Friday, May 11, 2018

The pros and cons of the Golden Knights winning the Stanley Cup

The Vegas Golden Knights are the talk of hockey right now, and are becoming one of the rare NHL stories that breaks through into the larger sports world. They’ll open the Western Conference Final Saturday in Winnipeg, the latest chapter in a season-long story that’s seen them go from presumed bottom-feeder to Pacific Division champion and legitimate Stanley Cup contender. They’re already the greatest expansion team in pro sports history; now the question is whether they can actually do the unthinkable and win it all.

Well, that’s one question. Here’s another: Should we want them to win? Would seeing an expansion team win the Stanley Cup be a good thing?

Plenty of fans seem to think so; the Golden Knights bandwagon filled up quickly, attracting everyone from veteran fans to little kids to folks who’d never watched hockey before. But there’s a growing sense among others that this has all gone a little too far, and that seeing the Cup paraded down the The Strip might be the wrong ending to the story.

If you’ve been a hockey fan, you already know how this will go. We’ve already got the backlash. Next will come the backlash to the backlash. Then we’ll have a backlash to that backlash, and on and on, and by the time the Knights take the ice on Saturday we’ll all be fighting in the parking lot with tridents while stepping over pieces of the smashed conch.

But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe we can clear the air right now, with a good old-fashioned weighing of the pros and cons. Would that actually change anyone’s mind? The odds are against it. But then again, the odds don’t seem to mean much when it comes to the Golden Knights, so let’s give it a try.

Pro: This is an all-time underdog story that anyone should be able to enjoy

Everybody loves an underdog. There’s a reason that Hollywood doesn’t make sports movies about the best player or team just steamrolling over everyone on the way to an easy championship. Nobody would want to watch that. Instead, we want to see the also-ran or the never-was, who doesn’t have a chance right up until they prove everyone wrong.

Sound familiar? The Golden Knights aren’t just a team that was supposed to be bad. They’re a team made up from the outcasts of all the other, better teams. They’re a collection of misfit toys who were all told they were expendable. And now they might win the Stanley Cup. This is a clich├ęd Hollywood movie, only it’s playing out in real life right in front of us.

We’re watching the real-world version of Rudy. It’s the hockey world’s retelling of Rocky. You loved those stories for a reason. It’s the same reason you should love the Golden Knights.

Con: This is not how underdog stories are supposed to work

The original Rocky was a great movie. It won Best Picture, launched careers, and set the template for every underdog story that was to come.

Do you remember how it ends? Not with Rocky winning.

That’s because even though the underdog story was inspiring, having the no-name boxer win the championship would have been too much. It would have felt silly. They didn’t get to that until the sequels, because even the ultimate underdog with a room full of Hollywood scriptwriters behind him shouldn’t win it all right away.

We all loved Rudy. But that move ends with our underdog hero getting into the game for one play. He doesn’t become a star, get picked first overall in the draft and win NFL MVP in his first year. If he had, people would have left the theatre mumbling about how stupid the whole thing was.

Underdog stories are great – up to a point. We’ve reached that point with the Golden Knights. Save something for the sequel, boys.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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