San Jose Sharks

Wed, 18 Mar 2009 07:04

History of San Jose Sharks

Information about the NHL team San Jose Sharks.

The San Jose Sharks are one of the teams in the Western Conference of the NHL. They were established in 1967 and were formerly known as the Oakland Seals. However, there was little market for hockey during that time so the Seals were forced to move in 1976 from their original home town to Cleveland. They would be then called the Barons. Yet, their move was not enough to keep them out of financial trouble. After two years, the Barons would merge with the Minnesota North Stars, another team with money woes. The team owners would push for moving the team to the Bay Area and, by 1990, an agreement was reached between Bay Area and Minnesota to create a new franchise.

As a new team began in San Jose, the franchise asked people to provide the right names. The winner of the contest was “Blades.” However, the team owners did not like the nickname since it is often associated with weapons. They would choose the runner-up for the contest, which is “Sharks.” Technically, “Sharks” is an appropriate name for the franchise since many of these animals are living in the Pacific Ocean. The Bay Area also had a place called the “Red Triangle” where different species of sharks can be found. The qualities of a shark –relentless, determined, swift, agile, bright, and fearless– are what the team owners wanted their organization to develop.

The early years

The first star player for the San Jose Sharks was Pat Falloon, the 2nd pick during the 1991 NHL Draft. The team also had George Kingston as their head coach for the first two seasons. The roster of the very first San Jose Sharks was composed of journeyman talents but they would have a star-caliber player in Doug Wilson, who was named for that year’s All-Star game. Yet, the Sharks were not very successful in their first two seasons. By the end of the 1992-1993 season, the San Jose Sharks would fire coach Kingston. He would be later replaced by Kevin Constantine.

Under Constantine’s leadership, the San Jose Sharks would reach the 1993-1994 NHL Playoffs. They secured the 8th spot in the Western Conference and faced off against the Detroit Red Wings in the first round. The Red Wings were heavily favored to win the championship that year but, in a stunning upset, the San Jose Sharks would come out victorious in seven games. They would then meet the Toronto Maple Leafs in the next round, where they would lead 3-2 but would lose in the final two games. Those two playoff matches gave the San Jose Sharks the energy they needed to become contenders in their conference.

The following year, the San Jose Sharks would get back to the playoffs. They reached the second round and faced off against the Calgary Flames, which they would beat in seven games. However, they would lose in the semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings. The team would fail to qualify in the 1995-1996 playoffs since they made considerable changes in their lineup. They would trade Sandis Ozolinsh and Igor Larionov. They would also lose Arturs Irbe due to an injury. Yet, the San Jose Sharks would be able to get Owen Nolan from the Colorado Avalanche.

The arrival of Patrick Marleau

The San Jose Sharks would have various coaching changes during the next seasons as they continued to remain at the bottom of the NHL standings. They qualified for a lottery pick in the 1997 NHL draft and were given the 2nd overall selection. They used this to pick Patrick Marleau, the future captain of the team. During the 1997-1998 season, the San Jose Sharks were able to shake off their roster problems and they would reach the playoffs once again. Their head coach was Darryl Sutter and they played with goaltender Mike Vernon. However, they would fail to advance in the first round. This trend continued for the next two years.

In the 1999-2000 season, the San Jose Sharks would have a winning record and would match up against the St. Louis Blues in the first round. The Sharks were considered the underdogs in that series but they were able to finish off their opponents in seven games. The following round, the San Jose Sharks would lose to the Dallas Stars. In the 2000-2001 season, the San Jose Sharks had the services of Evgeni Nabokov, who won the Rookie of the Year award. They would also get Teemu Selanne from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in exchange for Jeff Friesen and Steve Shields.

The San Jose Sharks and the St. Louis Blues would face off again in the 2000-2001 playoffs. However, the results would be different as the Blues won in six games. In the next season, the San Jose Sharks would acquire Adam Graves in exchange for Mikael Samuelsson. The San Jose Sharks also won that year’s Pacific Division title and would beat the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round of the playoffs. They would then bow out to the Colorado Avalanche in the following round. After the season ended, the San Jose Sharks acquired Kyle McLaren, Jeff Jillson, and Dan McGillis in a three-way trade.

Continuing the changes

The team would shake up their rosters again in 2003. Following the departure of Selanne, the San Jose Sharks would get Alyn McCauley and Wayne Primeau. They would also have rookie Jim Fahey. That season, the San Jose Sharks were filled with many young talents. Christian Ehrhoff and Tom Preissing led the team in the youth revolution. They also had the services of Alexander Korolyuk. By the end of the regular season, the San Jose Sharks had 104 points and would win the Pacific Division title again. They would meet the St. Louis Blues in the first round and would dispatch them in five games. They then battled the Colorado Avalanche the following round, which they beaten in six matches. For the first time, the San Jose Sharks would reach the conference finals, only to lose to the Calgary Flames in six games.

In the early parts of the 2005-2006 season, the San Jose Sharks found themselves at the bottom of the Pacific Division. They would revamp their lineup by trading Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau, and Marco Sturm to get Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins. The athletic skills of Thornton complemented with excellent saving talents of Vesa Toskala rejuvenated the San Jose Sharks to make them clinch the 5th spot in the Western Conference playoffs. The team would beat the Nashville Predators in the first round before falling to the Edmonton Oilers in the conference semfinals. However, Joe Thornton would win that season’s MVP award.

By the 2006-2007 season, the San Jose Sharks had the youngest players on average. They would also post a 20-7-0 start. Their excellent team play allowed the San Jose Sharks to reach the playoffs again and face off versus the Nashville Predators. They would win this match in 5 games and set themselves up for a meeting with the Detroit Red Wings. Although heavily favored to win, the San Jose Sharks lost the series in 6 games. Looking to the future, the San Jose Sharks continue to develop their young talents to help them gain a championship trophy.