08 May 2007
Well here's the point. Each city has it's own identity, and each one relishes that identity. That's why the Oakland Raiders take such pleasure in looking like lunatic fans, because they are they crazy, little (very) disturbed brother of the bay area. Well the only major sports team in the area that Silicon Valley has to call it's own is the San Jose Sharks. It's their team, and they are very proud of that. It has formed the valley's identity. (notice I'm not saying our... I am born and bred in Denver and haven't lived here very long. Just long enough to appreciate the relationship between the Sharks and their team).
The Sharks are very well-liked here, but they aren't unconditionally loved yet. They are well on their way, but they haven't had that post season run that captivates the entire town yet. Think of teams that are universally loved in their towns. The Avalanche, the Red Wings, the Dallas Stars, the Buffalo Sabres etc. All those teams have made deep runs through the playoffs, and more importantly they took the entire city along for the ride.
The most frustrating thing about the Sharks run here is that the Sharks were poised for that kind of emotional ride here. There was a buzz starting to develop around town, and the magic was there. and emotional conference finals with their in-state nemesis from the south (The Ducks) would have captivated the city, and put the city into a frenzy. Thronton's name would be overheard on bus rides, Sharks flags would have been on nearly every car window and kids would have been begging their mom's for Sharks gear from the Grocery store. I am convinced a battle of California would have gotten San Jose's fans over-the-hump, from knowledgable and smart, to unhealthily obsessive.
Now that they are out, sports talk around the city will subside, and more importantly, and tragically, the hockey-talk around the office will subside. People will turn their attention to the Warriors improbable playoff run, but only mildly, since that's Oaklands team. Luckily I was able to get soem co-workers in a hockey playoff contest so some talk will still be there, but the talk won't be the same. It will be a mild passing interest, instead of a fervent fandom. They didn't even have the heart-breaking loss that fans can say "Wait-until-next-year." Instead they flamed out, squelching two 2-goal leads and then fading quitely into the monday night. No last gasp, no epic battle, no last second fights. A quiet 2-0 shutout to an efficient Red Wings team.
San Jose is primed to be a hockey town. It only needs one more very deep postseason run to make it there.It made a run to the conference finals once, and lost to the Flames, and then the lockout happened. It's ready to explode, all they need is a team to latch onto.
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