...But boy, it sure sucks knowing the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin tonight and I'm not going to be there.
No butterflies in the stomach. No giddy dreams of parades in June. No rushing out to buy tickets. No flippin' nothin'.
For the first time since I threw my allegiance behind the Ottawa Senators on the eve of the 1997 playoffs (after seeing Wade Redden's picture in the Ottawa Citizen), I won't be watching my beloved team compete for hockey's Holy Grail. For those of you counting, that's eleven years of playoff hockey for this kid. I don't know how to deal with anything else.
Early playoff exits at the hands of the Leafs? Sure, I can handle that.
Giant disappointment in the Eastern Conference finals against Jersey? Bring it on.
Even a heart-breaking dismal run against Anaheim in the Stanley Cup Finals...I'd take it.
I'd take anything over this empty, hollow feeling that I have right now.
The good thing? It's not like this comes as a surprise. It's not like we were in the midst of a dogfight up until the final buzzer sounded, and just at the last minute, we found out that some other team came up with an extra point that put us on the outside looking in. Now, that would be shattering. Fortunately (I guess you could say), this has pretty much been a known fact since fairly early on in the year. The Sens spent most of the season below .500, and while there were faint glimmers of hope after Cory Clouston took over behind the bench, their making the playoffs would have been a miracle. And while we optimists prayed, I don't know if any of us truly held any strong belief that it could happen. At the end of the day, this absence from the playoffs comes as no great shock. It's something I've been preparing for since, oh, Christmas maybe?
Still doesn't make this feel any less surreal. Me. Not excited about the playoffs. No team to cheer for. No passion and excitement. BLAH.
So, while most other Sens fans are finding alternatives, likely throwing their support behind another Canadian team, perhaps the Montreal Canadiens, I have another choice.
You see, every year that the Ottawa Senators played for Lord Stanley's Cup, there was one familiar sight on the blueline: Wade Redden's #6. And lo and behold...Guess who's keeping his streak alive? Yup. You got it. Redden's Rangers will be taking on the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, which means that every year that he's played NHL hockey, Wade Redden has been in the playoffs. (Every year, except 1999-2000, when he missed the playoffs due to an ankle injury).
And while I won't be able to cheer for my Sens this Spring, one thing will remain the same.
I'll be cheering for Wade Redden in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Do I care about the New York Rangers? Not really. And according the tiny bit of research I've done, it's not likely that the Rangers will even make it past the first round, going up against one of the hottest teams in the NHL in Alexander Ovechkin's Washington Capitals. Their record against the second-place team in the East this season was 0-3-1. Oh, and they have that doof Sean Avery, so it makes it even harder to get excited about them. (I really hate that guy).
But Wade is more important to me than any of that.
So while I struggle with this empty, hollow feeling of not having the Sens in the postseason, I do still have him. And I wish him the best. Should he somehow manage to hoist the Cup this year, it will the most bittersweet of moments. I dreamed of watching him do that in Ottawa, and seeing it happen with any other team will be heart-wrenching.
Still, I would be thrilled for him. Maybe a little jealous, but thrilled nonetheless.
I am still a Sens fan. But for now, all I can say is...