10 Reasons why I’m glad the word ‘Ducks’ is on the Stanley Cup

10. All-Canadian boys

Anaheim GM Brian Burke assembled a tough, no-nonsense crew of Canadian-style players overflowing with character and toughness. It gives hope to Flames fans that Darryl Sutter has the right idea in developing a team in the same fashion — solid drafts, impeccible development, similar backgrounds, etc — that could pay dividends in the future.

9. Greasy Perry

The kid is earning a reputation of getting under an opponent’s skin, but Corey Perry has also earned the reputation of a winner. Perry captained his London Knights to a Memorial Cup title in 2005, he was a key element in winning the World Juniors that same season, and now has a Stanley Cup ring. A pain-in-the-ass he might be, but he’s one of the few players who could tattoo the word “champ” to his forehead and get away with it.

8. Go Jets Go!

Randy Carlyle is a bastard, and now can be considered one of the best coaches in the National Hockey league.

7. Giving slackers hope

When Ryan Getzlaf played for the Calgary Hitmen, a bodyslam by Bret Hart himself wouldn’t wake the kid up. Now, one WJC and Stanley Cup later, the Regina native is beginning to be known as a Big Game Player. The scary part is, the best is yet to come.

6. Will Doug Maclean get a ring too?

How about Francois Beauchemin? Here’s a young defenseman — almost an afterthought when the Ducks got rid of Sergei Fedorov to Maclean’s Columus Blue Jackets — who plays beside two perennial Norris Trophy candidates, and looking like he’s been doing it for years. If it was anyone other than Brian Burke, this would have been the steal of the year. Alas, it’s just one of many great moves the Ducks have made since Burke moved to OC.

5. I don’t have a #5.

4. Go Jets Go! the sequel

Fourteen seasons into his career, Teemu Selanne has finally earned a one-way ticket to the Hall of Fame. There is no reason he couldn’t play several seasons more, but to have started and finished a career in his fashion, there might not be a better way to go.

And it couldn’t happen to a better guy.

3. Brothers Niedermayer

Who couldn’t find satisfaction in seeing Scott Niedermayer hand the Stanley Cup to his brother. Rob was the primary reason the two played together these past two years, and stories of their strong relationship during that time offer a touching piece of humanity to an increasingly distant sports league.

2. Conn Smythe Job

Arguments for the Smythe could be made for Ryan Getzlaf, Andy McDonald and even Chris Pronger, but the most support for the MVP was probably in favour of goaltender J-S Giguere. However, the biggest issue I have against Giggy is that he has already been a recipient and to get another one puts him in the same category as Bobby Orr, Bernie Parent, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Patrick Roy. Clearly, while Giguere is a terrific number one ‘tender in the league, he is no superstar HoFer, and to place him in that strata would be an insult to the name.

Meanwhile, while he was not the most dominant player on the ice, Niedermayer is a solid representative of his team, a steady leader and classy performer who has earned his place among the hockey pantheon. His selection echoes back to that of his former teammate, Scott Stevens, who was chosen because he was the leader of a great, balaced hockey team.

1. The Pronger Family

Given the acrimony in Edmonton after the 2006 final over why Chris Pronger left, it was sweet justice to see him enjoy a beautiful family vignette on national television. I don’t like Pronger, I hate the Oilers.


In the end, the Ducks were too much. Too much size, too much speed, too much forecheck, too much goalie equipment (and talent, I'll give Giguere that much), too much on defense. Just too much for the Sens to handle.

I think that despite some of the close scores that Game 5 was more reflective of the series. (I'm glad I wasn't in a position to watch the game. I think I would have vomitted upon seeing the Phillips goal.) Anaheim dominated Ottawa pretty thoroughly in three of the five games, yet despite that, Ottawa could have stolen Game 2 and should have taken Game 4. Congratulations to the Ducks. You broke my Sens loving heart you bastards, but I admit, you deserve it.

Where to go from here is an interesting question for Ottawa. It's a decent core, but the Finals exposed flaws that were there for a while.
- After the big line things get dicey and while it's clear that Alfredsson can do some damage when he's away from Heatley and Spezza, Murray never found a complimentary piece for those two among the other forwards.
- Redden and Meszaros were terrible, both in general and together, and while Meszaros cann chalk it up to being 21 and in his second season, Redden has no such luxury. He's soft and not so swift afoot these days.
- There were too many passengers on board, including Little Mikey Comrie and Peter Schaefer. Comrie is an unrestricted free agent and I'm hoping Muckler thanks him for this contribution and let's him ride off into the sunset, maybe back to Phoenix. We're stuck with Schaefer.
- Martin Gerber is the third highest paid Senator (or something similarly silly).
- Also, UFA's this summer, Dean McAmmond and Tom Preissing. Before getting too close to the too tall Chris Pronger I would have started a "Bring back Deaner" website, but now you have to wait and see how his head is doing. I like Preissing a lot. Don't know if they can afford him considering what's committed to Gerber, Alfie, Spezza, Redden, Corvo, etc and the need to have money in the near future for Heatley and Emery.

So an off-season of questions for the Sens as they try to prepare to get back to the precipice of greatness. I guess everybody gets to rest up and concentrate on baseball now. Congratulations again to Anaheim, even though I hate almost all of your players now...at the end of the day it was still worth buying the Alfredsson jersey.


Snapping suspenders

I now understand the difference between Chris Pronger, who pushed off and elbowed Dean McAmmond in the head while defending a rush, and Daniel
Alfredsson, who had the entire ice to shoot the puck and but somehow caught Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer: Pronger has a "past history", and the Ottawa captain doesn't.

Not that I'm complaining--I've never liked Pronger and have a grudging respect for Alfredsson, but I can't, for the life of me, understand why the one lightning-quick play became a suspensionable offense while the other action, in which Alfredsson had more than a few seconds to contemplate its course, is being brushed off by the Canadian media.

An interesting comment during the Calgary Flames Alumni golf tournament yesterday came from former Flames enforcer Ronnie Stern, who was asked whether there is a growing depletion of respect in the league. Stern's answer? There's more and more players in the league from abroad, there's more teams with the same amount of games, therefore players are less familiar with each other.

What's significant about this was that players knew where they could tread. He said that Mark Messier always threw elbows so he avoided them whenever possible. In other words, players would more often than not, use their brains out there.

Not that this excuses every cheap shot ever made in the history of the league, but it does explain the respect given to the likes of Messier, Gordie Howe and Billy Smith by their opponents. It also lays responsibility on the play maker as well as the defender. For instance, when Scott Stevens effectively finished Eric Lindros as a superstar in the NHL, today's "head shot Stasi" would rightly be on his case, but if they were honest with themselves, every objective hockey commentator could also say that Lindy should not have crossed the blueline with his head down while Stevens was on the ice.

In this light, Pronger deserved an elbowing call and 2 minutes which four on-ice officials inexplicably missed; however, perennial concussion candidate McAmmond ought to have recognized the dangers of pushing his head within the vicinity of an elbow attached to a 6'5" behemoth with a reputation of playing rough.

Compare that to the play of Chris Neil in the same game, who intended to add the outline of Andy MacDonald's face to the Scotiabank Place sideboards by leading a blatant charge with his elbows, but was thwarted by the diminutive centre who turtled from the assault.

The Ducks were correct in asserting that had their player been hurt and McAmmond walked away, there would be no controversy, but that's the way things work in the new NHL.

And if Alfredsson does not receive retribution from the league for his "incidental" slap shot at Scotty Niedermayer, while Pronger is continued to be vilified, then we'll all know to which side the league's thumb rests on the scale of justice.


Game Four

Call it.

11:02 pm (ET).


Senators' season = over.

This was really a tough game to watch. I really thought Ottawa was going to come out on fire tonight. They did, of course, but it only lasted 20 minutes. How can you not give it a full 60 minute effort in the Stanley Cup finals when your season is on the line? I don't get it.

I can't say that all of the Senators were out to lunch, but I think that some of them deserve to be benched (I know, it will never happen). Comrie was his usual useless self and Redden was, as he's been all through this final series, looking like someone who is completely lost. You'd think he somehow caught Dean McCammond's concussion. Seriously, what in the hell was he doing skating against the current on the winning goal? Where was he going? What game was he watching?

I know that players on an NHL are a tight bunch, but I can't imagine that someone like Mike Fisher doesn't want to beat the snot out of someone like Mike Comrie. As I've said before, Fisher has been the best Senator skater by far and he's shown an impressive combination of toughness and skill. Comrie, on the other hand, has been invisible and got physically involved in the series for the firs time in the last quarter of the 3rd period. And I think that was accidental. I'm not quite sure that he intended to deliver a body check.

At the other end of the ice, I have a feeling that Ray Emery might want to go at it with Wade Redden. The cameras showed Emery yelling at someone after the winning goal and I wonder if it was Redden.

In any case, I'm pretty sure that the Sens will soon have a lot of time to air their grievances and kiss and make up.

I hope I'm wrong on this one.


Game Three

So, a reversal of roles turns out to cause a reversal of fortune for the Ottawa Senators.

In the first two games, the skaters (except for Mike Fisher) didn't show up and Ray Emery was the only player that competed with the Ducks. Last night, Emery was not at his best, but the skaters (except for Mike Comrie) all showed up to play.

IMHO, Fisher is making a case for himself as a Conne Smythe candidate. It's a stretch (especially given the fact that the Sens would actually have to win the Cup), but it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Fisher has been all over the Ducks since Game 1 and he has been contributing in all facets of the game. His defensive game is what gets noticed and his goal last night will get him some press, but he's also been great in the faceoff circle and his takedown of Getzlaf just brought a smile to my face.

As for the Ducks, they weren't much worse than in the first two games, but they did have more trouble staying out of the box. They are definitely a team that thrives on straddling the line of what is legal and what is not. Given the sub par refereeing in the NHL (as compared to other North American professional sports), this means that there are nights when the calls are going to go in their favour, but there are other nights where the calls will do them in. Last night, they were almost always on the losing end.

Obviously, everyone will be be talking about the non-call on the Pronger elbow, which was just ridiculous, but I thought that the Ducks got the shaft on a few borderline calls. The Getzlaf "holding" call (WTF???) and the May "tripping" penalty were very debatable. Of course, these calls came AFTER the Pronger elbow, so the refs may have been trying to make up for their temporary insanity.

The other important factor in the Sens win was the play of Giguère. As in the case of Emery, he was far from being at his best. Whatever the Sens are doing to get him moving (clearly his weakness), they have to keep doing.


Now, the big question is: "If the Sens keep playing this well, can they truly challenge the Ducks?"

Unfortunately, I don't think so. I actually think that they have to be better. I also happen to think they can be better, most notably in goal.

If Emery can return to form AND the Sens can play this aggressively, then they'll be able to challenge the Ducks. Also, it would certainly help if Giguère were to continue his struggles.



Kanata Home Cookin

What is the over / under on how long it will take CBC to show a "Cup Belongs in Canada" sign during tomorrow's game?

I say 9 minutes.

Bonus question - Will either Baldwin or Moi be holding said sign??