Ahh, The Stanley Cup Finals. Who Cares?

posted on 05/27/04 at 01:16:56 am by Joel Ross

Well, it's been a long time since I posted about hockey! When the Wings got knocked out, I kind of lost interest in writing about hockey, but I still watched as the Sharks bounced the Avs, got bounced by Calgary, and the Lightning reached the Finals. I even watched the Flames beat Tampa Bay in game one.

Which brings me to where we are right now. Watching the Pistons! They beat the Pacers again tonight, through the hard work of Ben Wallace, who is a monster. I saw more high arc shots from Indiana tonight because of the shot blocking of the Pistons than I've ever seen before.

Oh wait. We're talking hockey right? Is the matchup for the Cup good for the NHL? A southern hockey team and a Canadian team. Yeah, Canada is all over it, but if the NHL wants to become mainstream, they need America. The southern part of America is not a hotbed for hockey. Yeah, the Lightning are in the Cup Finals, and Florida is probably hopping. But is Michigan? Is Colorado? Is Nashville still watching hockey?

My guess is no. If it was Detroit, that might be different. Same with Colorado - those teams have national appeal. A Detroit vs. Toronto final would be hugely popular throughout both Canada and America, but alas, it was not to be.

Anyway, here's some random NHL stuff.

I read someone's comments that the NHL wanted Detroit to win because they suspended a Calgary player for running into Joseph late in a game when it was out of reach for Calgary. That's BS, and everyone knows it. Sutter has a reputation for "thuggin' it up" at the end of out of reach games. Don't think so? He was suspended this year for that same thing. And he was warned about it in the Vancouver series. But yeah, the NHL wanted the Wings to win.

Two years in a row the marquee teams (pre-season favorites) were knocked out in the same round (meaning they never faced each other) - the Wings and the Avs. The Avs offense was supposed to be unstoppable. The Wings defense was supposed to be impenetrable. They were the preseason picks to win it all by most "experts" - same as they were last year. But yet, neither has been able to make it in the playoffs.

Two years in a row, the team that bounced the Wings has made it to the Finals. And Calgary has a great chance to win it. I never thought the Ducks would win last year, but Calgary has been very good, and is playing the same style team they played all playoffs. Last year, the Ducks had to play a different style team once the reached the Cup. Tampa Bay is a lot like Detroit (but faster) and San Jose. Plus, Calgary has knocked out the three Western Conference division winners, which is quite a feat.

Bettmann is positioning for a lockout - or at least that's how it looks to me. Maybe it's a negotiation ploy to get the player's union to give in a bit. Both sides need to realize a lockout that takes away next season could cause irreversible damage. If the owners are losing money, then they need to stop paying like they are. If the players push too hard, they may be without a league, meaning they get nothing, not just reduced contracts. And no, I don't think the WHA is a viable alternative.

The Wings have some decisions to make this off season, starting from the top. It looks like they'll keep Dave Lewis, but nothing official (that I've heard). Remember, Bowman, who knows a thing or two about coaching, wanted Barry Smith to coach. He repeatedly positioned for Smith to be his replacement and oust Lewis. But Illitch stuck with him. Wonder if Mike is reconsidering that. Unfortunately, if Lewis is out, I doubt Smith would get the shot - they'd go with someone with experience. But who? Anyway, it looks like the Wings also want Chelios (offered one year contract), Yzerman (one year deal) and Shanahan (one year deal at a lower cost - possibly not picking up his option) back. That leaves Hull, Devereaux, and Thomas not coming back. Boyd was quick, but not that good. Thomas is old, and Hull didn't do much this year - no heart. He spent too much time circling for a one timer and not enough time doing the things that have to be done to win a hockey game.

Enough hockey for one night. Maybe even enough blogging for tonight. Three posts in one night?!?

Categories: Sports, Hockey