Baffoe: A Hockeyless Stanley Cup Final Preview
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By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Stanley Cup Finals preview pieces abound, and readers can get so inundated with them that the columns and articles and features become like vegetables to a six year old.
But some are actually pretty good, a grilled asparagus if you will. Others are TV dinner creamed lima beans oozing onto your Salisbury steak. Mine will be somewhere in between, likely leaning toward that peas/carrots/corn medley that nobody bothers to complain about.
No Chicago player vs. Boston player. No goalie comparisons. No power play analysis. Hey, wait, come back!
You can break that stuff down until your skin becomes one of Don Cherry’s suits and the randomness of the game will make it all go to pot. (And that phrase sounds oddly Canadian. See what I mean?) Instead, let’s look at the all-important, all-determining intangibles. Because, really, what the hell do any of us know about what will happen in a series between two teams that didn’t even play a member of one another’s conference in the regular season, let alone each other.
MATCHUP: Men in suits
Bruins head coach Claude Julien looks like the saddest pencil eraser ever. Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville owns a mustache that has achieved near sainthood in a town that has long revered some solid upper lip noise. Both men have extremely hockeyish names, but I can’t hear “Claude” without thinking of nauseating fruit cake. And Julien’s staff hates beer!
STICK TAP? Blackhawks
Puck Daddy once surmised that the Bruins goal song is the worst in the Eastern Conference (and probably the whole NHL). “Chelsea Dagger” has reached “Tiny Dancer” status for me. By that I mean a song I once enjoyed that has been ruined for me by overkill, as Elton John’s song was when featured in the film Almost Famous and a new generation of people played it—and, worse, sang along to it very drunkenly and loudly — 75 times a night at every social gathering for two years after. But just as I still enjoy that film, I like when the Hawks score goals and will gladly trade a song for goal lights.
As for old-timey happy hockey tunes, the Bruins use “Nutty” by The Ventures, which isn’t terrible, but it is a surf tune—not very hockey. “Here Come the Hawks” at least has words and can bring you together with your grandparents in a hip-swiveling, arms akimbo dance party.
Oh, and the United Center has the best version of a national anthem tradition ever (and it will be a topic of conversation nationally, mostly to puzzled people who wonder if it’s an affront to America).
STICK TAP? Blackhawks.
MATCHUP: Voices of God
The UC has the great Gene Honda, he also of White Sox games, DePaul basketball, and slapping you in the face with his tote bag on PBS, amongst other gigs. TD Garden has Kelly Malone. Gene Honda does not look as nice as Kelly Malone. This should come down to the better voice—which Honda has—but I have a crush on the pretty lady.
STICK TAP? [insert your own dirty joke] Bruins.
MATCHUP: Fear Factor
When it comes to intimidating figures, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is a freakish ogre of a man thing. He likely ate several wandering children in his Slovakian cave prior to being harnessed by the New York Islanders in 1996. Steve Rushin wrote in last week’s Sports Illustrated, “He cuts a terrifying figure on the ice, seven feet tall on skates, sliding in and out of frame like an Easter Island statue on casters. In the off-season he enjoys a spot of recreational wrestling to keep in shape. His father, Zdenek, was a Greco-Roman wrestler for Czechoslovakia in the 1976 Summer Olympics.” What’s supposed to make the Bruins quake in their skates? Um… the guy affectionately known as Gorilla Salad?
STICK TAP? Bruins.
Blades the Bruin would be inferior in any matchup based solely on calling himself a bruin instead of a bear (this is America, son). Tommy Hawk hangs out with Kaner, which means he likes to party. The Blackhawks Ice Crew as a collective “shovels ice” better than the Bruins Ice Girls (“shoveling ice” is a euphemism for removing excess frozen water from the playing surface).
STICK TAP? Blackhawks
MATCHUP: Superstitious and shaveless
Playoff beards should be ugly, not kempt. Looking at you, Patrick Sharp. Ohmygoshthoseeyes… ehem…
STICK TAP? Blackhawks
MATCHUP: Local news garbage that will overshadow the series
STICK TAP? Al Qaeda.
MATCHUP: Local announcers who put in work all season and then don’t get to participate in all this
Pat Foley is beloved in Chicago. He’s been honored in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has one of the best in-game rants of all time. He’s not afraid to appreciate a good penis pun. Along with fellow Chicago native Eddie Olczyk, the two make up a solid broadcast. Ditto the Hawks radio team of the really good John Wiedeman and also cheeky Troy Murray who have gotten me through more than one night of being stuck listening to a game in a car.
The Bruins have the extremely weird Jack Edwards who has compared winning a regular season game to victory in the Revolutionary War, compared an opposing player to a Kennedy assassin, compared a player to law enforcement stepping into the line of fire and vomited so much inappropriate gravitas as to make Jim Nantz wretch, and whatever the hell this was.
STICK TAP? Blackhawks and a flamethrower
MATCHUP: More important dead people
Chicago is pretty much known for being the best American city at killing people, even while police are making strides and reducing the number of murders in 2013 from 2012. But none of our murders get qualified as acts of terrorism because, well, the country is largely apathetic toward minorities killing minorities. You probably won’t hear or read any stories about the Hawks helping to heal the broken hearts of Hadiya Pendleton’s loved ones or bringing Humboldt Park back to a sense of normalcy. Whereas regarding the Bruins that is one of the biggest storylines. Be ready for tragedy milking until your own nipples hurt.
STICK TAP? Bruins and not your sanity.
MATCHUP: Twitter apologies
STICK TAP? Blackhawks.
MATCHUP: Stupid superfluous political wagers
Happens in playoff series all the time. A politician from one area has his interns go on a scavenger hunt for food items that most people of that area don’t eat or drink anyway to put on the line against the opposing area’s geographic fare. It’s all really cute and dumb, and most of the time the pols involved know jack squat about the team they supposedly represent. So what’s being tied to the Blackhawks this time? Deep dish? Hot dogs? Bullets? How about from Boston? Clam chowder? Irish babies?
“The loser of this gentleman’s wager will volunteer at a food bank of the winner’s choice. As his charity, Quinn has selected the Greater Chicago Food Depository if the Blackhawks win. Patrick has chosen the Greater Boston Food Bank if the Bruins win.”
STICK TAP? My warming cynical heart
So while it’s close, based on everything that isn’t actually on the ice it would seem the Cup should be property of the Blackhawks. I was correct in my prediction for the Kings series, but I don’t know if I’m that good twice in a row. Ah, hell. Blackhawks in seven. Have fun, everybody.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa before earning his degree from Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @TimBaffoe , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.