In honor of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins - and for all of the previous Finals Game 7s played in the history of the NHL....
Let us all pause for a minute, and give thanks to the hockey gods for the Stanley Cup Finals Game 7.
True hockey fans consider Game 7 like a little kid thinks of unexpected cake and ice cream. You don't ask about the ice cream flavor or if the cake and frosting are your favorites - you just eat and be thankful. It's the same for Game 7. You don't care who's playing, you just watch and are thankful that it's going on.
Game 7s are to be cherished, adored, and put up on a pedestal. You savor every minute of it, and hope for overtime so that it goes a little bit longer. You admire the grace, toughness, and stamina of the players who made it that far, and are in awe of their ability to push through injuries and exhaustion just so they can play.
What people don't understand - particularly the casual American hockey fan - is that they're not playing for the championship. Oh no. A championship isn't the point. They're playing for the Stanley Cup. Being a champion is just the added bonus.
The guys left on the ice want the trophy. The exact same trophy that their childhood heroes held. The exact same trophy that their father's childhood heroes held. And the exact same trophy that their grandfather's childhood heroes held. This isn't like the NFL, the NBA, MLB, or any NCAA championship where you get a new trophy every year to keep forever. This is all about that 35-pound cylindrical gift covered in sterling silver and engraved with the names of hockey heroes, topped with Lord Stanley's Cup.
Game 7 is what every kid who plays hockey dreams about. (Both girls and boys, I might add.) Game 7 is about glory and immortality. That one moment in a player's life where they fulfill that childhood fantasy. To be a hero forever.
So let us all bow our heads and thank the hockey gods for this tradition, this fantasy, and this heartbreak and joy. And while you're talking to the hockey gods, ask for that rarest gift of all - Game 7 overtime. Because to win the Cup in sudden death is the sweetest moment of all. And the most tragic.