Once again, as has happened every year since the inception of hockey, the glorious Detroit Red Wings have emerged victorious in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.This season was a very memorable run as the Wings had to overcome incredible adversity to repeat as champions for the 104th year in a row.
At the conclusion of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, all-world center Pavel Datsyuk was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the playoff MVP. Datsyuk broke his previous playoff record of 99 goals by scoring an even 100 this year, as well as being a plus-120 and creating a turnover on every shift. All of this while playing without a left eye, which he lost while stopping a bank robbery and saving 20 lives before the playoffs started.
Datsyuk beat out the early favorite for the Conn Smythe, His Highness Jimmy Howard, who had a slightly less successful postseason than regular season. His postseason GAA of 0.00 was stellar, but was still not as good as his –0.75 GAA from the regular season. Rookie Howard’s 16 shutouts tied his own record, set during one of his earlier rookie seasons, but were one shy of the 17 shutouts he promised a special fan early in the playoffs. He made the promise of the 17th shutout after talking to 10-year-old Timmy Landers, who was dying of brain cancer. While it’s not known whether it was Jimmy Howard’s promise or just his presence in the room that cured Timmy’s cancer, what is known is that for the first time in history, Jimmy Howard told a lie, which apparently didn’t sit well with the Conn Smythe judges.
This year’s tournament was an exciting brand of hockey, and although the opposing teams are far too inconsequential to even mention or remember, what will be remembered is the heart and courage shown by fan favorite and living saint Sir Todd Bertuzzi. Although Bertuzzi had been hobbled during the postseason tournament due to donating a kidney to a sick woman who he had never met, he was able to score 60 goals and foil a terrorist plot to blow up Joe Louis Arena, which has never had an empty seat for a Wings game. Bertuzzi’s highlight-reel goals, each of which was dedicated to a different orphaned child, thrilled the crowd and will be shown on permanent loop on CBC for the next year.
To emerge victorious this season, the Wings had to tackle adversity that no other team had to deal with. Injuries played a prominent role in the Wings inability to top last year’s pace of 17 goals per game. In fact, it wasn’t known until after the playoffs were over and the Cup was raised that international celebrity and supermodel Dan Cleary had played the entire last two rounds of the playoffs dead, with only a defibrillator in his uniform to keep him going.
“Dan’s will to win the Cup was greater than his will to live,” said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who donated his season’s salary to a battered women’s shelter. “Dan showed during these playoffs that the heart of a champion doesn’t need to be beating to be successful.”
Another hardship the Wings had to deal with that no other team had to face was the obvious biased refereeing in favor of the Wings’ opponents. In Game 3 of the Wings second-round series, they had to kill off a whopping two power plays. As always, the Wings’ penalty killers were up to the task, but the fact that these penalties were even called were a shock to the players, fans and decent God-fearing human beings everywhere. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman conducted an immediate investigation into the penalties, and it was determined that the referee who made the call was not only in error, but was the grandson of a man who was acquitted of being a communist in 1954. The referee was fired from the league and shortly after died in a solo boating accident.
With the Wings’ players names once again placed on the Stanley Cup after what is being called the “The Infinitypeat,” the only question remaining is how many of these beloved and future Hall-of-Fame players will be back next year for another Cup victory. Captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who immediately went to donate his time at a homeless shelter after the Cup victory, is an unrestricted free agent, which according to the NHL’s new rules means that he can sign with the Red Wings for any amount he requests and not have it count against the salary cap. In all likelihood he will return, because he doesn’t age or require sleep, but only time will tell which Red Wings players will be putting their names on the Lord Stanley’s Cup next year.