Get Your Stupid Ringzzz Culture Out of Hockey

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Get Your Stupid Ringzzz Culture Out of Hockey

Last night the NHL season ended with a perfect hockey game, a tightly-contested 2-1 Game 7 victory by the Florida Panthers to win their first ever Stanley Cup over the Edmonton Oilers who nearly made history in coming back from a 3-0 series deficit. There was constant end-to-end action, very few whistles, incredible tension and drama, and only a couple penalties to provide each team with an opportunity to play up a man. If you had never seen a hockey game before, that was about as good of an introduction to the sport as you will ever get.

But because we live in a world where we cannot have nice things, much of the discourse coming out of last night’s perfect capstone to the NHL season centers around the playoff MVP award known as the Conn Smythe Trophy. I bolded the word playoff because there are a lot of people who should know better who have redefined the parameters of the Conn Smythe Trophy around our stupid ringzzz culture which has decided that nothing can be celebrated unless you win a championship.

Connor McDavid, the NHL’s best player, won the Conn Smythe Trophy despite being on the losing side, becoming the sixth player and just the second skater ever to win the Conn Smythe despite not winning the Stanley Cup. Given the way a lot of hockey writers like the ones below are reacting to this, you would never know that he broke WAYNE FREAKING GRETZKY’s playoff assist record and became the first player in NHL history to have back-to-back four-point games in the Stanley Cup Final.

If you assert that Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was more valuable to his team’s chances of winning, that is reasonable. There are positive cases to be made for Panthers stars like Bobrovsky or captain Aleksander Barkov and I am not here to push back against those, but the folks who are deciding to redefine the parameters around the Conn Smythe Trophy and then call the voters an embarrassment because they adhered to the longstanding voting guidelines are beclowning themselves in front of the entire sports world today.

Connor McDavid scored the fourth most points in NHL playoff history and joined Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux as the only players to ever surpass 40 points in a single postseason. That seems like a pretty good case to win the award given out to the entire playoff’s best performer. The folks putting blinders on and only judging McDavid by the final two games are participating in the moronic ringzzz culture that has ruined basketball debates forever. We’re not allowed to appreciate an athlete’s greatness anymore unless they are on the lone team standing at the end of the season.

This is a pathetic way to watch sports. It spits in the face of the immense effort that goes into navigating the long season and arduous playoff battles, and downplays the luck any champion must get to win it all. Had Florida defenseman Brandon Montour not made an incredible desperation play to lift Zach Hyman’s stick on this mad scramble late in last night’s game, Hyman would’ve put it in the open net to tie the game on a McDavid primary assist. If the Oilers had potted this chance and then won in overtime, would McDavid be a deserving Conn Smythe winner then?

You see how tenuous this ringzzz culture bullshit is? Pause it at three seconds and you’ll see the wide-open chance he created while being double-teamed. McDavid did everything on that play but put it in the back of the net. The assumption behind this type of brain rot is that superstars like McDavid have total control over everything that happens on the ice and therefore should be judged solely by whether or not their team wins the game. Asserting that because McDavid had no points in Game 7, he was not impactful can only be true if you watch the above replay with your eyes covered (he also finished with 1.4 expected goals for versus just 0.16 expected goals against last night and was fourth on the team in xG in Game 6).

This is a simpleton’s idea of a smart person’s argument, as it places the entire outcome of the contest at the feet of a guy who played just short of 26 minutes last night, which is less than half the game. That is still a lot of time for a forward to play, yet McDavid was not on the ice for the majority of the contest. Is it also his fault that Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner let in a softie for the game-winning goal?

Judging individual efforts solely through the lens of whether it results in winning is caveman logic. Did these two hockey guys ever stop and think for a second that maybe the reason McDavid was a little slower in Games 6 and 7 is because he emptied the tank helping drag Edmonton back into a series they were down 3-0 in? Do they think becoming the first person ever to have back-to-back four-point games in the Stanley Cup Final is easy? The notion of fatigue is not even a consideration in this caveman logic, and the ringzzz culture brainworm has blinded these people to entire weeks of greatness preceding it.

By any objective measure, Connor McDavid was the best player over the past couple of months, which is how the Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded. If Adrian Dater and Josh Yohe want to create a super special playoff MVP award where the voters are allowed to say which games matter and which don’t, by all means, bask in your own selective stupidity, but please stop dragging the rest of us into this nonsense. Connor McDavid deserved to win the Conn Smythe, and if you believe he didn’t, that’s fine, but at least make an argument that demonstrates you understand the definitions of the sport you are supposed to be covering, and get this ringzzz culture bullshit away from hockey before it ruins debates around the sport like it did to basketball.

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