Monday, April 12, 2010

A Torontonian Guide to the Playoffs

sidney crosby stanley cup malkin
The Leafs aren’t in the playoffs. Shocking, I know. I thought there was a chance the league could change the rules during the last game and stipulate any team defeating their historic rivals in overtime actually get 30 points instead of 2. Didn’t happen.

This is a situation I am becoming accustomed to as the Leafs have not made the playoffs in five seasons (six years). I obviously can’t shut out hockey, but what am I supposed to do? I’m not one to actively cheer for another team, but I guess it’s acceptable to lend my temporary support to a worthy cause.

It’s not as simple as just picking a team with your eyes closed. Here are some important criteria for choosing your temporary playoff team.

Divisional Rivals

This one is so obvious I can’t even believe I have to write it. There is no way you should be cheering for Montreal, Ottawa, Buffalo, or Boston. The Canadiens are the Leafs’ biggest historic rival; the Senators are the biggest rival in recent memory, thanks to multiple playoff series (don’t tell Habs fans, they still don’t know); the Leafs and Sabres have the whole QEW angle, plus we’re going to steal the Bills, thus upping the Buffalo-Toronto hatred; and the Bruins aren’t shutting up about the next big bust they’re going to draft with the Leafs’ soon-to-be 1st overall pick. If you're doing any cheering, it should be against these teams. That's priority number one.

Oh, Canada

We already covered the main reasons for cheering against Montreal and Ottawa, but every playoffs you hear people say something stupid like, “well don’t you want a Canadian team to win, aren’t you patriotic?” No, I don’t want any Canadian team to win. In fact, I really dislike all the other Canadian teams in the league, especially Montreal and Ottawa. Yes, I want them to all stay in Canada, but that doesn’t mean I like them and will actively cheer for them. Plus, every other city in Canada hates Toronto and loves seeing the Leafs out of the playoffs. We’re supposed to support these people? Fuck that.

The Kaberle Factor

No one who has even a passing interest in Tomas Kaberle can do well. In fact, Leaf fans should want these teams to crash and burn as horrifically as possible. Teams that have been linked in rumours to Kaberle include Vancouver (who we already are cheering against for being Canadian), Philadelphia, and Washington. Seeing these teams go out in the first round would be great. If that happens they could be more likely to engage in a panic move for Kaberle and give up someone they never otherwise would. If I’m dreaming, I’ll say Karl Alzner, Cody Hodgson, or James Van Riemsdyk (okay, so these teams would have to be shelled 180-0 each game, whatever).


Oh, isn’t this cute, the Coyotes are doing so well this year after such a tumultuous history. People who like underdogs are probably all over this team. Well, I’m not. If we want to put this franchise back where it belongs in some barren-ass Canadian tundra then we can’t let Phoenix develop any sort of fan base. On the season the Coyotes are averaging less than 12,000 fans per game, but they averaged over 14,000 for the month of March and actually sold out a game against the Blackhawks. If the Coyotes make it deep in the playoffs they might actually develop a small fan base and Winnipeg will never get the Jets back. Plus, Gary Bettman doesn’t need to feel like he’s a successful commissioner. He needs to go, as do the Coyotes.

San Jose Futility

As a Leafs fan it makes me happy to see the ineptitude of the San Jose Sharks. Here’s one of the most successful regular season teams of the past decade and they just can’t seem to do anything in the playoffs. Maybe it’s because misery loves company, but I want Shark fans to feel as miserable as I do about the Leafs.

Who does that leave?

If we’re cheering against all those other teams than we’re left with Chicago, Nashville, LA, Detroit, New Jersey, Colorado, and Pittsburgh.

Let’s immediately eliminate Nashville. Sure, they’re a tremendous success (by that I mean they make the playoffs) every year despite working with a shoe-string budget, but they’re also in Nashville and I didn’t support expansion when it happened and I certainly don’t support those teams now. Plus, they have atrocious jerseys and I can’t support bad aesthetics. If the league were to contract four teams I’d let Nashville stay only if Carolina, Florida, Atlanta, and Phoenix left.

New Jersey are interesting. I like Brodeur and Parise, but I hate that boring hockey they play. If they actually let Parise play on a normal team he’d easily be considered one of the best players in the game. I don’t mean let him play an Atlanta Thrashers Kovalchuk style defence, but somewhere like Detroit where he can play as offensively as he likes, as long as he is responsible defensively. Not the NJ style of employing every forward as another defenceman. Because the Devils started the trap I can’t support them. They’re out, too.

I have nothing against Colorado, but they’ve limped into the playoffs and are probably headed out quickly. Cheer for them all you like, but it probably won’t last long.

People hate Detroit because they always win, but I think it’s a great organization that does things right. Plus, Datsyuk and Zetterberg are two of the most complete players in the game. Datsyuk is a wizard with the puck, yet is still one of the most defensively responsible forwards in the entire league. Zetterberg has a perpetual playoff beard. Also, they’re an original six team and the city of Detroit is hurting with the collapse of the auto industry.

LA is young and exciting. The downside is they play in LA. However, LA was once a big hockey city when Gretzky was there. I understand it was people just there because hockey was in, but whatever, I want hockey to be in. I don’t care if I personally fit in, but I desperately want hockey to. Plus, Drew Doughty is one of my favourite young players. LA is alright in my books.

The Pens have Sid. My Crosboner is well documented and after the Olympics I love him even more. I want nothing more for him to continue to be the tremendous player he is and crush everyone who makes the claim that he’s overrated. Yes, he’s only won a Stanley Cup, scored the OT winner for Olympic gold, won the Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, and Rocket Richard Trophy, but you’re right, he’s the most overrated 22-year-old.

Why the Blackhawks? Chicago is a cool city (plus, great sports city); the Hawks are an original six team; they have great jerseys; they’re a young and exciting team; they score a lot and thus we get to hear their great goal song a lot; and they’re the head of the hockey revival in America. If you need another reason to like them then look at their roster. Not only are 15 of their players Canadian, but they have Olympic heroes Toews, Keith, and Seabrook. Toews is my favourite non-Leaf next to Crosby. I don’t see what’s not to like.

I’m cheering for a Chicago-Pittsburgh final. If you’re a fan of the Leafs then you better have a really good reason for cheering on any team not named Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit, Colorado, or LA (Nashville and New Jersey are semi-acceptable).

If you’re in a hockey pool all bets are off. But if you load up on Habs and Sens have the decency to hope they score 30 points in a one round four game sweep.


Ted said...

The Leafs should be allowed in the playoffs just for the good of the province. I remember back in the good old days of semi-serviceable goaltending, and veteran rentals, and the Leafs actually stumbled into the playoffs, there was always an excited vibe over the city, and it's sad that we can't have that feeling again.

I agree with most of your picks, especially Pittsburgh, but Washington is going to annihilate Montreal in 4, and be set up for a rested 2nd round, so I see them going far.

Unknown said...

I'm cheering for the Caps, because Ovechkin deserves the cup.

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