Tuesday, June 08, 2004

 

After the Storm...

...The dust has settled, and the Lightning(s) of Tampa Bay are your 2004 Stanley Cup Champions. After 22 long seasons, Dave Andreychuk (one of my favourite players) will get his name etched on the holy beer mug.

I thought last night�s game was exciting, and that we were treated to a good series overall; not as good as the one in 94 (Canucks/Rangers), but still good nonetheless.

Random Musings on the game and series as a whole :

1. Officiating - I�ve heard quite a few complaints about the officiating from the series and from last nights game. Now, the officiating in the NHL has been a joke for some time (Obstruction? Hello?), but I don�t think last night�s game was any different than previous outings.

�But the Refs shouldn�t decide the game�let the players decide it!�

Now, that statement, which I hear all the time, is just a load of CRAP! If the refs ever decided to call the rules as they should be, NHL hockey wouldn�t be in the on-ice state that it is in. The players will ALWAYS decide the game with their own actions, unless the ref is fixing the games purposely. The players control their own actions, and the ref simply is the adjudicator of the rules that every player is expected to abide by.

If the players should ultimately decide the games themselves, then why bother having referees and linesmen?

Case in point: Andrew Ference. I can�t understand why some fans thought that late high-sticking call was so awful. Ference�s stick clearly caught St. Louis in the fact, and the DNA evidence splattered on the ice was pretty obvious, even to jurors in the OJ Simpson Trial. The Flames were taking bad penalties all night, and the lack of discipline was the deciding factor when all was said and done. Flames fans should be mad at Ference for not controlling his stick, not as Kerry Fraser for making a correct call. Blaming the refs is the easiest cop-out, and you need to �look in the mirror�, as it were.

*** By the way, how big was that non-review incident from Game 6? You won�t hear the NHL admit it, but they blew it big time by not having conclusive evidence on the play, or at least stopping play to review the goal.

2. Destroying a Few Cliches

A couple of clich�s that the media and players love to use over and over again, providing the same cop-out answers that comes when they cannot see or will not admit the truth of the matter.

�They wanted it more!� - I�ve already heard this a few times (Sorry Mike), and you tend to hear that after every championship game.

Frankly, I find it insulting (to the fans and the winning team) and just plain false. Can you really quantify that the Lightning players wanted to win more than the Flames? Really? Both teams would give a kidney and a limb to win the cup, so the answer is NO.

It�s also insulting to the Lightning to say they simply �wanted it more�. If I were a Lightning, I�d say �We won because we were the better team tonight. Simply saying it was a matter of effort is an insult to our skill level and talent�.

The players, fans, and media simply won�t admit that both teams played their hearts out, but the Lightning simply played better in Game 7.

The real reason the Lightning won? They scored 2 goals, the Flames scored 1 goals, and the Bolts played a much more disciplined game.

�The Flames ran out of Gas� or �The Flames Choked� - Pierre McGuire (TSN�s hockey expert and Paul Shaeffer look-a-like) was responsible for quote #1.

Did you watch the 3rd period, Pierre? It didn�t look like the Flames ran out of gas to me. The Flames were buzzing and playing the game at a high tempo. If anything, the Flames found a second wind the Lightning also found that second gear. For all of the punishment both teams had been through, the 3rd period was played at a faster pace than most early regular season games. Again, the Flames were simply outclassed; they didn�t choke, buckle horribly under the pressure, play all that badly, or lack effort whatsoever.


3. How Canadian are you?

I know a lot of Canadians watched the Finals (just look at the huge ratings), but are you Un-Canadian if you don�t support Canada�s team? Should we be expected to support the �Good Guys� vs the �Evil Empire�?

Really, I wanted the Flames to win, but I didn�t lose a wink of sleep last night because they didn�t. Part of being Canadian is the freedom of choice, and I chose not to invest myself emotionally in either team, just as some co-workers and friends chose not to care one way or even watch the games.

I was not a Flames fan before the playoffs. I never grew up liking the Flames, putting up with Craig (Buttons the Clown) Button�s mismanagement, or worshipping the altar of Fleo Fleury.

In fact, if I was an Oilers fan, I�d be pretty pissed off if my intra-division rivals won the cup. The Oilers continually fight tooth and nail and make the playoffs almost every year, only to get knocked out by the Dallas Stars in the 1st round. Then the upstart Flames make the playoffs once a decade and are fighting for �The Prize�.
The Oilers play an exciting style of hockey, while the Flamers clog the pipes like one of Garfield�s hairballs. Why would I support the Flames?

If I were a Leafs fan, I�d shoot myself in the head and not feel a thing: This would perfectly match the apathy of the average Leafs fan for everything �Not-Toronto�.

If I were a Habs fan, I�d probably root for the Lightning, simply because they have more Quebecers on the team, and I�d hate Canada anyway, not to mention I�d be a grouch thanks to indigestion from some bad Poutine

If I were a Sens fan, I�d cheer for the Flames, and I�d be extremely jealous. The Flames have the passion, grit, and sandpaper that the Senators have been sorely lacking for years.

So, it was a good series and either team could have won. Flames fans were gracious losers, and didn�t throw a pathetic riot like Vancouverites did 10 years ago. Flames fans shouldn�t feel cheated at all, as the season was certainly better than any of them could have expected.


Next up, the NHL Awards are given out on this Thursday night, then the Entry Draft, and then more CBA rhetoric than one colon (or Colin Campbell) can digest.

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