It was a celebration of hockey’s highest level in front of a capacity crowd in a state-of-the-art stadium that was decked out in Teal everywhere you looked, including the stands, which were decidedly favoring the home team. Oh, yes, there were enough numbers of Los Angeles Kings fans, decked out in the colors of their favorite team, to fill most NHL arenas. But when Brent Burns scored what proved to be the only Sharks goal of the night, I only could wonder whether the roof would have blown off if you could compress that sound into the SAP Center.
There were some interesting facts and tidbits concerning this game, and so, in the spirit of our feature on 98.5 KFOX, let’s go “Beyond the Numbers,” brought to you by SAP:
You probably are aware of the fact that this number signifies the attendance at the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series on Saturday, but for those of us who have been part of this journey since October 4, 1991, that number is another sign that the dreams of one man, George Gund III, are coming true. For those of us who knew, loved, and still miss him, the one regret that we all have is that he wasn’t here to see a crowd of this magnitude celebrating his favorite sport in the heart of Silicon Valley.
If George were here, he would have probably wanted to skate on the stadium ice every chance he could get. He would have loved to play a pickup game there at 3:00 in the morning, followed by a sumptuous meal with his closest friends. He would have adored the jackets that the coaches were wearing, and would have eyed one with great longing until he somehow procured one. I can definitely see him wearing the jacket, roaming the concourse, watching all of the happiness with a sparkle in his eye and a smile from ear to ear. It’s a great image.
The attendance at Levi’s® Stadium was also a number that is nearly 6.5 times the size of the first Sharks home crowd at the Cow Palace on October 5, 1991, the night after they opened their hockey history in Vancouver. 10,888 fans jammed the Daly City arena that night, and not too many remember that San Jose’s Wayne Presley and Mike McHugh scored goals, Jarmo Myllys made 34 saves, 60 penalty minutes were called by referee Bill McCreary (only 4 of them to Link Gaetz). The final score was 5-2, Vancouver.
The 70,205 people also represents a figure that is nearly 4 times the size of the first Sharks home crowd at SAP Center on October 14, 1993, when 17,190 fans experienced NHL regular season action for the first time in downtown San Jose. Kip Miller scored the first goal in the building, but two future Hockey Hall of Famers, Al MacInnis and Joe Nieuwendyk, scored for Calgary in a 2-1 Flames win. The building has added 372 seats since then.
The attendance also equals approximately 7% of San Jose’s estimated 2014 total population of 1,000,536, a percentage that definitely rises when you include the number of people either listening on the radio, watching on television, accessing via newspapers or the internet, and generally paying close attention.
900 in 6
Believe it or not, Saturday’s Coors Light Stadium Series game was technically the 900th regular season home game in San Jose Sharks history, even though it was not played in the city of San Jose or at SAP Center.
Over the club’s history, they have played in 6 different arenas that hosted Sharks’ “home” games, four of which are in Northern California. Can you name them? Here they are:
|ARENA ||LOCATION ||GAMES PLAYED ||W-L-OT/T ||POINTS % |
|SAP Center ||San Jose ||814 ||439-259-116 ||.610 |
|Cow Palace ||Daly City ||81 ||22-55-4 ||.296 |
|Arco Arena* ||Sacramento ||2 ||1-1-0 ||.500 |
|Yoyogi Arena* ||Tokyo, Japan ||1 ||0-1-0 ||.000 |
|Ericsson Globen* ||Stockholm, Sweden ||1 ||0-0-1 ||.500 |
|Levi’s® Stadium ||Santa Clara ||1 ||0-1-0 ||.000 |
| ||ALL-TIME HOME RECORD: ||900 ||462-317-121 ||.581 |
* Totals do not include Sharks “road” games played in same neutral site arena. All totals as of 2/23/15.
By the way, since we’re talking games played, Thursday night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings will mark the 1,800th regular season game in Sharks history. The 900th regular season road contest will be played on Tuesday, March 3 in Vancouver.
Sticking with a similar theme, the Sharks played their 800th regular season game at SAP Center on Dec. 30 against the Canucks, and it had the distinction of being the second Sharks game to feature two penalty shots by San Jose players. Joe Pavelski hit the cross-bar in the first period, and Joe Thornton scored against Ryan Miller in the second stanza.
#4 = #7
The Sharks owe a great deal of gratitude to the San Francisco 49ers organization for their hospitality, assistance, and encouragement. It’s not always an easy thing to give up one’s home to a visitor, but they did a terrific job in making the Sharks feel at home. Everyone at the Sharks and the NHL appreciates what Jed York’s staff provided. The locker room was converted into a palatial home for the players, there were Sharks and NHL Stadium Series logos everywhere, the Sharks ice sculptures looked fantastic, and the venue certainly looked spectacular to television viewers everywhere.
Inside the Sharks locker room, things were reconfigured a bit to the standard NHL setup, which features a main locker room area, and a changing room for the players. There was plenty of room to do this, because there are twice as many players on an NFL roster as there are in the NHL. With Sharks teal banners everywhere, it really looked like home.
Trivia of the weekend: as it turned out, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick’s locker area was assigned to Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon.
2 + 2 = 2
After Friday’s initial practice, players, families, and other members of the hockey staff were allowed to skate once the official session ended. I’m happy to report that there were two marriage proposals on the ice at the stadium, with positive results. The funny thing, as the news floated around the office, we heard, “Norma and Carl both got engaged on the ice.” An immediate, incredulous reaction from some was, “To each other?” The answer was, of course, no, since they have had important significant others in their lives for many years. But that certainly was a moment of humor for all of us as we congratulated our friends.
10 + 11 = 21
There are 21 games remaining in the regular season, beginning with the Detroit game. The Red Wings are one of four remaining teams that the Sharks have not yet faced this season. All four as one would expect, are in the Eastern Conference. At least three of them are solidly in the playoff hunt, and a case could be mathematically made that all four could still be in the race: Montreal (1st – Atlantic and 1st – Eastern), Detroit (3rd – Atlantic), Pittsburgh (3rd – Metropolitan) and Ottawa (6th – Atlantic).
Ten of the games are in the friendly confines of SAP Center at San Jose, with six of those being against Western Conference teams. Of the remaining 11 road games, only five are in the conference, with the season finale at Staples Center in Los Angeles against the Kings.
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
Beyond the numbers, Levi’s® Stadium was THE place to be in Northern California on Saturday night. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard already about the night, whether it was from our friends at 98.5 KFOX and 95.7 The Game set up at Gate A to greet the throng, the amazement of some stadium staff when the vast majority of the hockey crowd stayed in their seats for the entire game (“The building was full the whole night. It looked awesome,” said one), to the GoPro camera set up to time lapse the melting of the ice sculpture, to the closeness and importance of the game itself, to how the crowd sounded after the Brent Burns goal, and to how this sets things up for the stretch drive that ends up, of course, in Los Angeles for the season finale on April 11.
It was a night to remember, and it was a privilege to be there to broadcast the action to all of you. Congratulations to the NHL, the Sharks, the Kings, the 49ers, and all of the fans who made it so special. This is clearly “Sharks Territory.”