The San Jose Sharks recent poor play might be due to more than the lack of a puck moving defenseman or consistent goalie play. They might actually have been cursed by a ticked off James Hetfield of Metallica, and I have proof.
The history of professional sports is replete with tales of curses–paranormal afflictions conjured by men or fate, and brought upon the shoulders of various teams as punishment for decisions deemed repugnant. These stories are woven into the fabric of sports itself, and exist alongside player and fan superstitions, in a world where a strong belief that supernatural forces hold influence in sports endures. These forces are believed to magically punish teams and cause failure. The ghosts vet out their revenge, taking payment in squandered title games at will, and nothing in the earthly world seems to overcome them. Regardless of a team’s desire to prepare and succeed, these specters are beholden to no man and come and go on only their own timetable.
Probably the most famous sports curse was the recently retired one of the “Curse of the Bambino”, where the fateful trade of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees caused nearly a century of Red Sox futility and grief. The “what ifs” expressed around Boston as Ruth grew to his titanic level of success in hated New York, were replaced by a curse that Boston would never win a World Series due to a trade that made the Canucks‘ one of Cam Neely for Barry Pederson look like a steal.
From the land of the NFL, there is the famous “Madden Curse,” where players who have appeared alone on the cover of the venerated football video game title, have seemed to mysteriously suffer injuries or personal setbacks almost immediately. Littered amongst the blown out knees, broken legs and massive statistical declines are stories such as that of Barry Sanders. Arguably the greatest running back in history, Sanders appeared on the cover of the game one year, only to retire before that season ever even began.
Hockey is not immune to these curses either. The Chicago Blackhawks suffered under the 40 year “Curse of Muldoon” from 1927-1967. Although its’ veracity has been called into question multiple times, the story allegedly goes as follows: In 1927, following the Blackhawks loss to the Boston Bruins in their first-round playoff series, then Chicago team owner, Frederic “Major” McLaughlin fired head coach Pete Muldoon. As reported later by the Toronto Globe and Mail, upon hearing of his firing, Muldoon angrily fired back at the owner, “Fire me, Major, and you’ll never finish first. I’ll put a curse on this team that will hoodoo it until the end of time!”. Although winning Cups in ’34, ’38 and ’61, the Blackhawks never actually did it by finishing in first place in a division, and it wasn’t until 1967, the final year of the Original 6, that they finally finished first and broke Coach Muldoon’s curse.
Now, we might be adding another curse to the lore. The San Jose Sharks count a handful of local celebrities who regularly catch games at the Tank, including season ticket holder Neil Young as well as the three founding members of the group Metallica. Real celebrities…not the guy who invented cloud computing or the one who dreamed up the little fan that keeps your computer cool, but real life, card carrying rock stars.
The fateful night happened during last year’s playoffs. I don’t remember the exact date, because frankly, I have tried to block it out. I remember the scene was electric. The lights went out at the Tank, the red-eyed, smoking shark mouth descended to the ice, and an even more frenetic than usual HP Pavilion awaited the Sharks’ entrance. For anyone who has witnessed a playoff game, you know you can barely hear yourself think, and I certainly couldn’t that night.
I was sitting in the lower level of the Tank, in seats secured only after an amazing last minute “can’t go to the game man, you want my ticket?” call from my buddy, which are just about the most amazing calls ever. Any way, I was pumped and taking in the whole scene from the vantage point of how the other half of hockey fandom lives and somebody caught my eye. It was James Hetfield, lead singerrrruh of Metallica!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Bridge Benefit loving Neil Young fan, but I never had posters of him on my wall. Metallica on the other hand? I nearly caused a family intervention once when I came home in a glorious “Metal Up Your A**” shirt. Maybe it was the knife-wielding arm coming up through the toilet that did it, or maybe just my parent’s overall sense that the whole Christian Rock campaign had not quite taken as strongly as hoped. Whatever the reason, the family meeting and said shirts’ subsequent disappearance from closet followed, but my love for Metallica never abated.
Metallica are quite simply the reigning heavyweight champs of the rock world. Add to that, they have strong Bay Area ties, and they move up multiple notches in my world. Add to that, their lead singer is currently sitting 20 feet in front of me, at a Sharks playoff game, on the glass at the Tank? Pure amazing.
Then it happened. At the penultimate moment of the pre-game festivities, right as the Sharks made their way out on the ice and through the smoking shark jaw, they chose for the pump music? Not the old school techno (da-dada-dada-da-dit-YEAH!) ditty, and nope, not the iconic guitar intro to the Stones’ “Start Me Up”, and definitely not anything by Metallica.
They went with Coldplay.
They played friggin’ Coldplay as the hype entrance song in the presence of James Hetfield. It was a shameful slap in the face. It was like breaking out a beer bong at Steve Young’s house during a BBQ, or wearing a mink coat to a PETA convention. It was just something of the most profound disrespect, which even in that frenzied moment, shocked and embarrassed me.
Hetfield gave no reaction, but it is hard to think, especially in light of the Sharks recent putrid play that a pestilence isn’t hanging over the Tank because of this massive slight. Why the curses effects didn’t start earlier is anybody’s guess, but I know I was personally inconsolable after the two recent OT losses. Moreover, after the Columbus game last Saturday, I went down to my garage and lit a Koho stick on fire. I was upset and I’m a nobody…imagine what the lead singer of Metallica can conjure up when he happens to be ticked his team is playing like crap.
Coldplay is to Metallica as Jody Shelley is to a Neurosurgery operating room–you just don’t want them in the vicinity of each other, ever. And honestly, if trading a guy, merely appearing on a video game cover or firing a peeved hockey coach can lead to a debilitating curse…why wouldn’t playing Coldplay in front of James Hetfield do it?
Maybe it is just a sloppy mind set right now for the Sharks, or simply the inability to replace Rob Blake on the blue line, that is causing the awful play, but maybe it’s not. Open yourself up to the possibility that James Hetfield is letting loose an old grudge utilizing rock god magic. There is no argument that the Sharks are certainly playing like a cursed team right now. If indeed, there is a paranormal haze upon the Sharks, it might have everything to do with simply allowing a lame, emasculating, cricket playing, limey band’s song lead them into epic playoff battle last year…all the while when “Master of Puppets” was right there on the iPod too, and the lead singer responsible for it, was tipping a cold one and settling in rinkside.
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Topics: Babe Ruth, Barry Pederson, Barry Sanders, Boston Bruins, Boston Red Sox, Bridge School, Cam Neely, Chicago Blackhawks, Coldplay, Columbus Blue Jackets, Curse Of Muldoon, HP Pavilion, James Hetfield, Jody Shelley, Madden Curse, Metallica, Neil Young, New York Yankees, NFL, Pete Muldoon, Rob Blake, San Jose Sharks, Stanley Cup, Steve Young, Vancouver Canucks