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San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks franchise began to take shape in 1990. The NHL agreed for George and Gordon Gund to sell the Minnesota North Stars and get an exansion franchise in the San Francisco Bay area. The Sharks acquired players from the North Stars organization and the rest of the league through a special expansion draft. As their first ever draft pick, the Sharks selected WHL star Pat Fallon and added Ray Whitney and Sandis Ozolinsh. They began play as an NHL team at the Cow Palace in Daly City in the 1991-92 season.The Sharks played their first ever NHL game in October of 1991, losing 4-3 to the Vancouver Canucks. But a couple of days later in their very next game they notched their first franchise victory by defeating the Calgary Flames. Calgary would also figure in the young franchise's first every road win, as the Sharks earned that mark at the Saddledome. The Sharks ended their inaugural season by finshing last in the then Smythe Divison with a lowly 17-58-5 record. Their first off-season saw the firing of their general manager Jack Ferreira, who was replaced by Dean Lombardi. The Sharks continued to build through the amateur draft and stayed away from the trade and free agent fronts.
They continued to struggle in their second season with a record tying 17 game losing street that spanned through January-February, 1993. They ended year with a 11-71-2 record, setting the dubious league record for most losses by a team in the regular NHL season. With the Sharks on the verge of moving to the brand new San Jose Arena, more changes were in the works as coach George Kingston was replaced by Kevin Constantine. Constantine brought a different style of San Jose, a style that would emerge as the dominant strategy for success in the NHL. His defense first system would propel the Sharks from the laughing stock of the NHL all the way to the playoffs, a turnaround of record proportions. In their first playoff action the Sharks faced off against the Detroit Red Wings, a back and forth series that ended up going seven games. In the final game, a costly error by Red Wing goalie Chris Osgood lead to San Jose defeating their heavily favored opponents from Detroit and moving on to play the Toronto Maple Leafs. Once again the Sharks took the Leafs to seven games, losing 4-2 in the final game to the surging Maple Leafs team. Coach Kevin Constantine finished second in voting for the Jack Adams trophy, awarded to the coach of the year.
The Sharks got off to a quick start in the lockout shortened 1995-96 season. As they struggled through the latter half of the season, the Sharks made their second postseason appearence. They met up with the Calgary Flames in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Once again the Sharks prevailed in a hard fought seven game tilt. Awaiting the Sharks were the Detroit Red Wings, seeking retribution for their defeat during the previous year's playoffs. The Wings left no doubt about this matchup by dominating San Jose from the very start. They ended up sweeping them in a quick four game series.
The following off-season and pre-season though were fraught with issues for the San Jose Sharks. There was a coaching change and numerous trades. When it was all said and done the new Sharks had a brand new look compared to the team from the year before. In the upcoming seasons there would be continued changes behind the bench as Daryl Sutter took over the reigns from Al Sims. The Sharks met up with the Dallas Stars in the first round of the 1997-98 postseason. The Stars made quick work of the Sharks beating them in six games. Personnel changes continued in San Jose as young players like Patrick Marleau and Marcus Sturm continued their development. In the next season the Sharks would continue to show glimmers of a bright future and once again found themselves in the playoffs. This time they faced off against the Colorado Avalanche, unfortunately succumbing to them in six games. The team continued to build on its playoff success, with one of their best performaces in the 1999-2000 postseason. They won a hard fought series against the St Louis Blues, a series that went seven games. In the second round the Sharks faced their nemesis, the Dallas Stars and were defeated in five games.
The 2000-2001 season saw the Sharks put together their most successful season in franchise history, garnering a team-record 95 points with 40 wins and they became just the fifth team in NHL history to improve their point total in five consecutive seasons. The team advanced to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, also a franchise record. Once again they faced the St. Louis Blues who avenged their earlier postseason loss by making quick work of the Sharks in five games. The team continued its progress with a balance of young and veteran players. The mix included prospects Evgeni Nabakov, Patrick Marleau, and Brad Stewart with veterans Vincent Damphousse, Owen Nolan, and Mike Ricci. The success was translated into the playoffs as the 2001-2002 postseason saw the Sharks take on Phoenix Coyotes, defeating them in five games. The next round saw them face off against the Colorado Avalance, who defeatied them in a tough seven game series.
The 2002-2003 season was a major disappointment for the Sharks. They finished out of the playoffs with a dismal 28-37-9-8 regular season effort. The season also saw the trade of long time Shark Owen Nolan to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the firing of general manager Dean Lombardi. The following year, the Sharks put up a record 104 in the regular season and made it all the way to the Western Conference finals, losing to the Calgary Flames. After the lockout, the young and upcoming team continued on its path upwards. The likes of Jonathan Cheechoo were also coming into their own, especially with the trade for superstar Joe Thornton form the Bruins for Marco Sturm, defenseman Brad Stuart, and center Wayne Primeau. Thornton and Cheechoo became a deadly duo on the ice, with Cheechoo winning the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals and Thorton taking top honours with the Hart and Art Ross Trophies. The team too tasted success, finishing the regular season with 99 points but losing to the Edmonton Oilers in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
San Jose Sharks Overview:
Team name: San Jose Sharks
Arena: HP Pavilion
Stanley Cups won: 0
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