Thursday, June 7, 2012
Thursday Morning Cupcheck - 10 Silver Linings of the Kings Winning the Stanley Cup
This article's effectiveness increases 14.7% if you read it while listening to the Austin Lounge Lizards' "Hot Tubs of Tears."
Good morning, hockey fans! Last week we peered beyond the veil of hatred and found a bunch of numbers. This week, considering the Kings have already pretty much won the entire Stanley Cup, it's time to take a deep breath, roll back and forth on our collective heels for a minute and then calmly slam our proverbial heads into the largely-symbolic wall.
The Kings have won the Cup. Maybe not technically ... but yeah, totally technically.
Let that sink in for a minute, Stars fans. Or any city's hockey fans, for that matter. Despite what a lot of hockey history revisionists will tell you, this is a 40-42 Kings team (although in all fairness, they were a much-improved 25-24 under Sutter) that's just one technicality/Finals game away from winning the only real trophy of any value in professional sports.
This is the hockey equivalent of a meteor killing off all those really cool dinosaurs and paving the way for the rise of small, eyeless rodents to inherit the earth. Or like the evil British soldiers in kung-fu movies who use bullets instead of knees and fists, killing off all those really cool Shaolin monks. Or like Susan B. Anthony, who poisoned the town's water supply and killed off all those really cool cowboys.
Cup winners produce copycat GMs too stupid and/or impatient to stick with their own blueprints, and this year will be no exception. Expect GMs to compete for that coveted #8 seed from now on, and doing all the things that traditional #8 seeds do: trading their top picks and/or home-grown talent for high-priced, disgruntled free agents, overpaying holdouts that have only one good year under their belts, and relying entirely on a backup netminder to pull them kicking and screaming through the playoffs.
At least until next year, after the Caps trade Ovechkin en route to winning it all and cause a mad scramble amongst GMs to trade their franchise players for cash, sticks, black market guns, whatever they can get.
However, despite the end of hockey as we know it, all is not completely lost. There is a silver lining to this double rainbow -- several, in fact. Here are some warm and fuzzy positives to take from this horrific catastrophe.
Silver Lining #1: At least it wasn't an Eastern Conference Team - Let's face it, anytime the Eastern Conference wins anything, 99% of the media makes a huge mess all over their keyboards for the next 20 years, ejaculating millions of gallons of hype and clogging the entire internet with their impotent germinations. Fortunately for fans of real teams, the East hardly ever wins, and is usually considered lucky if they can avoid the sweep.
Silver Lining #2: The Kings can no longer hide under the radar - For 45 years, minus one or two years here and there, the Kings have been completely forgettable. One playoff series win in the last 19 years will do that, as will decades of mismanagement, poor drafting and even worse free agenting. Now, however, after a oddly dominant playoff performance, they are firmly in the eternally-vilified company of the Lakers and Dodgers, rather than the eternally-ignored company of the Clippers and Every Los Angeles NFL Team, Past Present and Future. Enjoy the additional scrutiny, Dustin Brown!
Silver Lining #3: At least it wasn't the Canucks - Say what you will about the Penguins, but the Canucks are the most hate-able team in hockey, and deservedly so. Coddled superstars, cheap shot artists, diving as a core tenet of their offensive gameplan ... I'd take 10 Kings Cups over half of one for these no-talent a$$-clowns.
Silver Lining #4: At least it took longer than 18 games for them to win it - The Devils avoided the sweep, but more importantly, they gave the world a slight reprieve of sorts, as the Kings will now have to win the Cup in a minimum of 19 games ... and will never, ever again be mentioned in the same breath as the '80s Oilers. Ever.
Silver Lining #5: At least it wasn't the Penguins - Say what you will about the Canucks, but the Penguins are the most hate-able team in hockey, and deservedly so. Coddled superstars, cheap shot artists, diving as a core tenet of their offensive gameplan ... I'd take ten Kings Cups over half of one for these no-talent a$$-clowns.
Silver Lining #6: At least this will hasten their inevitable post-Cup decline - Every Cup winner goes through it: the summer after they win it all, there is a mass exodus of ring-wielding third liners who make their cash-lined paths to overpayment by sub-par teams. It happens to everybody: Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, etc etc. It feels like this Kings team was built to contend for a long time, but it will only be one more year before Jonathan Quick and Slava Voynov hit the open market and get paid, and one more after that for "captain" Brown. They have four guys taking up $25 million in cap space for the next 4+ years. Peaking too soon, even if it means an unforgettable Cup run, will be all that more delicious for the rest of the league after GM Lombardi has to start cuttin' guys just to add a $7 million goalie to his payroll. Because after this season, he won't have a choice.
Silver Lining #7: At least it wasn't the Sharks - As a fan of a Pacific Division team (nothing quite like opening the windows of my oceanfront house and taking in the cool, salty air), I often relish the fact that only two teams in my division have Cups. While I'll grudgingly begrudge a third team, at least there are still two more that will never, ever get their names engraved on that sacred artifact.
Silver Lining #8: At least the whole thing was mercifully short - If the Kings had followed the NY Rangers' blueprint of winning every series in seven games, this post-first-round playoffs would have been 38% more unbearable. As it is, the Kings are doing real hockey fans a favor by getting it over as quickly as possible, ripping off the band-aid in 4 or 5 relatively drama-free games rather than pulling it off in 6 or 7 game clumps, then jabbing it with a fork.
Silver Lining #9: At least it wasn't the Predators/Coyotes/Blues - Lost in the shuffle of postseason favorites who folded faster than an origami master on meth, the simple fact that none of these three teams, two of which were heavy favorites to come out of the West (and two ... thanks, I guess, LA ... which were quickly dispatched by the Kings in two unwatchable series) will ever come close to the Cup. These three teams have built their entire regular season points-acquiring foundations on risk-free, safety-first, stop-skating-so-fast-or-I'll-tell-your-mom cubicle-farm style "hockey." Watching the Kings -- who actually occasionally attempt to score in addition to playing defense -- go up against the Blues and Coyotes was like watching an Olympic skier avoid a bunch of trees en route to the finish line. I mean, sure, it's mathematically possible that the Blues or Yotes might've won those series, but as a counterpoint I offer this: Come the F on. Even the one-goal wins were dominated by the Kings in all areas of the ice. Teams that play "not to lose" deserve to lose and always do.
Silver Lining #10: At least ... uhhh .... well, there's, ahh .... nobody died, right? - Honestly, I got nothin'. This Cup blows.
That's it for this week's superbly-enlightening investigative journalism. Tune in next week when we find a copy of Lombardi's pact with Satan where he exchanges a Cup victory for the souls of your first-born sons. The bodily fluid it was signed in may surprise you.