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No Cup Conspiracy: Penguins Acted Alone To Defeat Red Wings

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst IJune 14, 2009

PITTSBURGH - JUNE 09:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on against the Detroit Red Wings during Game Six of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals at the Mellon Arena on June 9, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Ultimately, I think people develop and believe in conspiracy theories as a way to cope with terrible events.

The fact that one ugly little man could single-handedly assassinate John F. Kennedy was too hard for many people to deal with. But a carefully thought-out plot between Castro, the mob, the CIA, and the FBI to kill Kennedy?

That's a little more like it.

Two planes rammed into the World Trade Center causing the collapse of two iconic towers?  No chance. A government plot to work in consort with the 9/11 terrorists and place massive amounts of explosives in the towers, assuring their destruction?

That seems about right.

People want to believe that horrible events like the JFK assassination and the 9/11 terrorist attacks were not simply instances of very motivated men committing terrible acts of violence.

That's too random, too simple. The tendency is to want the cause of these events to match the massiveness of the effects.

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However, there have been scores of re-enactments conducted that prove Oswald could and did act alone when he killed Kennedy.

Dozens of structural engineers have explained how two planes loaded with fuel crashing into the WTC towers would provide more than enough heat and explosive power to cause their collapse.

Sometimes, the truth is terrifyingly simple.

So, with the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat of the Detroit Red Wings in Game Seven has come the theory promoted by some Wings' fans that the NHL, and specifically Gary Bettman, orchestrated this horrible event.

Nonsense.

I admit that the Penguins' season was one that resembled something we'd sooner associate with Hollywood than hockey.

Seriously, the sequence of events is hard to square with reality.

Hossa bolts for the Red Wings as he feels they give him the best shot at winning a Stanley Cup.

Crosby does a commercial saying how he never wants to be the loser in a Cup final again.

The Penguins look like a non-playoff team as late as February.

They fire Michel Therrien and hire Dan Bylsma as coach.

They start playing better.

They make the playoffs.

They battle the Washington Capitals and Alexander Ovechkin in a seven-game classic.

They make it all the way back to the finals to battle Detroit and their former teammate Hossa.

They're pushed to the brink of elimination.

They battle back in Game Six.

They win the Cup in Game Seven...in Detroit.

If this were a movie, I'd have a hard time suspending my disbelief long enough to enjoy it.

But, throw in a conspiracy involving the league and the commissioner hell bent on getting their poster boy a championship, setting up a back-to-back series start so the Wings will wear down quicker, telling the refs to look the other way when the Pens take penalties, etc.

Now that's more like it.

Look, I'm a Red Wings fanatic and this loss is tough to take.

But, let's be honest, the Wings lost this series fair and square.

With Pavel Datsyuk out of the lineup to start the series, Hossa needed to step up and be an offensive force for the Wings...he wasn't.

After doling out a solid 5-0 thumping in Game Five to take a 3-2 series lead, they needed to go into Pittsburgh in Game Six and play desperate, passionate hockey...they didn't.

Coming home for Game Seven, they needed to use their rink and their fans to their advantage, never let up on the gas and put the Penguins away...they couldn't.

Granted, we know now that the Red Wings were really banged up with Datsyuk, Lidstrom, Rafalski, and Cleary all playing through debilitating injuries.

Health is always the X-factor in the playoffs, and it's tough to win with key players hurting.

It's tough, but not impossible.

Injuries might have been a factor, but their Game Seven loss was due to what has plagued Detroit all season: turnovers and a lack of passion.

They opened the 2008-2009 season with a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs of all teams, committing 23 turnovers in that game.

This tendency, along with a chronic inability to "get started on time", as Mike Babcock repeatedly put it, could account for almost every loss they suffered during the regular season.

These are exactly what caused them to lose Game Seven and the Stanley Cup at home.

For Red Wings fans, this year was a tragedy, a terrible event, a nightmare you keep hoping to wake up from.

It is understandable to want to blame their loss on a massive conspiracy, because the truth is tough to accept. When it mattered most, with everything on the line, the Wings didn't play well enough to win.

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