Jan 29, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) reacts between plays against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Observations From a Midwesterner: San Jose Sharks


With my pending visit to the Shark Tank on Tuesday, it was imperative that the next team in this series be the San Jose Sharks.

The Sharks are one of those teams which the city the team is named after is actually near a larger market (in this case the San Francisco Bay Area).  I will admit most people, and myself at one point, are ignorant about where San Jose is actually located in California.  As a child, I had a healthy obsession with Sharks, and naturally gravitated towards the Sharks logo, begging my parents for a Sharks starter jacket.

Of course I was rewarded with a Minnesota Timberwolves coat instead (beats me) and an explanation that the Sharks jackets were gang affiliated in Chicago (apparently West Side Story had infiltrated the south suburbs of Chicago).  This lead to me looking on a map for San Jose, and as a result discovering that the Sharks were basically San Francisco’s team.

The Sharks are a young team in NHL terms, forming in 1990. As a result, they have yet to appear in a Stanley Cup finals, and have a lack of hall-of-fame caliber franchise players who spent their best years with the team.

Polling casual NHL fans, it would be challenging finding anyone that can name a Sharks player before 2005. The Sharks do have some current top NHL talent including “Jumbo” Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. They have perennially been near the top of the Western Conference for the last couple years, even winning the President’s Cup for best record, and with the resurgence of the LA Kings and the always frustrating Vancouver Canucks there should be some bright hockey and fun rivalries in the Sharks future.

History:  The Sharks are a young team, with one President’s Cup but no conference championships.  Recent success has made them a perennial playoff team.  Unfortunately no older or “legendary” players to combine with playoff success to develop history and tradition.

Players: Current players including Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Martin Havlat provide the star power while recent Stanley Cup winners Adam Burish and Antti Niemi provide playoff experience.  As mentioned previously, the longest tenured Hall of Famer was Igor Larionov for 2 years back in 1993 and as such there is a lack of historical player star power.

Stadium: The HP Pavillion is also known as the Shark Tank, which is an awesome nickname for a hockey arena. The team supposedly has a unique entrance to the ice, but the stadium is located in San Jose, which according to my local sources, is more of a suburban area as opposed to San Francisco or the East Bay.

Ease of Adoption: With a lack of history and tradition, no mainstream NHL stars (think Crosby Ovechkin, Toews, etc), and in my opinion a less desirable stadium location, the Sharks get a 3 out of 5 for ease of adoption.

Note: I will be attending my first Bay Area game, a Sharks game, on Tuesday.  I will post my experience and hope to update my rating after that time.

Tags: Adam Burish Antti Niemi Joe Thornton Patrick Marleau San Jose Sharks

  • http://www.facebook.com/jollyandy Andrew Weiglein

    I would contest the statement that the Sharks are basically San Francisco’s team. Nevermind that San Francisco is 45-60 minutes away from San Jose, San Jose’s population is greater than San Francisco’s by order of magnitude (1 mil compared to 0.75 mil), and the greater San Jose metro area eclipses 1.25 mil easily. The fans in the San Jose area are rabid, whereas not many people in SF really care much about hockey, being more interested in baseball and football. The Sharks are San Jose’s only professional sports franchise. The entire city rallies around the team.

    Your statement would be somewhat akin to saying “the Devils are basically New York’s team.” Only not quite, because Newark is much closer to Manhattan than SJ is to SF. And New York even has their own hockey franchise. Perhaps a more appropriate comparison would be saying that the Capitols are basically Baltimore’s team. Such a statement would completely ignore the fact that Washington, DC is its own distinct city with its own history and its own hockey fanbase.

    • Darren Nelson

      Andrew, without getting into the specifics or metropolitan cities, San Francisco is significantly more well known and popular than San Jose outside of California, or maybe the west coast as a whole. As a resident of the Midwest for over 25 years, the Sharks are considered by many if not most fans in the Midwest as San Francisco’s team and San Jose is seen as sort of a suburb of San Francisco, similar to the Anaheim-LA relationship or Arlington-Dallas. Obviously, this is not accurate, but this is what I have observed in my time outside the bay area.

      I will be attending the game tomorrow night, and I have only heard positive things about the team and its fans. I will be posting an article about my experience.

      • El_B

        Those of us that live in/around San Jose cant help the ignorance of other teams and their fans. However, The Sharks ARE NOT San Francisco’s hockey team… San Jose is the Silicon Valley and the Silicon Valley is San Jose.. The City is its own entity completely.

        This would be similar to calling the San Diego Chargers LA’s football team.. ridiculous.

    • DieHawkBlackHardFan

      I would contest the statement that you understand what an order of magnitude is.

      Based on Wikipedia research, San Fransisco population is 805,235 and San Jose population is 945,942 (or 1.2x SF).

      For SJ population to be greater by an order of magnitude, SJ would need 8 million residents. Your statement would be akin to saying San Jose is as big of a city as New York.

      How long until the Sharts choke in the playoffs again?