Shark Attack

Ah October. As much as I like sunny California summers, fall is my favorite time of year, for many reasons. Not only do I get to wear sweaters and clothes that I generally like better, but my favorite sort to watch gets started. It may seem odd, but this California boy loves hockey, and not just any hockey, San Jose Sharks hockey.


To be a Sharks fan is to be well acquainted with early exits, and disappointment. For the last 2 years we have fielded a team that on paper looks to be Stanley Cup (the name of the championship trophy) worthy, and for each of those 2 years we have struggled mightily in the playoffs; exiting in the 2nd and 1st rounds. Last year was especially difficult. Sharks fans watched their team tear up the league, taking first place pretty much from day 1 to eventual President Cup's winners (best record, regular season). Sure, there were signs that things were falling apart a little during the second half; injuries to players, things just not clicking like they were in the first half... but the playoffs, and the team's desire to win it all would right the ship. 7 games into the playoffs, a rookie goalie, and we're out wondering just what the heck happend.

Management promised change would happen. Media and fans started pointing fingers at players; Patrick Marlea, Joe Thornton, Evegeni Nabokov all under achievers in the playoffs. Numbers wise that's true, but no one else showed up to play either. Management stripped then Captain Patrick Marleau of the C, and rumors of him being traded swirled all summer. Long time faces in Sharks uniforms were either not re-signed or retired. A couple small trades took place for a couple key grit players, but then the big trade. The trade of the summer. Some disgruntled Senator wants out of Ottawa, but since he has a no trade clause, he's hamstrung them by only wanting to play for a handful of teams. Surprise surprise San Jose is one of them. Fan favorites Cheechoo and Michalek, both seemingly loyal Sharks players (with Cheechoo being an ex-50 goal scorer looking to prove it wasn't a fluke) were shipped off for some guy who didn't publicly give a good reason for why he wanted out. I'm left asking myself, if the Sharks needed character in their locker room, is this guy the right type of character to bring into it?

With key contracts ending this year for Marlea and Nabokov, this might very well be the best, and last chance to win it all with this group. It's unlikely, with the salary cap where it is, that we'll be able to sign them both again. So this season this team has a lot to prove to themselves, to their opponents, and to teir fans. The regular season doesn't really count for us fans; we're fairly certain that barring injury this team will make it into the playoffs. It's what happens once they're in the playoffs that really count.

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