Sharks

NHL, union continue to bicker

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NHL, union continue to bicker

Its been nearly a month since the beginning of NHL Lockout 2012, and despite more talks this week, the two sides appear no closer to a new collective bargaining agreement than they did at midnight on September 15.

In the latest development on Wednesday, the Alberta Labour Relations Board rejected the NHLPAs claim that the lockout was illegal in that Canadian province. The players association was hopeful that a ruling in their favor, which in essence would mean the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers would have to pay their players, would give them leverage in negotiations.

It wasnt to be, and each side released a statement about the ruling that only reinforced the fact that these sides havent budged from their respective positions.

We are pleased with the Alberta Labour Boards ruling today that the lockout of Players is effective on a League-wide basis, including in Alberta, and we are extremely appreciative of the decisive manner in which the matter was handled, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in the NHLs statement. We are hopeful that this ruling will enable both the League and the NHL Players Association to focus all of our efforts and energies on negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in order to get our game and our Players back on the ice.

The NHLPA responded with its own yawn-inducing proclamation.

The players are obviously disappointed with todays decision. Unfortunately, the Alberta Labour Relations Board decided not to exercise its discretion to determine whether the owners lockout violates Alberta law. We will consider our further options with regard to this case.

In the meantime, the players want to play, the fans want to watch the game, and the many workers and business owners who are dependent on NHL hockey for their livelihood want the season to start. We remain committed to reaching a fair agreement at the earliest possible time and hope that the NHL begins to show a willingness to do so.

Meanwhile, another day goes by without NHL hockey, as the league has cancelled all games through Oct. 24. Regular season game play was set to begin with a light schedule on Thursday, Oct. 11, while the Sharks would have boarded their charter to fly to Anaheim in preparation for a game on Oct. 12 with the rival Ducks.

Instead, the two sides reportedly discussed more secondary issues on Wednesday in Toronto, including get this ice conditions in buildings around the league.

Players are growing more frustrated, including the Sharks Ryane Clowe, who spoke with ESPNs Pierre LeBrun on Wednesday.

"The way I see it, if Shea Weber or Ryan Suter or Zach Parise signed those big deals in July and then arrived at training camp and said, 'Were not playing until we get 20 percent more on our contract,' there would be an uproar," Clowe told LeBrun. "The owners would say, 'No chance. Well, its the same thing. Contracts have been signed, both the owners and the players have signed these contracts. Now theyre trying to take whatever percentage off the top? Its all about principle. Its a handshake and an agreement. Why did all these owners rush to sign all these players before the lockout?"

Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson, one of the more respected players in the game today, also had some choice words for the NHL owners' strategy.

Like everybody else, Im disappointed that the owners chose to have this tactic from the very beginning, Alfredsson told the Ottawa Citizen. They chose to give a low-ball offer from the get-go. It was kind of clear what they wanted and I dont see anything changing anytime soon.

The players havent felt any financial losses in terms of real dollars just yet, but that will change on Oct. 15, when the first of what was supposed to be 13 paydays goes by the wayside. Quick math says thats approximately 7.7 percent of their annual pay that they will never get back.

According to Daly, the NHL, which raked in a record 3.3 billion in revenue last season, lost approximately 100 million when the preseason was wiped out.

Sharks should be thankful for these two players on Thanksgiving

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Sharks should be thankful for these two players on Thanksgiving

The San Jose Sharks woke up this Thanksgiving and found themselves in a playoff spot, albeit barely. 

They hold the second and final wild card spot by the thinnest of margins, edging out the Colorado Avalanche not on points, games played, regulation and overtime wins, but a single goal in the goal differential column. 

As early as it is, it’s a critical time to be in playoff position. Since the NHL expanded to 30 teams in 2000, 79 percent of teams holding playoff spots on Thanksgiving made the postseason. 

If the Sharks avoid becoming a member of the dreaded 21 percent, they’ll have two players to thank, more than anyone else, for their good fortune: Logan Couture and Martin Jones. 

Couture, along with Joonas Donskoi, seems to be the only Shark unaffected by a team-wide scoring bug. Even as he’s cooled off slightly, his 11 goals are still tied for 10th-most in the league. 

He’s held a positive share of puck possession on the ice, despite starting the fourth-lowest percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone among Sharks forwards that have played at least 50 minutes this season, according to Corsica Hockey

Couture also leads the team in power play scoring with three goals, and is one of only three San Jose players that’s scored multiple times on the man advantage. It’s hard to imagine the league’s fourth-worst power play (15.1 percent) getting worse, but it undoubtedly would be without the 28-year-old.

While Couture has stood out among a hapless offense, Jones has led one of the league’s best defensive units. The Sharks are among the best teams at limiting shots and scoring chances across all situations, but Jones has not let them down. 

Although his .922 even-strength save percentage is 27th among 51 goalies that have played at least 200 minutes, San Jose’s given him a razor thin margin of error. He had the fifth-lowest goal support of any goalie entering last night, as statistician Darin Stephens noted, and his play has been good enough to keep the Sharks in games in spite of that. 

Jones has also led the way for the league’s best penalty kill, posting a .940 save percentage in shorthanded situations. That’s the best mark among goalies that have faced at least 80 shots on the penalty kill, according to Stephens.

The sustainability of Jones’ penalty kill dominance and Couture’s 20.8 shooting percentage is an open question, but their importance to the team early in the season cannot be overstated. They’ve helped keep the Sharks afloat, and in a playoff spot with history on their side at the critical Thanksgiving mark. 

The Sharks need to not only let them have extra helpings during their holiday feast, but find a way to give them more help on the ice too.

 

Jones strong in goal, contains Coyotes to snap Sharks' three-game skid

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Jones strong in goal, contains Coyotes to snap Sharks' three-game skid

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Logan Couture scored another goal for San Jose but was happier to see the Sharks' top line get untracked.

"We've got to get those guys going to help us offensively," Couture said of teammates Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Timo Meier after the Sharks' 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night. "We need them to produce."

Thornton opened the scoring for the Sharks, with Pavelski adding an assist, the pair's first points since November 8, a span of five games.

"I think with Timo with us last game it brought us a lot of energy and a lot of chances," said Thornton, who scored his first goal since October 26. "Me and Pavs really like playing with him."

Joel Ward added an empty-net goal with 47.8 to play for the Sharks, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

"We got enough offense to win," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. "That's all that matters. I thought we played a good road game. I don't care how it looks."

Brendan Perlini scored with 7:37 to go, ruining Sharks goalie Martin Jones' bid for his second shutout of the season. The Coyotes saw their season-high three-game winning streak snapped and lost for the eighth time in nine home games (1-7-1).

Jones finished with 26 saves.

"We defended really well," said Jones, who was tested seriously only twice in the first two periods. "The first 10 minutes they had a lot of jump and were buzzing around our zone, but after that not as much."

Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta left at 14:37 of the first period with an upper-body injury. Couture had collided with Raanta more than four minutes earlier, earning an interference penalty. Raanta skated to the bench during a stoppage in play and retreated to the locker room.

Scott Wedgewood took Raanta's place and was in net for only five seconds before the Sharks broke through. Wedgewood stopped Brent Burns' long shot from the top of the right circle even after it deflected off San Jose right wing Timo Meier. But the rebound kicked to the bottom of the right circle, where Thornton swept in and beat the goalie with a quick wrist shot.

"He (coach Rick Tocchet) looked at me and said go," Wedgewood. "I was like, alright. That's the tough part. Then shot, top, goal. That was tough."

San Jose made it 2-0 at 4:56 of the second, taking advantage of Arizona's inability to clear the zone while the Sharks were on a line change.

Justin Braun fought three Coyotes for the puck along the right boards before Joonas Donskoi swooped in, skated to the goal line then sent a pass across to Couture. Couture deked Wedgewood to the ice with a forehand fake, then scored on the backhand.

Perlini cut the lead to 2-1 when he redirected Derek Stepan's shot from the top of the right circle past Jones.

"We had some costly mistakes," Perlini said. "We got back within a goal but there were too many mistakes."

NOTES: Thornton has 22 goals and 83 points in 82 career games against Arizona. ... The Coyotes, who had played seven of their past eight on the road, opened a three-game homestand. ... Raanta made eight saves before leaving and has stopped 98 of the past 105 shots he's faced. ... Couture's goal was his first in five games.

UP NEXT:

Sharks: visit Las Vegas on Friday

Coyotes: host Los Angeles on Friday.