The San Jose Sharks won the first postseason series they ever played in, toppling the Detroit Red Wings in seven games in 1994. You know that, probably, and know all about Jamie Baker’s game-winning goal against the Winged Wheels. Baker makes for a good poster child when looking at the colossal upset.
Another who vies for that honor? Vlastimil Kroupa. At just 18 years old the Czech Republic defender scored the very first postseason game-winning goal in San Jose Sharks history. A team that never should have made the playoffs (33-35-16) beating a team it never should have beaten on a goal scored by a player who only played 105 NHL games in his career.
San Jose drafted Kroupa in the second round of the 1993 draft (No. 45) and the Czech skater played in 27 regular season games with the Sharks that season. He tallied four points that year and 22 over four seasons with San Jose, but his first ever postseason goal couldn’t have been bigger for the fledgling franchise.
As is unfortunately the case for many games of this era, there doesn’t appear to be video of the goal anywhere online. Since the NHL destroyed its archive when switching to NHL.TV, we’ll have to use our imaginations when thinking about the improbable tally. The puck was sold on eBay earlier this year for under $200.
After a few seasons spent in the AHL in the late 1990s, Kroupa returned to the Czech Republic to continue his career. He played 11 seasons in his homeland, most of which were spent playing for Litvinov HC. Kroupa retired following the 2010-11 seasons. He played in 499 games in the Czech Extraliga and tallied 108 points.
The 1993-94 Sharks were known best for aging stars Sergei Makarov (35) and Igor Larionov (33), but it was the youngest player on the team who got the first game-winning goal in franchise history. His goal in game one against Detroit was Kroupa’s only postseason goal and one of just three postseason points.
An unlikely goal scored by the last player you’d expect for a team nobody thought had a chance to win more than a game. Sometimes the narratives we’re given are the best ones.