I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy, a proud American who wants to see the USA win just about everything — except the Stanley Cup.
The Stanley Cup is given to the champion of the National Hockey League. And this year it was won decisively by the Los Angeles Kings. And therein lies the rub. I don’t believe even a handful of people in California care one way or the other about hockey. There are roughly 30 million people in California and there are about 30 million people in all of Canada. Almost to a person, the Canadians are brokenhearted because not a single Canadian team was in competition to win Lord Stanley’s Cup.
We could make all kinds of excuses for this, but the sheer fact of the matter is that American teams, with few exceptions, have more money to spend on their hockey teams than the Canadians. You know the drill: bigger cities, bigger media contracts, more corporate sponsors, etc. It is not surprising the Canadians win the gold medals in hockey because they have to play Canadians, while in the USA, that team going for the gold has to be full of Americans. Canada invented hockey and it is not surprising they would love to win the Stanley Cup. As of late, it has been rare for a Canadian team to win it.
So, I cheer on for Canada to win their place in the world for hockey because they can’t compete in dollars in just about any American sport. Montreal lost its baseball team because they couldn’t afford to keep it going. The Toronto Blue Jays are competitive in the American League East and have won the baseball World Series. Day in and day out, and year in and year out, baseball is what it began to be: the American pastime.
So, I don’t cheer a Canadian team to win the baseball championship, but my heart tears for my Canadian brethren when they do not have a city winning the Stanley Cup. It goes to a hockey team with one of the highest payrolls in a city that gets enough fans to watch hockey, but is not a sport played in the neighborhoods by the kids. It is not played in the neighborhoods because there are palm trees, not snow and ice pushed aside for the local pond to become a hockey arena.
We wrote the other day about how money begets the best and the brightest in the medical field. It’s the same thing in hockey. These high-paid Canadian hockey players will be toting around the Stanley Cup in southern California, where the biggest question will be “Who was Stanley and why is his name on this trophy?”
I would hope the Los Angeles Kings do not make the playoffs next year, but I also don’t want it to go to Philadelphia or the Carolinas, or whatever the name of the team is in Florida. I want it to go to a town in Canada that will carry the pride and the love of the game for all Canadians to cheer about.
Having the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup would be like Belgium having a team and winning the World Series. Not very likely, but it would surely sting if it happened.
Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.