When the time ran out on the Stanley Cup Final last night, the whole city of Calgary went totally quiet. No one here expected to lose. Everyone’s spirit and hopes were up in the clouds. Even I, a person who despises hockey to begin with, was waiting to see the lights flash as the puck soared past Nikolai Khabibulin a second time. Right down to the last few seconds. I could see it in my head. But on TV it didn’t happen. We lost; two to one, in three very long, almost excruciating periods of hockey.
In the first period, I watched in awe as the Lightning skated circles around our boys. Much the same happened in the second period. Blame it on the temperature change, over-exhaustion, bad refereeing, injuries, whatever: the Flames didn’t step it up. A little more effort was made in the third period, with some good plays along with some “bad calls.”
In terms of who’s to blame, the hockey buffs that I work with blame the NHL officials. “The calls made on Calgary were in bad taste,” or “Was the ref blind?” On my side of the fence, if a guy puts his stick in front of another player and as a result that player trips, then the call should be tripping. Hockey players shouldn’t do things like that in hope that the ref won’t see it or won’t call it.
Yes, I agree that the ref let a lot of bad behavior on the part of the Lightning slide by, not to mention not looking into Gelinas’s controversial “missed goal” in game 6, but rules are rules and officials are officials. If you hit someone from behind, given that someone could be very seriously injured, you deserve to sit in the penalty box. Sports can only be played if everyone respects both their own team, and the other team.
“We deserved it more than them:” was another thing I heard and read this morning. I just want to remind everyone that prior to Monday night Tampa Bay had never won a Stanley Cup. Yes, it’s been 15 years since Calgary won, but Tampa has NEVER won. In my mind it wasn’t a question of who deserves what, if you play hard, everyone deserves to win; Regardless if they won it last year, 15 years ago, or not at all.
Back in game four, Nieminen got a five minute major penalty as well as a one game suspension for hitting Lecavalier from behind and apparently causing injury. We all watched the little weasel dive into the boards on his own and then fall to the ground and whine like a baby. After a few minutes, the jerk got up and skated back to the bench. He was perfectly fine. The next day we found out that as an additional punishment Niemenen would get his one day suspension. Not only was this punishment unnecessary (he already served his five minute major) but it sparked a lot of negative feelings toward Lecavalier from the fans. Monday night my respect for this man was redeemed when he attracted four of Calgary’s guys to defend him, deked around all of them, and assisted Fedotenko in a goal.
Overall, the Calgary Flames played their little hearts out for six games against Tampa Bay, but in the end the Lightning played harder, smarter, and faster. Tampa Bay, for the first time in franchise history, won the Stanley Cup. And they earned it. If you can’t be a good sport and accept it, you shouldn’t be allowed to watch sports.
“¢ Calgary Flames won the Western Conference Final and placed second
“¢ Kiprusoff set the record for minutes played in one playoff year. He played 1655 minutes.
“¢ Calgary set a record for scoring two goals in 19 seconds (I believe this was in the Detroit series?)
“¢ Calgary tied the Philadelphia Flyers for the most post season contests in one year (26 playoff games)
“¢ In Las Vegas the odds of winning were 100 to 1 against Calgary last October. Just before the final game they were in favor of Calgary.
Fan Accomplishments (It’s amazing how Calgarians rally together in support of sports!)
“¢ Every home game brought with it a packed Saddledome
“¢ Away games (Tampa Bay series) brought a packed Saddledome, raising more than $300,000 for charities (tickets were $5 each).
“¢ At one point the Red Mile was host to over 70,000 people
“¢ Over 100,000 thousand vehicles are sporting Calgary Flames flags
“¢ Over 55,000 people purchased Flames Jerseys