Somebody has to win, and somebody has to lose. That's the whole idea of competition. You win some, you lose some.
The Detroit Red Wings, 2008 Stanley Cup Champions. The Pittsburgh Penguins, second place "winners." The runners up. Leaves kind of a bad taste in your mouth.
In competition, there is only one place to be in, and if you are not there, it's like a punch in the stomach. You might as well have not even competed. You think, "Was this all worth it? Come so close and walk away with nothing?"
The Pens, though, have nothing to be ashamed of. What Hockeytown fans thought was going to be a cakewalk turned into an exciting, nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat series.
Especially the marathon game five triple overtime Penguin victory at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit and the final game six last-gasp-effort-to-tie-the-game shot that scooted through the crease as time was running out.
But one team goes home the victors with all the spoils, and one team crawls home with their tail between their legs. And as suddenly as it started back in September with pre-season games, it has ended with the Detroit Red Wings hoisting Lord Stanley at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.
What do we do now?
When I was a kid growing up in Detroit, we lived for hockey. All winter long, we would grab our sticks, skates, jerseys, and whatever and gather together for pick-up games. There would be about 30-40 of us per team skating around the ice having a grand time.
When it was too cold out or too snowy, we would go watch games on TV. We couldn't get enough of the sport we loved. And then the summer would come...
One summer, we tried field hockey, but it was not the same. You ever try to skate on grass? Not a pretty site. We ended up playing a lot of baseball. Almost everyday, we would be out there, the same group, playing until you couldn't see the ball anymore.
The only time we didn't play was when it would rain, and sometimes we would even play then if we were already at the field. We would call them "the mud games.”
But I'm almost too old for baseball or softball, and there are no pick-up games. You have to join a league. Boy, these times they are a-changin'.
I do have the advantage of having digital cable that includes the NHL Network but how many times can you listen to the recap of the game? Or how many times can you watch vintage footage of a past Stanley Cup final?
So do we just hang up our skates and sticks and set the Molsons or Keiths back on ice while we wait with bated breath for another September to come around? Maybe somewhere in your city there is an ice arena that you can use?
Here in Okieland, I've heard rumors that there is a skating rink around, but I have yet to see it. I haven't even seen a sign pointing me in the right direction. If we do have one, then they hide it well. Maybe, they have the rink in stealth mode.
I'm sorry, what else is there to do?
So, for those of us who love the most exciting sport in the world have to wait...and wait...and wait for the pre-season to begin again. We could find a website that shows us where the Stanley Cup is or where it's going to be.
Maybe the Cup will visit your hometown, and you will be able to spend some time remembering the past season or seasons passed. Or we could buy the DVD of the Wings season to reminisce and maybe that thing below our nose, called a smile, will show up.
Fret not, though, my ice-hearted friends because time marches on, and soon we will be able to once again cheer for our teams and cuss at the refs. And maybe by next June, your team will be able to hoist Lord Stanley. Just remember, you have to whip the champs to beat them.