The San Jose Sharks held their annual “State of the Sharks” Tuesday night at HP Pavilion for season ticket holders and fans. Excerpts from the question and answer session are below. On the podium for the evening were Sharks President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Jamison, Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson, Right Wing Jonathan Cheechoo and Director of Scouting Tim Burke.
CHEECHOO ON GAME 6 IN DALLAS
I’ve never played in a game that long. It was interesting to go through, but in the end it was a heartbreaker. It was especially tough to go out like that.
JAMISON ON RAISING TICKET PRICES
Our organization spends a lot of time talking about it. There are high expectations for this team from the crowd and the city to put a strong team on the ice. Our goal is to lock up as many players as we can. It is going to cost money to do it and our goal is to bring the Cup to San Jose.
The ticket prices will not cover the increases we have in our business. We’ve had to do this just to afford the things we want to do with this franchise.
CHEECHOO ON WHAT HE WANTS FROM A NEW COACH
I’ll leave that up to Doug, but some one to lead you and challenge you.
JAMISON ON THE ICE CONDITIONS
To say it’s been mentioned would be an understatement. We’ve made the arena colder, made certain treatments to the ice, kept the curtain down during the day. We’ve brought in the NHL’s ice expert. Our ice was pretty good down the stretch. Usually when our ice breaks down, it is the humidity.
WILSON ON THE COACHING POSSIBILITIES
A lot of people we want to talk to work for other organizations or are under contract. I don’t think Greg wants to pay a $1 million fine for tampering.
When you look at the history of the coaches that have won the last five Cups, they hadn’t won before. They are blue collar types of guys. They made sure everybody is challenged and buying into it. The in your face, blue collar guys, the players might not enjoy them every day. The demands for all of us will go up, and it may be uncomfortable, but the reward is worth it.
You’d be surprised how many people have one a Cup with their first hockey team. Possible candidates are from the AHL, juniors and some have won the Cup. There is a list of 40 candidates right now.
Ron Wilson worked his tail off. I made sure everyone knew that when you make a major player or coach change, we are all responsible.
WILSON ON HOW THE TEAM CAN CHANGE
No team that has won the Stanley Cup has played seven games in the first two series. You’ve got to put teams away. In Game 7, 20 guys played like a team is supposed to be. We only played five of 13 games how we are capable of playing.
WILSON ON FREE AGENCY
We acquire guys every way possible. Some fellow GM’s say we spent a lot on unrestricted free agents, they are just our own. Cheech, Joe and Milan for example. If you’re going to commit a lot of money, the team wants a guy you know will play hard and wants to be here.
If you’re in a bidding war year after year, you have a problem.
We’ve been one of the more active teams at the trade deadline.
WILSON ON THE SHARKS PAYROLL NOT BEING NEAR THE CAP LIMIT
Detroit is 16th and Pittsburgh is 22nd in payroll and they are in the Finals. That means 15-16 teams spent a lot of money for not much return.
If you get up against the cap, you can’t protect players like Michalek and Pavelski from offer sheets.
WILSON ON WHETHER FIRING THE COACH WAS REACTIONARY
Ron was the third longest tenured coach and we’re very proud of what he accomplished in the regular season. When you keep banging your head against the wall, something has to change. Don’t think this will be the only change. For us to get to the next level, something probably had to take place. We can’t be content with the second round.
CHEECHOO ON THE POWER PLAY IN THE PLAYOFFS
Our power play could have been better. A lot of times that wins the games and we didn’t execute. That would have helped us win a series and made close games easier.
CHEECHOO ON GAME 7 PRESSURES
For us, it was more exciting getting to play in a game like that. I had a rink in my backyard and almost every day I would go out, it would be Game 7, the Stanley Cup Finals and I would get a hat trick.
WILSON ON NEXT YEARS PAYROLL
Our payroll will go up around seven to eight million this year.
WILSON ON THE HEALTH OF PROSPECTS MIKE MORRIS AND LOGAN COUTURE
Mike has a clean bill of health. Logan is the same. He got his bell rung in the playoffs by Tavares. We had him out here and he’ll be a very good hockey player for us.
JAMISON ON A THIRD JERSEY
There is a good chance it will be black. It is still being decided on. I can tell you we get input from the fans, staff and the players. The players were very involved in the jerseys for this year. I think the third jersey will be very neat.
Jamison noted that the Sharks are minor partners with the San Jose Earthquakes.