[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]
Oh my god am I already sick of hearing about the 1994 Stanley Cup. The Final hasn't even started yet and I've had to see Mark Messier convulsing on my television every single day like he'd never won the damn thing.
You know who cares about the 1994 Stanley Cup? The New York Rangers and their fans.
You know who else cares about the 1994 Stanley Cup? No one. Not one other person looks back fondly at a boring Cup final between an All-Star Team that was everything terrible about the pre-salary cap NHL versus a team that got 85 points from 84 games that featured Geoff Courtnall as its second-leading scorer.
It wasn't an important moment in hockey, any more than any other one-off team winning a one-off Cup in an otherwise dismal franchise history was. In 20 years, no one in the greater Raleigh area is going to be able to pick Cam Ward out of a lineup, let alone want to retire his number, like the Rangers did for third-liner Adam Graves.
Ah, but The Guarantee and Matteau Matteau Matteau. That Stephane Matteau had to score in overtime in a Game 7 shows how little any of Messier's words meant. It was a coin flip, and a guy with seven points that season “stepped up” (i.e. “got lucky”). You did it, Mess. Great leadership. And oh, the story of those bozos who held up the “Now I can die in peace” sign. I can't imagine there has ever been someone who's existed whose life story I cared about less. You watched the team with the second-highest payroll in the league — almost 45 percent above league average — squeak out a W against a team that was paying its players $800,000 more than the Florida Panthers' gave to their roster. Great job, gang.
The fact that the series went seven games shows, a) how wordlessly great Pavel Bure was in those days, and b) that the Rangers should have forfeited out of shame.
But as a result of this wholly unremarkable Stanley Cup, we have to hear about the Mark Messier's leadership from now until the end of time. And likewise, this perfectly normal playoff win is going to echo eternally, for no reason whatsoever.
You know what's really going to hurt Sam Bennett's draft stock? The fact that he couldn't even do a pull-up. Little kids can do pull-ups!
Sure, he's kind of likely to go first overall in the draft later this month, but boy if he hasn't gotten toasted for his performance at the combine. And he should. He is terrible.
He might not think it matters much right now — he says he's going to use things like his “vision” and “compete level” to excel at the NHL level — but just wait until he comes across the blue line and Zdeno Chara makes him do a bunch of jumping jacks or else he's gonna take his lunch money until Bennett cries and tells on Chara and Chara has to go to the principal's office but that only makes things worse because then Chara will have it in for Bennett even more. You won't think it's so funny then.
Tough bounce for Bennett here, though, because he's never going to be able to improve his upper-body strength. Hockey teams stop you from doing it when you turn 18, which he hasn't yet. Yeah, 91 points in 57 games as a 17-year-old is good I guess, but how's he gonna carry his hockey bag up and down all those flights of stairs?
3. Being the Blackhawks
The thing with losing to the Kings in the Western Conference Finals is that there's no shame in it. They were one of the best teams in the league this year, and boy are they ever battle-tested at this point.
But on the other hand, your loss was, on paper, essentially the Cup Final. The Rangers are a good team and everything but they don't have the quality of the Kings overall, and once the Bruins were knocked off, the credibility of the Eastern Conference playoffs as a whole was significantly diminished. No one is saying the Rangers are a bad team, because they're pretty good, but they're not elite despite this late run, and so the fact that they don't get a legit crack at the Cup this year is a little unfair.
A lot of people have thrown around that whole thing about “What if the playoffs just went 1-16, instead of by conference?” and it's very intriguing. But it's also never going to happen. The fact of the matter is that most of the last several years have featured the two best teams in the league in the same conference. The best teams often don't even make it to the Conference Finals, let alone the Cup Final. That's why the playoffs are at once great and not fair.
The Stanley Cup Final always turns into a bit of a disaster in terms of people covering the sport who never cover it, and that results in some truly insufferable instances of shoehorning needless, irrelevant storylines into the proceedings.
Now, to be fair, the personal tragedies suffered by individual members of the New York Rangers have been appreciable. The story of Dominic Moore, for instance, is heartbreaking, but by this point well-trod by just about every outlet that has thought to cover hockey this season. And that Martin St. Louis's mother died during these playoffs, and appeared to spark a resurgence after a slow start against the Flyers made things all too convenient for these casual-at-best hockey observers to ignore.
"Marty's mom dying is not why we're winning" is answer Brad Richards just had to give, so media day is going really, really well.— Dave Lozo (@DaveLozo) June 3, 2014
This is something that shouldn't need to be said. And yet here we are. St. Louis had three goals in the Montreal series, but was quiet against the Penguins (1-1-2), so to attribute much more than that out of the Rangers being where they to his renewed personal drive to succeed — y'know, because he didn't care as much before — or the team wanting to win “for him,” is of course hogwash.
If someone on the Kings had a family member die during the playoffs, then this series could played be fair and square. Very unsportsmanlike for the Rangers to hog all the feel-good stories besides “they're the second-best team from the Eastern Conference and maybe fifth- or sixth-best in the league.” That's not interesting to anyone. Get outta here, Rangers.
1. Pierre McGuire
All those rumors last week about everyone's favorite NHL-player's-midget-team-coach-knower being in the running for the Penguins GM job seem to have been pretty well-founded, given the amount of discussion about it early this week. And because McGuire himself seemingly won't stop talking about it.
Darren Dreger talked about it on a few shows, but that's to be expected. In three separate media appearances — two radio hits and an NBC conference call — on Tuesday, though, McGuire confirmed that he was a candidate and that he'd interviewed twice and that he wasn't sure if he was in the running but he's not-NOT in the running you know?
Now, leaving aside that this would be a really great development for the NBC national television, we have to keep in mind that when a normal general manager candidate is up for a job, he does not tell everyone who will listen how far along in the process he is, like a 7-year-old who just saw "X-Men" and wants to tell you about in great detail for 20 minutes no matter how many times you say, “Uh huh.”
Which tells you that he either can't help himself and is hurting his chances of getting the job, or he knows he's not going to get it because oh my god can you imagine Pierre McGuire running your NHL team?
(Not ranked this week: Good excuses.
If you want a quick laugh, read the testimony from Dan Carcillo's appeal of his 10-game suspension. Included in this gem were that Carcillo acknowledges he told the linesman, Scott Driscoll to “[expletive] off” and “get your [expletive]ing hands off me” before he elbowed him in the jaw, and that he apologized for doing so like a good boy.
The best, though, is New York assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld saying that none of this would have happened if Driscoll hadn't been such a “big, strong guy.” And hey, it all worked, because while no one disputed there was some swear-wording and a very real elbow, Carcillo's suspension was reduced to six games instead of 10. He will be available for the Rangers in Game 4.
And so let that be a lesson to all you kids out there. When you swear at an authority figure and then elbow him in the jaw, all you have to do is apologize because you totally, like, didn't even mean it.)