Normally this time of year, I’m doing my best to draw non-hockey fans to watch the Stanley Cup Finals. And really, what better time to draw in new fans. The NBA is down to their championship series. Baseball season is still in its first half. And there’s two teams battling for the oldest trophy in team sports. But this year, I’m not reminding non-fans when the next game is and actively recruiting people to watch. Why? Because, the way I and many others see things, this series has been a disgrace. I know fans in New England and Western Canada would disagree (and I don’t blame them) but wow, this series has been ugly to watch.
I came into the finals not really caring who won, but at this stage (and I know I’m not alone), I wish there was a way neither team could win. This series has everything that I don’t ever want to see in a hockey game. From Alex Burrows biting the gloved finger of Patrice Bergeron in Game 1 to Aaron Rome with a horribly late cheap shot on former Florida Panther Nathan Horton in Game 3, to the blatant diving, taunting, embellishing, it’s not the way I want to introduce people to the game. If I were a new fan and tuned into this series, I’d probably switch to Major League Soccer because they’re would be less diving.
And there’s plenty of blame to go around on both teams, it’s not just the Vancouver Canucks. Both have done more than their part to make this a stomach turning series. A stick blade on a shoulder pad and players have grabbed their face like they just took a haymaker from a pro boxer. The slightest of touches and players go down and look to the referees in a fashion that would make Cristiano Ronaldo beam with pride. And please, can there be ONE stoppage of play without a ten man scrum over absolutely nothing?
The sad part is that these are two good teams capable of playing hockey worth watching (depending on which style of play you prefer). But that has been buried, presumably until October, in favor of what we’ve seen much in the first five games. So either Monday or Wednesday, one captain is going to accept Lord Stanley’s Cup from Commissioner Gary Bettman. One fan base will have the celebration of a lifetime, while the other will be left to think of what might have been and wonder if it will ever happen for them.
Most of us will just be happy it’s over.
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