California State University East Bay
Matt Nieto, San Jose Sharks Left Wing, observes the action during a game earlier this season.

Flickr | Conrad

Matt Nieto, San Jose Sharks Left Wing, observes the action during a game earlier this season.

Sharks fans keep the tank packed

October 23, 2014

After the Sharks’ monumental 2014 playoff collapse that was the worst in franchise history, Bay Area hockey fans, including myself, were left shattered. How could they blow a 3-0 series lead in the first round of the playoffs to the LA Kings of all teams?

What looked to be an extremely promising regular season turned out to be another disappointment. I found myself genuinely angry at the organization and players’ postseason effort for a good chunk of the summer. My blood pressure has yet to come down.

Our goaltending was one giant toss-up, with Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock battling for ice time, but neither one stood up to the test that the Kings threw at us in the last four games of that series.

Our leadership was questionable, leading to Joe Thornton being stripped of the captaincy as a result of his playoff performance during the off-season. Even Drew Remenda, the beloved Sharks television commentator of close to 14 years, was not asked to return to the Sharks’ broadcast team for undisclosed reasons.

General Manager Doug Wilson, seemingly as furious as any of us, promised to clean house in interviews following the playoff loss. He said he’d focus on rebuilding this franchise, putting more faith in younger players, but during the off-season. Only a few minor moves, like trading away the aging Brad Stuart and acquiring Tye McGinn and John Scott, were made that supported this claim.

So, why did opening night on Oct. 11 at SAP Center in San Jose sell out? The answer is much more simple than the answer to the rest of the Sharks’ problems; Sharks fans are addicted to the brand and environment that they’ve created over the past 25 years.

Those signature Pacific Teal sweaters, the hall-of-fame caliber players past and present, the ecstatic energy of the Tank that can only be felt from inside it, and the intense rivalries with so many other west coast teams keep Sharks fans coming back.

It’s like a bad habit. Or is it? We may live through constant playoff disappointment year in and year out, but I find myself looking forward eagerly every July, even when there are months before the next season begins.

Come October, I find myself cheering just as hard as last year when they take the ice. Maybe this year’s quick fix was announcing the outdoor game that will take place at the brand-new Levi’s stadium in February, another chance for redemption against the Kings on the big stage. They will have the eyes of the nation as they play in front of close to 80,000 people against their archrivals.

Until then, and until the Sharks finally bring a Stanley Cup to the Bay Area, we’ll continue to celebrate the joy that the game of hockey brings us, and the environment that it lets us be a part of. This will have to do until the day that we have something more to celebrate, and the Stanley Cup parade rolls through downtown San Jose.

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