I have been a lifelong Sharks fan for at least two weeks, and if there’s anything my hours of fandom have taught me it’s this: Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky is wrong to underestimate the mighty Sharks.
Yes, a sea of troubles stands between my allegedly beloved, cartilaginous hockey dudes and the first Stanley Cup of the Joe Thornton era (or any other era). Tomas Hertl and Erik Karlsson are both chilling in San Jose—a major nearby city I definitely would have visited more if it were even slightly accessible by public transit from San Francisco—while Joe Pavelski might also be out thanks to a blow to the head.
That’s a lot of bite (16 goals) missing from the collective mouth of the Sharks, but here is a shark fact: A shark will have between 30,000 and 50,000 teeth in its lifetime. The philosophy of next man (tooth) up is bred into the mind of a shark in the ocean just as much as it is in the Shark Tank. Does a shark fear the loss of a tooth? No. Does a Shark fear someone named Jaden? No.
Two of the possible replacements were seen fighting just a little bit at practice this morning. Pessimists would argue it’s a sign of the team’s unraveling, a spasm of anger in reaction to the knowledge that their run has all come crashing down amid injury, fatigue, and a final cruel turn at the end of the Western Conference Finals. Sharks loyalists, however, know what it means. They (we) know it means the team is prepared for the unrelenting physicality of the Blues. What better way to psych yourself up for 60 minutes of punishment than to see what it feels like among the fellas? Iron sharpens iron. They aren’t falling apart, they’re getting pumped up.
Four times, the Sharks have faced elimination in these playoffs, and four times they’ve emerged the victors. The Golden Knights couldn’t put them away. The Avalanche tried and failed. Series wins have been kept from them in those metal shark diving cages before, and they’ve busted through the bars each time. Ever since the Sharks munched Vegas in that historic comeback and I decided that I am a lifelong Sharks fan, I have seen the heart of this team tested and I’ve seen them win. Be careful ... where you swim.