This isn’t the matchup NHL execs envisioned |

This isn’t the matchup NHL execs envisioned

Chris FosterLos Angeles TimesVail CO, Colorado

The NHL may dream of a big market Stanley Cup finals — New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Boston — but it gets Anaheim and Ottawa, cities so nondescript the mayors may have trouble coming up with anything to bet.Still, taking hockey’s center stage will be a high point for places with, um, modest sports histories.Football?Anaheim: Rams move to St. Louis. Rams win Super Bowl.Ottawa: Had two CFL teams fold since 1996.Advantage: At least Ottawans never had to watch the owner/ex-chorus-line girl who jilted them hold up a championship trophy.Basketball?Ottawa: Never had an NBA team.Anaheim: Clippers occasionally played there, so you could say it never had an NBA team either.Advantage: Anaheim residents still celebrate Sterling silver lining; Clips re-upped at Staples Center.Baseball?Anaheim: Angels win World Series. Angels move, in name, to Los Angeles.Ottawa: Triple-A Lynx, International League champions of 1995, will move next season to Allentown, Pa. to become the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs.Advantage: Depends on whether Ironpigs is what you do if your pigs are wrinkled.Oh, and that other sport:Hockey?Ottawa: The Senators were a NHL charter member but vanished after the 1933-34 season only to reappear as an expansion team in 1993. Then they endured bankruptcy, annual playoff collapses, and hockey’s biggest draft-day bust — Alexander Daigle.Anaheim: Cartoon Tinker Bell used to wave wand over the heads of Ducks goal-scorers on TV broadcasts.Advantage: That’s a push.Trivia time:Who won the first Stanley Cup title after the NHL took sole possession of the trophy?National pride, of sorts:The headline in the Ottawa Sun was, “Bring On The Ducks!” Most years, that usually just means hunting season has arrived. This year it’s a battle cry for the Senators, who could become the first Canadian team to win the Cup since the Montreal Canadiens beat the Kings in 1993 (thank you Marty McSorley).That thought has many up north screaming, “Oh, Canada.” Yet, in Toronto, home of narcissistic Maple Leaf fans, the cry was more, “Oh, Tanenbaum.”Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, was cornered by a Toronto Sun reporter who asked whether he was rooting for the Senators.Laughing, Tanenbaum finally replied, “You guys are … well, I’m proud that there’s a Canadian team. And I wish them luck.”Wow, the sincerity meter didn’t even budge.Bandwagon leaks oil:By reaching the Cup finals, the Ducks turned the “future considerations” part of the Chris Pronger trade into a first-round draft pick for the Edmonton Oilers, costing the team a chunk of its recent fan base.“It’s been an interesting spring trying to convince people that after all the fallout (from the Pronger deal) we needed to be cheering for Anaheim up until now,” Oilers’ General Manager Kevin Lowe told the Canadian Press Wednesday. “It’s official, we can start cheering for Ottawa as of last night.”Pronger, meanwhile, was unavailable to blame the Canadian media for Lowe’s comments.Trivia answer:The 1926-27 Ottawa Senators.And finally …Brett Hull’s final words on NBC’s NHL post-game show last Saturday: “I think Detroit is going to win in seven.”Nah, Brett, the Pistons will get it done in five.

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