Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Anaheim will not repeat as Stanley Cup champion

Consider that the first prognostication of the 2007-2008 season. How do we arrive at it? Simple....

The Detroit Red Wings

Since the Red Wings won back-to-back Cups following the 1997-1998 season (yes, when they beat the Caps), no team has won Cups in consecutive years. Only New Jersey has appeared in consecutive finals (1999-2000 and 2000-2001). Eleven different teams have appeared in the finals since Detroit's 1998 Cup.

Why is this so? The Peerless thinks that obvious factor is roster turnover. The Peerless also thinks that the obvious factor could very well be wrong.

Anaheim is the best team at the moment -- on paper -- but there is a reason in recent history why they will not repeat. I think the short off-season is really an underrated factor in a club's likelihood for success in the following season. Anaheim will have a 115-day break between the Cup-clinching game on June 6th and opening night of the 2007-2008 season on September 29th. Compare that with baseball (St. Louis had 155 days from their World Series-clincher in 2006 to opening day 2007), football (the Colts will have 214 days from their Super Bowl win in February to opening night in September), and basketball (the Miami Heat had 133 days from winning the NBA title in June 2006 to opening night in October). A team's ability (or inability) to refresh after a grueling playoff grind that requires 16 wins over four series from mid-April to early-June might be the factor to pay attention to in figuring out who should or should not be a favorite in the Cup sweepstakes the following year.

Anaheim might be the best team in the NHL, but they will not repeat.

Dave Fay, 1940-2007

Dave Fay passed away today at the age of 67 after a long bout with cancer. There are a lot of tributes to him in the blogosphere and from various media sites. I cannot improve on the remarks of those who knew and worked with him, especially those of Mike Vogel over at Dump and Chase.

Dave has taken a lot of grief in recent months for his perceived "glass-half-empty" take on the Caps. I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Fay, but he impresses me as the sort who really didn't much care, and that is to his credit. He is of the "old school" of journalism, I suppose, a reporter who toils diligently in pursuit of a story and reports it in a straight-forward manner. No embellishment of the sort one sees often in the "new" media would or could ever do his reporting justice. His was of the "meat and potatoes" sort of journalism that seems less and less prevalent these days.

Dave might not have had his "A" game in recent years. That's for others to judge. But given his dogged fight against his health problems, his devotion to his craft commands respect. It is a pity that there are a lot of folks who haven't had the pleasure of following his reporting since he joined the Washington Times in 1982 and took over the Caps beat because, as he put it, "nobody else wanted to do it." His body of work, at least in my recollection of it since I moved here in 1984, was of the "must read" quality.

Last May, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced that Dave would be the recipient of this year's Elmer Ferguson Award for distinguished hockey writing. He joins a distinguished group of recipients. Those who have had the pleasure of reading Dave over their morning coffee on cold winter mornings realize that the recognition is well deserved, and that his passing leaves a void in hockey reporting that will not soon be filled.