By Jason Lockhart
July 11, 2012 will forever be an unforgettable day in San Francisco Bulls history. It marked the affiliation agreement between the Bulls and the San Jose Sharks. The pact meant that the Bulls became the Sharks’ primary developmental team at the “AA” level, where they could send future Sharks to hone their skills.
“Today is a landmark day in SF Bulls history,” said Bulls President and Head Coach Pat Curcio, the day of the signing. “To become affiliated with the San Jose Sharks is a goal we’ve had since we founded the team last year. We look forward to developing young prospects in the San Jose Sharks system that will ultimately make an impact in the AHL and NHL in the near future. Our ultimate goal is to help the Sharks win a championship.”
The relationship on the ice has been immediately apparent. Russian forward Daniil Tarasov was given a limited opportunity to play in Worcester, the Bulls and Sharks’ AHL affiliate. As a result, he was loaned to the Bulls. In San Francisco, Tarasov found his stride and collected 14 points in 17 games, before being recalled to Worcester. Since his recall, he has been one of Worcester’s most potent forwards. In 13 games with Worcester, Tarasov has recorded 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists). He has earned a point in eight out of the past nine games.
“Daniil just needed to get his confidence back,” said Curcio. “He was one of the best scorers in his league in juniors. He needed a chance to prove himself, and he did that with us. He took his renewed confidence and his already strong skill set back to Worcester, and is showing his ability. We could see him in San Jose in the near future.”
In addition to Tarasov, defenseman Mikael Tam has been given a shot at the AHL level after time spent with the Bulls. The Quebec City, Quebec native began the season with the Bulls before being recalled by Worcester. He returned to the Bulls and began to show his offensive prowess, earning six points in 16 games. Tam has since been recalled by Worcester, and has played regularly.
The relationship between the Bulls and Sharks goes beyond the players. Many Sharks fan in the area have taken a liking to the new Cow Palace residents, helped out by the Bulls’ affiliation with San Jose. No situation was more evident of the closeness of the teams when the Bulls hosted a regular season game at the Sharks’ home rink—HP Pavilion—on December 17.
In front of nearly 13,000 fans, including a large number of Sharks fans, the Bulls took on their closest rivals, the Stockton Thunder, San Jose’s former affiliate. That old relationship had died quickly because the fans were clearly in the Bulls’ corner. To make the night even more special for Tam, he scored his first career goal.
Go to a Bulls game and you’re guaranteed to see some Sharks jerseys nestled amongst the Bulls gear. But, you can now say the same thing at a Sharks games and Bulls apparel. Bonded by proximity, and now an official agreement, the San Francisco Bulls and San Jose Sharks have created a harmonious hockey relationship in the Bay Area.
To pay home to their NHL affiliate and former Cow Palace tenant, the Bulls will don teal-colored, Sharks-themed jerseys this weekend, when they host the Bakersfield Condors on Saturday at 7:15 pm and Sunday at 2:15 pm. All of the jerseys will be auctioned and raffled off during after the games. A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit the Oakland Bears Youth Hockey Club Boosters and the San Francisco Youth Hockey Association. Click here for complete details.