It has to be the worst nightmare for one of the writers at ESPN's "Page 2": you think the week's about done, you're already planning a weekend of joyous debauchery, and then the editor pokes his head around the cubicle wall: "hey, Carolina and Edmonton are meeting in the Stanley Cup Finals. Can you give me 800 words comparing the two cities? And make it edgy?"
Because you aren't at the top of the heap with shitheads like Bill Simmons and insane people like Scoop Jackson and insane shitheads like Skip Bayless, you say yes, and hurriedly crank something out with comparisons like: "Raleigh: Known for barbecue! Edmonton: Known for deep-fried Twinkies!* Edge - Raleigh!" and "Edmonton: Hockey players with no teeth! Raleigh: Fans with no teeth! Edge - Edmonton!" You turn it in, and then if you have any sort of soul at all, you go home and hang yourself, because you work for Page 2. I hate Page 2, except for Tim Keown and Hunter S. Thompson's corpse.
(And don't get me started on Page 3.)
But to a degree, I have to follow the Page 2 model now. We have a Stanley Cup Final in which I don't have strong feelings for either team -- I find both admirable, hard-working, with a pleasant aftertaste. Neither team has Valeri Kamensky, but on the other hand, neither team has Kirk Maltby. Who, then, to root for? The argument for the Oilers would seem to be that one just doesn't root for stupid upstart teams in non-traditional markets. As a fan of Original Sixers Colorado and Atlanta, that carries considerable weight with me. On the other hand, the argument for Carolina would seem to be that Edmonton has won a bunch of Cups, and thus doesn't deserve any more. That logic is also infallible.
Being sort of bored at work this evening, and aided by a few beers (Duvel - I step it up when we get to crunch time in the playoffs) I sat down and worked out a complex mathematical formula to determine who I should root for. Without further ado:
-Number of Czechs: Two (Vasicek, Kaberle) x3 = 6
-Number of other Eastern European guys: Two (Babchuk, Tverdovsky) x1 = 2
-Number of guys I've liked and respected for a long time and would like to see do well: Three (Brind'Amour, Weight, Hedican) x2 = 6
-Number of young players I find exciting: Two (Cole, Staal) x1 = 2
-Good goalie story: One (Ward) x 1 = 1
-Former player from well-liked team bonus: Two (Kaberle, Weight) x 1 = 2
-Generally seems like a cool guy bonus: One (Commodore) x 1 = 1
-Traded Radim Vrbata penalty: Minus 2
-Friend of mine really likes Recchi, to the point of occasionally using "Recchi" as an online alias, and writing a song with "Recchi" in the title, bonus: Plus 1
-Kaberle's Chicken Paprika bonus: Plus 2
Southeast Conference Represent! bonus: Plus 1
-Number of Czechs: Three (Spacek, Dvorak, Hemsky - good job on that trade deadline pickup, boys) x 3 =9
-Number of other Eastern European guys: Two (Samsonov, Ulanov) x1 = 2
-Number of guys liked and respected: Two (Pronger, Ulanov) x 2 = 4
-Number of young players I find exciting: One (Hemsky) x 1 = 1
-Good goalie story: One (Roloson) x 2 (better goalie story) = 2
-Former player from well-liked team bonus: Two (Pronger, Staios) x 1 = 2
-Generally seems like a cool guy bonus: One (Ulanov) x 1 = 1
-I own a freaking Ales Pisa game-worn Oilers jersey: Plus 1
-Once employed Kirk Maltby: Minus 2
-Team came to its senses and traded Maltby away: Plus 1
-Jaroslav Pouzar bonus: Plus 1
So it's settled: I root for a tie. Here's hoping both teams win three apiece, and then the seventh game is wiped out by Spanish influenza.
Congrats to both teams and their fans. 'Canes blogs which presumably will cover the series better than I are located here and here; Oilers blogs are here and here.
* - I don't know if they actually eat deep-fried Twinkies in Edmonton. I don't know what they eat in that mysterious land. Perhaps... each other.