Skip to content

San Jose not the typical southern hockey market

May 18, 2010, 8:00 PM EST

SanJose.jpgSince I grew up learning and loving hockey in Dallas, I am someone
who firmly believes that hockey is a sport that can work anywhere. It
doesn’t matter if it’s in Michigan or Mississippi, if the team is
successful and marketed right the fans will come and these issues facing
“hockey in the south” are forgotten.

With the possibility
looming over the past year or so that the Phoenix Coyotes might move
back to Canada, the argument that hockey doesn’t belong in the south
rose up once more. For most, it seems as if it’s just an issue that
hockey is a sport played on ice, it originated in the north on ponds and
the fact that there are two teams in Florida is sacrilege. That these
teams struggle with revenue and success on the ice is even more
frustrating.

Yet there are a few teams that have proved that if
there is some actual winning involved, and an effort to promote the
sport locally, then there will be success in the region and among the
fans. The Dallas Stars, until Tom Hicks’ financial misdealings derailed
them, were one of the top revenue-producing teams in the NHL and were
one of the most successful teams of the 2000s. In the regular season, at
least. While marching to the Stanley Cup in 1999, the town became crazy
with hockey fever and while the team doesn’t have the exact same
success today the sport of hockey is doing extremely well in local
rinks.

The San Jose Sharks are enjoying a similar story. As the
Sharks move deeper into the playoffs, a spot they haven’t reached since
2004, the rest of the NHL is finally getting to see just how crazed the
fans are. The Shark Tank is one of the toughest places to win at for a
road team, yet you rarely hear how the Sharks have a great fan base. You
hear about the Flyers and Canadiens fans, but rarely about the Sharks. Todd
McLellan is ready for the stigma that San Jose is a black hole for
hockey to be erased:

“Perhaps the most telling
thing for me was when we acquired Dany
Heatley and some of the pundits out there said he can go to California
and just hide,” said head coach Todd McClellan. “That’s not what it’s
like in San Jose, by any means. You can’t hide here when you play for
the Sharks.

“It’s a passionate hockey community and I don’t know
how I get that
across to the hockey world. You can’t walk down the street, you can’t go
for dinner (without being recognized). They know who you are and they
expect big things from you.

Perhaps the fact that the Sharks have developed a bit of a reputation
for choking in the playoffs has contributed to how the team and the
fans are dismissed nationally.

If the Sharks are successful
against the Blackhawks and find a way to get to the Stanley Cup finals,
that is most likely going to change. More and more national audiences
(and writers) will be exposed to just how passionate this town is about
the team.

  1. Anon - May 18, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    Maybe because San Jose isn’t even in the South…..

  2. Laughs 2 Loud - May 18, 2010 at 9:21 PM

    It’s southern with a small ‘s’ not Southern with a capital ‘S’. Thus not referring to “The South”, but being south, as in warmer climate.
    There is a smart ass around every corner these days.

  3. sean - May 19, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    its not even in southern california.

Featured video

Eakins on his way out of Edmonton?

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Datsyuk (2483)
  2. V. Hedman (2418)
  3. S. Crosby (2338)
  4. P. Sharp (2177)
  5. D. Krejci (2048)
  1. B. Marchand (1836)
  2. Z. Chara (1764)
  3. B. Dubinsky (1699)
  4. S. Varlamov (1631)
  5. A. Tanguay (1612)