Sharks Fans Should Root for Hurricanes-Stars Cup Final

The conference finals are almost underway, and sadly for San Jose Sharks fans, their team did not come close to reaching that round this season. Instead, the Sharks missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season and are still a few years away from contending for their sixth Western Conference Final appearance. But, even though they are not participating in the postseason, Sharks fans still can take a rooting interest. Specifically, they should want the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes to meet in the Stanley Cup Final. This matchup would be a positive for the Sharks, in terms of both the current and long-term outlooks for the franchise.

Brent Burns or Joe Pavelski Would Win First Cup

A few former Sharks are still alive in the playoffs, including Brent Burns of the Hurricanes and Joe Pavelski of the Stars. Both veterans spent most of their careers in San Jose and were invaluable contributors to numerous postseason runs. They were also fan favorites: Burns the wild, bearded provider of energy and physicality; Pavelski the smart, steady team leader and captain.

Joe Pavelski Dallas Stars
Joe Pavelski, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

They have both built remarkable careers by playing the game the right way. While it’s difficult to say that any player deserves a championship, they both come very close. Sharks fans should always be grateful to have had them and that they were at the center of so much success during their time in the Bay Area. It would be great for either one of them to be rewarded with the Cup, even if it isn’t with the Sharks.

Sharks Fans Can’t Root for Golden Knights

The Eastern Conference Final features the Hurricanes and Florida Panthers, neither of whom have a rivalry with the Sharks. The Western Conference Final is a different story, as the Stars will take on the Vegas Golden Knights for a chance at the Cup Final.

Related: 3 Teams for Sharks Fans to Cheer for in the 2023 Playoffs

As strange as it might seem, San Jose’s rivalry with Vegas peaked only four years ago. The teams jabbed at each other physically and verbally, culminating in the Sharks’ incredible first-round comeback in Game 7 of the 2019 Playoffs. Even though the Sharks aren’t necessarily one of the NHL’s premier franchises, and the Golden Knights were in just their second season of existence, it was the league’s most intense rivalry at the time.

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Given that so much has changed in the NHL and the world since then, the feud may feel like the distant past. But San Jose fans should remember that rivalry when deciding who to root for. The teams have gone in different directions since 2019, and the Golden Knights now have a former Sharks goalie in Adin Hill, who has become their unlikely backstop this postseason, but even during a time of struggle, the Sharks need to maintain some rivals, and the Golden Knights are still one of them. Rooting against your rivals means rooting for their opponents, leaving Sharks fans with no choice but to support the Stars.

No New Cup-Winning Franchises

Despite many years of regular-season success, the Sharks have not won the Stanley Cup in their 32-year history. They are one of 12 active NHL franchises without their name on the trophy, but two of them – the Knights and Panthers — are still alive in this year’s playoffs.

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The Sharks do not want to be the last NHL team without a title, and they certainly don’t want any franchise younger than them, including Vegas and Florida, to reach the summit before they do. They don’t want the embarrassing distinction of being the final team without a championship. Doing so, particularly when several other franchises have shorter existences, would be difficult for fans to stomach. It would also further establish the Sharks as a franchise that always comes up frustratingly short in the playoffs.

On the flip side, Dallas and Carolina already have one Cup each. A championship for either of them would keep the Sharks in the company of 11 other franchises for at least one more season. That kind of legacy is one of several reasons that San Jose fans should want those two teams to face off for hockey’s ultimate prize. If the Hurricanes-Stars showdown comes to fruition, it’ll have a positive impact on the Sharks’ recent history and their future outlook.