Boyle worried about long-term NHL damage


Boyle worried about long-term NHL damage

SAN JOSE There are few words in the English language as wonderful as the word "payday." In fact, a quick Twitter search of the word shows it's often accompanied by one of those a big yellow Emoji smiley faces that have become so common in text message conversations.

Paydays can be especially sweet if you're a professional hockey player. But not today. In fact, Nov. 16 marked the third missed check that players would have received had the season started on time.

Since the early days of the NHL lockout more two months ago, Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle has stated more than once that he thought Gary Bettman and the league owners were going to wait until the players missed a few paydays before getting down to real, actual labor negotiations. The more money that players missed out on, Boyle surmised, the more likely they would be to take a collective bargaining agreement that was more favorable to ownership.

REWIND: Boyle bothered by NHL owners' tactics

So far, its hard to dispute that viewpoint, especially after the league proposed a much-publicized and decidedly wacky two-week moratorium on CBA talks on Thursday.

Boyle is in the middle of a six-year, 40 million contract that would have paid him 6.67 million this season. He has one year left on that deal, for the same amount, in 2013-14.

But, its not the lost wages hes concerned about, as the calendar hits mid-November with no NHL hockey. He's made plenty of money in his 14-year NHL career.

Its the potential long-term damage to the game that has been so kind to him since he signed with the Florida Panthers as an undrafted free agent in 1998, and the chance that many fans could tune out the league for good if this thing goes much longer.

Its not the checks that Im missing. My biggest concern is the fans, Boyle said. Im so grateful and thankful to be playing this game, but if theres nobody in the stands to play in front of, thats the worst part. And thats my biggest concern, is were hurting the game.

We had some good steam coming in here. Thats what I worry about every day, and thats what I talk to my wife about. I just dont want to damage the fans, and the game.

The 36-year-old Boyle realizes that not every NHL player in the same situation. The average career lasts less than six years at an annual salary somewhere in the 2.4 million range.

The lost pay might affect certain guys. Again, at this point in my career, thats not affecting me as much as a younger guy or a guy in a different position. Its not a paycheck thing, Boyle repeated.

There are 700-plus guys in the union and guys coming up, so you want to make sure its fair for everybody. Its a union for a reason. Its got to work for everybody.

Like just about everyone else who has been following this ill-advised and nonsensical debacle, Boyle was perplexed with the owners most recent tactic of shutting down negotiations until the end of the month, at the earliest.

I dont understand it, because time is of the essence. Id rather hammer away at it than waste another two weeks when time is so crucial, he said.

Talks appeared to be picking up steam last week when the sides met for four straight days, but the leagues insistence that the union accept its restrictive contract demands led to yet another breakdown. It was reported that Gary Bettman told the players association that were past the point of give-and-take." The league wants to cap contracts at five years maximum, along with a five-percent maximum variance from year-to-year, thereby eliminating the front-loaded deals that are designed to circumvent the salary cap.

Meanwhile, union head Donald Fehr has continually and publically repeated the question -- whats in this for the players?

Besides the obvious answer of a league open for business, Boyle was asked what Fehr might mean by that.

Theres got to be give-and-take. Thats my interpretation of it. Maybe we give up a right somewhere, and we gain a right somewhere else. Or, tot necessarily gain, but not lose.

Money has gone down. Every contract right is down, as well. Its kind of across the board. Thats what he means by that. Theres nothing they are willing to eat up on their side, so far.

Along with Boyle, Patrick Marleau, Brad Stuart and Thomas Greiss skated at Sharks Ice on Friday. Islanders goalie and former Shark Evgeni Nabokov is also among the participants, as is former Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo.

Michal Handzus became the ninth Sharks player to commit to playing overseas, when he joined his hometown club of HC Banska Bystrica in Slovakia on Wednesday. Handzus, 35, had been skating with the team in practice.

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens


Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens


SAN JOSE — Logan Couture credited a teammate for scoring his second goal. He took credit for the first one.

Couture scored a pair of goals and the San Jose Sharks extended their dominance of the Montreal Canadiens with a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night.

Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks, who have won the past 11 home games against the Canadiens, a streak that dates to Nov. 23, 1999.

On a power play late in the third period, rookie Tim Heed took a shot off a face-off that bounced free in front of the net. Pavelski couldn't get his stick on it but managed to kick it across the net for Couture, who found a huge opening.

"That was pretty special," Couture said. "I don't know if he knew I was there but he kept his balance and kicked it over."

Couture opened the scoring 3:30 into the first period, grabbing a rebound off the back board, skating across the front of the net to get Price to commit and then firing into an open net.

Jonathan Drouin and Shea Weber scored for the Canadiens, who are winless since an opening night victory at the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's a very poor start from our team, from myself, from a lot of individuals," Canadiens' Max Pacioretty said. "It's a good time to look in the mirror and see what we're made of because a lot of people are probably doubting this team right now."

Martin Jones stopped 28 of 30 shots for the Sharks, who finish their season-opening homestand with a 2-3 record.

"The biggest thing is finding that energy for the whole game," Jones said. "We started OK and then we got better as the night went on."

Carey Price, who stopped 31 of 35 shots, fell to 2-7-1 in 10 games against the Sharks.

The Canadiens responded 36 seconds later when Drouin picked up a pass from Artturi Lehkonen close in and fired it over Jones' left shoulder and into the net.

Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead for good when he redirected Kevin Labanc's shot just under a minute into the second period. The shot hit Weber's left shin pad and bounced into the net.

"There were a lot of good things out there," Pavelski said. "We didn't have the homestand we wanted but we can leave on a positive note to take on the road."

Hertl padded the lead midway through the second on a power play. Standing on the right side of the net, he was trying to control a pass from Joe Thornton but the puck fluttered off his stick and got behind Price.

"I'll take it any way I can get it," Hertl said. "There are times I've had great shots that just bounced off the post."

Weber's power-play goal two minutes later kicked off Jones' skates for the score.

The Sharks needed five seconds to score on a power play late in the second period. Tim Heed shot on goal and it bounced off Pavelski's skate. Couture picked it up and found a huge opening.

NOTES: After allowing three power play goals over their first five penalty kills, the Sharks killed off 14 straight until Weber scored in the second period. ... Couture recorded his 24th career multi-goal game. ... Sharks D Tim Heed recorded his first NHL point with an assist on Couture's power-play goal. ... Brendan Gallagher needs one assist for 100 with the Canadiens.


Canadiens: plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday in their second back-to-back of the season.

Sharks: open a five-game road trip on the east coast with a game at the New Jersey Devils on Friday.

There's one key difference between struggling Sharks, Canadiens


There's one key difference between struggling Sharks, Canadiens

The San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens could not be more different in terms of tradition. But, on the ice this season, they couldn’t be more similar.

Both teams have placed their faith in a goalie that wears #31. The top defensemen on each team, Brent Burns and Shea Weber, are 32 and signed until 2025 and 2026, respectively. Tomas Hertl and Alex Galchenyuk are 2012 first round picks playing on the wing after being drafted as centers. Tomas Plekanec and Joe Thornton are favorites on the wrong side of 30, who may head elsewhere next summer.  Heck, both teams miss defenseman David Schlemko, who San Jose lost in the expansion draft and was eventually traded to Montreal, where he hasn’t yet played due to injury.

And both have struggled mightily so far. San Jose and Montreal have combined to win just two games, and sit 29th and 30th, respectively, in goals scored this season. It’s hard to imagine the Sharks and Canadiens scoring so little with all of that talent, but they can’t bank on good fortune, either.

Something’s got to give when the two face off at SAP Center tonight. After tonight, one team will feel much better about themselves, and the other team will be much closer to hitting the panic button.

That’s where the critical difference lies: Montreal’s already hit it, and San Jose probably won’t.

Last season, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin fired Michel Therrien and replaced him with Claude Julien in February. Seven months after essentially siding with Therrien and trading star defenseman P.K. Subban, Bergevin ended Therrien’s time in Montreal, too. He surely can’t fire another coach, but a Galchenyuk trade is reportedly a possibility, according to TSN.

The Sharks, on the other hand, likely won’t do any of that. Even with the burden of high expectations in his tenure, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson’s never traded away a star player or fired a coach midseason. Even though Vegas pegs Peter DeBoer as the odds-on favorite to lose his job, it’s hard to envision Wilson making a change behind the bench during the year. He didn’t in 2015 when Todd McLellan seemed to lose the room, so why would he now?

Patience is what truly separates the Sharks and Canadiens, and that difference will likely determine how each front office reacts if their teams continue to struggle. Wilson’s shown a willingness to swing for the fences under these circumstances. He acquired Joe Thornton in 2005, after all.

But if you’re waiting on Wilson to take a page out of Bergevin’s book and fire the coach or trade away a key piece approaching their prime? Don’t hold your breath.