A couple of weeks ago I laid out some predictions for both of the Conference Finals series in the NHL.
As it turns out, I was right about one and wrong about the other, but I would love for my correct pick to have been in the Eastern Conference.
The Stanley Cup Finals are supposed to be a time to revel in the game’s biggest stage. It’s where history is written and superstars are made. So, why is it that I’m feeling a little down about this year’s match up?
It boils down to three words really – New Jersey Devils.
This will be the third straight Stanley Cup Finals in which a team I have developed a strong dislike for is battling for hockey’s ultimate prize.
Let’s quickly recap:
Philadelphia fell to the Blackhawks in 2010. Penguins fans understand why this one doesn’t need an explanation.
Last year, the Bruins knocked off the Canucks in seven games. This one hurt because it served as cause for family and friends back home in New England to inundate me with comments about their team’s success all summer long.
Now, the New Jersey Devils are once again in the Stanley Cup Finals after dispatching the New York Rangers in six games.
Their presence in the Finals means I will be rooting with every fiber of my being for the Los Angeles Kings.
I was rather looking forward to a potential Kings/Rangers Final for a variety of reasons. The NHL was probably rooting for the same given that it would have put hockey’s biggest stage in the limelight in the two biggest markets in the country.
To me, Kings/Devils is not nearly as appealing. It could be a good series and there are some similarities between the teams. However, with New Jersey in it, there’s the potential for this to be a frustrating series for the fans as well as the Kings.
I’m all in on the Kings and sincerely hope they pull this off, which is why I’ve crafted the following letter of support:
To Whom It May Concern,
First off, I would like to congratulate you on your incredible run through the Western Conference to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993.
Your 12-2 record thus far, including an 8-0 mark on the road, is nothing short of remarkable.
You should know that I am a Penguins fan, but don’t hold that against me. I am all-in on the Los Angeles Kings in this Stanley Cup Finals series.
The reasons are plentiful and I won’t bore you with all the details about how I got to this point of reaching out to your organization.
Just know, that by my rough calculations (which are not scientific in any way) that roughly 90 percent of the hockey world is rooting for you to take down the New Jersey Devils. Obviously, the communities in Phoenix, northern New Jersey and other parts of the great state of California would feel differently.
There are also some factions of Flyers fans who don’t want Jeff Carter or Mike Richards to win the Cup either. I get the mentality, but they’ve lost sight of the bigger picture here.
Before moving to Pittsburgh, I lived among Devils fans in northern New Jersey. My own father is one of the biggest Martin Brodeur fans on the planet. So, you can probably see one of the biggest reasons for me throwing all my support your way in this series.
I’ll never live this down if the Devils triumph in this series.
But, this isn’t about me.
It’s about your organization’s time to seize this opportunity and lay claim to Lord Stanley’s Cup for the first time.
It’s time to step out of the shadows of the other teams in town and establish the Kings as the main attraction in Los Angeles.
Statistically, not many expected you to be in this position as an 8-seed, but that’s irrelevant.
Four wins is all that separates you from eternal glory.
This isn’t just about the players on the current roster. Go out there and win this one for guys like Luc Robitaille, Wayne Gretzky, Tony Granato, Rob Blake, Kelly Hrudey and the rest of the 1993 squad that fell short against the Canadiens.
Do it for coach Barry Melrose, who I’m convinced is keeping the mullet until the Kings win the Cup.
Lean on the guys on the roster who have been here before like Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Look to Rob Scuderi who has both won and lost a Cup with the Penguins.
Most importantly, do not be intimidated by the moment. Enjoy every aspect of it as it’s what you have worked so hard for. You never know if this will be the lone chance you have at winning it.
Do not be intimidated by the New Jersey Devils either because you can beat them.
Stick to what has gotten you this far. Be physical, be responsible in your own end and get traffic in front of Martin Brodeur.
To quote the great hockey movie “Miracle,” – This is your time, now go out there and take it.
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