I’ve heard some draw from the stories of recent champions as they try to make sense of the Sharks’ woes down the stretch. Brodie Brazil wrote an article discussing 2011’s champions of major American sports – The Boston Bruins, St. Louis Cardinals, Dallas Mavericks and New York Giants. He noted each team’s regular season struggles and how they got out of them. A friend of mine pointed out the 2010 San Francisco Giants’ late run as a reason to hold out hope for the Sharks.
A big part of sports is hope, so I can’t be mad at this sentiment. If you’re a Sharks fan, then all you have right now is belief; belief that San Jose will suddenly snap out of their losing ways and start dominating. But the Sharks have ridden their losing ways out of playoff contention. Their win in Edmonton on Monday night was a start, but they still have much to prove before we can believe in the San Jose stretch run. One things for sure, though – it will be nothing like the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants had no championship expectations leading into the 2010 season. They were ice cold at the All-Star Break and got hot afterwards. Their pitching was far and away their strength, with clutch hitting also playing a part. They had an uncanny belief in each other and an insatiable hunger to prove everyone wrong.
The 2012 Sharks couldn’t be more different. Countless analysts predicted they’d finally win it all, and at the very least the playoffs were a guarantee. They were hot walking into their All-Star Break, then went cold afterward. Their strength is supposed to be goal-scoring, but they aren’t even doing that lately. Their goaltending and defense is secondary, but both are also well below par. Their chemistry seems non-existent as new pieces keep getting added and lines constantly shuffled. The Sharks have an entitled expectation for excellence instead of the kind of desire shown by the 2010 Giants.
The Sharks must write their own redemption story, and the hope is that the first page was written with Monday’s victory. Although they now sit at 9th in the West, the mental hole in which they’re entrenched is deeper than any that Sharks fans have seen in years. There is much work to be done.
Should they make it into the playoffs and somehow go on a miracle run, it wouldn’t be comparable to any other team in any other sport. The story of the Sharks’ redemption will have to be unique; but more importantly, it will have to be logic-defying and spectacular. The final 14 games of the season will be telling — they will determine whether or not the Sharks are truly worthy of contending for a championship.