Plank's rivalry depth chart has some good stuff, but I'd order things a little differently.
Why? Mostly because their fans are obnoxious. Anyone remember that home game a few years back where some Flyers fans pulled down some San Jose Sports Hall of Fame plaques after the game? It's always douchy in Philadelphia, but their fans bring a little on the road as well.
This one is for the Darryl Sutter era Sharks fans, and haters of Chris Pronger everywhere. Al MacInnis winding up for a slap shot capable of puncturing the sideboards was a scary, scary site. Marc Bergeron's dye job was also scary, but sort of fun-scary considering his own-goal in the playoffs. But Owen Nolan putting the hurt on, frustrating a young Pronger into yet-another bad penalty, and scoring from center-ice? That was fun.
Now one for the here-and-now. This team may rise in the rivalry rankings if they continue to build on their success last season, and don't let the keystone-kops off-ice drama nonsense affect their on-ice performance. And Brian Campbell was kind of disingenuous in his public statements about playing here.
I actually don't know why, but every game the Sharks play against the Canucks, there's a fight. Maybe it's organizational collective memory for Dana Murzyn cheap-shotting Ulf Dahlen?
Here's one that fairly one-sided. We made a real impression on the Predators and their fans by knocking them out of the playoffs two years in a row (welcome to the postseason, kid!). The Preds also have picked up some Shark-killers through the years (Kariya, Forsberg, Arnott), and have Jordan Tootoo, which automatically means it's extra-fun to make them suffer. Barry Trotz looks like a neanderthal who accidentally walked into a Men's Wearhouse, which is very amusing!
That most-painful Conference Finals series turned on a Rafi Torres getting away with a cheap-shot on Milan Michalek, setting the template for most future Sharks playoff opponent strategies: beat the holy living hell out of the Sharks skill players and wait for the collapse. Also, Pronger.
The Flames haven't kicked in the Sharks teeth like the Oil did in 2005, but they're a much more formidable opponent night-in and -out, so they get the nod for 4th over their neighbors. The Flames, under Darryl Sutter, have inherited the mantle of the pre-millenial Sharks teams: physical, hard-working, tough to play against, clueless on the power-play, incapable of scoring the big goal when they need it, exhausted by the end of the regular season. Maybe that's why the more-skill oriented contemporary Sharks teams have done decently against the Flames? Dunno, but it's always a battle, every minute of every period. And even when the Sharks beat them in the playoffs, they still lose because they're too concussed and banged up to recover for the next round.
3. Dallas Stars
There's a lot of history here. The Sharks made a rather dumb agreement to enter the league a year earlier than the other third-wave expansion teams by taking some North Stars players instead of draft picks. This kept the Sharks from being terrible enough to draft #1 overall even though they sucked. Hard. When the Sharks started being decent, the now-Dallas Stars were rope-a-doping their way to the league's elite-tier, eventually winning the Cup. Since then, they've usually been challenging for the Pacific's top spot during the regular season. Two years ago, an atypical underdog Stars team laid low the mighty (tired) Sharks team in the second round (see Flames, Calgary above) thanks to Brenden Morrow scoring like a chimp and Marty Turco outplaying a goalie in the postseason, the only time in his career he's done such a thing.
A reverse of situation with the Predators, this is a huge rivalry for the Sharks, and barely on the radar for the Red Wings. To be the man, you gotta beat the man, as the Bard sez. If and when the Sharks finally break-through against the Red Wings in the playoffs, it will be a happy, happy day for San Jose fans, and a cacophony of whining and disbelief in Hockeytown USA. As much respect as (most) Sharks fans give the organization, Detroit fans have earned their mantle as the most universally disliked hockey fans in the NHL despite their vast hockey knowledge, and despite the soul-crushing economic and sociological downward spiral Michigan has endured for going-on three decades now. No mean feat.
1. Anaheim Ducks (nee Mighty Ducks)
Geographically and historically bound together due to their proximity and expansion heritage, the Sharks and Ducks have nonetheless been a study in contrasts in both their failures and successes. While the Sharks as an organization have for the most part preached and practiced a cautious and incremental strategy for winning, the Ducks have been rash and tumultuous and unpredictable and also had their name engraved on Lord Stanley's Cup. It's the damndest thing, and makes the despair of losing to a seemingly lame-fowl Ducks team in the first round last year after a President's Trophy regular season performance especially hard to take. What the hell have we been doing for 82 games, with our "Process" and patience and good habits, if a bunch of kids and Ol' Man Niedermeyer can just turn it on at will? Everything about how the Ducks play and manage their team is something of a rebuke to all the things the Sharks believe in as the Way to the Holy Land.
Don't believe me? Well, look at Corey Perry vs. Milan Michalek. Both skilled, both scorers. Michalek has been brought along with the idea that he must earn his ice-time and be defensively responsible. Make smart plays, use his speed and size, and help his line mates. Cory Perry has, basically, been told to go out and raise hell, and btw here's first-line minutes. Who had more post-season success? You already know the answer.
So, the answer is clear: The Anaheim Ducks are the top rival of the Sharks, and that goes all the way through the team and management.
Whither the Kings?
Some of you might be wondering why the Kings, another regional rival with an ex-Sharks GM at the helm, aren't in the top-ten. Well, they probably should be, but as of late I just don't see much of a rivalry on the Sharks side. I like the Kings, actually, and I'd like to seem them get some regular season success (primarily against their OC neigbors, 'course). But they just have not provided much to hate on these last couple of years, from the perspective of a San Jose fan.