Hockey is underrated in the national media. This is true. However, this has an interesting effect on what happens when hockey does get the spotlight: they pound the s$%t out of The Storylines. You know exactly what I’m talking about if you watched the Winter Classic on TV, or even if you saw Danny Briere-gasm on Versus last round.
Another fun development is what happens to the level of discourse in the broadcast booth. Hockey is a fairly complicated game, and so the national broadcast turns into a tutorial on how the game works. Sometimes it is slipped in with ease, and sometimes it sucks as hard as a “Teach Yourself Euchre” book.
Aside from the lengthy explanations of icing and the importance of scoring goals, those Storylines are going to get a lot of play. In order to get you used to them and so you can’t complain about them later, here’s a sneak peak. Get yourself acclimated now, because it’s going to be a long series.
The GOAT- Also known as the Greatest Of All Time if you don’t know your Ali. For the first time in the “New NHL” the Stanley Cup Finals feature two large American media markets with bonna fide superstars on both teams. Of course, the hype for this matchup is out of this world. One question given to Sidney Crosby from media day went like this:
“Sidney Crosby…Evgeni Malikin… Pavel Datsyuk… Henrik Zetterberg”
That’s it. That was the question. The guy was so excited about the foursome he forgot to pose a question. I think he just wanted to remind everyone who was playing. Yes, it’s that big of a deal.
Even the NHL.com staff is getting caught up in the “Instant History” machine. The fact of the matter is that no matter what expectations this series has, it may never reach them. Remember just a few weeks ago everyone was getting ready for the greatest Conference Finals of all time? The first three games of each were almost never in question.
Yes, there will be hockey. Yes, it will be fun. However, you won’t know what to expect from these two teams until the game starts, and saying this series will be better than decades of hockey is a hefty wager. However, get ready for the next gear if Game One is anything close to exciting, the expectations for Monday night will range somewhere between “excelsior” and “divine”.
Sidney Crosby- I know everyone is sick of hearing about how good Sid is, but the fact of the matter is that he is the real deal. Leading a team to a Finals so young is a big deal as well, and he is the token media darling. Crosby is downright robotic with a microphone in his face, but put a hockey stick in his hands and he can completely change the game. This could be the series that changes his life, taking him to that level beyond outlandish expectations. This could be his Peyton Manning Moment; and as annoying as it is to some, the course of the league rests on his stick.
March of the Penguins- A few years ago the Penguins were moving to Kansas City. Now they are in the Finals and a new barn is being built next door. This is a bit of a swing, and will be talked about until you want to swing a pitching wedge into your TV.
Hockeytown/The Fall of Hockeytown- Does the name really matter anymore? I know there is a big fuss about what city is “Hockeytown”, but do you really want to be that presumptuous in the first place and have the title? Let Detroit paint whatever they want on their ice and blame ticket brokers or the economy or African swallows for their empty seats. Whatever.
Party in the Plaza-
So yeah… get back to us on that.
Nick Lidstrom- Did you know he’s from Europe? Did you know he’s a captain? Did you know he can win a Stanley Cup? Hey! That’s never happened before!
There will be more and they will develop over the course of the series. Jesus, look out if Franzen gets involved. He may be the next Fernando Pisani…