This isn’t the way I wanted to say goodbye to the 2016 San Jose Sharks. A 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night ended the greatest season in the history of the franchise, and with it came a different type of sting. I love this team, warts and all, and that’s why it hurts so much to say goodbye.
For what feels like the first time since Jamie Baker sunk the Detroit Red Wings, the Sharks overachieved. That’s an oversimplification, to be sure, but after years of underwhelming finishes San Jose found a way to lose with its dignity mostly intact.
Pittsburgh was the better team for the vast majority of this series, that much is certain. Frustration with injuries and swallowed whistles aside, the Sharks didn’t play well enough to win. That's okay, really. This team served San Jose well — giving Sharks fans a reason to come together and celebrate once again.
We’re still waiting for a parade in San Jose — and perhaps we’ll have to wait a while longer. The Sharks will raise a banner in the fall, albeit not the one we were all hoping for. This iteration of the San Jose Sharks wildly exceeded my own expectations, beating the Kings, Predators and Blues en route to its first ever Stanley Cup Final.
I celebrated the Sharks’ triumphs this year as they played with house money after railroading the Kings. Joonas Donskoi’s overtime winner to give the Sharks their first ever Stanley Cup Final win is a moment I’ll never forget — a feeling I imagine is mutual among the rest of us.
Instead of being haunted by missed opportunities, I’ll remember the good times we all had together. The monster game seven against Nashville, the incredible third period in game five against the Kings and the dominant game six against the Blues all stand out as amazing moments in the best San Jose postseason in franchise history.
So this isn’t the goodbye we wanted to say. Maybe we don’t have to say goodbye — not really. In just four months we’ll be back watching many of these same players in teal. There are some players we’ll have to say goodbye too, of course, but come early October we’ll get to see these guys back at the Shark Tank with our friends and family all over again.
In the coming days and weeks this loss will sting. But I hope that in the future I, and the rest of us, can look back at this season fondly. I love the 2016 Sharks — and that’s why it hurts so much to say goodbye.