The story of the NHL's expansion to San Jose is bizarre and fascinating. The first new NHL franchise since the WHA merger was somewhat of a merger itself-with the Minnesota North Stars. The Sharks stocked their roster with North Stars, then both teams participated in the expansion draft.
The Sharks were predictably bad in their first two years. Jeff Hackett and Arturs Irbe were competent goalies who improved behind better teams. Tough guy Link Gaetz racked up 326 penalty minutes in the Sharks' first season-a team record that still stands. Doug Wilson was San Jose's first captain and currently serves as their general manager. He's one of only two eligible Norris Trophy-winning defensemen not in the Hockey Hall of Fame (Randy Carlyle is the other.)
The Sharks' logo and color scheme were an instant hit with young hockey fans-myself included. In junior high I was invited to a pool party by the first girl I ever crushed on. Being a sports-loving boy I decided to wear my matching San Jose Sharks t-shirt and shorts to the party. When I arrived I was greeted by the gorgeous birthday girl-and her even more gorgeous older friend who was 15 going on 25. The very tall, very fashionable blonde indicated my teal-clad clothing and said "Well, aren't you coordinated." One of those little word grenades that I shrugged off at the time but destroyed me a minute later.
Pat Falloon was the Sharks' first-ever draft pick and second overall to Eric Lindros in 1991. He led the team in scoring as a teenager, but never improved on that 59-point rookie season.
Patrick Marleau was a much more successful second-overall pick. The Sharks' all-time leader in goals, points, and games played signed with the Maple Leafs in 2017. The Frozen Fabrics at the top is my only Sharks relic. Marleau has scored 500 goals and 1000 points, but I still don't think of him as a star or future Hall of Famer.
For sorting purposes, Marleau's base cards do get the star player nod - mostly to save me some room in my binders. Based on Doug's repacks I've considered designating all 500/1000 NHLers into the star box, as I have with 10,000-yard running backs. I don't love the idea of giving Dale Hunter, Dave Taylor, Alexei Kovalev, and Pat Verbeek star treatment though.
Joe Thornton was the #1 overall pick (ahead of Marleau) in the 1997 draft. Like Marleau, Thornton is still an active and productive NHL player over two decades later. The two were teammates on the Sharks for 12 seasons. Thornton and Marleau are also 1-2 in career points among active NHL players (assuming Jaromir Jagr is really, truly retired.)
No NHL team had ever traded a league MVP or scoring champion during said season - until the Bruins shipped "Jumbo" to the Sharks in 2005. Now that Alex Ovechkin has finally won a Stanley Cup I'll be cheering for Thornton and the Sharks to win one as well. They are Washington west after all ;-)
Joe Pavelski is the Sharks' current captain and leading scorer. His 14 goals during the Sharks' run to the Stanley Cup final in 2016 led all postseason scorers that year. 2006-07 Upper Deck was one of the few Young Guns sets I didn't try to complete. The only RCs that interested me were Pavelski, Shea Weber, and Travis Zajac.
Pavelski's cards are in my star player box as well. I'm fairly confident in that decision, but my hockey knowledge is slipping - I didn't know Pavelski is already 34 years old.
Logan Couture just signed an eight-year extension to stay in San Jose. His league-leading 30 postseason points in '16 might have earned him the Conn Smythe trophy had the Sharks prevailed over Pittsburgh. I packed a black parallel of Couture's Victory RC in a care package shipped to Fuji when I first joined the cardsphere. The Score card next to it is my only Brent Burns Sharks base*. That's a huge hole in my collection that must be filled.
*I have one from his Minnesota years
Jonathan Cheechoo led the league in goals while playing on Joe Thornton's wing in 2005-06. His career quickly declined after that 56-goal outlier.
2001-02 Pacific Atomic was one of my favorite hockey sets. Since the Team Nucleus card combines Nabokov, Nolan, and Selanne I did the same here. The Gold parallel Selanne is numbered to 200. The EA Owen Nolan was included with my purchase of the NHL 2002 CD-rom game. I don't know much about these, other than it's a nine-card set inserted one per game, and the Nolan is a Silver.
My wife won an autographed Owen Nolan stick at a Devils dinner raffle back when they had items of other NHL teams [and fancy dinner events for season-ticket holders.] I don't have a picture of it (I tried scanning the stick blade but it came out crappy) nor do I have a picture of my Evgeni Nabokov mask...so I'm stealing this scan from Dave and Adam's:
I bought a box of Upper Deck Mask collection at a card shop that used to be in my nearby mall. The cards didn't really appeal to me, but each box came with one of these replica masks. I pulled the Nabokov - and bought a Martin Brodeur on eBay soon after.
Some of my favorite Sharks cards, including another Nabby. Any card showing the Shark-mouth entrance is a winner in my book. Tough guy Todd Ewen is chomping down on a puck in this picture, which reminds me...
...competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut is also from San Jose.
The rest of my best Sharks, including a pair of Upper Deck 20th-anniversary parallels. These aren't quite as sturdy as the originals, but it's nice to see the newer teams on that landmark design. The Timo Meier Compendium was an ePack purchase, I enjoyed it their first year but I've since lost interest in the cards - and the concept.
Favorite Sharks player (current): Joe Thornton
Favorite Sharks player (all-time): Joe Thornton
Next tour stop: Seattle
It's my goal to have the last six posts finished by Friday, July 27th and begin the prize pool draft two weeks from today, on July 29th. You've been waiting long enough, am I right? :-)