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100 Things a Must for Sharks Fans
Author Ross McKeon captures the early color of Sharks hockey
12/11/16 - By Mike Lee -

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 Die".

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.

If 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 of winning.

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 flooding?

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 day.

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 structure.

"I remember our trainer, Tommy Woodcock, going to Henry's to stack sand bags," Sharks radio voice Dan Rusanowsky said.

"That was his favorite spot, he didn't want it to go away."

The event 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.

"I remember 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."

For the 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 struggle.

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.

As McKeon frames it:

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 protect Link."

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 visit www.triumphbooks.com/100Sharks.”


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