I’ve been a Sharks fan since day one. Listened to Dan Rusanowsky calling the first Sharks game on KNEW 910 AM on my red “My Little Sony” Walkman. From back in 1991 to now, it just seems like our beloved San Jose Sharks end up getting the short end of the stick, whether it’s something from the National Hockey League, or Team Teal did it to themselves. As we celebrate the 25 years in teal, why not torture us one more time?
1991 – Picking #2 at the NHL Entry Draft
Sharks owners George and Gordon Gund wanted to have the team start up right away. The NHL was poised to have them join in with Tampa Bay and Ottawa in 1992. As part of the deal, San Jose had a Dispersal Draft and acquired players from the Minnesota North Stars. In return San Jose and Minnesota were equally pick in an Expansion Draft. Because of this, along with starting in the league one year earlier, San Jose would be selecting 2nd overall in the NHL Entry Draft. Of course the #1 player overall was generational franchise player, Eric Lindros. Deemed “The Next One” refused to play for Quebec (the team that drafted him) you wonder if the Sharks only participated in the Expansion Draft, and select Lindros where their fortunes would be these days.
1993 – Free Agent Tampering
After a 71 loss season, the Sharks were hoping to improve their roster drastically. Of course, in the end, 1993-94 was a great season. But the team might have been even better. Sharks director of hockey operations, Chuck Grillo and Dean Lombardi signed free agents Kelly Miller and Craig Simpson early into free agency. Commissioner Gary Bettman voided Simpson’s contract stating that the way it was structured would eliminate arbritation with Simpson’s former club, Edmonton. A few weeks later, the league would ok a similar contract for former Shark Kelly Kisio to sign in Calgary. Miller would be matched by Washington.
1994 – The Crossbar That Still Makes Sharks Fans Cringe
During the incredible, inaugural postseason trip by the San Jose Sharks, they took down Detroit in seven games, and pushed the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-2 series lead. The Vancouver Canucks were waiting for the winner of this series. Game 6 went into overtime. San Jose had their chances but the one most painful came from Johan Garpenlov:
Toronto would eventually win Game 6 & 7 ending San Jose’s Cinderella run. Many believe, if San Jose defeated Toronto, they could’ve taken down Vancouver (who they were 3-3 with in the regular season) and advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in just their third season.
1997 – The MVP snub
Does anyone remember Mark Recchi’s hat trick at the 1997 NHL All-Star Game in San Jose? Not too well. Everyone does remember Owen Nolan’s hat trick at the 1997 NHL All-Star Game. You know, one of the most iconic goals in NHL history, “The Called Shot”
Commissioner Gary Bettman gave the MVP award to Recchi. The word was that the league already made their decision and didn’t have enough time to change the player of the game to Nolan. Ironic because the year before, Ray Bourque won MVP in the 1996 All-Star Game on a last minute goal.
1997 – Andrei Nazarov Suspended for 13 Games
Sharks forward Andrei Nazarov was supposed to be a a big Russian scoring winger when they selected him #3 overall in the 1992 NHL Draft. He wasn’t quite the scoring winger. He did have a screw loose. As seen here, he pushed an official among other things and was suspended 13 games. The video will show a similar incident where another player throws a linesman to continue a fight and suspended 4 games only.
1997 – Belfour Flip Flops For Dallas
San Jose was looking for a steady netminder. In late January of 1997, they traded Ulf Dahlen, Michal Sykora, and Chris Terreri for Ed Belfour. Belfour didn’t turn out too well in San Jose, however, seemed to compare the Shark Tank to his former arena, the loud Chicago Stadium and would do whatever it takes to re-sign in San Jose. Yeah… that didn’t last long. 12:01 on Free Agent Frenzy day, he signed with the Dallas Stars.
If you ever wondered why Sharks fans were get on Eddie the Eagle or what some called Benedict Belfour, you know why.
1998 – Kerry Fraser vs. the San Jose Sharks
In a game between the Sharks and Canucks, San Jose goalie Mike Vernon was frustrated on Kerry Fraser’s officiating. And Vernon sent a message.
Some considered this message was karma to what happened in Game 5 of the 1998 Western Quarterfinals against Dallas. Game tied, series tied, when Mike Modano shoots and scores but Jamie Langenbrunner was in the crease (you know that infamous rule) and in the way of Mike Vernon “doing his job” to give Dallas the lead and a series lead. San Jose would be irate including Vernon demanding a review but Fraser said no. San Jose loses the series in six games.
2001 – Owen Nolan’s Controversial Suspension
Team Teal had never accomplished a winning season. In 2000-01 they were doing just that and looking like they were on their way to the team’s first ever Pacific Division championship. In a key battle against the Dallas Stars, Owen Nolan is checked from behind from Dallas’ Grant Marshall. Marshall received a five minute major but did not receive a game misconduct. So Nolan with his fiery passion, decided to get even:
Marshall was stretchered off, Nolan was given a match penalty and game misconduct. The replay of the sucker punch was shown on television for days. Over a week later, Nolan was officially suspended 11 games by Colin Campbell. Marshall would miss only one game, and in his first game back, would score his team’s lone goal. San Jose would go in a tail spin and lose the division to Dallas.
2006 – Torres Takes Out Michalek
Game 2 of the Western Semifinals between San Jose and Edmonton would be intense. The hit that changed the series, would be where Milan Michalek would take a blow to the head from Edmonton’s Raffi Torres. Michalek would be out for the series and Torres would not be penalized or suspended or fined.
With that, the Oilers would take more liberties in the series, including Jonathan Cheechoo getting boarded by Georges Laraque. San Jose couldn’t do anything on the power play in the series so Edmonton took advantage of that by roughing up the Sharks.
2006 – Epic Toskala: The Prequel
Before Vesa Toskala had the embarrassing 195 foot shot go in on him, there was this series changing moment.
This was of course after another failed extended power play. San Jose would not recover from it and lose the series while the Oilers would lose in Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. Team Teal was the top seed despite being the 5th seed as the top four seeds were eliminated in the previous round.
2014 – It Was 3-0
Do I really need to say more? If anything, just remember this controversial play in Game 6.
2016 – Pavelski Goalie Interference in Overtime
Game 4 in Round Two between Nashville and San Jose. San Jose had a 3-2 lead but lost it with 3 minutes left. In overtime, Joe Pavelski catches and drops the puck while getting crosschecked by Nashville’s Paul Gaustad and Shea Weber kicking his leg out to trip him, runs into Pekka Rinne and scores after batting the stick in to avoid a hand pass call. The league ok’d the hand pass and goal. The NHL situation room then calls for a goalie interference coach’s challenge situation. They deem Pavelski didn’t allow Rinne to do his job. No goal. However the rule book states that
“If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.”
This was “NO GOAL”
Earlier in the Los Angeles series, this goal by the Kings was challenged and upheld:
The game which should’ve been for San Jose, and lead the series 3-1. Instead, Nashville won in triple overtime, tying the series 2-2.
What this all tells is this. The San Jose Sharks, organization, personnel, players, and long time fans have taken rough blows. Appreciate that they continue to stay close in their pursuit for hockey’s ultimate prize.
However, after all these frustrating heartbreaks, the team fell apart and didn’t achieve the goal. If this team is different, it must take bad blows and persevere to be victorious. If San Jose can do this, they can win the series and who knows what else.