Familiarity breeds contempt in Hawks-Sharks Series


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By Paul M. Banks

In two days, the Chicago Blackhawks will start their battle with the San Jose Sharks for Western Conference supremacy. And when the gauntlet is thrown down, there will be lots of commonalities and bonds between the two warring factions. Here are a few ties that bind:

Popular in Both Markets: Sharks GM Doug Wilson is one of the most popular figures in the history of both franchises. A first-round draft choice (sixth overall) by the Blackhawks in 1977, Wilson played 14 seasons in Chicago and still ranks as the club’s highest scoring defenseman in points (779, fifth overall), goals (225, 12th overall) and assists (554, third overall).

Wilson ranks fifth all-time in games played (938) for Chicago. In addition, he led all Blackhawks defensemen in scoring for nine consecutive seasons (1981-82 through 1989-90) and captured the Norris Trophy as the League’s top defenseman in 1981-82 when he tallied 39 goals and 85 points — still Blackhawks single-season records for goals and points for a defenseman.

He represented the Blackhawks in seven All-Star Games and was inducted into the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame in September 1999.

Acquired by San Jose from Chicago just before the Sharks’ inaugural season (1991-92), Wilson brought instant credibility to the fledgling franchise. Highlighting Wilson’s two-year playing tenure in San Jose: serving as the franchise’s first captain, being the team’s first representative in the All-Star Game (1991-92) and playing in his NHL-milestone 1,000th game.

Wilson joined the Sharks front office in 1997 as director of pro development and was named GM prior to the 2003-04 season.
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Former Shark in Chicago: Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell had a brief yet productive career with the Sharks in 2007-08. Acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline, Campbell tallied 19 points and a +9 rating over the final 20 games of the regular season as the Sharks went 16-2-2 down the stretch.

Campbell notched seven points (one goal, six assists) in 13 playoff games as the Sharks eliminated Calgary in the first round before falling to the Dallas Stars in round two. He signed with the Blackhawks as an unrestricted free agent the following summer.

This marks the fourth time in the past five seasons that Campbell has reached the Conference Finals. He made the final four as a member of the Buffalo Sabres in 2006 and 2007 and with the Blackhawks in 2009.

Olympic Reunion: The Western Conference Final will feature 14 players who participated at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver this past February, including nine who skated in the classic gold medal game between Canada and the United States.

The Sharks have eight Olympians, tied for the most in the League: Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley and Dan Boyle (Canada); Joe Pavelski (USA); Douglas Murray (Sweden); Evgeni Nabokov (Russia) and Thomas Greiss (Germany).

The Blackhawks have six Olympians: Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook (Canada); Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky (Slovakia) and Patrick Kane (USA).

Badger Reunion: Adam Burish of the Blackhawks has a well-deserved reputation for badgering opponents but he will have a tougher time with Sharks forward Joe Pavelski — the pair were teammates on the University of Wisconsin Badgers in 2004-05 and 2005-06. Their time there culminated in an NCAA championship, the men’s team’s first since 1990. Burish and Pavelski earned assists on both Wisconsin goals in a 2-1 victory over Boston College in the title game.

Hossa’s Baaaaaaack: Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa has advanced to the Conference Final round for the third consecutive season with different clubs, having previously reached the final four with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 and Detroit Red Wings in 2009. The last player to do this was 15-year, 425-goal man Brian Propp, who appeared with Philadelphia in 1989, Boston in 1990 and Minnesota in 1991.

Late-Round Steals: Much of the crowd that jammed Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville for the 2003 Entry Draft had long since gone home, but the scouting staffs at the Sharks and Blackhawks tables were still busy adding key parts of the puzzle. In the seventh round, the Sharks used the 205th overall selection to take Joe Pavelski from the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL. In the eighth round, at #245 overall, the Blackhawks nabbed Dustin Byfuglien from the WHL Prince George Cougars.

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