Frank's Thought of the Day - 11/1/2013
When talking Sharks hockey there seems to be a player who is often overlooked. The date was March 23rd, 1999. That’s when the Sharks made a deadline deal with Montreal that brought the Canadiens’ captain Vincent Damphousse to San Jose. Damphousse brought with him a winning pedigree and gave the team instant credibility. He was an elegant player whose style and flair should not be forgotten. The Sharks team that he joined in the spring of 1999 was a very average team, but his winning attitude and quiet leadership was much valued by the team in teal. Damphousse’s NHL career was outstanding. He played 1378 NHL games while notching 432 goals and 773 assists. The pinnacle of his career was winning the Stanley Cup in 1993 as Montreal enjoyed a magical run. During 5 ½ years with San Jose Vincent played 385 games and posted 92 goals and 197 assists. His career was outstanding and a case could be made that Vinnie belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame. I remember Vincent as a classy guy who embraced the team and the community. He was a smooth skater, a great passer and was a remarkably smart player. Next time you talk Sharks hockey, don’t forget the Flying Frenchman, Vincent Damphousse.
There are 30 teams in the NHL and with that 30 NHL buildings. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been at all of them, plus a handful of retired rinks. Baseball/Football stadiums of the ’70s saw the advent of the ‘cookie cutter’ ballparks. Their artificial turf and circular seating configuration were quite unremarkable. It was hard to tell the difference from park to park. Was it Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Cincinnati? Hockey should have learned but in the 1990s was the era of NHL ‘cookie cutter’ arena. Massive structures that valued private suites over seating of the common fans were being built at a rapid pace. Examples of rinks from this time are Chicago, Buffalo, Philadelphia, LA and Dallas. Luckily for Sharks fans SAP Center predated those buildings of the bland. Completed in 1993 and named the San Jose Arena, the Sharks South Bay home was a smashing success. Built on a human scale, the arena had and continues to have some of the best sightlines in the league. With a capacity of 17562, SAP Center provides perhaps the most intimate fan experience in the league. I speak to broadcasters and fans all across North America and they rave about the atmosphere, fan energy and proximity to the ice in San Jose. The last row of the upper bowl is both lower and closer than the first row of the upper bowl in most NHL rinks. Those who follow the Sharks closely and go to the games in person know exactly what I’m talking about.
The Sharks just completed an October to remember. During the 10th month 2013, San Jose posted a 10-1-2 record. Their 22 points is most in the NHL. 13 games into the season show 16 Sharks players have scored at least one goal. 8 different Sharks have a game-winning goals to their credit. Perhaps the most impressive stat is their +27 goal differential. The next closest teams are…Colorado +19, Toronto +16, Montreal + 14 and St Louis +13. Now it’s early, but these October points are every bit as important as points earned in March and April.