San Jose Sharks President/CEO Greg Jamison steps down, but does not retire

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

Greg Jamison steps down as President and CEO of the San Jose Sharks

Greg Jamison steps down as President after 17 years with franchise

In a surprise announcement Wednesday Greg Jamison announced that he was stepping down as President and CEO of the San Jose Sharks. After 17 years with the franchise and 14 and a half years running the day-to-day operations, Jamison decided to take a reduced role with the team and explore opportunities outside of hockey.

“It is a great time for me to step away from being CEO of the franchise, and taking some time to do other things,” Jamison said at an informal press conference. After recently turning 60, he said that he wanted to slow down. “I turned 60, I feel 40, I look 80,” he said.

Jamison has been a fixture for the San Jose Sharks, succeeding the late Art Savage as President and CEO under owner George Gund, and leading the transition for the team under new majority owner Kevin Compton and SVSE. An intelligent and lighthearted face of the ownership group, Jamison presided over on and off-ice turnarounds that have made the Sharks one of the rising teams in the NHL and the Bay Area.

In a November 2009 article for Forbes, Peter J. Schwartz said “the Sharks are looking like one of the best-managed teams in the sport.” In the hockey department, the team earned a league-wide reputation for quality and thoroughness from the bottom up. Without the television dollars and revenue sharing other leagues enjoy, the Sharks and SVSE helped turn HP Pavilion into a top 5 event destination, invested in local ice hockey rinks, the Strikeforce MMA promotion, tennis tournaments, and successful merchandising and publishing arms.

The hockey operations still finished in the red according to Jamison yesterday in David Pollak’s Working the Corners blog, but the team may be as close to profitability in 2009-10 and 2010-11 as it has been in the 12 year history of this blog. Add in the revenue from ancillary businesses, and the alleged 20% increase in the franchise valuation (according to Forbes in 2009), and the Sharks are on the path to sustainability in the South Bay. For an NHL franchise, that is a significant accomplishment.

Another significant accomplishment for the San Jose Sharks under Greg Jamison is the transformation of San Jose from a non-traditional hockey market into a strong hockey market. “I am excited about the ice centers and how many are playing hockey in this non-traditional hockey market, which I think has become a pretty strong traditional market,” Jamison said Wednesday. The Sharks manage an umbrella of local rinks in San Jose, Fremont, and Oakland, and are working on approval for a 4-rink facility in Pleasanton. Hockey clinics, the influx of youth hockey leagues and tournaments, college club hockey, high school and women’s hockey leagues have all spurred the growth of hockey at a grass roots level in the Bay Area.

“Without being overly effusive, we care,” Jamison said. “We have had an enjoyable time here.”

The former President/CEO said he made his decision about 3-4 weeks ago, and made his decision known to the executive group 2 weeks ago. He noted that in the interim, EVP/GM Doug Wilson will speak for the franchise, and EVP/PBD Malcom Bordelon will oversee the business side of operations. Jamison said the process to find a successor will be handled at the ownership level, and that he will not have a problem stepping aside and letting the new leadership operate with full authority.

“If the word retirement were to come up, I don’t think I am looking at this as a retirement,” Jamison said. “I am looking at this as stepping away from my current role.” He noted that he will remain the Sharks representative on the NHL Board of Govenors, he will remain a member of the 10-man NHL Executive Committee, and he will also remain a minority owner. He speculated that he may take a role as President of the Sharks Foundation charity, or possibly work in education. With the possibility of another labor issue arising in 2 years, Jamison noted “I have been there through two of those (lockouts), maybe I can help.”

Others speculated that with his previous background with the Indiana Pacers and Dallas Mavericks, he could be planning a move to the Golden State Warriors after the approval of new owner Joe Lacob is finalized. “That did not enter into the thinking. I know Joe Lacob, but I haven’t talked to Joe and I don’t have any anticipation of talking to him,” Jamison told David Pollak of the Mercury News Wednesday.

The Sharks noted a 530-377-155 record under his tenure, but Jamison’s impact is honestly hard to quantify for downtown San Jose. CSNBA is using a Jamison photo from this blog on their Jamison report, but it is a photo taken at one of the low points in franchise history. Jamison had to announce the reduction of employees at HP Pavilion, and that the entire 2004-05 NHL season would be cancelled. It was a somber, sullen affair. Wednesday was the opposite. There was a tinge of sadness, but a lot of pride at what has been accomplished at HP Pavilion and in the community.

“I understand completely how life works. It will be Greg who in two weeks, that is really ok,” Jamison said. This blog is going to use a photo from an Oakland hockey clinic with Willie O’Ree, and create a button for the Sharks Foundation in Greg Jamison’s honor that will appear on almost every page of this site. A small tribute for an owner that has left his mark on the NHL and the Bay Area.

In a final question at yesterday’s press conference, one reporter asked Jamison what he remembers on the ice during his tenure. “April 94, Baker and his goal in Detroit,” Jamison said. He also mentioned hearing from someone who ran into Johan Garpenlov in Sweden. “I still remember. He shoots, he scores, no he hit the post. I still remember that twang.” It was a gut punch to come that close to eliminating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round. It was the San Jose Sharks “tuck rule” equivalent. Jamison said he hopes he can be in the arena when the Sharks make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, something he believes will happen in the very near future.

[Update] Sharks President and CEO Greg Jamison Stepping Away from Day-to-Day Operations of Franchise –

[Update2] Letter from the President Greg Jamison –

[Update3] Sharkspage asked GM/EVP Doug Wilson about the leadership of Greg Jamison:

“I have such great respect for him as a man. What he has really done is set the standard for all of us in the organization, being involved in the community. I was raised by a great saying, ‘you make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give.’ Greg really epitomizes that. He has impacted all of our lives. He has shown us how to treat people during certain situations. It is a time to celebrate what he has done here because he set a standard and many of us will try to continue that standard.”

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