I honestly can’t even believe that this is still a debate. Alas, here we are. Me still fighting with you. So, let’s try it again. Here are the top 5 reasons why the NHL playoffs are hand down the best in ANY sport:
1.The Trophy: They are playing for something called “The Stanley Cup,” or “Lord Stanley.” Other trophies may be neat, but nothing is as impressive as the holy grail of hockey. You can literally put an entire baby inside of it, you can drink out of it, and it has this magical power of despite weighing 40 pounds feels completely weightless when you lift it over your head. Once you win it, your name is etched on it forever. Every player gets a day with the Cup, and it has been on some epic adventures. The NHL came out with a commercial called “No Words” built around clips of players unable to explain their emotions and feelings after winning the Stanley Cup. It was a brilliant marketing tool, but highlights just how special this trophy is.
2.The handshake: These players fought tooth and nail against each other for an entire series; often times the games get a little dirty. It’s a part of the emotion that goes into the playoffs. But, no matter what – no matter how ugly that series got – they come together at the end of the series and shake hands with each other. No other sport has this type of intense juxtaposition, and it is really peak sportsmanship.
3.Playoff beards: We all owe this one to the New York Islanders. The tradition goes that players do not shave their beards until they win it all or are eliminated from the playoffs. Some beards are “meh,” others are impressive, and some are just downright beautiful. By the time that June rolls around, it is almost hard to recognize some of the players behind those itchy beautiful masterpieces.
4.Upsets: Once you are in the playoffs, all bets of are off. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a second season; unlike the NBA where an upset is pretty much unheard of. In 2012, the LA Kings just squeaked into the playoffs and were the last seed. The upset the best team in the league, and continued on all the way to WIN THE WHOLE DAMN THING. If you say you like a good underdog story (and I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t), then you should love the NHL playoffs.
5.Game 7s and overtimes: This is the stuff that legends are made of right here. Playoff overtime hockey is peak intensity for the sport. The playoff hockey format is golden goal, so first one to score wins. This means you are quite literally on the edge of your seat stressing out the entire time you are watching. It isn’t unheard of for the game to go to double of triple overtime. Fans end up in the stands until 2am. In many of these games, the team’s entire season is on the line. One of my recent favorite’s was Mike Fisher of the Nashville Predator’s scoring in triple OT to force a game 7 –
These are the moments you live for as a fan, and no other sport has something like this.
BONUS – The weird and awesome traditions: Ever heard of the legend of the Octopus? Or how about raining rats? Or catfish throwing? Yes, these are all things that related to the NHL playoffs. As we see with playoff beards, hockey players are very ritualistic, meaning while we get to enjoy age old traditions, new ones are born every year.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs start every mid-April. Don’t miss out on some of the best in all of sports!