Free parking! That’s what we were so excited about. Heck, that’s a $20 value!
Well, that and being able to spend an evening at HP Pavilion…with the management staff, head coach and key players of the San Jose Sharks…hopefully getting some much needed answers.
It was unusually warm inside the tank, the JumboTron was lowered to about 30 feet above the floor, the glass and boards were absent, and the stage was set up where the ice used to be. It’s a strange feeling to experience…eerie even. Maybe not for Islander fans or Coyotes fans or Senators fans…but for Sharks fans, it’s downright depressing. Driving to HP Pavilion for a 7pm event should have been for Game 7 against the Wings…but instead we were gathering for a eulogy it seemed.
Now, in my mind, as fans, we have every right to be angry. In fact, we have more of a right to be angry than anyone…but we’ve all been there, done that, read it over and over, heard it numerous times…now let’s start getting over it…but I didn’t expect anyone else to really feel the way I did…so many fans were hurt. A lot people find it hard to let go. After all, weren’t we here to get answers? To gain closure? To mourn the untimely death of what was supposed to be a GREAT season?
Yeah, I thought, IF anyone shows up tonight, they’re gonna be ANGRY. This is going to get interesting…it’s a good thing I have my camera.
Then we all filtered in…took our seats…and the videos started. Videos of season highlights, clips of goals, hits, Nabby’s saves…and maybe it was the low lighting, maybe it was the music, but you could sure as hell feel it, we started falling in love all over again. We remembered those goals. We were there. We remembered those monster hits, we were there. We remembered those saves, we were THERE…but all in all, we remembered WHY we were there…we loved these guys. They brought us back game after game. We wanted to let them amaze us over and over again, every chance they got…and they succeeded. But when something ends as bitterly as this did, the anger kicks in…and it feels like WE got dumped…
Now the Shark Tank was transformed into an intimate press conference like setting…and the official “State of the Sharks” was about to commence. Making their opening remarks, Greg Jamison and Doug Wilson spoke of their disappointment…which was only to be expected…but when the Todd McLellan had the floor, the first thing he addressed had nothing to do with the team. He instead wanted to pay homage to everyone in attendance…to the dedication of the fans…and how he could not believe how many people turned out for the evening. He was blown away by the love we have for our team, despite failure and incited quite a rouse from everyone when he said that he comes from the supposed “hockeytown”, and can guarantee this kind of turn out would not be seen there. He expressed how humbled he was by the community support of this team, and amazed by the unwavering devotion of the fans. This was the first chance Sharks fans had to really get to know our new head coach…and I think I speak for everyone in attendance when I say, we were blown away. We’ve all seen his successes, we’ve all witnessed his undeniable professionalism, we all KNEW he made a positive impact…but this evening showed the fans just how devoted Coach McLellan really is…both to the team, and to the fans.
While Todd McLellan received quite the ovation from the crowd, four players were about to make an appearance and face the firing squad as well. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski we about to take their seats on the panel…and as they walked around the curtain and up to the stage, the crowd just erupted…and within seconds, before the boys could even reach the stage, the audience was on their feet, and the feeling in the building instantly changed…listening to Todd McLellan began to put us at ease, began to remind us why we love this organization so much, but when the boys came out, it was like all the anger melted away. We were just so proud.
Now, I won’t go through every single question asked, but the long and short of it was the fans were in great spirits. Everyone was able to check their disappointment at the door…and replace it with a smile. Even the players seemed a bit apprehensive when they first came out…but they were quickly put at ease when they realized that the people before them were their fans…and are dedicated through triumphs and failures.
The mood off the night was lighthearted as both the fans and players were able to let their senses of humor take over and have a blast with each other. While questions were answered and jokes were made (like poking fun at Big Joe for not shooting when he has the chance), the underlying theme of the night was support and pride.
The players were visibly upset and sorry for letting themselves and their community down, but everyone was done. It was all about moving forward. We all know the Sharks will come back and be outstanding again next season…and we all wait for training camp with bated breath…
But one fan said it best when he addressed Doug Wilson and told him that no matter how crazy this offseason may get, no matter how much we may not like the moves that he makes, these fans have the utmost trust in him…
A round of applause ensued and I found myself in agreement…I couldn’t have said it better myself.