The San Jose Sharks started off the 2013-14 season an absolute terror to opposing NHL teams. Trolling the frozen ponds of the league, the Sharks devoured anyone who got in the way beginning in October, when the club went 10-1-2—while also posting a 51-22 goal advantage—initiating what would turn out to be a dominant year.
Assumed to be potentially the most dangerous Cup contender in the Western Conference, this campaign seemed to be the one where the Sharks would finally get it done in the playoffs. The Northern California club finished fifth in the NHL, fourth in the Western Conference and second in the Pacific Division with a 51-22-9 record. Nobody could consistently match up against San Jose and come out on top.
Next stop, Stanley Cup Final, right?
San Jose has never made it to the Cup Final. In fact the club has only made it as far as the Conference Final, each time leaving the tournament early for a disappointing return home. The Cup Final is like sacred ground that may never be touched by a player donning a Sharks jersey as a postseason letdown is almost inevitable at this point.
Such was the case again this year, when the Sharks blew a 3-0 lead over the Los Angeles Kings in the quarterfinal round, bowing out prematurely but also unsurprisingly. The Kings' comeback marked just the fourth time in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs that a team has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series, adding to the woebegone legacy of San Jose’s recent inadequacies.
While there are many to blame for the club’s failures in the playoffs this time around, what follows is a list of players—in order of importance—responsible for the club's early demise.