Sharks

Should Sharks owners be allowed to profit?

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Should Sharks owners be allowed to profit?

As news of the upcoming NHL labor battle starts to break, as it did over the weekend with reports of the owners making a bold first proposal to the NHLPA, its worth circling back to about a month ago when a couple members of the San Jose Sharks ownership group sat down for a Q-and-A session with the local media.

Kevin Compton and Stratton Sclavos, two of several individuals listed among the teams ownership group, help to represent an NHL club that has seemingly done everything right on the business side yet still falls short in terms of profit. In fact, its been reported that the club lost upwards of 15 million last season despite selling out HP Pavilion every night.

RELATED: NHL labor source: 'We will not play next year'
Its worth listening to what they have to say, especially if youre planning on picking sides in what could quickly turn into an ugly feud resembling the summer before lost season of 2004-05. After all, the Sharks are perceived as being somewhere in the center of the so-called big marketsmall market teams.

Were right in the middle, said Compton on June 18.

As such, they could be the perfect team to analyze when it comes to the overall health of the league.

Because of our market, and things like that and the way the cap has gone from 39 to 70 million since the CBA started, to stay up with the cap it has not kept up with revenues, Compton said. But were okay with that, because thats a decision weve made to stay competitive.

Compton is referring, of course, to the NHLs salary cap that was implemented following the great lockout. At that time, the players were given 57 percent of hockey-related revenue while NHL clubs were not permitted to surpass a hard 39 million salary cap.

Since then, NHL business has been booming, and revenues have gone from approximately 2 billion in 2003-04 to 3.3 billion just eight years later. With that, the salary cap has skyrocketed to todays figure of 70.2 million for the upcoming 2012-13 season. In fact, the salary cap floor, or the required figure that all NHL teams are required to spend to, is 54.2 million well above the salary cap in 2005-06.
RELATED: NHL labor talks: First offer isn't declaration of war against players' union

In order to reset the model that now greatly favors big market clubs and squeezes the smaller markets to spend much more than they would like to, there are reports that the NHL wants to lower the players take of revenue to 46 percent and lower the cap to 52.5 million, among other things.

That proposal has already led to several doom-and-gloom prognostications from fans and media alike, both of whom have the 2004-05 debacle fresh in their memories.

To be clear, Compton and Sclavos are not permitted to comment on the negotiations or their thoughts on the CBA as a whole. But they are certainly allowed to discuss their own clubs revenue situation, and did just that in mid-June.

It became obvious after sitting down with them that the two successful businessmen and the rest of the ownership group they speak for run the Sharks as a labor of love, and not to fatten their coffers.

If we decided to cut our expense level to get profitable, and were a rotten team, I dont think youd see any of us involved, Compton said. Thats not how were wired."

We made the decision to spend to the cap even though the revenues dont justify it, in the goal of winning the Cup. Could we have spent a whole lot less? Yeah, sure.

While several teams operate with an internal cap number, the Sharks do not. In fact, Compton said that general manager Doug Wilson is often the first to bring up the issue of dollars.

Hes come to us regularly for what he thinks the salary cap is going to be, and where he thinks pieces will move years out. Weve typically just said, good, said Compton.

If theres a vision where we say, ok, we went into a room, set up a number, white smoke came out, and said heres your new number and then he went and picked players, thats not how its worked at all. Hes come to us and said, heres what its going to take to be competitive, you guys still want to win. Do you still want to invest ahead of revenues? We say yes, he says great, heres the plan, we say ok. Nothings been turned down.

Sclavos admitted that its been a bit frustrating to see the salary cap rise as it has over the years, but that doesnt change how the club operates.

If goal number one was to make it the most profitable franchise in the NHL we would have done things completely differently. But, its not, he said. Our goal will remain the same next year, and well do whatever we need to do.

But, is that fair? Should the owners of a team that has now sold out 110 straight regular season games be forced to take a loss?

If the weekend reports are true, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman seems to say that it isnt. What happens from here is anyones guess.

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

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USATSI

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

The difference between a 2-3-0 start and a 1-4-0 start is bigger than two standings points.

The former is far from ideal, but if you squint hard enough, there's enough wiggle room to improve. There's still time with the latter, too, but the margin for error is much thinner moving forward.

The Sharks experienced that difference firsthand after Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. It's not an ideal record, but they’ve managed to salvage a poor start. 

There are still some flaws, to be sure. The power play isn't just the Kevin Labanc show after the top unit scored all three power play goals Tuesday, but is still carrying a disproportionate offensive load. The penalty kill’s scoreless streak came to an end, but they were called into action six times.

Despite all that, Tuesday's win was San Jose’s best effort this season. Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton all had multi-point games for the first time this year. Martin Jones had another strong game, and appears to have shaken off his slow start.

In short, San Jose’s game is headed in the right direction. It needs to be, with a five-game road trip beginning on Friday. 

Now comes the hard part.

It's on the road where we’ll get our best sense of who this team really is. Peter DeBoer won’t have the benefit of last change, and won't be able to dictate matchups. 

Under these circumstances, we’ll begin to really see if Joakim Ryan is ready for a top-four role, whether Kevin Labanc is a viable first-line winger, and how the rest of the young reinforcements stack up. They will have less time off, too, as all but one game occurs after one day (or less) of rest and travel. That missed practice time isn't ideal for any team, let alone one still trying to work out the kinks.

Fortunately, the competition is forgiving, at least on paper. Other than the Devils, none of the Sharks’ four other road trip opponents have winning records as of this writing. The topsy turvy nature of the standings, though, show how little “on paper” means this early in the season.

We’ll know a lot more about who these San Jose Sharks are by the time their road trip ends. Their record still won't tell the whole story, but by then, they'll have played about an eighth of the season. 

And by then, we’ll have a much better idea of how good this team really is.

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

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AP

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

BOX SCORE

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.

UP NEXT:

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.