I’m not even going to discuss this game, because it was never in doubt. Honestly, these Cup Finals were pretty much never in doubt – once Buffalo got eliminated, I thought it was pretty much over; the Sabres had the best chance of rolling with these Ducks.
Here’s two things of a broader societal sports trend nature I’d like to bring up:
1. Southern California is, indeed, hot right now: Consider some examples. USC football – sure, they lost to UCLA last year and doomed their national title shot, but hell, they’ve been the best team in college sports the past half-decade (with 1, maybe 2, national titles). The Angels won it all in 2002, and are arguably the best team in the AL right now. The Lakers won three straight titles, and are probably 1 legitimate point guard away from being able to get back to the Western Finals at least. The Dodgers might be a sleeper candidate for the World Series. And hell, even the Clippers have a bunch of talent. Oh – don’t forget about USC (O.J. Mayo!) and UCLA hoops, and UCLA football. And now, the Ducks. Pardon the pun, but that area’s Cup runneth over.
2. The NHL needs to intervene; You have to figure Buffalo is knocking on the door, i.e. they might finally win a Cup next year. Pittsburgh, with Crosby and Malkin, isn’t far off. Anaheim will stay good. Detroit always has dudes, and I have to guess Colorado will rebuild as well. What do all these teams have in common? They don’t play in Canada. The last north of the border team to raise Lord Stanley happened in 1992-1993, which was almost a decade and a half ago. Bettman needs to do something completely illegal, and move Crosby to the Canadiens on some “home draft” principle he creates out of thin air, just to keep this sport moving in the right direction. If the Canucks (the people, not the team) get turned off on hockey because they keep getting trounced on its grandest stage, well, the sport is utterly doomed. I mean, your last three champions are now from SoCal (beach), North Carolina (college hoops and tobacco), Tampa Bay (slutty co-eds mingling around huge pirate ships), and New Jersey (industrial waste). I see nothing about snow and French-speaking people in there, do I?
One positive from all this: Pronger, Selanne, and Giguere now will have their name etched on the trophy. They all deserve it. Pronger has probably been the best defenseman in hockey since Scott Stevens; Selanne has been around forever and done some amazing things with the puck at the end of his stick; and Giguere is probably the best goalie in hockey at this moment, all things considered. I’m happy for all them.
That concludes our Stanley Cup series over at Sportscolumn. Give me a visit or a shout anytime at A Price Above Bip Roberts. I’ll be back here from time to time, but be sure to visit. I get lonely, and that’s not a good thing.