Given this is the three-month anniversary of The Daily Chum, I hope you’ll indulge me while I try to figure out what exactly I want from the San Jose Sharks this season. In years past the answer has been simple: a Cup. Don’t get me wrong: I still want that. But after last year’s long run I feel, for the first time, like I don’t need one to consider the season a success.
Part of that has to do with maturity. Setting the bar so high leads to constant disappointment, something the Sharks have done quite well no matter where your bar was set in recent years. I want to set more reasonable expectations for the team going forward because enjoying hockey is kind of the point.
The other factor is the mileage put on by last season’s long playoff run. There’s a reason we rarely see repeat champions anymore — the Stanley Cup Playoffs are a marathon and they drain you physically and emotionally. The Sharks obviously won’t have a Stanley Cup hangover, but it stands to reason the bumps and bruises from the upcoming season will hurt more and last longer.
This may be the last season we see Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau in Sharks sweaters. That’s a sad thing and as great as it would be to see them go out as champions, I’ll settle for a great season that feels worthy of what they’ve given to San Jose over the years.
So if I’m not rolling with Cup or Bust, what do I want? I guess I expect the Sharks to make the playoffs and hopefully win at least one round once they get there. That depends a bit on the opponent, of course, if the Sharks get a potential Cup winner in the first round I’ll be less disappointed by an early exit.
As San Jose goes through a bit of a transition in its personnel, it’s also worth getting excited about individual players and their growth. I can’t wait to see Tomas Hertl shine as a third center, I hope to see Mirco Mueller finally figure it out and I’d love to see TImo Meier in teal this year.
Those kinds of expectations, or goals I guess, make being a hockey fan more fun. The goal is to win, of course, but putting all your enjoyment into that basket can make hockey feel more like a job than a hobby. So that’s where I’m at. Let’s get to the playoffs again and, if this is it for Patty and Jumbo, let’s send them off the way they deserve.