Monday, May 30, 2016

San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup!? Unbelievable.

Can’t tell you how excited I am to see the San Jose Sharks take a shot at winning the Stanley Cup.  When I moved to SF in 1987, there was no hockey here.  My friends and I went to see NHL exhibition games at the Oakland Coliseum (yes, that was a thing).  When the Sharks were awarded a franchise in 1991, I was there.  I can proudly say I’ve been to a Sharks game every season they’ve been around with the exception of the year I had back surgery and the strike years (the NHL can be idiots, and I refused to give them my money those years). I’ve spent countless hours watching this team through thick and thin.  

The local media pays no attention to them. The SF Chronicle axed their beat writer years ago, and they usually start their playoff coverage late in the post-season, usually the game before they get eliminated.  The national coverage usually just focuses on The Sharks dubious playoff performance.  To my surprise, the Chronicle has jumped on the bandwagon this week, with lots of good coverage.  My favorite piece was this article listing 25 great moments in Shark history.  It’s an excellent read, written by their former beat writer Ross McKeon who knows his hockey and his Shark history.  This piece reminds us that for all their recent playoff troubles, people forget that this franchise has been so good for so long.  From the mid 90s to the early 2000s, they were the low seeds who upset plenty of high ranked teams along the way.  Talk to Wings and Blues fans about that.  McKeon gets beyond the tired narratives and digs the rich and checkered history. 

Some of my fave Shark moments include:

• Watching a game in the inaugural season, sitting in the last row at the Cow Palace and realizing that was probably the closest I’ve ever been to the ice at a pro hockey game.  Though it was falling apart, watching a pro sports team in a 5,000 seat venue was amazing.

• Bumping into Shark’s owner George Gund at a film event and complimenting him on the re-signing of Vincent Damphousse.  Gund invited me to call him up for tickets whenever I wanted.  I took him up on that once a year.

• Courtesy of Gund tix, sitting on the glass right behind the goal at a Rangers game, and watching beer fall into the laps of the rubes who set their drinks on the dasher. Who was at this game? Jason Wolos, Eric Henry, KC Smith? 

• Sitting in a hotel room in San Antonio with Gil Ray, while on tour with The Loud  Family, and watching the underdog Sharks eliminate the Blues in 2000. 

• Going to a Blues/Sharks playoff game in early 2001, again courtesy of Gund. 

• Taking in several games through the years with Jay Hinman. 

• Watching games from great seats courtesy of Jim Levy.

• Appearing on the Jumbotron not 1, not 2, but 3 times in a separated at birth gag.  I got compared to Bert from Sesame Street so that was ok. I like Bert.  That said, having people shout “Bert” at you in the concourse while waiting in the bathroom line – not so great.  FYI, after my first appearance, the av crew just used stock footage of me.  That’s not cool.  

 • And maybe best of all, watching the mascot, Sharkie, get in a fight with a loudmouth fan (witnessed and written about by Anthony Bedard)!