SAN JOSE -- Despite a change at the top of the organizational chart, the new face of the Sharks ownership group assured fans Wednesday that the team's priorities remain the same.
"We still want to have a championship team and win the Stanley Cup," Hasso Plattner said. "That's clearly the No. 1 objective of a sports club; otherwise you should not be in the sports
The German high-tech billionaire who cofounded business software giant SAP, Plattner has been the majority shareholder of Sharks Sports & Entertainment for the past several years. But he operated in a secondary role while Kevin Compton and Stratton Sclavos served as the ownership group's executive committee.
Plattner said the two men approached him about selling their shares last year, and he agreed to buy them. No financial terms were disclosed, and Plattner declined to say what percentage of the team he now owns.
Plattner, 69, stressed that the current management structure would remain in place, with general manager Doug Wilson responsible for hockey operations and executive vice-president Malcolm Bordelon in charge of the business side.
While the primary goal of a Stanley Cup championship has not changed, the team's mission now includes another sentence indicating "we also want to try to achieve
a sustainable business."
Compton and Sclavos said last summer that the team lost $15 million during the 2011-12 season. The financial picture didn't get any better with the 119-day lockout that reduced the regular-season schedule from 82 games to 48, Plattner said.
"On the other hand, and I said this to the employees today, 'Don't worry. My credit line is good enough,' " added the man whom Forbes ranked last year as the 14th wealthiest tech magnate, with a net worth of $7.2 billion.
The Sharks have spent close to the salary cap in recent years, part of the team's commitment to putting a competitive team on the ice every season. Plattner said that commitment remains.
"If anybody is asking you if there is a change in the strategy or the ambition, no," he said.
Plattner said there would be no radical changes and the team would continue to operate without a chief executive officer. But instead of Compton and
Sclavos serving as the executive committee working with the team's six executive vice-presidents, a new board would be put in place to serve in that same capacity.
The board will be made up of Plattner, minority owner Gary Valenzuela, former Sun Microsystems CEO and longtime hockey buff Scott McNealy and Rouven Westphal, one of Plattner's financial advisers.
Plattner's competitive side has been on display in both the business and sports worlds for years with some overlap. He has gone up against Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in the marketplace, courtrooms and high seas where the two have sailed against each other competitively. Meeting with reporters Wednesday, Plattner himself brought up one notorious moment when he declared, "I did not moon Larry Ellison" -- a yachting story that has been circulating since 1996.
Plattner also owns five golf courses -- four in Africa as well as CordeValle, the resort about 45 minutes south of
San Jose where the Frys.com
Open has been played the last three years. He is building a house at CordeValle, and has another one in Portola Valley, closer to SAP's Palo Alto offices.
His schedule and German tax laws limit Plattner to about four months a year in the Bay Area, and that gives him a chance to attend about 15 Sharks games in a normal season, plus playoffs. The rest he watches on TV or a personal computer.
Compton and Sclavos cited "private reasons" for their decision to sell their shares, according to Plattner.
"The team is lucky to have Hasso as an owner, and I'm just happy to be a great fan," said Compton, a longtime venture capitalist. "It was just time for me and my family to move on."
The timing comes less than three weeks after the
formal end of the NHL lockout that grew increasingly ugly between owners and players, with fans, arena employees and downtown businesses caught in the crossfire. If that experience soured Compton on the process, he was not saying.
But Plattner acknowledged he was encouraged by the fact hockey fans have returned to arenas since the season started 10 days ago.
Plattner met with players before they took the ice for a morning practice at HP Pavilion, then the rest of the staff as well.
Coach Todd McLellan said that because Plattner has been part of the ownership group, there was never a "now what?" moment.
"It's not like somebody in New York
City came in today and bought the team, and nobody's ever met him and doesn't know what that individual may stand for or how he wants to approach the group," the coach said.
Plattner will represent the team on the NHL board of governors, with Wilson and general counsel John Tortora continuing in the role of alternates.
Edmonton (4-2-0) at Sharks (6-0-0), 7:30 p.m. CSNCA
Sharks beat Oilers 3-2 in shootout to open 7-0
(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Sports Writer
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Michal Handzus
and Dan Boyle
scored in the shootout to help the San Jose Sharks extend the best start in franchise history with their seventh straight win, 3-2 over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
and Joe Pavelski
scored unassisted goals off turnovers 39 seconds apart in the second period against Devan Dubnyk
to break open a scoreless game. Antti Niemi
made 26 saves as the Sharks remained the only unbeaten team in the NHL.
San Gagner scored in the second period and Taylor Hall
tied it in the opening minute of the third for the Oilers, who had won two straight including a 2-1 overtime victory the previous night in Phoenix. Dubnyk made 36 saves, including seven in an overtime that included a San Jose power play.
Handzus, who scored the only shootout goal against Anaheim on Tuesday, got San Jose
started when he beat Dubnyk with a forehand in the opening round. After Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
missed for Edmonton, Boyle won it with his goal in the third round.
Hall got the equalizer at the end of a pretty give-and-go with Jordan Eberle
51 seconds into the third. The Sharks thought they regained the lead later in the period but Ryane Clowe
was called for interference before taking a long pass from Couture and beating Dubnyk.
That's where the game stood until the shootout.
The Sharks took advantage of two turnovers to get their two quick strikes midway through the second. Scott Gomez pressured Ryan Whitney
near the blue line before his linemate, Couture, stole
the puck. Couture skated in and beat Dubnyk with a wrist shot before showing that he has Super Bowl fever.
Couture, a Buffalo Bills fan, skated toward the boards, flexed his arm and kissed his biceps - what is known as Kaepernicking - in tribute to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Less than a minute later, Pavelski took the puck from Ladislav Smid
and beat Dubnyk with his own wrister, giving him a goal in his third straight game and point in all seven this season.
Gagner cut the lead in half less than 3 minutes later when he tipped Mark Fistric's
point shot past Niemi, but the Oilers missed a chance to tie the game on a late power play in the second.
The Oilers, who came into the game trailing only San Jose in power-play efficiency, went 0 for 3 with the extra man as the Sharks have killed 16 straight penalties over the past four games. Improving a penalty-kill unit that struggled last season, especially in a playoff loss to St. Louis, has been the top priority this season in San Jose
After scoring six goals in the first period at Edmonton last week, the Sharks managed just seven shots on goal in a scoreless opening period in the rematch. It marked the first time they failed to score in the first period since the season opener at Calgary.
NOTES: The Sharks have scored first in six of seven games this season. ... Edmonton captain Shawn Horcoff
was scratched with a strained neck after being hit late in Wednesday's game by Shane Doan
. Anton Lander
was called up from Oklahoma City of the AHL. ... San Jose D Jason Demers
was added to the active roster after being injured in Europe during the lockout, but did not play.