There's no shame in losing to the Los Angeles Kings in seven games. Ask the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks about it.
But it was the way the San Jose Sharks lost their first-round series to the Kings that has the team in a state of transition and potentially massive upheaval this summer. The Sharks won the first three games of their series with the Kings by a combined 17-8 and looked every bit like the Cup contender they expected to be this year.
Then the Kings ripped off four straight wins, including Game 7 in San Jose.
Instead of viewing this as a hard-fought loss against the NHL's best team that had much to do with Marc-Edouard Vlasic missing nearly all of the final three games of the series and Logan Couture playing Game 7 with a broken hand after an idiotic fight at the end of Game 6, it has become a referendum on culture change in San Jose.
General manager Doug Wilson announced Dan Boyle and Martin Havlat would not be back next season, hardly surprising moves. But now it seems captain Joe Thornton could be had in a trade.
Thornton's agent, brother John Thornton, said to the Mercury News that Joe would waive his no movement clause if fans said he wanted him to go. There has been nothing specific involving the status of Patrick Marleau, but Wilson has said younger players will be given bigger leadership roles moving forward, so something big could happen this summer with one or both players.
What makes the Sharks losers in all this is they are on the verge of blowing up a perennial contender because of losing seven games in an emotionally dissatisfying sequence and will have to accept 80 cents on the dollar for two of the league's top players. If fans hate losing a series after being up 3-0, ask others fans about teams that deal stars in panicky fashion for minimal return and become perennial rebuilders.