Friday, May 29, 2009

As If You Need A Reason

I'll admit I haven't been too excited about the potential for this Stanley Cup matchup since the start of the Conference Finals. I didn't see Chicago or Carolina putting up much of a fight against our now-crowned finalists. And the thought of a rematch of last year's SCF brought me to a level of boredom compared with the Chinese Checker championships and Turtle Wrestling on Versus.

But now I'm starting to come around.

Fuck, its the Stanley Cup Finals, how can you not be psyched for this?!

Granted the last round wasn't the most exciting, but honestly how much can you expect after two dynamite first rounds. It was hard to top that show, and I think we all had to see it coming after that brutal Pittsburgh/Washington Game 7. Total flop.

But I think all the hockey fans out there are on the same page, just for the simple fact that I've seen multiple articles on why to watch. Whether that's for 'the Casual' or for the hockey world outside of Detroit and Pittsburgh, who knows.

I've got two reasons, one for each team winning.

My wife asked me the other day, "Why do you hate the Red Wings so much?"

As I searched through the list in my mind and tried to find the words that wouldn't be tied to a string of obscenities, I found myself getting worried. As I scanned and re-scanned the files in my recreational-damaged mind, I found the lack of a legitimate reason starting to dawn on me.

'Because they're good,' just won't cut it.

Neither will 'because their fucking fans are bandwagon, shit-talking, know-nothing assholes,' even if couldn't be more true.

They are the model example of a successful hockey franchise. Mirtle nailed it with this beauty, asking whether Detroit should already be considered a dynasty due to their success just within the last decade or so. As you can tell by the poll at the bottom, we the people emphatically say yes. I said no just for the simple fact that the cluster of Cups has to be closer together. There were four and five years respectively between the Wing's Cups after their two consecutive in '97-'98. But four Cups with the potential for five provides a good argument.

There have been several comparisons between the Penguins/Red Wings version 2.0 to the Islanders/Oilers battles of the 80's, but I believe that's still years in the making. Think about that for a second, the New York Islanders won four Cups in a row before challenging for a fifth, with Edmonton taking it for the next two before letting the Habs slip in there, before capturing another two. Before the Isles four consecutive Cups the Montreal Canadiens under Scotty Bowman in the late 70's captured four in a row.

And I glazed over at the fact that we're seeing the same SCF as last year.

And that's the reason to like the Red Wings for the Silver Chalice, because its one step closer to a dynasty, (if it isn't already).

You look at the names on the Detroit roster.
The first non-North American Captain to win Stanley, 39 year old Swedish import Niklas Lidstrom, winner of 6 Norris Trophies, and member of the 'Triple Gold Club'.

Selected 53rd overall in the 1989 draft.

Hailed as one of the best two-way forwards in the game, winner of the Selke and the Byng, Pavel Datsyuk.

Selected 171st overall in the 1998 draft.

Winner of the Conn Smythe, and also a member of the 'Triple Gold Club,' arguably the best player in the world, Henrik Zetterburg.

Selected 210th overall in the 1999 draft.

And holding the NHL record for the most goals in a four game playoff series with 9, owner of multiple team playoff records, and with plenty more in store for his remaining years within the League, Johan Franzen.

Selected 97th overall in the 2004 draft.

These are perhaps Detroit's best players and they are bottom feeders within the draft. Diamonds in the rough plucked from the coal by Ken Holland, and polished to a fine shine. And this isn't even a glimmer of the depth, and youth that the brilliant Mr. Holland has found within the draft the last few years.

To watch this team win a few Cups consecutively would be a thing to tell the grandkids or at least the homeless shelter workers about.

As for the Pens, there's no reason to doubt that this is the team of the future.

Say what you want about Sidney, or Cindy Crosby or Evgeni Malkin but this is the new crop of NHL Stars. Think about it, Crosby is not billing himself as the new messiah of puck, this is the NHL and ultimately Gary Bettman's doing. This guy gets all of the spotlight, and all of the criticism that goes along with it and he doesn't want it. You can see that in every interview, he's a shy, timid kid, who happens to play some really good hockey. Really good. Malkin's only saving grace is that he can't speak the language, and he still has to continuously agree to interviews while his English sounds like a mixture of Chewbacca and sea lion.

But you can look at the rest of the lineup and see that this a team made up of prepubescent kids on the verge of becoming men. Staal, Letang, Kennedy, Goligoski, Fleury, Talbot. This is a team that if kept together, has the potential to become a dynasty just the same.

Look at that. And I didn't even mention Hossa.

Penguins in seven. Changing of the guard perhaps.

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