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Blues leave me red-faced

Herpes, malaria and AIDS spread from Raleigh to St. Louis.

The Blues clinched the Western Conference championship tonight with a 5-1 victory over the Sharks in St. Louis. That puts the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970, when St. Louis was swept by Boston, with Bobby Orr scoring 40 seconds into overtime of game four after he was tripped by Noel Picard. The picture of him flying through the air past a despondent Glenn Hall (lucky for Glenn, he started wearing a mask when he got to St. Louis, so his visage was unable to be captured on film) is one of the most iconic photos in all of sports.

By winning the conference championship, the Blues won the Clarence Campbell Bowl, named after longtime NHL president Clarence Campbell, the man in charge of the NHL when the Blues and five other teams came on board in 1967.

Last Thursday, Bruins captain Zdeno Charra treated the Prince of Wales Trophy like it was completely diseased when Boston completed its sweep of the Hurricanes in Raleigh.

I thought since the Blues were going to the final for the first time in 49 years, they would give their fans at the Enterprise Center something more to cheer about and skate the Campbell Bowl around the ice.

Nope.

Blues captain Victor Tarasenko and his mates treated the Campbell Bowl like it was the Prince of Wales’ Trophy equally evil twin. The Blues posed for a picture around the trophy, but nobody dared lay a finger on it.

PICK THE DAMN THING UP!

What, are the Blues blaming the Golden Knights’ loss in last year’s final on Deryk Engelland picking up the Campbell Bowl? In case the Blues (and Bruins) forgot, Alex Ovechkin PICKED UP the Prince of Wales Trophy, and his Capitals won the Stanley Cup.

The two years prior to that, Sidney Crosby picked up the Prince of Wales Trophy, but the Sharks and Predators avoided touching the Campbell Bowl. Guess who won the Stanley Cup each time? That’s right, the supposedly “jinxed” Penguins.

The Penguins have won the Prince of Wales Trophy six times. The one time their captain did NOT pick it up was 2008. Pittsburgh lost the final to Detroit. Crosby did pick it up the next year, and the Stanley Cup was soon back in Steeltown.

If the captains are that superstitious, then the NHL should stop presenting the trophies on the ice. Instead, just have the previous possessor of the trophy ship it to the current possessor.

I’m happy for my dear friends Larry and Lisa. Their Blues are finally going to play for the Stanley Cup after so much pain and so many close calls. Larry and I are also old enough to remember when the Blues almost moved to Saskatchewan, but were saved for Missouri by the NHL Board of Governors, who did not want to abandon a market with such loyal fans.

The Bucks sucked tonight. That is all I want to say about that. Then again, the winner of this series will be the Warriors’ sacrificial lamb.

Trophies carrying herpes?

Last night, the Bruins completed a four-game sweep of one of the teams in professional sports I despise the most, the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Bruins won the Eastern Conference championship and will await the Sharks or Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Sharks were gifted a victory in game three Wednesday when Timo Meier committed a blatant hand pass to Erik Karlsson, who scored the winning goal in overtime.

By winning the Eastern Conference, the Bruins were awarded the Prince of Wales Trophy. The Trophy was originally unveiled in the 1920s and given to the team with the best regular season record in the NHL, and it stayed that way until the first expansion in 1967. Then, it went to the team from the Eastern Conference with the best regular season record from 1968-74 before it changed to the team with the best record from the Wales Conference from 1975-81.

In 1982, the Prince of Wales Trophy and its younger cousin, the Clarence Campbell Bowl, were changed to postseason trophies. The winner of the conferences by those names from 1982-83 were awarded the trophies, then when the NHL went back to Eastern and Western for the conference names in 1993-94, the East champion received the Prince of Wales and the West champion received the Campbell Bowl.

Zdeno Charra, the captain of the Bruins, did not touch the Prince of Wales Trophy when it was presented to the team on the ice in Raleigh. The team posed for a photo around the trophy but nobody dared lay a finger on it.

Charra pulled same stupid S**T in 2011 and 2013 when Boston won the Eastern Conference. There’s some asinine superstition that you shouldn’t touch the conference championship trophy, and only the Stanley Cup should be touched.

I have no earthly idea when the conference championship trophies were treated like they had malaria, herpes and AIDS all at once. I find it to be so F***ING STUPID that I want to throw something at my TV every time I see players like Charra, Steven Stamkos, Dustin Brown, Jonathan Toews, Logan Couture and many others treat the conference championship trophies like they should be flushed down the toilet.

When the Islanders won the Wales Conference championship in 1982, ’83 and ’84, captain Denis Potvin picked up the Prince of Wales Conference trophy. In 1983 and ’84, the Islanders clinched the conference championship at Nassau Coliseum, and the Islanders had the unmitigated gall to skate the Prince of Wales Trophy around the ice, even though they won the Stanley Cup previously.

The Islanders swept the Canucks in the ’82 finals and the Oilers the next year. Yes, the Islanders lost to the Oilers in the ’84 finals, but Edmonton had the better team, and the Islanders were hard hit by injuries. FYI, Wayne Gretzky picked up the Clarence Campbell Bowl in 1984 in Minnesota after the Oilers swept the North Stars.

The last three teams prior to the Bruins who won the Eastern Conference–the Penguins in 2016 and ’17, and the Capitals last year–all went on to win the Stanley Cup after their respective captains picked up the Prince of Wales Trophy. And these were two of the biggest names to ever play in the NHL, Sidney Crosby for the Penguins and Alex Ovechkin for the Capitals.

In 2016 and ’17, the Sharks and Predators refused to touch the Clarence Campbell Bowl. Last year, the Golden Knights decided the Campbell Bowl was a fine reward, and picked it up, the first time since Jarome Iginla of the Flames did so in 2004. It was the first time both conference championship trophies were picked up since 2002, when the Red Wings (Campbell) and Hurricanes (Prince of Wales) did so.

Crosby did not pick up the Prince of Wales Trophy in 2008, and the Penguins lost in the finals to the Red Wings. The next year, Crosby DID pick up the Prince of Wales, and the Penguins beat the Red Wings. Crosby should have followed the lead of his owner, Mario Lemieux, who picked up the trophy in 1991 and ’92 and then led Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup.

It would be karma if the Western Conference champion picked up the Campbell Bowl and beat the Bruins. If the Blues win the West, I’m betting they do, because it will be their first trip to the final since 1970. If it’s the Sharks, I bet they treat the Campbell Bowl like herpes.

NHL teams should embrace the conference trophies. It means they have won TWELVE playoff games. That’s something special, I don’t care what sport it is. It should be celebrated.

Robert Kraft has yet to avoid hoisting the Lamar Hunt Trophy after his Patriots win the AFC championship. New England has won a lot more Super Bowls (6) than lost (2) since 2001. So why does Charra not follow the lead of the local football team?

Not jamming with jalapenos, plus the dread of a Sharks-Hurricanes Stanley Cup fina

What is America’s obsession with jalapeño flavored stuff? I understand japalenos on Mexican dishes–even though I don’t like japalenos on my nachos, tacos or enchiladas–and jalapeño poppers at fast food and fast casual restaurants such as Sonic and Buffalo Wild Wings, but it has gone overboard.

Case in point: jalapeño flavored M&Ms.

Just the thought of it makes me want to throw up.

Since when do chocolate and jalapeño go together?

M&Ms has come out with three new flavors, and stores across the country, including Kansas City, Salina and Hays, have large displays featuring them.

English toffee is delicious. I bought a bag at the grocery store in Hays a few minutes ago. Heath and 5th Avenue, both of which feature toffee, are among my favorite chocolate bars. Heath pieces used to be the only kind of candy I would get in a Dairy Queen Blizzard, although I’ve expanded my tastes to include many other flavors.

Thai Coconut? Mixed emotions. If it were just coconut, I would dive right in, because Mounds, which is dark chocolate and coconut, is another of my favorite candy bars. But the “Thai” part concerns me. I can eat the Thai curry wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, but many times, Thai is very hot. I’ll pass unless someone else offers them to me.

Jalapeño? Don’t get me started.

No. No way. I’m not touching that one with a four-meter pole.

My mother might like jalapeno M&Ms. She is a sucker for anything jalapeno. My father, however, has much more sense and avoids jalapenos on anything except nachos at a restaurant.

The craze to put out jalapeno flavored anything is similar to the sriracha craze of five years ago. Buffalo Wild Wings had a sriracha-flavored sauce out for a limited time in 2014, and I told Liz or Lisa or whomever was taking care of me to make sure I didn’t get stupid and order it. I didn’t.

I flat refuse to order anything with sriracha or jalapeno. I also will not touch the mango habanero sauce at Buffalo Wild Wings. I tried it once six years ago and swore NEVER AGAIN. I also tried the hottest sauce at BWW in 2008, and I said NEVER AGAIN. I can take heat, but not ridiculous amounts.

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The NHL is down to its last four teams in quest of the Stanley Cup.

I said after the first round I was hoping for a Bruins-Blues final. That is still a possibility.

Boston plays Carolina in the East and St. Louis faces San Jose in the West, with the winners matching up for the most treasured prize in North American professional sports.

I’d like to see the Blues reach the finals for the first time since 1970 for my two friends who love the Blues, Larry and Lisa. I’m not a fan of Boston’s sports teams, but I can tolerate the Bruins much more than most NHL teams, since they are an Original Six team.

San Jose? The Sharks are the reason why the Minnesota North Stars left for Dallas, so I have a natural disgust for them.

The Gund brothers became majority owners of the North Stars in 1978 after their franchise, the Cleveland Barons, were forced to merge with the North Stars by then-NHL president John Ziegler, since both were teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Ziegler was unwilling to abandon Minnesota, the most hockey-mad state in America, and frankly, neither were the NHL’s Board of Governors. After all, the North Stars were still drawing strong despite some very bad teams in the 1970s, while the Barons couldn’t draw flies during two seasons in northeast Ohio.

Now how does this tie into the Bay Area? The Barons originally began life as the Oakland Seals during the 1967 expansion which brought the North Stars, Blues, Penguins, Flyers and Kings into the NHL as well. The Seals were mismanaged throughout their nine seasons in northern California, at one point falling under the ownership of gigantic douchebag Charles O. Finley, the same many who screwed Kansas City royally by turning the Athletics into a clown show before moving them to Oakland after the 1967 season.

The Gunds became majority owners of the merged North Stars-Barons franchise, and by the late 1980s, they were itching to get out of the Twin Cities.

They did so by selling the North Stars to another turd, Norman Green, and Ziegler and Board of Governors granted the Gunds an expansion team, the Sharks, which played their first two seasons at the Cow Palace in the San Francisco suburb of Daly City before what is known colloquially as the “Shark Tank” opened in 1993. (Ironically, many in San Jose are scared the Sharks will move to San Francisco when the new arena built for the Warriors opens later this year, but that’s not likely).

Green was disillusioned by the North Stars’ home, the Met Center in suburban Bloomington, a stone’s throw from the former home of the Twins and Vikings, Metorpolian Stadium, which was vacated in 1981 and torn down in 1985 to make way for the Mall of America.

Of course, Green did what any piece of feces owner does, he begged the taxpayers of Minnesota to build him a new arena. When the people of Minnesota said no, he took the franchise to that noted hockey hotbed, Dallas, which was desperate to have a winning franchise, since the Mavericks were the worst team in the NBA at that time, several years before sugar daddy Mark Cuban cam on the scene

The same stubbornness of Minnesota voters nearly cost the state its other three franchises.

The Timberwolves were all set to move to New Orleans in 1994 before David Stern blocked the deal due to the shady finances of the ownership group who wanted to move the franchise from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to its mouth. The Minnesota legislature approved major improvements to the Target Center, and the Timberwolves have never threatened to leave Minnesota since.

The Twins were all but set to be contracted by Bud Selig following the 2001 season. Carl Pohlad, who owned the franchise at the time, was all but willing to give up and take the money. But the state said no, and courts within the state blocked MLB from contracting any team. The voters of Minnesota were chastened, and in 2010, Target Field opened.

The Vikings were all but gone to Los Angeles in the middle of the 2000s. Even though the Metrodome was built for them, not the Twins, they complained long and loud once Target Field opened, and the carping became worse after the Metrodome’s roof collapsed in December 2010, forcing the Vikings to move two home games (one to Detroit, one to the University of Minnesota). The Vikings got their new stadium three years ago, and it has already hosted Super Bowl LII and the 2019 Final Four.

I’m not a fan of California hockey. On the other hand, I can understand why the NHL wants to be in the Bay Area, given its population and disposable income. Plus, the Kings needed an in-state rival, although the Ducks came along two years later and gave the Kings one much, much closer to home.

As for the Hurricanes, I hate that the Hartford Whalers, who had the second best logo in all of professional sports (behind the Milwaukee Brewers’ “ball-in-glove’) left for a place which knew absolutely zilch about hockey, a place where it is impossible to play hockey outdoors (except in the winter in the far western part of North Carolina which is colder due to the higher elevation of the Appalachians), a place where anyone who isn’t following basketball during the winter is, frankly, out to lunch.

Fred Demarest, someone I knew from LSU and someone I like a lot, is an associate athletic director at North Carolina State. He has ditched the Devils, the team he grew up following in New Jersey and at William Paterson College, for the Hurricanes. I’ve had to chide him about this. I can understand him wanting to support the team which plays in the place he lives, but the HURRICANES? The slimy Hurricanes, who left Hartford despite strong support?

I do not believe hockey belongs in the south. NO. St. Louis and Washington is as far south as it should extend. I don’t care if Dallas/Fort Worth has 10 million people in the area. NO. And why does it belong in Raleigh, where Duke and North Carolina are king and always will be?

I was nauseous when Dallas won the Stanley Cup in Buffalo in 1999 on a goal which shouldn’t have counted. I was apoplectic when Tampa Bay won the Cup in 2004, and again when Carolina won it in 2006.

If it’s San Jose and Carolina in the finals, I will really be sick to my stomach. Boston and San Jose? GO BRUINS. St. Louis vs. either Eastern team? GO BLUES.

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I was scared the Bucks were going to choke it away after losing to Boston by 22 points on their home floor almost two weeks ago.

Milwaukee hasn’t lost since, and now it is in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2001, and only the third time since last reaching the NBA Finals in 1974.

Rest in peace, John Havlicek, I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you play when you were doing your thing with the Celtics.

The Bucks, who won 116-91 last night to clinch the series vs. Boston in five, plays either Toronto or Philadelphia in the next round. Milwaukee has a bad history in the playoffs against the 76ers, but in many of the previous series between the clubs, the Bucks were the underdog.

My good friend Bill Franques and I are huge Bucks fans. He remembered the 1974 finals, in which the Bucks won Game 6 in double overtime in the Boston Garden on a skyhook by Kareem in the closing seconds, only to lose 102-87 in Game 7 at Milwaukee. That left Bill with a strong antipathy for the Celtics. I don’t have such an antipathy for the Celtics, but I badly wanted the Bucks to win this series.

Just had a Boston Celtics trivia question at Golden Q. It regarded Moses Malone and his stupid comment during the 1981 Finals, which he said after the Rockets won Game 4 91-86 that he could get four guys off the street from his hometown of Petersburg, Virginia and beat the Celtics.

Alrighty then. The Rockets weren’t going to beat Bird, Tiny Archibald and Robert Parish with the team they had, which was Malone, ancient Calvin Murphy and Rudy Tomjanovich, spare parts (Mike Dunleavy, Billy Paultz, Tom Henderson), a servicable player who would never emerge into stardom (Robert Reid), so what made him think lesser men could do it?

Five years later, the Rockets had a better team, led by Ralph Sampson and Hakeem (then Akeem) Olajuwon. But the Celtics were far better; they still had Bird and Parish, but Kevin McHale had emerged into a star, and Bill Walton enjoyed his best season since leading Portland to the 1977 championship. It would take a few years and more favorable matchups before the Rockets won titles in 1994 (the year NBC idiotically cut away from coverage of Game 5 of the NBA Finals except in Houston and New York to show a washed up football player fleeing from the authorities on the freeways of Los Angeles) and ’95.

Less than two years later, Malone was in Philadelphia, and two years after his ill-timed comment, he, Dr. J, Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney steamrolled the Knicks, Bucks and Lakers as the 76ers won their first NBA Title since coach Billy Cunningham played for the team in 1967, so it all worked out for Moses. Rest in peace, big guy.

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The Brewers have won five in a row. Life is good in Wisconsin. Will the Packers oblige? Still have four months to find out.

Sorry for yet another novella. I do that sometimes. No, make that more than sometimes.