You’ve asked it. I have as well. Who do we want to lift the Stanley Cup? Tonight, I reached my conclusion. Let the best man win.
THE FRAGILE PSYCHE SERIES: CANUCKS v. SHARKS
Two teams with a history of underachieving in the playoffs, predicted to win it all for a few seasons, only to fall flat due to a combination of suck and luck. Who do we loathe the least?
The Sharks didn’t come with any sense of rivalry until this season’s playoffs. Spawned from a Gretzky trade to LA sperm and a Bay Area egg, a dead Golden Seal resurrected into a San Jose Shark. Their team posed little threat to our own sense of inflated mediocrity until the other excrement of a California franchise won a Cup. Suddenly, there was a sense of urgency among some, though certainly not our own management who is going on year 6 of the 5 year plan. The Sharks’ threat is simple. If they win a Cup, we will be the sole Cali team without one. That’s enough to elicit a range of emotion from pissed off puerile to suicidal. So, what do we like about them? The fact we don’t hate everything about their existence…and they were nice to Luc in 2006. What don’t we like? That they are more talented and consistently favored to win it all. It’s a bit difficult to hate Northern California types, at least for this writer. They are affable and, though a bit odd, for the most part mean well. Besides, if they do make it to the Finals, they should first and foremost thank Terry Murray and our own boys for giving them mouth to mouth after we had them dead to right beneath our blades.
The Canucks. Where the hell do I start? Hell indeed. A fan base whose scientific designation would be “incubus obnoxious”, few teams make my skin crawl more than these BC bastards. Searching for a redeeming quality or something of merit within this franchise would challenge father futility. Just the thought of the Sedins being within one hundred feet of the Stanley Cup makes me want to rush out to get a restraining order and, I ask you, consider which is worse – that or Todd Bertuzzi lifting the prize. It’s close. Canada hasn’t won this since 1993, when we were on the receiving end of McSorley’s selfish cruel stick joke. You may think those poor Canadians deserve this. I’ll let you in on a secret. Even they, outside of British Columbia, hate the Canucks and their fan base.
Despite it all, if I had to choose between these two teams going to the Cup finals, I choose Nucks for reasons you already know and read.
BRUINS v. LIGHTNING: WILL THE LATTER STRIKE TWICE?
In 2008, the Tampa Bay Lightning picked 1st in the NHL entry draft. We picked second. As bad as we were, they were worse. All they boasted was a nucleus of Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier that remained (they lost Brad Richards and Dan Boyle) within their star core. One Steve Stamkos, a dash of Hedman, a struggle through ownership issues, a new GM in born winner Steve Yzerman and the additions of key pieces through the draft and signings (including our own cast away, Teddy Purcell who is having an excellent playoffs) plus one hell of a young coach in Guy Boucher, and voila. The conference finals. Annoyed? Yeah. Do we want them to win this and challenge Vancouver? No. Not because we dislike them. We…or I…just happen to favor the other team for one reason only.
Tim Thomas. Everything I love about this sport and its greatest actors. Drafted 217th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1994, a journeyman who never even sniffed the NHL until age 28 and did not become a known commodity until 31. Think about how extraordinary that is for a second. While you do, remember that he thereafter won the Vezina Trophy in 2009 and became an Olympian. A great story? One of the best and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Tim Thomas oozes class, kindness and that salt of the earth soul. A smile for everyone. As intense as he is intelligent and a goaltending style that sometimes channels Dominic Hasek, Timmy the Tank, to me, is the sole basis for my support of the Boston Bruins. Watching Tim Thomas lift the Stanley Cup would offer just the right medicine for what ails this Kings’ fan.
So, let’s go Bruins. Give this feel good story one great ending.