It’s one of those debates that sports fans have from time to time: is it better to root for a cellar dwelling team that never gets your hopes up or a strong team that falls short of the mark each year? Both are pretty crummy situations, but you’ll have to ask of fans of teams like the San Jose Sharks or the 90s St. Louis Blues if the peaks are worth the valleys.
Sharks GM Doug Wilson strongly believes that the team has been a success in the past and is set up for a great future. He discussed the subject with Edward Fraser of The Hockey News.
“Our failures are higher than most teams’ successes,” Wilson said. “We don’t really worry about the outside noise. We went to the final four last year and we played very well. We’re going to build on that this upcoming year; last year is over and done with.
“Perception versus reality…how many teams have accomplished what we’ve accomplished the past six or seven years?”
One of the ways Wilson gauges success is by counting how many playoff rounds a team has played in recent years and since the end of the lockout, only Detroit, Pittsburgh and Anaheim have participated in as many post-season showdowns as San Jose. The Sharks are also one of only three teams (along with Detroit, 19, and New Jersey, 13) to have made the playoffs for six straight seasons.
(Good thing he doesn’t rate success by cumulative broken hearts though.)
Snark aside, the Sharks have survived what I thought would be a treacherous salary cap situation this summer. It’s probably minimal to say that the Sharks “only” lost Evgeni Nabokov and retired defenseman Rob Blake, but if the Antero Niittymaki experiment succeeds then maybe the team won’t miss a beat.
You cannot help but read a little defensiveness into what Wilson is saying, but he’s not all wrong. The Sharks might not be able to translate their regular season dominance into playoff success, yet let’s not forget that a seven-game series is a blip on the radar compared to an 82-game season.
As a general manager, you can only control so much. Wilson has done a great job in San Jose, but the team will be remembered as a letdown if they never win a Stanley Cup. It might not be fair, but that’s the bottom line.