| The ripple
Strong play hasn't improved
1/6/04 - By Paul Krill
Despite appearances, all is not well in Shark-Land. Yes, the Sharks are
in first place and even notched a rare win in Saint Louis over the weekend. The
team is somehow winning through a mad-scientist recipe that subtracted the
team's two best players (Owen Nolan, Teemu Selanne) and drastically cut
payroll. Who'd have thought the Sharks would be in first place right now? I
Some of the most exciting Sharks hockey in years is
happening this season. That, and a whole lot of ties. With the dual wins over
Anaheim, the 5-0 drubbing of the Kings and the aforementioned victory over the
Blues, we can only hope the winning, or even the ties, will not be short-lived.
Regardless of improvements on the ice, though, things are really not
all that well. What I'm referring to are the thousands of empty seats at each
Sharks game. For years now, we've been accustomed to full houses or near-full
houses at Sharks games. That is not so anymore, with just two sellouts in the
first 18 home games.
Previously, I used to be able to easily sell off
my tickets when I couldn't use them. Now I feel like a variation of an old
Henny Youngman joke: "Take my Sharks tickets - Please!"
appear to be suffering from a ripple effect of last year's disappointing
campaign. That last-place finish, and the departure of Nolan, dampened
enthusiasm and maybe a lot of those fans are not ready to come back.
Additionally, many Sharks fans undoubtedly have lost their jobs in the dotcom
bust. Sharks tickets have to be atop the "Unnecessary Expenditures" list when
unemployment hits. Many fans probably have left the Bay Area altogether.
Perhaps we'll need both a strong economy and a strong Sharks team
before fans will start packing the building again. In the meantime, I guess
I'll have to keep enjoying Sharks games I hadn't planned on going to but
couldn't sell off, even if my second seat is utilized by my jacket and Sharks
looming labor problems leave a dark cloud over the entire league. Team owners,
tired of mounting multi-million-dollar losses, are pledging "cost certainty,"
with a salary cap a likely solution. Players, meanwhile, are vowing to never
accept a salary cap. It will be interesting to see who blinks first and what
form the NHL takes when it's all over. It could be a long, ugly
Contact Paul at at firstname.lastname@example.org
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