100 Things a Must for Sharks
Author Ross McKeon captures the early color of
Christmas is now less than two weeks away, and like
everyone else on the planet, you've procrastinated and your shopping isn't
done. Actually making it to the mall isn't usually the hard part. It's finding
something worthwhile to gift. My advice to you is, procrastinate a little more
and get something for yourself. Given that you're reading this article, there
is an extremely high likelihood that your a Sharks fan. At the very least,
you're a hockey fan. I've eliminated the need for you to do any thinking when
it comes to gifting something for yourself. It's simple. grab a copy of Ross
McKeon's book, "100 Things Sharks Fans Should Know & Do Before They
I've been a Season Ticket holder for 26 years, and I've
written a few things about the Sharks, so I can honestly say that I think I
know a thing or two about the Sharks, their history, and some of the lore
that's evolved over the course of their 26 years in the NHL. McKeon has done a
fantastic job of capturing some of the most entertaining tidbits of San Jose
Sharks Hockey and packaged it in a book that every fan should have sitting on
their night stand.
100 Things travels back in time to the dawn of
hockey in San Jose, which actually dawned in Daly City first, and touches on
some of the history that some fans would rather forget. You have to understand
those early days to appreciate what the Sharks have done over the second half
of their history in San Jose.
While still looking for their first
Stanley Cup, McKeon touches some of the important foundation laying moments
that made the Sharks one of the best franchises in the NHL. You can't measure
the quality of an organization by the number of Cups in the trophy case, but by
the people that seemingly want to stay a part of the organization after their
playing days are over.
McKeon covers those lean early days, and
recounts some of the events that made them so appealing to their fan base.
There were no expectations back in those days, so the characters and events
that shaped the organization are the things that most old fans look back on
most fondly. The book is a history lesson packed into 290 pages.
you've ever read his stuff in the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle, or have
seen his analysis on CSN, you know McKeon is a story teller. Not one to
sensationalize matters, you're getting the view of someone whose job it was to
cover the team at a time when you had to be creative because there wasn't a lot
In its place, you get tales of mascots stuck in the
rafters (who can forget that one), and glorious fights from a guy name Link.
Did you know that the Sharks once had a game cancelled because of
As McKeon puts it,
| "In the long history of
the National Hockey League, there's been exactly one game canceled due to rain,
and it happened in San Jose on March 10, 1995. The Sharks were scheduled to
entertain the Detroit Red Wings during the lockout- shortened 48- game
campaign. Heavy rains fell in the region, causing the nearby Guadalupe River to
over?ow its banks.
Flood waters ?lled the streets leading to the
downtown arena, which by late morning appeared as if it were on an island. The
adjoining parking lot ?ooded, streets leading in and out could not be traveled,
and even the forecast of early- afternoon clearing wasn't going to save the
Getting some 18,000 fans, employees, players, and staff in and
out of the arena was not going to be safe. By 1:00pm local time the decision
was made to cancel.
"From upstairs in the arena we could see water
just pouring down Autumn Street," recalled Ken Arnold, the team's director of
media relations at the time. "If it had come any further it would have gone
right down the ramp and into the building where all the equipment, electrical
wires, and cables were."
Two blocks northwest sits Henry's Hi- Life, a
two- story tavern and steak house in a rustic red, turn- of- the- century
building. It's a local favorite for fans and players. To this day, there's a
mark on the door to represent how high the water rose on the historic
"I remember our trainer, Tommy Woodcock, going to Henry's
to stack sand bags," Sharks radio voice Dan Rusanowsky said.
his favorite spot, he didn't want it to go away."
coincidentally marked the second failed attempt for the Wings and Sharks to
renew acquaintances in San Jose following the Sharks' epic upset of Detroit in
the '94 postseason. San Jose was also supposed to host Detroit on October 7,
1994, but the owners' lockout caused that cancellation.
walking over the Guadalupe River last year and thinking, This thing ?ooded?"
said Bob Errey, a television commentator working for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Errey had a lot going on back then. He had been dealt by San Jose to
Detroit just 12 days earlier. As team captain, Errey was a key contributor
during the Sharks' Cinderella season of 1993-94 when San Jose improved an NHL
record 58 points and eliminated the Wings. Errey was dispatched after only 13
games once the NHL labor strife ended for merely a ?fth- round draft pick.
And after scoring a goal, four points, and posting a plus- 3 in four
games during the ?rst week with his new team, Errey was eagerly anticipating
the Friday match-up against his former team. The game wouldn't happen until
April 5 when the Red Wings beat the Sharks 5-3.
"I remember when it
was rescheduled I did pretty good in that game," reminded Errey, who scored two
goals, added an assist and was a plus- 3. "The referee, Rob Shick, told me he
never saw me play a better game. It was the only time I would tell somebody I
deserved the ?rst star, but I didn't get any that night."
record, Errey was selected as the No. 1 star-that's how it appears on the
o?cial game sheet-but his name was not among the three selections announced in
the arena afterward. A sensitive front-office exec executed his veto power.
And thanks to a project completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
to ensure 100 years of ?ood protection, the Sharks have not-and should not
again-experience any similar events of March 10, 1995.
"What a crazy
night that was," Rusanowsky said.
The book isn't an encyclopedia of Sharks
history, but rather a well thought out collection of the stories that have
shaped a franchise through its first quarter century. In order to understand
the team and it's struggle to establish some relevance in a sports market that
has a champions pedigree, you need to get a taste of the history and the
100 Things also touches on the most colorful players in team
history. From Owen Nolan to Joe Thornton, the book introduces the reader to
some of the characters that turned an expansion franchise into a bona fide
Stanley Cup contender.
One of my favorite excerpts from the book covers the
legendary Link Gaetz and his fight with Bob Probert. Probert was the league's
premier fighter back in 1991 when the Sharks joined the league. San Jose's
roster was primarily made up of NHL cast-offs who were made available to the
Sharks through the NHL Expansion Draft.
Gaetz came to San Jose via a
special dispersal draft that allowed the Sharks to select a handful of players
off the Minnesota North Stars roster. Gaetz wasn't much of a hockey player, and
his alcoholism would shorten his NHL career to something short of a flash in
the pan, but the guy could punch like nobody's business.
|When the North Stars
drafted Gaetz in 1988, general manager Lou Nanne said, "In the 1st round we
drafted Mike Modano to protect the franchise. In the second round we drafted
Link to protect Mike.
In the third we should've drafted a lawyer to
Fittingly, Gaetz showed up to that draft with two black
eyes, the result of a bar ?ght the night before.
The legend of Gaetz was as colorful as the
Sharks new teal sweaters.
|Gaetz became an instant
cult hero as the team's rabid new fans gravitated to the most intimidating
young player in the game. Gaetz scored goals here and there, but what brought
patrons out of their seats were his fghts. Gaetz dropped the gloves 14 times,
none more hyped and anticipated than an early-season bout with Bob Probert, who
was regarded as the league's reigning heavyweight champ. Gaetz and Probert
waged a brutal battle that ended in a draw, both players exhausted but still on
their feet, just like the fans inside the Cow Palace.
"Link was the
only guy I played with who I was actually scared for guys on the other team,"
said Jeff Odgers, a tough customer in his own right. "When he went over the
edge he didn't care if he speared you or took your eye out. As a teammate you
didn't know what he was going to do."
The color and flavor of those early days is
something every Sharks needs to read and learn about. Guys like Gaetz made the
Sharks entertaining if nothing else.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a
sticking stuffer for yourself and grab a copy of "100 Things Sharks Fans Should
Know & Do Before They Die".
The book retails for $14.95 and is
published by Triumph Books.
Excerpt from 100 Things Sharks
Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Ross McKeon are printed with the
permission of Triumph Books. For more information and to order a copy, please
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