It’s been almost three months since the San Jose Sharks were eliminated from the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs in spectacular fashion. Holding a 3-0 first-round series lead against the rival Los Angeles Kings, the Sharks were outscored 18-5 as they dropped the final four games to lose the series.
That hurts as much to type as it does to read for Sharks fans, as it’s become common knowledge to the point that it feels like explaining hockey is played with a puck.
As if the pain of that defeat wasn’t enough, the Kings marched to their second Stanley Cup in three seasons while the Sharks were again faced with questions about underachieving in the postseason.
The Sharks were at a crossroads in the days and weeks following their elimination on April 30.
Should they tip their caps to one of the best teams in recent years and look to improve an already loaded roster for another run at the champs in 2014-15 or begin a systematic process of scapegoating veterans in an effort to transform the face of a team that has been a regular-season dynamo but a playoff flop for nearly a decade?
There are teams in the NHL that choose to linger between ninth and 12th in the conference for years, refusing to rebuild, so how and why would the Sharks, who finished with 111 points last season, opt to go down that path? They wouldn’t, right?
Despite playing the final three games of the series without Marc-Edouard Vlasic (he was concussed early in Game 5), a Canadian Olympian and one of the league’s best defensemen, and with Logan Couture playing Game 7 with a broken hand he suffered in a fight at the end of Game 6, the Sharks took the tank-is-half-empty approach and decided to sell fans on the notion of a rebuild.