Looking forward to a new season and why Ray misses the point.
I think everyone can agree the upcoming 2008-2009 NHL season can’t get here soon enough (except for Kings fans, as my buddy TorturedKingsFan will attest). For Sharks fans it’s been quite an off season and I’m definitely excited about the prospects. It’s nice when you feel like your team and it’s ownership are trying whatever they can to win the whole eskimo pie, not like some of the other franchises around here.
When you’re a long time San Francisco sports fan like myself you grew up in an environment where the 49ers and Giants always made the playoffs, with the 49ers bringing home that shiny trophy every so often. My first football game ever was the 1989 NFC Championship Game (a la ‘The Catch’) so for me the standard was set high and was set early. Sadly things have changed completely over the last several years. It’s tough to stay excited when the current goal of your local teams is to get back to .500 ball. After several years of futility I was starting to feel like I’d never know that championship feeling again. Then I found the Sharks. I always tried to watch hockey on TV but couldn’t get fanatical about it. Then I went to a game and I was hooked. When I found out my nephew (who was 9 at the time) had been to some games (he likes to eat his chicken nuggets and watch the game on the scoreboard - it’s like watching TV), going to games became even more of an event.
Going to hockey games with a kid enhances the whole experience like nothing else. During the 2007 Playoffs when the Sharks kept blowing two goal leads, one of the games I took my nephew to was the game where the Red Wings eliminated us. I know how I get when my team gets eliminated - it takes a while before I can talk about it. But for my nephew, when I asked him how he felt about it he said ‘it sucks’…but that’s it. You can’t beat perspective like that.
And in the 2008 playoffs when the Sharks fought off elimination and beat the Stars in overtime with a diving goal by Joe Pavelski, the building literally exploded. I was at Game 7 during the previous series against the Flames and I thought that game had energy, but when that puck went in during Game 5 to keep the Sharks alive that building was louder than anything I had ever experienced in my life…and my nephew was so excited he didn’t want to leave, he was screaming “SHARKS!” all the way to the parking lot!
And so that’s why I think Ray doesn’t get it sometimes. Ray Ratto is our local sports writer and he does a good job of reporting on the Sharks, although I think he reports on them as a general sports writer and not necessarily as a hockey reporter (I can get into that another time). What bothers me about Ray is that when the Sharks got eliminated he wrote that every part of the hockey club needed fixing including the fans. He said fans should stop buying season tickets to send a message to the club that just getting to the second round of the playoffs is not good enough. He accused the club of marketing themselves as much better than they are and we, the fans, believe the hype like a bunch of lemmings.
Ray doesn’t get it.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to win The Cup just as bad as anyone. But I believe The Stanley Cup is THE hardest trophy to win in professional sports, and to be able to participate in that quest every year is a great privilege. So we haven’t won it yet, that’s part of it. It’s the journey (yup, I said it). I don’t think Ray thinks the journey has any value. I’ll take regular participation in ‘the grind’ over ‘maybe next year’ anytime.
I just want my nephew to feel what I felt when Dwight Clark made that catch - and the Sharks make that happen.