The San Jose Sharks
joined the NHL in 1991, becoming the first addition to the NHL since 1979. The franchise got its name because the team's marketer, Matt Levine, said, "Sharks are relentless, determined, swift, agile, bright and fearless." The front office wanted to build a hockey team around that motto.
For their first two years, the Sharks were the worst team in the League -- they lost an NHL record 71 games during the 1992-93 season, including a 17-game losing streak.
But with a new coach (Kevin Constantine
) and a new home (the San Jose Arena, now the HP Pavilion), the Sharks pulled off the biggest turnaround in NHL history in 1993-94. They made the playoffs with 82 points -- a 58-point swing from the previous season. In the first round of the playoffs, the eighth-place Sharks stunned the first-place Detroit Red Wings
, winning Game 7 in Detroit. The Cinderella run ended in the second round when the Sharks lost to Toronto in seven games.
The Sharks made the playoffs again in 1995, but again lost in the second round, this time to the Red Wings.
The Sharks have been a playoff team in each of the past six seasons, have won the Pacific Division three times in a row, won the Presidents' Trophy in 2008-09 and were tops in the West last season. But they've been unable to turn their regular-season success into a Stanley Cup -- the Sharks were swept by the Chicago Blackhawks
, the eventual Stanley Cup champs, in the Western Conference Finals, after not getting past the second round in the previous four years. They also lost the 2004 Western Final to Calgary.
GM Doug Wilson allowed veteran goalie Evgeni Nabokov
to leave as a free agent and signed Antero Niittymaki
to take his place. The Sharks hope the change in goal will help them get over the hump in the playoffs.