The NHL recently wrapped up its Best of the Decade series, in which it crowned the top moment, player, coach and other various bests of the last 10 years.
And, in a few of those, the league was lambasted for making questionable calls. That included calling Patrick Kane’s anti-climactic Stanley Cup-winning goal the Goal of the Decade and dubbing Marc-Andre Fleury the decade’s top netminder.
Those aren’t great decisions—Henrik Lundqvist was the decade’s top goalie and there are many goals that would make sense over Kane’s. (Heck, we could make a case for Alex Burrows slaying the dragon, but this post is about another homer pick and we’re getting off topic.)
But the one call by the NHL that we’re going to take issue with is the league dubbing the 2014 Western Conference Final between the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks the Series of the Decade.
This was a fine series. In fact, it was pretty great. The hockey was exciting, the teams played two distinctly different ways to great effect and Game 7 was an absolute classic, going to overtime before the Kings pulled it out en route to their second Stanley Cup win in three years.
But it wasn’t the series of the decade.
That title belongs to the only Stanley Cup Final of the last 10 years that really delivered in any meaningful way: the 2011 match between the Vancouver Canucks and the eventual champion Boston Bruins.
And yes, this is where the PTSD warning kicks in.
Of the Cup Finals of the last decade, only the most recent affair, St. Louis vs. Boston, was nearly as competitive as Canucks vs. Bruins. The rest were not all that close, with the consensus favourite taking home the Cup.
And honestly, other than the resurrection of “Gloria” and Crying Brad Marchand, there weren’t too many memorable moments in 2019’s Final.
Vancouver vs. Boston did have one flaw: a terrible Game 7. That’s undeniable, as the visiting Bruins came into Vancouver and dominated the final game, shutting out the Canucks 4-0.
But it had everything else. Here’s a non-exhaustive list off the top of our heads:
- An Original Six team playing in their first-ever Stanley Cup Final Game 7.
- Massive late-game goals by Raffi Torres and Alex Burrows.
- The return of centre Manny Maholtra in Game 2, less than three months after being ruled out for the rest of the season and playoffs.
- The two goaltenders, Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas, openly nipping at each other through the media.
- Canucks’ general manager Mike Gillis complaining that the refs were treating his team unfairly.
- An unprecedented four-game suspension in the middle of a Stanley Cup Final.
- Three important players being taken out of the series as the result of brutal hits.
- A Game 3 with 145 penalty minutes, the most in a Cup Final game since 1990.
- A goaltending controversy.
- Oh, and this happened.
It had heroes and villains. It had tight games (at least the ones Vancouver won), and it had real stakes.
It’s hard to remember in these parts, of course, but it was truly the best, most enthralling Stanley Cup Final of the decade.
The Kings-Blackhawks series was good, no doubt. But was it even half as memorable as Bruins-Canucks?
Sometimes, the quality of the actual hockey on the ice takes a backseat to everything else that’s going on.
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