| Time to turn the
Young Sharks can take a page from their own
5/2/04 - by Mike Lee
frustrating as the last two games have been for Sharks fans, there's a good
chance things will get crazy in San Jose over the next few days. This is
actually an easy prediction. Just when you think you know this team, they do
exactly the opposite. Nobody game them a snowballs chance in Hades to even
crack the Pacific Division cellar this season, so they go out and win the
division. The pundits figured they would be an easy target for a first round
upset in the playoffs, so they polish off the St Louis Blues in five games.
Colorado was supposed to steam roll San Jose in round 2, so the Sharks win the
first three games.
So what happens next? A week ago, San Jose was on
the verge of a sweep of the mighty Colorado Avalanche, but that turned out to
be just another incorrect call. The Sharks have two chances to finish off the
Avalanche, and by all accounts, the Sharks won't do it. The pundits believe
that the Sharks have sealed their own coffin and will become only the third
team in NHL history to cough up a 3-0 lead in the playoffs.
that every one of these predictions has been wrong so far. Or maybe it's just
that the Sharks choose to take the contrarian's approach.
In any case,
if the Sharks do happen to win one of the next two games, it's only going to
happen if they take a page out of their short history. In fact, all they need
to do is reach back to October 28th of last year. That was the day they were
pounded by the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0. You may recall that the team called a
players-only meeting after the contest to air out the things that stank in
Six months later, they were the third best team in the
The meeting, as it's been told by some that attended, was the day
many of the Sharks grew up. Or as Sharks GM Doug Wilson likes to say, it was
the day the training wheels came off.
That meeting placed the
spotlight clearly on younger players such as Patrick Marleau, Marco Sturm,
Jonathan Cheechoo, Nils Ekman and Alyn McCauley. These were the players Sharks
management brought to San Jose to build a franchise around, and it was time for
them to step up.
Marleau in particular was a second overall draft pick
who many felt had all the talent to lead the Sharks, but he was always
sheltered by veteran players. Marleau led by example after that meeting in
October, and subsequently led the Sharks to their second division crown in team
Fast forward seven months later and you have a situation that
is remarkably similar. Turmoil abounds, but a unified approach could cure their
ills if they simply band together as they did in Carolina. This time, they
won't be able to sneak up on the league, because all the hockey world is
If they are really ready for the training wheels to come
off, the young Sharks have the opportunity to shock everyone all over again.
But this time, the rewards are bigger. Perhaps a victory now will make those
who have predicted the worst, think twice about what the Sharks are capable of
and how the outcomes will play out.
Hopefully San Jose will turn the
tables on the pundits once in the next two games.
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