Monday, April 2, 2012
The San Jose Sharks second season of play in the NHL was a painful one, even by expansion club standards, as the Sharks had scored 39 points in the standings their first season due to a record of 17-58-5 with a league low 219 goals scored while allowing a league high 359.
Year two saw the team score one less goal, 218, but put forth a disastrous defensive effort, allowing 414 goals, the only team in the league that season to allow more than 400 while taking a run at the all-time mark for goals allowed in a season, as their 414 was one off the Detroit Red Wings 415 allowed in 1985-86 and the Washington Capitals record of 446 during their inaugural season of 1974-75.
The Sharks defensive woes led to 71 losses, leaving only 11 wins and 2 ties to add up to a mere 24 points in the standings.
Their second season saw the Sharks make some moves in an effort to better their club, picking up center Igor Larionov in the NHL Waiver Draft, although he would sign to play in Europe that season, and adding Michel Picard in a deal with the Hartford Whalers.
Following their terrible 1992-93 season, the Sharks acquired defenseman Jeff Norton from the New York Islanders in exchange for a third round draft pick as well as the slick skating Gaetan Duchesne from the Dallas Stars for a sixth round pick a week before the 1993 NHL Draft.
At the draft, the Sharks made waves when they dealt their second overall pick to the Hartford Whalers for Russian Sergei Makarov, Hartford's sixth overall pick, used to selected Russian Viktor Kozlov, a left wing from Dynamo Moscow, as well as additional picks in the second and third rounds.
Forwards Jamie Baker and Bob Errey were signed as free agents in mid-August and Larionov was lured back from a year in Switzerland, thanks to the acquisition of his former line mate Makarov.
Still, despite the additions to the roster, the 1993-94 season began on a sour note, as the Sharks floundered to begin the season, losing 8 of their first 9 games, while only tying the other, leaving them with just a single point.
The Sharks finally broke through and won their first game on October 26th, a 3-1 triumph over the Edmonton Oilers, who waived Todd Elik following the game, which allowed the Sharks to claim the center.
Elik made his San Jose debut in a 4-3 win over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, and after a loss to the Washington Capitals on October 30th, the Sharks went their next three without a loss, winning two and tying one to raise their record to 4-9-2 for 10 points.
After two losses and a tie, San Jose really hit their stride during a long, long road trip, winning at New Jersey, tying the Rangers and defeating the Capitals before a loss at Boston. They rebounded with a win in Hartford.
While their road trip ended with a defeat by Buffalo, a five game unbeaten streak was aided by their return home after seven consecutive games on the road. The unbeaten streak began with three consecutive wins over Detroit and then taking a home and home series with the Mighty Ducks. The second win over Anaheim gave the Sharks 24 points, equalling their total from the prior season after only 27 games of the schedule.
After another tie and a win put them within sight of a .500 record at 11-13-5, a six consecutive losses dropped San Jose to 11-19-5. While their losing streak came to an end thanks to a tie in Toronto, a loss and a tie would follow before the Sharks were able to finally win their first game ten tires on New Year's Eve in Vancouver.
1994 began with a pair of ties and only a loss to Detroit interrupted what would become a steak of four wins and four ties blemished by only the one defeat. Their three consecutive wins from January 12th to 17th saw the Sharks set a franchise high with their 40th point of the season.
A loss to the Rangers was followed by a road trip which consisted of a tie, three wins and two losses before one of the most unusual scheduling quirks ever, as the Sharks would host the Chicago Blackhawks for three consecutive home games on February 8th, 11th and 13th! The first win over Chicago allowed the Sharks to double their 24 points from the previous season and the Blackhawks were happy to finally end their residency at The Shark Tank following two additional defeats at the hands of the Sharks.
Another rough period followed for San Jose, as the club lost six of their next seven before turing things around with a five game unbeaten streak of thee wins and two ties that saw the team now at 25-30-13.
Three consecutive losses in mid-March followed, but the San Jose enter the stretch drive with 63 points, a total they added to with a pair of ties at home to the Kings before heading out east for another of their extended road trips, beginning in Pittsburgh. Following their tie with the Penguins, the determined Sharks really heated up, knocking off Toronto, Winnipeg and St. Louis before returning home and beating both Winnipeg and Toronto again.
This was followed by a 7-4 win over Vancouver on this date in 1984 which gave them their 77th point of the season to set an NHL record, as their 53 point improvement over their previous season was the biggest turnaround I'm league history.
The Sharks continued to add to their record, as then beat the Kings in Los Angeles for their seventh consecutive win and ninth game without a loss when they needed it the most. While they did drop a pair of games in Vancouver and Calgary, the Sharks closed out the season at home with a victory over the Canucks and a tie with Edmonton to push their final record to 33-35-16 for 82 points, pushing their final improvement up to 58 points over 1992-93, easily outdistancing the Quebec Nordiques 52 point turnaround the previous season and the Winnipeg Jets 48 point gain in 1981-82.
The Sharks reward for their efforts was the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs and the #1 overall seed, the Detroit Red Wings. The Sharks raised eyebrows with a narrow 5-4 win over the Red Wings in Detroit to open the playoffs, but the Red Wings put their stamp of authority on the series with a dominant 4-0 shutout in Game 2, followed by a 3-2 win on the road in San Jose in Game 3.
Backed by their home fans and led by diminutive Latvian goaltender Arturs Irbe, San Jose evened the series with a 4-3 win in Game 4 and then let Detroit know they were not going away quietly with a 6-4 victory in Game 5 to head back to Detroit to finish out the series.
Again, Detroit tried to break Sam Jose's spirit in the form of a 7-1 pounding of the upstart Sharks in Game 6, setting up the winner-take-all Game 7.
Johan Garpenlov teamed with Larionov and Sandis Ozolinsh to give the Sharks the lead just 47 seconds into the game and Makarov, from Larionov and Norton, added to the lead at 13:59 before Kris Draper's shorthanded goal got Detroit on the board with just 13 seconds left in the first.
Slava Kozlov tied the game early in the second period at 2:36 from Vladimir Konstantinov and Greg Johnson, but Irbe held strong in the Sharks net, stopping 17 of the Red Wing's 19 shots through two periods.
The Red Wings continued to pressure Irbe in the third, firing another 11 shots to raise their total for the game to 30, but they failed to solve the Latvian and he made James Baker's unassisted goal at 13:25 stand up as the series winner as the Sharks shocked the league by knocking off the #1 seed in a series that is still talked about to this day.
San Jose then advanced to face the #3 seeded Maple Leafs, which proved to be a back and forth affair, as the two teams traded victories through the first six games, setting up a Game 7 in Toronto, which was won by the Maple Leafs 4-2 despite being out shot by San Jose 31-21, ending a record setting season for the young Sharks in only their third season.
New additions Makarov and waiver claim Elik led the club in scoring, with Makarov leading the team on goals with 30 and points with 68. Elik netted 25 goals on his way to 66 points after being held scoreless in four games with Edmonton.
Ozolinsh led the defense with 26 goals, second best on the team, and 38 assists for 64 points, while Larionov, limited to 60 games, teamed once again with Makarov for 18 goals and 56 points. Pat Falloon and Garpenlov each had 53 points followed by the ageless Ray Whitney and newcomer Norton at 40 each. In all, five of the new arrivals finished in the top 10 in team scoring while Irbe's 74 games in goal saw him win 30 games to anchor the Sharks record setting improvement.
Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 San Jose Sharks Arturs Irbe jersey. The Sharks entry into the NHL was an unusual one, as the owners of the Minnesota North Stars, George and Gordon Gund, were allowed to take over ownership of the new expansion San Jose entry, as well a claiming a number of North Stars players in the process.
As the league celebrated it's 75th anniversary in 1991-92 by having it's Original 6 teams wear throwback jerseys to honor the league's past, the expansion Sharks shocked the league by leading the way into the future with it's shocking teal jerseys at a time when the Flyers orange and Whalers green jerseys were the most radical ones in a sea of reds, blues and blacks.
The Sharks colors and logo proved to be a true innovation and a hit with the fans, as their entry into the league coincided with the rise of the Starter brand of team wear, making the Sharks jackets the fashion statement of it's day, crossing over into the mainstream of non-hockey fans who didn't know a puck from a stick.
This style jersey would serve the Sharks well for their first seven seasons until being replaced by their new alternate jersey, which took over as their primary jersey in 1998-99.
Today's video selection are highlights of the dramatic Game 7 when the Sharks upset the Red Wings in Detroit.