San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy has speculated wildly before, so take this with a huge grain of salt, but: Purdy is now reporting that the owners of the San Jose Sharks are so unhappy with the cable TV deal that their former CEO signed in 2009 that they’ve brought in NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to threaten that they’ll move out of San Jose if they don’t get more TV money:
Bettman has contacted high-level honchos at Comcast corporate offices in Philadelphia to see if the Sharks’ local television deal can be reworked. Comcast is the parent company of Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area, which broadcasts Shark games. So far, the Bettman talks have not been fruitful…
In the most extreme version of the narrative, there is no creative solution and the Sharks continue to drain money. Plattner then tires of the red ink and decides to move the team outside the Bay Area market — where he could negotiate a better TV deal and abandon his current one here.
Sounds extreme. And almost unthinkable. That is likely why Bettman became involved. Comcast is also the parent company of NBC, which holds the NHL national broadcast rights. The decision to award an outdoor game to the Bay Area next season, which will soon be announced at either AT&T Park (most likely) or Levis Stadium (still possible), could be a bone thrown out to Comcast in hopes of currying favor.
Purdy then drops that line of thinking and talks about how the Sharks may want a new arena “sooner rather than later,” because their current one in 21 years old and maybe Santa Clara could build a hockey rink to go with their new San Francisco 49ers stadium and … it’s either team-prompted trial balloons or a desperate attempt to fill column inches and get hits on a slow news day. You make the call.