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Great Turnaround Again!
Amazing season recalls one from 10 years ago
3/29/04 - By Erik Kuhre

It was in the late summer that Sharks broadcaster Drew Remenda went on the radio and guaranteed the Sharks would make the playoffs. I, for one thought for sure that there was no way that a team that lost its winningest coach, its biggest offensive threat, and the leadership and symbol of the team would even contend for a playoff spot. Now, April approaches and Team Teal is on the verge of a second Pacific Division championship in three seasons.

Speaking of turnarounds, you could compare this team with the one who played ten years ago. Like this year's bunch, they were coming off a horrible season. Also like the 1993-94 team, they had new players to mold into a team. Very slow starts also hindered both squads, but afterwards, they were unstoppable. Players started to believe themselves and worked together as a team and not a bunch of individuals. Time will tell if this year's team can exceed the playoff success of its counterparts of ten seasons ago.

If you were like me, and saw the Sharks starting lineup, you said, who is Nils Ekman? Alyn McCauley? Oh, that guy in the Nolan trade. Alexander Korolyuk is the top six forward the Sharks signed? Those three guys who were previously used sparingly in their time have made General Manager Doug Wilson look like a genius. The three have combined for over 50 goals and 120 points to become a top-notch line for San Jose.

That line, along with many players such as Jonathan Cheechoo, Wayne Primeau and even Patrick Marleau have had breakout years. For Marleau, the pressure has been huge. With departure of Owen Nolan, Teemu Selanne, and Adam Graves, the leadership and scoring roles have been put on his shoulders. Some said the burden would be too big for him and would falter without Selanne on his line. Marleau has been the leading scorer all year and has been the captain since January, providing the quiet leadership this surprising team needs.

Where's the Media?

While the Sharks have had a memorable season, one thing has stood out in my mind. The lack of coverage the team gets in the news. While the Sharks are not carried on a local sports radio station, those stations say little about the amazing turnaround this team has made. On the TV side, most of the stations were showing twice as many highlights and live interviews of the Golden State Warriors current winning streak, while showing a quick highlight and a taped interview following a Sharks game.

In my local newspaper, while yes March Madness is the main story (and understandably so) the Warriors get the other half of the front page in the sports while the Sharks are in the back burner being one of the best teams in the NHL. Which team is going to the playoffs? Which team is on the verge of a division title? If a visitor from outside the Bay Area saw the sportscasts, they would say the Warriors.

The Sharks get as much on air time as A's and Giants Spring Training games, golf tournaments, and NASCAR, how is that going to build a stronger fan base for the game of hockey? Why does hockey always get a bum rap? Why is it that when an act of violence takes place on the ice, such as the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident, that hockey gets exposed and looks bad to the people who don't watch the game?

Like Barry Melrose said on an ABC broadcast, why is it that when a baseball player gets hit in the head its ok? Why is it that football players get knocked out to helmet-to-helmet hits its ok. But when something happens in hockey, it makes the headlines of every television station? My fellow members of the media please reconsider the lack of coverage you have on hockey.

The Return of Reveal the Teal!

As the intensity and excitement that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, gets closer, I would like to suggest something to the Sharks fans that will be at playoff games. It's time to show your true colors! If you're behind this team, let all of North America see it! No blackout or whiteout here, it's time to reveal your teal! Show your support by wearing teal to all home playoff games. It's worked before and it can work again! And CHOMP TO THE CUP!

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