May 24, 2010
(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The fans who hated them the most. Here is Colorado Avalanche blogger Jibblescribbits, fondly recalling the 2009-10 San Jose Sharks.)
Ladies and gentlemen, today we are gathered to remember the 2009-10 San Jose Sharks.
As we lay the Sharks to rest, we should look back and celebrate the life and times of this team and look at all they accomplished. After years of frustration, they were finally able to break through past the second round.
No longer will the Sharks be remembered as the choking chokers of the NHL; now, they will be held in the same prestige as whoever lost to Detroit in the conference finals in 2008, that solid team that lost to the Lightning in 2005, and who can forget that team that Ottawa rolled over in 2007.
So congratulations Sharks on your conference runner-up season. This is surely one that will never be forgotten.
There are two memories in particular that hockey fans will have of the '09-10 SJ Sharks, with both coming in Game 3 overtime losses. The first is Dan Boyle's(notes) own goal in Game 3 of the first round. Oh sure, he "redeemed" himself in the next game with a goal, but the lasting memory — the one to be shown on blooper films for years to come — will be Boyle throwing the puck right behind goalie Evgeni Nabokov.
Then there's the highlight that might end up on all-time highlight shows for years to come. The goal that sprung a team from Stanley Cup drought that spanned generations.
That's right Sharks fans: You could be shown in the same highlight films as the '95 Blues, '70 Blues, and '94 Canucks. That's an accomplishment!
Sharks fans will now go into mourning. One of the best ways to mourn is to find a group of people with whom you share an interest. Luckily the good people of San Jose share a common bond that unites them all: Wishing they could move to San Francisco. This doesn't include the East Bay Sharks fans, who all wish they could move to San Jose.
Sharks fans are nice and amiable, right up until they get a power play. Then they do this little ritual that is so cheesy, so embarrassing even David Hasselhoff wouldn't be caught doing it. It's pretty much just the University of Florida "Gator Chomp" set to the theme of "Jaws." No, seriously, they do this with their arms when they go on the power play:
Between this and the '80s style synthesizer music that substitutes for an organ, I'm pretty sure the crowd showing up at the HP Pavilion was the inspiration for "Hot Tub Time Machine."
Yet some how the "Shark Tank" was voted the most intimidating arena to play in the NHL. This is because grown men who willingly, nay enthusiastically, wear teal scare the hell out of everyone.
Last season San Jose underwent dramatic changes in pursuit of the Cup. One of those changes included choosing a new captain, and I can't help but wonder if the Sharks would have done better to choose a captain that's much more representative of the people of their city.
This isn't taking anything away from Rob Blake(notes). His history speaks for itself and he has clearly established himself as a guy capable of leading a team to a Stanley Cup title ... as long as he's traded to a team that team already has Joe Sakic(notes), Patrick Roy, Peter Forsberg(notes), Ray Bourque and Adam Foote(notes).
But San Jose is a town where young professionals from some dreary eastern town emigrate, establish their market value and then move on to become successful in another town. To really capture the spirit of the typical Sharks fan San Jose may have been better off naming Brian Campbell(notes) captain of their team this season.
But don't worry Blake: Retire or not, your legacy in this game is complete. After 20 seasons with the Kings, Avalanche and two twilight years with the Sharks, your Hall of Fame legacy is cemented as "The guy who always helped keep the Sharks from winning the Stanley Cup."
And San Jose is prepared to go through another dramatic change, depending on how some of the other players performed on an individual basis. The most interesting case is pending UFA Evgeni Nabokov(notes). The knock on Nabokov has always been that he's not a big-game goalie. And this reputation was reinforced by a disastrous Olympics for team Russia.
However, in the playoffs, he was able to rise above his past dismal playoff performances and truly show that he's capable of being the best goalie on the ice every one in three series. Now that's the type of goaltending that's worth every penny of the $5M/season Nabokov is reportedly looking for this offseason!
And then there's Joe Thornton(notes), long ridiculed for his invisibility in the playoffs, and also the face of the franchise. He had a few good games against the Red Wings but was otherwise went unseen and unheard in the playoffs yet again.
Yes, you can always tell a Milford Man. I even hear he's going to be its commencement speaker. Well, in the full spirit of the Milford academy, Slappy is.
Dany Heatley(notes) came over from Ottawa to be that scoring punch that the Sharks needed, and provide the finishing touch to Milford Joe's passing. And he was brought over specifically for the playoffs. So congratulations to him, as his two playoff goals meant that the San Jose Sharks paid Dany Heatley $3.75M per postseason goal.
To be fair, it did look like he was suffering from some sort of ailment out on the ice during the playoffs. In fact I'd wager that it's actually a rare psychosis called "Azurelinephobia" which is "the fear of crossing the blue line and getting hit."
It's easy to detect because symptoms are weak turnovers at the blue line that go the other way for odd man rushes. Surprisingly, this phobia doesn't affect his ability to take back-breaking stupid penalties that cost the Sharks games.
Factoring all this in, I mean the Sharks couldn't afford not to trade for him.
Sharks fans like to call the Heatley-Thornton-Marleau Line the HTML (Si. Valley, remember folks), but between Heatley's playoff disappearing
magic illusion Milford Joe and Patrick Marleau's(notes) competent play I think we can just go ahead and rename that line the "Bluth Bros." line.
And congratulations to the guy now known as Joe "Big" Pavelski on the new nickname. He earned it with nine goals in the first eight playoff games. He then celebrated by not scoring another one for the rest of the playoffs. Celebrating individual success by taking playoff games off?
Who does he think he is, Dany Heatley?
Maybe he was tired since he was carrying Heatley and Thornton on his coattails for the first eight games?
So Sharks fans, it was a year of accomplishments, ones you should be proud of. Even with all the accomplishments listed above, Sharks fans may still be in mourning.
So here's a toast to you and your season. In fact, the first two rounds of drinks are on me ... but I've told the bartender to cut you off after that. It's nothing personal, I just know that you Sharks fans, like a home-schooled kid on his first pub crawl, still can't handle more than two rounds.