San Jose Barracuda join Sharks in the Tank

There is a new professional hockey team in San Jose, and like the Sharks, it will also come in the form of a fearsome fish.

On Thursday, the Sharks announced the name of its new AHL affiliate as the “San Jose Barracuda.” The minor league team, which is relocating from Worcester after spending 10 years on the East Coast, will play its home games at SAP Center beginning next season.

The barracuda is known as a long and frightening ray-finned fish that sneaks up on its prey, making it an apt team mascot considering the Sharks are partnered with Barracuda Networks.

Said Sharks COO John Tortora in a conference call:

“Barracuda has been a long-standing partner of the Sharks. They are a strong in the Bay Area tech community with an international brand.”

Tortora described the three main business reasons for the relocation: appealing to the ever-growing hockey market in the Bay Area, investing in the city of San Jose, and increasing the fan base with “outside-the-box ideas that may not be practical to do at the NHL level.”

The Sharks plan on limiting seating at SAP Center for the AHL games, bringing down a curtain on the upper level and capping capacity at 8,072. Tortora estimates a crowd of between 3,000 and 5,000 fans, with tickets starting at $12 and 45 percent of seating available at under $20.

The pricing, remarked Tortora, is reasonable:

“We’re trying to make this affordable for families. We think there is enough interest in the sport for this to carve out a nice little niche.”

Tortora claims the 38 extra games at SAP Center will increase the economic impact of the building by 15 percent.

The relocation also makes sense at the hockey level. Players will no longer have to fly to and from Massachusetts for assignments or call-ups, and skating in SAP Center on a daily basis will familiarize them with an NHL-type atmosphere.

Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson commented on the benefits of developing youngsters:

“The big component right now is for the development staff to continue to work with our players day-to-day. This is really important.”

He continued:

“Having our farm team right there in the backyard allows us to make the decision as to whether a player needs a little bit more seasoning or not.”

Four other NHL teams — the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers — are also moving their AHL affiliates to California as hockey continues to expand and grow in popularity in the state.

For the Sharks, they hope to reap the benefits of their minor league team literally playing in the same building and a partnership with Barracuda Networks.

Tortora concluded:

“[It was] an opportunity we did not want to miss. It really came down to ‘why not’; the ability to work with a long-standing partner and one another.”