Wednesday, June 07, 2017
Stanley Cup Finals-2017
With their win on Monday night, The Nashville Predators have evened the seriers with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The series now moves on to Pittsnurgh for one game, then back to Nashville. It is now a “Best out of three” series, and the the first team to win two games gets to hoist the Stanley Cup.
With their two convincing wins in Nashville, the Predators have taken the momentum away from the Penguins. They have a massive following in Nashville; it was reported that almost 50 000 fans stood outside the arena to catch the flavour of the game. Keep in mind that they are not exactly experiencing Ontario weather at this time. The city is in Tennessee, warm, sunny, free of pounding rain.
The Preds have gained one new and very prominent fan: Charles Barkley, from the basketball world. On a recent NBA telecast, I heard Barkley announce that he was leaving the booth to go back to his hotel room to watch hockey. It was a bit of a slap in the face to his game, and an endorsement of hockey.
On last night's telecast, Barkley was interviewed by a somewhat giddy Scott Oake. Oake was impressed by “Sir Charles”, and his interest in the game. The conversation ended when Barkley stated that of all the major sports, he loved the way hockey playoff games end: sudden death. No coin flip, no last bats, no running out the clock. The puck crosses the goal line, legitimately, and everybody goes home.
Distractions have become more pronounced in the year's playoffs. There is the usual bickering and whining. But other ingrediendts have been thrown into the mix this year. Take Listerine, as an example. Huh?
Sidney Crosby of the Penguins supposedly accused P. K. Subban of the Preds of having bad breath. I assume he ascetained this during a heated argument. Naturally, Crosby denied the allegation, with a smile. Subban was last seen lugging a bag full of Listerine down the hall in the arena. Talk about subliminal advertising!
Distractions have been part of the process for time immemorial. I vaguely remember an Aesop fable when a crow talked a fox out of a piece of cheese, by telling him how beautiful he looked. There are so many instances in hockey involving split second timing, and intense concentration. Getting the jump in a face off is so important, as an example.
Rick Meagher once told me the most difficult opponent to face off against was the Los Angeles Kings' Bernie Nicholls. “When we were getting ready for the puck to drop, he would start talking about all the new rides and attractions at Disneyland. He was just being sociable, but it was most distracting!”
They now have coaches being interviewed at stoppages in play. They have reporters in between the benches to “capture the flavour of the game”, with a delay on the audio, hopefully. There are players being “Mic'ed up” during the game. There are cameras running in dressing rooms before the games, in the intermissions. All of these things are unnecessary distractions. Not required.
But a little input from “Sir Charles” never hurts.
June 6, 2017.