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Hockey night in San Jose? Not really/Paul Peterson

April 29, 2011
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

During a recent trip to San Jose, I was surprised by the subdued interest in the hometown Sharks.

Oh, there were a few banners downtown near the arena. And I spotted a few Sharks ball caps here and there.

Ask the typical San Jose resident about the Sharks ... and you might hear that they're a gang in the barrio with a particularly mean reputation.

There was very little buzz on the street about the team, which has been a playoff contender for several years.

In contrast, San Francisco Giants caps were to be found in abundance in the city of 994,000 residents, and there was even a fair amount of Oakland A's lids to be seen.

Baseball is THE sport of choice in northern California, have no doubt about that.

Fans out there will tell you that Tim Lincecum is the best pitcher in the majors or that Buster Posey is the top young catcher.

Mention Joe Thornton or Antti Niemi of the Sharks and you'll likely get a blank look.

The San Jose Sharks, who are the Detroit Red Wings' opponents in the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, have accomplished a good amount of success in their some 20 years of existence.

But I'm convinced their fan base is made up of hockey fans who migrated westward in retirement or relocated to Silicon Valley for employment.

The same applies to NHL teams located south of the Mason-Dixon Line. You can't convince me that people who live in Tampa Bay are really that interested in the Lightning. Or that people in Nashville actually care about the Predators. That sun-tanned Phoenix residents had very much interest in the soon-to-be-gone Coyotes.

Hockey fans in those towns are mostly transplanted northerners, many of them being retirees.

Speaking of Nashville, why didn't the NHL locate a franchise in Milwaukee instead of Nashville?

Milwaukee is a town full of former Copper Country natives, who pride themselves on knowing a thing or two about hockey.

And the town already had an arena that seats 18,000 or 19,000.

In its haste to expand - and make money - the NHL has moved to places where hockey is simply not seen as a major sport.

If you want to experience the true essence of the sport, watch games from the Original Six (Detroit, Montreal, Chicago, Boston, Toronto and New York) cities.

Those places, along with the Copper Country, are the birthplaces of hockey ... and remain the hotbeds.



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