Sunday, June 14, 2009

So I guess I can die without regrets?

No doubt about it: I'm a lucky bastard when it comes to sports.

But I've also managed to follow two sports teams that have some of the most hated/polarizing athletes in their given leagues (the Penguins with Sidney Crosby and the New York Giants with Eli Manning). Hating Manning always made a little more sense to me: his Elmer Fudd accent, refusal to play in San Diego and the tides of nepotism all made him an easy target.

The hatred of Crosby is an interesting little dichotomy. On one hand, he's the ultimate Pepsi Challenge; I'm completely convinced that if he was some guy who wore a blank jersey, his high-effort and unselfish playing style would make hockey snobs swoon. Yet much like our nation's preference of Coca-Cola, the key really is in packaging. Hockey fans live with an inferiority complex: our game is fast, exciting and violent ... all the elements of what football should be ... but most of America could give a shit. So when one guy gets as much attention as Crosby receives, it's natural that many fans react to Crosby like he's pushing them into a locker while wearing a letter jacket. Or calling them "Darrrsh!"

I get it. Seriously, I really do. I'd probably hate him if I wasn't a Penguins fan. I think.

But as a fan of both the Giants and Penguins for as long as I've followed either sport, I am "stuck" with Eli and "Cindy." Even if those two teams saw a marathon of 0-22 drubbings to the Carolina Panthers and seasons with Dick Tarnstrom as their scoring leader, I would have been there through it all.

There are plenty of places to read gloating/ecstatic Penguins fans. So I'll try to spare you as much as possible.

The only other thing I'll offer is this: the fact that the Penguins beat the Red Wings makes it much sweeter. And not because of the tired Hossa storyline (although that did make me laugh). No, it was sweeter because the Red Wings are the greatest sports franchise on the face of the earth. Up and down their roster and all throughout their organization, there is nothing but competence. As I pointed out to a friend, it's one thing to win a championship by beating the Seattle Seahawks or some Cinderella team. But being a true juggernaut? That's special.

OK, that's my paragraph of annoyance. (One question, though: how am I supposed to feel about Marc Andre Fleury and Jordan Staal now? Not sure I can be objective about those two ever again.)

***

More on this later, but expect CLS to be pretty damn lively for most of the summer. I can see a lot of the team blogs shutting down without Game Day posts and the like ... as a NHL blog, though, there should still be a reason to check out our site on a regular basis. Will there be a "vacation" at some point? Maybe, to some extent.

We should have big events for: the NHL draft, Free Agency, the release of NHL '10/NHL 2K10, Fantasy Hockey drafts and the opening of the 09-10 season. So keep us in your minds, hearts and Google Reader subscription lists.

Please.

5 comments:

Joe said...

I don't really dislike Crosby as a player. I more dislike the constant "lets shove him down your throat till you gag" coverage, especially the way so much of it focuses on how he's the total 100% complete perfect player, which I don't believe for a minute. He's certainly a great player, but there are definitely parts of his game that could be improved, and considering how the team leans on him and Malkin, they need to be improved on.

I do hate Eli Manning though. Mostly because I don't think he's that good. He got hot for a couple weeks at the right time and came out of it with a Lombardi trophy. Otherwise, he's been pretty average. Combined with the total douchebaggery of refusing to play with a team that picked you, Eli can jump off a cliff.

As I said at the start of the series, I'm glad the Pens did it against the Red Wings, for the same reasons you are. It would've been cheap if they won a Cup by going through PHI, WSH, CAR, and then someone like CHI. They had to go through the best to get to the top of the mountain, and they did it.

I still don't think MAF is that great. There's plenty of room to grow, but for the most part, he wasn't challenged that much in G7. Or most of G6 for that matter. It was embarassing how poorly the Wings played in those two games, and given the small shot numbers and chances the Wings got, I'm reluctant to say that MAF has proven himself the way many other goalies have. Really, he makes me think of where Ozzie was earlier in his career. Inconsistent, but "good enough" on a real good team. We'll see if MAF follows a similar career path, I guess. I wouldn't be surprised if 15 years from now, you can look at MAF as the next Chris Osgood.

jamestobrien said...

The Red Wings were surprisingly weak in Game 7. Even toward the end of the game, I expected a little bit more from the team.

MAF and Eli might be in the same boat: they've proven they CAN do it, but they might not be elite. It's the lazy move to assume that a player "arrived" just because of a championship.

But at the same time, MAF managed to shut the door in the last two games ... whether he faced much is irrelevant to me. He got it done. That's better than nothing.

vancitycanuck said...

MAF is still young as a goaltender. Normally we don't see goaltender's hit their elite status until they are 30. I can only imagine that he will get better as he gets older and more experienced.

I think he proved that he could gave a big game when his team needed him.

jamestobrien said...

@ vancity: I certainly feel much better about MAF, now. How could you not?

vancitycanuck said...

I've been a huge MAF fan for a while... so maybe I'm a little biased. Ever since his WJC appearance, I've been hoping for him to succeed. He play last year was unreal and this year he was clutch when he needed to be.

I love his apology during the parade today about the s-bomb he dropped on cbc after the win...such a gent.