San Jose Sharks: When Will the Curse End?

Sid NoyceContributor IMay 8, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 27:  Mike Brown #13 of the Anaheim Ducks celebrates a goal by Francois Beauchemin #23 as Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the San Jose Sharks looks on during Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Honda Center on April 27, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

This seems to be becoming an annual event: the San Jose Sharks storm through the regular season and become a trendy choice to win the Stanley Cup before ultimately being knocked out.

This year, it was the Ducks. The Stars, Flames, and Red Wings have played similar roles in the past.

Regular season success has come relatively easy for the Sharks in recent years. In each of the past three seasons, the team has set a new record for points, with this season seeing the team also win the Presidents Trophy. However, this success has not translated to the championships predicted by hockey experts.

A curse has appeared to have fallen on the Sharks franchise: The Curse of Success.

Let's take a little trip back in time.

Before the Sharks were the highly respected team getting upset in the playoffs they are now, they were a looked-down upon expansion franchise playing the underdog role.

The team would barely make it through the regular season and squeak into the playoffs. Success was not a word to describe the San Jose Sharks in those days, but the lack of regular season accolades was made up for with stunning playoff results.

In the Sharks' second year, they made the playoffs as a No. 8 seed. Their opponent: the Stanley Cup-favorite Detroit Red Wings. In an Anaheim Ducks-esque upset, the Sharks beat the Red Wings in seven games and cemented their role for the next few years as the lower-seeded team to not take lightly.

The last time the Sharks were serious underdogs was in 2000 when they faced the Presidents Trophy-winning St. Louis Blues in the first round. But in another huge upset, the Blues were sent home in seven games.

Such was the Sharks' playoff success when things didn't seem to go very well during the regular season. But then came the turning point.

The same year as the team's last upset series win, San Jose posted their first winning record in franchise history. Since then, they have not been seeded lower than No. 5 in the playoffs. Their regular season exploits have already been detailed.

And yet, now they are the ones being upset.

Maybe this is payback for the Sharks' early playoff wins that will be paid back in a year or two. Maybe it's just coincidence. Or maybe it's a legitimate curse that will afflict the Sharks as long as they do well before the playoffs.

Regardless, I know I'd rather take a losing record and a couple playoff upsets over the league's best record and nothing to show for it.