Some Tough Love
The 2013-14 season has come and gone for the San Jose Sharks.
A campaign that looked promising even before the season began ends in another heart breaking climax. The Sharks’ loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the playoffs season can be described in several ways.
Were the Kings that good in the clutch, or were the Sharks that bad in clutch? The answer is probably both. The Sharks weren’t just defeated, but in the final four games against the Kings basically had their hats handed to them. The Kings’ wins in Games 4 through 7 were about a decisive as blowout wins can be. There was no question as who the better team was after seven games. If not for a tip-in that went in the Sharks favor in Game 3 of the series, the Kings most likely would have won the series in six. The Kings in the end not only showed why they have won a Stanley Cup (and that it was not by accident), but also why the Sharks have never really come close to one.
The worst part of this for the Sharks is that they as an organization and franchise only have themselves to blame. The Kings were and are a better team for a reason. As a matter of fact, Anaheim and Chicago to go along with Boston and Pittsburgh are also far better teams than the Sharks for a reason. The Sharks have made the playoffs for 10 consecutive seasons now. While that should be commended for that accomplishment alone, not even having won a single championship or even playing in the finals just once has become an albatross for this franchise.
The Sharks can no longer be blissfully ignorant of the fact that like it or not they are viewed by many to now be the Buffalo Bills or San Diego Chargers of the NHL (even though those NFL franchises at least played for championships in their histories). The Sharks are the Ottawa Senators of the West, period.
Out of the three California NHL franchises, the Sharks a clearly only the third best as they realistically are not even close to either the Kings or Ducks. The Kings just flew by the Sharks two seasons ago and have never looked back. The Sharks franchise, for all it has accomplished now, has the dubious and embarrassing distinction of owning one of the worst playoff collapses not only in league history, but also in the history of professional sports in North America.
Only four other NHL teams have done this in their history. Although all four of those franchises eventually would win championships in subsequent seasons, the Sharks are not constructed as those franchises were. The previous first round exits to Anaheim (2008-09) and St Louis (2011-12) had at least logistical reasoning behind them. This one came down to only needing to win one game with four chances, and the Sharks never came close. By the time Game 7 rolled around Team Teal was basically “Dead Man Walking”.
Seeing how Game 7 played out the Sharks to a man apparently all knew it too regardless of whether or not they openly admitted it afterward. If the Sharks organization is not embarrassed by what just happened, they damn well should be. The Sharks are so far behind the Kings and Ducks now, it can almost be argued that out of the three NHL teams in the Golden State, the Sharks are basically a distant fourth.