Lots of new people will be making their way into the comments going forward- some lifelong readers who have begun to sign up, Sharks fans who have just discovered the internet, people who are new to the sport and are swept up in playoff fever.
For all of those that have read this year, and especially those who have been here on a daily basis in the game threads and discussions, we salute you. Your dedication to FTF inspires ours, a direct correlation that will be remembered with pride and warmth for years to come.
This season has been relatively care free- we've argued about the merits of Plihal vs. Goc, whether or not Mitchell deserves to be in the starting line up when he returns to action, how to fix the team when they hit a skid earlier this month. Nabokov and Boucher have been thrown around, Cheechoo's name mentioned. It's made us strong yes, but have we been truly tested? Has the community been on the verge of splitting in two?
The playoffs are a different beast, an evolved version of our current selves. It may be the first round, down 3-2 in the series, with the Sharks on a flight to Anaheim for an elimination game. It could be the second round in Calgary, headed into the third overtime with the series knotted at two. It's possible that it will occur in the Western Conference Finals against Detroit, where a neutral zone turnover in game seven means a goal going the other way, or a full-fledged shot of momentum when Nabokov makes a sprawling pad save.
Days will punch and bleed into weeks. Months will trickle by as you sleep. We will be tested as a fanbase. We will observe something poetic and brutal in the same breath. We will be divided and reunited on a period by period basis- but we will never be conquered.
The community has expanded and thrived. It is ours, and ours alone. We may be a group of individuals dispersed across the United States, but we are family whether or not we sit down at the dinner table every night. We are a group of people with different philosophies on life, united in one common goal. A conglomerate of men and women allowed to act like children when the time, and need, arises.
Thank you so much for being a part of our lives- it has been an honor to discuss this team with everyone this season. We have learned from you and hopefully you have learned from us. Through a common interest we have built a rare oasis on the interweb highway, a place that many of us consider (myself included) to be a second home.
It's March 31st. Lines will be drawn, emotions will come into play. But at the end of it all, no matter what fate befalls the San Jose Sharks, we will stand together as equals.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.