Trying to put this loss in context. It didn’t hit me as hard as some years, because I fully expected it, but still, this Sharks team shouldn’t be going out in the first round.
Dave Pollak at the Merc has an interesting perspective:
Five games. Every other first-round exit lasted six. Until Saturday night’s 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues, who won their first playoff series since 2002.
Think about that for a second. Since St. Louis last won a series, the Sharks — a franchise 25 years younger — have won nine.
That isn’t a defense of the team’s management in the wake of a very disappointing 2011-12 season. Just a statement of fact to put things in context.
The reality is, every year one team wins the Stanley Cup and twenty-nine do not. the Sharks are in their twenties, but if you stop and think about it, if the Cup were rotated to each team one per year (like the All-Star game is), the Sharks wouldn’t have had their time with it. Objectively, there’s still a few years to go before they are “late” to the Cup.
Sports and sports fandom, however, are not objective things. That’s not how fans think. Nor should they. So when a team falls short, it hurts. When you look at a team and you wonder if it’s peaked and the window is closing, it hurts. But in sports, sometimes you do your best, and it’s not enough.
Was this season this team’s best? Honestly, no. It struggled to get on a roll all year. But this first round against the Blues? I don’t have many complaints. I don’t think the Sharks lost this series, they were beaten.
I also don’t think the Sharks “fell back” much, either. I think what we’re seeing is a league where many teams are making strong positive moves in their talent and execution. This is parity, and I like it. there are 25 teams capable of making the playoffs and not being embarrassed being there.
Take a step back and think about it. Which team would you rather be a fan of: the Sharks, who haven’t won a Cup yet, but have been in the playoffs consistently and played deep into the playoffs a number of times — or the Florida Panthers, who ran to the Stanley Cup in 1996, and didn’t make the playoffs again for a decade? or the Blues, another team that’s been out of the playoffs for years that’s now back in the mix?
Would you really put up with a decade of cheering on the Islanders for one Cup?
Of course, I want both. But honestly, if I can’t have both, the Sharks have done a good job of keeping me entertained.
So for me, I’m disappointed, but life moves on. I know some fans and media types like to whine about parity) and those whines get louder and more insistent the closer you get to cities like New York or Detroit where there’s this sense of entitlement that of course they should win every year) — but it’s good for hockey, good for the league, and fun to watch.
That doesn’t mean the Sharks can or should stand pat. I’m thinking through what changes I think are necessary, and a post mortem is coming. But I own’t be burning my jersey in protest. Instead, I think I’ll sit down and watch the Bruins game…