While I would much rather be rooting for the Sabres in the playoffs, it's possible that it might be kind of fun to watch the playoffs with no real emotional investment. I can hop on a bandwagon and not be devastated if that bandwagon derails some time in the next couple of months. I'll just hop on another one. So because I know you're all dying to know, let's take a look at who Heather B. will be cheering for on the Western side of things.
Before we get started, I will say that this is all sure to change once I actually start watching games especially in the Western Conference where I really know very little about the teams. Every post-season I find myself cheering for someone I never really predicted (never at the expense of the Sabres of course). Last year it was Marty Turco and the Dallas Stars. And sometimes, if a match-up is really bad, I find myself getting sucked into a team and then looking back and wondering what I was thinking. Last year I was fully behind the Ducks in the Finals even though I don't really hate the Sens and I can boil it down to a few very basic reasons: The brutal loss to the Sens was too fresh as was my outrage at Daniel Alfredsson's boarding of Henrik Tallinder and I really warmed to the stories of J.S. Giguere's sick baby, Teemu Selanne flying all his childhood friends in from Finland to watch the Finals and Scott and Rob Niedermayer winning a Cup together. Now I hate the Ducks. I really disliked Selanne and Niedermayer's half retirements and I think Chris Pronger is a blight on the NHL (how I overlooked that, I don't know). I can't believe I was rooting for them. But I was. Behold the power of the Playoff Goggles. Anyway... all that to say, this is where I stand now but don't hold me to it.
1. DETROIT RED WINGS
I know some people hate the Red Wings because they've won so many Cups and I know a few people who still hate them for how much press they got during that run. And I know some people around here hate them because of Dominik Hasek. I wasn't really following hockey very closely during their last run or during most of Hasek's Buffalo career so I have no real beef with the Red Wings. In fact, I'd be fine with them winning for one reason.
Seriously, loving defense the way I do, how could I not love Nick Lidstrom? He's amazing. He boggles my mind. He's so good on both the defensive and offensive sides and he's been that good for a long time now. I wish we played him more often because I would love to watch him in person where I could just focus on him and what he's doing on the ice. On top of being amazingly talented, he never resorts to dirty play and he seems like a heck of a nice guy. So yeah, I could get behind seeing him with another Stanley Cup if it comes to that.
2. SAN JOSE SHARKS
This is a heart-breaker because I really do like the Sharks. I like Evgeni Nabokov and I love Joe Thornton. I'd like to see them do well. But they went and added Brian Campbell and guys, I don't think I can handle Brian Campbell winning a Stanley Cup. I can't handle a summer of Bucky Gleason crowing (because that's what he'd be doing) about how the great and wonderful Campbell was mistreated by Buffalo and went on to bigger and better things with an organization that really cares about its team and players. And just when I was thinking maybe I could handle it because once upon a time I did really like Brian Campbell and I thought maybe my heart would soften a little once I actually saw him hoisting that Cup with his big ear-to-ear grin, I read an article that included this quote from him: “I wanted to stay in Buffalo, we all did,” Campbell said after the trade that made a very good San Jose team even better. “Buffalo didn’t want to pay us.”
That quote made me totally cranky. First of all, way to speak for everyone who has ever left Buffalo. Second of all, way to look stupid doing it since in a couple of cases Buffalo did want to pay them and the players just chose to go elsewhere. And third of all, is it that hard to just go away gracefully? Really? I feel like that's not really asking that much.
So while it is with much sadness that I cast aside the Sharks and Brian Campbell, cast them aside I will. (I hope you do great, Joe.)
3. MINNESOTA WILD
Let's see... Here's what I know about the Wild. Marion Gaborik and Mikko Koivu play for them and their jerseys are very Christmas-y. (I like them although it is a little excessive when paired with the green pants.) I have nothing against them in theory and I think Minnesota would adore having a Cup champion so that's cool. But I always hear about them playing defensive hockey and that worries me. If I sit down to watch them play and it's like watching Boston, I'm out. No way I can get behind that.
4. ANAHEIM DUCKS
I hate just about everyone on this team so no thanks. I disliked Selanne and Niedermayer playing half the season and I hated the way the media slobbered all over Niedermayer's triumphant return. I despise the way Chris Pronger is handled with kid gloves and constantly getting special treatment no matter how dangerous his actions are to other players. And while this is not directly related, I think one of the funniest moments of the season was J.S. Giguere actually ducking a shot that then sailed over him and into the net. What a doofus. I wish I could find video because it was hysterical. Anyway, Ducks... It was nice rooting for you guys last season but I'm sorry to say, it was just a fling.
Stay tuned for part 2!