If Applebee’s had any flair for the dramatic, it would have blasted “Bittersweet Symphony” as I watched Anaheim clinch the Stanley Cup tonight. Instead, it only played in my head as the Ducks swarmed the ice in celebration. It was an odd feeling, sitting there, watching as what I thought I wanted to happen unfolded. But still, there was a hodgepodge of emotions that I didn’t expect.
It should have been simple: the foe was vanquished. Ottawa went down in a ball of fire, their captain seen as a failure and cheapshot artist to boot. Chris Neil can’t call himself a Stanley Cup champion when he opens up a used car dealership in Kanata, and the best adjective for Ray Emery is still “reboundtastic.”
But as usual, nothing is as easy as that. The Sens were the last team I wanted to see win the Cup, but Anaheim was also pretty far down that list. Wild Wing and his boys represent just about everything a traditionalist hates. The scene in the Honda Center was perfectly split by the plexiglass.
On the ice was the most wonderful thing about sports: a team celebrating its achievement. The Ducks bench was great to watch, and their dogpile around Giggy actually ripped the net off the moorings and crashed into the end boards. One of the better celebrations I can remember, and for once I wasn’t completely disgusted by it happening.
What was disgusting was the rabble that was kept off the ice. The fan reception of winning a Stanley Cup was lukewarm at best. To my count one person on camera was jumping around like a crazy person, which to my knowledge is the only acceptable form of celebration. I saw some orange towels waving, most people standing, and a handful actually sitting down. Now I don’t know about most of you, but if that were our building, and that was me inside it, I would be losing my freaking mind. But maybe I’m biased, because say what you will about Ottawa and their support, but I will never be able to get this out of my memory.
But in reality, it’s not the fans that matter. A championships in nontraditional hockey markets does very little for the franchise itself. Sure, Dallas has become a growing market since 1999, but they are more the exception than Carolina and Tampa Bay are the rule. Whether Anaheim booms as a market is certainly up in the air. Personally, I think Snoop Dogg holds the key to all of this.
It really is about the players, though. They are the ones who work so hard to hold that cup, and they are the ones that deserve to celebrate. Anyone who watched that celebration had to be happy for Teemu Selanne, who openly wept on national television and thanked everyone he had ever met. Through all the boos and talks of being washed up, he did show up when it matters.
The Buffalo connections had to make some hardcore fans happy as well, even if it is bittersweet. I can’t imagine the mix of emotions Ryan Miller is going through now. All that work put into an amazing season, and his brother comes away with his name on the cup. Hopefully it runs in the family.
Any Buffalonian who isn’t happy for Brad May should give this a second look.
The most interesting connection to the city is the kid who’s from here. Todd Marchant, the 13 year veteran, finally lifting the sweetest trophy in sports. As I watched the interviews later on CBC, they somehow got around to Marchant, who was excited to say the least. Sitting there with my girlfriend, I heard him speak of Buffalo, thanking everyone and declaring the Cup was coming home.
Then, she started to cry. The girl with hockey in her blood, one of the few people I know that love the game more than I do, is reduced to tears by a simple statement. But I knew why. This was the girl who attended Todd Marchant hockey camps years ago, the one who has played with hundreds of Kaletas and Kanes and Marchants all her life. If there was anyone who understood what Marchant meant, it was her.
Even so, I still had to ask, “Why do you like Todd Marchant so much?”
Wiping away tears, she simply replied, “Because he likes us.”
Sometimes, I think that’s all you need.