The Silver Bullet

An opinion in popular sports

Nothing to believe in…

It’s on a morning like this we ask ourselves why we put in our time for seven months: Sweating out the losing streaks, and gleefully riding the winning streaks. We wonder why we cared so much when Nabby tweaked his groin and was on the sideline for several games. We think about Torrey Mitchell and how we just kept hearing it would be a few more weeks, and how we thought it might make a difference. We yearned to have home ice advantage over the Red Wings in that almost guaranteed chance we would meet in the postseason. We pined for Roenick, and Lemieux, and Blake, and hoped this was their time, with our team.

And then there was nothing. After all the energy and commitment and dollars spent at HP, we still have nothing. We have an extra long summer to wait…

But, the real question is, What do we wait for? Can we really say we are excited about another season of Sharks Hockey? Do we dare toil through the 82-game schedule again, just to be let down early in the chase? Can we really believe in Thornton, Marleau, and Nabokov, and hope that next year they will take us to the promised land?

We can’t and We shouldn’t. This coming from a fan who desperately held on in the shitty days of sharks hockey: a time when ugly goals were all the team could score. The desperate teams from the mid-late 90s who sometimes made the playoffs but probably never deserved to be there and were subsequently eliminated early on.

I can’t believe anymore… and here’s why…

It was the last Saturday of the regular season, The Sharks had just completed a dismal finish to their season by losing to the lowly Kings of Los Angeles. I frantically refreshed the Internet browser on my phone as the Phoenix Coyotes and the Anaheim Ducks played Game 82 against each other. Before this game began, I thought it wouldn’t be a problem for the Ducks to beat the Coyotes in regulation, I was preparing myself for what could have been a favorable first round match-up with Columbus or St. Louis.

With two weeks left in the regular season, I declared boldly that I didn’t care who we got in the first round, just as long as it wasn’t Edmonton or Anaheim.

So I was watching my phone and to my surprise the Phoenix Coyotes were playing tough: Up 1-0 after the first, and then 4-2 after the second. I began to prepare myself for what I wanted least for the President’s Trophy Winners… a first round match-up with Anaheim.  Then in the third period of that game, The ducks made me see two things: First, that they could score when they had to… (and they did twice to tie the game) and that I was rooting for a team that I despised. The Ducks tied the game, scoring two goals 45 seconds apart. The game goes to overtime. I desperately needed them to get that extra point that would have catapulted them to sixth in the standings. No score in OT. A Shootout. Phoenix’s Viktor Tikhonov scored the game winner in the shootout guaranteeing our fate. A 20-year-old Russian winger playing for a team that had little to play for, changed it all in a game that seemed to mean nothing to anyone.

Meanwhile, Sharks fans were looking the other way… they were throwing high fives as the Sharks clinched their first President’s trophy in the franchise’s history. Who cares if we lose two in a row on the way in? We’re the best team in the league! We’ve got home ice over Detroit.

And I was constantly refreshing my phone to see if we were going to have it easy or hard in the first step towards the cup. We got it hard. In all honestly, though, there is no guarantee that the Sharks would have had it easy against Columbus or St. Louis. But the Ducks (who were sellers at the deadline I might add, we bought some…) were one of the hottest teams in the league. Anaheim won 11 of 15 down the stretch to get into the playoffs when everything in Late February pointed towards early tee times. The Ducks four losses down the stretch included non playoff teams Edmonton, Phoenix( in that shootout), and two losses to San Jose.

Scarily enough, if the Sharks had lost one more time to the Ducks during that time, we may we waiting on Chicago in the second round.

But, as Tikhonov and the Coyotes celebrated that day, I realized this wasn’t going to be easy. I realized that we were in for a tough series and that’s not a sentiment that should follow the NHL’s best team. Especially, not in the first round. To have fans hoping for an easy first and second round match-up so they might make it to the conference finals is just silly, and certainly not happening in Detroit or Boston.

Sure, maybe I’m in the minority, and there were other more confidant fans than I. But after years of not being able to crack the final four (or final two), How can we be confident anymore? How can we justify watching this team through the regular season?

More importantly, How can a Russian Rookie playing in Arizona seem to make such a difference to what we thought was such a magical season?

Because time and time again, the San Jose Sharks have let us down… and there seems to be nothing left to believe in.

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April 28, 2009 - Posted by | danharris, Hockey, NHL, San Jose Sharks, Sharks, Sports, thesilverbullet

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