Watching the Tampa Bay Lightening celebrate their second Stanley Cup championship was just plain weird.
There were no fans, no home arena rocking off the slabs or even a road arena where disappointed diehards stand to applaud their beloved losing team and give praise to the winners.
The one constant was Commissioner Gary Bettman handing the Cup to the team captain. Every Cup celebration reminds me of 1998 Finals when the Detroit Red Wings swept the Washington Capitals to win their second straight championship.
I ran into Bettman under the stands at MCI Arena in Washington moments before he took the ice to present the Cup to captain Steve Yzerman. He was chatty enough saying how this was great for Detroit, great for the Ilitch family and a great moment.
Then I ruined the moment by asking Bettman what it would mean to the league if this were the beginning of a Red Wings dynasty. I swear the man looked at me as if I had gas. That was the moment I began thinking Detroit was not his favorite franchise.
I asked the question because the Red Wings are good for the league. If you travel around the country you see pods of Red Wings fans in San Jose, Phoenix, Denver and every spot in between. There are Red Wings bars in Denver and Chicago. When the Wings do well television ratings soar.
I understand the need for the Commish to appear neutral. Bettman could have given me a canned quote how this was good for Detroit and how the Wings were a great organization.
Instead I got that “Do you have gas? look, which I may have after eating an MCI Arena death dog.
The Red Wings created a dynasty any way, winning four Cups in the span of a decade.
We always suspected the apples of Bettman’s eye were the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby. A trip to New York City and the NHL store confirmed that. It looked like the Penguins gift shop. And the Red Wings were still champions.
You could still purchase Red Wings stuff if you had a magnifying glass and road map.
So I become a little suspicious when the Wings grinded through one of the most dismal years in NHL history and get the number four pick in the draft. It is probably wrong to say this but I believed that Bettman fellow was some how behind it.Find Terry Foster Podcast here: