Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"Hartford, the Whale?"

"They only beat Vancouver once, maybe twice in a lifetime.”

If by Vancouver you mean canucks then, why yes Brodie, you’re right. With their win last night the New England Whalers Hartford Whalers Carolina Hurricanes captured their first league championship since the 9 to 6 drubbing they handed to the Winnipeg Jets in 1973 to become the first winners of the WHA’s Avco Cup.

I have to admit I was hoping that Edmonton might manage to pull off a win, but I really didn’t have a horse in this race, so way to go ‘Canes!

As much I as love watching hockey games, I think my favorite part of the whole hockey season is when the captain of the victorious team finally gets to lift the Stanley Cup over his head and take his victory lap. For some reason the whole ritual of the Cup victory lap always gets me a little choked up, particularly when it is a player like Rod Brind’Amour or Glen Wesley, who played for 17 and 18 NHL seasons respectively before winning the Stanley Cup. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit this but I actually teared up in 2001 when Ray Bourque finally got his chance to lift the cup after 22 seasons on the ice. (You can watch a highlight reel from the game here.)

While this was going on bobfish and I were discussing how hockey players seem to be more passionate about winning the Stanley Cup than other professional athletes are about winning their respective championships. Or rather they seem more passionate once they win. I can’t really put my finger on why this is since there is the dog pile (baseball, which is hardly a sport at all), dousing of the coach in Gator-aide (football, don’t get me started), and the traditional throwing of the ball at the rafters (basketball, which has to be the most contact-y of non-contact sports), but for some reason they all seem to pale in comparison to the skating with the Cup.

Some people attribute this to how tough it is to actually win the Stanley Cup. Considering the physical demands of hockey, just finishing the 82 game regular season is a feat worthy of note. Add on to that a playoffs which can last anywhere from 16 games, which is the least number of playoff wins a team needs to take the Cup home (thus the semi-traditional throwing of the octopi in Detroit), all the way up to 28 games, and I think this argument is a fair one to make. However I think it honestly might have more to do with the manner in which the trophy is presented and the subsequent network coverage. Bobfish is a big football fan, or rather a Steelers fan (we can’t all have good taste in our team choices), and so she watched this year’s Super Bowl and the attendant ceremonies. Her observation, which I agree with, is that the presentation of the Lombardi Trophy felt too corporate. Rather than handing the trophy over to a mob of players right there, minutes after the game is over, the NFL takes the time to set up a little stage, bring the owner down from the luxury boxes, and then they only let one or two players up on the stage to accept the trophy along with the owner and coach. (The only illustration of this I could find was here.)

In all the years of watching hockey I cannot remember seeing a coach or owner lift the Stanley Cup before any of the players. In fact, as I think back, I don’t know if I have EVER seen a coach or owner lift the cup until AFTER all the players, the men who bled for it, have carried it around the ice. Another factor is the amount of history associated with the Stanley Cup. Originally donated in 1892, the Stanley Cup has been awarded in all but two of the subsequent 114 years, missing 1919 because of the flu pandemic and 2005 because Gary Bettman is an ass.

Of course they may all just be relieved that they managed to win the cup without ever having to wear this jersey:

(Picture lifted from here.)

Yes, dear readers, that is a bunny head on the bright yellow jersey of the ALIH’s Kokudo Bunnies, who have since changed to the Kokudo Lions. Only hockey players are man enough to throw on the cute and fuzzy bunny jersey to go face the public. (I seriously want one of these jerseys.)

1 comment:

bobfish said...

While winning our one for the thumb was incredible, there is nothing quite like watching the Stanley Cup being carried around by a bunch of burly men screaming obscenities too fast for the censors to catch. And the face that Rod Brind'amour made as he lifted that cup was great. I wish you had found a picture of that.