There is a remote possibility, a smidgen of a chance, that the Vancouver Canucks could win the Stanley Cup this year.
It chills me to the bone, just to think about it. Which, you know, it probably shouldn’t. I’ll get into that tomorrow.
Since the lockout ended, only one Stanley Cup has gone to the team to make it to the Finals that I didn’t want to see win. That was 2008, when Detroit took it. The next year, the Penguins won the Cup, and I was relieved. I didn’t care for the Penguins to win necessarily, but it was better than another win by Detroit.
And then there were the Olympics, when Sidney Crosby scored the overtime game winning goal to take the gold medal. I just stared at the TV and thought, “anyone other than Crosby.”
And here we sit, with the Canucks one win away from a Stanley Cup. For the most part, they have earned their fifteen wins. They have had their adversity, and they have fought back from some terrible games. They worked hard after they fell apart, and every Cup winning team in history has had to do that. There are too many games to be played and won to make this an easy task.
And yet, how they may win it all is going to be a tough pill to swallow.
(note: I had a video of the stick jab from Chara, and acting job from Lapierre from YouTube, but it must have been taken down. So I have this tweet instead)
Fans of the Canucks will tell you that this isn’t what the team is made of. They want to feel that their team is more honorable than this. And some of their team is. I don’t blame the team for picking up a guy who dives repeatedly. I don’t blame the guy who dives for trying, since it’s worked in the past. But I don’t have to like it, and as fans, we don’t have to keep our mouths shut.
This play was brought up in the press conference after (thanks to Buddy Oakes of Preds On The Glass for the transcript):
Q. Max, looked like you were mortally wounded when you had that encounter with Zdeno Chara. I wondered how you were able to carry on after that. Describe the emotion of being one win away from the Stanley Cup.
MAXIM LAPIERRE: I think we know it’s going to be the biggest game of our life in Boston, and Boston is going to be ready. We’re going to have to be ready for a challenge.
The question offered him a way not to acknowledge the first part, the part that called him out on his antics. Which is too bad, because he needs to answer for it. And no, not in the violent, police-the-ice way. He needs to defend what he does. He needs to justify it in the open. And if he wins a Cup, he won’t have to. His Cup ring will be all the answer he needs.
Of course, he isn’t the only one on the Canucks to do it.
If the refs aren’t buying, then why do they keep doing it? Because it works often enough. And if it doesn’t work, if the ref doesn’t take the bait and calls an unsportsmanlike against the diver, it is usually cancelled out with a call on the other team, like a trip or a highstick. This is where fans become angry, asking why the diving call isn’t the only one. If the player faked the call, then why are you calling the first penalty? And sometimes it makes sense. The problem is that the diver isn’t punished. He didn’t get his free penalty, but he also didn’t hurt his team. A little four on four is no price to pay when a full two-minute power play could be the payoff.
If I were the training staff, I would bone up on my whiplash treatment. It’s embarrassing to watch. Remember how hockey players are lauded as being the nicest people and different from other athletes? Can we get over that now? Can we quit this lie?
I have to swallow the fact that the Canucks could, possibly, maybe win the Stanley Cup. And if it happens, it’s going to make me sick for a bit. But I will get over it, the fan gloating will go on for a long time, and a new hockey season will begin. Not soon enough.