A year ago today, a funny thing happened. Your humble, slightly-intrepid — humble, see? — San Jose Sharks correspondent (that’s me: name’s Chuck, pleased to meet you!) went a little off my rocker and decided it was time to pick up a hockey stick. And I hit things with it for the very first time. Mostly pucks, but also an ankle or two, gently, just to be a bit of a pest. And I totally haven’t looked back: I’m playing hockey a couple of days a week now, regularly. I’m on one rec league team, soon to be two!
That said, I should probably just go ahead and come out. No, not like that — the masthead says it clearly enough, “boys who like boys who like hockey”. (Heyo!) What I mean to say is that I play inline hockey. While I’m sure that’s bound to bring a wave of scorn and derision from the rest of the hockey-playing PuckBuddys crew, the jeers are welcome, because hockey’s just too much fun to care! There’s volumes to be written on comparing the two sports, and maybe someday we’ll get around to it. A good topic to keep in the hopper in case, say, we happen to have a distinct lack of NHL-related things to cover. *cough cough*
But enough about that. I’m so glad to be able to write my intro post here to mark a year of playing hockey myself, but far beyond that, it’s been a crazy year around the NHL, the hockey world, and here in Sharks Country.
The You Can Play Team has formed, with the mission of ensuring sports are an environment where it’s safe and cool to be a gay person. And aside from the awesomeness of the project in general, of specific interest to the Sharks community is that the Team is led by one of our own, Tommy Wingels. Inspiring, heroic stuff on his part (and speaking personally, much appreciated)! I know, I could go on, but it’s preaching to the choir around these parts. Ya’ll just go get you some Wingels jerseys, OK? And a YCP T-shirt, of course!
The Sharks had a grueling end of the 2011-12 regular season, topped off with a home-and-away versus the dastardly LA Kings, which also turned out to be a battle for 7th and 8th seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Our lovable team in teal twice beat the Kings, earning the supposedly-better 7th seed, leaving the Kings to fight the harder battle from 8th. Long story short, the Sharks totally bounced in the first round and did not win the Stanley Cup.*
It’s the endeavor of the Sharks organization to finish turning the corner it feels like they’ve been trying to turn for several years now, dating back to around the time Sharks GM Doug Wilson pulled off one of the Most Awesome of Awesome Trades(tm) to acquire one “Big Joe” Thornton. The Sharks are, of late, such an exciting team to follow in the regular season, making almost every game entertaining and a worthwhile watch (not to mention justifying the cable bill!).
I wrote a whole paragraph here about playoff disappointment and all the same stereotypical — and, sadly, empirically true — things about the Sharks, but no more of that, eh? Beat that disappointment, elevate the game, particularly in the playoffs. Shut everyone up by making a deep run. That’s the goal. That’s the charge. Go, fight, win. Eighty-two games to get in good position, then sixteen hellaciously hard-fought postseason victories. That’s the mission from here, boys and girls.
I can’t wait to see how it goes this time: “next year” is just, if you can believe it, a half-dozen weeks away. And I’m so, so excited to be a part of the PuckBuddys team, to chronicle the NHL season that’s about to commence for the San Jose Sharks, and have a blast with all of you while things unfold.
Well, unless there’s a lockout…
* – The Kings had a somewhat different outcome of their postseason, you may recall. They did not, in fact, bounce in the first round and did, in fact, win the Stanley Cup. Funny, that.