Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Far be it for me to do a little bit of grave dancing, because I wasn't actually happy to see the Detroit Red Wings lose on Friday. I wasn't sad, of course, because while I'm not a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, there were three reasons I really wanted them to win:
1. I picked them to win in seven games.
2. I think them winning the Cup is a very good thing for the League and the sport, and
3. I had money on them.
Apart from that ugly, ugly Game 5 loss, the Penguins earned it. They played wonderful hockey for four of the final five games
But some people (read: Detroit fans) cannot handle that, and we probably should have seen that coming. There were, of course, the cries of conspiracy, the talk that Gary Bettman "despises" the Red Wings although it is apparently impossible to say why, and the requisite general sobbing that some media types had the unmitigated audacity and utter distaste to even imply that the Red Wings, to paraphrase Gunner Stahl, lost it for themselves.
The reason I have a problem with any of this is that it comes lovingly swaddled in phony sentiment. Red Wings fans are bitter, angry and looking for a scapegoat. I get that. I'm sure they've all had plenty of practice being magnanimous in accepting the effusive praise of the quality of their favorite teams over the last dozen years, and thus perhaps you're out of practice with playing second fiddle. Granted, they've handled it poorly. But most of the posts I've read on Red Wings blogs over the last few days have said something like this:
Before I begin complaining about everything in the series that was not the play of the Detroit Red Wings, who clearly are unbeatable under normal circumstances, let me first begin by saying congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans for winning the Stanley Cup fair and square.
What follows are typically a few hundred words about conspiracy theories (Bettman may have been in Dallas on November 22, 1963!), easily disprovable complaints about Sid Crosby's class or, more specifically, lack thereof (HE DIDN'T SHAKE THEIR HANDS!) and complaints about injuries because the Penguins were, of course, 100 percent healthy. All of that totally negates the first paragraph which, I guess, is intended to not make them look petty sore losers screaming their impotent rage into a sad, lonely void because it simply cannot be true that their boys, like 28 other teams, just weren't as good as the Penguins.
It's tough to accept, I know. But I'd like to give these Detroit fans some helpful advice: Just be jerks. Unabashed ones at that. You're like 90 percent of the way there. The hockey community already thinks very little of you anyway, so why not earn it?
What We Learned (Championship edition)
(WWL will, for the remainder of the postseason, only cover the teams still playing hockey. Any news of note involving the other teams will be dealt with below in Loserwatch '09.)
Most of the players wore Pirates jerseys, with Game 7 hero Max Talbot and Jordan Staal(notes) wearing Matt Capps No. 55 models and enforcer Eric Godard(notes) wearing Nyjer Morgan's No. 3. The latter is no surprise, given that Morgan did some fighting while playing in the Western Hockey League as a teenager.
The loudest cheers were for Talbot, Staal and, of course, Crosby, with all of the Pirates' players atop the dugout doing likewise. Morgan was most animated, at one point getting a "Let's Go Pens!" chant started. The crowd even got an extra chance to boo Marian Hossa, when his image was shown on the scoreboard after a replay of Marc-Andre Fleury's(notes) finishing save on Nicklas Lidstrom(notes).
Because I'm too lazy (and jaded!) to do so, you should feel free to make your own joke about how this is the last trophy the Pirates will see for a long, long time in the comments section. Best one gets no prize at all.
(News and notes from some of the teams that couldn't be bothered to make or stay in the playoffs.)
Derian Hatcher(notes) of the Philadelphia Flyers should be feelin' fine. He's got a brand new knee, after all. (Ed. Note: Who knew we live in a world with breaking Derian Hatcher news?) ... Pavel Datsyuk(notes) is going to be listening to the Cure for the next little while, from the sound of it. "Too late about injuries, now, especially. My body doesn't feel anything now. My body just feels empty now." ... Should Panthers fans be concerned that a Tomas Vokoun(notes) t-shirt got put on clearance? ... Dan Boyle(notes) thinks hockey needs fighting. ... The latest team to blame their poor finish on injuries: Montreal. ... Good news, everyone! The Senators might actually be in good shape this year. ... Here's a Bruce Garrioch scoop someone will actually believe: Dany Heatley(notes), like everyone else in the world, doesn't want to play in Edmonton. ... Dave Tippett might end up coaching in Minnesota. It should be noted, though, that his teams have been known to score more than 2.5 goals a game. ... Michael Neuvirth could be the next Simeon Varlamov, only, y'know, good in the playoffs. Neuvirth backstopped the Hershey Bears to a Calder Cup, meaning the only Washington-related team to not win its league championship was the Capitals. Noted Caps fan Greg Wyshynski is devastated. (Ed. Note: I'm clutching my John Erskine(notes) Beanie Baby as we speak.)
Balsillie and Bettman's Trash Talk Corner
(In which a damning piece of news from the ongoing Hamilton Coyotes saga is taken out of context and has its hurtfulness rated.)
From the Globe and Mail:
"I could tell by my answers that he wasn't satisfied," he said. "I wasn't giving him the information that he was hoping to get from me and he probably ended it early ... He realized he wasn't going to get any dirt out of me because I didn't have any dirt to offer."
7/7 members of the original cast of "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" It looks like the NHL has ACME on the case and it will be just a matter of time before an 11-year-old girl is scrambling to put seven sticks with sirens on top over countries in Africa to get to the bottom of just what this BlackBerry guy is up to.
Call the new show "Where in the World is the Dirt on Jim Balsillie?" Rockapella wouldn't even have to change the tune of the theme song (try it yourself!). Bad news, though: The Chief died in 2003. We can definitely get Greg Lee though. Let's get on it, Gumshoes.
Play of the Weekend
Max Talbot's second goal was one of those shots that no goalie in the world had a chance of stopping. That was gorgeous.