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The Sharks Aren’t Rebuilding



Credit: Sammi Silber

Nobody was saying the word “reset” in San Jose Sharks president Jonathan Becher’s full afternoon media availability.

It was the other “r” word — “rebuild” — that was tossed around freely.

But it appears that the San Jose Sharks are speaking a different language than the loud — but maybe minority — group of Sharks fans who want to “blow it up.”

“We are highly unlikely — and I never say never — highly unlikely to go through a proactive rebuild,” Becher asserted.

The Sharks president was representing the shared point of view of he, general manager Doug Wilson, and owner Hasso Plattner.

“The reality is in our market, in particular Northern California, there’s a fight for share of entertainment dollar, not just sports, but all of entertainment whatsoever. And if your product is not engaging, people don’t interact with it frequently,” Becher said.

In a related point, he added: “It seems difficult to ask people to sign up for three or five years worth of full or partial season tickets and tell them, we’re intentionally not going to be good for those three or five years.”

Of course, the San Jose Sharks, projected to miss the playoffs for a franchise-first third straight year this season, haven’t exactly been providing the most engaging on-the-ice product recently. Most die-hard Sharks fans, at least in my opinion, are open to a rebuild.

“It’s hard to gauge exactly how big they are, meaning how many of them are, but they are quite vocal,” Becher noted, before adding, “They do manage to get ahold of my e-mail and send me periodic e-mails about a rebuild.”

These are the fans who are prepared for more pain in the present for more gain in the future. But that’s not every Sharks fan.

“If you think that the only reason to come to a game is purely to see a win and not for the entertainment factor as well, then [a rebuild] would be the the answer,” the Sharks president acknowledged. “Personally, I believe that modern sports is also the experience too.”

This suggests to me that the San Jose Sharks want their cake and to eat it too: They’re hoping to field a reasonably competitive and recognizable roster to add to their overall entertainment experience and still attract the average fan, while trying to improve the roster long-term with as many high-end draft picks and prospects as possible.

“We are going to get younger, we are going to get faster, we are going to make some changes,” Becher indicated. “And that’s the part we’re going to market to fans and focus on.”

As for Plattner, the man who calls the shots?

“He likes the direction we’re headed on,” Becher shared. “He watches all the young players, including those that are back in Europe, and that factors in his decision.”

He added: “He is really supportive of the team and will continue to spend to the cap to get us back in the playoffs if we don’t make it this year.”

It’s a delicate balancing act — a tightrope that might continue until Erik Karlsson and Logan Couture’s lucrative contracts expire in 2027. Those are currently the longest Sharks contracts on the books.

But in Plattner, the San Jose Sharks appear to have an owner who’s willing to wait.

“Would he like to see us win more games now? Of course he would. But does he feel like we’re headed in the [right] direction? Yes,” Becher offered. “He’s a pretty patient guy.”

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