San Jose Sharks: The Cow Palace Days


In celebration of the San Jose Sharks 25th anniversary, we’re going to revisit the Cow Palace days where the team made their NHL debut and proudly displayed the newly re-released Heritage Jersey.

Before the San Jose Arena was built, the Sharks played two seasons at the Cow Palace in Daly City, just outside San Francisco. The arena seats almost 13,000 spectators (though this number is more like 11,000 for hockey games) and has stood tall since 1941.

The Sharks weren’t the first hockey team to play at the Cow Palace and they wouldn’t be the last. The San Francisco Seals of the Western Hockey League played several seasons in the Cow Palace back in the 1960’s. Most recently, the San Francisco Bulls of the East Coast Hockey League spent two seasons lighting up the building.

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The Sharks first two seasons at the Cow Palace were awful at best. Their first season concluded with a record of 17-58-5, but the second season’s 71 losses, an NHL record, definitely takes the cake.

Given a lack of experience and a franchise still in its infancy, these numbers were far from shocking.

The team still managed to sell out every home game at the Cow Palace while accruing one of the most loyal fan bases in the NHL. They even led the league in merchandise sales, an astounding feat for a new team struggling to stay afloat.

Led by captain Doug Wilson, now general manager, the Sharks would experience many exciting firsts during their stay at the Cow Palace, despite dismal numbers.

-On October 5th, 1991, the Sharks made their home debut against the Vancouver Canucks in a 5-2 loss.

-Three nights later, on October 8th, the team would enjoy their first regular season win against the Calgary Flames with a final score of 4-3.

-On January 18th, 1992, Wilson was named the first NHL All-Star in franchise history. It was his seventh all-star appearance, but a first in teal.

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  • -On November 17th, 1992, Arturs Irbe recorded the first shutout in franchise history. Irbe stopped 39 shots and the Sharks went on to win 6-0 against the Los Angeles Kings.

    -Not one month later, on December 3rd, right wing Rob Gaudreau tallied the first hat trick in franchise history in a 7-5 loss to the Hartford Whalers. It was only his second NHL game.

    -On April 15th, 1993, in front of a sellout crowd, the Sharks debuted their beloved S.J. Sharkie. It was the mascot’s first time bungee jumping from the ceiling, a spectacle we frequently enjoy today.

    Despite the franchise’s rocky start, the Sharks would become a playoff contender in future years, maintaining a huge following and proving over and over again why the National Hockey League will never regret the decision to expand to the Bay Area.

    Next: San Jose Sharks Top 25 Players - Part II

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