- Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.
The Vegas Golden Knights took time out of their Western Conference championship celebration to dunk on their rivals for backing the Dallas Stars in the series.
On Monday, the Golden Knights humiliated Joe Pavelski and the Stars in a 6-0 Game 6 win that sent Vegas to its second Stanley Cup Final in six years of existence. The Knights then turned their attention to their rival, the San Jose Sharks.
“It definitely hurts. You always think there’s something else out there for you, something more you can do. But we came up short,” said Pavelski, who played in San Jose for 13 seasons.
Since entering the NHL in 2017, the Knights quickly established a rivalry with the Sharks. Vegas eliminated the Sharks in the second round of the 2018 Western Conference playoffs in a heated, physical series. San Jose returned the favor — and then some — in 2019, when the Sharks eliminated Vegas in seven games.
In that series, the Sharks rallied from a 3-1 series deficit and were down 3-0 in Game 7 when Knights forward Cody Eakin cross-checked San Jose star Joe Pavelski to the ice. Pavelski’s head hit hard, cutting him open and knocking him out. After he was helped from the ice, the Sharks were given a 5-minute major power play on which they scored four goals. Vegas scored in the final minute of regulation to force overtime, but San Jose forward Barclay Goodrow scored to eliminate Vegas.
Incredibly, the coach of that San Jose team was Pete DeBoer, who coached the Golden Knights for three seasons after the Sharks fired him in 2019-20. He’s now head coach of the Stars team that Vegas just eliminated.
Alas, that was the last time the Sharks qualified for the postseason, as they are currently mired in a rebuild. They’ll pick fourth in this year’s NHL draft.
Now Pavelski, a beloved former Shark, is chasing his first Stanley Cup against one of his old team’s biggest rivals. Naturally, San Jose decided to leap onto the Stars’ bandwagon for the conference final, changing their logo from black and teal to victory green:
The Stars accepted the support. In exchange, they sent San Jose a cartoon of an otter — the official mascot of goalie Jake Oettinger — riding a Shark with a cowboy hat.
The Sharks then changed their Twitter bio to read: “Chompin’ on sticks and in a Stars alliance (for now).”
All that led to the clown-themed trolling.
The Sharks tried to hit back with their clown meme that referenced the Game 7 rally, to which the Golden Knights responded: “Keep living in the past.”
Hey, if they can’t meet in the playoffs, at least they can have beef in the playoffs.
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