Thursday, June 5, 2008

Random Ramblings on the Stanley Cup Final. . .

*Before the series began, if I had to pick who would win and when, I would have said Detroit in 6. But I claim no acknowledgement for this thought, because I did not bet and therefore no one really knows that I was thinking it (even though I was). That also coupled with the fact that I really had my doubts after game five that this series would be over in six. Trust me, I deserve no bragging rights.

*I am glad Detroit won. And that’s a weird feeling. I usually do not root for Detroit (and the other teams that have had so much success over the last decade plus). Not because they aren’t good. They’re great. But because I get tired of seeing the same teams win all the time. But, I am glad Detroit won. They have the better storylines this time around - Lidstrom, Drake, McCarty, Osgood - and, if every predictor is right, this is just the beginning of the road to success for the Penguins. So I’m not going to feel badly for them. They had a good run and I’m sure their time will come, sooner rather than later.

*If the first player of European decent to captain his team to the Stanley Cup was not going to be Jaromir Jagr, I’m glad it was Nicklas Lidstrom. I can’t say anything bad about him. In fact, I’ve not heard anyone EVER say anything bad about him.

*I’m thankful for what turned out to be a very good Final. I was so disappointed last year, because for whatever reason (their own doing or the extreme strength of Anaheim) Ottawa was practically invisible. And even though it wasn’t a sweep (barely), it was a rather boring series. This year, I was enthused. It was a good matchup. The first two games were strongly in Detroit’s favor, but the action was end to end. The pace, I thought, for pretty much every game except maybe game four, was very good. And most of the games were pretty evenly matched, at least after the first two. Last night’s game was not like last year’s elimination game. Game five last year wasn’t close. But last night, with the clock literally ticking down to seconds, Pittsburgh still had a chance to tie the game. And they almost did. That’s all you can ask for. A fight to the end. An ending that is not written ahead of time. This Final brought that. And that’s something I’m grateful for.

*Is this the end of an era? Do Chelios (not my favorite player, I’ll be honest) and Hasek (certainly not my favorite player, I’ll be blunt) retire? I will have a harder time disliking Detroit if these two have skated in their last games. And before I get criticized, Chelios has had an incredible career and did great things for American hockey. I thank him for that. Hasek has been a goalie with a pretty fantastic career himself, but he is, was, and always will be, the flopping fish to me. No disrespect to him, but it’s just a case of personal preference. I’d be pretty short-sided to just say I loved every player on every team, just because they were good players on good teams. I’ve liked hockey long enough to earn an opinion. The above are just two of my many.

*Speaking of Chelios. I see he has no problem coming out of the locker room to shake the hands of the Penguins after Detroit won. (According to radio, he didn’t watch the game, but talked in the locker room with the equipment? guy instead). I’m not going to criticize him for his past actions, but it’s a little funny to me. Last year, big reaction when he did not congratulate the Ducks (later stories of him being physically ill and unable to do so surfaced), but this year, he’s good to go when the story ends better. Is this even more of an indication that he’s done? (Remember, he did not play a game in the Final this year).

*Am I the only one that actually likes teams winning on the road, for the sole reason, that the family members of the players cannot rush the ice and join in for photos, clogging up a celebration that should be for the players, their coaches, and staff only in the same way they'd do if it was at a home arena? (Images of camera guys dodging players, camera wire, staff, coaches, reporters, AND half a dozen children and weeping wives are playing through my mind). Probably. I love hockey players and their families love and support is a big reason they are able to get to be where they are. I know that and I respect that. But, to me, that moment on the ice when players win the Cup should be about their team. Those other 20-some guys who’ve been in the fire with them. A player can think about whatever and whomever they want when they are lifting the Cup. They can hug and kiss and celebrate with their family to their hearts content as soon as they get off the ice, and for the months to come. (The summer after, I think, is when it really becomes a celebration more for the family, for the player’s home town, etc). Am I the only one that wants the immediate celebration on the ice to just be about the team? (And if it’s what the players want, then I respect that, surely. I just don’t remember it always being that way. More and more, I miss the simplicity of it all).

*I like Marc-Andre Fleury. I think he’s quite calm and composed for his young age. I haven’t seen him have huge emotional reactions. He’s kind of quiet and just does his thing – and as of recently, does it well. I appreciate that. I think these playoffs proved to the Penguins that they did get the goalie they bargained for.

*I love hockey, but I’m kinda relieved the year is over. I’m sure in a week I’ll be longing for hockey again, but there is always that immediate sense of relief. I can go to bed earlier. I can try to focus on other things. (Which sadly always makes me realize how little else I have to focus on). I can make plans without having to worry if I’ll miss a game that I want to see. But I’ll miss hockey of course. And as always there will be an exciting summer of free agency to keep me busy. Looking forward to that.

*Okay, I tried. But I take the above statement back. Is it October 4th yet? ;)

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