Dear San Jose Sharks,
We need to have a little chat.
I know it’s a long season and you’ve been good for years and everyone hits a bump in the road now and then. I get all that, I really do.
I understand what a grind the NHL season is, especially for the Western teams that have to travel so much. I know your division is tougher than expected, with the Kings having made some major acquisitions and the Coyotes surprising everybody despite being wards of the NHL state. Dallas is also better than last year.
But can we have a little chat about the NHL standings? The ones that show you clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot by virtue of tiebreakers? The standings that have you five points behind the division-leading Stars and just one point out of 12th!?!?! place?
You may wonder why these developments concern me. I live three time zones away. I have been a Washington Capitals fan for 35 years.
The issue isn’t me. It’s my son Ryan. The one on the autism spectrum. The one with the room painted official San Jose Sharks teal. The one who became a Sharks fan of his own choosing a few years ago. The one who insisted on a birthday trip to see the Sharks play another Western Conference team. The one who wore one of his Sharks jerseys to an Anaheim Ducks road game — not against the Sharks — and went around taunting the few Ducks fans he could find. (Ryan has a bit of a thing about the Ducks.)
Right now, Ryan’s putting a brave face on things, but the cracks are showing. We watched the final game of your recent nine-game road trip together. You remember that trip, don’t you? Nine games, all in the eastern or central time! zones — meaning Ryan could stay up and watch most of them, 16 days, TWO wins? And that last game, against Minnesota? The one where you had the lead with a few minutes left only to give up two quick goals and lose in regulation? Ryan and I watched that entire game together on a Sunday afternoon. He even managed to keep his calm as the lead disappeared.
But when the clock hit zero, he stood up, and his face turned to anger. I’d seen the look before. It meant a meltdown was coming. He unleashed a string of curse words and ran from the basement all the way to his room upstairs and slammed the door, with me trailing right behind. I managed to grab him in a big calming bear hug right as he was about to begin throwing things.
You see, Ryan has just a bit of a hockey obsession. He’s just a little bit interested in the standings. And with your precarious playoff spot hanging in the balance, we are more than a little worried about what will happen if you don’t make it.
I’m not sure you were aware that there was a family on the East Coast that starts each day checking your position in the standings, but well, there is. And I’m sure you’re trying your hardest to get in. I’m sure it means more to you than it does to us. Well, actually, I don’t know about that last one.
But anyway, Sharks, if you could find it deep within yourselves to make sure you qualify for the playoffs, well that would really make things a whole lot easier in my house.
It really would.