Sports

/

ArcaMax

When will the San Jose Sharks-Los Angeles Kings rivalry be great again?

Curtis Pashelka, The Mercury News on

Published in Hockey

SAN JOSE, Calif. – A small but boisterous group of Los Angeles Kings fans took over a section in the upper deck of SAP Center. Their chants began before the game ever started, and only grew louder after their team scored a pair of first period goals against the San Jose Sharks 18 seconds apart.

It was one of the few reminders Thursday of the once-great rivalry that existed between the San Jose Sharks and Kings, one that’s gone mostly dormant in recent years.

The Sharks went on to lose 2-1 to the Kings on Thursday, marking their sixth loss in seven games to Los Angeles, which moved one step closer to clinching a playoff spot for the third straight season.

The Sharks, meanwhile, moved one step closer to officially finishing in 32nd place in the NHL’s overall standings.

Klim Kostin scored his eighth goal of the season with 1:52 left in the third period to cut the Kings’ lead to one. That certainly drew a rise out of the announced crowd of 12,266, but the Sharks could get no closer, as they lost for the 11th time in the last 12 games.

The Sharks and Kings met in the playoffs four times in six years between 2011 and 2016, paving the way for the geographical rivalry to become one of the most heated in the NHL. Full buildings, star players, deep teams, and all kinds of hate.

It was hard, heavy hockey as both teams gave no quarter, and didn’t ask for any in return. Just great theatre.

So, when will it happen again?

When both teams are good at the same time, which might not be for a while.

The Kings began their rebuild in 2018, turning over their roster as they began to refill the cupboard with prospects like Akil Thomas, who scored his first NHL goal Thursday, Arthur Kaliyev, Quinton Byfield (after winning a lottery), Alex Laferriere, and Brandt Clarke. They gave a big contract extension to Adrian Kempe, acquired Kevin Fiala via trade, and signed Phillip Danault as a free agent.

The Sharks, for all intents and purposes, really didn’t start the rebuild until early 2022 when they cut ties with Evander Kane. Other veterans like Brent Burns, Timo Meier, Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl were all gone within two years.

Really, the only Sharks remaining from the last playoff series with the Kings are Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Logan Couture.

 

The Sharks are building around a core that doesn’t have much of a history with the Kings, outside of some of the battles the Barracuda and Ontario Reign had in recent years.

It’s going to take time for the Sharks to become competitive again, and who knows when they’ll make the playoffs and meet the Kings in a playoff series.

Most of the central figures in the heyday of the rivalry are long gone.

Stars like Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, so instrumental to the rivalry, are still in Los Angeles. But Jonathan Quick was traded and Dustin Brown, who Sharks fans hated, retired.

Conversely, players Kings fans did not like, such as Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and Burns, are no longer with the team.

Do Kings fans really hate any of the new Sharks players? Do Sharks fans really loathe any of the new-era Kings?

We’ll see how good the Kings are once the Sharks’ window for being a competitive team opens up again.

The game’s changed, too. There’s less fighting overall, and some of those heavy players have been replaced with smaller, skilled players.

Both home buildings used to be packed for games between the Sharks and Kings. Not so Thursday, and it was that small section of Kings fans that made the most noise.

Sharks fans chimed in with the occasional “Beat L.A.” But the home didn’t do much to stir up the home crowd, with just 14 shots on goal in three periods.

Luke Kunin did fight Andreas Englund at the 12:32 mark of the second period, but the Sharks didn’t gain much momentum from that dust-up.


©2024 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at mercurynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus