Sharks Lineage comes Full Circle
There are three undeniable connections the modern Sharks have with their California Seals lineage in the Bay Area.
1. Daly City: the Cow Palace
During their 1st two seasons the San Jose Sharks actually played in the greater San Francisco area. They played at a former home arena of sorts- which in some ways, is the franchise’s original arena- the Cow Palace in Daly City. This is where the San Francisco Seals called home from the beginning of their existence in 1961 until 1966.
2. Primary Uniform Color- Teal
During their last two seasons, the California Golden Seals changed their uniforms from green and yellow, (meant to look like the Oakland A’s), to a teal and yellow combination. Their dark uniforms were almost entirely teal with yellow and white trim. I can say for certain they were one of the first professional teams in any league to use teal as a team color, and were possibly the very first- (more research needed.)
When the Sharks debuted in 1991, they hit the ice wearing TEAL. It was a different shade of teal than what their predecessors (the Seals) had worn, but overall, quite similar. This was no coincidence, and was one of the not-so-subtle moves by the Gund brothers made to connect the San Jose Sharks with the California Golden Seals lineage.
3. AHL Affiliate: Cleveland Barons
The most direct tie to the Seals Franchise was the modern Sharks AHL affiliate team from 2001-2006.
The Gund brothers purchased the Kentucky Thoroughblades, and relocated them to Cleveland, where the AHL team would adopt the former NHL team’s name- the Barons; and play at Gund Arena, which was of course owned by the Gund brothers.
I’d argue that this point more than any other should be reason that the NHL ought to consider re-writing the record books to show the true lineage of the Sharks’ franchise. In terms of accurately following the lineage of hockey teams, the Sharks franchise was once the Cleveland Barons, and George Gund tried to shine light on this fact with his move to connect an AHL Cleveland Barons with his NHL San Jose Sharks.
Although this history is quite complex, it is one of the most fascinating franchise-lineage stories in all of pro sports. At the current moment, the Golden Seals/ Barons history is ‘lost’ in the sense that the record books would tell you that franchise folded in 1978, which is simply not the truth. The NHL, the Sharks ownership, and most importantly, the Sharks fan base, should be able to weigh-in on the possibility of re-writing their franchise’s history to reflect this truly unique and charming history.
A truly Regional Franchise
Hopefully by now you can wrap your head around the Sharks actual lineage, and appreciate the way the franchise has been shared between the Big-3 sport markets and cities in the California Bay Area. Here’s a breakdown of where this franchise has called home over its existence in the Bay Area:
1961-1966 San Francisco Seals located: Greater San Francisco (Daly City)
1966-1967 California Seals located: Oakland
1967-1970 Oakland Seals located: Oakland
1970-1976 California Golden Seals located: Oakland
1991-1993 San Jose Sharks located: Greater San Francisco (Daly City)
1993-Present San Jose Sharks located: San Jose
Still Chasing a Championship
As I write this article the Sharks are playing in their 1st ever Stanley Cup Finals. I have said for the past 5 years or so, that the Sharks are likely the very best franchise in the Big-4 to never have made it to their League’s Championship Game/ Series.
It’s been nice to see ‘Jumbo Joe’ and Patty Marleau finally make it to the promise land.
If one wants to consider the Sharks franchise as dating back to 1961, the only championships this team has won were back-to-back Western Hockey League Championships in 1963 and 1964. These do not have the historical status of professional championships; however I challenge their value in chapter 1 of this story.
For all of their NHL years in Oakland, Cleveland, Minnesota, and San Jose this team is still looking for their 1st ever Championship. Go Sharkies!