Just after an yeahstub.com article bemoaning the lack of news, the San Jose Sharks churned forth five stories during the second-slowest time of the year. Starting with contract updates from David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury News, the photos list the time of day each story broke on Tuesday. June 17.
A commenter taking part in a live chat with CSN Bay Area Insider Kevin Kurz reported it to him just soon after reading it early in the chat that began at noon. While that chat may be stretch to call news, the reaction to signing Mike Brown provided as much news as any previous speculation over where Joe Thornton might go that passes as newsworthy this time of year.
The agitator’s two-year, $2.4 million deal sparked both outrage and speculation from San Jose fans. Both were absolutely warranted, as was questioning general manager Doug Wilson for this and signing Thornton and Patrick Marleau in the first place.
No matter how much Kurz said Brown was respected in the dressing room, that amount of money is absurd for a player that cannot crack the everyday starting lineup. That means either he should have played more in 2013-14 or should be making less now. It also flies in the face of the youth movement—why play a fourth-line forward at the peak of his career and keep a younger Freddie Hamilton with more upside in the minor leagues?
In fact, it is reminiscent of Wilson overpaying for another fourth-line Shark with a good dressing room presence but unable to play daily even when healthy. Brown’s signing brought forth speculation from both Kurz and participating fans that Adam Burish might be a compliance buyout candidate.
Burish will enter the third year of a four-year, $7.4 million contract. Even if he were bought out or waived—unless someone is actually willing to pick up the last two years of his contract, he could be reassigned to the AHL Worcester Sharks—or even traded to get him off the salary cap, why take on a slightly lower contract for a slightly younger guy that might not even be better and does not have a Stanley Cup ring?
Signing Brown was not a bad move, but that amount of money is simply not worth it for a guy that is not good enough to play 55 games between the regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs, nor score more than five points. He does fit into San Jose’s desire to get faster and grittier, but will need to play 70 games and score more than 10 points to make that work no matter how good he is defensively or in the dressing room.
On the other hand, Alex Stalock signing a two-year, $3.2 million deal seemed a good fit for both parties. After declaring, “there is no equity in anyone that’s been here,” Wilson elaborated in a CSN Bay Area video posted Monday that all positions are up for grabs. He started with, “you want to come in and take the net as a goalie? Take the net.”
Coach Todd McLellan also has said it would be an open competition, but claimed it always has been before seemingly backtracking. Clearly the last three years the job has belonged to Antti Niemi, who is now the subject of trade speculation. Having the 2010 Stanley Cup winner battle the developing Stalock should give the team quite a tandem until they get offered enough for one of them by a team in need of a goalie.
Within an hour of the chat ending, Pollack posted a statement that Wilson was adamant in his commitment to rebuilding: “This is a tomorrow team,” he insisted, noting the Sharks would enter a phase they have never been through, “but probably should have many years ago.”
He is certainly turning up the heat on anyone that might represent the past more than they will be part of the future, like Thornton and Marleau. It would be nigh impossible to do a rebuild with the top two picks 17 years ago still on the roster.
As evening approached, Pollack reported that Drew Remenda will not return to the broadcast booth. Gone are the days of his exceptional chemistry with play-by-play announcer Randy Hahn, and no announcement has been made who would replace him in the booth or in manning the press box hot dog cooker between periods.
Mark Purdy capped off the night less than two hours later by reporting that a bad television deal could threaten San Jose remaining the team’s home. In reality, this is probably a worst-case scenario used to negotiate a better deal.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is involved in renegotiating the deal that has 14 years left at a paltry $7 million per year. Pacific Division rivals like the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks collect at least $20 million, and that could exacerbate the disadvantage of the Sharks being in an older building.
San Jose fans thus had more bad than good Tuesday: Stalock was a good sign but no special bargain, Brown cost too much, the team has made it clear that it is not looking to make the 2015 Stanley Cup a goal, a beloved broadcaster departed and a battle is on the horizon that could affect the team’s home if it drags on long enough.