With the American Hockey League presumably gone for good from Worcester after last season it was only a matter of time before both parent clubs of the two AHL franchises to call this city their home would meet again in a playoff series. When the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues met in the 2011–12 playoffs folks in Worcester were solidly behind the Sharks. With San Jose leaving the city hockeyless in June of 2015 one had to wonder if that would impact who fans here were rooting for.
Yesterday I asked the question on Facebook and Twitter about who fans of both the IceCats and WorSharks would be rooting for in this series, and in my incredibly unscientific survey the answers show Sharks sentiment is still strong here. Most of that has to do with all the former WorSharks players on San Jose’s roster, which makes sense when you consider many were playing here last season. There are currently no former IceCats on the Blues roster, so they lose that battle handily.
While good friend Sherman Whitman, Morning Show Co-Host at WPKZ Radio, used hockey reasons, “I’m happy both teams are there, but I think it’s finally San Jose’s time. They’ve finally got the right coach, and Martin Jones has carried them on his shoulders.”, it was Booster Club treasurer Chris O’Shea who summed up most of what the Sharks backers were saying, “It’s going to be a great series – I’m rooting for the Sharks since almost 1/2 the team came through Worcester. There are no more IceCats on the Blues”. O’Shea also noted she’s rooting for the Sharks because they wear teal. I know she’d want me to mention that.
On the IceCats side, leading the charge was the creator of the “David Haas Award”, Peter Dumas. “Rooting for the Blues–still can’t quite cut my ties to the Icecats and have been a big Shattenkirk fan since his days at BU,” said Dumas, who added, “St. Louis is a terrific hockey town & their faithful fans deserve a finals appearance.” A couple of others also picked the Blues, but indicated it had nothing to do with their AHL ties. NCAA referee Jeremy Lemoine noted he likes Ken Hitchcock the way the Blues play hockey. Bowling buddy Mark Abraham picked St Louis at the start of the playoffs and wants to be correct. A good a reason as any.
To be honest I was expecting more people to be angry at San Jose for pulling their AHL affiliate out of the city. I only got one response that fit that bill, and it was the first Facebook reply I got. Matt Medoff, another bowling buddy, posted he was rooting for the Blues “because I was younger and more impressionable, and I hate the Sharks for the way they ran Worcester and for letting (Sommer) coach for so long.” Medoff didn’t use the word “Sommer”, but I’m trying to keep this professional so we’ll just indicate that’s who he was referring to. Although I do agree with the word he originally used.
In game seven against the Predators I was rooting for Nashville over San Jose just because the Sharks losing would give the Boston Bruins a better draft pick in the first round, as they own the Sharks first rounder as part of the trade for Martin Jones. A San Jose loss now doesn’t improve the pick much, so using that as a reason to determine who I want to win is a non-starter. But I don’t really need an excuse anyway.
While I’m a huge Bruins fan and I unashamedly say I bleed black and gold, my “second” team has always been the St Louis Blues. I followed them long before they got involved with the IceCats, and except for a season or two after they left here I’ve rooted for them since. It does annoy some of my Blues-rooting friends that I own Chicago Blackhawks gear as they are complete rivals, but I own that stuff because my all-time favorite player is Tony Esposito. Most forgive me because Esposito is a legend and a Hall of Famer; many don’t. As I don’t care what they think it affects me not.
While not a reason I’m not rooting for the Sharks, the San Jose front office never really considered Worcester their home. We were just a stop along the line, and were often treated as such. Yes, the Blues front office did stab us Icecats fans in the back, but that ownership group is long gone and most here don’t bear the “new” guys any ill will for what their predecessors did. So while I do hope the former WorSharks do well for themselves in the series, this writer is rooting for the Blues to go all the way.
But I’ll be doing that in my Railers hat.