Tomorrow night, the Pittsburgh Penguins will play hosts to the Detroit Red Wings in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals. Detroit leads the series, 2-1, after their 3-2 loss on Wednesday.
Many throughout North America and the world will be watching the contest on television. Included in the audience, with some reluctance, will be some of the Sharks players.
“Yes, I’ve been checking in and watching,” Captain Patrick Marleau
said. “In the first two games, Detroit looked pretty good.”
“I’ve watched all the games,” center Joe Pavelski
said. “It stinks to watch them when you want to be playing.”
“Yes, it’s pretty interesting,” right wing Jonathan Cheechoo said. “Detroit dominated the first two games, so it was good to see Pittsburgh get one.”
Of course, the Sharks would prefer to be the ones playing at Mellon Arena tomorrow night. But the sting of being pedestrians as opposed to participants can also serve as motivation for a young Sharks team that can make several runs at the Stanley Cup.
“I think it’s probably good to watch and see what got those teams there,” Pavelski said. “You can always learn from just watching.”
No matter how big of a fan the player is, and how much there is to learn, it’s not fun to watch the Stanley Cup Finals when you believe your team should be there.
“It’s hard,” Pavelski said. “You’re a little jealous and there’s the feeling you want to be there. Those guys are getting to play for the Cup. It’s where we want to be.”
At this point, players usually root for friends who are former teammates. For instance, Cheechoo and Marleau played with two former Sharks now with Detroit: defenseman Brad Stuart and right wing Mikael Samuelsson.
“For me, the only interest is us,” Cheechoo said. “Otherwise, I’m not really pulling for one team or the other. I’m happy for a guy like ‘Stuey.’ Maybe I want to see the West win because of the conference.”
Stuart, who went to Boston as part of the four-player Joe Thornton
deal in 2005, still lives in San Jose. And when Stuart returns to Silicon Valley for the offseason, that’s when Marleau and some of his former teammates will talk with him.
“We’ll see Stuey in San Jose this summer,” Marleau said. “I hope he does well.”
Pavelski, unlike Cheechoo and Marleau, has no ties to either finalist. Does he have a favorite?
“No, not really,” Pavelski said. “I don’t know who I’d want to win. If I knew someone, that would make a difference.”
Regardless who wins, watching the Red Wings and Penguins will only add to San Jose’s desire to continue their pursuit of hockey’s ultimate prize.