Andrew McGilligan | Out of WriteField
“It doesn’t prove nothing.”
“That was a lockout season.”
Those were the comments of Brooklyn Nets forward Reggie Evans when asked by the Daily News what it would mean to defeat the defending champion Miami Heat in an NBA regular season game earlier this year.
Evans is putting forward the asterisk argument, one that has gotten very popular in the past few years. The asterisk argument means an accomplishment – be it an individual one or team – is made less because of varying circumstances. In the Evans case, he regards the Heat’s championship as devalued because it occurred during a shortened season due to a lockout.
The National Hockey League is facing the same question as its season progresses. Should the team that wins a Stanley Cup have an asterisk besides its name in the record books? This should not take place under any circumstance. Just like the Heats’ epic playoff run last season, the hockey world should embrace its postseason heroes and transcendent moments because – until someone proves otherwise – they’re not tainted in any way.
It’s often said that winning the Stanley Cup is perhaps the hardest championship to capture in all of sports. The four-round grind is grueling and will not be made any easier because of the lockout. Players will be a bit fresher heading into the playoffs compared with seasons past, but that should be a selling point not a negative. A shortened season should mean an even higher level of play during the postseason. A great example of this was LeBron James performance during last year’s NBA’s playoffs. James was unbelievable in leading the Heat to the championship and had a game for the ages against the Celtics in Game 6 in Boston.
Perhaps the NHL is hoping for a similar performance from one of its stars, be it Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews or Steven Stamkos.
The NHL knows its best showcase is the playoffs as the intensity increases and the players go all out to win the Cup, that’s why it’s the one part of the season that is not affected by the lockout. The playoffs and schedule will be going ahead as it has in years past.
So no asterisk is needed when it comes to this season’s stats or championship.
Reggie Evans was wrong; a shortened season resulted in one of the best playoffs in NBA history. The NHL will be hoping for a similar outcome when the puck drops on the 2013 postseason.