It’s over! It’s finally over! I wouldn’t normally be happy for hockey to end, but I am EXHAUSTED! After dealing with a pandemic, an increased workload at my job, the unknowns of the NHL season, then several games a day for over a month, I’m so ready for a nap. I understand that there is no definite answer about when hockey will be back, but I’ll worry about that after I rest for a little while.
Now that the 2019-20 season is over after almost a full 365 days since it started, it’s time for me to bring back What the Hell Wednesday to share with you my thoughts, opinions, feelings, criticisms, and overall judgement of the last two months. This What the Hell Wednesday is going to be kind of all over the place, but I will do my best to organize it in true Alana fashion.
Congratulations to the 2020 Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning!
It might come as a surprise to a lot of people, but I was cheering for the Lightning during the final! Yes, I am a part time Stars fan, as I like to call myself, but I believed the Lightning were leaps and bounds the better team of the two and deserved to win the Cup. I don’t know much about the team (I’m excited to learn more about them during the offseason!), but I knew that they were amazing and they definitely needed a redemption from last year’s sweep in the first round. They also played a game that included 5 overtimes – FIVE! That alone makes them worthy of Lord Stanley! (Well, maybe not, but still – FIVE OT!)
One note: I refuse to acknowledge Pat Maroon as a 2x Stanley Cup Champion. He gave me bad vibes last year with the Blues – it’s the Blues, they all gave me bad vibes – and my bad vibes were confirmed by some people on Twitter. Sorry, Maroon. You’re not Sidney Crosby. You’re not Evgeni Malkin. You are most definitely NOT 2x Stanley Cup Champion Phil Freaking Kessel! Shut the hell up about your back to back Cups. Bye Pat.
Oh boy, here we go. I have a lot of love for the Dallas Stars – especially all of the guys who have played or currently play for the Texas Stars – but I also have a lot of criticism about them. I believe I’m on record saying that the Dallas Stars are like my step child. I love them because I’m married to their father, but I’m also going to critique every single thing they do.
The Dallas Stars did not deserve to be in the Stanley Cup Final. Period. The Western Conference Champion title should currently belong to the Colorado Avalanche. (However, kudos to Baby Star Joel Kiviranta on that OT goal against Colorado!) The current Stars roster was not the best roster in the Western Conference – not by a long shot. I love Anton Khuodbin so much! But he did not perform at the level that a Stanley Cup Champion goalie should be performing. He did incredible for the circumstances, and he should be very proud of himself, but there were way too many goals scored for my liking during the entire playoffs. And don’t get me started on the ABSENT offense of the Dallas Stars! Ugh, their offense makes me so mad. The only offense that exists for the Dallas Stars are two new guys in their mid-30’s who played for California teams up until this season. And the other guy scoring the most goals is a 21 year old defenseman.
Speaking of those three guys, I do believe that honorary Stanley Cup Championship titles should be awarded to Joe Pavelskis, Corey Perry, and Miro Heiskanen. They absolutely blew me away during every round of the playoffs! Perry already has a Stanley Cup, but he deserves another! Even though I’m glad Pavelski lost in 2016 (because that meant my team won!), he is an incredible player and definitely deserves his name on the Cup! Heiskanen is magnificent and deserves all the hype and praise! However, if the Stars had won and Miro didn’t win the Conn Smythe, I WOULD RIOT. I might still riot because they didn’t award it to him – even though he was on the losing team.
I do love the Dallas Stars, I do. My extreme criticism and love/hate relationship with the Stars deserves its own blog post, but we’ll save that for another day. I do think that the Stars should be very proud of themselves for their accomplishments in the bubble! They also need to remember that they overcame adversity when their coach was fired mid-season for personal reasons, and they were a part of a fantastic Winter Classic to kick off the strange 2020 year! Moving past all of my criticisms, I am proud of the Stars, and I wish I could have been sitting in AAC for every part of these playoffs.
It seems as though Bubble Hockey was a success! Major kudos goes to the NHL for developing and executing an incredible environment for the playoffs! While the fake crowd noise was a little strange and it was a little too quiet when the Bolts won, I thought the giant screens, fan interactions, and overall production was fantastic!
It was also great to hear that there were zero positive tests during the entirety of the bubble! However, I’m interested to learn more about what resources there were for mental health in the bubble. Some people can thrive in a bubble situation. My husband is one of those people, for example. If someone told him “we’ll give you a room and food and you’re only responsibility for the next two months is to be as productive as possible at your job”, he would be signed up in a heartbeat. But I would say there are more people who do not thrive off a bubble situation. They thrive off of recharging from their work with their families or by sleeping in their own bed or their routines they have at home. It also had to be incredibly difficult for guys to go from the extreme of being quarantined with the same people for months and then go to the other extreme of being away from those people for months. I really hope that the NHL provided great resources to players, coaches, and staff for help with their mental health while being in the bubble.
While bubble hockey was a great alternative for this year’s playoffs, I’m hoping we won’t ever have a bubble hockey situation in the future! I miss seeing teams’ home arenas on TV, and I miss much, much more being in arenas! Even if this whole crazy situation isn’t over in the next few months, I hope there will be a way for fans to be able to be a part of sporting events in the months ahead.
Can we chill out now?
After two straight months of watching hockey almost every single day, I’m tired. We’re all tired. And now the draft is coming and free agency is coming and our teams are going to make really stupid decisions. (Wait, is that just MY TEAM doing that right now?!) We all need to remember to take a breath, step back from Hockey Twitter for a little while, and step outside and enjoy the fall weather (or fake fall weather, as someone who lives in Texas likes to say).
Remember that hockey is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to bring joy and a little bit, sometimes a lot of bit, of frustration. Remember that just because your team did not thrive in the bubble does not mean they’re terrible or they’re doomed for the rest of time. It just means that 2020 sucks, and they did not thrive in a bubble environment. (Or they’re the Nashville Predators and their window of winning is closed. I can’t get through an opinionated blog post without adding in my loathing of the Preds!)
Congratulations again to the Lightning for their win! I am saying it right here – this is no asterisk win! They 110% deserved this win because they’re an incredible team, but it also helps to add in that they were able to do all of this in such an unusual environment. All the Tampa fans should be so proud of their team!
I’m looking forward to some rest, to creating more stickers for everyone (make sure to check out Stark + Stanley!), and to work on some great off season blog content for y’all! Cheers to the 2019-2020 season!