Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Playoff Hockey: The Drought Is Over

Chicago has won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 49 years - very cool. The mantle of longest Cup drought in the NHL now belongs to the Toronto Maple Leafs. How bizarre is that?

That was a pretty exciting hockey game, quite an emotional ride. For me, the most interesting moment of the game was the penalty against Hossa. It was, without question, a bad call. But the Blackhawks were able to channel the emotion, score a goal while it was 4-on-4 and then play the penalty kill as if they were the ones with a man advantage. A job well done.

The Hawks have played the whole playoff season like champions. None of their series went to seven games and they swept San Jose, the toughest team they faced. With so much young talent, you've got to believe they'll be back.

So much talk of Ovechkin, Crosby and Sundin. But now that it's all over, has any hockey player in the world had a bigger year than Jonathan Toews? The hardware: Olympic Gold Medal, Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He is the youngest team captain in the NHL and he was the breakout star on a Canadian Olympic team loaded with demigods. He is not a flashy player. He just gets the job done. Early candidate for Sportsman of the Year?

I believe hockey's greatest strength is its traditions and those are always best displayed the night the Stanley Cup is won, ranging from the hokey playoff beards to the near religious reverence for the trophy itself. The scene that plays out is almost exactly the same from year to year. The teams shake hands. The Smythe is awarded. The captain accepts the Cup and everyone waits to see who gets it next: Marian Hossa this year. Each player gets his turn. They kiss it. They hoist it. They take the group photo. Every year is the same. Only the names and the uniforms change. In its simplicity and predictably, it is so real and so beautiful, the emotions so raw. For all of their glitz and glamour, neither baseball, basketball nor football have anything to match it. No sport in North America basks in the joy of its own game the way hockey does one night every year. Basketball tries with its "One Shining Moment" but a video montage just isn't the same.


1 comment:

  1. Made me think of this recent Onion article...

    "Most Thrilling Playoffs In Recent Memory Unfortunately Happen In Hockey",17590/