There's been a lot said about this series, most of it not very nice, and while I have made my position known, I just want to say this; it's not personal. Not from me, anyway. I have no issue with Canucks fans at all. As a Sharks fan, I think it's reasonable, nay, responsible of me to say "screw you guys!" to the team that knocked us, (because I am soooo part of the team), out of contention. And since the Canucks can't meet the Wings in the finals, villain, thy form is whale. But should you win tonight, I will congratulate you. No matter how much we, as fans, may dislike the team that hoists the Cup, it is a feat, and for that, it deserves congratulations.
Unless you're the RedWings.
When we have relevant hockey news, we'll post it of course, but right now we don't need to jump in and add to the acerbic cacophony of voices yelling suggestive things about each others' mothers.
Onto our first Offseason topic: facebook games.
Believe it or not, at least 2/3 of the CouchTarts play games of some sort. Mina, sadly, plays WoW, while Gray plays Rift, anything in the Zelda franchise, and anything else that a) looks interesting b) she has time for and c) is not super meat boy. The "has time for" criteria tends to weed a lot of things out, but I (Gray), do enjoy sitting down to a nice dungeon crawl when I get a chance. (ok, a nice, relatively short dungeon crawl. I get annoyed when it takes over an hour. I have rupees to get by smashing pots, people!)
I experienced a strange evolution of emotions in the past week and a half or so since the Sharks have been eliminated. At first I was sort of ok with it. Being in Maui when your team is playing in the third round is one of the best ways to not be at all worried about the series, even as you walk down the main drag in Lahaina swearing over the score. I didn't watch the hand shake because I was at a career thing, and while there were several Sharks fans there, we left the bar before the game was over. (which was for the best, really). I was pretty sure that I would be generally ok with the Canucks winning the Cup at that point. After all, the Cup would stay in the West, and I have some friends who are Canucks fans, and it seemed like a fine decision after two glasses of wine and a BART ride towards home. Then something started to change.
Perhaps it was that the temporary bliss from the wine wore off, or that the fuzzy glow of Maui faded and the sad gloom of the end of the season began to dawn. In all honesty, it was probably watching my twitter feed explode with some really over confident Canucks fans who had all about planned the damn parade already, and were tap dancing on the Sharks graves, that made me start to turn. (In the interest of full disclosure, I too, would gloat if my team were in the finals. Maybe not to the same level, maybe way beyond, but it would happen. That's a perfectly acceptable reaction, but as a fan of the team eliminated in round 3, it wasn't fun to read.) My rumination went something like this:
I did not invent rage comics, I just Gray-i-fied them
It was in panel four that I realized that I could not, and would not, under any circumstances related to this Cup Finals, root for the Canucks. Eff those guys, no way. Part of it is nationalism, I'll admit, but I mostly, I just don't want them to win. Period. No way, no how, no sir. Here's the rub though, I don't want the Bruins to win either.
One of the teams is going to win. It's not like the series can end in a tie where each team agrees to joint custody of the Cup for the summer. No, someone has to win, and dammit, it will be someone I don't really like.
Usually, I am able to find a finalist I at least prefer over the other. Sometimes that's "whoever isn't Detroit" or in the case of last year, it was "whoever isn't thee Blackhawks" but this year no such luck. I was fully willing to hop on the Lightning's bad wagon if they advanced, but they didn't, and so, my dreams of having a team I liked in the finals were dashed. So I had to make a decision.
I'm not paying attention to the finals. Oh, I'll probably watch some more of them, I watched part of game 1 because I just love hockey so damn much I feel compelled to watch it before it goes away for the summer, but I can't bring myself to get excited enough to really follow it. Like tonight, I went out to dinner instead of watching the game. I caught a passing glance of it as we sat, huddled in our winter coats eating ice cream, and I curled my lips back in disgust as I saw the Canucks celebrate. I said nothing, as I was the lone hockey fan in the group, but any desire I had to know anything about the game was lost in that instant.
Does this make me a bad fan? Maybe. Does it make me a bitter fan? Oh hell yes, and you know what, I'm fine with that. I gave my congratulations to the winning team, and now I have moved on. Sure, I moved on to bitterness and minor situational hatred, but I still moved on. So Stanley Cup Finals, you can go on and do your thing. People can enjoy you, and when someone wins, I will send them my congratulations, but I will not devote much time to you. It's a long summer, but I welcome it. As far as I am concerned, the season ended on May 24th, 2011.
It's easy to take the common line and talk about how, once again, the San Jose Sharks turned out to be a set of perennially disappointing players, destined for little more than mediocrity and a lot of "what could have beens." It's easy because that's been the common sentiment over the past few seasons. If you don't watch the team on a regular basis, you don't see all the trials it goes through, it's triumphs and smaller victories, you just see the bad stuff. The crushing defeats, embarrassing losses, drops in the standings. The call outs by on air personalities who make no secret that they don't like your team's former captain and they think he's a lost cause.
Once again the Sharks come up short in the post season. Two back to back trips to round 3 and two back to back eliminations. Yet, I have hope. A lot of it, actually. I am disappointed with how the season ended, but I believe this season said more good things about the the Sharks than bad, and with some very minor tweaks, this team could go all the way.
Tonight @ 6pm PacificGames 1, 2, 3, and 4 have gone. I return from the paradise in the Pacific to find a less my team in a less than blissful state, being down 3-1 in the series, with an injured captain, a beleaguered Ben Eager, a distressed Demers, and an entire team in a must-win-or-face-locker-room-clean-out-upon-their-return situation. It's not a pretty sight to return to, but it is also not a hopeless one.
There still exists a chance for the Sharks to come out guns blazing and take game 5. There still exists a chance for the Sharks to rally back and win game 6. There still exists a chance to force a game 7. Winner take all. It IS possible. The Canucks aren't better, though they have played that way. This deep into the playoffs seeding and regular season results mean nothing. It's about who's scoring, and who's not. It's about who can shut down the other team, and who can't. It's about playing hot, at the right time, for the right game, to keep a series going. It's about luck, and hope and grit, and yes, heart. The Sharks have all those things. The question is, can they combine them tonight, and play all out, to get them one step closer to where they so desperately want to be?
Only time will tell.
Friday was awesome. But there is more work to be done. I will be in front of my TV clutching my security blanket/rally towel. Where will you be?
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