Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hockeytown — How Swede It Is

Detroit Red Wing fan tradition: The OctopusFor the fourth time in the last eleven years and for the eleventh time in their storied franchise history, the Detroit Red Wings have won the Stanley Cup. While they took the series four games to two it wasn't easy and the Penguins almost pulled out a miracle finish in game six. Marian Hossa had an attempt go right across the goal line at the buzzer.

While Hockeytown is revelling in its victory it was the Swedish contingent that brought the Cup 'home' to Detroit. For the first time in NHL history the team winning the Cup was Captained by a European. Hey the Rangers and Jagr were supposed to do that according to the drive-by's and the apologists. Anyway, the Swedes were great. Nicklas Lidstrom, three-time Norris Trophy winner, becomes the first European to ever Captain a Stanley Cup winner. Henrik (what a name) Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the series and was tied with teammate Johan Franzen for the most goals in a playoff with thirteen. It was a trifecta for the Swedes and well done.

Some feel good stories. Dallas Drake, a fifteen year vet, hoisting his first Cup after it was passed to him by Lidstrom in a real class act and Chris Osgood taking the place of "The Worlds Greatest Goalie" shone brightly getting two shutouts in the finals. Osgood had a 1.67 GAA in the finals and was 14-4 in the playoffs after taking over from Hasek in the first round. Great move by Red Wing coach, Mike Babcock, who installed the puck possession style of attack. A lot of teams boast of puck possession but the Red Wings is possession with an edge, not the soft perimeter style of the Rangers. Plus, the Red Wings try to make sure they hit anyone who touches a puck.

The Penguins have nothing to be ashamed of, they played well but were up against a team that had already won the President's Trophy and were very well coached. They go into next year with a goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, who has quieted the critics, at least for now, and could be one of the top goalies in the league. They are definitely the team to beat in the East and with the improving Caps and Flyers it should be quite a donnybrook in the NHL East next year. The salary cap will determine how many of their non-star players they will retain. Of course, that goes for most teams. The salary cap will determine the fate of most teams. The cap has already determined the fate of the NHL, the parity league. Bring on the off season.

Congratulations, Red Wings and Hockeytown.

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  • blow-me-down said...

    Nice post Mike. For the last ten years or so I could not deny that there was something very different about the Detroit Red Wings. Heck, even growing up in Southern Ontario as a kid surrounded by Leafs and Canadiens fans, and being this weirdo Rangers fan, they hardly every crossed my radar.

    To me it is obvious that their success comes from the top, from an owner who really loves hockey. And it appears the entire organization is in harmony, from top floor to the guys on the ice. It kind of tells you something about an organization when monetary compensation sometimes becomes secondary to an opportunity to make their careers special, and play somewhere special. In these days of parity enforced through the salary cap (and don't think I am saying a cap is bad), it says volumes that the Red Wings had an $850,000 per year goaltender who was good enough to get it done all through the playoffs, but think about the fact that Osgood never went shopping around, looking to get that extra buck that he probably could have found. There was a reason why he was there, and why he came through for them, like it was never in doubt. Just picking one example, there are and will continue to be others.

    I really enjoyed watching the Wings in the final series. Nice to see their happy ending.

  • mike said...

    blow-me-down-Wow! A Ranger fan surrounded by Le Habs and Leafs. Kind of like the Alamo.

    Everything you said about the Wings is in reverse with the Rangers. None of those things are relevant to the Rangers.

    It was enjoyable watching the Wings. Thanks for your comments.