Year after year, the San Jose Sharks are one of the NHL's best teams; they are a perennial Stanley Cup contender. Year after year, the San Jose Sharks fail to live up to their goal: Win the Stanley Cup.
After a disappointing first-round defeat to the Anaheim Ducks, the Sharks responded with two straight trips to the Western Conference Finals. In 2010, they were swept by the Blackhawks. In 2011, they managed to win just one game, and their season ended on a fluke goal by Kevin Bieksa.
This season, they are rejuvenated. With plenty of new faces and talents arriving, the Sharks will no doubt be one of the top contenders for the Stanley Cup again this year. However, with two straight defeats in the Conference Finals, all eyes will be on them to climb up the next mountain, and capture Lord Stanley's Cup. Anything else would be a failure.
Trades Bring in a New Group of Excited Sharks
Thank God Doug Wilson is the GM of Sharks. This is a man that makes the right moves year after year, at least moves that seem right on paper. This season has been no exception. It started with the acquisitions of Brent Burns and Martin Havlat from the Minnesota Wild. Then the signings of defensemen Colin White and Jim Vandermeer and forward Michael Handzus. Lastly, he acquired yet another Minnesota Wild—James Sheppard.
These moves definitely do make the team better. However, they do more than that. New faces means new players eager for a chance to play on a championship-type team. Burns, Havlat and Sheppard have never really experienced going deep into the postseason, and there is no doubt that they will play harder in order to achieve that.
What did the Sharks give to get these players? Wilson shipped Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley to Minnesota. Setoguchi has some potential, but if he stayed in San Jose, he would have been caught in the shadow of superstars such as Thornton and Marleau. Heatley, in my opinion, is a no-good, stuck-up rat who only scored last year because of Thornton's playmaking skils.
By getting rid of old faces and inserting new ones, the Sharks have players eager to prove that they can play in a hockey-crazy town such as San Jose and play on a championship-caliber team.
Vast improvements on Defense
It's no secret that the Sharks needed to improve their defense this offseason, and they did. Brent Burns, Colin White, and Jim Vandermeer should bolster their defense into one of the best in the league (kudos to Doug Wilson). Suddenly, the Sharks have gone from a team needing defense to a team with too much "D." Dan Boyle, Doug Murray, Marc-Eduouard Vlasic, Jason Demers, Justin Braun and the three acquisitions are all capable of being everyday defensemen.
This allows San Jose to rest some of their D-men, or perhaps play certain people when the situation or matchup seems right.
With their improvements on defense, there is no excuse for them not wining the Stanley Cup.
It Has Been Way Too Long of a Wait
Joe Thornton arrived in San Jose in 2005. Despite making the playoffs every single year he has been here, and even with his superb production they have yet to win a Stanley Cup for their current captain. Neither has Patrick Marleau, who was drafted by San Jose in 1997, and has played every single game of his career with the Sharks.
The point is, these guys have been waiting their whole careers to bring a Stanley Cup to San Jose, and year after year, they get turned away empty-handed.
Year after year, everybody—from NHL experts to diehard fans—has predicted that this will be the year for the Sharks. Year after year, they are proved wrong, and they make an excuse or blame someone or something that got in the Sharks' way of winning the Stanley Cup. Year after year, the cycle repeats, and the same tortuous events happen again and again—a great regular season, followed by a disappointing playoff.
But not this year.
This year, the Sharks are just way too improved and talented to not win it all. They must use that talent and finally win a Stanley Cup for themselves, the city of San Jose, Sharks fans everywhere, and most importantly, for Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, who have waited way too long for this moment. This year, they need to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together, push hard and win the Stanley Cup for the first time.
Because anything else would be a failure.