Well, here we are.
The Anaheim Ducks did it in 2007, the Los Angeles Kings did it in 2012. So, by that logic, we get our cup in 2017, right?
Truth be told, I live in Los Angeles. And I can tell you, sitting here in my apartment, glancing over the Sharks bobbleheads, pucks, and other memorabilia decorating my room, tonight wasn't hard. It wasn't awful. I feel at peace. Because the Kings just reminded me that anyone can do this. There's no point in holding yourself to a high standard, or getting caught up in expectations just to watch them fall prematurely. I'd give a left nut to watch Joe Thornton hoist the cup, but I want him to earn it on his own first. I want this team, and this city, to remember that we are the San Jose Sharks. We are believers. We are fans. We aren't whiners, we aren't quitters. We're determined.
I'm sure watching Dustin Brown, Jonathan Quick, and Drew "Fuck Him" Doughty raise the cup tonight brought many feelings to Sharks fans tonight. Feelings of despair. Feelings of depression. Feelings of disbelief. Feelings. And believe me, I can understand each and every one of those. However, tonight, I have only one feeling. And that's a feeling of congratulations, relief, and excitement.
You're probably thinking "Great, he just told us he lives in Los Angeles, next he's gonna say he's switching to the Dark Side." Wrong. I'll always Bleed Teal. I can understand that, as a Sharks fan, it’s hard to see our rivals in Southern California hoist the Cup. But at a moment like this, you have to set aside the rivalries of your fandom and look at the facts.
The Kings have waited a long, LONG time for this. They’ve gone through three arenas and forty-five years of doubt, anxiety, Miracles, and McSorleys alike. Hell, they had Wayne FUCKING Gretzky, and they still couldn’t seal the deal. The Sharks have gone through heartbreaks and failures together as a team and a fanbase, but it’s only been twenty years. And those past years have made us stronger. We’re no longer just an expansion team, twiddling our thumbs and wishing for a better year. Even though we’ve had our highs and lows for the past twenty-one seasons, we’ve accomplished so much in that time. The future is nothing but bright for this organization. People take this team, this city, much more seriously than they thought the would when they joined the league in 1991.
So many Sharks fans get wrapped up in the idea of having to live up to a certain standard set by other teams. But if we continue to compare ourselves to other organizations and try to copy their style (cough cough Detroit cough cough), we’ll always wind up disappointing ourselves. This sport isn’t about copying playbooks. It’s a chess match. It’s taking those plays, and finding the best way to logically exploit them in the heat of the moment. It’s a sport that makes you think on your feet, tremble on your toes, and grind your legs to make something happen. Hockey demands everything- your heart, your blood, your sweat, your tears, your smiles, your teeth, your toothless smiles after losing teeth, everything. Somewhere among that fray, a champion rises out of the dogpile. Sometimes, it’s the one we predict. Other times, it’s completely out of the blue. But there’s absolutely no way of telling who, where, or when a team will win in this sport. It’s just impossible. Look at how the Devils played after going down 3-0. Even though the Kings had thrown down the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd seeds, a 6th-seeded team was the first team to make them doubt themselves. That alone should prove that this is a game that’s always up for grabs. I was at Staples Center for Game 3 of the Sharks/Kings series in 2011, and watched as the Sharks went down 4-0, only to come together and come back to win 6-5 Game 3 against Los Angeles Kings. One year later, that same team we beat is hoisting the Cup. Further proof that this is a sport where anything, ANYTHING, can happen.
Because of all the success we’ve had in the past, it’s hard to remember that we are just twenty one years old. We still have such a bright, talented, and awesome future ahead of us. I’m not going to say “Don’t worry, our cup will come,” because I honestly can’t tell you how or when that will happen. But nobody can. No team, no franchise, can tell its players “This is the year. Do this, and you’ll get the shiny thing at the end.” It’s a matter of circumstance, endurance, and focus when those two start offsetting each other.
As a Sharks fan, I’m glad to see the Kings win the cup. If anything, this will only spike a new interest in hockey out west. And as much as I love the Sharks, a major city like Los Angeles winning the Cup without the distractions of the Lakers or the NBA only helps the sport of hockey reach new fans in California, and sustain older ones.
Besides, if someone in SoCal has to win it, I’m taking the Kings over Anaheim.
What I’m trying to say, you guys, is fuck Anaheim.
Fuck Anaheim hard.
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