Ingrained in all of us, as Sharks fans, is a natural hatred for our in-division rivals. That’s the way hockey should be. Ask any Flyers fan out there and they want to see the Devils lose. We should hate the Kings. We should hate LA sports teams. Something about this Cup run, though, feels different. I’m thinking it might be OK to cheer for the Kings despite everything in my DNA code screaming against it. A few reasons to cheer for the Kings:
1) Dean Lombardi – Ahh, there’s a familiar name. The architect of the Sharks in the late 90s and early 2000s, he helped to build the backbone of the team that we’ve been enjoying the past few years. Yes, Doug Wilson has done an amazing job of bringing superior talent to the Bay. He’s the best in the business as far as I’m concerned, and took a good team and made them great…but a lot of that talent came via trades where Wilson was trading away talent that Lombardi had cultivated. Granted he’s had a lot of high draft picks to build the Kings, higher than he did with the Sharks, but the guy’s clearly a talented hockey mind. Remember: we broke up with him, he didn’t break up with us. Time to extend the olive branch back and tell him we’re sorry and happy for him.
2) Darryl Sutter – Another good one. Mark Emmons at the Merc actually wrote a great piece on Sutter and Lombardi reuniting on this Kings team. His record as Sharks coach was 192-182-60, not bad. The more impressive part is that he helped the team to 5 straight playoff appearances, which might not seem a lot around here but some other fanbases would give their eye teeth for that level of success. We dumped him too, he didn’t dump us.
3) East coast media bias – Yes, a Kings win would make the Sharks the only California-based team to not have a Cup…but the media bias against the west coast is so fierce that it couldn’t hurt to have another one here. People around the hockey and sports world are really tuning into our scene for the first time since the Kings made the finals in 1993 and it’s kinda nice.
4a) Passionate Kings fans – OK, so I wrote a whole post here about how the Kings fan base is garbage. Believe it or not, though, a small, dedicated, hard core fan base does exist for this team. In that post I mentioned my buddy Eric who’s a huge Kings fan. My friend Justin and I met at a Sharks/Kings game that my other friend Leo bought us both tickets for. Growing up in Toronto I had a buddy, the Massman, who LOVED the Kings. Not only did he like the Kings, he was passionate about it and that passion extended to everyone he knew. He once convinced me to do my Grade 9 French class project on Luc Robitaille. The Mass and I haven’t talked in a while, but I know for a fact he has a Drew Doughty jersey and will be elated if the Kings raise the Cup.
4b) The bandwagon isn’t 100% bad (or 100% full) – The Kings are tied for the longest Cup drought. People forget that. Remember it on Saturday, how a small slice of that bandwagon is actually driving. Plus, although we’d all hate to admit it, hockey is still marginalized and on the fringes. Any increase in watching public, no matter how short-lived, is good for our sport. Even new Kings season-ticket holder Bill Simmons has found religion on hockey over the last few years and is now admittedly a proud frontrunnner. So bring on Taylor Swift, Colin Hanks and David Beckham, any increased coverage of our sport means more revenue and a better product.
So allow yourself a temporary respite from your hatred of all things LA, and cheer on our brethren from the South. We hate the Ducks, Predators and Chris Pronger more. You can get back to hating the Kings again in September when the preseason starts, I know I will. And if this article serves as a reverse-jinx and the hockey gods feel like they should lose? It’s an outcome I’m willing to live with.
Want to debate a list? Tweet me @bluelineboomer
Blades of Teal ~ The Final Word On Sharks Hockey.