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Saturday, May 28, 2016
San Jose Sharks: Redemption After a Quarter-Century of Heartbreaks?
old-fashioned justice demands that San Jose Sharks win the Stanley Cup against
the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins won
the Cup in 1991 and 1992, powered by the legendary Mario Lemieux and ably
supported by Jaromir Jagr. In 2009 they won it again, led by Lemieux's protege,
Three times have
the Penguins etched their name into NHL history.
But the Sharks? In
the 25 years of their existence, not only have they never won the Stanley Cup,
they never even reached the final, in spite of a profusion of talents.
talent is never enough. If there is no chemistry at the highest level, if there
is no catalyst that can holistically unite the talents, it is bound to be one
heartbreak after another.
And that's what
happened to the San Jose Sharks, and to their long-suffering fans.
But the new Sharks
coach Peter DeBoer, hired only in May, 2015, seems to have found that elusive
ingredient that prevented the Sharks from reaching their full potential. In his
very first year, with deep changes in player roles and an altered philosophy
about playing the game at its most elemental level, he has brought the Sharks
to the penultimate match-up.
It's about time.
Of course, what
stands in the way of the Sharks winning the ultimate prize in NHL is Sidney
Crosby and company.
It falls on the
shoulders of the two Joes, Thornton and Pavelski, and Patrick Marleau, Logan
Couture, Brent Burns and youngsters like Thomas Hertl to check (literally)
Crosby, Malkin and friends to deliver the goods.
Sharks have to
match the Penguins in speed, power play, hustle and hand-eye coordination and
then have something left over to win.
And the only way
they can do that is to win at least one game in Pittsburgh as they open the
It will be tough
but it can be done. The Sharks flounder so badly at times that a fan has
difficulty believing it is a team that contains world-class players. But when
they play to their strength and to their natural abilities as a cohesive team,
no one can stop them. When Martin Jones, the Sharks goalie, is in his groove,
the puck stays put.
But a Penguins fan
can make the same points and conclude that Pittsburgh will win the Cup for the
fourth time in its Lemieux-laden history.
So what does it
all come down to? Surely the thunderous win by the Golden State Warriors against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 'Win-or-Die' Game 6 in Oklahoma City on May 28 - a win for the ages mostly due to the impossible heroics of splash brothers Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry - will be hugely motivational and inspiring.
But in the final analysis it will come down to one advantage in which the Sharks are peerless in the NHL this season.
Ultimately, it is
the team with the most facial hair that will hoist the Stanley Cup in June,