen, and they have told Brad Stuart something similar. Stuart has a limited no-trade clause and one year left on his contract. Vlasic is already an elite player. Brent Burns is moving from the wing back to the blue line, as was the plan. The Sharks think highly of Justin Braun, Jason Demers and Matt Irwin, and then there is Mirco Mueller, the 19-year-old prospect the Sharks drafted 18th overall last year.
Thornton and Marleau are trickier. They are still elite players as they approach their 35th birthdays. Thornton ranked second in assists last season with 65, three behind the leader, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. Both were in the top 16 in scoring. Marleau won a gold medal with Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics. But Thornton had two goals and three points in the seven-game series against the Kings – including zero points in the final four losses. Marleau had three goals and seven points – including zero points in the final three losses.
It should be noted that the Sharks chose to re-sign Thornton and Marleau six months ago, and Wilson said this at the time according to the San Jose Mercury News: “What I love about them is not only do they make some of the other players around them much better, but they’ve really allowed the growth of the Logan Coutures and the Marc-Edouard Vlasics and the Joe Pavelskis.” McLellan said this: “I think they’re just going to keep the same level at least and maybe get better.”
SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Mike Brown to a two-year contract.
During the 2013-14 regular season, the 28-year-old Brown posted five points (two goals, three assists) and 75 penalty minutes in 48 games with San Jose. Brown also registered two points (one goal, one assist), a plus-one rating, and 26 penalty minutes in six postseason games, including scoring his first career postseason goal in game vs. Los Angeles.
SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has re-signed unrestricted free agent goaltender Alex Stalock to a two-year contract.
During the 2013-14 season, the 26-year-old Stalock posted a 12-5-2 overall record to go along with .932 SV%, 1.87 GAA, and two shutouts in 24 games. Stalock finished ninth in the League in goals-against average (1.87), but did not play in enough games to qualify among the League leaders. Furthermore, Stalock set a new Sharks franchise record for longest shutout streak, posting 178:55 of scoreless play ranging from Jan. 5 at Chicago to Jan. 27 vs. Los Angeles. In three relief appearances during the 2014 postseason, Stalock posted a .929 SV% and 2.05 GAA.
from David Pollak of the Mercury News,
What strikes me about the present situation is the fact Wilson himself is calling for a rebuilding period. When has he used that term before to describe what he’s doing? Never.
The Sharks are sensitive to the market they operate in. The philosophy has been a simple one that guides both the hockey side and the business side: Put a credible team on the ice every season, one that gets you into the playoffs where anything can happen. One of these years, everything will fall into place.
No, the second part of that hasn’t worked out as planned yet. So maybe it is time to come up with a new approach.
The concern has always been whether the San Jose fan base will stick with a team going through a rebuild. The prevailing wisdom is that, without a favorable local TV contract, the Sharks rely more on attendance than a lot of NHL teams. Maybe Chicago can survive a few years of half-empty buildings (see the 1990s and early 2000s), but not San Jose.
A knowledgeable source says the Sharks’ season-ticket base dipped 3,000 the last time the team didn’t make the playoffs in 2003, enough to get everybody’s attention.
Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea answered some emails today...
Who do you see the Sharks getting in return for either Thornton/Marleau? Who do you believe will benefit the team?
That all depends on how flexible they are with their no-trade clauses, but at this point, it’s hard to imagine the Sharks getting anything in return that would immediately help them to become a better team next season. The kind of club that would be interested in Thornton or Marleau would be looking to add a final piece to what it believes to be a team that’s close to winning a championship, so it’s doubtful it would want to part with a key ingredient for an aging veteran, even if both Sharks players still likely have some good years left.
I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve seen about the Sharks that make the argument that they will be worse next season if they trade Thornton or Marleau. Yeah, well, no kidding. That's completely missing the point of what Doug Wilson and Todd McLellan have said they want to do this offseason. Thornton centered the Sharks’ best and most consistent line in the regular season, was second in the league in assists, and Marleau is still a 30-goal scorer. Not even management is trying to convince anyone that the Sharks would be better on the ice without that pair, which suggests to me that they may be content getting prospects and/or high draft picks in return. Trading either or both of them would be about a culture change, with the ultimate goal of being an elite team again in a few years.
read on for more Q & A regarding the Sharks...
from Mike Spry of BarDown,
San Jose Sharks centre Joe Thornton's name surfaced in trade rumours this week, so of course the Leafs were mentioned as a possible destination. This according to a Toronto-centric hockey media, who quite often ignore logic and reason, all to the delight of Leafs Nation.
Not a free agent, tradeable asset, or draft eligible player can enter hockey's consciousness without being linked to Toronto. Before long, kids in The Junction were dreaming of Thornton's pure passing skills and Phil Kessel's scoring prowess, Jumbo Joe sweaters under the Christmas tree, and parade routes up Yonge Street.
But would Thornton, who has a full no-trade clause and as such controls his destiny, want to play in Toronto? I would argue no, and here's why: Toronto is the most difficult place in the world to play hockey. It is the NHL's Hell.
SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson today issued the following statement regarding forward Logan Couture.
"Last week, Logan underwent successful surgery to repair a hand injury suffered in a fight in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against Mike Richards. The procedure went as expected and Logan will be ready for the start of training camp."
added 5:41pm, Video of the fight is below...
from David Pollak of the Mercury News,
Here's the latest word from the Joe Thornton camp:
One thing might get the Sharks captain to reconsider his stated intent to remain in San Jose despite suggestions from management that it may be time to move on, according to his brother and agent, John Thornton.
"If he felt the fans didn't want him in San Jose, he might re-think things," John Thornton said when asked if his brother would want to play where it was apparent he was not wanted.
Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet says the Toronto Maple Leafs are trying to trade for Joe Thornton.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The latest scuttlebutt on who's going where and why as another big season of free agency approaches:
It has the potential to be quite the offseason when it comes to high-profile centers changing teams.
We always say top centers don’t grow on trees and are hard to come by, well, there are at least two on the market in Ryan Kesler and Jason Spezza and it remains to be seen how it plays out on the Joe Thornton front.
First, in Vancouver, where the Canucks went fairly down the road in trade talks involving Kesler before the March 5 trade deadline, in particular with the Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins, before deciding the offers weren’t good enough and pulling him back.
The question is, what’s the deal with him now given the new management in place in Vancouver?
Sources said new Canucks GM Jim Benning has already taken calls from teams on Kesler, if for no other reason than they’re wondering if he’s still available or not....
Spezza, with a year left on his deal, indicated to Senators management that he would welcome a change if a deal that makes sense comes Ottawa’s way. I suspect talks will heat up on that front closer to the draft later this month.
And, in San Jose, the Sharks have indicated they are entering a rebuilding mode. What does that mean for Joe Thornton, who signed a three-year extension earlier this season? Does he want to be around for a rebuild? Either way, Thornton holds all the cards with a no-movement clause. Same goes for Patrick Marleau, for that matter.
more on Kesler and other topic too...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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