Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Who's Going to Win the Stanley Cup in 2010?
That question has been uttered more than a few times lately, as the playoffs continue. The frontrunners are now on the beaches, and on the fourteenth tee. It truly is anyone’s guess who will sip from the silver goblet at the end of the hockey journey.
Four contenders remain: Montreal, Philadelphia, San Jose, and Chicago.
Of the four, only San Jose has yet to experience the thrill of hoisting the Cup.
Many local fans remember the night when the Chicago Black Hawks last won the Cup in 1961. They were strong, and young, and looked to win many more championships after that occasion. But that was not the case. They came close a few times, but the cigar has been unlit since that time.
The captain of the Hawks was Eddie Litzenberger. He had begun his career as a Hab in the 1954-55 season, and is the only winner of the Calder Trophy as the rookie of the year during the season in which he was traded. He was shipped off to Chicago, and had a most productive career in the Windy City. He also won a couple of Cups with the leafs in 1963 and 1964.
Some of Eddie’s teammates on the Hawks included: Glenn Hall, Moose Vasko, Chico Maki, Al Arbour, Eric Nesterenko, the Balfours-Earl and Murray. Murray played on the “Million Dollar Line” with Hull and Bill Hay. Murray Balfour was later traded to the Bruins, and began complaining of constant fatigue. Tests revealed he had inoperable lung cancer, and he died two months later at the age of 28.
The Philadelphia Flyers are getting teary-eyed reminiscing about their glory days as the “Broad Street Bullies”. Bobby Clarke has appeared in front of microphones discussing the fortunes of his beloved Flyers. He has fought the wars on the ice, and in the boardrooms. He knows the pitfalls. The Flyers last tasted champagne in 1975, after winning the second consecutive Cup.
Clarke was the team captain, and led by example. Although saddled with diabetes, he soldiered on and played the game for keeps. His cast of teammates included: Dave Schultz, Bob Kelly, Bernie parent, Moose Dupont, Rick MacLeish, Terry Crisp, Jimmy Watson, and Bill Barber.
The Flyers were a team to be feared, and they nourished that reputation. At one point in that year, the Russian National Hockey Team refused to take the ice in the third period of a game because of the intimidating tactics of the Flyers. And yes, they always had Kate Smith to give them a little advantage with her rendition of “God Bless America”. Nothing has changed. They played that tape before the first game in Philly, when the Flyers blasted the Habs 6-0!
The Habs won the Cup in 1986. At that time, Hall of Famer Patrick Roy was at the top of his game. Bob Gainey captained the team. Other notables on the squad were: Rick Green, Bobby Smith, Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and a few nasty ones-John Kordic, Chris Nilan, and Claude Lemieux.
Although he resigned his post with the Habs as General manager during the season, Gainey is still in the upper perches of the arenas watching intently. There must be some personal satisfaction for him in knowing that he had some role in building the club.
And then there are the Sharks. This is a band of fine players, yet to taste the bubbly from the Cup. This may be the year for JoeThornton, Dan Boyle, Evgeni Nabokov, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley. They are in tough against the young Hawks.
My prediction? Forget about it, as far as team selection, But I will predict great hockey, no matter who takes the ice. Enjoy!