5/7 WCSF Game 6: detroit 2, SHARKS 0
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a season.
The Teal, who were just 33 seconds from leaving 525 W. Santa Clara with a 3 games to 1 lead just last Thursday, limped out of that same building Monday night, losing their third straight game, and finding themselves eliminated by the gritty Red Wings 4 games to 2. Another summer of what-if's, what-could-have-been's, and-where-do-we-go-from-here's await the Sharks and their fans, as this off-season unfortunately follows another post-season failure.
The summary to this game is pretty simple and currently still too painful to go into much detail, but can easily be described. Former Shark Mikael Samuelsson dealt the Sharks not one but two death blows 4 and a half minutes apart, and Mike Grier did his best Teemu Selanne impersonation by missing an open net on a puck playing gaffe by otherwise solid goalie Dominik Hasek. Evgeni Nabokov was as he's been all post season, great in between the pipes (20 saves). Unfortunately, he wasn't in charge of scoring goals, as his offense was non-existent, putting 28 shots on Hasek to no avail.
The Tank was in a weird mood Monday night, as there was both electric anticipation of the possibility of stretching the series to Game 7, and the underlying fear that the Sharks would succumb to elimination and begin their summer prematurely. The fans, for the most part, were loud and supportive all night long, despite the few who felt the need to trickle out of the doors prematurely on what could have been the Sharks final night of the 2006/07 season. Unfortunately for the 17,496 in attendance, the Teal did bow out to the Wings, and were eliminated that night, but, much to my delight, the Sharks left the ice that night to a round of cheers, a standing O of claps from the majority of the sellout crowd still in attendance.
There is always October, when Sharks hockey will return, and 23 guys wearing the pacific teal will set out to hoist the cup colored Lord Stanley silver. However, who those guys are come the 10th month of the year has yet to be determined. While most of the team should be back in the fall, there are a few Sharks who have seen their current contracts end. Trade deadline acquisitions Bill Guerin and Craig Rivet are UFA's (unrestricted free agent), along with longtime Sharks Scott Hannan and Mark Smith. All four are free to sign with whomever they please, but apparently all have expressed interest in remaining in San Jose, something only the coming weeks will tell for sure.
All that we know for now is that the 2006/07 San Jose Sharks season has come to an end that no one wanted, and that very few predicted. This year hurts because this was supposed to be "the year", and, obviously, it wasn't. Furthermore it hurts as the Sharks core inches one year closer to the possible demolition of this team, as contracts for (among many others) Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton come to an end after next season, probably ending their time together, but we'll come to that brigde in a long year from now. It hurts for me, on a personal level, of course, as it abruptly ends my Odyssey. 7 games short of 100, and 10 wins short of the ultimate goal (and probably a movie deal for my life story). The Odyssey was an awesome trip, and will always be that way, despite it's incorrect ending. No Cup this year for Sharks fans, but for me, it means no more traveling, no more hotels, no more cab rides, no more being in the minority fan base at an arena and no more hockey for 5 months. Haven't figured out yet if that's a good thing or not yet. I'll let you guys know.
More mushy reflection of my journey in a future post to come real soon. Keep checking back, as I have a few more posts in me, and will get them out soon.
Go Sharks (only four months til training camp)
The coolest tradition in all of sports.
More of that.
6 wins, and yet, not even close. Maybe next year.