Over the last seven seasons, the Sharks have one of the best overall records in the NHL; the only team with more regular season victories in the league is Detroit. They’ve won the presidents trophy, won their division five times, have made the playoffs six straight years and 12 of the last 14. Gone to the conference finals two straight years and three times total, and only been eliminated in the first round four times, and only once since 2000.
If you step back from being elminated this season — those are some damn impressive numbers. Yet, I think many sharks fans feel disappointed because the team hasn’t gone to the cup finals or won a cup. Now, in reality, in the last 15 years (30 teams playing) only 16 different teams have made the cup finals and of that 9 of them only made it once. Detroit has been there 6 times and New Jersey 4. So half the league hasn’t made the league finals in a decade and a half. Â In the last 15 years, only 9 different teams have one the cup.
I feel the same way, by the way. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t. The cup finals were very attainable this year, and the team didn’t get there. Not because of the fluke goal, but because the team allowed themselves to be in a position where the fluke goal eliminated them. That situation was avoidable, but they didn’t.
But objectively, there are easily 25 teams in the league that would do almost anything to have the success of the Sharks. Consistently good, consistently competitive, consistently in the playoffs, and consistently going fairly deep into the playoffs. Most teams don’t get that far, and the Sharks show no signs that they’re going to fade.
Yet it’s not good enough, and shouldn’t be.
And so here’s a question for Sharks fans that I’ve been pondering.
What would you be willing to accept to make the Cup finals? Â If you were told the Sharks would win a Stanley Cup — guaranteed — next season, but in return, they’d have to miss the playoffs for three seasons after that, would you take that bargain? Five seasons missing the playoffs?
What Devil’s bargain do you make to get to the Cup? Or are you willing to step back, realize what is going on here is pretty good, keep things Â the way they are, and support the team as they continue to try to push to that next level, but without guarantees?
Honestly, if you could guarantee a Cup, I would in fact take a couple of seasons out of the playoffs for that. Two or three. Five? I don’t think so. I’ve done my time with an expansion team, I’m not looking forward to doing it again. But I’d make the sacrifice of a sucky team for a couple of seasons to get over the top. Would you?
And think hard about that question as the pundits go out and start calling for the sharks to do something drastic to get over the hump. Or when you do. And realize that when Doug Wilson and his team have to make that decision, there won’t be a guarantee.
And remember that 27 teams were sitting at home watching the Sharks play the Canucks and wishing that was them this week.
Every year, 30 teams open camp in august trying to win the cup, and 29 of them fail. That’s why they want them so badly. I’m not for a minute suggest we should settle for what we’ve got with the sharks and not strive for that next level — but realize exactly what we’re asking for, and how hard it is to get there. In 15 years, half the league’s never been able to.
And so what the Sharks have accomplished needs to be remembered and not discounted, and we have to realize that every step that needs to be taken is infinitely harder than the step just accomplished. And no matter how hard the team tries, it might not succeed.
But try it must, and will.