With the world thinking this morning of Barack Obama and the local, national and global ramifications of the election, its nice to know that some things remain unchanged.Like Gary Bettman and Don Fehr in a room arguing about make-whole provisions.True, conflating the events of Tuesday and the non-events of the past several months is probably stretching the points well past its elasticity level, but the NHL lockout has already sped into comedy gridlock. A change of atmosphere seems impossible in the same room with the same players, so maybe changing the air outside will help.And if that doesnt do it, and the owners decide that no games at all are still the optimal solution, then thats how it has to be. If the hockey world cannot bend when the rest of the nation is showing its collective flexibility, then maybe a lost season is all that will save these guys from themselves.RELATED:End in sight? NHL, players bargain deep into nightPut another way, the owners already put two shotgun holes in the Winter Classic, and they dont have any more scheduling threats to run. Only an acknowledgement that this strategy isnt working, a full concession, or a moment of mad atmospheric inspiration saves this season.And of all the things on Obamas to-do list, putting up new sheet rock at the Romneys guest house master bathroom ranks higher than involving himself with the idiocies of the National Hockey League.Hence, the atmospheric inspiration theory. In the few days window after an election, when adrenaline is highest and the job of dashing ones hopes has not yet begun in earnest, one can sense a feeling that even the most intractable problems can be solved, even if they really cant.RELATED:Sharks hopeful talks lead to CBA progress; Boyle mumAnd in a world of stark reality, any illusion can serve as an icebreaker. No pun intended.You see, the NHL and its various minions have passed the point where victory can reasonably be declared by either side. The owners clearly didnt get their main goal, which was Fehr face down in a puddle. The players didnt win their core issue, which was the preservation of their four-sevenths of the revenue pie. And the philosophical argument who has to pay when franchises are run badly, their fellow owners or the players through salary concessions remains unanswered.And so it will be if this deal is ever to be made. It will be a cobbled-together settlement that makes both sides throw up in their mouths, and to date, that has been insufficiently appealing to either side, sure as they are in ultimate victory.Not unlike the country, to be frank. Obamas mandate is smaller, the House of Representatives remains proudly Republican and as such unrepentantly obstructionist. Without getting deeper into the morass of political analogy, the next four years will be four more years of hoisting a pipe organ up the side of a building by hand. Change is coming, but at an annoyingly incremental rate.Thus it will be with whatever the NHL decides to do with its business. It can do a deal just to do a deal and give Gary Bettman and the hardline owners a break from universal revulsion, and the union can agree while holding its nose, proclaiming that getting a point in the other guys building works just as well in the conference room as in the arena.But the longer this weeks negotiations grind on, the more likely that neither side will find such an agreement palatable, and weve pretty well reached the point where there is no more turning radius room before the abyss.So youre left to root for atmospherics, a sense that springs forth in the room of what the hell, if the country can figure out a way not to blow itself up, why dont we give it a go?Or maybe the NHL and NHLPA just needs to introduce a woman with a flag stuck in her hair into the room, just to stand behind whoever happens to be talking at any given moment. That seemed to work last night, and its not like these yobbos have any better ideas.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com
The mere thought of Joe Thornton wearing a Kings sweater may be enough to cause some Sharks fans to lose their lunch.
But it might be a possibility.
According to LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen, the Kings consider Thornton to be a “priority” should be hit the open market as a free agent. While the two sides are currently allowed to express mutual interest, NHL rules forbid them from discussing terms of any deal until Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.
Rosen points to a number of individuals in the Kings' organization that have ties to Thornton, including general manager Rob Blake, who played on the Sharks with Thornton from 2008-10. Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager in Boston and currently serves as the Kings’ senior advisor to the general manager. Glen Murray, a former teammate and frequent linemate of Thornton’s with the Bruins for three-and-a-half seasons, is in Kings player development.
The Kings, under new management since replacing Dean Lombardi with Blake, and head coach Darryl Sutter with John Stevens, have put a priority on finding players this offseason that can get pucks to dangerous scoring areas.
Adding one of the best passers in the history of the NHL would surely help in that regard. Thornton sits 13th in the NHL all-time with 1,007 assists.
Rosen writes: “Los Angeles has been a dominant possession team without being a high scoring team for the better part of the last six-plus seasons, and it was articulated earlier in the off-season that the team needed to do a better job of taking advantage of that possession discrepancy. In trying to find players with the ability to turn possession into actual production, the team has placed an emphasis on finding players capable of distributing the puck into high-danger in the attacking zone. There might not be another player in the NHL – let alone unrestricted free agents – who is as gifted of a passer of Thornton, which places the team’s needs in concert with the future Hall of Famer’s skill set.”
As reported here previously Thornton, who turns 38 on Sunday, is seeking a deal of three years. That might not be agreeable to the Sharks, who are likely to sign Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term and expensive contract extensions that would kick in with the 2018-19 season.
Of course, Thornton could also be using the Kings as leverage to get a new deal in San Jose, where he would prefer to remain.
The Sharks have issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow, while cutting ties with three players in the system.
Tierney, 22, posted 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 80 games last season, serving primarily as the fourth line center. He has 64 points (24g, 40a) in 202 career games over three NHL seasons, all with the Sharks.
Sorensen posted one goal and three assists in 19 games with the Sharks last season, his first in the NHL. The 25-year-old played in all six playoff games against Edmonton, scoring one goal and one assist.
Goodrow, 24, skated in three games for the Sharks last season with one assist. He has 16 points (4g, 12a) in 77 games over three seasons with the Sharks, although has played in just 17 NHL games since the start of the 2015-16 season.
Forward Nikita Jevpalovs, defenseman Patrick McNally and goalie Mantas Armalis - also known for his career as a male model - were left unqualified and are now unrestricted free agents.
Earlier in the offseason, the Sharks signed pending restricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. Donskoi received a two-year deal at a salary cap hit of $1.9 million, while Karlsson was signed to a three-year deal at $2 million annually.