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The Undertaker: 7 Sharks: 2
1st in a series of serious attempts to discover any semblance of Sharks fever in SF
1/29/07 - By Chris Wood

Sauntering into the Kezar Pub for the 1/28 Sharks at Canucks game, I didn't expect a sea of teal jerseys and someone dressed up in a Sharky suit handing out slices of pizzas. But I also didn't expect some 50-odd dudes (and a couple dudettes) packed into every corner chomping on wings, guzzling pitchers of cold beer and screaming as the number-30 ranked Undertaker ousted Shawn "The Heartbreak Kid" Michaels for his first win ever in the WWE's Royal Rumble. Seven of Kezar's 18 brand new LG flat screens were tuned in to the final bloodbath between the Deadman and HBK. Another five screens had on Super League soccer results, and the rest were alternatively tuned into the Winter X games or Sportscenter. Thankfully, two TVs had on the game, and I dutifully stationed myself in front of one of them as the chants of "HBK! HBK!" filled the bar. This is the best place in San Francisco tonight to watch a Sharks game. Seriously.

By the time the scoreless first period had concluded, the Royal Rumble had wrapped up and the general population of Kezar was back down to normal non-football levels. Among the 20 or so patrons left, I counted about six Sharks fans watching the game (still only on two screens, though major props for having the Minnesota Gophers / North Dakota Fighting Sioux game on, as well). There was a $3.50 pint special on imported Elephant beer and Joe Pavelski's great goal to open up the game at 1:10 had things looking up.

In particular, Milan Michalek's assist on Pavelski's goal got a couple of fans talking about the winger's light production as of late, and the Kezar fans-gaining some confidence as the last of the WWE fans were exiting-took up some generally well-informed hockey talk. In addition to Michalek, talk centered around Patrick Marleau and the possibility that Sharks coach Ron Wilson will take him off Thornton's top line come the playoffs. "They're gonna have to do something," said Steve Curry, an SF fan who alternates watching the game at Kezar, at home, or at Martin Mack's Irish bar on Haight Street. "Teams are going to start keying on that line, and we'll eventually need to get more than one-dimensional."

Things at Kezar quieted down after that. With Luongo putting on a tour-de-force performance in the second, withstanding a near four-minute power play onslaught (including 15 seconds of five-on-three) when Brendan Morrison and Josh Green took successive trips to the box, most of us were content to mutter profanities under our breath. "Yeah, it doesn't get too crazy here for the Sharks games," a waitress commented to me as I ordered my second pint of Elephant. "Football, soccer, even basketball it will get really crazy, but we never really fill up with hockey fans."

That's only if you're talking about Kezar Pub proper, however. Turns out, the watering hole's best NHL-centric events are when bar management rents out a bus, fills it with beer and snacks, and takes fifty Sharks fans on a road trip down 101 to The Tank. Each season, Kezar goes mobile anywhere from five to ten times. "Oh it's great fun," says Neil, an Irish-accented Kezar bartender who joined me for the second and third period of the Canucks game Sunday Night. "We put fifty people on the bus, bring down 10 crates of beer, you drink all you want on the way down, you get two drinks at the game and we've got a full buffet of food."

According to Neil, Kezar traditionally hits the road for the more popular Red Wings and Flyers games to guarantee both a full bus and a good mix of healthy smack talking. For obvious reasons, he says, getting the Philadelphia busses filled this year has been a bit challenging. "But for your game ticket in the penthouse suite, all you can drink on the way down, the buffet, the game, the drive back, all for ninety bucks, you can't beat that."

Consider me sold for Kezar's next trip down to the South Bay for the Sharks versus the Blackhawks on March 13. Between now and then, I'll be seeking out more hidden places up here in Fog Town to catch San Jose in action, have a couple of brews, and meet some like-minded hockey folk. If Sunday night's WWE fiasco is any indication, I'm willing to put up with almost anything. Anything, that is, except for bad beer. Bad sports, maybe… but bad beer, well I think any puck head worth his rubber has to put the smack down on that.

Notes: For more information or to buy a ticket to the Kezar San Jose Sharks road trip, which includes a Penthouse Suite ticket and aforementioned food, beverages, and camaraderie, visit Kezar Pub at 770 Stanyan Street and talk to any bartender or call the bar at (415) 386-9292.

Contact Chris at

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