Category Archives: NHL’ers
As the play-offs for big boys begin, one has to wonder who will be the underdog that surprises this year. The first round of the NHL play-offs is one of the great carnivals of team sport. There’s always some team that shouldn’t, but does, which is often against a team that should have but doesn’t. Then again, sometimes it’s the team that should, that almost doesn’t but then somehow squeaks by, barely, in a first round scare. Often such a scare makes them better and harder to beat down the stretch.
Remember the year the Islanders played the Rangers after the miracle on ice in Lake Placid? Best of five and what a series. The Rangers could easily have won with another break or two, but they didn’t and the rest is history. Or how about the year the Flames won the cup way back when Vernon was in net for them in ’89. They survived a 7th game overtime in the first round, one in which Vernon stopped someone on a break-away to keep it alive. I’m not sure who missed on break-away, nor even who the other team was. As the Hip song says “no one’s interested in something you didn’t do.”
When I think of really good teams that just couldn’t win in the play-offs, the Washington Caps of the ’80’s come to mind. They had some great teams, and finished very high in the standings many years. I think they actually were tops in the league once or twice. They had some great players – Rod Langway, Denis Maruk, Mike Gartner – but they always found a way to lose.
Granted they bumped into some other great teams in those years – the Isles and the Oilers really owned the 80’s but for a team that was pretty solid, they ended up with not much to show for it.
The trade deadline has been a media frenzy for years. The Iginla trade was a big a deal as I can remember in the past few years. I love the deal. The Pens have added a class act and a great player without giving up a player from this year’s roster. Clearly, they are going for it this year.
I think this whole trade-for-the-missing-ingredient thing started in 79-80 when the Isles traded for Butch Goring. He was the piece that put them over the top and helped them win 4 straight cups. In his second season with them, Butch won the Conn Smythe in the playoffs. He was a colourful a character as anyone who ever laced up a pair of skates…er, buckled up a pair of skates (he used buckle-up skates, not lace up skates).
I’ll write another post on him sometime soon – he’s worth one of his own.
Ok, I admit, I find myself rooting for the Leafs. Not often, not blue-maple-leaf tatoo’s on my chest but I do find myself wanting them to win when I’m watching them on TV. I’m not a true fan because I actually take some perverse pleasure in them losing, consistently, painfully, year-after-year, decade-after-decade.
But I grew up watching them on Saturday nights, when Keon, Sittler, MacDonald and company owned the Gardens. Later, when Wendell and Killer gave us hope and even later when Mats and the gang showed up, there were some glimours of hope and I jumped on the band-wagon at times.
This year’s squad looks pretty ordinary to me but who knows. The question I am struggling to answer is why do I / we root for them? Is it habit? Is it proximity? Is it because 25% of the time I wear blue and white in my oldtimer league? It makes little sense to me.