There should be a certain level of respect for a sports franchise that stands as the lone professional representative for an American city. While California has no dearth of pro sports teams, San Jose has the Sharks. Now you can say all you want about the Earthquakes of MLS, but the following of Major League Soccer in this country makes the NHL look like the NFL. The Sharks are San Jose's representative in the "big four" of the nation's sports scene and once again, they have fallen short in the playoffs.
The Anaheim Ducks, who finished 26 points behind San Jose this year, defeated the Sharks 4-1 last night to take the series in 6 games over the 1-seeded Sharks. The Ducks, who were founded two years after San Jose, has enjoyed two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals and won the coveted chalice in 2007. The Sharks have made the playoffs 12 of the 18 seasons (1 season was a lockout) they have been in existence, yet they have never reached the finals. They have only reached the Conference finals once.
There was a lot of discontent after the Sharks won the Pacific divsision last year and fizzled in the playoffs in the semifinals against Dallas. They fired coach Ron Wilson and hired Todd McLellan who took them to the league's best record. The team had the right mix of core talent with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Jonathan Cheechoo and grizzled veterans Roenick, Blake, Grier, and they even dusted off Claude Lemieux. But another post-season full of hope, another crushing loss. Goalie Evgeni Nabokov perhaps said it best, "..we didn't come through again."
Franchises that have suffered longer droughts than the Sharks will offer no comfort. An 18 year drought is not the biggest sob story for a fanbase, but making the playoffs perennially only to fall short time after time while the management is doing everything they can to win would be frustrating for anyone to watch. I doubt the people of San Jose can take any solace in what the Earthquakes can do the rest of the MLS season.
Sharks again all talk, no playoff substance [Yahoo!]