Sunday, May 13, 2007

For me, it's over

There was a time in the past when no European captain had ever won a Stanley Cup. In fact, no European captain had ever even taken a team to the Stanley Cup Finals. We now could be as little as five games from not only having a European captain in the finals, but having a European win the Cup.

As far back as 1999, I had said I would stop watching the NHL altogether if a European captain ever lifted the Cup. And now that we're on the brink of disaster, I stand by my word. If Nicklas Lidstrom and the Detroit Red Wings or Daniel Alfredsson and the Ottawa Senators win the Cup this season, I will never watch another NHL game.

Go ahead, call me a racist. Call me a xenophobe. Call me an ethnocentrist. Even though I'm none of the above, if it makes you feel better, then go ahead and say it. I have more reasons than this not to watch the NHL. Let's just say it's the last straw. The camel's back has been threatening to break for a while. And this is the one thing that will shatter it.

It's not just an increase in European players. It's more than just that one part irking me. It's the instigator rule. It's the ever-rising sticks with no retribution. It's expansion to places like Miami, Nashville, and Atlanta. It's the loss of the Whalers, Nordiques, North Stars, and Jets. It's the fact the Smythe, Norris, Adams, and Patrick divisions are gone. It's the desperation to increase offense. It's TV ratings in freefall. It's empty arenas. It's the proposed Victoria Cup. It's the overall lack of passion in the game.

There was a time when winning the Cup meant something to every player on a team, and more than just the fact they met one of the incentives in their contracts. It was the fact that they had reached the pinnacle of the hockey world. And now, it means so little to so many players.

There was a reason no European captain has won a Cup. So many European players are the stereotypical, me-first, all-about-the-money players. Yes, Messrs Jagr, Yashin, and Alfredsson, I'm looking in your direction. And now, teams with these types as captains but whose real leaders don't wear an A or a C are preparing to lift the Cup. Wearing a letter on your jersey used to mean you were a leader in all facets of the game. Now it just means you're the leading scorer or have the biggest contract. It's a joke; a shell of its former meaning.

In three weeks, there's a 50% likelihood the Cup will be skated around an arena by a Captain from overseas. But while it's happening, take the time out to remember when the Cup wasn't carried by someone over here because of a better contract. Remember when it was carried by someone playing in the NHL simply because he loved the game. By someone who was a true leader rather than just a scorer with a huge contract.


Leu' said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Looks like you won't be watching much hockey next year...

Bethany said...

Although, I agree with most of what you say except the fact that if Alfie or Lidstrom lift the Cup you won't watch a game. I don't get how you can not like or be happy to see Alfie or Lidstrom lift the Cup. Lidstrom is one of the best d-men in the NHL right now. And then, Alfie have you seen any of his games?! He is playing amazing. I just don't understand why quit if either of those teams win. Doesn't make sense. And, I have to agree with anonymous...there is a really good chance you will be done with hockey pretty soon.


1) Sorry, we usually whole heartedly agree with your posts/take on things here, but your way off base with this one.
2) There are a lot of problems with the current NHL product. You alluded to several in your post BUT having a European player with a meaningless C on his jersey isn't close to being one of them
3) There is no more of an over rated thing than a "Captain". Most good/great teams have MANY leaders, and the guy wearing the C is but one.
4) Now we could understand your frustration if a guy like Yashin or Jagr was handed the Cup next month, but a class act lie a Lidstrom, who has been one of the games best for so many years surely should NOT cause angst for any but the most xenophobic(your term) among us.