Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Okay, cut them some slack. Because the Vegas Golden Knights are an expansion team, they don’t know that Lord Stanley’s Cup is won on the ice, not by a carnival of medieval—themed nonsense.
The Stanley Cup Finals are hockey’s greatest stage for showcasing its extensive talent. But instead of letting the sport’s pace and ferocity naturally set the tone over time, audiences at home (and at the arena) were twice treated to over-the-top circus spectacles.
Vegas showgirls situated along the glass on the visitors end during warmups. Photo: Dan Rosen
For most VGK games, but especially for games 1 and 2 of the Finals, the hockey world has suffered through its interminable fill of puck-drop delays; deadly catapults unleashing destruction in their wake;
THEY LAUNCHED CANON BALLS AT THE CAPITALS. pic.twitter.com/MnaHh38c9x
— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) May 29, 2018
fake swordplay; off-the-wall levels of ear-splitting decibels; lugubrious, over-the-top lineup introductions; screeching rally sirens; enemy fake blood on the ice; drummers a-drumming, while scantily-clad dancers gyrate to bone chilling and heart pounding noise masquerading as music; archers appearing to cut down outnumbered and vulnerable opponents; a discordance of mind-numbing and epileptic-inducing light shows; a supporting cast of WWE show boaters; and a highly partisan parcel of entertainers designed to froth the audience into a frenzy.
Randy Couture gets the building rockin’ pic.twitter.com/nYsykmW67O
— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) May 31, 2018
Just as bad: NBC, and next, NBCSN, allowed the pre-game to be hijacked. Or perhaps worse, the networks co-conspired with the entertainment powers to experiment on the hockey-savvy audience how much discordance could be endured at a given setting. Quick, someone summon the Special Counsel to intervene and investigate.
By the way, don’t tell me that all of the hot air disgorged by the carnival had no effect on the notoriously poor ice conditions for Games 1 and 2. Some clear-thinking “hockey people” even speculated that the carrying-on constituted a safety hazard for the players.
So, how are the Caps to respond? What should owner Ted Leonsis and Monumental Sports & Entertainment do?
We certainly can’t top the surreal theatrics. But why would we want to?
Photo: Miranda Rosenfelt
Instead of trying to out-vegas Vegas, let’s do the opposite for games 3 and 4. Let’s show the audience and the sport what class looks like. Instead of buffoonery, let’s focus on veterans, on youngsters getting their first glimpse of hockey, on a respectful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and tasteful player introductions that demonstrate sportsmanship, fair-play, and respect for the competition.
Quiet. Professional. Businesslike. Just like our Caps.
We are not bombastic bush-leaguers. Let’s prove it.