[EDITOR'S NOTE: This fanpost was written by a Sharks fan advocating for that team to be the Stars' Winter Classic opponent. With the opponent not being named yet, anything is possible!]
I’m a life (of the franchise) long, born and raised fan of the San Jose Sharks. I remember being in junior high school when George Gund was not allowed to relocate the Minnesota North Stars to the SF Bay Area, and instead, was awarded a new franchise — the San Jose Sharks — that would be born, in many ways, from the North Stars, giving rise to the 1991 Dispersal and Expansion Drafts.
Of course the North Stars, with new ownership, would move the team to Dallas in a couple of years, renamed the Stars, and the rest is history. My wife and I moved to North Texas in 2009 but carry with us our diehard Sharks fandom. For better or worse, we attend nearly every San Jose Sharks game in Dallas.
My presence in "enemy territory" is two-fold. One is to congratulate the Dallas Stars on being named host for the January 1, 2020 Winter Classic! With this honor, the Stars become only the 12th NHL team to even be involved in one. The two-time Stanley Cup Champion L.A. Kings haven’t sniffed one, even as the road team. The Colorado Avalanche? They’re getting another "Consolation Classic" (the better name for the Stadium Series) next season, but no January 1 Winter Classic. And, alas, the San Jose Sharks, with three Western Conference Final appearances and one Stanley Cup Final appearance since the first Winter Classic was played in 2008, have yet to play in one.
The Dallas Stars announced that they will take input from their fans as a component of selecting an opponent. I am here to explain why you should want your Winter Classic opponent to be the San Jose Sharks.
Let’s get the best argument out of the way for why Stars fans should want the Sharks on January 1, 2020. You want an easy win, the Sharks are your easy win. After all, you don’t want to play in what could be your only Winter Classic and lose, right? You aren’t the Chicago Blackhawks!
The Sharks have not won a game in Dallas in February 2015. Since February 2015 (When Todd McLellan was still the coach!), the Sharks are 0–6–0 in Dallas. Not even a point earned. In fact, the Sharks hadn’t even had a single lead in any of those 6 games until this last one on December 7, 2018 when Evander Kane scored in the first to take a 1–0 lead. You would have thought the Sharks won the Cup when that goal was scored, we were that excited! Many of the 6 losses have been ugly, notably the 6–0 massacre on December 31, 2017.
2017 was especially brutal for the Sharks as the Sharks played three total games in Dallas, twice in the same week in March 2017 (thanks NHL scheduler!) and the NYE game. The Sharks were outscored 13–1 combined in all three games. For us Sharks fans in the DFW area, Dallas has been nothing but a house of horrors.
In fact, in the Sharks Peter DeBoer era, the only Western Conference teams the Sharks have not beaten on the road are Vegas (limited sample size) and Dallas. For God Sakes since February 2015, the Sharks have been closer to winning the actual Stanley Cup than winning one game in Dallas!
You might say the Sharks are overdue and you fear retribution in the Winter Classic. From the Sharks fan POV, let me tell you, we’re well past that. We’ve already lost all hope. For whatever reason, the Sharks don’t play well in Dallas (anymore). That’s not going to change on January 1, 2020. This is your easy win. Embrace reality and take the win into your hands.
Next best argument: You want to dominate the stands.
Don’t you just hate going to a home game only to find it chock-full of Detroit Red Wings fans? Don’t you get bitter when the Maple Leafs score in the AAC and the cheers are ferociously loud?
We understand your pain! Like Northern California, North Texas is also a haven for transplants. And these so called "fans" of opposing teams spring out of nowhere, sporting their New York Rangers jerseys, and heckling your team.
Now imagine the scene on January 1, 2020. If the visitor is an Original 6 team, the fans will travel well and fill up the Cotton Bowl easily. Ditto for a team like St. Louis, especially given the relatively short distance. And Nashville? I can’t imagine how many Preds fans will make the trip if they are also a Winter Classic first-timer playing a fellow Southern team. At best you’re looking at a split crowd.
Now, what if it’s the Sharks? Of course those of us who live here will go, and sure, people will make the trip from the Bay Area and other parts of Sharks nation for the game, but it won’t be anything like Original 6, St. Louis, or Nashville. The Stars will clearly be the home team in the stands, just as you should want it.
Process of elimination argument: Don’t choose the Minnesota Wild…They don’t want you to.
I know many Stars fans think the obvious choice for opponent is the Minnesota Wild, because the Stars moved from Minnesota. But this would be a bad move.
For starters, there is still pain over the North Stars having relocated to Dallas. They did get a team back, but in no way do Minnesota fans want to watch their team play a Winter Classic game against a Dallas team sporting North Stars jerseys. Intentional or not, that takes trolling to a whole new level.
The bigger reason, though, has to do with location of the game. Minnesota, the "State of Hockey," has been begging to host a Winter Classic since its inception. If the Winter Classic is a celebration of the roots of the sport, the fact that the State of Hockey has not hosted one is itself a mockery of this alleged celebration. Thus, it’s bad enough from their vantage point that Minnesota’s old team is getting to host one in the South, but to be named as their opponent? Insult to injury.
There is, and will be, too much vitriol to have the visitor of this Winter Classic be the Minnesota Wild. Put yourself in the shoes of their fans and you’ll see that you wouldn’t want to be done that dirty!
Growing the game’s exposure argument: (Former) Pacific division bros.
In the history of the Winter Classic, only one division has been completely shutout of any participation, even on the road, in the January 1 Winter Classic: The Pacific. It is ironic, of course, that the Stars, a former Pacific division team, is not only in one, but hosting one!
Wouldn’t it be great if the first Winter Classic in a "non-traditional" market also ends the ridiculous stat of no Pacific team participating in one? Instead of letting NBC and Bettman get their way of having a Midwest or Northeast anchor team be the visitor, why not have this Winter Classic be Non-Traditional Market vs. Non-Traditional Market?
Rivalry: Texas vs. California, ‘nuff said!
Without fail at the end of every Sharks at Stars game, many Stars fans come up to us, even after winning big, and tell us to "GO BACK TO CALIFORNIA!" And not in a joking way. Stars fans may not hate Sharks fans or the Sharks, but boy do they hate California and anything that reminds them of California. For some reason bigger than In N Out v. Whataburger (I like both, except INO fries can go to hell and Whataburger needs to make the A-1 Thick and Hearty Burger and the Chophouse Cheddar Burger permanent fixtures on the menu), there is an immense, deep seeded hatred towards anything California coming to Texas, whether it be transplants, businesses, and especially, burger joints.
A Sharks at Stars Winter Classic can EASILY be promoted as a Texas vs. California rivalry matchup, and I’m sure if you think about it, you’ll see…it works! We know y’all hate us for moving here and jacking up your housing prices, so let’s settle the score in the Cotton Bowl! Without a natural geographic rival like Houston or Austin, a California team like the Sharks just makes too much sense. Isn’t the biggest geographic/geo-political rival of Texas in fact California? Again, this stuff just writes itself.
Best sentimental reason: The Stars and Sharks are more intertwined than most people realize.
I already alluded to the connection between the Stars and Sharks when the Sharks entered in the NHL, but lest we forget that the Minnesota North Stars were a product of a merger of the North Stars and the Cleveland Barons…the Barons who had moved to Cleveland from the Bay Area where they played as the Seals/Golden Seals!
Both the Stars and Sharks are a product (by-product?) of bringing hockey to the Bay Area and non-traditional markets as a whole, not to mention success stories for the league to promote. Now that the Stars have this glorious gift of Winter Classic, their opponent should be the San Jose Sharks. And Stars fans, you should want to pummel us on January 1, 2020.
We Sharks fans emplore you to make your voice be heard to the Dallas Stars organization, that you want a Texas v California Winter Classic, and an easy win. That you want to face…the San Jose Sharks.