Patriotic schtickwork

The title is a hockey pun, in case you’re wondering (and you probably are).

Niedermayer brothers hoist the cupThe Stanley Cup playoffs ended last night when the Anaheim Ducks eliminated the Ottawa Senators, four games to one.

It was a disappointing finish for Canadians who love the game:  no Canadian team has won the Cup since Montreal’s victory in 1993. Thank goodness for Don Cherry’s patriotic schtickwork on Hockey Night In Canada!

Cherry has become something of a caricature of himself: collars ever wider, suits ever more garish, mangling European names, extolling on-ice violence, expressing annoyance with host Ron MacLean, perpetually praising himself, and, uh … what have I left out? … oh yes, commenting on hockey games.

Did I mention “mangling European names”? It’s the flip side of Cherry’s bias in favour of Canadian hockey players. Last night, he kept an annual playoff tradition alive by commenting:

I just want you to know the leading scorers in the playoffs are Canadians; the two goaltenders are Canadians; … most of the Anaheim Ducks … Ottawa’s the same thing, mostly Canadians. MVPs are always Canadian. … [But] wait’ll you see the stiffs draft Europeans.

So what if Ottawa lost, Anaheim won, and the Cup resides south of the border? A bunch of Canadian boys have bragging rights this morning.

Frankly, I like Cherry’s pro-Canada schtick. Canadians are humble, even self-deprecating, to a fault. We don’t wave our flag or blow our own horn much. In that respect, Cherry’s conduct isn’t very Canadian. He really believes that Canada is the best!

AlfredssonBut this year, Cherry’s schtick shot wide of the net. He should have singled out the Sens’ Swedish captain, Daniel Alfredsson, as a notable exception to his anti- European smear.

Blame the North American players for the Sens’ loss:  Spezza, Heatley, Redden, and Emery all had some bad moments in the finals. You certainly can’t blame Alfredsson:  although Leaf fans will never admit it, Alfredsson arguably deserved the Conn Smythe trophy (for playoff MVP). (Five times, a player from the losing team has won the Conn Smythe.)

Alfredsson scored more goals (14) than anyone else in this year’s playoffs, and he did everything in his power to inspire his team to victory. In past years, the Senators have crumpled when the going got tough:  this year, Alfredsson showed an indomitable spirit through to the bitter end (two goals last night).

Hockey has lots of European superstars, but no team with a European captain has ever won the Stanley Cup. Through three rounds of this year’s playoffs, it looked like the Ottawa Senators might have become the first. Alfie would have deserved the honour.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Knotwurth Mentioning
    Jun 07, 2007 @ 10:41:27

    Forgot to mention that Alfie ended up tied for the lead in points, too, and since the tiebreaker in this instance is number of goals, that means he beats out Heatley in points, too, which is deserved in my opinion since Heatley was so very terrible in the last series of the playoffs.

    That also puts the top line 1-2-3 in scoring, which begs the question: Will the team take the gamble of keeping them around as a unit? I dunno……..


  2. Stephen
    Jun 07, 2007 @ 11:56:56

    Ottawa was 1-2-3 in scoring, but lost to Anaheim. I think Niedermayer was a good choice for the Conn Smythe (I’m glad it didn’t go to Giguerre), but the truth is, no one Duck stood out from the others.

    Selanne didn’t deliver anything like a remarkable performance. Pronger was the other obvious candidate for standout: but he got suspended twice, and Anaheim won both games with him out of the lineup! The much-vaunted “checking” line did most of the damage for Anaheim, but their contribution was spread pretty evenly between the three forwards.

    It’s highly unusual for a team to be so dominant without any obvious choice for the Conn Smythe.


  3. Ozymandias
    Jun 08, 2007 @ 03:54:03

    The Ducks are a solid team.


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