It is too vivid a memory. The end of last season concluded with another Game 6 collapse. The San Jose Sharks had traveled one round further, but it was to the Dallas Stars ... a team that did not even qualify for the playoffs this time around.
That was the third time in a row.
This year makes four. I hate Game 6.
I made a series of season-ending observations in 2008. I predicted that Brian Campbell would not be back. Check. I prognosticated that Ron Wilson would be let go. Check. I guessed that Jeremy Roenick would return for another season. Check. I even thought that the Sharks would make some moves that would improve the team. Check.
Finally, I noted that the team would return and make a deeper run and have a more profound impact in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Most Sharks fans would give up all of the previous correct predictions for the one I got wrong.
Sorry, Sharks nation, I missed that last one by a country mile.
Will you please take 4 out of 5? I thought not.
Anger. That is the emotion most are voicing to me.
Confusion at how this could happen. Most people are really looking for answers.
Frustration with a bunch of losers known as Bay Area sports. They get right in my face when this one arises.
The search for a winner in San Jose fell well short of the anticipated result this season. The Sharks may have been the Presidents Trophy winner. However, Barack Obama will not be inviting them to the White House anytime soon. Even if he knew the difference between hockey and rugby, he would shrug his shoulders at the suggestion of a Sharks visit. He would probably think it was some science exhibit for his daughters.
To most, it was embarrassing. How did this No. 1 seed fail so miserably against the No. 8? Do not say I did not warn you! Before this debacle even began, I voiced that it would be tough. That it would go six or seven games. That it might go either way. I was one of those that tried to look at it realistically, rather than through teal-colored glasses. Still, no one wanted to listen. No one wanted to believe it could represent such utter frustration. Not a soul perceived that San Jose could be so outplayed.
One of my Anaheim buddies keeps text messaging me, rubbing it in, re-opening the wound, being a jerk. All I can text back to Dave Rocco is "Quack, quack." It is the only thing I can come up with.
Can I please find a place to just hide until the pain subsides? I think I even know how Barry Bonds feels. However, I don't even think a dose of steroids could help the Sharks right now, even though Joe Thornton made Ryan Getzlaff look like a ballerina in the opening moments of Game 6. NOTE TO GETZLAFF: Don't fight Thornton again.
Nevada County, I love your e-mails, but I am not a hockey counselor.
OK, this team lost and it lost bad. They played poorly in failing. The big name players did not show up. Evgeni Nabokov might be banished to Siberia if he played that way in his native land. The dead Shark was stinking by the time the final seconds ticked off.
And ballerina Getzlaff had the final say when he danced around the defense to deposit the fourth goal beyond a struggling Nabokov.
I want Joe Pavelski on my team. He never stops. He works hard.
Bring Dan Boyle back. I don't care if he needed a razor for his stubble all year. He made things happen.
This one is controversial, but I want Jumbo Joe. Hit me with your hockey stick, but I think he is one of the best players in the game. Although he did not win MVP for the Sharks, I am still scratching whatever hair I have not already plucked out of my head.
Give me a healthy Ryane Clowe. He is big and strong. He shows flashes of brilliance. He is still young. Clowe can do it all when he puts it together next season.
Finally, the video poker gambler that I am, I pick Torrey Mitchell. He played well in the playoffs. Yes, he missed the entire season. However, you try playing hockey on a broken leg. I did once. It does not work! He will be a good contributor next season.
On the bubble is Patrick Marleau. He may be back or he may move on. This team has not risen to the occasion under his leadership. He had a great season when he was finally relieved of Ron Wilson. However, I have to wonder what management may think in the weeks ahead.
Goodbye to Jeremy Roenick and Claude Lemieux. As much as I like Jeremy, I just feel it is over. Go enjoy retirement. Find a job coaching or broadcasting. Roenick especially can write a very favorable ticket to whatever he might like to do.
Do not come egg my house, but Evgeni Nabokov has not been able to get it done in the decade he has spent with the team. He did not have one good playoff game. He only gave up two goals once. He allowed more soft goals than a marshmallow vendor.
Doug Wilson has so many things to ponder. These are tough decisions. I know I will meet up with him some time this summer. Always do. However, I am glad our paths will not cross before the playoffs are over. Knowing him, it might take that long for him to decompress. He is a poor loser. Wilson is a proud man. He hates poorly-played hockey and ugly results.
Go ahead. Be as mad as you may like. It was not a pretty picture.
The true definition of where this team goes from here will lie in the months ahead. Leave it to Wilson to untangle it. He provided all of the horses to get this team to the finish line. However, none of them will place in the "Derby."
The problem is that this was the Bay Area's one playoff hope this year.
It did not work out.
It failed ... miserably.
Rocco, "Quack, Quack."
Jim Adams lives in Nevada City, is a regular contributor to The Union and a broadcaster for TouchDown Productions. He may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.