Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Carolina Wins The Stanley Cup

After a tough seven game battle with Edmonton, the Carolina Hurricanes have won the Stanley Cup. Congratulations to Carolina and their fans. They are the Stanley Cup champions and they worked hard and deserve it (though they are a rather lacklustre champion).

Cam Ward wins the Conn Smythe, despite the fact I think he is a poor choice. Yes Ward played well, but do you actually think he was the best goalie in the playoffs? If he wasn't the best goalie in the playoffs how can he be MVP? I think that Dwayne Roloson and Ilya Bryzgalov both played better in the playoffs, although neither was around to raise the Stanley Cup. Ward was the surviving goalie. When everything was over, he was the only one left standing. He played well, but he wasn't the best in his position. If it was up to me, the Conn Smythe would have gone to Chris Pronger even in a losing cause.

Ward's Conn Smythe win is a fitting choice in some ways. While Carolina may have won the cup, they are not an elite team. While Ward may have won MVP, he wasn't the best goalie throughout the playoffs. That honor goes to Dwayne Roloson.

In the end, a small market southeastern team beat a small market Alberta team in the Stanley Cup finals. If we are to believe the NHL brass, we have the new CBA to thank for that. A final like that would have been impossible without it. In fact a final like that hadn't occurred since last time. I would argue that the CBA has not changed the type of market that makes the finals this year, but it has changed how good the team is. The teams are not as good.

In the end, I think the 2005/06 season will go down as a year of transition. It is the first year back from lockout. It is a year when the CBA imposed parity and is a year or two before the big market advantages of the CBA become significant. It is a transitional year when the NHL tried a bunch of new rules and new enforcement standards. In time, some of it will survive, but other parts will be thrown away and new changes will be brought in. It is also a transitional year in terms of the NHL's players. We saw retirements of many all time greats including Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier and Brett Hull. We saw a great rookie crop emerge. Some of them are likely to be hall of famers of tomorrow. Some are likely to fade away. I think hockey is lucky to have the likes of Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Hernik Lundqvist et al. While there were great individual season efforts by Jaromir Jagr, Joe Thornton, Nicklas Lidstrom. Miikka Kiprusoff and others, I think none will go down as all time great seasons. In the end, this season was not so much spectacular because of what happened on the ice as it is interesting because of what transitions the NHL is making. While I wish the NHL well, I am very skeptical on their changes. I hope it turns out for the best, but I have strong doubts. I think this process cost the NHL any great teams this year. When great teams start to emerge again, most likely they will be only in the biggest markets. I am uncertain if that will be as soon as next year or if it will be a longer wait. The NHL got back on the ice this year, but the biggest stories still took place in the boardroom off the ice.

Ward getting the Smythe says a lot about the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and the voting process. It should have been Brind'amour (although Pronger would be a justifiable choice). Brind'amour carried the team through 3.5 rounds, but a quiet performance in the last three games cost him the votes.
Ward was absolutely the right choice, but I agree, a case for Brind'amour can be made. But, you cannot give the Conn Smythe to a defenceman on a losing team. No way, that honour should only be reserved for losing Goaltenders.
The Conn Smythe is given to the most valuable player in the playoffs. There is no reason whatsoever that the most valuable player in the playoffs cannot be a defenseman on a losing team. I argue that in these playoffs Chris Pronger was the most valuable and he got snubbed.
I think a good case can be made for a bunch of players, but the Conn Smythe Trophy is for the most valuable player for his team in the playoffs not just in the playoffs. Ward was that person for the Canes. Pronger was probably high up in consideration for it too. Pisani would have also had to have been given some consideration with 14 goals.
While I enjoy your site and respect your opinion -"Lacklustre"? "Not an elite team"?

Most wins this season - regular season and playoffs combined.

I realize there is still a lot of anti-southern hockey bias out there, and while no one will confuse this team with the 80's Oil or 70's Isle, this IS a damn good TEAM.

Say what you want about this team, but we will be celebrating at the Big ATM tonight and no one can take that away from us here in Raleighwood.


Tony in Raleigh
It has to be a rare situation for a player on the losing team to deserve the Conn Smythe. No way Pronger deserved it that much. Big deal - a few point shots that someone tipped in. Most valuable player for Edmonton was Pisani for all those timely goals. I think the only debate was between Stillman and Ward. After that brutal giveaway by Stillman, Ward takes it. Goalie is always the standby choice.
Goalie is always the standby choice.

I take offence to this position, which does appear to have been held by the voters. They didn't know who to vote for, so they chose the "safe" goalie pick and got it wrong.

And if you think Prongers big contribution was a few point shots that someone tipped in you missed most of the game. What was most important was Pronger's play without the puck. He was the most dominant player defensively by a large margin. He hit. He blocked shots. He kept the best scorers in Carolina (or whomever Edmonton played) from creating too many chances. His biggest contribution was defensive. And despite that he led the Oilers in scoring.
I was rooting for Edmonton, but Carolina deserved the Cup (Brind'a)MORE.
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