Like many of you, I found the end of the Canucks' season to be devastating. Rather than deal with the pain, I pretty much shifted gears once the season ended, preferring to (mostly) ignore hockey and to focus on reclaiming my social and academic lives from the ravages of two months of playoff hockey. It has only been recently, as I have begun to look forward to the upcoming season, that I have started to come to grips with the way that the 2010-11 season ended.
My only point of comparison for such a loss is the 1994 Stanley Cup Final, at which time I was 10 years old. While that loss was devastating for me at the time, I could at least take solace in the fact that the Canucks were the underdog, that they kept battling up until the final whistle, and that the possibility of a return trip to the Finals didn't seem so remote. 17 years of Finals-less hockey later, I do not take the possibility of June hockey for granted in the same way. Not that I don't have confidence in this current iteration of the Canucks - they certainly look poised to challenge for a Finals berth for at least the next few seasons - but I am also aware that just making it into the final round of the playoffs is a massive accomplishment in and of itself. There are no guarantees in the future, although I remain optimistic.
I don't want to dwell on the details of the Cup Finals, because I have already had too many painful fantasies about what could have gone differently if certain injuries hadn't occurred, certain players had stepped up, or certain bounces had gone the Canucks' way. Such is hockey, and there's no point in dwelling on it too much - I firmly believe that lucky/unlucky breaks tend to even out over time. I am not thrilled with how many things went in the series against Boston, and ultimately I have to concede that, based on how they played, that the Bruins deserved to win the series. My biggest beef would be the officiating - I wish the series had not devolved into a series of cheap shots, taunts, and dives. Both teams have huge amounts of talent, and I would have preferred to see this on display unimpeded by the kind of crap that went on in the games. I don't think, for example, that much of the predictable abuse that has been hurled at the Sedins for their lack of offensive production is fair given the abuse that they endured game in and game out. But is is over, the Bruins won, and it is time to accept that and move on.
Putting aside the final couple games of the season is hard to do. But once those memories are pushed aside, there are a ton of amazing memories to look back upon from what has gone down as, thus far, the Canucks' best ever season in its history. Through 82 regular season games and 25 playoff contests, the Canucks gave us a ton of great memories to look back upon. The regular season awards speak for themselves. The playoffs - in which we finally defeated the Blackhawks and battled to deserving series victories against Nashville and San Jose - were an amazing ride. I am proud of the team, thrilled with its overall performance during the season, and grateful that I got to share so much of the journey with all of you here at Nucks Misconduct.
This post was inspired by another article I have started to work on, which is my Top 10 goals of the season (coming soon!), and it made me realize how much I love this blog and this community. Going through YouTube to watch some of the great plays from this season brought back memories of sharing those moments in Game and Post-Game Threads, often staying up until well past 1 AM EST to pore over the brilliance of a Kesler hat-trick, a Sedin OT winner, a Luongo shutout, or a massive playoff win. It was an incredible season, the Finals not withstanding, and I am glad I got to share it with you all. I look forward to more of the same in 2011-12 - only two months to go, and then we drop the puck on a brand new season. Can't wait!