Since entering the NHL in 1991, the San Jose Sharks have never been to a Stanley Cup Final.
They’ve been close, sure — in fact, San Jose has won an impressive 10 playoff series over the last nine seasons. However, they’ve only managed to get as far as the Western Conference finals, losing to Calgary in 2004, Chicago in 2010 and Vancouver in 2011.
Along the way, they’ve developed a reputation for, well, to put it bluntly — choking.
But that doesn’t bother Joe Pavelski.
According to Pavelski’s agent, Daniel Plante, if the 29-year-old center didn’t believe the Sharks could finally get over the hump, he might not have signed a five-year contract extension tying him to the club through 2018-19.
“One of the things as we were going through these discussions, I asked Joe, ‘Do you believe this team can win a Stanley Cup?’ And without missing a beat, he emphatically said, ‘Yes,’” Plante said, per the Canadian Press. “So at that point in time it just became imperative that that’s where he wanted to be. He believes in the team, and then it was just finding a deal that worked for both sides.”
Next season figures to be a big one for the Sharks, with veterans Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle all in the final year of their contracts, after which they can become unrestricted free agents.
Pavelski and Logan Couture should give San Jose at least two high-quality centers for years to come. Meanwhile, Vezina Trophy finalist Antti Niemi, 29, has two years remaining on his contract.
If there’s a big question mark, it’s the blue line. Boyle is 37 and in the twilight of his career. At some point, somebody will need to step up and replace the offensive push he provides from the back end. That, or general manager Doug Wilson will have to go out and acquire somebody who can.