Hockey is coming back, but the Sharks are not.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced Tuesday that the league will progress straight to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a modified 24-team format in its return to the ice after suspending the season in March due to the coronavirus. Twelve teams from each conference will qualify for the expanded postseason, with games played in two hub cities, which will be announced at a later date.
San Jose's streak of four consecutive playoff appearances officially ended with the NHL's announcement. The Sharks were last in the Pacific Division and Western Conference at the time of the season's suspension. With the season now, over they officially own the franchise's worst points percentage (.450) since 2002-03.
The Sharks entered the season with high expectations after finishing two wins shy of the Stanley Cup Final in 2019. Veterans Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist left in free agency while Justin Braun was traded, but San Jose expected to contend after re-signing defenseman Erik Karlsson to an eight-year contract extension last June.
But coach Peter DeBoer was fired after a 15-16-2 start, and the Sharks finished the season just 14-20-3 under interim coach Bob Boughner. The Sharks struggled to score and keep the puck out of their own net all season, with a rotating cast of rookies unable to replace Pavelski, Donskoi and Nyquist's departed offense and other veterans unable to replicate their production from the last season.
[RELATED: Karlsson's surgically repaired left thumb "feels great"]
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in April that Boughner has the "upper hand" to return behind the bench next season, but it's unclear when that will be. The NHL and the NHL Players Association agreed to a playoff format, but a timeline to finish the season -- and, thus, start next season -- is yet to be established.
Now, the Sharks can officially turn the page on a forgettable season, and Wilson now can shift his attention revamping the roster in order to achieve his stated goal of returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2021.
The Sharks were forced to surrender multiple first-round draft picks over the past few years in order to retain top-of-the-line talent.
But in the NHL's new Collective Bargaining Agreement, San Jose's agreements with Evander Kane and Erik Karlsson would have been different.
Kane was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in Feb. of 2018, with the Sharks surrendering Daniel O'Regan and a fourth-round draft pick. But the deal included a condition that if Kane re-signed in San Jose, the compensation sent to Buffalo would increase in value. Sure enough, Kane re-upped with the Sharks and San Jose instead had to deal a 2019 first-round pick to the East Coast.
But the new agreement mandates that teams no longer can include conditions in trades that allow for further compensation if a player re-signs, meaning the Sharks would have been able to hold on to their 2019 first-round pick (No. 29 overall), which ended up being used by the Anaheim Ducks on Canadian wing Brayden Tracey.
[RELATED: How NHL's potential new labor deal could affect Sharks’ offseason plan]
Previous CBA guidelines didn't allow NHL teams to sign players acquired via trade to an eight-year extension until after the following trade deadline. This forced San Jose to wait until June of 2019 to ink Karlsson to his eight-year, $92 million extension with the team, despite joining the organization in Sept. of 2018 after a trade with the Ottawa Senators.
But in the recently ratified CBA, this rule no longer will apply.
The 2019-20 NHL season returns to the ice on Aug. 1, but the Sharks won't be one of the 24 teams competing.
Just over a year after losing their daughter during pregnancy, Sharks forward Evander Kane and his wife, Anna, welcomed another daughter into the world.
The Kanes announced the birth of their daughter, Kensington Ava, on Thursday on social media. Evander Kane said his daughter was born on July 3.
"My wife Anna is a rockstar, the strength and love she has displayed over the last 18 months," Kane wrote on Twitter. "We want to thank everyone who has reached out during this period in support of our family and (we) appreciate the kind words throughout this journey. I'm so proud of my daughter, it's tough to put into words how much she means to me."
Kane thanked the Sharks, their fans, his friends and family "for their overwhelming love" during a difficult time. Last March, Kane announced that their daughter, Eva, passed away 26 weeks into Anna's pregnancy.
"You gave us all, especially your mom and I, something to be excited about," Kane wrote of Eva on Twitter on March 14, 2019. "And though we are devastated that you couldn't stay with us longer, your mom and I will always cherish the time we had with your beautiful soul. Your spirit will give us strength, your love will give us comfort. We will love you forever."
The Sharks, San Jose teammate Mario Ferraro and Hockey Diversity Alliance co-founder Akim Aliu all commented on Kane's Instagram post on Thursday.