Swimming With Sharks
Truth be told, when the NHL realigns next season the only thing I'm gonna miss about the Pacific Division will be the Sharks.
I'll miss their Venue: The "Tank" is an old school hockey arena in a sea of impersonal cookie-cutter buildings. Steep. Limited luxury suites. Low roof.
I will miss their off-ice personnel: The likes of Drew "Daddy Warbucks" Remenda, Randy "Playoff Beard" Hahn, Tom "Not So" Holy, Jamie Baker (Who I love talking shop with) Bruce in audio, John the usher, Sharkie, The carpet bombing e-mail composers in PR. Oh will I miss Sharks PR's practice of using an obscure starting date as a point of reference for player stats in order to artificially enhance said stat. Sadly they don't do this as much anymore, don't really need it)
I remember the signs too. Back when they allowed fans to post them in the lower bowl they had some extremely creative ticket holders. I think it was either the Belfour venom or the Fedorov dating choices signs that ended the practice. Sad.
And the players: Lots of villains, plenty of skill. From Marchment to Murray, Thornton to Falloon, Irbe to Nabokov, and Marleau - oh yes, the omnipresent Patrick Marleau.
But above all it was the quality of the games that made Stars-Sharks so compelling. Whether it has been run-of-the-mill-Tuesday-in-January-hockey, or trample the weak - hurdle the dead playoff hockey, the two teams just seem to bring out the best in each other. Clashes that are usually close, punctuated by great goaltending, always vicious, and perplexingly road team dominated.
Memorable Moments: Belfour leaving Sharks for Stars and stating why. Brian Marchment ending Nieuwendyk's 1998 playoff 16 minutes into it. Brendan Morrow almost ending Michalek in 2008. Police escorts to the rinks in Dallas and San Jose. Modano becoming American born points king. That 08' quad OT. Ott vs Thornton. Turek's dazzling night at the Tank when the Stars played back to back in Edmonton then San Jose. (Stars mustered 9 shots...total...and won)...and so on.
Pacific Title Banners: Stars 5, Sharks 6 (Anaheim is the only other team to win a division title over the dozen seasons)
Good rivalry. Good hockey. Good people. Good times.