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by user 220.127.116.11
Every sport has their “crowning jewel”. The NFL has the Super Bowl, MLB has the World Series, The NBA has the NBA Finals and even soccer has the World Cup. Each of these headliners are missing one thing though, a recognizable trophy. The NFL has some big silver trophy with a giant football on top, that’s made somewhere in Jersey every year and it just replicated for each champion. The MLB has that stupid looking thing with all the pennants around it. The NBA’s trophy is pretty much just a giant basketball on a piece of metal and the FIFA World Cup DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A CUP!
That’s where the NHL comes in. They have the most well-known trophy of any sport the Stanley Cup. The cup is passed on from champion to champion every year and the players even get their names engraved in it, something every NHL player needs to do to solidify themselves in hockey history. Here’s the thing though, no one cares about hockey anymore, even before the NHL lockout last season attendance was down, TV ratings were almost no where to be seen and now the NHL is relegated to one game on Saturday on NBC, who I think pays them maybe 300 dollars for the rights, and the Outdoor Life Network. (And last time I checked hockey hasn’t been outdoors since well, the invention of a roof)
The trophy has a long history, making its first appearance in the 1890’s ever since the cup’s namesake Governor General of Canada Lord Stanley donated the money for it. At one point the cup was almost like a world championship in wrestling. Whoever held the cup would defend it against the “number 1 contender”. Come on, how awesome is that? Imagine if the NFL championship changed hands every time a defending champion lost and unlike wrestling it wouldn’t be scripted.
Anyway, I’m getting off topic. I had talked myself into writing about how great the hockey playoffs are and haven’t even touched on the subject. Thing is I am only a casual hockey fan during the season, and since, I think it’s 90% of the teams get into the playoffs anyway, I just see the season as a ridiculously long seeding process. Once the playoff’s come around though everything seems different, the hits are harder, the skating faster, the false teeth more plentiful. What I’m trying to say though is the 16 teams in the playoffs seem to actually want to get that trophy and aren’t just happy being there. In the NBA a #8 seed vs. a #1 seed isn’t even worth watching because the 8 seed doesn’t stand a chance. However, in the NHL it seems every team in the playoffs has a chance. For example in 2003 the #7 seeded Anaheim Mighty Ducks (yes they named a team after a kids movie franchise and expected fans to take it serious) went to the finals (in which they brought Emilio Eztevez to all their home games, hopefully he gave the “Ducks fly together” speech or heckled the ref like he did to Mr. Ducksworth), after playing a three OT game and a 2 OT game against Detroit, and in the next round they played a FIVE overtime game against the #1 seeded Dallas Stars (that’s almost two full games). The next year the Tampa Bay Lightning inexplicably won the Stanley Cup (just goes to show you that you do not need ice to have a championship hockey team). Hockey’s now back after a one year hiatus and the game is better than it has been because of all the rule changes to speed up the game and add scoring. The playoffs just started and a #7 seed is up 2-0 in a series while most other series’ are all tied up at one game a piece.
Now the playoff’s might go on a little long, I think they stretch all the out until everyone’s favorite time to play hockey, June (it’s cold somewhere during June right?), but it’s all worth it to watch the grown men act like kid’s again, to see fan’s going crazy, and to finally see those God damn playoff beards shaved. (…ok so maybe I’m jealous I can’t grow a beard.)
Thu 04/27/06, 12:30 pm EST