I want to say congratulations to the Anaheim Ducks franchise, Brian Burke, Randy Carlyle, the players, staff and fans on their first Stanley Cup championship. Your organization did a fantastic job and proved that "old time hockey" can still be used to hoist that battered old mug.
It was awesome to hear the sheer excitement of the Ducks fans, both during and after the game. Even better than the TV coverage was XM radio's postgame call in show, where listeners were treated to enthusiastic and rabid SoCal hockey fans. Part of me wished I was in Anaheim and the other part of me was busy dreaming about how much I'd enjoy it if Lord Stanley makes a return to Broad Street.
I thought the Ducks on ice ceremony-allowing the players family to take photos with the Cup and allowing the media to mill about-was also pretty classy. Nice to have a celebration in a nice wide open space with fans instead of a cramped dressing room.
So, Anaheim, Enjoy. You earned it.
Now, I also want to pass Congratulations to the Ottawa Senators organization. They did not go quietly. As much as they feel their guts are ripped out today, they need to hold their heads up high.
Take the loss as a learning experience. The guys you shared the ice with this series lost in 2003. Wayne Gretzky's Oilers' Dynasty lost to the Islanders in the finals and learned an invaluable lesson from it. Do the same.
Remember, as bad as you feel, there's 28 other teams that would probably happily trade spots with you right now.
Now, that the Off Season is upon us, it's time to look at comings and goings. Changes, old faces in new places, hockey fans scrambling to re-read the CBA to understand the compensation for offer sheets tendered to RFAs....
That said, TEN FEARLESS PREDICTIONS
1. Despite a lot of noise about poor on ice officiation in the NHL playoffs, nothing substantial will be done to correct the issue.
2. Peter Forsberg will become the NHL's Roger Clemens, missing camps and returning sometime after Christmas.
3. The continued "partnership" with NBC and Versus will be a millstone around the neck of the NHL.
4. Forcing every team to adopt new Jerseys will cause yet another rise in the salary cap for the 2008-09. After that, we may well see the first salary cap DECREASE, unless the NHLPA hires a fire breathing leader.
5. The NHLPA will hire a Fire breathing leader.
6. Chris Chelios will play, and continue to be a classless schmuck
7. Mark Messier will cry at his HHOF induction.
8. Buffalo will keep Briere, Lose Vanek
9. First GM fired? Dale Tallon, replaced by Bob Pulford, again...Michel Therrien will be the first coach fired
10. Most likely to be traded at the entry draft? Manny Fernandez and Geoff Sanderson.