What we learned from 2011 Cup final

Bruins forward Milan Lucic offers Canucks forward Alex Burrows a taste of his fingers during Game 3...

Bruins forward Milan Lucic offers Canucks forward Alex Burrows a taste of his fingers during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final in Boston, Mass., June 6, 2011. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI Agency)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:38 PM ET

VANCOUVER - Things we learned from the 2011 Stanley Cup final, one of the most riveting, roller-coaster post-season series in recent memory.

- That hockey still rules in this country. And how. Sure, there are gloom and doom stories of how enrollment in the sport is dwindling and how basketball is gaining momentum in some urban centres. But one look at the tens of thousands of fans clogging the streets of Vancouver hours before the opening faceoff of Game 7, and you realize that yes, hockey really is a part of our national fabric. If you don't believe us, just take a look at the eye-popping record television ratings. LeBron who?

- That biting, diving and acting really puts the game in a bad light. It's naive to think embellishment hasn't been a part of the sport for a long time. But when you do it as poorly as some of the players in this series (Max Lapierre, Brad Marchand, Alex Burrows), it really looks cheap.

- That Kevin Bieksa and Dennis Seidenberg are much better all-around players than we thought, When you get to see these guys on a consistent basis, shift after shift, you realize why their coaches, Alain Vigneault and Claude Julien, covet them so much.

- That Tim Thomas must have hinges on all his muscles and joints, given how flexible he is. We've said it before; this guy is Gumby in goalie pads.

- That trade deadline deals don't always have to be blockbusters or involve superstar players in order to give teams that extra nudge that pushes them over the top in their quest to win the Stanley Cup. The Canucks' Mike Gillis looks like a genius for opting against a big-ticket move in order to pick up depth players like Lapierre and Chris Higgins, who have been key contributors throughout the post-season run. The same goes for Boston's Peter Chiarelli, whose late-season acquisitions of Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley have proven to be key.

- That watching players splattered on the ice with a serious injury is a sickening sight, no matter the colour of the jersey or the logo stitched on the front of it. Here's wishing a speedy recovery to Nathan Horton and Mason Raymond.

- That people in the rest of Canada have no idea just how much Trevor Linden is beloved in Vancouver. No matter who was shown on the Rogers Arena video screen -- Steve Nash, Michael J. Fox or Paul Rodgers of Bad Company fame -- no one elicted a louder cheer from the capacity crowd than Linden. No one.

- That seeing the great Bobby Orr standing at centre ice of the TD Garden, waving a Nathan Horton flag, can send shivers down the spine of a veteran reporter, no matter how many Stanley Cups, Super Bowls, World Cups, World Series and Grey Cups he might have covered over the past two-plus decades.

- That the Sedin twins, no matter how fair or foul they may have played, are class acts when it comes to being accountable and available to the media.

- That it's a good thing the Canucks pulled the plug on those hideous yellow "Flying V" jerseys all those years ago. After seeing some of those retro-sweaters being worn by a handful of fans at Rogers Arena, it's hard to believe opposing players didn't have their retinas damaged by looking at a Canuck player wearing one.

- That yes, it is possible for a Boston hockey team to push the beloved Red Sox off the front pages of the local dailies.

- That the people who own souvenir shops selling Canucks jerseys in Vancouver should be able to retire after this playoff run. You'd swear every second person walking down the street in this town was wearing one. Listen closely, and you can still hear the sounds of those cash registers chinging.

- That hockey remains the best sport in the world. Enough said.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/zeisberger


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