Friday, March 13, 2009
A Tale of Two Cities
The New York Rangers came to Music City on Thursday night and out played the Nashville Predators in route to a 4-2 victory. Henrik Lundqvist broke new ground in the NHL record book by winning his 30th game of the season to become the first goalie in history to do so in each of their first four seasons.
The game provides a platform for a comparison between two cities, two teams, and two worldviews that are a study in contrasts. Being in a reflective mood the morning after a loss that was so typical of a season of bubble bursting setbacks, I present the following thoughts.
One town is in a Northern locale known as the “city that never sleeps”; the other was once a sleepy Southern town on a lazy river that people from the North and West like to migrate to.
Both cities have streets named Broadway. One is the center of the theatrical universe, while the other has experienced rebirth and is home to numerous country music honky tonks (and Hockey Tonk).
One town is known for a wide variety of authentic ethnic foods; the other is known for bar-b-que (pork of course).
One place has the Statue of Liberty and used to have a World Trade Center; the other has the “bat building” and a 100 year old replica of the Greek Parthenon.
One city is the hub of the Western world; the second is the hub of Country Music.
One city has Bernie Madoff who is in jail for defrauding $50 billion from investors; the other has an ex-team owner named “Boots” who is free awaiting trial for his shady dealings.
One state had a senator named Hillary; the other has a first lady with a sign that said “keep your damn hands off of our team”.
One city has a team that was one of the “original six” and has a long storied history; the other is an eleven year old franchise in a “non-traditional” market.
One team plays in a Garden that is always sold out; the second plays in a Center that appears to have reached their average paid attendance goal of 14,000 paid per game.
One team has a former Stanley Cup winning coach that’s been on board for three weeks, while the other has only had one coach in franchise history who has never made it past the first round of the playoffs.
One team has a long history of rowdy fans in the “blue seats”, while the other team boasts of the Cellblock in Section 303 (www.section303.com) as the loudest section in the loudest arena in the NHL.
One city’s exclamation for all occasions is “Potvin Sucks”, while the other city’s is a more general “you suck!” and an “Ay Oh, Wings Blow!” with every playing of the Ramones’ rock anthem Blitzkrieg Bop.
One team has 45 former players in the Hockey Hall of Fame and the other has none.
Wayne Gretzky played for one team, while the other team played against “The Great One” in his final season in a game where fans hoped he would break the all time goal scoring record but settled for seeing him have five assists instead.
One franchise was active at the trade deadline, adding three players, while the other stood pat hoping for a boost with the return of several injured players.
One team’s captain played a team high 31 shifts, while the other team’s was out with possible concussion symptoms.
One team’s top defenseman has eight goals this season; the other team’s top d-man tied a franchise record with his 18th goal.
One team has a four year starter in goal that is acclaimed as one of the games best, while the other team has a rookie goalie that is having an incredible year, but unfortunately gave way to an ex-rookie sensation that is having a marginal sophomore effort.
One team has a recently reacquired agitator that scored a goal and was in the middle of two others and is an irritant to society, in general, while the other has a pest that is beloved by the hometown fans.
One team has been to the playoffs for three years in a row and appears headed there again, while the other is faced with having its four year streak of playoff appearances broken without a quick turnaround.
One team jumped up two places into seventh in the Eastern Conference with a win, while the other fell two places in the West to tenth with the loss.
One team has won four of their last five, while the other has now lost three in a row after having won a season high six in a row.
One team headed to Philadelphia for a home and away series with the Flyers, while the other team heads to Phoenix to open a four game in six nights road trip that will be critical to the team’s playoff hopes.
One team is on the NHL on NBC on a regular basis, and the other has only appeared on NBC during the playoffs when they played the Red Wings.
This comparison could go on for days, but will stop at this point. I am asking you, the reader, to continue adding to the list with your thoughts, comparisons, and quips.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass