Nolan weighs in on lockout

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Nolan weighs in on lockout

SAN JOSE Owen Nolan is fortunate that there isnt a strict dress code for the informal team lockout skates at Sharks Ice.

Nolan, the former Sharks captain, has joined the few remaining Sharks players in the area for their practices. On Monday, he was spotted wearing the blue pants of the Toronto Maple Leafs, green-and-red gloves of the Minnesota Wild, a helmet with a bright red C of the Calgary Flames, and a black-on-white NHLPA jersey.

Im just trying to survive, said Nolan, 40, after skating for about an hour with Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau, Brad Stuart, Marty Havlat and several extras. The body doesnt want to keep up as much as it used to, but Im having fun out here.

The skates are probably more fun for the retired Nolan than the players who should be earning their NHL paychecks at the moment.

One of the most popular Sharks to ever don a black and teal sweater, Nolan spent 18 years in the National Hockey League, from his rookie year of 1990-91 with the Quebec Nordiques through his final year with Minnesota in 2009-10. During that time, which includes eight seasons with the Sharks, he experienced a hat trick of work stoppages the players strike of 1992 which postponed 30 games; the 1994-95 lockout that resulted in a shortened season, and the lost year of 2004-05.

Now that his long and storied career is over, Nolan considers himself a fan, and is disappointed the NHL and players association hasnt yet reached a deal as the lockout approaches three months in length.

I havent been watching it too closely enough to stay informed, but its never good for anybody, Nolan said. It doesnt matter which side it is. Its just a matter of, how quick can you get it done? As an ex-player and more of a fan now, you want to see it back. It affects everybody the little guy, the parking guys, the communities. Its not just players and owners that get affected, its the fans and the people that rely on the hockey to make a living.

Nolan seems to suggest that both sides are a little too set in their ways at present, as negotiations are set to resume on Tuesday with a select group of players and owners but without head honchos Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr.

I think theres got to be a give-and-take on both sides. In the long run it doesnt benefit anybody. Players are going to lose out on money and theyre never going to make back. These owners have other businesses other than hockey, so theyre still going to make their income. Theres got to be give-and-take. Both sides are never going to get what they want, so youve got to find that common ground thats going to make it work.

A number of players that have since hung up their skates are on record as saying that the cancelled season of 2004-05 wasnt worth it in the end. Jeremy Roenick, Mike Modano and Mark Recchi have all stated in some way or another that the players should find a way to get a deal done as soon as possible so as to avoid missing out on money theyll never see again. Current players have missed four of 13 paychecks this season, and games are cancelled through Dec. 14.

Nolan understands that side of it, but doesnt completely concur. Instead, he points out that the reason NHL salaries are as high they are today is due to the work that the players fought for when he was still a member of the association. NHL players averaged 2.4 million last season, up from 1.4 million eight years ago.

Its not only for yourself, its for future generations that youre fighting for, he said. Do you want to be a part of it? No, you dont want to be a part of it, but youve got to fight for what you believe in and make sure that when youre long retired, the guys that are still playing understand what happened years before. I think thats the same situation thats going on now.

Ive been through a couple of them, and I dont think if we went on those battles early on in my career, that guys would be making the same salaries theyre making now.

At the same time, he points out that not everyone in the players association is on equal footing, and a cancelled season would affect some players much more than others.

The guys that are making 5 million-plus on long-term deals are not going to be as affected as the guy thats maybe in the league for three years, making less than 1 million. Theres a lot of those guys in there that will have to find jobs after hockey.

I understand why theyre fighting tooth and nail to get everything they can, but at the same time, if the season goes by and youre not getting paid, thats another year off your contract and career. Theres a lot of different angles youve got to look at.

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

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.

Thornton, Marleau now permitted to speak with other teams

Thornton, Marleau now permitted to speak with other teams

Their futures with the Sharks more uncertain than ever, pending unrestricted free agents Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are now free to take calls from other teams to gauge their potential interest.

Nothing can be signed with a new team before July 1, and there is a ban on discussing terms of any potential deal. Teams have already reached out to Marleau, per TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, while Thornton is also reportedly receiving interest around the league.

While they could still return to the Sharks, it’s new territory for both, as neither Thornton nor Marleau has ever tested the unrestricted free agent waters. Most recently, they agreed to three-year contract extensions with the Sharks on the same day – Jan. 24, 2014 – in what was the final year of their current deals.

Whether they return to the Sharks could depend on the length of the deal. If other teams are willing to offer multiple-year deals to Thornton and Marleau, it makes their return to the Sharks less likely – particularly in Marleau’s case. Earlier in the offseason, NBC Sports California confirmed that Thornton was seeking a three-year deal, while Marleau preferred a deal of at least three years.

General manager Doug Wilson’s top priority this offseason is to re-sign goalie Martin Jones and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long term extensions. Those contracts would likely cost the team a combined $12-14 million, and would begin in the 2018-19 season.

There is an added risk to any team that signs a player over the age of 35, as it would be on the hook for the entire salary cap hit regardless of whether that player is active (unless that player is on long-term injured reserve). 

Thornton turns 38 on Sunday, while Marleau turns 38 on Sep. 15.