Boyle bothered by NHL owners' tactics


Boyle bothered by NHL owners' tactics

SAN JOSE When the National Hockey League declared on Thursday that the first two weeks of the regular season were canceled, no one spit out his or her pumpkin spice latte in utter shock. Games through Oct. 24 are now wiped out, including five Sharks games (three at home).

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In what had been an anticipated move since collective bargaining talks broke off on Monday, the NHL made it official with a short press release and later a statement from deputy commissioner Bill Daly, that finished with a sentence that read the league is committed to getting this done.

Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle, though, thinks its just the opposite at least right now, doubling down on comments he made that week that the owners want the players to miss some paychecks. Players were to be paid for the first time this season on Oct. 15.

I dont think theyre serious about doing anything until we start missing some checks, Boyle repeated, after skating at Sharks Ice on Thursday morning.

Thats not all that irks the veteran defenseman.

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has a rule in place that he needs just eight of 30 votes to veto any CBA proposals that he doesnt himself approve of, while the NHLPA needs just a simple majority in order to ratify or reject one.

Boyle, therefore, seems to believe that there is a select group of owners the big money makers, especially that are willing to hold up the entire process, ignore other owners that would be more open to the players' proposal, and cancel more and more games until they get exactly what they want. That includes, of course, an immediate reduction in current player salaries and contracts, something that the union has emphatically stated it would not accept.

I think when players make comments, sometimes its directed towards 30 owners, but I think a lot of us feel that its not across the board. Its a certain group of teams that are controlling 30 others, Boyle said.

It doesnt make any sense to me that eight teams can control the fate of 22 other ones.

Theres more. Boyle and Ryane Clowe stated last week that the players are ready and willing to make concessions, but that the NHL doesnt seem to want to listen. That includes possible caps on contract lengths, or perhaps stricter rules to prevent teams from circumventing the salary cap.

I think we have to give back. There are a lot of things that we need to fix, and we want to give back, he said.

For now, though, the two sides continue to play a childish, high stakes game of chicken. Both have stated that they are waiting for the other side to make a proposal, so the standstill persists.

Boyle is not optimistic that anything will get done before more cancellations are made official, as each side has stated its waiting for the other to make another proposal.

They say its our turn, or whatever, but they dont want to negotiate until we start missing some checks, he said.

I dont see anything happening for the next couple months. I know thats very pessimistic of me, and I really hope Im wrong. But the eight guyswhat if theres 22 teams out there that want to play right now? How do eight teams control their fate? That bothers me the most.

Light turnout at Sharks Ice

Boyle, Brad Stuart and Antti Niemi were the only current Sharks that skated on the rented ice at their practice facility on Thursday. Stuart, acquired from Detroit over the summer, had been skating separately with Brent Burns after recovering from a minor, unspecified injury.

Like Boyle, Stuart wasnt shocked to hear that the league has, at the very least, pushed back the start of the season.

Im as disappointed as anyone, but even if we started today were not going to start the regular season by next week, anyway, he said. Its no surprise given where were at. Its very disappointing. I guess the NHL has their plan and theyre putting it into effect.

Like anyone, you want it to get resolved. Its frustrating that I even have to say this, but these things take time, I guess. We put our support behind the guys in charge, and the other side is doing what they feel they have to do. At this point, were just waiting it out. Well see what happens.

According to Boyle, Ryane Clowe and Patrick Marleau will return to practice next week. But, Niemi could soon be departing. Hes been in discussions with teams overseas, including in his home country of Finland.

Im thinking about it all the time, but it takes the right place, Niemi said.

Three takeaways: Sharks make life easy on Avs rookie goalie

Three takeaways: Sharks make life easy on Avs rookie goalie

SAN JOSE – It took overtime for the Sharks to surpass the worst team in the NHL, but the points are valuable any way they come in the second half. Here are our three takeaways from the 3-2 victory on Saturday night…

1 – Top guys struggle, but depth comes through

It wasn’t a very good night for the captain’s line, which was particularly sloppy on Colorado’s tying goal in the third period. Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic weren’t much better, as the former was caught out of position a couple times, and the latter was tagged with six giveaways.

But those guys have been playing the bulk of the minutes lately, so they’re allowed to have an off night. At least, that’s how Pete DeBoer saw it.

“We've ridden our big guys pretty hard,” DeBoer said. “They played some tough minutes with some of the opponents we played this week, in L.A. and on and on. Tonight's a night you're looking for your depth guys to step up and give you some energy, and I thought we got that."

The Sharks’ fourth line was probably its best from start to finish, including Melker Karlsson’s goal, from Ryan Carpenter.

“[Tomas] Hertl's missed 30 games, so we needed somebody to come in and help us out in that area, and he's done that,” DeBoer said of Carpenter.

2 – Making it too easy on Martin

Spencer Martin was making his NHL debut in difficult circumstances, playing in front of what has been an incredibly loose team in its own end against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. But, the Sharks made it easy on him most of the night.

Avs forward Nathan MacKinnon, who had a tremendous game, told the Denver Post that he thought Colorado was the better team.

“Tonight, we outplayed them,” he said. “We outplayed the team that went to the (Stanley Cup) Finals last year, and there were some bright spots for us. We have to climb out of this hole and have a good last 30, 40 games here and go into next season feeling pretty good about ourselves.”

They’ll get another chance against the Sharks on Monday at Pepsi Center as the teams conclude their two-game season series. San Jose will try and give the Colorado goalie, whoever it is, a more difficult time.

“When we’re on our game, we’re making it tough with grind time and traffic at the net, some chances,” Joe Pavelski said. “Tonight we didn’t have as many as we could have had. We’ll try to find a little bit more for next game.”

Schlemko said: “We just didn’t have as much grind time in the o-zone as we usually do. If you’re not playing in their end you’re usually playing in your end.”

3 – Ward gets another on the power play

Joel Ward’s resurgence continues, as the forward again found a way to contribute on the scoresheet. His first period power play goal was one of the easier scores he’ll have, on a nice setup by Joe Thornton.

“[Thornton] had it behind the net and came around the side, and sent it to me on the far side, so it went in,” Ward said.

The 36-year-old Ward has nine points (3g, 6a) in his last 13 games. To put that in perspective, the last time he was a healthy scratch on Dec. 20, he had just nine points in 31 games on the season.

Sharks win 'ugly' vs Avs as they fight through brutal schedule

Sharks win 'ugly' vs Avs as they fight through brutal schedule

SAN JOSE – Playing their fifth game in eight days thanks to the condensed (some would say foolish) NHL schedule this season, perhaps it’s not all that surprising that the Sharks looked like they hit a wall on Saturday night at home against Colorado.

Still, this was the Avalanche, who have been far and away the NHL’s worst team for the past six weeks. Even a subpar effort should be enough.

And, it was. The Sharks got a power play goal by Joel Ward and another from their fourth line, while David Schlemko pounced on a rebound in overtime to push the Sharks to a 3-2 win.

It was an uninspiring victory, but a victory nonetheless.

“Two points is what was the important thing,” Ward said. “It wasn't our best, but we found a way."

Joe Pavelski said: “We had some moments where we were good. Some that we could have been better. It’s a game right now that you’ve got to really stick to your foundation, because there’s a lot of games in a lot of nights here.”

Coach Pete DeBoer, who has skillfully managed his veteran team’s rest since taking over at the start of last season, wasn’t all that critical of the Sharks’ effort, either, even though they made life far too easy on rookie goalie Spencer Martin making his NHL debut.

To DeBoer, the Sharks may be in the midst of their toughest stretch of games on the calendar. By the time they host the Oilers on Thursday in the final game before the All-Star break, San Jose will have played seven games in just an 11-day span.

“I feel the fatigue, and I haven't played a game. I'm just coaching,” he said. “We found a way to win. It was ugly, but we found a way."

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect from the Sharks’ perspective is that their fourth line continues to make an impact, scoring a goal for the third straight game. Ryan Carpenter got on the scoresheet for the second straight, floating a puck towards the net that was redirected by Melker Karlsson. It gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead with five minutes to go in the second period.

“I think we fit pretty good together,” Karlsson said of playing with Carpenter. “Good centerman, good guy. It’s fun.”

Pavelski said: “You can see [the fourth line is] playing with confidence. They’re playing hard. They’re in on a lot of pucks, and giving us energy that way, and they’re getting rewarded.”

The game-winner was a simple one from Schlemko’s perspective. He hopped over the boards, slithered towards the crease, and stickhandled in a Logan Couture rebound for his second goal of the season.

“The rebound came right to me and I just had to tap in,” Schlemko said. “I’ll take those any day.”

While the Sharks were fighting through some physical and mental sluggishness, Colorado looked better than a team that hasn’t won a regulation game in a month and a half. Playing in front of a goalie making his first NHL start likely had something to do with that, as they tried to give Martin an honest effort.

Nathan MacKinnon was particularly effective, generating a game-high seven shots and setting up Colorado’s first score. Just before that goal that was finished off by Mikhail Grigorenko, MacKinnon breezed through the neutral zone untouched, and Pavelski mentioned that area of the game as a troublesome one for his club.

“Whether they were good in the neutral zone or we weren’t as sharp – that wasn’t a very strong point of our game, I don’t think. Turned over a few too many pucks,” he said.

The Sharks will have a better idea of what to expect headed into Monday’s rematch in Denver. Whether they have their legs back by then is uncertain.

“It was hard from an energy point of view for us today,” DeBoer said.