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Plattner asks for patience
Sharks owner asks fans to relax
12/1/14 - By Mike Lee -

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.

Plattner's 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 in gear.

"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.

The 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.

Known for 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 Sharks owner.


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