Jonathan Becher Q&A: Sharks president on part-time workers' relief fund

Jonathan Becher Q&A: Sharks president on part-time workers' relief fund

While the Sharks' hockey operations have come to a complete halt due to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the business side is busy as ever, according to team President Jonathan Becher. 

Like many companies, one of their biggest struggles and first orders of business was to get all employees connected from home. That Includes setting up weekly Zoom conference calls that feature more than 200 simultaneous guests. 

On Monday, NBC Sports California caught up with Becher via FaceTime, around the time the team announced a new plan to support their part-time workers across multiple locations.

On assisting the 1,800 part-time workers at SAP Center:
“Frankly, we’re deep in the community. We care a lot, and know the part-time workers in our building that don’t work as frequently for us. They may only get a couple hours per week from us. And a couple hours per week from somebody else. They are as impacted by this pandemic as anybody else. Not only from a health point of view, but also a financial point as well. We’re announcing a COVID-19 relief fund from Sharks Sports & Entertainment.”

How the fund got started, and is expected to generate at least $600,000:
“Sharks management, ownership, friends of the franchise, players, coaches, all of us have already seeded the fund. And [Sharks owner] Hasso [Plattner] has generously agreed to match whatever money that we get. Last I'd checked, we had already raised $200,000, likely going to raise much more than that.” 

On how different Sharks games and other events will likely feel once resumed:
“It seems likely, although not a foregone conclusion there may be something like temperature checks before you can get people into a building again. Not just our building but restaurants, or even movie theaters. Any public gathering. It’s certainly possible that face masks might be required for all fans the beginning. We don’t know that for sure, but it’s likely. We’re still working through what food and beverage might be when you come into a building like ours. If you have to wear a face mask, how do you drink or eat?”

On predicting how technology could aid sports and other businesses:
“In the coming months there may be a digital immunity card, kind of like a drivers license but only the fact that you’ve been exposed to this already. If you’ve got a digital immunity maybe you scan that at the door the same way we scan tickets?”

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How the NHL could return with varying guidelines at arenas across North America:
“It’s certainly possible the guidelines will be different in Santa Clara County than they will be in some other state. When the league re-opens, it may do so with slightly different rules in one building than that are in some other building. It may be that we play a few more games on the road at the beginning of the year for next season, and we don’t open our season at home for 10 days later. The point is, there are so many different potential scenarios out there that, I’ve lost track. We don’t need to know exactly which is going to happen and when. Our goal right now is to build a detailed a plan as we can for each of them. Then when it becomes clear which is the best of them, that’s what we put into operation."

Why Sharks should sign Patrick Marleau for third go-around in San Jose

Why Sharks should sign Patrick Marleau for third go-around in San Jose

It has been widely presumed that if Patrick Marleau returns for a 23rd NHL season, he will do so with the Sharks, back where it all began.

He still is without a Stanley Cup on his career résumé after he and the Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round of the NHL's expanded playoff format. The Penguins acquired him prior to the trade deadline in exchange for a 2021 third-round draft pick after he returned for his second go-around with San Jose early in the season.

Based on what his wife, Christina, tweeted Friday, it appears Marleau already has made up his mind about playing next season.

That really shouldn't come as a surprise. Though he isn't the top-end player he once was, Marleau showed this past season that he still has some left in the tank. And, on top of that, he only needs to play in 45 more games to pass NHL legend Gordie Howe for the most games played in league history.

Frankly, it would only be fitting if he set the record in a Sharks sweater. And now it would appear the ball is in San Jose's court as to whether or not Marleau will return to the franchise that drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1997 Entry Draft.

Aside from the appetizing narrative, there's reason why Marleau might get a third go-around in teal. All indications are that the Sharks intend to return to playoff contention next season, but due to their salary structure, don't expect any large salaries to be brought in -- San Jose already has plenty of those. Consequently, the Sharks are going to need to fill the lineup with some minimum-salaried players.

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At this point, you can bet that money isn't a top consideration for Marleau. If a true Cup contender doesn't present him with an offer, it would be difficult to envision a more appealing destination for him than San Jose. Marleau could be signed for the veteran's minimum, and given he scored 10 goals in 58 games with the Sharks this year, that might be a pretty good value.

It's certainly possible the Sharks find a superior player to take Marleau's hypothetical spot, or would rather give it to a younger player that is part of the future.

If that's not the case, though, signing Mr. Shark makes an awful lot of sense.

Ex-Shark Patrick Marleau, Penguins eliminated in NHL qualifying round

Ex-Shark Patrick Marleau, Penguins eliminated in NHL qualifying round

Sharks legend Patrick Marleau might have had his last decent chance to win a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL restart. Hopefully he gets another opportunity, because it ain't happening this year.

The fifth-seeded Penguins were stunned and upset by the 12-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round after the Habs advanced to the playoffs with a 3-1 series victory on Friday. Pittsburgh lost Game 1 and was never able to recover, thanks in large part to Montreal goalie Carey Price.

The Penguins scored just eight goals in the series, none of which were deposited by Marleau. In fact, the long-time Shark didn't record a single point across the four games. The Penguins acquired him at the trade deadline in exchange for what is now confirmed to be a 2021 third-round draft pick, as San Jose wanted to give him an opportunity to check that last box on his career résumé.

Marleau now will become an unrestricted free agent. It has been widely presumed that if he indeed returns for a 23rd NHL season, it might come in a third go-around with the Sharks. San Jose finished dead last in the Western Conference this season, but the Sharks' record was largely impacted by injuries and they certainly could return to the playoffs next year.

Really, it would only be fitting if Marleau ended his career in teal.

As for the Sharks, the qualifying round has gone nearly as well as they could have hoped for. Of the four Pacific Division teams that were involved, only the Edmonton Oilers failed to advance.

Due to the wacky 2020 NHL draft lottery, each team eliminated in the qualifying round has a 12.5 percent chance to land the No. 1 overall pick. Whichever team lands it is widely expected to use it on consensus top prospect Alexis Lafreniere.

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So, there's an 87.5 percent chance -- barring trades -- that Lafreniere won't immediately end up in the Sharks' division.

Given the season they had, they'll take any win they can get.