Anaheim calling to the hockey world...
The staff is mostly resting during the Ducks' offseason, but behind the scenes, we're all watching the playoffs. And we just HAD to come out of hibernation to talk about the Sharks.
In the five completed seasons after the last Lockout, San Jose amassed 544 points and ZERO Conference Finals wins. However, despite their parade of playoff exits, the most embarrassing one seems to have been their 2009 elimination at the hands of the 8th seed Anaheim Ducks-- and many Sharks experts would agree with that estimation. This blogger even declared, last season, that due to Cap concerns, the comical, Benny Hill-esque Sharks were at an end, and they would either get better or much worse.
Well, now in danger of stealing defeat from the jaws of a 3-0 lead in their series with Detroit, perhaps the Benny Hill Sharks have returned for a final performance. Daniel, if the Sharks lose this series, is it the most embarrassing loss in that franchise's history?
It might be close, but this would be a 2 seed losing to a 3 seed. This is supposed to be a close series.
I'll admit. It's hard to choose a single greatest let down for a team that's had its postseason history marked with more failures than successes. Still, and maybe it's the pride talking, I think the Sharks greatest playoff defeat came at the hands of the Ducks. The Sharks were loaded that season, with depth to match. They were the Presidents' trophy winners.
Meanwhile, Anaheim had to fight tooth and nail to claim the 8 seed. Yes, that team still had a core from the Cup winning squad of two years before, but it was a shadow of its former self. Gone was two thirds of that epic shutdown line, as well as two thirds of the top line. Left over were the two former Norris winners and a couple of kids from the PPG line. Nobody knew how good those kids would be. When you add the fact that this was a chance for San Jose to kick the Ducks while they were down, it just makes the loss that much more bitter.
For reasons I can't understand, the Sharks seem to be the darling of the national media, while the Ducks and Kings continue to be undervalued. San Jose blew a golden chance to silence the whispers of Anaheim superiority. Instead, they became the team that chokes...again...well, all over again.
Personally, I think that loss will sting San Jose fans a little more than blowing the 3-0 series lead. It's the Red Wings, and their job is to piss off all of California's hockey fans. Every team on this coast has bad stories about what the winged wheel has done to them, and this will just be one more of those stories. Let's face it, the media likes it that way.
I agree that losing to the Red Wings buys you a little more dignity. Not for good reason or anything, but the ink spilled on your loss will be favorable. Everyone is, apparently, supposed to lose to the Wings.
Still, I think there's a special shame to dropping a 3-0 series lead. Presidents' Trophy teams have been upset before, first seeds have dropped series, so you don't talk about it or reference it as 'historical' very often. But every time a team is down 3-0, you name the teams that overcame it. With that list growing, maybe the Sharks won't be mentioned EVERY TIME it happens in the future. But there's no guarantee of that.
For that reason alone, I think this loss would gain a special place in the pantheon of Sharks failures and ongoing embarrassment. Every time every pundit is urging you not to get excited about a team coming back from 3-0, he'll tell you that the team with the lead in the series won't collapse like the '42 Wings, the '75 Penguins, the '10 Bruins, or the '11 Sharks. EVERY TIME. 'This team knows how to finish a series, unlike those losers.' EVERY TIME.
To have that dagger plunged into their hearts, year after year, oh man, it's the gift that keeps on giving.