When the Sharks first arrived in San Jose 22 years ago as the bastard child of the Minnesota North Stars, they weren't immediately equipped with any natural rivalries. Sure, there were the Kings, but they had Wayne Gretzky and were good at hockey while the Sharks were busy setting the single-season NHL record for losses. There are innumerable patently false hockey cliches, but one that might have some truth to it is that rivalries aren't truly forged in this league outside of the playoffs. So when an upstart Sharks team made the dance for the first time in franchise history and upset the Red Wings in 1994 (only to be bageled by Detroit the following year), the best kind of hockey relationship--one rooted in hatred and envy, of course--was initiated between San Jose and Detroit.
There are arguments to be made that the Sharks' rivalries with Dallas and St. Louis in the late nineties or the Ducks following the 2005 lockout cut deeper than their conflict with the Red Wings but none have lasted longer or taken on more iterations than the one with the Winged Wheel. From Jamie Baker's iconic series-winner to the crushing tennis series to Robert Lang's deflating game-tying goal to the years in which the Sharks organization lusted after the Wings' success and finally slayed the dragon, no opposing team has played a more significant role in Sharks history. Tonight will mark the final time the Red Wings visit San Jose as an intra-conference opponent, with realignment shifting Detroit to the as-of-yet unnamed Division C. They'll still visit the Tank once a year and there's always the possibility these teams will face off in the Stanley Cup Final at some point in the distant future but the rivalry will likely die with the 2013 season. Here's a look back at five of the most memorable Sharks/Wings games to ever take place on San Jose ice.
January 4th, 2007 - Sharks 9, Red Wings 4
January 17th, 2009 - Sharks 6, Red Wings 5
April 23rd, 1994 - Sharks 4, Red Wings 3
May 8th, 2010 - Sharks 2, Red Wings 1
May 12th, 2011 - Sharks 3, Red Wings 2
|17-11-5, 39 points
||15-11-6, 36 points|
|5th in Western Conference||8th in Western Conference|