The Enchanting and Forgotten History of the San Jose Sharks

CH. 5- Quantifying the Wacky & Complex history of the Sharks Franchise

One of True Champion Sports objectives is to provide fans with multiple ways of viewing franchise histories when the need exists. There is a growing trend among the 'Big Four' North American team sports leagues to manipulate franchise histories in specific situations. Usually to re-write a wrong that occurred in the minds of fans and league constituents.

A primary example of this, and the most recent, was the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans giving back their moniker “Hornets” to the Charlotte Bobcats franchise; as well as all of the franchise history during the team’s years in North Carolina (1989-2002).

This type of manipulation is similar to what happened with the Sharks in 1991. The league likely made the decision that the true history of the franchise was too messy, thus simplified by officially recognizing the San Jose Sharks as an expansion team.

In order to produce the most meaningful TCS Team Page, which would best quantify the ‘true franchise lineage’ of the Sharks, some careful thought, logical reasoning and lots of research was needed.

Here’s how I have quantified the franchise’s seasons while merged with the Minnesota North Stars.

1978/1979 Season

During this first season following the merger, Minnesota was a primary focus in the minds of hockey fans because it was such an unprecedented situation. All fans would have been aware of the merger; especially since the new North Stars switched Conferences to remain in the Barons’ Division.

Of the players on Minnesota who played 20+ games that season, 32% of them were Cleveland Barons the previous season- (5 players and 2 goalies). The Barons goalie-tandem of Gilles Meloche and Gary Edwards played 92% of the goalie-games for the North Stars this first season.

I reached the decision that for this 1st season following the merger, 33.33% of the points earned by the team would be attributed to the Barons franchise and the other two-thirds would be credited to the North Stars. 

1979/80 Season 

During the second merged- season, the evidence of the Cleveland Barons was still quite apparent. 27% of North Stars players who played 20+ games were former Barons- (again 5 players and 2 goalies played significant time for the North Stars).

The goalie-tandem of Gilles Meloche and Gary Edwards that came from Cleveland played 99% of the goalie-games.

I reached the conclusion that for this 2nd season following the merger, the Barons franchise would be credited with 25% of the points, and the North Stars would be awarded 75%.

1980/81 Season

In the 3rd season following the merger the North Stars made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. 

By this season, there was a less obvious Cleveland Barons impact. Only 15% of the players who played 20+ games came by way of the merger- (3 players, 1 Goalie). The former Barons’ goalie-tandem had played almost exclusively for Minnesota during the first two seasons; however this season a rookie named Don Beaupre came in to split time with Gilles Meloche.

Based on my research I made the decision that 10% of the points earned for this Stanley Cup run would be awarded to the Barons’ franchise; the other 90% awarded to the North Stars.

1982-1991 Seasons

For the rest of the years during the merger I credit all the points earned towards the North Stars. By the 1981/82 season the impact of former Barons players was no longer significant.

Also, as time marched forward, NHL fans started viewing the franchise as a typical team again, instead of as a hybrid franchise comprised also of the Cleveland Barons.

During these years its most accurate to consider the Barons/Sharks franchise as still existing, but in a dormant state- camouflaged under the identity of a unified Minnesota North Stars.

San Jose Sharks ‘True Franchise Lineage’ Team Page 

I had to make one more determination in order to produce the most accurate ‘Team Page’ I could for this franchise:

As reasoned in the previous section, the Barons franchise is credited with partial points during the first 3 seasons following the merger. I needed to settle on a number of seasons that the Sharks ‘true lineage franchise’ has played. I settled on a decision that the 3 seasons spent earning partial points under the North Stars identity would be quantified as 1 season played for the Sharks True Lineage.

So at the end of the 2016/17 season, the Sharks ‘True Lineage Franchise’ is considered to have ‘played’ 37 seasons:

  • 11 as the Seals, Golden Seals, and Barons prior to the merger
  • 1 as the North Stars (the accumulation of earning partial points for the first 3 seasons following the merger)
  • 25 as the San Jose Sharks

Although this quantification of the Sharks’ true lineage may not be perfect, the decisions made are founded in research, sound reasoning, and understanding the context of the time. It’s believed that True Champion Sports has now provided a better summary, contextualization and quantification of this complex and wacky real lineage of the Sharks franchise than previously existed.

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