“How many times have you heard someone say
If I had his money I’d do things my way?
But little they know
It’s so hard to find
One rich man in ten with a satisfied mind.”
Last year it was easy.
It was the matchup of the arch rival and the better team, and there was no question who deserved to win. This year it was all a bit different.
As Game Five was spiraling to a close in the third, I began to think about what I would put here. My mind was filled with mostly jealous thoughts. A crowd celebrating something they have already had this decade. Singing “Don’t Stop Believing” seemed almost blasphemous in the eyes of a Sabres fan. It was just… unfair. It always seems that way, I suppose. However, Maxim Talbot cut that celebration short, and all of a sudden we had a few more days to think all this over.
Tonight I didn’t think about it at all. Until it was over at least, and even then I didn’t invest much thought until now. Somehow, deep down, I was convinced the Penguins would somehow pull it out. Even that very last shot, Crosby pulling off a backhand stronger than my forehand will ever be. It just seemed like it was going to happen against all odds, and I think that was what made it fun.
The Red Wings deserved to win the Stanley Cup, it is just that simple. They are an outstanding defensive team with a great lineup top to bottom, complete with two solid goaltenders. They have the best management in the league, and I’m convinced their GM is a wizard of some sort. All that adds up to a dominating performance on the game’s biggest stage, and you can’t help but be impressed with how easy it all looked.
The CBC broadcast said something interesting about the Red Wings, something to the effect of “a franchise that measures success only on winning the Stanley Cup.” It’s a pretty silly statement, what team doesn’t start with winning the Cup as the ultimate goal? However, after mulling it over it brought me to another interesting question: what brings a hockey player satisfaction?
It is the moral of that first quote, and something that always comes up when the season ends. We all know that fans have various expectations for a season, but most of them feel like this couple after tonight:
Today 29 fan bases are unsatisfied, as they should be. We all know what it feels like to sit in those seats, or maybe what it’s like to run away from them like a felon leaving the scene of a crime. The losing always hurts, but with it comes the hope that one day we get to be like Red Wings fans, celebrating the long summer away.
However, what does it really mean to the players? In a game where so much is discussed; reputations, salaries, legacies, and no trade clauses. Hockey has become a game of UFAs and median payrolls right before our very eyes, and with it comes a new way to look at the game.
While some fans see the game for what it is aesthetically, others see cap figures and looming free agency. Starting today come the questions of where Brooks Orpik will end up. Where does Jagr go? Does Ryan Miller get signed this summer? So many questions will be answered during the long sunny days, but those inquiries are not for today.
Come July 1st, Marian Hossa will be a very rich man. He will sign a contract for a massive amount of money, much of that amount based on what he accomplished this postseason.
Does he have a satisfied mind tonight?
No, and that’s what makes the Stanley Cup special. In a game increasingly filled with numbers and revenue streams, at the end of the year there is a set of 30 or so names that go on a little strip of silver. That’s it. That’s all that matters. Money will come and go, reputations will fade in the minds of even those that care, but there is always going to be your name on that Cup. Forever.
It doesn’t “Change Everything”, it is everything, and that’s why it matters.