Hockey is my favorite sport in the U.S., so you’d think I would’ve been over the moon about having a Stanley Cup Final even amid a pandemic. However, I was played terribly by the hockey gods, and I must confess I didn’t watch a single game of this year’s tournament.
This year’s Cup Final brought together the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning, two of my least favorite teams, with the Lightning securing a 4-2 series victory Sept. 28.
I read it was a hard-fought series. I saw glimpses of highlights on my Twitter feed. I had friends texting me all their thoughts. And I still didn’t even turn on my TV once.
You might be asking yourself, “Wait, Lu. How did these two random teams end up driving you so crazy that you didn’t even watch your favorite U.S. sports championship?” And that’s fair. Neither is much of a rival to my beloved Chicago Blackhawks, and honestly, I think I would’ve enjoyed a Stanley Cup Final with some Hawks rivals even more than this.
(But, please, don’t tell my Detroit friends that. I’d never hear the end of it.)
Let’s start with the Dallas Stars. I lived in Dallas from fifth grade through my senior year of high school, so you’d think I’d at least have taken somewhat a liking to the local team. But you are gravely mistaken.
Every Stars vs. Hawks game I ever went to involved rude mockeries of my dear Hawks on the Jumbotron, something I never saw for opposing teams at the United Center. This has ruffled my — and my whole family’s — feathers since we moved. Our drives home from American Airlines Center always included many debates of “How do they get that stuff approved?” “What’s the point?” “We’re not even rivals!”
Did this have anything in particular to do with the team itself? No, not really. Did I still let it make me fester a strong dislike for the Stars over those eight years? Absolutely.
Did I still buy the Patrick Sharp jersey when he got traded from Chicago to Dallas in 2015? Maybe.
Now onto the Tampa Bay Lightning. For this one, let’s take a trip back in time to the fateful 2015 Stanley Cup Finals, where the Hawks took the title in the 4-2 series. Anyone who followed that series probably remembers the neverending focus of the commentary — “the triplets,” as they were called. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning’s second line.
I had already taken a strong disliking to this team because they were vying for a championship against my hometown favorites. Now I had to incessantly hear about how amazing these other three players are at every chance the commentators get? “The triplets this,” “The triplets that.” Get it out of my sight. Next.
Hence, my annoyance with Tampa Bay’s team. And hence, my annoyance that these were the cards we were dealt. I wish both teams could’ve lost and we would’ve had no champion this year, but we can’t always get what we want.
So what is the takeaway from all this? Am I just way too petty? Or is disliking teams for no reason and holding strong opinions with no real basis just part of the fun of being a sports fan? Who knows. It’s not me.
Alas, I found out the champion while scrolling through social media instead of in my usual spot glued to the TV. And I’m okay with that. See you next year, NHL.