Have you seen the recent Jaguar commercial? The one where all the British actors talk about how Brits are always the bad guys in movies as they're doing bad guy things like flying a blimp or sitting in a master control room. Anyway, at the end of the commercial they say: "It's good to be bad."
Everyone who isn't a fan hates when New York teams are successful. They simply can't take it. New York sports have always drawn the ire of opposing fans for a plethora of different reasons. The City is the greatest city in the world, every sports team never has to worry about moving, it's the biggest media market in the country and those teams usually get all the attention. Smaller-market teams envy the spotlight and bigger-market teams want to be the biggest market team.
Certain teams garner more hate than others. The Yankees (and their 27 World Series Championships) are usually at the top of the list. And the Giants recent success has helped put them near the top, too. As for the Rangers, however, their road back to the Stanley Cup Final (their first appearance in 20 years) hasn't been smooth.
Which is why I think, for the most part, the Rangers have avoided the external hatred that has rapidly seeped into the NHL during the team's playoff success this year. If you want a really good picture to see how angry fans are about the Rangers dancing in the Stanley Cup finals, check out Adam's work over at TheNYRBlog here.
Fans are one thing, but this little gem from The Columbus Dispatch this weekend was another. Here's columnist Michael Arace talking about how tough it is to watch former Columbus Blue Jackets find success in the playoffs (emphasis is my own):
When the first round was completed, I wrote a fanciful column about how the Jackets could have won the Eastern Conference title - and maybe the Stanley Cup - if they had just picked up another point during the regular season, if they were a No. 3 seed instead of a No. 4. It could have changed everything.
Fanciful, yes, but fascinating to ponder: The Blue Jackets could have had the New York Rangers in the first round, the Philadelphia Flyers in the second and the Montreal Canadiens in the conference finals.
This is assuming much - winning games that were never played, for instance. But I would submit that the Jackets were equal or superior to any of those teams six weeks ago.
It hurts to say it, but the Blue Jackets could have been the Rangers. Expletive deleted. This is getting tough to watch.
Aside from ignoring the reality that the Rangers beat the team that beat Columbus it's hilarious to see other teams remove so much credit from the Rangers' success this year that they actually assume had they played the Rangers they would have won the East. Ignoring the garbage he throws on the players who were traded away in the Marian Gaborik deal, Arace goes on to end his column with this:
Really, though, they are nothing special. The Rangers look like the 2002 Carolina Hurricanes, the 2006 Edmonton Oilers or the 2012 New Jersey Devils. I would bet on their vaporization in the championship round, whether it is at the hands of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks or Carter and Gaborik. I would prefer the former, though.
The narratives some are finding about the Rangers is amazing, it really is. Just to recap:
1) The Rangers only beat the Flyers because the Flyers suck and would have lost to anyone.
3) The Rangers only beat the Canadiens because Chris Kreider intentionally injured Carey Price and that Dustin Tokarski was a waste. Which completely ignores Tokarski's 91.6 save percentage in the series. Since, you know, Price and his 91.9 save percentage would have made all the difference.
4) The Rangers have bandwagon fans who were never there when the team was losing. Minus, of course, the Rangers attendance being at 99% averaged through the seven years they missed the playoffs right before the lockout.
And I won't even get into the horrible things people are saying about the Martin St. Louis situation, which is an area people should never visit in that type of a light regardless of which team it's happening to.
People use these excuses to write off the Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final, just like they did in the First Round. And the Second. And the Third. Noticing a pattern?
So excuse me if I want to throw my chips on the table and bet on this team. Excuse me if I don't buy the narratives people draw up at home to try and make themselves feel better about the fact that they're watching my team fight for the Stanley Cup while their team looks for golf balls. Excuse me if I'm willing to believe that Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers defense won't just roll over and get "vaporized" while the offense curls into a ball and cries because they're playing a team from the West and that's how these things work in their brains. Excuse me if I believe in this team, their ability to compete and their ability to win.
While everyone else is rooting for failure, I'll be rooting for guys like St. Louis and Dominic Moore who have been through so much just to get here. I'll be rooting for this team, who I feel like I've watched grow up over the years, continue to come together as a family. I'll be rooting for this team to keep creating memories for me in June.
That's not to say you should think this is going to be an easy series. Far from it. No Stanley Cup victory is easy, regardless of the opponent. And in the Los Angeles Kings, the Rangers are facing a very good one. But then again, the New York Rangers are a very good team, too.
Go ahead and hate the Rangers all you want. I don't care and they don't care. Personally, I love all the attention, and I know it's coming from a place of jealousy and not reality. And that's OK, sports does that to us sometimes.
So while sports fans from all over the hockey world take a few minutes to spit venom at the Rangers as they pass by before going back to crying into their drinks, remember where it's coming from. Don't get bogged down in that type of behavior. Enjoy it. Revel in it. It means the Rangers are good. Hell it means the Rangers are great.
It's good to be bad.