which used to be the Grand Palace restaurant.

which used to be the Grand Palace restaurant.

Sharks-Kings rivalry intensifies with each showdown

SAN JOSE — The Sharks' most recent obstacle to a long-sought Stanley Cup has been their geographic rival, the Los Angeles Kings, who beat them to a first franchise championship in 2012 and knocked them out in Game 7 of the playoffs in the second round last season.

Three seasons ago, Team Teal eliminated Los Angeles in round one and went on to the Western Conference finals. Two playoff encounters in three years make the Kings arguably the Sharks' top nemesis today, despite Southern California's Anaheim Ducks and a historic grapple with the Detroit Red Wings.

When the Sharks visited the Kings for the first encounter this season, they fell 4-3 in overtime. Wednesday's game at SAP Center went into overtime and then to an eight-round shootout in which San Jose's Joe Thornton, with a backhand move, scored the game-winner.

“I think they are two teams that are pretty evenly matched,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said postgame. “We've had a couple playoffs series with them now. Obviously, geographically they are rivals, but they're fun teams to play and I think both teams like to play against each other.”

San Jose defenseman Scott Hannan always expects a battle.

“Every time we play them, it's going to come down to the wire, and it did tonight,” he said.

The playoff encounters – more so than the Northern versus Southern California dynamic present in other professional sports – built up the rivalry, according to Dan Rusanowsky, voice of the Sharks since the team's inception in 1991.

Beyond that, the rivalry is in the front office. To this day, Kings coach Darryl Sutter has coached more games for San Jose than anyone else in franchise history. Los Angeles' general manager Dean Lombardi also held his position with the Sharks before joining the rival Kings.

Even the players, Rusanowsky noted, have bragging rights on the line. Sharks center Logan Couture and Kings defenseman Drew Doughty grew up minutes apart in London, Ontario.

Meanwhile, loud fans are only getting louder with “Beat L.A.” chants as the rivalry intensifies.

Fremont resident Kyle Dennis, 24, has been wearing his “Rogue Shark” costume to selected games for the past few years.

“Tonight was one of those nights because we absolutely despise L.A.,” said Dennis, who is originally from Anaheim. “The playoffs last year was the climax of the rivalry and this is the first one we've had here this year and it hasn't dropped off since.”

Kings goalie Ben Scrivens, who played his first game in San Jose on Wednesday, noticed the passion at the arena.

“It's a loud rink, good fan support, so it's great for the league,” he said. “We love to see that.”

For fans, a Stanley Cup for the Sharks would mean more than just the franchise's first championship, Rusanowsky said.

“It really will be a coming out party for the city,” he said. “Really is a civic pride event.”

The Sharks are tied with Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, just above Los Angeles. San Jose started the season strong, so expectations are high.

“I'm hoping it's the year for the Sharks,” said five-year season ticket holder Doug Halbert, 56. “Because I can't afford many more season tickets.”

HockeyLos Angeles KingsNHLSan Jose Sharks

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Gov. Gavin Newsom, show here speaking at the City College of San Francisco mass vaccination site in April, faces a recall election due to anger on the right over his handling of the pandemic, among other issues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Why Gavin Newsom’s popularity could work against him in the recall election

Top pollster: ‘We’re not seeing the Democrats engaged in this election. And that may be a problem…’

Passengers ride the 14-Mission Muni bus on Friday, March 12, 2021. (Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Transit officials fear Free Muni pilot could hurt already-strained service levels

Supporters say fare cuts could increase ridership, help low-income residents

The vacant property at 730 Stanyan St. in the Haight currently houses a safe sleeping site for the homeless. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Affordable housing project on former McDonald’s site delayed as city adds units

The start of construction on an affordable housing project on the site… Continue reading

Visitors read a notice hanging on the Polk Street entrance to City Hall on Thursday, March 26, 2020, shortly after the building was closed. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City Hall reopening to the public on June 7 after long closure due to COVID-19

San Francisco will reopen City Hall to the public on June 7… Continue reading

Historic streetcars are undergoing testing on The Embarcadero to prepare for their return to service on May 15.<ins></ins>
What to expect for Muni Metro’s relaunch on May 15

Significant service restoration includes downtown subway tunnels and historic streetcars

Most Read