Sharks hopeful talks lead to CBA progress, Boyle mum


Sharks hopeful talks lead to CBA progress, Boyle mum

SAN JOSE The NHL lockout reached a new low point on Friday with the cancellation of the Winter Classic, which would have brought more than 100,000 fans to Michigan Stadium to witness the Maple Leafs and Red Wings in the annual outdoor spectacle.

Less than 24 hours later, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr engaged in a lengthy bargaining session in an undisclosed location, and issued brief statements afterwards that were absent of the petty public sniping weve seen throughout the labor impasse.

There is optimism, albeit cautious, that the corner has finally been turned in terms of getting a new collective bargaining agreement in place and beginning a shortened season in early December or even late November.

I think it made, I guess, the possibility of missing a whole season kind of hit home for everybody, said Brad Stuart of losing the Classic. Obviously, nobody wants that to happen. Maybe that was something that made everybody kind of wake up and say, lets try to do something before we cancel more than just the Winter Classic.

RELATED: CBA talks expected to last all week

Stuart was one of just four current Sharks skating at Sharks Ice on Monday, joining Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau and Thomas Greiss for an hour-long session. Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov has also been a regular participant, as the former Shark maintains a residence in the Bay Area. Ryane Clowe also is still local, but has decided to practice with the ECHLs San Francisco Bulls for the time being. Eight players are overseas in various leagues across Europe.

Stuart and Marleau are hopeful that the band will be back together soon.

I guess theyre talking, and thats a good thing, Stuart said. There hasnt been too many details as to what exactly has been discussed, but the fact that theyre talking and it seems like theyre going to continue to talk, is a good thing. I guess if theres any hope or a reason to be optimistic, thats it.

Marleau said: Any time you talk, hopefully cooler heads will prevail and the owners will scrap whatever script they are going by and realize that theyre hurting the game. Theyre only hurting themselves in the end of things.

Marleau was especially critical of the hard-line owners in comments 11 days ago, when he suggested the league planned all along to cancel games through November. On Monday, he doubled down on that criticism, although he believes that the Sharks ownership is not among those taking a hard-line stance.

Its tough when someone on the other side doesnt want to talk for so long. Its a good sign that theyre talking, he said.

We wanted to talk the whole time, and they just said no. Theyre going off of their agenda, and doing whatever they want. Theyre written this script already, so its no big surprise.

Should commissioner Gary Bettman and union head Donald Fehr rejoin the bargaining sessions (something thats unclear at the moment), it would be the first time the two leaders were in the same room together since Oct. 18. That was when Bettman and the NHL representation look just minutes to reject the unions counter-proposals to the leagues previous offer on Oct. 16.

An agreement is still far from a certainty at this point, of course, as there are a number of contentious issues to solve. The single biggest roadblock seems to be current contracts, as the players association wants NHL ownership to be fully responsible to the deals that are currently signed. The league would like an immediate 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue, as well as new restrictions on future contracts.

Boyle mum on latest news

Dan Boyle has been among the more outspoken NHL players when it comes to the current lockout.

On Oct. 4, he made headlines when he suggested that the owners wanted the players to miss some paychecks before truly negotiating, and that Bettman only requiring eight votes to deny a CBA proposal didnt make sense.

On Oct. 25, he suggested that both the NHL and NHLPA had yet to really begin bargaining. Its supposed to be a negotiation, and I think right now both sides feel like its their way or the highway. I think youve got to give to get, and I dont know that were at that point yet, he told

On Monday, Boyle declined to answer anything lockout-related, save for one brief statement.

Until this thing gets done, we just have to wait and hope. Thats it, he said.

Sharks to get another speed test against Preds

Sharks to get another speed test against Preds

SAN JOSE – There’s a common trait among the three teams that the Sharks have lost to so far this season, and it’s the same thing that they struggled with in last June’s Stanley Cup Final against Pittsburgh.

Speed. The Rangers have made more of a commitment to playing a fast game this season, and the result was a 7-4 win over San Jose on Oct. 17 in which several of their scores were a result of their fleetness afoot. Three days later, even without arguably their two fastest players in Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang, the Penguins defeated the Sharks again in a furious third period comeback. 

Finally, on Oct. 22, the Detroit Red Wings drastically outskated, outworked and out-chanced the Sharks in a 3-0 win, flying up and down the ice while scoring twice off the rush.

The Nashville Predators figure to be one of the faster teams in the Western Conference this season, after pushing the Sharks to seven games in the playoffs last season and swapping Shea Weber for P.K. Subban over the summer. Although they’re off to a difficult start at 2-4-1, they have perhaps the quickest, most skilled back end in the NHL featuring Subban and Roman Josi, while forwards like Filip Forsberg, Mike Fisher, Craig Smith and Ryan Johansen can also get up and down the ice.

They visit the Sharks on Saturday.

“They’re a fast, skilled team,” Marc-Edouard Vlasic said Friday. “Very dangerous up front with versatile d-men, and a good goalie. … We’re playing a very good team tomorrow.”

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer pointed out that “every team has speed,” although “some teams are four lines deep with speed, [and] some teams are two lines deep with speed.”

When playing against those types of teams, though, being careful with the puck becomes even more important. Feeding into a fast team’s transition game, like the Sharks did against the Red Wings and Rangers, in particular, is suicide.

“It’s attention to detail. Make sure you’re working above, away from the puck, and keeping a good gap,” DeBoer said. “All those things.”

Vlasic said: “When you turn the puck over and feed their transition, fast teams make you pay the price. We did that constantly against Detroit, and against the Rangers [it was] a couple missed assignments [and] battle level. That’s not necessarily struggling against a fast team, it’s struggling against a good team.”

The Sharks are generally pleased with where their game is now, though, after back-to-back home wins against the Ducks and Blue Jackets. Although they are struggling to score five-on-five goals, with none in their last three games, the scoring chances have been there. They deserved better than a 1-1 tie against the Ducks on Tuesday before prevailing in overtime, and had an apparent even strength goal by Brenden Dillon on Thursday get called back due to an extremely close offside challenge.

Eventually, the floodgates should open if they keep their game at the level it’s at currently.

“Our five-on-five offense, I think we’re creating enough chances,” DeBoer said. “If they’re not getting chances it’s one thing, but we’re creating enough to score, so it is just a matter of time before we do.”

Dillon said: “For whatever reason we’ve been putting good shots towards the net, we’ve been getting good opportunities, but whether it’s a post or a big save or an overturned call like [Thursday] night, we’re not able to put up six or seven goals right now. But, I think our team defense has been fantastic.”

That defense is set for another test against speedy Nashville, which is 0-1-1 on a three-game trip through California.

“They lost their last two games, so we have to expect their best,” Vlasic said.

Sharks' Dillon frustrated with disallowed goal

Sharks' Dillon frustrated with disallowed goal

SAN JOSE – In order to enhance the review process for offside challenges, the NHL installed blue line cameras at beginning of last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. They are now standard in every building.

But that didn’t prevent an obnoxiously long delay from occurring in the Sharks-Blue Jackets game on Thursday in San Jose, when Brenden Dillon’s apparent goal at 6:09 of the third period was waived off after a coach's challenge. After approximately seven minutes, and with the fans clearly perturbed, it was finally concluded that Chris Tierney’s skate was about an inch off the ice when Patrick Marleau brought it over the blue line.

The whole process seemed disjointed. Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said: “The on-ice officials told me they didn’t have the same angles that the NHL did, so it obviously went to the [Toronto war room], and they had some different angles.”

Dillon also said one of the linesmen told him that they “couldn’t really tell” if the play was offside, but “Toronto was helping us out.”

It’s up for debate whether reviewing an offside that close violates the spirit of the rule, which was originally intended to prevent any egregious mistakes from going unnoticed and affecting the outcome. What isn’t up for debate, at least in Dillon’s mind, is that the length of time it took the referees and Toronto war room was unacceptable.

Dillon would like to see a time limit imposed on the process.

“Whether it’s a five-minute window, if we can’t find enough evidence in that five minutes, or three minutes, which would be more preferable for us players instead of having our goalie sitting around,” he said. “I think Columbus’ next shift after that, [after Blue Jackets coach John] Tortorella is yelling at them for eight minutes, they come out buzzing and flying and almost scored one.”

DeBoer wasn’t nearly as frustrated as his defenseman, though, either after the game or after Friday’s practice. The Sharks hung on and beat the Blue Jackets, 3-1.

“That’s for bigger and smarter people than me to discuss,” DeBoer said of the rule. “Obviously last night is an example of, do we want to spend time on that, or don’t we?

“I think you want the same playing field for everybody. Right now the mandate is to get it right, regardless of how long it takes or how many cameras we have to put in. If that changes, then as long as it’s the same for everybody, we’re good with that.”

According to the coach, the officials did ultimately get the call right.

“When I looked at it today it was the right call,” DeBoer said. “Unfortunately, it went against us.”