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Shark Tales: From Cow Palace to Cup Final

Stashed in: Sharks!, Hockey, Awesome, San Jose

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Entertaining capsule history of the first 25 years of the San Jose Sharks!

The start of the Sharks was entertaining:

The San Jose Sharks were “Major League” on ice. They lost 129 of their first 164 games over their first two seasons, but no team had more fun doing it, with an expansion roster stocked by players with a new lease on life or others who would’ve never gotten a shot elsewhere.

I love this description of Cow Palace:

When the NHL hastily awarded George Gund an expansion franchise in 1990, the Sharks had no place to play. San Jose Arena, now known as SAP Center, was still two years away from opening.

So, the Sharks shacked up at the Cow Palace, an 11,089-seat building south of San Francisco that was deemed not worthy of NHL hockey some 25 years earlier when the California Golden Seals applied to play there.

It was a temporary home the NHL would never allow in expansion today. Even the way the Sharks were formed, through a dispersion draft of the Minnesota North Stars, wouldn’t fly.

The historic arena was originally called the California State Livestock Pavilion, and once processed American soldiers shipping off to the Pacific Theater during World War II. But it was known for hosting the Grand National Rodeo, agricultural fairs and the circus - a fact that would not slip past your olfactory senses.

“You would walk through the door and every time you would smell cow (dung), so you’d check your shoes, even though you knew there’d be nothing on them,” Fenton said. “It was just a makeshift place.”

Aside from the smell, the Cow Palace roof leaked. It was one of the last few arenas in NHL history which could not accommodate regulation-sized ice. And there was a crazy Zamboni driver who thought it was a good idea to leave the net moorings sticking out of the ice while he shaved it.

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