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Monday Odds & Ends
Tidbits from the week
10/18/2021 - By Mike Lee
We're only one game into the new NHL season and there's a boatload to cover. I'm going to try something new this season and do a weekly column on just a hodge-podge of topics. Nothing in particular, just observations of all things Sharks and the NHL. We'll see how it goes. Think of it as a bullet list of water cooler topics, but cooler.

- Let's start with the elephant in the room. Evander Kane. The league came down hard on him today by levying a 21-game suspension. He won't be paid during that span, which means he just gave up more than 25% of his 2021-22 salary. Kane earned the suspension by apparently trying to pass a bogus COVID vaccination card. It's not clear if he tried submitting it to the league in order to meet their vaccination requirements, or if he was popped somewhere else. The league has been tight lipped on the entire matter.

- The Sharks are simply in a lose-lose situation when it comes to Kane. They have essentially lost their top producing forward from last season, and get nothing in return. It's not clear if they don't have to pay him, or if the portion of his salary gets "donated" to the NHL. Most salaries are placed into a fund that is used by the league, which is extremely unfair to the team. They weren't responsible for Kane's behavior, but they still have to pick up the tab. The league gets to be judge, jury and tax collector in this case.

- Keeping on the lose-lose theme, the Sharks front office is caught between a rock and a hard place right now. If they hang on to Kane, they'll have to face the ire of a fan base that's had it with Kane. When it comes to public health, Kane cheated, and the cautious confines of the Bay Area all want Kane's head on a pike because he tried passing a bogus COVID vaccination card. If they dump him, they'll get nothing in return and he'll likely end up playing for some other NHL team. Every team in the NHL knows the Sharks have zero leverage here, and nobody will take on his public relations nightmare if there is a multi-million dollar contract attached to it. If San Jose were to release Kane, he'd probably just hide out and collect on his salary until the smoke clears.

- Speaking of vaccination cards, I spent a couple of hours on Saturday trying to get my CLEAR online vaccination certification setup so that I could attend the game later that night. The instructions sent by the team didn't address how to setup the process for a minor. Talk about a non-intuitive process. After tearing my hair out, I finally figured if out, but not after spending way too much time to do so. To top things off, when I entered SAP Center, nobody even bothered to check my credential. It was the most appropriate end to the entire ordeal.

- As for the game, and more importantly the in-game experience, the first things fans may have noticed, that there were no wristbands taped to their seats as they entered the venue. That's because the Sharks have moved to a new system which employs an led light system bolted on to the season itself. It guarantees that every light will be in the same uniform location for the pre-game light show, but it also means the Sharks don't have to pay for those wristbands, which walk out the door after every giveaway. What was odd about the light show itself was that it clearly showcased which seats were empty. When the lights dimmed, less than half the arena was filled, so it looked as if there were plenty of unsold seats. Sharks President Jonathan Becher quickly tweeted that the game was a sellout when others started commenting on the empty seats.

- Did a large number of fans think the game started at 7:30 (it started at 7:00pm)? The venue was filled with empty seats until the middle of the 2nd period. I was in the building so I can't comment on if the queues to get into the building were bogged down or not. It was strange regardless. Big blocks of seats were wide open for that opening 20 minutes.

- I was walking the concourse before the game just to get a feel for new things the Sharks may be employing in the venue. One thing that caught my attention was a bunch of pucks that the team was selling at one of the merchandise stands. They were all involved in goals scored in games last season. They were all wrapped with white tape, with the goal scorer and game written on the puck. I suppose buying a piece of Sharks history is something some fans would be interested in, but I'd rather see those end up at the Sharks Foundation booth, where proceeds go to a worthy benefactor.

- I was talking to my Sharks account contact, who is one of many new faces in the organization. I asked if the Sharks had a resource purge in the ticket department because of the pandemic, and his response was actually better than I had expected. Apparently, because of the pandemic, lots of new job opportunities started to open up for those account reps who used to manage the needs of season ticket holders. So rather than getting canned, most moved on to bigger and better roles with other sports or ticketing organizations. It was great to hear that some of these folks were able to turn some of the darkness of the pandemic into bigger and better career opportunities.

- As for the game, how many Jets players went head first into the boards after missing checks on rookie William Eklund? I think I counted three players flying past the rookie forward and plowing into the boards. At least two of those may have injured themselves.

- Speaking of rookies, Jonathan Dahlen just missed out on joining the rookie coming out party on Saturday night. Eklund and Jasper Weatherby made the score sheet with their first NHL points (Weatherby notched a goal and an assist), but Dahlen missed inches. Connor Hellebuyck made a crazy diving save in the 3rd period on a Dahlen shot that looked destined for twine. At least for one night, it was validation that the Sharks made the right decision in keeping the trio of rookies on the opening night roster. Defenseman Santeri Hattaka was a scratch, but he may get his chance to join the younglings club sooner than later.


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