Plenty of zeal in teal

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:44 PM ET


 The Cow Palace was an unlikely stage for a school of Sharks to first start circling NHL opponents.

 Located in Daly City, Calif., and seating only 10,000, the old barn -- complete with richly scented livestock stalls -- could get a little high in the heat of a sunny Golden State afternoon.

 Former Calgary Flames centre Kelly Kisio, an original Shark (1991-93), has fond memories of his days in teal, although the club had yet to grow the teeth it will be flashing in its first Western Conference final appearance.

 "Well, we weren't very good," sighed Kisio, who recorded 115 points in three seasons in San Jose before signing with the Flames as a free agent.

 "We had a lot of fun. We were a bunch of cast-offs from other teams the first two years."

 Kisio, now GM of Calgary's major-junior Hitmen, was one of the expansion Sharks' first acquisitions in 1991, traded from Minnesota for Shane Churla.

 The Sharks won just 17 games in their inaugural season and dropped off to 11 victories in their second year, with present Sharks GM Doug Wilson serving as team captain while George Kingston worked behind the bench.

 In the stands, the fans often didn't understand hockey's finer points but eventually fell in love with the game and their team.

 "There was a lot of introductions going on and people jumped on board," Kisio recalled of the California fans who have since moved into the luxurious 17,496-seat HP Pavilion in San Jose.

 "We were in that Cow Palace and ... it was terrible some nights. We had about 9,000 seats at the most but (the fans) were good.

 "We played hard on the ice and competed well, just didn't have the skill level. (We) didn't win a lot but we had a lot of fun.

 "It was a good spot to go, the fans were great. If you tried hard during the game, they were happy and they understood what we were going through. It was a new area for (hockey) teams to come into."

 One of the most striking memories from his time in San Jose was the way hockey fans everywhere adopted the unique logo, featuring a shark chomping a hockey stick in two.

 "Every place we went, even in training camp, we went up to Quebec and they had Sharks jerseys on up there, so it was pretty wild," Kisio recalled.

 "Every place we went, there was a lot of teal in the stands so it was good, it was a lot of fun.

 "And it sure was a learning experience."

 Kisio's Flames of 1995, first in the Pacific Division that season, fell victim to the Sharks in the first round of the playoffs.

 Kisio scored three goals and added a pair of assists, although the Flames wound up losing in overtime of Game 7.


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