It’s always good when there’s a game seven in the Stanley Cup finals. it makes players, owners, program sellers, hot dog vendors, and Gary Bettman very happy. Seven games means money for some, honour and jubilation for others. Seven games means jitters for players and fans of the teams involved. And at seven games, wives and non-fans across Canada and parts of the US ask the usual burning question – you mean it isn’t over yet?
There will be a big, honkin game seven of the Stanley Cup finals to be played on Friday night to cap the hockey year, and yes, it’s a biggy, but I’m not going to use the old battle-scarred line about how we used to play road hockey and dream of scoring the winning goal in the seventh game of the finals as we shot the ball or puck past the goalie and yonder into a snowbank. That’s been done before. Hey wait, I think I just used it again!
European players didn’t, for the longest time, dream about the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals, and this is no steroptypical assumption. They readily admit it. Often. Many probably still dream more about the Olympics and the Worlds. From Minsk to Moscow, all players thought about was making the Russian National team and getting screamed at by a succession of coaches beginning way back with Anatoli Tarasov in the 1950’s. European players put their heads on their pillows and dreamed of holding up medals from the Olympics and World Championships. I think soccer was more important to them than the NHL way over in North America.
But I think a lot of them are getting it now. They’ve read the stories, like the one you’re reading now, and have decided that yes indeed, the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals most certainly beats meeting Slovakia for the World Championship before six thousand people.
My wife’s son asked me on the phone recently from St. Petersburg, Russia, “Are you sad that Canada lost?” I didn’t know what he was talking about, then I clued in he meant the World Championships that had just ended. No I wasn’t sad. I was too busy trying to figure out why the Habs stunk this year to be concerned with such matters.
On Friday, June 12, the NHL season will be over when the Cup arrives and we hope nobody drops it. Of course, the game could go into a few periods of overtime, then it would be early June 13th. Then the NHL awards crop up on June 18 in Las Vegas, the amateur entry draft in Montreal on June 26-27, and the dealing with unrestricted free agents begins in earnest, meaning that there will be more hockey news this summer. But there should be no skating and shooting. At least none that I’m aware of.
I just hope this seventh game is a beauty. Don’t forget, two games ago in Detroit, the score was 5-0. We don’t want that. We want a close, hard-fought barnburner with the losing team storming the net in the last minute.
I don’t even care who wins. That part left me when the Habs bowed out.
And imagine, in Gary Bettman’s perfect world, someday we could see a seventh game Stanley Cup final between Phoenix and Atlanta. And the sound of TV’s clicking off all over hockeydom would be heard loud and clear.