Shark Stakes: Inside the rebirth of the San Jose Sharks, on and off of the ice

Published October 20, 2023 by Silicon Valley Business Journal

For more than two decades, success was about the only thing Sharks fans knew. Behind a generation of great players that included Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski, San Jose’s NHL franchise reached the postseason nearly every year from 1997 to 2019.

But in between then and now, some of those good feelings soured. Sharks Sports & Entertainment, the company which operates the franchise, battled with the city and developers over two major projects that could drastically remake the area around the Sharks’ home at SAP Center — Google’s plan to build an 80-acre, mixed-use campus to the south of the arena, and BART’s extension into San Jose.

Team President Jonathan Becher said that when you’re winning for as long as the Sharks were, it’s “hard to plan” for a sharp turn the other way. “All of that down-side protection you would normally do in other businesses, we didn’t necessarily have to do it,” Becher said in an interview just before the 2023-24 NHL season officially kicked off Oct. 12.

Not that they didn’t want to, but rather the daily demands of the sports and events business make it difficult to step back and plan for the long-term, Becher said, characterizing the job as the “tyranny of the urgent.” The former longtime SAP executive acknowledged that the pandemic and losing seasons precipitated a necessary rethink.

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