Thursday, June 05, 2008

Detroit Wins The Stanley Cup

The Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup last night defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins four games to two in the finals. This gives me a respectable 10-5 record in my playoff predictions.

Detroit was the best team in the NHL this season. They were the first team to look dominant this season, the favorite at All Star break, the President's Trophy winner and the eventual cup champions. The team that I thought had the best chance to beat Detroit was the Anaheim Ducks after they got Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne back. But Anaheim did not make any playoff run this year. In the end, Detroit won because they were the best, most talented team in the league.

I do not think Detroit can be considered a favorite to repeat next season. At this point, I have no idea who will win the Stanley Cup next year, but Detroit is not without questions to address. Will they find an elite goalie? Dominik Hasek is too old and injured to be one and might retire this summer. Chris Osgood never was an elite goalie and at age 35 might also be on the downside of his career. Nicklas Lidstrom was my pick for MVP this season, but he is 38 years old and will have to start showing his age sometime soon. This should be a good team again next year, but I wouldn't predict a Stanley Cup repeat at this point.

With this cup, Detroit has won four Stanley Cups in eleven years. That is a remarkable achievement that shows how well the Red Wings organization is run. The only players who were on all four cup winners were Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty. All other players were replaced during the eleven year run. In fact, Darren McCarty spent two years playing with the Calgary Flames during the eleven year run (but they were non-cup years). The Detroit Red Wings have been run very well under Ken Holland (and before he was hired as general manager).

When I look back on this season, the biggest thing that I learned is contradictory to what I concluded last year: I don't believe that there will be a Sidney Crosby era in the NHL. Sidney Crosby is a very good player. I am not disputing that point, but I don't think people will call the next few years the Sidney Crosby era when they look back on them. Crosby will be one of the good players in the next few years, but it is unclear that he is going to be the best player next season. Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Nicklas Lidstrom all could have plausible cases made in their name that they are better players right now than Crosby. Other players such as Jarome Iginla, Vincent LeCavalier, Joe Thornton, Martin Brodeur and others all have some potential to take the Hart Trophy next season under the right circumstances. The truly great players who were good enough to have eras in their names, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe and arguably one or two more, were head and shoulders above their competition. It doesn't look like Sidney Crosby will ever reach that level. That doesn't stop Crosby from being a very good player. I think at this point in his career, Sidney Crosby might be projected to be as successful as (for example) Stan Mikita. That is an impressive comparison. Mikita is one of the best players ever to play hockey. However, there is no Stan Mikita era of hockey.

Of course all of this is speculative. It is hard to instantly put the 2008 Detroit Red Wings or Sidney Crosby into historical perspective. We do not know what the future will bring for either of them. However, at this point it looks like both are very good but neither will be seriously considered in a debate over who is the best of all time.

1) Folks seem to be throwing Crosby under the bus because he didn't captain his team to a Cup win at age 20?
2) Although we are NOT huge Crosby admirers, one has to give him credit for attaining feats that few have accomplished for someone so young. (No one had more points in this year's playoffs)
3) How many Cups did Lemiuex/Gretzky/Orr have by age 20? The other players you mention are all great in their own rights, but NONE were more dominant than Crosby at a similar age.
4) Lets see what he's done by 25 before determining if he'll merely be a Hall of famer or one of the greatest to ever play. If he doesn't win 2-3 MVP's/scoring titles and a Cup by then, then perhaps you'll have a point.
Its not "throwing a player unde3r the bus" to say that Crosby might be as good a player as Stan Mikita. Mikita won 4 Art Ross Trophies, 2 Hart Trophies, 2 Lady Byng Trophies. He is one of the best all time. I think Crosby will have a similar legacy.
looks to me like all you're really saying is that Crosby won't be one of the four or five best players of all time. That's not a terribly damning statement, as your Mikita example shows.
There's more to an "Insert Player Name" Era than simply being an excellent player. There's also the hype that goes with it, hype that has swirled around Crosby since he was 14. It's ridiculous to single out one so young for such heights, considering how many of those kids inevitably scale the impossible heights mapped out for them.

In that sense, I'd reluctantly agree with you about Crosby, except that his resume thus far is comparable to the few others who have lived up to that hype. In three years Crosby has done everything one could reasonably expect, and even reached some of the unreasonable things - a Stanley Cup finalist, league and playoff leading scorer, an MVP; moreover, he IS the face of the NHL and the current focus of a lot of their marketing to other sports' fans. In fact, I've read complaints from Detroit fans about the focus given Sid the Kid instead of to the Wings' team excellence and depth.

One could argue that among all the recent elite prodigies of sports, his first three years are ahead of Lemieux's, Orr's, Jordan's, LeBron's... in fact, ahead of pretty much everyones except Tiger Woods, whose 'sport' is individual and thus not reliant on good goaltending and teammates' efforts.

Projecting Crosby's numbers this season to 80 games (the average of his first two years) would give him 36-72=108 pts. The 72 assists would have lead the league. I think this is *already* the Sid Crosby Era, and that he will have to decline in order to lose that honor.
Sorry.... "many" should be "few" in that first paragraph. I edited but missed that one.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?