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).

RELATED: NHL cancels first two weeks of games

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.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

SAN JOSE – Just in case there was any question as to the grisly nature of Logan Couture’s mouth injury, the Sharks forward shared a picture on his personal Instagram account on Monday.

If you haven’t seen it yet, proceed with caution.

The photo was taken the night of his injury on March 25 in Nashville, showing several top teeth missing in a mouth that can accurately be described as a bloody mess, after he was hit with a defected puck while standing in front of the net in a game against the Predators.

Couture revealed on Tuesday in a conference call that there was more to his injury that just damaged teeth. He also has some facial fractures, including one above his upper lip that extends to his nasal area, and another that is under the bottom row of his teeth.

The one that’s higher in his face is still painful. 

“Still struggle to eat and sleep. … It’s not a comfortable state to be in,” said Couture, who missed the final seven games of the regular season before returning for the six-game first round series loss to Edmonton.

As for the next step, Couture has yet to sit down with his dentist, although further work is on the horizon.

“There’s going to be some implants to get the teeth fixed,” he said. “Hopefully get it done in the next few weeks, and then I’ll head back to Canada.”

Couture doesn’t yet know how many teeth need to be replaced.

“All depends on how the teeth respond,” he said.

* * *

Joe Thornton had successful surgery on his left knee on Monday afternoon, NBC Sports California has learned, and according to a team statement released later on Tuesday he is expected to "make a complete recovery and be ready for the start of the 2017-18 season." 

According to a source, the damage to Thornton’s MCL was more significant than his ACL. The team declined to give any details about the surgery in its statement, including who performed it and where it was done. 

Thornton played four playoff games against Edmonton despite damaged knee ligaments, head coach Pete DeBoer revealed on Monday, when he said Thornton was dealing with a “torn MCL and ACL” after getting hurt in Vancouver on April 2.