Currently the Vancouver Canucks are sitting comfortably above the playoff line with a 12-5-0 record, good for first place in the Western Conference, while the San Jose Sharks are in a precarious tie for 8th with the Winnipeg Jets (though the Jets have a game in hand).
Within the last decade both clubs have come close to winning the Stanley Cup, with San Jose getting to the Conference Final, while Vancouver did even better, defeating the Sharks in that series and getting to the Stanley Cup Final where they lost to the Boston Bruins.
Both are led by scoring tandems: in Vancouver, the Sedin twins (Henrik and Daniel) have carried the team while in San Jose, it has been the combination of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. The problem is that all these stars are now on the down-side of their careers, well past their prime. Their teams have failed to win the Stanley Cup during their peak years and they had their best chances a few seasons ago.
Since that Cup Final appearance, the Canucks grew steadily worse and last year failed to make the playoffs. The Sharks have not fallen that low but are now being eliminated from the playoffs in earlier rounds. Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings have seized their chances and have dominated the Stanley Cup in last half decade. They became the teams that the Canucks and Sharks were hoping to become once the postseason began.
The Blackhawks and Kings are now the benchmark for the league and any other NHL team that wants to find out if it is a contender can measure itself by how well they play against the current and recent Stanley Cup Champions. Recently both teams played against them; San Jose against Chicago and Vancouver against Los Angeles and were soundly trounced 5-2 and 5-1, respectively.
So what happens now? Once there were hopes that these organizations would win the Stanley Cup some day, but that was a decade ago. How long can long can these two teams continue with the same core as the heart of their team? They could probably do it if the Sharks and Canucks were current or recent champions but their times may already have come and gone.
Do they carry on with the “old-timers” hoping for one last hurrah, or do they start rebuilding during the mid-season? If either team makes the playoffs, they probably will have to cross paths with either the Blackhawks or Kings or both and the recent results are not encouraging. There are also rising young teams like Nashville and Calgary to contend with.
The Canucks and Sharks are in a difficult position. There is also loyalty to long-time players to consider.
Right now many Canucks and Sharks fans would probably like to invent a time machine or find the mythical fountain youth and use them on their old heroes so that their dreams about a Stanley Cup victory would still be in the future and not probably lost in the past.
Unfortunately, they will just have to deal with the various roller-coaster moments each NHL team faces, including the harsh reality of aging superstars.
For the latest sports injury news, check out our friends at Sports Injury Alert.
Have you tuned into Last Word On Sports Radio? LWOS is pleased to bring you 24/7 sports radio to your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. What are you waiting for?