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Why four teams deserve the Cup

5/12/2004

My dad is a TV yeller atter. He yells at the TV while watching sports. The refs are against his team, the coach stinks and the announcers want the other team to win.

Perhaps you've witnessed or participated in such behavior. In extreme, rare instances, maybe one of those conditions has existed in the history of sports. But, I can tell you those forces largely don't apply -- especially the announcer part. Me, Melrose, Chicken Parm, Pang Chung, we really don't care who wins. It has been a mini-crusade in the short history of this column to get that point across. I don't root for the Red Wings. I don't hate the Red Wings. I'm not happy the Avalanche have been eliminated. I'm not sad. Barry Melrose is not depressed if we have a Lightning-Flames Stanley Cup final. Television executives will stick their heads in a garbage disposal, but Barry will still wear the same bad suits, smoke the same expensive cigars, and laugh that same implausible laugh whether he is in Calgary, San Jose, Tampa Bay or Philadelphia.

So, with that in mind, I will try to convince you yet again of this fact, by giving why I'd like to see and want each team to win the Stanley Cup.

Philadelphia Flyers: I want Philadelphia to win the Stanley Cup because Philadelphia is a great sports town with outstanding fans. Also, they've waited the longest of the four teams left. Calgary won it in 1989 and Tampa Bay and San Jose didn't exist until the early '90s. For the emotional and financial investment the fine folks of Pennsylvania and South Jersey have put into the team, it would be nice for Philly to have a huge Stanley Cup parade. What I would pay to see Andy Reid and Ken Hitchcock do a sweaty, shirtless chest bump in front of the Liberty Bell, while "Corn Boy" Keith Jones roots them on. Boo-Yeah.

Tampa Bay Lightning: During Game 1 of the Lightning-Flyers series, the Lightning were offering free beer in exchange for a non-refundable deposit on season tickets for next season. Seriously. This city hasn't embraced the Lightning quite as expected. The lack of demand for tickets is a bit disheartening. I want the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup because it would create new fans and keep the core for life. I'm an anti-contraction guy because I feel NHL teams create NHL fans. And Stanley Cups just about create fans for life.

San Jose Sharks: I want the Sharks to win the Stanley Cup because for that city to win a Stanley Cup, coupled with the fan enthusiasm they have maintained, would solidify an already strong franchise for a generation. A Stanley Cup has never been won in the Pacific Time zone. And for a Cup to be won in place such as California or Florida would be good for fan growth.

Calgary Flames: I want the Flames to win the Stanley Cup because I'd like to see Canada win a Stanley Cup. The passion and commitment the people give the game is still the soul of the NHL. Plus, there's a slight chance if the Flames win it all, Lord Stanley might pay a visit to my kitchen.

Calgary's Chris "The Mailman" Clark was raised in South Windsor, Conn., and both of his parents still work at the South Windsor Post Office, home of the finest working postal force in the union. On Dec. 4, 1997, I became a first-time homeowner in the same town. I'm still here. Therefore, if the Flames win the Stanley Cup, there is a good chance Chris will spend his day with the Cup somewhere in the vicinity of the backyard rink (which now has everything but the liner and the ice as we've opted to have a street hockey rink for the summer). The boards are staying up this summer, which will make next winter's rink construction a piece of Boston Crème Pie.

So, maybe I can convince Chris to bring the Cup to my backyard and have a street hockey game with the neighborhood kids for the right to drink a Slurpee out of the Stanley Cup. But, let me reiterate: I love all four remaining teams equally, and it would make no difference who won. ;)

No. 1: What's the craziest thing you've seen in Calgary during all the playoff mayhem?
Clark:
After we beat Detroit, we went down to 17th Avenue and there were people standing on the roofs of their cars going down the street.

No. 2: What's the best perk about being in the conference final?
Clark:
I got the antenna on my wife's car fixed for free. My dad came up for the Vancouver series, and it snowed. He thought he would do me a favor and shovel the snow off the car, and he broke the antenna.

No. 3: Are Mom and Dad still in the mail delivery business, and will they be inducted into the Post Office Hall of Fame?
Clark:
Yes, they are! I think my Dad has a couple of more years before he can retire, but he's not the type to sit around and do that.

No. 4: Who inspires you among your teammates?
Clark:
Jarome Iginla. He's a right winger and I'm a right winger, and I'm always watching him. He always has somebody on him, especially on the road. They always match up defensemen or a line against him. He battles through everything and gets the job done.

No. 5: What is Darryl Sutter's demeanor on the bench and in the locker room?
Clark:
He's not so much a loud screamer, but he gets his point across in other ways. He'll call people out, he'll do different things, but he's not a yeller or a screamer.

No. 6: Since we have some baby name e-mails in this week's column, how did you come up with your daughter's name?
Clark:
Hailie Marie Clark. Marie is my wife Kim's middle name. We got the spelling of Hailie from Eminem's daughter, but we just liked the name. I was reading the paper the other day, and someone up here in Calgary just had a baby boy and named him Miikka.

No. 7: Are you adding up your playoff money with each series win, and what will you do with it?
Clark:
You know, we just bought a cottage two miles from Craig Conroy in New York on Lake Ontario, so a lot of it is going there.

No. 8: If the Flames win the Stanley Cup will you bring it to my South Windsor kitchen so we can eat Captain Crunch out of it?
Clark
: It will definitely be in South Windsor. Whether we eat Captain Crunch out of it, we'll have to wait and see.

John,
If this was Peter Forsberg's last year in the NHL, does he make into the Hall of Fame?

Ryan Combs
Janesville, Wis.

Absolutely. He would be the Gayle Sayers of the NHL. Also, remember it is the HOCKEY Hall of Fame and not the NHL Hall of Fame. Forsberg has been an Olympic hero and will certainly go on to have much more international success. But even if he never had played a second of international hockey before, during or after his NHL career, he is still a Hall of Famer for his NHL accomplishments alone. I've always compared him to Larry Bird in this space, and an early retirement is another similarity. Bird and Forsberg never shied away from contact, hence their bodies breaking down at a premature age. It's better to burn out than fade away.



Bucci --
You're like the Mo Rocca of hockey analysis. Don't ask me to explain; you just are.

Mike Musser
Iowa City, Iowa

I think I know what you mean, but I can't put my finger on it.



Hey John,
I just recently got a autograph from one of the greatest of all time, Bobby Hull. I paid a respectable $25 for it on a picture of a ref holding him back while Bobby's face is bloody. As for the signature, it is readable and also has the HHOF year -- and he took his time in signing it. Well worth the half hour he was late in showing up (what more can you expect from a Hull). This signature will go right next to Gordon Howe in my signature book, which also includes greats like Paul Coffey, Sid Abel, Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri … and Tim Cheveldae?

Ray Bennett
Lincoln Park, Mich.

Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Cheveldae. I saw Bobby Hull sign in person during the All-Star Game in Denver. He was patient, kind and smiling. Bobby Hull reminds me -- we are counting down the top 100 NHL players of all time for the remainder of this year's NHL 2Nights on ESPN2. Most shows are at 12:30 a.m. ET. Also, my 4-year-old legend of a son, Jackson, had a day with the Stanley Cup a few weeks ago and that video is on Tuesday's NHL 2 Night -- 12:30 a.m. in Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, 11:30 p.m. in Winnetka, Ill., 10:30 p.m. in St. George, Utah, and 9:30 p.m. in San Jose.



John,
How about this? I won all three of my fantasy leagues this year, against Canadians and Americans -- from the other side of the world! Keep up the good work mate, and cheer hard for the Flyers for me -- they won't hear me from here.

Daniel
Melbourne, Australia

Adam Scott wins The Players Championship and now you, Daniel, my brutha. Aussies rock.



Hey John --
Please include a link to Barry Melrose's new team in your next column to insure that they will become the Mulleteers!!!
Thanks,

Greg Michal
Clifton, N.J.

Here it is: www.adirondackhockey.com. I'm very distraught that Mulletmen is not being considered. Mulleteers? I don't like it. Sounds like men in tights with swords at a carnival. I do not want to see Barry Melrose in tights. Demand your Mulletmen!!!!!!!



Hey Mr. B,
I was wondering who you thought was going to win the Flames & Sharks series. I want the Flames to pull out the upset but Evgeny Nabokov is playing real good. Also, do you think either of these teams can beat a real good team like the Lightning or Flyers?

Tommy Hill
South Windsor, Conn.

My pre-series picks were the Sharks and Lightning. That's not whom I want to win, but who I think kinda, shoulda win. And, yes, Tommy I think the Eastern Conference is the better conference for the first time in a long time and will be the favorite to win it all. But as we head into the CBA summer turned winter, what kind of backdrop to negotiations would a Calgary Flames Stanley Cup Championship be? Just wonderin'.

What's in a name?
When this column began in the fall of 2001, I said I mainly wanted it to be about family, friends, and rock and roll, because that's what hockey is all about. I am no Bob McKenzie or Jim Kelley. Those guys are, like, smart. I'm an idiot.

Well, somewhere along the line, while those guys were breaking stories, I got to name the world's newborns. Hey, we all have our strengths. The requests have been too many to count. I assume all these Sparkys will be hockey fans, so if it's my responsibility for our future hockey fans to have appropriate names, so be it. Here are a few:



Bucci,
My husband and I are in the process of adopting a baby boy, and with the last name "Free" it seems difficult to come up with a good name. We are thinking this kid is likely to be a quick forward, so we need something suitable. I told my husband you were THE source for baby name advice.

Tammy Free
Antioch, Tenn.

Markus Jaxon Free. I wish that was my name.



Bucci,
Help! I need two names -- one for a girl, and one for a boy. Our third child is due May 12 and we don't know what it will be. We've got two boys already -- Joseph Paul and Max Alexander.

Peter Finkel

I hope I'm not too late! Boy: Kyle Michael Finkel. Girl: Amanda Emma Finkel.



John,
You are the master of baby names. I will not be worrying about such issues for a while, but you are the first person I'm asking when the time comes. I will need your best effort too. My kid (boy or girl) WILL be a hockey player! If I'm lucky, so will the dad. That would be very helpful. We need to start off with a great hockey last name, mine doesn't exactly fit the bill anyway. Keep up the good work!!!
All the best,

Natalie McGrath
N.J.

You will marry a man named Steve Streeter and you shall name your son Marc David Streeter.



Bucci,
My wife and I just found out we are having a baby. Any suggestions for a good hockey name? Don't know if its a boy or girl yet. I always wanted a Cameron, but blew that on our first dog, a beagle we named Cam.
Thanks.

John Percey
Mountain Home, Ind. (By way of Bennington, Vt.)

Landon Raymond Percey.



Bucci -
How do you do it? What Reggie Dunlop is to the Chiefs, you are to the art of baby naming, so I too am turning to you in a time of need. It's hard to find good first name matches for the last name Dukatz (Doo-katz), but I have faith in your abilities. My wife's due date is May 29, we know for certain it's a boy and the middle name will be Harris, in memory of my wife's late uncle. So, what do ya got for me?
Thanks,

Kirk

Dirk Harris Dukatz. Dirk Dukatz is a freakin' good hockey name. And I like how it looks.



John,
My second son will be born in June, and my wife and I are struggling with names. I grew up playing hockey in Erie, Pa. (home of the OHL's Erie Otters!), so hopefully my boys will love the game as much as I do. I'm 6-foot-3, my wife is 6-feet, and our first-born son is already over 3-feet tall and won't be 2 until next month. We have a first name we both agree on, but any suggestion you can make is greatly appreciated.
Keep up the great work,

David Durst
Dallas

Please don't name him Fred. I love the name Abraham Durst. Abraham Sinclair Durst. I like 3-2-1 syllable names.



John --
I'd like to announce the arrival of a future NHL legend. On February 26 at 7:51 a.m. (ET), Cameron John Mele was born to my friends Megan and Nick. Mele, pronounced just like Neely, only with an M. That's right, this future right winger will go to the Winnipeg Devils (give us some leeway here...) in the 2022 entry draft. And he will be announced as No. 8, Cam Mele -- the next of the great power forwards. Say hi to Ken the Otter for me.
Best,

Christopher Dilkus



John,
You seem to be pretty good with the whole baby-naming thing. My wife and I are expecting our first child in September (don't know if it's a boy or girl yet), but I'm hoping it will be a hockey player. Anyway what names would you recommend?

David Walton

Boy: Jesse Walton is cool name and could work for either sex. Make the middle name two syllables.



Mr. Buccigross --
I grew up in a small town in Ohio. I have a No. 12 Calgary Flames Hakan Loob jersey (though sadly, it no longer fits very well as I've grown a lot since 1988). My college roommates and I celebrate Per Djoos's birthday every year (May 11). I'm sucking up to you because I want you to help me out with a name for my daughter. She's due June 28 (my first child). The first time my wife felt the baby kick was when we were in a movie theater watching "Miracle" and her favorite book for me to read to her in utero is "Z is for Zamboni." What name would you give her to guarantee that she'll be leading the USA to the gold medal in the Olympics in 2022, 2026 and 2030?

Brian Zeglen
Bothell, Wash.

I want your Loob jersey! Let's name her after Herb Brooks since you felt her slew foot mom while watching "Miracle." Brooks Michelle (Close to Michael as in Eruzione) Zeglen. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

John Buccigross is the host of NHL 2Night, which airs on ESPN2. His e-mail address -- for questions, comments or cross-checks -- is john.buccigross@espn.com.