Hasso’s Failure as an Owner- Apparently Sharks Owner Hasso Plattner has other things to worry about aside from the fact his franchise was just humiliated by a Southern California rival for the second time in their history. Plattner, who is the head man at SAP which for those who don’t know is a highly successful international software company, is also the primary owner of the Sharks franchise. SAP is headquartered in Walldorf, Germany. Plattner bought out former Sharks majority owners Kevin Compton and Stratton Sclavos towards the end of the NHL lockout in January 2013. Plattner is not only the majority owner and head of San Jose Sports and Entertainment Enterprises (SJSEE), he also serves as the Sharks representative whenever the NHL holds a Board of Governors meeting. SJSEE was the governing board of the San Jose Sharks, which consisted of mostly San Jose area millionaires who did nothing more than have a very small stake in the franchise. While all of these men may have had well and good intentions when they invested into the franchise, the majority of them basically had little to no actual authority to do anything more than attend the occasional board meetings. Plattner may himself have had well and good intentions when he bought out Comtpon and Sclavos a year and a half ago. However sometimes even the best of intentions sometimes don’t pan out with the best possible results. Sometimes it doesn’t even come close. To be fair, Plattner has only been the top man in the Sharks organization for 18 months. However, it already seems apparent from his actions following the franchise's historical first round collapse to the LA Kings that Mr Plattner just as soon not have to be bothered with decisions that need to be made concerning the future of this franchise. Plattner is a smart man and SAP’s success did not happen overnight. Being successful at running SAP does not mean he’s going to be the same person who will ultimately deliver a championship NHL franchise to the south Bay Area. At least he’s given absolutely no indication of it based on what has been seen so far in his stewardship of the teal franchise.

The Sharks currently have the second most consecutive string of playoff appearances in the NHL with making the post season 10 straight seasons. Only the Detroit Red Wings at 23 consecutive years have a better run. However success in the NHL is not measured by how many times you franchise makes the playoffs, it’s what they do with the opportunity once they get there...or in the Sharks case maybe what they don’t do with it. What happened in the post season this year is not only a stain on this franchise which it will carry for years to come, it basically also invalidated anything and everything they did this season. If any player (with the notable exception of goalie Alex Stalock) thinks they can negotiate a new deal base on what they did with the Sharks in 2013-14 season, they need to play elsewhere and the sooner they go the better. This is NOT on the coaching staff of the Sharks. Head Coach Todd McLellan all the way to Assistant Larry Robinson did everything they could to get this team to a point where they could be successful. The problem is that it is clear there are some on the team who apparently don’t want it bad enough or are not willing to do what it takes to be successful in the post season.

We Found The Enemy, He Is Us- The Sharks have a good core of younger players on the team that do want to win (Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Mark-Edouard Vlasic, Tommy Wingels, Tomas Hertl and Alex Stalock). The problem is that they are on a franchise with other players and perhaps an entire franchise that absolutely does not know how to win, period. That starts at the very top of the organization where Mr Plattner sits. GM Doug Wilson, with all due respect, hasn’t done what is needed to get this franchise over the hump. If this was anywhere else, DW likely would have been gone three years ago. I like DW, understand he was the franchise’s first ever captain, etc. He would make a good neighbor that would probably return your lawn mower after borrowing it.  However this does not make him the GM that will take the franchise to the next level. With Plattner keeping Wilson on as the GM, DW has to know especially now that the LA Kings have won another title that the heat will never be hotter than it is now. I am hoping he will make the right moves, but I am not counting on it at all really. We’ve all heard this before starting with the debacle that was the Anaheim surprise six years ago, and later the loss to Vancouver in the Western Conference Finals three years ago. Plattner continues to be liberal about the leash he’s given DW. If this doesn’t lead ultimately lead to a Stanley Cup Championship, it will more than likely be the one thing that brings the Sharks franchise to it’s knees faster than any opponent including the LA Kings.

It’s Simply Time for a Change of Ownership- My conclusion about Hasso Plattner is that he simply cannot be bothered with the stress or management of running an NHL franchise, so he hands it off to his “hockey” people. The problem is these “hockey” people aren’t getting it done if the goal is the Stanley Cup. The track record of success when it matters the most just is not there and never has been there. Plattner will not change them willingly or otherwise. Many may disagree with me here, but it would be in the best interest of the San Jose Sharks NHL franchise if Hasso Plattner would just put the team up for sale and dissolve SJSEE all together. I do not think he’s capable or for that matter even interested in having to deal with managing this team. He is very successful in running SAP, but even he knows the Sharks are not SAP and to run them like his company would be more than he really wants to do. Plattner needs to sell the Sharks to someone who is willing to take the franchise to the next level and make them a championship organization. It can be done with a number of the players and even coaches who are with the team now. An owner who cannot be bothered with the day to day operation of a sports franchise regardless of who he is or how he became successful elsewhere should not own that franchise, period. To do so simply does not make any sense. SJSEE is for the most part an irrelevant arm of the organization and always has been somewhat irrelevant. Nobody is impressed that those who are a part of it own a piece of the Sharks. They need to all be bought out, they need to go. Again, Platter did make a statement to the fanbase three days after the Sharks season ended on April 30th. That statement alone however rings very hollow. The statement was somewhat dismissive in context. It only showed  Plattner had a grasp for the obvious when he noted what was already known not only the fan base but also the season ticket holders (who by the way are starting to dwindle in number). Is there really any reason to be excited for the 2014-15 knowing what has happened and yet knowing the same owner and GM are going to be back. Even if they say this offseason won’t be status quo, somehow I get the feeling that status quo is all Plattner and DW really know. Today, it’s not good enough. The franchise deserves better. The younger players in the core of the team deserve better. The coaching staff deserves better. Above all, the fanbase and season ticket holders deserve better.  

New Owner Candidates- If Platter one day decided to sell the Sharks, who would make a better owner? Here are three viable candidates...

Larry Ellison- Mr Ellison is the co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation, a multinational computer technology corporation headquartered in Redwood City near Silicon Valley. Ellison lives in the Bay Area and is a well connected man. Ellison tried unsuccessfully in the recent past to purchase the San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors franchises. Ellison is a huge sports fan and wants to purchase a professional sports team, preferably in Northern California. Ellison is all business when it comes to business and would run a sports franchise in the same fashion in which he turned Oracle into a world wide success. Ellison would hold people accountable and would not casually dismiss what just happened let alone be tolerate of it. It would not be likely that Ellison would keep DW as the GM, but he would certainly find the right man who could get the Sharks franchise the level it would need to be at to compete strongly with the Kings, Ducks and Blackhawks amongst all others. Ellison can be brash and will always say what is on his mind. This would not be something where he would just offer a sound bite of “I will let my hockey people take care of it.”, and then just walk away. Ellison would be involved in every aspect of the the team because he wants to win, and would do all he can to make certain that the Sharks have all they need to be winners year in and year out. He would take good care of the team and fan base. The Sharks won’t win the Stanley Cup every year, but they may find themselves in a much better position to capture the elusive hardware which is all that matters in the end.

Ellison can be controversial at times but Sharks fans would quickly come to realize is that he cares deeply about what he is invested into. Ellison understands that he would as responsible and accountable to the team, the coaches, the fan base and most importantly the season ticket holders. Ellison would view the season ticket holders as share holders to the franchise which they rightfully are. Compared to Plattner, Ellison won’t be shy to the fans or media and will never be afraid of getting his hands dirty. As far as money goes, Ellison would enable the Sharks to bring in the right players and seek out the best fits for the team in the free agency market which is something they are not doing now. He would also make sure the young core of players is provided for. If he were to keep McLellan as coach, he would make it worth his while to stay on. If not, he would find the best man out there for the job. The bottom line with Ellison is that he is a man who would make the team he invests in a passion and not a hobby. He wants to win and he would want the organization to win. Ellison would be an owner that would pump a lot of excitement in to the Sharks fan base which right now quite frankly can use some. He would motivate current season ticket holders to keep their seats and would not have a problem getting new season ticket packages sold. Ellison would make the Sharks a much bigger success which would be a win-win for the fans, the franchise and even the downtown San Jose restaurants and bars that would do great business during the season as well as into May and quite possibly June. Larry Ellison would be the best thing that ever happened to the San Jose Sharks if he were to buy them. He certainly would not dismiss what just happened and certainly do all he could to make damn sure it never happens again. Ellison would be the one man I would love to see become the owner of this franchise one day.

Paul Allen- Mr Allen is the co-founder of Microsoft corporation (alongside Bill Gates). Allen is no stranger to professional sports as he owns the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers. Before you Sharks fans get alarmed, note up front that Allen would not try to pull the Sharks out of San Jose and put them in Seattle. That won’t happen at all. Allen would know that the following of the Sharks fanbase in Northern California is one of the best in the entire NHL. What Allen brings to the table is in many ways similar to what Larry Ellison brings to the table. Allen may be a little more quieter that Ellison, but like Ellison is not afraid to make the tough decisions. At the same time, Allen would also put management and the team in an area where it can not only succeed but also get the franchise to the level it needs to be at to compete with the Kings, Ducks and Blackhawks. Even with a salary cap, Allen (as is with Ellison) views money as no object in order to bring in the right people to advance the teal franchise. The Sharks would be able to lockdown their current young core with deals that would be fair market value to each player. At the same time, Allen would look to find the right fit of players in the free agent market as well. Allen has a history of putting people in the right place where they not only excel but also thrive. At the same time, Allen will not put up with nonsense and certainly would be a man of action should the Sharks lose a playoff series in the fashion they did this season. Allen would do a lot more than just make a half hearted statement to the fanbase following a bad season ending playoff loss. He would get to the bottom of the problems fast and make sure every single player and coach is accountable along with the GM.

Steve Ballmer- Mr Ballmer recently stepped down as CEO of the Microsoft Corporation after holding that position for the past 14 years. Currently Ballmer is the leading candidate to purchase the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. If he purchases the Clippers he may be less likely to have an interest in the Sharks. However should the sale of the Clippers fall through, Ballmer could be an ideal candidate to be an owner and a good one at that. Ballmer as with both Ellison and Allen is a very successful man who wants to own a professional sports franchise and make them a true winner. Again money would not be an object as he can make the Sharks very competitive for a title even with salary cap restrictions in place. Ballmer is very good with money and knows how to spend it wisely. Ballmer loves to have fun and is a very competitive natured man. At the same time he also demands results from what he invests in and holds people accountable for their actions. Ballmer would be a fan friendly owner who would not try to duck tough questions, or any other questions such as the current ownership does. Ballmer is all about finding the right people and would go to great length to do so. Like Ellison and Allen, Ballmer would infuse some much needed excitement into the franchise which right now is crying for it. If Ballmer was the Sharks owner during the recent playoff collapse, he would be the first person who would want and demand answers. He would put in the Sharks on his things to do list as he would not view the team as a hobby, but also an investment. If Ellison and Allen are not appealing, Ballmer would be an ideal man for Plattner to sell the Sharks franchise to.

Why Should Plattner Sell?- Plattner is a very busy man and I do respect that. Running a corporation such as SAP is something not everyone can do, and it is not for everyone for certain. Plattner is also a smart man. All of that by itself does not make him a great owner. My main concern with Plattner’s stewardship (along with what’s left of SJSEE) is that he seems almost very impassive with what just happened to this franchise, especially with that rival now having won the Stanley Cup twice in three years. He may care to some degree, but it is also clear that he cannot be bothered with it. If Plattner is not bothered he damn well should be. If Plattner is not bothered with it the fan base and ticket holders should be concerned, as in very concerned. The Sharks minor league system is also in shambles as the Worcester Sharks are struggling in the AHL. The San Francisco Bulls who were probably doomed to fail from the beginning folded 40 games into their second season. Those two items are not Platters fault, however how it reflects on the organization overall which in turn makes the Sharks organization as a whole look bad. Plattner has allowed a GM to overstay despite the teams continued floundering in the post season. DW probably should have been let go three seasons ago. It’s ironic that on the day when the Sharks were cleaning out their lockers last month Wilson reflected on how lucky the Sharks were to have an owner such as Plattner. It may have been that he knew all along Plattner would not fire him.

If Plattner sells the Sharks, he will make more than enough money to take care of his own family and probably even his grandchildrens future families as well. Considering that he is absentee at times, unloading the Sharks would be ridding himself of a burden he does not need and may not truly want anyway. The fact that he won’t get out in front of the season ticket holders and reflect his thoughts on the state of the franchise is the one thing that is very concerning. He has given DW a free reign as the GM which may not be the best thing at this point. The Sharks as a franchise right now are at an all time low. A historical playoff collapse. Two in-state rival teams now have three Stanley Cups between them while the Sharks as they are constructed now have no realistic hope of reaching the finals maybe for a long time to come. This will be true as long as Plattner is the owner and Wilson is the GM. It is painful to say it and no fun to write this, but the Sharks have only one direction to go if Plattner continues to be indifferent about the franchise, and that direction is not up. If this franchise continues to operate as it has, we are a few years from nights when the Shark tank is half empty. Nobody wins in that scenario.

My Reasoning For This Article- First off, the Sharks are not for sale or are being put up for sale (disclaimer). This is to simply illustrate the state of the Sharks as it exist now under the current ownership and management. These are my thoughts and my thoughts only. Some people will agree with me while others will not. Some will say I hit the nail on the head while others will say I’m full of shinola. The Sharks cannot continue to go in the same direction and try to do the same thing over and over again unless the goal of the franchise is to redefine insanity. I want to see this team win and see this team be even greater that it has been over the last ten years. It can be done but the right people have to be in place first. The right people are NOT in place now and may never be. Plattner may be in over his head as an owner or at least that’s the impression he has given most fans. If you still don’t think the Sharks playoff loss is a big deal, feel free to visit any Downtown San Jose restaurant or bar and ask them how their business has been during weeknights (excluding Friday’s) since the Sharks season ended. Most will tell you about a significant drop off in business. On Twitter you have some of the Sharks players agents laughing about the teams situation as if it’s not a big deal. This by itself should be a huge concern for Sharks management. However they have allowed for a situation to where the inmates now control the asylum. They have gotten so comfortable it has created complacency. If this is the case it explains much about the current state of this franchise. The season ticket holders have been all but dismissed and now are giving serious thought about whether or not to renew their seats. Nobody except for Plattner himself even knows what his vision is for the franchise either short term or long haul. Yes, these are all serious problems for this franchise both on and off of the ice.

In my humble opinion only, this franchise may want to win but clearly does not know how to win. The Sharks have many good players and a few great players. This means absolutely nothing however unless you also have the right players. The Sharks have very few of those today. If something does not change in the franchises philosophy, it’s only going to be doomed to repeat it’s own history which only gets worse each year. The loss to the LA Kings this year was an all timer and maybe the straw the breaks the camel’s back. As for Hasso Plattner, he needs to do one of two things. He needs to either hold DW accountable and demand change that will make this franchise a bonafide contender again. He also needs to be accountable to the season ticket holders as well. If Plattner doesn’t want to do that and does not want the responsibility that comes with ownership, then he needs to sell the team and get out from under it. All three of the men I listed above have what it would take to be an effective owner. All three would love to have the opportunity to own this franchise and take it to the next level.

Before entirely dismissing this, as a Sharks fan ask yourself these questions. 1) Are you happy about what just happened?, 2) Are you happy with the top players performance in this last playoff appearance (especially in Game 4 thru 7 where they needed just one win to close out LA?), 3) Are you happy with the people that are running this organization now from the top on down?. 4) Are you happy with the state of the Sharks franchise as it is now?, 5) Would you rather have a Stanley Cup banner or are you okay with a Presidents Trophy banner that only marks the failure of the 2008-09 season?, 6) Do you see this team as a serious contender next season or a team that is first a round doormat for the Kings or Ducks (again)?, 7) Can you say truthfully that you are truly excited about the 2014-15 season? For me, the answer to all seven questions is “Hell No!” At the end of the day, it’s ownership that is ultimately responsible for the product. There is no way around that. Assigning blame does not even begin to absolve the owner. That is my message to Hasso Plattner. My hope is that he will prove me wrong and be willing to do whatever it takes to get this franchise back on track towards being a legitimate Stanley Cup Contender. It matters because it's the Cup!

The Sharks need an effective owner as much if not more than anything else right now. A tired and weary fan base awaits. Otherwise it’s not “Wait Until Next Year.”, It’s “Wait Until Next Owner.” ...

...just my two cents...

The Kingshark

M2C #74

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