I am a bitter, vindictive person. Know that.
To compound the issue, I once read a quote that goes, "The only true loyalty in sports lies with the fans, for their team. Everything else is temporal and an illusion." And so it goes, that was the tipping point: I root for two teams -- the Devils and the Saints -- and, for the most part, if you're not wearing one of those sweaters, you deserve my scorn.
Under normal circumstances, good people would watch players leave their favorite team for another with a smile, remembering the good times and wishing that player the best in the future. But as we've determined, I am not a good person. And so I root for the demise of the Anaheim Ducks.
If you're unaware, the Ducks are leading the Ottawa Senators, 1-0, in the Stanley Cup Finals. During the conference finals, I was asked by a co-worker who I had wanted to see win with the Devils out of the playoffs. As liking a team, even temporarily, is not an option, my choice was dependant on the greater of all evils. And so I turned to Scott Niedermayer.
Nieds was an upstanding Devil. He spent 13 years in Jersey, playing an incredibly entertaining and intriguing hybrid of defense; he was a guy who could jump into the mix as a fourth forward. He's an artist on the ice; an absolute joy to watch glide from coast-to-coast, a skater's skater and a stickhandler's stickhandler. He was a crucial part of three Stanley Cup championships, a fan-favorite, and an ambassador for the lovely era from '95-'03, when the Devils were the most dominant team in hockey.
So what makes me cheer against Niedermayer's continued success? His departure from New Jersey was not due to greed, was not littered with harsh words and tales of regret. Pretty simply, he wanted to play with his brother Rob. In 2003, when the Devils and Ducks went seven games in the Stanley Cup Finals, the head-to-head matchup of Niedermayer brothers, and their conflicted parents, was the lead story. And it was enough to convince Scott never to play opposite of his brother again. As a matter of fact, he actually took less money from the Ducks to do so. He left on good terms. I suppose that's admirable.
But being admirable and having a dollar will get you a cup of coffee in New Jersey. Though I remember some of Niedermayer's most successful moments fondly, I hope he never sees another one. It's bad enough having to see another team hoist the Cup this year -- it pains me to watch the playoffs knowing the Devils are doing the same -- it's even worse knowing that while the Devils (and their fans) are feeling a sort of emptiness this year, Niedermayer's career (in the individual and team sense) hasn't skipped a beat. You break up with a girlfriend and remain friends, sure, but it's still a chop to the throat to find out that he or she is getting married while you're eating microwavable pizza and watching Six Feet Under re-runs. And no, I'm not speaking from experience. Ahem.
Under normal circumstances, normal people would want to see Niedermayer win the Cup as a sort of spiritual victory for those Devils teams of old. I'm not a normal person. I'm bitter, and vindictive, and I want the Ducks to go down. Hard.