Every year I ask this question when the Finals are about to start, but this year that this is the hardest decision for Dallas Stars fans to make yet. The New Jersey Devils take on the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals, as the NHL and NBC hope and pray that the LA area is finally aware they actually have a hockey team -- despite being there in some fashion for the past five decades or so.
I had been hoping for a Devils and Coyotes series, mainly because I would have loved to see all the squirming and complaining about how the ratings would be. I'd also have loved to have seen Dave Tippett and Mike Smith make it that far, but alas their good fortune ran short against the mighty Kings. I also wanted no part of the New York Rangers to make it that far in the playoffs, for multiple reasons.
So now that we have the Devils and Kings facing off, who to root for?
The New Jersey Devils is a team that Stars fans -- especially those who have been around for 10+ years -- absolutely despise deep in our souls. This is the team that knocked the Stars out of the Finals in 2000, who seemed so cocky and sure of themselves that year as if it was their right to win it all and Dallas was just standing in their way. What was frustrating was that many felt that 2000 Stars team was actually better than the 1999 Cup winning team, they just hit a wall called Marty Brodeur -- boosted by the system and defense in front of him.
Perhaps it was the constant attention on Brodeur during those Finals, the incessant way they could not stop showing his wife and kids in the stands each game that really made me hate the Devils. I remember thinking that ESPN was desperate for the Devils to win and it felt like everyone was rooting against Dallas -- including the national media.
Then the Devils won in 2000, they traded for Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner and then went on to win the Cup again in 2003. Jamie Langenbrunner was the leading scorer for the Devils in that postseason and he would go on to be a long-time Captain for the Devils -- a team that every Stars fan despised led by one of the most beloved young players of the late 1990s.
What's really interesting is that our distaste and dislike for the Devils comes from that time, a decade ago, and for many Stars fans that hate is still too much to overcome. That hate is so much, it seems, that some Stars fans would rather see the Los Angeles Kings win the Cup over the Devils. To which I say.....what?
I get the hate for the Devils. But right now, these two specific teams in this season -- I don't know how there is a team that Stars fans hate more than the Los Angeles Kings. Here, let me give you a few reasons why:
I only have two words on why I can never, ever openly root for the Los Angeles Kings to win the Stanley Cup.
Let's go Devils.