Do you remember the first time you saw a hockey game in person?
I remember like it was yesterday. In 1993 I was a relative newbie to Silicon Valley when a work colleague invited me to a Sharks vs. Detroit game. Detroit scored in the first 2 minutes of the game but the Sharks won 6-4 on the back of a three-point game from Sandis Ozolinsh. In a foreshadowing of the playoffs, Jamie Baker scored a pivotal goal as time ran out in the second period.
I was hooked and became a Sharks fan for life (#SharksForLife).
Over the years, we Sharks fans have been treated to some amazing hockey - especially in the playoffs. There's no way to choose the biggest moment (Baker's goal in 1994, Donskoi's in 2016, Jumbo's slide in 2011) but the one I remember the best happened in 2006. The Sharks were on a 5-on-3 penalty kill against the Oilers and, for 36 seconds, only one of the three Sharks skaters (Kyle McLaren) had a stick. When Scott Hannan dived to clear the puck with his hand, the Shark Tank erupted in the loudest primal cheer I've ever heard. I am so glad I was there to see it live.
25 years after I went to my first game I joined the Sharks organization as co-President. I'm still a die-hard fan but now I'm in the building every night, not just on game days. It's a completely different perspective on Team Teal - sort of like watching your favorite play from backstage - so I plan to use this blog to share my experiences with you.
After the Sharks clinched a playoff berth for the 13th time in the last 14 years, all of us in the building are getting ready for the playoffs. Being in the building feels different. There's a buzz in the air. People are moving faster. I even (accidentally?) got hip-checked in the hall yesterday when a co-worker was in a hurry to get to a production meeting. We've gone into playoff mode.
Playoff hockey isn't like regular season hockey. Playoff hockey is faster. It's louder. It's unpredictable. Every shift is critical and every pass is a potential series-winner. In regular season hockey you can get away with watching highlights but every second matters for playoff hockey. There might be madness in March but it's absolute anarchy from mid-April to mid-June.
If you've seen our latest marketing campaign, we're trying to capture this playoff spirit. You don't ease into playoff mode. You turn your back on the business-as-usual regular season. You look forward to the crazy, wonderful unexpectedness. You switch to playoff mode.
Playoff mode. ON.
Video: Playoff Mode: On Commercial