100 Things Sharks Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die is the ultimate resource for true fans of San Jose hockey. Author Ross McKeon has covered the franchise from its inception for various outlets, including the San Francisco Chronicle and Yahoo! Sports. Here is an excerpt:
Look at the San Jose Sharks today and you wonder how the team could wear anything but teal. Back in 1990, when the team was deciding on colors a year before their expansion season, they were basically told, "What do you mean, teal?"
Matt Levine, the team's vice president of business operations, received a letter from CCM's Howard Zunenshine, president of the Canadian-based hockey equipment and apparel company that outfitted the NHL. Zunenshine suggested the Sharks pick a more traditional hue, advising a blue worn by the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, or Toronto Maple Leafs. He reiterated if San Jose insisted on the untested teal color, CCM would have to create a brand-new yarn.
"I wrote back, and also called him," Levine recalled. "'Howard, I appreciate your position, but I'm not changing and we're moving forward. And one day you will thank me.'"
That day probably fell right around the release of NHL merchandise sales following the Sharks' first season. Their $150 million in sales accounted for 27 percent of the league's total. Individually, the Sharks ranked second among North American league sales behind only the National Basketball Association champion Chicago Bulls.
"I knew we were going to be successful," Levine recalled. "I could never have dreamed the magnitude of the success we received."
The marketing guru wasn't taking a shot in the dark; his decision was a result of homework. Levine contacted reps with L.L. Bean, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, J. Crew, and Starter with one question: What shade of blue will have legs for five to 10 years?
Independently, the answer all five times was teal.
The Sharks also had to convince NHL Commissioner John Ziegler, who demanded to see what teal looked like on television before signing off. An employee at Madison Square Garden donned a teal jersey and skated onto the ice surface with the cameras rolling before a Rangers game, which was enough to satisfy Ziegler.
Levine organized an elaborate press conference to unveil the look. He invited retired hockey great Gordie Howe to join team owner George Gund -- one wearing the Sharks' road teal and the other donning the team's home white jersey -- to skate on a local rink with makeshift bleacher seating on the ice. Crews from national networks including CNN, ESPN, and CBS, along with a host of local newscasts, had cameras rolling as 300 invited guests, who had all suggested "Sharks" during the name-the-team contest, filled the bleachers.
While wearing teal was unique and eye-catching, the team's well-planned logo -- or family of logos as Levine puts it -- contributed greatly to the appeal, popularity and success of San Jose's initial look. Levine rubber-stamped artist Terry Smith's design of a three-finned Shark biting down on a hockey stick with one modification.
"Initially, we had blood coming out of the Shark's mouth," Levine said. "We decided against that because we knew the parents wouldn't let the kids buy it."
Taking note at a trade show how fashion designers were drawn to the Chicago Blackhawks' under-displayed secondary logo -- two crossed Tomahawks over the letter C -- Levine opted also for a circular shark-fin shoulder patch in addition to the team's primary shark crest. Graphic designer Mike Blatt contributed pro sports' first three-dimensional logo made of an entire alphabet in the form of a "gothic triangle" font to round out the Sharks' variety of looks.
Levine reached out to Dr. John E. McCosker, a nearby scientist who was an expert in ichthyology (think fish). McCosker educated Levine that his Sharks resided near the Red Triangle, a 200-mile stretch of Pacific Ocean waters that was a breeding ground for seven different species of sharks.
Perfect, Levine thought.
A triangle would not only pay homage to the shark-infested Red Triangle, but also represent the three major Bay Area cities -- San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose -- to promote the Sharks as more of a regional team. The triangle provided a background for the shark-biting-stick, and the look was complete.
A number of teams change their look after a number of years. Would that happen in San Jose?
"Never," Sharks radio broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky suggests. "They slightly darkened it about five or six years in, but it really hasn't changed that much. They're never going to change from teal."
-- Excerpted by permission from 100 Things Sharks Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die by Ross McKeon. Copyright (c) 2016. Published by Triumph Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Available for purchase from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. Follow Ross McKeon on Twitter @rossmckeon.