They aren’t losers anymore. The San Jose Sharks no longer have to bear the weight and burden of the struggles in years past. In their 25th year, they are finally going to the Stanley Cup Final.
You can take a look back at how this team had the President’s Trophy but didn’t win the championship. Or even the time where they were underachieving every time they were predicted to win it all. Or even the sour taste from two years ago when they blew a 3-0 series lead to the rival Los Angeles Kings.
And in a year when they weren’t even considered a favorite with a new head coach, they now have a great chance of winning the Stanley Cup.
Two years ago, the Sharks should have blown up the roster after the embarrassment to the Kings. They kept their head coach and began the season with a dysfunctional handling of the captaincy role. After last year’s disappointment, it was time to change things up.
Still, the core of the team was talented enough to get it done. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski were the leaders of the club and young talents like Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture gave the team a great glimpse into the future. Even blueliners Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic were reliable. Still, the team needed to add some new players to the game.
Head coach Peter DeBoer and general manager Doug Wilson, both entering a season with much desperation, made a trade for Martin Jones. He was exceptional this postseason. They also signed Joel Ward, who came up clutch in this series. Even getting the young Joonas Donskoi proved to be a huge difference-maker all season long.
And the battle they had all postseason culminated to this.
As a Sharks fan, I look at this team and think about all the years I had followed the team. I remember watching the Sharks play for the first time on TV and hoping one day they might win it all. It wasn’t until my college years going to San Jose State University did I invest more time and effort following the team. Every year I believed and every year I wish they won it all.
The fans have been through a lot and the pressure for veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau piled on after every playoff exit. There had been rumblings for years that the team needed to break the roster and start fresh. But it didn’t happen. Maybe it was just the hope that it would work out or maybe it was just ignorance to make any change. Either way, the right roster remained and the team has now made it to the finals.
San Jose has craved for a championship team. The fans have craved it. The players have worked so hard for so long. They finally have made it here. It wasn’t easy and it took a lot of heartbreak to get here. But they deserve it. After going through all that for so long, they have finally arrived as winners. They’ve achieved their next goal. They deserve to be here.
And they deserve to go a little further.