I chatted with a couple of Boston Bruins players today in the Ristuccia Arena dressing room after practice about the downfall of the San Jose Sharks, who not only earned the top seed in the Western Conference but also captured the Presidents’ Trophy for compiling the largest point total in the NHL. The Sharks fell to Anaheim in six games after losing Game 6 Monday night.
Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward is able to feel the Sharks’ pain. Although he wasn’t playing for Detroit at the time and was just one of the club’s “Black Aces,” Ward had a front-row seat for the Red Wings’ shocking loss to eighth-seeded San Jose in the 1994 postseason.
“It is the most deflating thing because you think you’re on the cusp of doing something special and then all of a sudden it’s like, ‘No, sorry. Enjoy your summer.’ You have an extra two months to start training. It’s demoralizing,” said Ward about the feeling of losing in the first round as a top seed.
But Ward noted that no upset in any series surprises him these days.
“We play the game so long that you understand — what we said before the Montreal series and why there was a level of anxiety — because you throw everything out. There’s nothing about this series that can be predicted and is tangible anymore,” he explained. “Once you drop the puck, it’s all anew. So you understand that. As long as you’re in here, you understand there’s that potential.”
Winger Shawn Thornton had mixed loyalties. On the one side were his former teammates from his days with the Ducks. On the other side, Sharks forward Travis Moen is a buddy and former Duck and San Jose assistant coach Trent Yawney coached Thornton in the Chicago organization.
“Good for the Ducks for working hard and making it happen, but I feel bad for my buddies in San Jose at the same time,” said Thornton.
If you have a heart, you have to have some sympathy for the Sharks. But if you’re a Bruins player or a Bruins fan, you have to be glad that if one No. 1 seed had to go down it was the one from the West.