Perhaps their full potential wasn't quite good enough, since they were after all eliminated tonight in 5 games by the Vancouver Canucks, a team that even the Chicago Blackhawks (the 2011 Hawks, mind you, not the 2010 ones) took to 7 games.
But the road through those admittedly balmy winter months was long, drawn out, and seemingly without a light at the end of the regular season tunnel. The fact that the Sharks ended up taking 1st in the Pacific Division (easily the most competitive of the NHL's six) and rallied to strip the second seed from the Red Wings shouldn't be lost on anyone, despite the common San Jose refrain that the regular season doesn't matter.
The fact that the Sharks, a team noted for being anything but clutch, went 5 for 6 in overtime playoff games shouldn't be lost on anyone.
The fact that Antti Niemi, initially viewed by many (myself included) as overrated, made us all forget the name Evgeni Nabokov shouldn't be lost on anyone.
The fact that Joe Thornton played Game 5 tonight with a separated shoulder and still earned an honorary third star of the night from the Vancouver media for his outstanding 2-way game shouldn't be lost on anyone.
The fact that Patrick Marleau responded to Jeremy Roenick's cat calls with 6 goals in 6 games shouldn't be lost on anyone.
But of course, the fact that San Jose has gone another year without a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals won't be lost on anyone.
Congratulations to the fans of Vancouver, who have waited over twice as long as we have for a Stanley Cup banner floating in the rafters.