For hockey fans, the quest for the Stanley Cup is an exciting time of year.
The cup was first awarded in 1893 and is given to the National Hockey League playoff champions. Winning this cup is a difficult accomplishment, which is why the playoff series is followed with a lot of passion. People who follow hockey care deeply about their favourite teams and the game itself, no matter who is playing.
The 2023 Stanley Cup Finals has featured the Florida Panthers and Las Vegas Golden Knights.
Dedicated hockey watchers will know a lot of statistics and details about the teams and individual players. For example, during the 2022-23 regular season play, the Golden Knights posted a 51-22-9 record, while the Panthers played to a 42-32-8 mark.
The two teams faced each other twice in regular season action, with Vegas winning a 4-2 decision on Jan. 12, and Florida winning in a 2-1 game on March 7.
One can compare goalie stats, starting lineups, power play goals, shorthanded goals, wins or losses at home and on the road and any number of other metrics. Comparisons have been posted, showing the nationalities of the players on the two teams.
There is no shortage of hockey data at the NHL level. It might even be possible to find which team has the best win record playing on an overcast Tuesday in an arena with its main doors facing east.
While hockey statistics provide a lot of information, past performance does not predict what will happen in the next game.
For those who bet on sports, going into the playoffs, Vegas was listed as the favourites to win the cup. However, the odds do not determine the outcome.
The Stanley Cup involves two teams playing a best-of-seven series. No matter how well or how poorly either team played in the regular series or in the games leading up to the Stanley Cup finals, what matters, in the end, is this series.
The performance of each team during that series determines the winner of the Stanley Cup for that season. The stakes are high and competition is intense at the NHL level. Still, players, coaches and fans accept the outcome, even if they are not happy with the results.
Those involved with the NHL take the game seriously. The level of play is intense and the referees and officials are watched just as carefully as the players.
It is incredibly difficult to reach this level of hockey, and those who play, coach or serve as referees in the NHL have a record of dedication to the sport. As a result, the sport is respected.
Fans, coaches or players do not send letters to the National Hockey League or to government officials, demanding that the decision be changed.
Nobody is going to seriously suggest that the cup should be awarded to the Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres or any of the other teams with no past Stanley Cup victories. An online petition to alter the scores in this series, even one signed by millions of people, will not affect the outcome of the series. And hockey riots, when they occur, are not attempts to reverse the outcomes of the games.
Accepting the results is part of the commitment to fair play in hockey or in any sport. Without that, the game and the Stanley Cup trophy would have no meaning.
John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.