Sharks landing Karlsson stokes true rivalry with Golden Knights

Updated September 13, 2018 - 7:11 pm

It’s that time again, only the second time, but the Golden Knights will begin training camp Friday as a means to prepare for The Season Following The Most Improbable Season.

They also now have The Rival.

In the world of professional sports, unless your head coach is named Belichick and your team leader named Brady, the window to legitimately chase a championship is hardly infinite.

When it’s open, the preferred reaction is to climb through it.

Vegas has done so with all its offseason moves. San Jose on Thursday did so by jumping headfirst through the aperture, any kind of grave injury be damned.

Erik Karlsson, finally, has been traded. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming of life.

San Jose emerged the winner for Ottawa’s star defenseman, and to say it got the better end of the deal is to suggest William Karlsson’s agent should be pushing his client for a Hair La Vie commercial.

Quantity is one thing, and the Senators certainly received that from San Jose in the form of two NHL players, two prospects and draft picks.

Quality is a completely different matter and, given the Sharks didn’t have to part with Timo Meier or Tomas Hertl, their two best young forwards, no one is suggesting the Senators landed an abundance of talent.

Or even an above-average amount of it.

It’s difficult to decipher why or how Vegas general manager George McPhee was outbid for Erik Karlsson, because as much as McPhee could have absolutely offered a better package of current players and prospects — and perhaps even did — figuring it out would mean trying to climb into the heads of Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion and owner Eugene Melnyk.

And that could get us all fitted for straitjackets.

In terms of the ol’ psyche, Melnyk is a few wingers and a goalie short of a starting lineup, or perhaps you didn’t catch his recent video in which he referred to his team as being in “the dumpster.”

Melnyk went on to say the goal is for nearly half his team to be rookies this season and at least 15-16 of 22 players to be new within two years.

This is a guy who invited the media to meet and hear his vision for the team’s future, took a call shortly after the session began and never returned. Looney tunes.

A columnist’s dream, Melnyk is hardly the guy those in marketing want pushing any season-ticket drive. He prefers young and cheap, and I’m guessing that given he spends most of his time in Barbados, fans of the Senators might one day relive the island country’s legend of coffins being moved late at night. When he is gone, shove Nutty Eugene right into the North Atlantic.

Whatever its reasoning, Ottawa took San Jose’s offer for Karlsson over that of Vegas and other suitors, meaning the Pacific Division has a new favorite in the Sharks.

As much as most believed the Knights in their infancy might develop a most intense rivalry with the Kings or Ducks, that’s over for now.

If this were a poker game in terms of improving one’s side, McPhee this summer raised a few hands holding two pair. The Sharks just went all-in with what might prove to be trips aces.

Vegas landing winger Max Pacioretty was a major shift. San Jose just trumped it with Karlsson, essentially giving it three of the league’s top eight blueliners when you add Brent Burns and Marc-Édouard Vlasic.

Yes, those screams of joy you’re hearing are from San Jose goalie Martin Jones.

It all says the Knights and Sharks are more than going for the Stanley Cup now — especially San Jose, given Karlsson is only signed through this season — and it should deliver some classic games between the teams once things begin for real in a few weeks.

The Western Conference, in fact, has quickly come to mirror the West of the NBA, where most of the league’s better teams reside. Washington might own the Cup, but how many would consider it a better team than San Jose, Vegas, Winnipeg and Nashville?

I mean, you have to think Alex Ovechkin is still drunk from celebrating.

Vegas wanted Erik Karlsson.

San Jose got him.

Hold on to your Pacific Division sweaters; a rivalry has been born.

Which, selfishly, will only reach its true apex of fulfillment if S.J. Sharkie swallows Chance.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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