Hockey announcers love calling the postgame handshake in the Stanley Cup Playoffs "one of the great traditions in all of sports," rendering it as a gooey cliché on the level of little tykes pretending to score the Cup-winning goal on ye olde pond.
After a Game 7, like the one the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night, the handshake line is either going to look like warriors sharing a mutual respect after battle or squirmy exchanges between players whose mutual animosity burns with the fury of a thousand suns after seven games.
The 2011 Stanley Cup Final handshake line was a little of both. Videos after the jump.
First, the CBC feed:
Really nice moment between Tim Thomas(notes) and his Team USA teammate Ryan Kesler(notes) there. Thomas had been doing the perfunctory "good series" until he got to Kesler, saying "Good series Ryan, man" and sharing an embrace.
This was destined to be awkward, but as Thomas reiterated later, he tried to pay Luongo a compliment in the postgame shake … obviously a callback to the now infamous "where's my tire-pumping?" miscue from Luongo.
Meanwhile, on NBC:
Doc Emrick mentioned it, but neither network could get a clean shot of Alex Burrows and Patrice Bergeron(notes) on the handshake line. As it stands, NBC came closest. Would have loved to see an isolation shot of that.
In the end, this tradition is about respect. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are sports' greatest war of attrition. There is no comparison. So while the hate still lingers and the animosity is palpable, congratulations are exchanged. Awkward as they are.