Tonight is game seven for the Stanley Cup.
A one-game winner take all match for the cup that many of us have imagined countless times in street hockey games, backyard rinks, table hockey and, for all I know, maybe even some ultra competitive games of air hockey. Editor's Note: Don't forget university intramurals!
In about eight hours, the Cup will be won and another season will enter the history books. In the meantime, here are five Cup-related questions for you to contemplate...
I have played on and cheered for some seriously bad teams in my day. I was once part of a baseball team that was so lacking in rudimentary skills that the catcher had to roll the ball back to the pitcher. Any throwing attempt from behind the plate was just as likely to hit the left fielder as it was to make it back to the pitcher.
Our coach, unable to get us to perform the most basic of baseball tasks ("You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball") instituted a rule that whenever the other team advanced a runner to third base our catcher was to sit on home plate with the ball in his lap until the ump forced the player back to third and the ball could be safely rolled back to the pitcher.
For good measure, and no apparent reason, this team of 10 year olds was sponsored by a discount cigar store.
A few years back I was asked to join a new hockey team in a men’s summer league. The team was composed of physicians, psychiatrists, lawyers and accountants. There were more professional degrees in the dressing room than there were water bottles and pucks. We would go on to lose every single game we played. There were nights when I think we would have been better off playing in our shoes.
In my last year of grade school, I cheered on a Leaf squad that only won 20 games. The next year the Leafs won 25, but somehow managed to sweep the Black Hawks in the first round of the playoffs.
The lesson: even bad teams have their moments of joy.
And so, the first question of the week…
1. Would you rather be a good player on a bad team or a bad player on a good team? Ilya Kovalchuk trapped in Atlanta or Aaron Downey on the Wings? Mark Streit stuck on Long Island or Jeff Taffe, hoping to play again for the Penguins?
And no weaseling out with trade demands or free agency. Consider yourself locked-up long term with a NMC. To get your name on the Cup, you also have to play one game in the Stanley Cup final. Imagine being in the press-box up until game six and wondering if you might get your shot in the ultimate single game. If not, you get to "win" the Cup in a suit and tie, some 200 feet above the ice...
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There’s been a lot of chatter about the opening game montages assembled by CBC, more specifically the choice of music involved.
What hasn’t yet been discussed is the creation of a mocktage. Nothing but the choicest clips of losing teams making bad decisions with the puck, goalies being exposed, and players lying comatose on the ice after getting caught with their head-down.
Given all the creativity out there and the power of the ‘Net you’d think there’d be plenty of these mocktages to go around.
Maybe I’m just surfing in the wrong spots.
2. If you were to assemble a "tribute" video to all the losers, what choice clips would make your final cut and, most importantly, what backing track would you go with?
As a personal aside, I don’t think you can get any better than "Sunday Morning Coming Down" a song so grimy it makes me like I’ve got dirty nails, greasy hair and a second degree hangover coming on, but I’m sure I’ll be proven wrong.
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One of the prevailing arguments about who gains entry to the Hockey Hall of Fame is the oft-heard rejoinder, "But he didn’t win a cup."
3. If the Red Wings win tonight, and that’s a big if, does Chris Osgood have the career to enter the HHOF?
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Here’s an easy-peasy one. No back story, no anecdotes about old landlords and eating competitions, just a pure hockey question:
4. Who do you like in tonight’s game 7? Who do you like for the Conn Smythe? And who, if anyone do you think ends up wearing the goat horns?
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Later tonight, after Bettman has been booed, the Cup has been raised, laps have been skated, photos taken, fans elated and hearts broken, the Cup will go back into its case.
Over the next few months, each player on the winning team will get the Cup for day.
5. If one of your long-lost road hockey, backyard shinny, beer league daydream moments came true and you found yourself winning the Stanley Cup, what would you do with it on your day?