Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Consolation Prize

Henrik Lundqvist won a well-deserved Vezina Trophy last night as the best goalie in the NHL (and likely a few new modeling shoots for GQ and such).  I say "well-deserved" but, to be blunt (and consistent) I wouldn't have voted for him, opting instead for Nashville's Pekka Rinne.  I said this on "The Press Box" and I stand by it.

Not to say Lundqvist didn't earn it.  He was outrageous this year.  But who was seriously going to vote for either Rinne or Jonathan Quick?  This year was tailor made for the "King."

Quick side note: who exactly named Lundqvist "King?"  Man, is there a more over-used nickname?  "King" Felix Hernandez.  Michael Jackson: "King" of Pop.  "King" LeBron James.  Countless monarchs, of course.

And Elvis.  Something tells me it probably should have been retired with him in pop culture.

And then, of course, the LA...wait for it...KINGS won the Stanley Cup.

This is where I began thinking.

Sure, I'm happy for the guy.  Like I said (I think three times now) he deserved it (but people think I don't like the "Monarch", so I'll repeat that I do like him, ok?).  But, just as when A-Rod won the MVP (or Don Mattingly, in 1985), I find myself torn.  It's nice to get the individual award, but it wasn't the ultimate goal.

That belongs to Jonathan Quick, who will gladly stare at his Conn Smythe Trophy and enjoy his day with the Stanley Cup - which is exactly what Lundqvist - hell, all of New York - wanted.

Another side note: God forbid you ever criticize someone.  I've gotten on Joe Girardi a few times, and I've been accused of not liking him (Pat Pickens aside, who was giving me a hard time about it).  Same with Lundqvist.  Sigh.  Side rant over.

As fans, we like to see "our guys", the players we root for, win the hardware.  It still eats at me that both Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will likely never win the top awards that they once deserved.  Jeter lost two close MVP votes, and Rivera lost out a few times for the Cy Young Award.  And yet ask either of them if they would exchange their five World Series championships (and each has a World Series MVP as well) for the regular season award.

They would laugh at you.

So while we - Rangers fans - puff out our chests over Lundqvists' win, we should also feel angry still that a team that was the top seed in the Eastern Conference had the road open to them to go get Lord Stanley's chalice, and came up short.  It's not like they were the 8th seed who backed in (as the Kings - damn, there's that title again - did).

Lundqvist, he of the Vezina Trophy, played a role (albeit a small one) in that failure.  At the same time, he played a huge role in the very reason that the Rangers were that close to playing in the Stanley Cup Finals.

And such is the bittersweet sentiment of last night.  Still, I congratulate him.

Just in case you think I don't like him.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to watching the Portugal heading into the semi-finals of the EURO tournament.  Or something like that.  Maybe it was just on in the background at the McDonald's in which I'm typing away.  Yeah, that's most likely.  It's time to leave.

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