Sharks don’t get love they deserve

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Sharks don’t get love they deserve

Cameron McKeon, Sports Editor

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It’s time the San Jose Sharks get the respect they deserve in the Bay Area.

If last night’s 5-4, Game 7 series-clinching, overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights doesn’t turn heads around the bay, nothing will.

It’s arguably the most resilient performance in the team’s history. The Sharks battled back from 3-0 deficit in the final 10 minutes of regulation to take a 4-3 lead, in part due to a controversial major penalty committed by Vegas.

And with 47 seconds remaining in regulation, the Golden Knights knotted up the game, silencing the crowd at the SAP Center and sending the game to overtime.

With less than two minutes left in the overtime period, the least suspecting of heroes came through for the Sharks, as Barclay Goodrow jumped onto the ice with fresh legs and sent San Jose to the second round with a power move and backhand goal past Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

This is the 14th time in the past 15 years that the Sharks have reached the Stanley Cup playoffs, but you wouldn’t know that with the way they’re represented here in the Bay Area.

The Sharks churn out wins year in and year out, something that fellow Bay Area counterparts have struggled to do consistently (i.e. GIants, A’s, 49ers, Raiders), yet fail to get much exposure like the Warriors, who become the talk of town every April and May.

Now I’m aware the Sharks fill up the SAP Center with consistency. It’s just walking around Cal High or anywhere in the East Bay for that matter, it’s too much of a pleasant surprise to see someone wearing some Sharks apparel.

Certain franchises in hockey have die-hard fan bases that live and breath with the team despite year after depressing year.

Take the Toronto Maple Leafs, for example. Toronto is the hockey capital of the world. The Leafs have played playoff hockey just four times in the past 14 years, including this season, and were eliminated in the first round. Toronto hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967, yet they have the most dedicated fans in hockey.

Sure, I know that warm weather and beaches don’t mix with hockey, but maybe it’s the lack of a championship that really holds back the Sharks from getting the recognition they deserve.

Historically, championships have been massive for fan bases to rally behind a team and turn the culture around.

Take teams like the 1999 Dallas Stars and the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes, which saw their franchises support skyrocket after taking home the Stanley Cup. Even the 2017 Nashville Predators went through a complete culture shift after just getting to the Cup finals, becoming one of the most electric buildings around the league.

Again, many wouldn’t know it, but San Jose did get to the finals just a few years ago in 2016.

It was an opportunity for the Sharks to become part of the conversation when it came to discussions about the 49ers, the Giants, the Warriors. They fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins, though, and it seems as if they’ve lulled everybody back to sleep, or at least those that were aware of the accomplishment in the first place.

Could it be a lack of star power? No, Joe Thornton will soon be recognized as a hall of famer and is still putting up numbers, iconic beard and all. Patrick Marleau recently left San Jose, but left a legacy of 20 seasons wearing teal and has scored a whopping 551 goals.

They even have the most cartoonish, grizzly looking player in league: Brent Burns. He isn’t to be taken lightly either, consistently putting up elite numbers as arguably the best defenseman in the league.

There is a lot to like about the Sharks, and this is the best time of the year to turn on the TV and follow them as they chase their first championship. The second round begins on Friday as they square off at home against the Colorado Avalanche. Tune in.