Fri Jun 11 06:34pm EDT
(Ed. Note: In the end, there can only be one team left holding the Chalice. This year, that team was the Chicago Blackhawks. The good St. Louis Blues fans at St. Louis Game Time have been ready to pen their Blackhawks Eulogy for weeks; alas, that day never arrived. So here is, ahem, a "tribute" to the champs from Chicago. Written, naturally, by fans that hate them the most.)
By Brad Lee and St. Louis Game Time
Today we gather in one of Chicago's many watering holes — one that serves more than just that swill Old Style — to raise a glass to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Of course, it's fitting we have this celebration in a bar, since other than a hockey rink, it's probably the place many of the players know the best. If we can't all cram into a limo without our shirts, this is the next best thing.
Now some of you might be thinking, "Those jerks from St. Louis are paying respect to the Chicago Blackhawks? Maybe Chief was wrong and they're not just a bunch of bitter Blues fans."
Oh we are bitter — to the bone, sir. But we were offered the pleasure of writing the eulogy for the Hawks and now must follow through with the pain of paying tribute the same day their drunken parade winds its way through downtown Chicago. I could almost hear the thousands of screaming Bears, Bulls and Cubs fans lining the streets.
At the beginning of the playoffs, who really thought Chicago had a good shot at winning the whole darn thing? The Detroit Red Wings were arguably the hottest team in the conference in the last month of the season. Phoenix was plucky. San Jose didn't look like they would choke ... as hard. Vancouver had the probable Hart Trophy winner.
And there was that whole 49-year drought without a Stanley Cup. Although in Chicago that isn't even a big deal until it reaches about a century.
So kudos for besting the best in the West to face ... the 18th best team in the NHL this season, at the end of a 16-team tournament. I guess it's commendable to defeat a team with fewer points than St. Louis, Calgary and Anaheim, three train wrecks that didn't deserve to make the playoffs.
Other than Chris Pronger's(notes) wife and the guy who put a few dozen stitches in Ian Laperriere's(notes) face, did anyone pick the Flyers to even win two games much less the series? And yet the Hawks were one fluky goal from a seventh game. So congratulations on avoiding infamy.
What a collection of talent that will in no way fit under the salary cap for a Cup defense next October. Let's start at the back end and start handing out some tributes.
Congratulations to Cristobal Huet(notes). You had to smell all meadowy fresh by not breaking a sweat in the playoffs. No armpit stains for you when lifting the Cup above your head. Was that before or after the equipment guys got a turn raising the trophy?
And Huet, you've inherited the distinction of being the worst goaltender with his name on the Stanley Cup. Somewhere Chris Osgood(notes) is jealous. Or relieved. Take solace in the fact that you'll be the first goalie picked in almost every AHL fantasy league next season.
Antti Niemi(notes), congratulations on the pay raise you have coming your way that will no doubt mean the departure of at least one of your teammates you've hugged in an alcohol-drenched embrace. Hope you have the stamina to play nearly 82 games when they have to pay your backup the league minimum next season.
Brent Sopel(notes) may not be the ugliest player to ever win the Cup, but he's giving Mike Ricci(notes) a run for his money. Congratulations for scoring one goal in the postseason, matching your total for the regular season.
Brian Campbell(notes), your critics said the Hawks could never win with your poor defensive play and huge contract. Congratulations for showing ginger kids everywhere that you can be marginalized, ostracized and pretty much disliked by the team's fan base and still celebrate the Cup with everyone else on the ice after it's all over.
Adam Burish(notes), you called Pronger "terrible" after your team won. Congratulations on showing true sportsmanship in modern professional sports. If there is one thing you know, Mr. Burish, it's terrible hockey players.
John Madden(notes), you have your name on the Cup three times and you're still not even the most famous person with your name. A video game is more famous than you are. But congratulations on having such nice abs that we saw in the limo pictures. I'm sure the wife has photos hanging on the icebox back home.
Marian Hossa(notes), congratulations on not being the punch line of the Cup finals for the third consecutive year. Your desire to put yourself and your glory above the teams that counted on you finally paid off — even after you signed a huge contract that runs into the next decade. Was that joy or pure relief Wednesday night?
Congratulations to captain Jonathan Toews(notes) for playing your butt off. You totally deserved to be mentioned on ballots for the Conn Smyth trophy. And you totally deserve that $1.3 million bonus that counts against next year's cap. And that's after your extension and Duncan Keith's(notes) extension and Patrick Kane's(notes) extension kick in. Just do Keith a favor and let him hold his trophy you just won.
Finally, we come to you Patrick Kane.
Congratulations on scoring the worst clinching score since Brett Hull's "goal" in Buffalo in 1999. It was kind of fitting seeing you jump around like an Ice Capades performer while the rest of the players tried to figure out what happened.
The mullet has been pure class, the epitome of a guy who might get accused of accosting a cab driver over a few thin dimes and promised to not behave himself during the victory parade.
So everyone, raise a glass to the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions. May we forget this ever happened 12 months from now. Cheers!