Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Post Season Rambling and Love for the HockeyTonk Town

I’m not a conspiracy theorist usually.  I don’t normally blame my teams’ shortcomings on flimsy circumstantial ‘evidence’.  I will admit though, I’m not exactly sure if I am willing to give the Vancouver Canucks the respect that so many others are willing to toss their way just because of points standings or series wins.  I realize you didn’t ask why, but I’m going to tell you anyhow.  
I don’t  dispute that Vancouver has some great talent.  Sedins, Kesler, Luango… who wouldn’t want names like that on their roster?  But names like that should be in the upper echelon of playing skills and, never once, should hockey fans have either had to try to justify their action or question their action.  Players of that level should be above questionable antics. 
Vancouver fans may say I’m being a bitter fan or whatnot, but Vancouver’s own Bieksa publicly stated:  "It's not cheating," Bieksa told the Vancouver Province. "It's within the rules and if the referee wants to assess it, he can penalize you for it. It's not cheating but it is a matter of integrity."  Someone, please elaborate: What does it mean when someone on your own team, Vancouver, essentially says ‘it’s shady play and we’re above it’?  
While I’m prone to angry outbursts over officials (or “awficials” as I have dubbed them), I’m equally as angry that people say we only gripe when calls ‘don’t go our way’.  Two things:
  • First, yes, I’m a fan who does like it better when I don’t feel like my team is taking heat merely due to their geographic location in proximity to Toronto and,
  • Secondly, when someone on my team draws a call, I’m willing to at least say “he drew that call” or - if he did something stupid or uncalled for - openly yell "nope, people – quiet down – he deserved that penalty”.  
Why?  Because I don’t want to be a team that plays like they are going for the Oscar awards instead of the Stanley Cup.  I think that there are ethics that each player should live by before getting to that level.  I do NOT believe in the old saying of “if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t playing”.  Maybe I’m too old school… maybe my Superman tattoo goes beyond skin deep?  To quote one of my favorites (Joe Yerdon): “…What Vancouver does during the game for the serious NHL watcher is enough to make them really dislike how the Canucks play hockey.” (full article here)

I’ll admit I’ve openly ranted on the officials this year, heavily this series, and I really don’t want to revisit that.  I’ve also vented on commentators; again, I’m going to back off.  Why?  Because my season is over so now it’s just pointless.  

I Love This HockeyTonk Town
My season was really amazing this year.  There were roller-coaster trends on the roster and on win-loss streaks.  But the snapshot of my year shows what it almost always does:  my team perseveres.  My team never gives up.  My team is a fan-friendly team and, regardless of the Western Conference Standings, I have believed in my team since 1999 (yes, I was a late bloomer).  Here’s just some musings on my team’s roster – by no means a comprehensive list.  
Blake Geoffrion and Jonathan Blum: Both showed amazing talent and an ability to step up into an NHL role and really become Nashville Predators.  
Jordin Tootoo went from being a 400+ PIM player to a 40 PIM player… and with some puck handling skills and dynamic plays to boot.  The crowd loves him, I adore him, and the Nashville Predators should be proud to call him theirs.  I know that I am. 
Jerred Smithson made efforts to step up in the center role and pull everything he could our way.  Let’s not forget that some crucial goals were tipped in by the talented #25.
Shea Weber and Ryan Suter: perhaps the best tandem D in the league and, without a doubt, a physical force to be reckoned with.  These two are like the Kariya/Selanne of the defensive world.
Joel Ward ended up playing a crucial role this season.  He complimented quite well with our consistent ‘shooters’ of Erat and Legwand. 
Shane O’brien really seemed to mesh with our roster and provide some of the grit and rumble that we needed – especially during the month of January.  If he can keep his temper (and self-discipline) in line, I think he’d be a good long-term addition to the team.  
And who could ever, EVER look at Pekka Rinne and not feel a sense of pride at the potential Vezina Trophy winner – a goalie to end all goalies and one that I’d love to see break a few Brodeur records in his time.  I hope that Peks really knows how much we believe in him and how we, the fans of the Predators, have placed enormous amounts of faith and trust in his skill.  I remain in awe of Rinne and having him makes me every bit as proud as when we had Forsberg*.
While my season may be over, hockey is not.  I will continue to watch and figure out who I’m pulling for. 
I have never been so proud of my team and the accomplishments we achieve and adversities we overcome.  
…bring on the tattoo artist, I’m getting the logo inked.
*(Anyone who knows me know that Forsberg is my all-time favorite – so giving Rinne a spot along with/next to my hockey idol is nothing short of incredible).  

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