| Plattner asks for
Sharks owner asks fans to relax
It's not often we hear from Sharks majority owner
Hasso Plattner. So when he does elect to speak, it's typically for a good
reason. At least, that's been Plattner's track record. Six months after his
last public statement, Plattner responded to inquiries by the San Jose Mercury
News in response to questions about the Sharks struggles.
message is pretty simple. Don't panic. 25 games into an 82 game season, the
Sharks sit on the outside of the playoff race looking in. Perched in 10th place
in the Western Conference standings, 2 points away from the Winnipeg Jets and
the last playoff spot, the Sharks have more than half a season to get their act
"After 10 years on the sunny side, we now have to fight to
reach the top eight in our conference," Plattner told Mercury News reporters
David Pollak and Curtis Pashelka . "Our fans will be with us as long as the
team gives its all."
The 70 year old German defended his employees, GM
Doug Wilson and head coach Todd McLellan, publicly last summer after the Sharks
were ousted from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings. He reiterated his
support for Wilson Monday.
Plattner's comment about fan support comes
on the heels of four consecutive non-sellouts at SAP Center after years of
consecutive sellouts. The investment Plattner made two years ago when he became
majority owner might be in need of some spin.
The playoff ouster was
one thing, but now he has uncharted territory to navigate. The Sharks rarely
sit outside the top 8 in the conference, so as the team has consistently turned
in mediocre performances, fans are beginning to get cold feet.
vibe at the Tank just isn't the same. That's what happens when you qualify for
the playoffs 11 consecutive years and get no farther than the Conference
Finals. Fans are beginning to respond with their pocketbooks.
Attendance numbers would be far smaller if attendance numbers weren't tabulated
based on tickets sold. A loyal season ticket holder base is forced to pony up
money in advance of the season, so the Sharks had money in hand before the
sub-par performances started to stack up.
There is no doubt that there have been fewer butts in
seats this season. Empty seats are on the rise. Fan enthusiasm is waning.
Plattner knows this, hence his public comments.
shrewd business dealings, Plattner isn't necessarily wrong. It's only December.
His team has plenty of time to right the ship. His general manager has plenty
of time to make changes.
Wilson hasn't been sitting back on his heels
either. Defenseman Jason Demers was shipped to Dallas last week for Brenden
Dillon, and Adam Burish was sent to Worcester after clearing waivers.
More moves are sure to happen if the Sharks continue to stumble. That could
even include the axe falling on McLellan. Wilson isn't going to step down if
his head coach can be replaced first.
McLellan likely has until the
end of January to prove he can motivate his roster. In fairness to him, that
might be a tall order to fill. His money players aren't producing and none of
his third and fourth tier players seem to have the talent to fill the void.
So either someone starts producing, or we may be hearing more from the
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