Well folks, buckle up.
I haven’t seen a city this giddy with potential success for quite a few years. Maybe 2003 when the West Coast Express was in its heyday. And that reminds me: the awards that they don’t have trophies for.
The NHL has lots of hardware to hand out in Vegas this year and of course the Conn Smythe will go to the MVP in the post season. But there will be a number of unofficial awards handed out in the playoffs this year.
For example (and this is what reminded me) who will win the Todd Bertuzzi Foot In Big Mouth Award? After the Nucks went up three games to one in 2003, Bert mouthed off to Minnesota fans saying essentially, “don’t bother getting tickets for a potential game six. We’ll end it in five in Vancouver.”
You remember what happened. We lost in seven. And you think maybe Jacques Lemair had pointed out Bert’s words to the troops before they played game five in Vancouver. Ah, yeah.
Back in 1994 I talked to Geoff Courtnall after the Canucks nearly (F#^$%ing goal posts) came back all the way. I asked Geoff about game five in New York when the Canucks started the big comeback. He told me about arriving in Manhatten and seeing the streets blocked off in preparation for the PARADE.
As in Stanley Cup Parade. Geoff said the Canucks got the jolt of juice they needed. It just didn’t last long enough for Nathan Lafayette to wire that shot about an inch on the inside.
So who will unwittingly motivate the opposition this year? My advice? Just keep mouthing platitudes about what a great opponent the other guys are.
Or how about the Steve Smith award? That one bad play that seems to cost a team the Stanley Cup. Remember poor old Steve making the bonehead cross ice pass that went in off the back of Fuhr’s leg?
Like back in the day when Gretzky was leading the Oilers to a certain Cup win by taking the first two games in Montreal…until Jacques Demairs called for a measurement on Marty McSorley’s stick. It was dirty and the Habs tied it up on the late PP. They won it in OT, one of the 13 OTs that Patrick Roy took that year. Way to go Marty.
Speaking of goalies, they are often candidates for the Smythe trophy. But who will win the Mike Vernon award (also called the Chris Osgood Award) given out annually to the tender who costs a very good team the Cup by being a sieve. A lot of people are picking Osgood again this year. But look out Jose Theodore.
Or how about the John Druce Award! Druce came out of nowhere to score something like nine goals in five games. I think Steve Bernier wouldn’t mind winning that one.
Of course there is the Don Cherry Award. And to be fair to Cherry, he’s never shied away from this one. His Bruins were all set to eliminate the mighty Habs when Boston got the dreaded too-many-men on the ice penalty. Guy Lafleur scored on the PP to tie it up and the Canadiens won it in OT. That was pretty much it for the Bruins…and the beginning of the end for Cherry in Beantown. We’ve had something like ten of those penalties this year.
Goats and heroes. Go pick ‘em.