There is no better day for me than the day the Stanley Cup gets raised.
While fans of the other 28 NHL teams—who have spent the better part of the last two months golfing—just want the season to end, there are so many other reasons why the last day of the NHL season is the best day of the year for most hockey fans.
It doesn’t matter which team gets to pass the Cup around in that glory-filled moment after the final whistle blows (although it would be nice to see the Buffalo Sabres grab their first Cup sometime in the near future before I slip back into another deep mental psychosis), because the pride of being a fan of the National Hockey League is overwhelming when a new champion is crowned.
The handshake between teams at the end of the Cup Finals shows sportsmanship at a level that cannot be duplicated by any other sport.
Chris Pronger and Dustin Byfuglien shaking hands, one congratulating the other, despite having just battled in front of the net for six straight games. Even after Byfuglien’s hit on Pronger during Game Five, the 6’6” Pronger had no problem extending his hand to his opponent.
I know I’m not the only one who relishes the moment when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s foot first touches the ice right before the Conn Smythe is handed out, and those justified “boos” rain down on him.
It has become tradition that Bettman gets booed everywhere he goes, no matter what the occasion—and Wednesday night in Philadelphia was obviously no different.
“Gary Bettman booed” is the fifth-highest search for the league’s commissioner, right behind “Gary Bettman is an idiot”—I’m not kidding, look it up yourself.
Then, there was a teary eyed Marian Hossa, who after three years of trying with three different teams, finally collected his first Stanley Cup.
“I’m so happy I finally did it,” Hossa told the Associated Press after the victory. “We couldn’t just put our heads down. We had to work, and we knew we could do it.”
There was the shot of Jonathan Toews, who, despite being the second youngest player in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, wasn’t smiling for a small period of time after raising the Cup.
The 22-year-old captain has shown an unbelievably high amount of maturity throughout the playoffs and the blank look on his face after raising the Cup showed he acknowledged what a rare moment he was in the middle of—the moment of a lifetime.
“There’s so many great things about winning a Stanley Cup. This is it,” Toews told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “This is the best feeling you can ever get. I just can’t believe it’s happened.”
But perhaps the greatest moment of the night was veteran forward John Madden raising the Cup with his two kids. Helping his son Tyler, 10, and daughter Reese, 7, extend their arms in victory as if they had won the Cup themselves.
Madden, 37, was like a kid himself moments earlier. Screaming at the top of his lungs, letting the world know he had just won his third Stanley Cup.
The Stanley Cup is what brings all hockey fans together. And when the Blackhawks raised hockey’s Holy Grail on Wednesday night, it showed that even Flyers’ can appreciate hockey like the rest of us…and boo Bettman as well.