Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An Unbiased, Neutral Fan's Guide to Choosing Sides

It is a quandary that comes up for hockey fans in  28 NHL markets and beyond... who the hell do I root for in the Stanley Cup Final?

Well, allow me to help.

Honestly, I don't particularly like either team (again, there's the quandary for people in 28 markets). However, I think picking a team comes down to what you want to tell the next generation of hockey fans about the sport, about winning and about character.

And you need go no farther than to look at a couple of the key players in the series. Martin Brodeur is (statistically) the greatest goaltender of all time. He has long since eclipsed Patrick Roy's record for regular-season wins as a goaltender, and the only thing really separating him from Roy is that fourth Stanley Cup. That last detail probably won't affect his legacy much either way, because let's face it: You either really like him because he's a damn good goaltender, or you really hate him because he's a damn good goaltender.

Now let's look at Jeff Carter. Approximately 11 months ago, Carter was still in hiding after Philadelphia traded him to Columbus for Jakub Voracek and a first round draft pick. Once he decided to actually show up for work (although that is debatable), he never really got off the ground, got hurt a couple times, and added a couple really good games to his highlight reel. Then Scott Howson got rid of the disease before it festered further.

So... which of the following two speeches about winning and perseverance sounds better to you?

"Yes, son/daughter... if you practice, work hard and  give 100% on the ice, you can one day become the all-time winningest goaltender in the sport, break your own record for minutes played a few times, maybe have an opportunity to spend your entire career with one franchise and be on the verge of winning your fourth Stanley Cup before riding off into the sunset."

Or…

"Yes, son/daughter... if you play a couple of good seasons and manage to get yourself an obscenely long-term contract at a ridiculous price, then quit on the team that's foolish enough to trade for it and pay that ridiculous salary for the next 11 years... then sit on your ass and pout, twiddling your thumbs and feeling sorry for yourself in the face of a little adversity until the team can't wait to get rid of you... you could find yourself on the verge of winning the Stanley Cup.

Which is the better message for the next generation?

Yep, me too. Go Devils.

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