As I write this, it’s now nearly 48 hours after Dave Bolland knocked home a loose rebound to complete the fastest turn of events in Stanley Cup Final history, and I think I can speak for all Hawks fans when I say that I still haven’t come down from that high. I could write thousands of words of praise about this year’s Blackhawks squad, but that’s been done already. Instead, let’s take a quick final skate around the rink and examine a few things I noticed this year in hockey.
The Troubling Hockey vs Basketball Debate
As the intensity on the ice reached a fever pitch during the Stanley Cup Final, many die-hard hockey fans decided to use it to bring the “This is why hockey is better than basketball” argument out of the bag one again. While you may think I’m creating a straw man here, merely googling “Why hockey is better than basketball” gives you 47.5 million hits. While hockey has experienced a resurgence in recent years, there’s no question that it still hides in the NBA’s shadow (although the late end of the season due to the lockout allowed it a few games in the sun this year). Due to this fact, it’s only natural that the biggest fans of the NHL would have an inferiority complex and feel like they need to go prove why hockey deserves a fairer shake.
We’ve all heard the argument before. Hockey fans say hockey is better because the game is faster paced, there are less play stoppages, and players just care that much more about playing for their team instead of a contract. Basketball fans say basketball is better because the athletes are bigger and stronger, most players are American (as opposed to the predominantly Canadian NHL), and the sport is more easily accessible to fans in terms of actually playing a pick-up game.
All of the above points are certainly true, and this only gives the fans that take part in the debate more perceived weight for their argument. However, what both sides miss is that the whole argument is utterly pointless. It boils down to clichés and egos. Attempting to say that one of the sports is inherently better than the other is like trying to argue that a grapefruit is better than a clementine; in the end, it’s just a matter of taste. By creating this argument, hockey fans just cheapen their enjoyment of an excellent sport. Why should it matter what basketball fans or “the average American sports fan” thinks about hockey? Can’t they just take pride that—at least in their minds—they’re apparently enjoying the best kept secret in sports?
Some Smaller, Final Thoughts
- I swear to God, I was ready to go Aaron Hernandez (too soon?) on one of the many moronic Hawk fans who stupidly announced, “I hope the Bruins win Game 6 so the Hawks can win Game 7 at home.” Honestly, these “fans” don’t deserve to root for a team. Ask the 2011 Vancouver Canucks how much fun it was to win Game 7 in front of their home fans after blowing a chance to claim the Cup at TD Garden in Game 6. There was pandemonium in the streets of Vancouver that night, just not the type we saw Monday night.
- We certainly got off to a rocky start with the idiotic post on Stanley Cup of Chowder that I had to rip to shreds, but after that series I have nothing but good things to say about Bruins fans. Sure, they all got a little over-confident after Game 3, but it was never the pompous cockiness we saw from Red Wings fans when those assholes had us down three games to one. After a truly stunning Game 6 defeat, no one would have blamed the 17,000+ in attendance if they stormed out in a chorus of boos. Instead, they stayed to boo Gary Bettman (absolultely wonderful) and then actually cheered when Toews hoisted the cup to show their appreciation of the moment. I was really impressed with the Beantown fans all series long and this was a perfect example of the class they exuded.
- Word from sources is that Hawks GM Stan Bowman is shopping Dave Bolland, hoping for a draft pick or two in return. While Bolland’s Cup-clinching goal will live in Hawks lore forever, this is a great move. Bolland’s production was pretty putrid this year aside from a couple games in the Cup Final and getting rid of his $3.375 million cap hit next year would be instrumental in resigning Bickell and/or Stalberg (or finding a new piece to bring in). Bowman has proven himself to be quite the shrewd GM, and not getting caught up in the sentimental side of things in this instance is just another example of that.
- Speaking of Bickell, I’m not sure the Hawks need him as much as everyone seems to think they do. They definitely should resign him if he’s going to produce like this for an entire season, but aren’t there frequently guys who put up huge playoff numbers in a contract year but would never produce at the same level over an entire season? (See: Byfuglien, Dustin.) The Hawks have an abundance of nearly NHL-ready prospects in the system; they should let Bickell go if he demands something they can’t afford without really handcuffing what they can do to remain under the cap.
- Yes, Crawford should have received the Conn Smythe. No, I don’t really care that he didn’t and neither should you. Does anyone really remember who won the Conn Smythe anyway? Don’t we all remember Patrick Kane’s overtime goal from 2010 much more than anything Jonathan Toews did on his way to winning the Conn Smythe that year?
- Do we really have to continue to compare this championship to 2010’s and discuss how many titles this team could possibly win in the future? Let’s just take this summer to enjoy what we just witnessed.
What an incredible team and year. Let’s Go Hawks.