Back in my Cup predictions post, I had the Chicago Blackhawks going out in the semi-finals. You see, as I wrote, "in picking the Hawks, I'd also be dooming the Maple Leafs to take over as the team with the longest Cup drought in the NHL. That can't happen."
Well, now it's happened. Chicago has its first Stanley Cup since 1961. Technically, the Leafs are still just tied for the longest Cup drought. Toronto won in 66-67, and then the next season six new expansion teams joined the league. Of those six teams, the Penguins, Stars and Flyers all have won Cups. Two (the Kings and Blues) haven't, and the other one (California Seals) outright folded. So eat it, Kings and Blues! Share in our pain!
But really, a Blackhawk-supporting friend of mine made the good point that was there no reason to let the Leafs' drought turn one into a Hawk-hater. After all, he reasoned, it's not like the Leafs aren't going to hear ad nauseum about their Cup drought anyway. This is a positive way of looking at it. I'll take it a step further and note that Chicago's victory is a sign of how quickly things can turn around for a franchise. As few as four years ago, the Blackhawks were the joke of the league. But after a series of great drafts and shrewd free-agent pickups, here they are hoisting the Cup. It gives me hope that if Brian Burke and company are on the ball, that long-awaited Cup parade down Yonge Street could be happening by 2015.
Hey, who knows, the 2010 NHL Draft is just around the corner. Maybe the Leafs can get their Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane right here in this very dr...hmm? What's that? Oh right. Well, okay, maybe the Leafs can win in 2016.
(N.B. This is no consistently funnier hockey tradition than the sound of Gary Bettman being booed out of the building during the Cup presentation, no matter the home crowd. Bettman truly missed his calling in life as a heel pro wrestling manager.)
(Other N.B. Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook now both have Cups and Canadian Olympic gold medals in the same year. Outstanding.)
(Other other N.B. My Cup finals prediction, btw, was Washington over San Jose. Uh, yeah.)