After the 2011-12 San Jose Sharks regular season was over, I adopted a new mantra: "Win a dozen or don't win any."
I have only been following the Sharks since the 2002 playoffs, right after meeting my future wife—a San Francisco native. Prior to that growing up in Wisconsin, I had no special loyalties.
Since I now had ties to a team, a horse in the race (they made the second round) and an already present hatred of all sports teams Dallas (which was ironically where we met), the transition came naturally. Living and working throughout the Bay Area has cultivated my interest in the team and blogging intensified it.
But I can only imagine how frustrated longer-standing Sharks followers are. Every year, this team gets fans hopes up that things will be different, and every year, they are done playing with a week or more left in May.
When a team like the San Francisco 49ers makes the playoffs but cannot win the conference, it's a stepping stone to greater things. That is not good enough for the San Jose Sharks.
They are the 10th-oldest team making their eighth run at the title. They have had the league's best record over that period and have been a top-two seed five times. Yet, they regressed into a season in which they have had their heart, stamina, will and work ethic questioned.
For the Sharks, it is put up or shut up time. They have to get over the hump to justify the regular season woes.
If battling back from a lackadaisical start last season wore them out as general manager Doug Wilson said, this team has repeated its critical mistake and must be altered, not tweaked. A second-round exit would likely perpetuate the status quo and would certainly get their followers' hopes up again.
Make it good or make it quick. If the Sharks are not going to go further than they have in the past, they might as well get their elimination over with.
Now they have won the first game. They have turned the tables and become the favourites, as well over half the teams that win Game 1 win the series (even over half the lower seeds).
That means they have 11 to go to win the conference. But I want to match the number of reasons with the number of wins needed, and who does a list of 11? Since technically even getting to Game 7 of the Western Conference finals would be a first, they can set a franchise best with 10 more wins.
Here are 10 reasons they owe us that much.