Puck Daddy - NHL

The Vancouver Canucks can become the first team to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday night. The Boston Bruins will have an opportunity to do the same on Wednesday. But before either series has been closed out, fans can already purchase "Conference Champion" gear through Amazon.com.

Actually, even if you're a Tampa Bay Lightning or San Jose Sharks fan facing potentially the final game of your seasons, you can buy one as well, just to have as a unique keepsake should a series comeback fail.

Also available: pilsner glasses, pucks, pennants, photomints, key chains, 12 x 20 framed photos, polo shirts, and commemorative coins.

This year's shirt design is a step up from the simple template used a year ago. The hats, however, leave us asking a question.

Why does a conference champion hat feature the Stanley Cup? Yeah, you're going to be playing for the Cup, but save it for the gear getting handed out on the ice in June. The championship hats for the Chicago Blackhawks last year had the Cup on them, for obvious reasons. Despite that odd addition, the 2011 hats are much sharper than the plain janes from last year.

(And again, they do "conference" without geographic designation, like last season. Why? Maybe to give you room so you can write in "WALES" or "CAMPBELL"?)

We've seen championship gear slip onto the Internet early in the past and we're already looking forward to what design will be created and leaked online in the days before a Stanley Cup champion is finally crowned in a few weeks.

Question: Do you buy the apparel for division/conference championships or do you just wait to shell out your cash for gear commemorating a Stanley Cup title?

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