The San Jose Sharks will be entering their 25th anniversary as a franchise when the puck drops to open the 2015-16 season this October. On opening night, the Sharks will honor the person who helped make this all a reality 25 years ago.
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Earlier today, the San Jose Sharks announced that the organization will honor the original owner of the team, George Gund III, with a commemorative banner that will be unveiled before the home opener against the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 10.
Here’s what current Sharks majority owner Hasso Plattner had to say about the influential Gund in the release:
"“George Gund’s love of the game of hockey, and his belief in the city of San Jose and our fans are the reasons we are all here today. His legacy deserves to be honored and remembered forever. This banner will serve to remind everyone of his impact on the game of hockey and the Sharks franchise.”"
In order to make the Sharks franchise possible, Gund, and his brother Gordon, gave up control of the Minnesota North Stars in exchange for the rights to an expansion franchise. Gund targeted the Bay Area and settled on San Jose as their new permanent home in September of 1990.
The Sharks played their first game as an NHL franchise on Oct. 4, 1991, dropping a 4-3 decision to the Vancouver Canucks. After spending their first two seasons in the Cow Palace, the Sharks entered their new home in downtown San Jose in 1993, which Gund was extremely influential in upgrading. The San Jose Sharks still call the building home today and much of that credit should be heaped on Gund.
Here’s what NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had to say about Gund’s overall impact:
"“Hockey was a passion for George Gund III, and that passion manifested itself in his love for the Sharks, for San Jose and for the Bay Area. George made a commitment to bringing hockey to Northern California and did it in a way that excited the community and silenced the skeptics. We thank him for pioneering the Sharks tradition for generations of new fans.”"
The banner will serve as a kick off for the 25th anniversary season and help remember the most influential figure in the franchise’s history. Unfortunately, Gund passed away in 2013, but his legacy continues to live on through the San Jose Sharks. Without him, there would be no professional sports franchise in the city.
The vision of a hockey team succeeding in the Bay Area is all thanks to Gund, and he deserves to have a constant presence in the building that he helped create.
Well done, San Jose Sharks.