OK people, can I have your attention? Everyone listen up. You too, Mr. Bettman. This is important.
As you know, tonight's game marks the first time in this year's finals that a team is one win away from taking the series. That means that the Stanley Cup will be in the building, and there's a chance it will be awarded after the game. It's a big moment, and we all need to be on the same page, so let's go over the game plan.
When the series ends, it's going to be chaos. Fans screaming, players hugging, linesmen stealing pucks. Everyone stay professional. And please, make sure the game is really done before you let all the media storm onto the ice. Neither of these teams is the Buffalo Sabres, so it's important to make sure the series is actually over. And remember, if there's a particularly controversial play, give the officials time to consult with Brian Burke.
OK, once the game is done then the first order of business is the handshakes. They usually go pretty quickly, but this year we've booked an extra fifteen minutes into the schedule for all the finger taunts and guys diving as soon as an opponent touches them. Plus, it will probably take at least that much time to have Maxim Lapierre's gloves surgically removed. Everyone be patient.
Once the handshakes are done the Cup will be brought out by the two guys who carry it everywhere, the guy who's never in any commercials and the guy who's in every commercial. Are they here? Great. You two will bring it out from the back hallway where it's been during the third period, being shown on television every fifteen seconds. Set it up on the little pedestal at center ice, and then go back to doing whatever it is you do the other 364 days of the year.
OK Gary, once the Cup is out on the ice that's your cue to make your way over. Let's walk through it right now. Great, great, you're here, one hand awkwardly on the Cup, ready to go. Pause for booing. Booing. More booing. Still booing. Hey, have you ever considered letting someone else handle this? It's just that the fans all really seem like they'd prefer it if … you know what, you're the boss, I'm not here to tell you how to do your job.
So anyways… booing. More booing. Now Gary, while all this is going on, you're going to want to be wearing the proper facial expression. I'd recommend a smirky mixture of glib condescension and bemused annoyance. Do you think you could… hey, wow, that's really good. Have you been practicing?
Really? Permanent, you say? As in 24-hours-a-day? Hmm. Wow. OK, well, it's perfect, so don't change a thing.
So now some of the fans have given up on booing and are starting to hiss. That's a good time to start the presentation, so you're going to need to call over the captain of the winning team. Hold on, not yet. Wait until he's just started his interview with Hockey Night in Canada. And… now!
OK Gary, remember, this guy has literally spent the majority of his life focused on getting his hands on the Stanley Cup. He's bled for it, sacrificed, missed his children's birthdays, all for this one exact moment. So before you hand it over to him, make sure you force him to pose for photographs with you. He won't mind at all. That's right, be sure to hold the pose just long enough for it to feel awkward. Fantastic.
OK, now the winning team is going to pass the Cup around. There's an established order here, so let's make sure they follow it. First, the captain. Second, the captain's twin brother, if applicable. Next, the sympathetic old guy on the team who's never won the Cup before. Next, any players who they feel have been unfairly singled out for criticism by fans and media. In the case of the Canucks or Bruins, this should take care of the rest of the roster.
Now listen up everyone, because once the players have the Stanley Cup we all have our most important job of the evening: We get out of the way. The NHL does a lot of things wrong, but this is the one moment we get exactly right. No owners grabbing the trophy. No corporate shills. No television personalities screaming into a microphone. Just twenty or so players who've endured two months of hell, together, for this chance to share the Cup. They've earned this. It's their moment. Let's all just stand back and absorb the positive energy.
Well, all of us except for Gary. The fans are still booing him. Great smirk, though.