The NHL faces a differences in revenue unlike all major American sports except for the NBA.The disparity between the highest-grossing team -- the Maple Leafs -- and the lowest-grossing team -- the Islanders is more than 3-to-1, according to Forbes, helping the Maple Leafs post an operating income of more than 80 million while the Islanders lost 8.1 million in 2011.With a discrepancy as large as this, it comes as no surprise that with the NHL and the Players' Association continue to hash out a new collective bargaining agreement, the league has sought to expand revenue sharing.The NHL's current revenue-sharing system has faced criticism in the media for its convoluted format that makes it difficult for teams to predict whether they'll have to contribute to or receive from the revenue-sharing pool and if so, how much. The current system also excludes any team in a market of more than 2.5 million households from receiving funds in the revenue sharing. That prevents teams like the Islanders that generate little revenue despite playing in a large market from receiving any assistance to their bottom lines.For the Sharks, increased revenue sharing should make little difference. San Jose was precisely in the middle for revenue in 2011, the most recent year for which Forbes has data. The Sharks' revenue has steadily increased from 69 million in 2006 to a peak of 96 million last year.While expanded revenue sharing may minimally affect the Sharks, it could vastly change the finances of some of San Jose's Pacific Division foes. The Coyotes, Stars and Ducks all fall behind the Sharks in revenue, with Phoenix's 70 million in revenue the second-lowest figure in hockey. Increased revenue sharing could suck more out of the Kings, whose revenue of 101 million was 11th-most in 2011 and presumably will increase after Los Angeles' run to the Stanley Cup.The bigger impacts of the league's latest proposal for a new CBA on the Sharks would be from the altered distribution of hockey-related revenue. According to the Associated Press, the league's proposal to the players on July 13 called for lowering the share of hockey-related revenue given to the players from 57 percent to 46 percent.Despite the Sharks' 96 million in revenue, they still posted an operating loss of 7.8 million in 2011, their biggest loss since 2003. As San Jose's revenue has increased, so have its expenses, especially player expenses, which have nearly doubled since 2006. By lowering the percentage of hockey-related revenue given to the players, the league could limit the Sharks and other NHL franchises' player expenses and thereby help the 18 franchises that posted operating losses in 2011 float out of the red.
The message for the San Jose Sharks’ prospects was quite clear this offseason.
After general manager opted not to re-sign Patrick Marleau, or sign any free agents of consequence, it was readily apparent the Sharks would need to rely on their young players to fill any holes.
Before the quarter mark of the season, that youth movement is underway. Five first or second-year players will suit up at SAP Center Monday night against Anaheim.
Partially, the infusion is due to injury, as Barclay Goodrow, Melker Karlsson, and Paul Martin are all on the mend. But as the season wears on, the young players’ presence is becoming a necessity.
Joakim Ryan looks like a natural fit alongside Brent Burns, and the Sharks are a decidedly better puck possession team with him on the ice than when he’s not. Tim Heed leads Sharks defensemen in scoring, and Danny O’Regan assisted San Jose’s lone goal in his season debut on Saturday.
That assist set up the goal that ended Timo Meier’s drought, and he looks primed to break out: he’s third on the team in five-on-five shots despite playing the ninth-fewest five-on-five minutes this season, according to Corsica Hockey. Kevin Labanc’s cooled off since his scorching start, but is still tied for sixth on the team in scoring and skated on the top line at Monday’s morning skate, according to the Bay Area News Group’s Curtis Pashelka.
There’s still room for improvement, of course. Labanc and Meier could stand to score more, but the same can be said about most everyone else. Ryan’s made his fair share of mistakes, but Burns has struggled plenty of times alongside him, too.
So the young players are fitting in, even if all of them aren’t necessarily standing out. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
Meier’s the only first-round pick of the lot, but he’s also only been able to legally buy a beer for a month. Ryan and Heed have made the best adjustment, in no small part because they’re the oldest (24 and 26, respectively) of the Barracuda call-ups, and thus have the most professional experience.
Of course, fitting in isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is, however, far from ideal, when that’s what many other players on the roster are doing.
Having all of their young players stand out is what will ultimately make the Sharks stand out from the rest of the pack. It hasn’t quite happened yet, and San Jose’s one of 22 teams separated by six points or fewer.
And if it doesn’t, the middle of the pack is where the Sharks will remain.
For just the second time this season, the San Jose Sharks have lost consecutive games.
It’s the first time since the club opened the season 0-2, and were outscored 9-4. San Jose played much better in Thursday’s loss to Florida and Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Boston than they did to start the campaign, but have now been on the wrong side of four goal reviews.
The Sharks have lost each of the last two games by two goals, so there’s an understandable temptation to chalk these losses up to questionable officiating. Yet even if you disregard the notion that the officials got each call right (which they did), it’s one that must be resisted.
Their actual lack of offense, not a perceived lack of good officiating, is the main culprit behind the losing streak.
Timo Meier’s goal on Saturday stands as San Jose’s lone tally on this three-game homestand. It’s not for a lack of trying: The Sharks pumped 72 shots on net in the last two games, but could not solve Roberto Luongo or Anton Khudobin.
You can blame the officiating in San Jose’s last two losses all you want, but a good offensive team would have converted subsequent chances to make up for the goals taken off the board. The Sharks have not been a good offensive team this season, and could not make up for it.
San Jose’s inability to finish chances has been their main weakness all season, but they were still able to win games thanks to their defense and goaltending. The latter’s lapsed at times over the last two games, and the former let them down on Saturday when Aaron Dell allowed three goals on only 20 shots.
But that, as well as the discussion around the recent officiating, only serves to mask the Sharks’ real issue. San Jose just simply cannot score.
They’ve only scored on 7.41 percent of their shots this season, according to Natural Stat Trick, which is the third-worst rate in the league. There’s too much talent on the roster to expect that to continue all season, but the Sharks faltered offensively down the stretch last season, too.
Plus, they’re relying significantly on players on the wrong side of 30. Brent Burns, 32, hasn’t scored a goal, and Joe Pavelski, 33, is on pace to score fewer than 20 goals.
He hasn’t failed to reach that mark in a decade. At some point, it must be asked: are the Sharks just unlucky, or is age catching up to their star players?
The answer is probably a bit of both. How much of a role either factor has played is up for debate, but that either has led to San Jose’s failure to score goals is not.
Poor officiating is easier to diagnose than a poor offense, but it’s the latter, not the former, that’s responsible for the Sharks’ most recent skid.