In this alternate universe, the Colorado Avalanche are the current Stanley Cup champions, and Brandon has a Saad.
The Chicago Blackhawks finally suffered a regulation loss Friday night, forced to surrender their 24-game season-opening point streak to the Colorado Avalanche.
It's strange to think that, after staving off the pointlessness of a loss for 24 games, it would be the Avalanche, tied for last in the West coming into the game, that finally did the Hawks in. But anyone who watches hockey knows that, sometimes, the game can be silly that way. The best team is going to win more often than the worst team, to be certain, but that doesn't mean the best team is going to winning over the worst team is ever a certainty.
This in mind, it's a good thing that the Stanley Cup isn't a challenge Cup any longer. By winning Friday night, the Avalanche gained just two points. They didn't trade places atop the league with Chicago, who remain the league's best team.
But what if they had? Imagine a world where the Stanley Cup was on the line every time the champion played another club, where it could be passed on in any random match, like the WWE heavyweight title belt?
We're halfway into the season. How many champions would there have been? Who would have it now?
The Unofficial World Football Championships have been following soccer this way since the first-ever international match in 1872. They even have a title, the CW Alcock Cup, named after the man that organized that contest, and they've been following and awarding the Alcock Cup since then. According to the people behind this thing, Argentina is the reigning champion now, and the next Alcock Cup match is March 22nd, when they take on Venezuela in a World Cup qualifier.
We probably don't need to go that far into the past. For our purposes, let's start keeping track with the LA Kings' Stanley Cup win last June. Tracing the movements of the Cup from there, the Colorado Avalanche didn't just end the Hawks' streak Friday night. They also ended a two-week Chicago run as the Stanley Cup champions.
Supposing the Cup was up for grabs in the first game of the 2013 regular season, the Kings would have lost it right away to the Blackhawks, who defeated them in the season opener by a score of 5-2.
The Blackhawks held it until the last game of January, when they lost their first game of the season, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild. The Wild subsequently lost it to the Anaheim Ducks in their very next game.
The Ducks had it for about a week. Then they lost to the Dallas Stars, 3-1, who turned around and lost it to the Calgary Flames, 7-4.
That's right. Under this system, the Calgary Flames would have been the Stanley Cup champions for two whole days. Clearly, it's a bad system. Anyway, then the Flames lost to the St. Louis Blues, 5-2, who lost to the San Jose Sharks, 2-1, who then lost to the Chicago Blackhawks by the same 2-1 score.
Thus, the Blackhawks would have had it on Friday night. And the Avalanche would have it now.
Of course, the primary issue with tracking the Cup this way this year is that the Eastern Conference wouldn't get a sniff of it for quite some time, as there's no Inter-Conference play this season. So for giggles, let's track it from the Devils' Eastern Conference title last season. Doing that, the Eastern Conference Cup also changed hands Friday night.
The Devils did better than the Kings, holding onto it for a full week, successfully defending it three times before losing to the Montreal Canadiens, 4-3.
From there, it moved to the Ottawa Senators, who surrendered it to the Carolina Hurricanes, then the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers lost it to the Panthers, who lost it to the Capitals.
Yes, the Capitals. Actually, the Capitals would have had it twice. They lost it to the Rangers, who lost it to the Canadiens, then the Islanders, and Hurricanes, before the Capitals won it right back on February 24.
From there, the Flyers won it again, only to lose it to the Rangers again. And the Rangers had it until Friday night, when the Ottawa Senators wrested it away from them to thanks to Jakob Silfverberg's third-period goal in a 3-2 win.
Obviously, this system has some holes in it. For instance, a team that's holding the Cup fails to make the playoffs, then the playoffs mean nothing. But I guess you could say that failing to make the playoffs means forfeiture of the Cup, and then you could re-award it at the end of the postseason.
Even still, it's safe to say the Cup loses a lot of its lustre when it changes hands this often and is awarded to so many mediocre teams, so it's probably for the best that it remains damn difficult to win and only changes hands once a year. But I would enjoy the absurdity of a system that allowed the 2013 Flames, Capitals, Wild, and Panthers to boast that they were briefly the Stanley Cup champions.
s/t to Mike Martignago for introducing me to the delightful nonsense that is the UWFC.