Can all the talk finally stop about how a European Captain has never won the Cup? About how Europeans play soft? About how they can't play with enough grit to be successful in the playoffs?
This absurd generalizing should be put away for at least a year because the Detroit Red Wings, a team comprised of several Europeans, captured the Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh last night with a 3-2 win over the Penguins. Not only did they win the Stanley Cup, but they dominated the entire NHL from start to finish this past year.
They won the President's Trophy. They allowed the fewest goals in the league. Their accomplishments go on and on, and yes, they did it with Europeans doing the lion's share.
Don Cherry must be wearing a black suit today.
Two years ago, the Hurricanes won the Cup using speed to outscore their opponents. Last year the Ducks used their size and physicality to wear down everyone they played against. This year the Wings used defensive skill and puck possession.
Each year, the winning team's system was supposed to be the new magic formula for being successful in the NHL. For instance, last year many experts were saying that teams needed to get bigger like Anaheim, if they wanted to compete. But Detroit wasn't necessarily a big team. They have a couple of big players and they can certainly be physical, but I wouldn't call them a big team.
In my opinion there is no magic formula for success. Each team should be unique and true to themselves. They should concentrate on doing whatever it is that they do well, but do it better than anyone else can.
In other words, the Hurricanes can't suddenly beef up like Anaheim and physically wear down their opponents. They aren't going to be able to acquire a skilled defense like the Red Wings have. While they do need more size and more defensive skill, they shouldn't stray far away from what gave them success in the past.
In my opinion, they should concentrate on their own unique specialties and do those things better than anyone else in the league can do them. They should be able to be successful again, doing just that.
Detroit imposed their will on Pittsburgh. There were large chunks of time when the Pens couldn't muster any offense at all. To the younger team's credit, they never gave up and tried their best, but the better team won this year's Stanley Cup by doing what they do best, by playing defense and by controlling the puck.
Like it or hate it, they played their own system very well and they earned the title.
Henrik Zetterberg, (another Euro), won the Conn Smythe. As I mentioned in an earlier article, he will be due a huge raise.
Congratulations to the Red Wings, they are well deserving champions. Also, congrats to the Penguins, who seemed out-matched, but never gave up. It was a very good series.
May you both have a healthy dose of Stanley Cup hangover next year!