5 ways to handle your first Stanley Cup loss

Jun 13 2016, 3:31 pm

Hey there big guy. Rough day yesterday, huh? I’d like to tell you it’s going to get better, but it’s not. At least not for a while. Maybe not until your team finally wins the big one.

I know, I know, that sounds bleak. But I value honesty in our relationship, and I just want to tell it to you straight. Let your non-hockey fan co-worker glibly tell you “there’s always next season!” while you resist the urge to powerbomb them through a table. Me? I’ll be right over here, giving you the straight up truth of the matter: “Next season” is merely a placeholder for “Your sports dreams just died in your arms, but hey, could you get me that file I asked for last Friday?”

Believe me, I’ve been through the entire process before. I know what’s in store for you Sharks fans. I’ve always viewed San Jose as being quite like Vancouver lately. Both have had great regular season teams that haven’t managed to win the Cup. Both have had issues with lack of respect to their players. Both have had odd captain situations. Both have had to watch Anaheim and LA win Cups.

It’s because of that kinship that I want to help. I want to reach out and explain what’s going to happen to you over the course of the next few years. You might think I’m being facetious about this, but I assure you, I am not. I merely want to help.

So what is in store for you? Here are the five stages of dealing with watching your first Stanley Cup loss.

1. Suppression Stage

You’re going to deny that loss even hurt at first. Part of you will go “I knew they were going to lose anyways, so it’s fine.”

You’ll make some token speeches to your non-hockey friends about just being “happy they got there, you know?” Hell, part of you might even believe it a bit. But deep down, there will be a pit of emotions, threatening to rise to the surface at any moment.

It’s important to remember to stay away from friends, co-workers and family members that don’t quite understand your devotion to your team. While well meaning, their attempts to placate you during the suppression stage do perhaps the most damage. During the suppression stage you’ll still be processing a shit ton of emotions behind the scenes, but up front, you’ll be smiling and joking, which makes people think everything is ok to talk about it more.

“Hey man, tough loss last night eh? There’s always next year though! That Couture, hell of a series. Hell of a series.”

“Yep, always next year. Couture did great too, I’m really excited for him next season.”

It’s at this point you’ll walk into the break room and find yourself punching a mirror, blood all over your knuckles, screaming at Mary from accounting for “not giving you enough personal space” before you find yourself at home with a forced “vacation” for a week.

There is literally nothing worse in sports fandom then having to talk to a non-fan about your teams most crippling loss in club history. The amount of pillow suffocating fantasies you have during this period will triple.

2. Anger Stage

Sweet, sweet anger. This is the phase where you’ll find yourself in boxers and a shirt, eating fried chicken, going over “game tape” to find out all the places your team got screwed.

You’re going to focus on the other team’s star player first. For me, it was Mark Messier. For Sharks fans, it’s going to be Crosby. And again, under the guise of being straight with you, this off-season is going to suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

Crosby was already overhyped to begin with. Hell, he had 13 Tim Horton’s commercials before he was 16-years-old. Now those commercials are going to triple. You want to buy your favourite beef jerky? Get ready for “Take a taste of my meat!” Sidney Crosby branded jerky.

Not only that, summer hockey media is a barren wasteland of apocalyptic level of garbage coverage. There is literally nothing to talk about after the draft and initial week of free agency, so “Crosby, is he possibly related to Jesus?” articles will start popping up. As will “Ranking Crosby’s greatest bowel movements” type segments. “Dub step remix of Crosby screaming during games” will be a big hit on YouTube. ”

Also, that shot block Crosby made? That is now going to be viewed like some straight up biblical shit. People will make paintings of it. People in the media will use it as a talking point to prove that Crosby is essentially stronger than a T-1000 and a Jurassic Park raptor combined. Your mom will phone you up and ask you why you didn’t block a shot like Crosby did. It’s going to get ridiculous.

And while this is all going on, you’re going to be sitting there in the dark, remembering every single god damn slash Crosby delivered to Joe Thornton. Every single time Crosby whined to the ref? Burned into your brain. Every time you see Crosby smirk on TV, it’s going to drive you absolutely mental.

Again, I’d love to tell you this wears off with time, but it’s only going to get worse. Crosby will have a career after hockey. You are not going to be able to avoid him, ever. You think this is bad? Imagine him doing a Lay’s potato chip commercial and having to watch him laugh directly at you through the camera, as he eats a greasy chip, his smug stupid face never leaving your TV…

It’s not just Crosby you’ll be mad at, mind you. You’ll find yourself hating refs. You’ll find yourself hating Matt Murray a lot. You know that Game 5 where Martin Jones stole the game AND your heart? You’re going to get real mad hearing everyone talk about “a rookie winning the Cup!” while your boy Jones gets tossed to the curb like a piece of non-important garbage. Role players for the Penguins will always carry the stigma of “one of them” to the point where one of them WILL join the Sharks in the next few seasons and that’s going to be a huge mind **** to deal with.

Also, any hockey playoff montage for the next ten years? Unwatchable. They will without a doubt slip in Crosby hoisting the Stanley Cup when you least expect it. Hell, it could be a commercial for Depends and all of a sudden Crosby will appear and explain how he never lifts a Cup without his adult diapers on, while they show footage of him lifting it.

The important thing is to just let the rage work itself through you. Be aware it will never truly go away, it can be triggered at any time. Just as long as you control it enough to get to the…

3. Conspiracy Stage

This is where the online world becomes both your best friend and worst nightmare.

On one hand, it’s great to have other people who know what you’re going through. On the other hand, you’re going to find yourself researching every single thing about the Finals to figure out who was against your team. First stop? Gary Bettman.

“He didn’t want our team to win…” you’ll find yourself muttering. He wanted the Penguins to win, you see. He wanted that market to win because Crosby is their star, Crosby is the golden child. He’s never cared about Thornton or San Jose. He knows the fans will keep watching hockey in San Jose no matter what. But he has to keep those crappy bandwagon Pittsburgh fans happy, so he wanted them to win. WE’VE SEEN THE E-MAILS MR. CAMPBELL, WE KNOW THE NHL IS DIRTY.

After that, you’ll move onto the refs.

You’ll start researching every single thing about them. You’ll have spreadsheets and pie graphs proving, PROVING WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT, that a certain ref historically calls more penalties against Western conference teams. Look, look at this YouTube clip. LOOK AT IT I SAID. Tell me that isn’t a boarding call?? What about that hook! The ref was looking straight at it!

Then you’ll jump back in time. “Remember the NHL draft where the Penguins got Crosby?? HOW COME THEY DIDN’T SHOW THE SELECTIONS ON CAMERA? HUH?? EVER THINK ABOUT THAT??” Obviously the NHL wanted to save Pittsburgh so it gave them Crosby. Poor little Pittsburgh that can’t handle having a hockey team without a generational star got one gifted to them by a Mr. Gary DUNCLESWORTH Bettman (you’ll start making up weird middle names for Bettman. Don’t ask me why, it just happens.)

All of this leads to the…

4. Depression Stage

All of that anger, suppression and conspiracy talk takes a lot of effort, you know? It will probably be around the beginning of August that you’ll just sit stone faced in your room, wondering why the Hockey Gods hate you. Why the specifically decided to make you their personal whipping boy/girl.

You’ll avoid social media. You’ll avoid all sports shows. The normal happiness of an upcoming season coming up will fill you with sadness.

You’ll probably find yourself trying hobbies you don’t really want to do, but because you’re dead inside you’ll just do it anyways. You’ll find yourself making coffee mugs or learning origami. At one point you’ll binge watch a Netflix show that everyone always raves about but you just never got around to. All of a sudden House of Cards will become your place of refuge, until you realize Frank Underwood is basically Sidney Crosby, so you turn that off too.

The worst part about this stage, though? The alternate universe-ing you’ll do.

You’ll find yourself watching clips of the Stanley Cup run and begin fantasizing about different outcomes. That Pavelski miss?

Penguins Sharks tweets

It sounds crazy, but it could actually have been worse. A game seven post in the last few minutes of a game? That’s the sort of thing you never recover from.

Still, I don’t want to take away from the brutal emotional impact that Pavelski miss will have on you. You will re-watch that clip a million times. Each time you’ll watch it, wondering if THIS will be the time that puck goes in the net, and maybe you just had it wrong all these years.

You’ll fantasize about how if that puck went in, the Sharks would have had the momentum. They would have won the game in overtime off of a heroic effort from Joe Thornton. Then they go into Pittsburgh having won two games. The Sharks have figured out how to win by this point. There was no way the Pens would have stopped them. That game seven would have been a mere formality at that point. If only Pavelski had scored…

That miss will become your Back to the Future moment. The moment you would choose to go back in time to correct. You’d go in the stands and scream out just seconds before Pavelski shoots “aim more to the left!!!” and he’ll score, and the Sharks will win, and the Cup will be yours, and you’ll deal with the repercussions of casual time traveling later.

While this stage never truly ends until your team wins the Cup, it eventually simmers down which lets you hit the…

5. Acceptance Stage

“There’s always next season!”

Those merry words tossed your way like a scrap of meat tossed to a stray dog just days after the Finals will suddenly ring true.

It takes time, but eventually you’ll find the energy for another run at the Cup. Yes, your team might not make it back for many years. But hey, maybe they do. Maybe this IS the year they put it all together. They made it to the Finals, so the team should know how to get back there, right?? They know what it takes to win the Cup, damn it! Our young players are gonna be even better and our veterans are going to not deteriorate in the slightest, this could be our year!

And hey, if not, you can always celebrate the 2016 San Jose Sharks until the end of time, right?

Wyatt ArndtWyatt Arndt

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