Welcome to Sharks Week!
Okay, so we’ve had some pretty awesome giveaways on BASG, but this is the best one yet. Over the course of this week we’ll run daily Sharks-related contest posts. Just answer the question in the comments section below and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a chance to win. You can comment as many times as you’d like so feel free to engage in discussion, but only one of those comments will count per day. Be sure to get involved with every one of these posts for a chance to win!
What does the winner get? I’m glad you asked.
How does a pair of tickets to sit in the Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria Penthouse Suite for the Sharks vs. Coyotes game on Saturday, March 30 sound?
This is by far the most valuable prize we’ve given away yet (yes, that photo above is of the actual tickets you can win), and the most awesome if you ask me. We’ll be giving out SIX PAIRS OF TICKETS for the final drawing (which will take place on Friday), so the luxury box will be filled with die hard Sharks fans as well as faithful BASG readers. There will be food and drinks. Ruthless Sports Guy and his fiance will be there, along with myself and Sports Girl Liz, so we’d love to have you.
Today’s question: Who are the Sharks’ most hated rivals?
By Ruthless Sports Guy
It’s pretty easy to make enemies in the NHL. Hockey is a fast and physical sport, and once you get to the playoffs, best-of-seven series leave plenty of opportunities to develop bad blood; the kind that doesn’t simply disappear during the offseason.
The Sharks are no strangers to rivalries. Since the 2000-01 season, they’ve qualified for the playoffs 10 times and played 20 series against 12 different teams. Of those playoff appearances, they’ve gone to the Conference Finals three times. If you’re a Sharks fan, you know how those have ended. San Jose is still searching for their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance, no thanks to the Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks.
But so much more than just playoff battles goes into one team hating another. A single player can be the difference between not minding a team so much and loathing them. Steve Ott readily comes to mind when thinking of a fierce Sharks rivalry — this year’s battles with the Dallas Stars just don’t seem so spirited now that “The Otter” (or as I like to call him, “Steve the Pirate”) is playing for the Buffalo Sabres.
Then there are the fans. You know what I’m talking about: those home games where it seems like half of HP Pavilion is filled with the away team’s fan base. How many Detroit transplants have made their way to the greater Bay Area and why are they here? I’d like to hold an impromptu survey with all of ‘em and find out how many are actually from Michigan. My guess is most started loving the Wings after seeing Cameron’s attire in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
Detroit Red Wings
Red Wings fans may hate the Sharks more than the alternative at this point. The Sharks have played five playoff series against Detroit and they’ve gone 4-1, their only elimination coming in 1994-95 Conference Semifinals. It’s not to say these battles have been one-sided, but it does seem like the Sharks have had the upper hand almost every time they’ve played the Wings. The last time the Sharks faced the Wings in the postseason, in the 2010-11 playoffs, it produced one of the most exciting playoff series I’ve ever seen. San Jose jumped out to a 3-0 lead, squandered it and took the seventh game on home ice to earn a Western Conference Finals berth. With the new NHL realignment Detroit will be moving to the Eastern Conference next season, so it may be a moot point shortly. Of course, San Jose still has one more chance to shock Red Wings fans in this season’s playoffs should things fall correctly.
The Sharks have been able to build a successful team and a large fan base in the franchise’s 22-year existence, and they’ve done it without any help. That’s more than I can say for the Anaheim Ducks, who were literally created from a Disney movie. Now the Sharks have to play Emilio’ team several times a year and deal with them in all of their obnoxious glory. We still boo Teemu Selanne even though he hasn’t been a Shark since I graduated middle school. The Sharks haven’t found the Jody Shelley to the Ducks’ George Parros ever since Shelley left. Jonas Hiller is one of the many goalies who hold San Jose to one goal despite being peppered with 75 shots. Now they’re second in the Western Conference behind another team we’ll be discussing shortly, and if you’re still pissed about the 2008-09 playoffs (and believe in the President’s Trophy curse), that bothers the hell out of you.
Here’s a team about which an entire post could be written. I still firmly believe the Sharks could have rallied back in their 2010-11 Conference Finals battle with Vancouver had it not been for Kevin Bieksa’s most flukey overtime series winner in NHL history. I was at Game One of that series, and I remember how many Canucks fans filled HP Pavilion. My ears bled from their “LOOOOUUUUU” chants every time Roberto Luongo made a stop, and a few of them even wore big Terrence and Phillip helmets like the South Park version of Deamau5 fans. The only thing more annoying than a rival who can make fun of themselves is a Sedin, and there are two of those.
You had to know this was coming. After knocking the Sharks out of Stanley Cup contention in the 2009-10 Western Conference Finals, Chicago took a year off and now they’re the class of the NHL again. Fans can sit here and bitterly proclaim an unfortunate fall is coming, but let’s be realistic: there isn’t a team in the entire NHL better than the ‘Hawks and it’s hard to imagine a scenario where any of them survives a seven game series with Chicago. At least Dustin Byfuglien disappeared in
Atlanta Winnipeg, never to be heard from again, but it doesn’t undo the damage he did to San Jose when Chicago swept them in the Western Conference finals. Remember how Patrick Kane grew a playoff mullet because he couldn’t grow facial hair? I’m done. Chicago gets my vote.
I couldn’t include anymore teams without this turning into a thesis, but you can write in whoever you’d like. If you’re still bitter at the Flames for 2003-04 or the Stars for their brutal playoff elimination in 2007-08, by all means tell us about it. Here’s your chance to vent, guys. Let it out. You could win some awesome Sharks tickets in the process.