Today is a sad day in the San Jose Sharks community as the original owner of the organization has died in Palm Springs, CA. Mr. Gund was responsible for bringing professional hockey to the south bay city of San Jose. Over 5,000 potential names were submitted by mail for the new team.
The Gund family had originally wanted the team to be named the San Jose Blades, but due to concerns with its negative representation towards violence and weapons, he choose the runner up and officially named the franchise, San Jose Sharks. Gund was inducted into the San Jose Sports Authority Hall Of Fame as a member of the 2008 class. He was 73. The cause of his death was not released.
Gund was drawn to hockey as a young man, organizing the first ice hockey team at Case Western Reserve University, and playing for city league teams in Cleveland, Seattle, San Francisco and Sun Valley, Idaho. He acquired minority interests in the National Hockey League’s California Seals in 1975, and when the team moved to Cleveland in 1976, brother Gordon joined him in purchasing the team and the franchise operated for two years as the Barons. In 1978, the Gunds merged the Barons with the Minnesota North Stars. In 1990, George recognized an opportunity to fulfill his vision to bring a team back to the Bay Area, where he had always believed an NHL team could flourish under the right circumstances. The Gunds sold their interest in the North Stars and were awarded an NHL expansion franchise, which was soon after named the San Jose Sharks and began play in the 1991-92 season.
The Sharks played their first two seasons at the Cow Palace before moving to the San Jose Arena (now HP Pavilion) in downtown San Jose for the 1993-94 season. The move galvanized the team, and it posted one of the greatest turnarounds in NHL history, finishing with a record of 33-35-16, for 82 points, a 58 points improvement from the previous season. The team’s inspired play continued in the playoffs, where the 8th seeded Sharks upset the #1 seeded Detroit Red Wings in seven games. Gund’s legacy lives on, as the Sharks are one of the NHL’s most respected and admired franchises, and HP Pavilion has a reputation as one of the league’s loudest buildings on game day.
During the 2013 NHL Season, the San Jose Sharks will wear “GGIII” helmet decals and a jersey patch this season to honor George Gund.
Rest In Piece Mr. Gund III (San Jose Sharks #1)
****Bio courtesy of San Jose Sports Authority*****
link to bio: http://sjsa.org/hall_of_fame/bios_08.asp#gund
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