Lucky Man by the Verve for the closing montage. These openings and montages have been trash when compared to the ones that Tim Thompson did for HNIC. But having said that, this one was worthy of being in that category without a doubt.
What a playoffs. It had it’s bad, no doubt. The league got blatantly caught with how awfully it’s run with how inconsistent and terribly the game is officiated, and how tone deaf they are about it with their “rules committee” doing absolutely nothing about it, but that’s a story for another day. Where the league did thrive though was with how exciting the playoffs were, culminating with maybe as perfect of a final as they could have asked for. Sure, the ratings probably aren’t as good as they would have been had it been the Blackhawks there instead of the Preds. But the ratings were still great, all the country music stars getting involved was huge to draw eyeballs from the entertainment community, and the game will no doubt grow throughout Tennessee with how much of a spectacle the games in Nashville became.
But in the end, the story is the Penguins going back to back. First team to do so in 19 years. Sidney Crosby now has three Stanley Cups, and two Conn Smythe trophies. He’s moving into elite company as he has moved past Joe Sakic and Mario Lemieux, now tied with Steve Yzerman, and only one behind Wayne Gretzky in Stanley Cups won (tied with Wayne in Conn Smythe’s).
Now, in the NHL this isn’t anywhere near the deal that it is in the NBA. The Stanley Cup is one of the toughest pro sports trophies to win, and it’s rarely mentioned in the media unless an elite player has never won one. Of course it’s all the talk in the media right now in the States on whether or not Lebron James is better than Michael Jordan (and those with debate shows abuse the absolute shit out of the topic), and whether or not this Warriors team is one of the greatest of all time. The NBA has struggled to get back to the level it was at throughout the 90’s with Michael Jordan leading the way, so the media is REALLY grasping on to these narratives seeing how they both involve Michael Jordan and his name still has a big impact on the league.
Anyway, now Sid is chasing Wayne, and it should become a story. When he entered the league in 2005, we all knew that while he was labelled as a “once in a generation” talent, he’d never come close to most of Gretzky’s records. But now, this is something to watch for. If Sid leads the Pens to one more Stanley Cup….what does that say? If he lead them to two more Cups…what then? Is Sid better?
Now, being an Oilers die hard and one of Wayne’s biggest fans, I wouldn’t say that. But when you give it thought, he’d be leading teams to Cups that aren’t near the level that Wayne’s teams were. He definitely has his Messier in Malkin, and MAYBE you could make a massive stretch and say Letang is Sid’s Coffey? Like I say, a massive stretch, and he just won a Cup without his “Coffey”. But the point being that it’s an interesting narrative.
And it’s not just that. I don’t think the Pens have any shot to win three in a row considering how insanely difficult it is to win back to back. BUT…three in four years? I think that’s definitely on the table if Jim Rutherford (I can’t believe I’m saying this considering how big of a detractor I’ve been of the man) can maintain something close to this roster through the 2019 season. And if that were to happen…are they a dynasty? Three in four years, in a cap era, that’s pretty incredible.
As livid as I get with how awfully how this league is run, I can’t not love this sport. And it’s so very rare that we get to see true greatness, or at least on the verge of greatness, like Crosby now is and the Pens now are. Instead of hating on it like we so often tend to do and pull for the plucky underdog, do yourself a favour and enjoy it while we can.
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