Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Finals

Well, it went from air conditioning to heat in almost no time around here.

It seems like it was in the 80s and even 90s not that long ago, like a week or so ago. Now it's been into the high-30s at night and hasn't reached 70 during the day for awhile.

Some people like the colder weather. TigerBlog is a fan of summer and warmth. 

In fact, he's in the denial stage, figuring that if he continues to wear shorts then it'll stay warm. That's how it works, right? You wear shorts when it's warm, so if you're wearing shorts, it must be warm.

Sadly, he might have some cause and effect issues mixed in there.

Today is the official first day of fall. It's a different feeling than most - make that all - previous first days of fall for TB.

He's never been a huge fan of when it starts to get cold, but it's also always coincided with the start of a new academic, and therefore athletic, year. That's always been exciting. 

It's not quite the same in 2020, which, by the way, is the most obvious sentence TB has ever written.

With no athletic events on the schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic, now it's just cold weather on the immediate horizon.

The impact of this up until maybe a week ago is that it didn't feel like early September. It still felt like July, the middle of summer, with the new seasons looming out there on the horizon but not quite here yet.

TB has spoken to several people in college athletics who feel the same way. They've all said the same thing, that it's still July.

As TB wrote yesterday, if you did a poll of the people in the athletic department, he's guessing 100 percent of them would say they would prefer to have the events being played as usual, even if it meant more work. That's why you work in college athletics in the first place.

Of course it's not July. It's September. And that means ... the Stanley Cup Finals? 

In 2020 it does.

TB actually went back to see when the exhibition season began for this season, and it actually was one year and one week ago, to Sept. 15, 2019. The regular season began on Oct. 2, 2019. Now here it is, the Stanley Cup Finals. 

If you had gone back to one year ago today and asked TB to write down 10 possible reasons why the Stanley Cup Finals would have been pushed back until late September, he wonders if he would have come up with "global pandemic." He might have had his first though be "labor issue in the league" and possibly nine blank spaces.

And now here it is. Last night was Game 2 between the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

There will be a Princeton winner no matter which team skates away with the Stanley Cup, as Dallas features Taylor Fedun on its roster. Tampa Bay features assistant coach Jeff Halpern. Both of them are former Roper Trophy winners as the top senior male athlete at Princeton, and both won ECAC championships and made NCAA tournament appearances with the Tigers.

Fedun, a 2011 graduate and a mechanical and aerospace engineering major, is third all-time at Princeton in points by a defenseman. He's had a very solid NHL career, first with Vancouver and Buffalo and now with Dallas. In the last two regular seasons with the Stars, he played in 81 games with six goals and 14 assists.

Halpern, who graduated in 1999 with an econ degree, is fifth all-time at Princeton in points. He also had a long NHL career, as well as internationally with the U.S. national team, including serving as captain for the Americans at the 2008 World Championships.

In his 14 years as an NHL player, Halpern scored 152 goals and added 221 assists. Despite being undrafted out of Princeton, Halpern played nearly 1,000 regular season NHL games. 

Now and he and Fedun are going head-to-head for the Stanley Cup.

Princeton has had several winners of the Cup. The list is: 

George Parros '03 (Player) – Anaheim; 2007
Kevin Westgarth '07 (Player) – Los Angeles; 2012
Brent Flahr '96 (Scout) – Anaheim; 2007
Chris Patrick '98 (Director of Player Development) – Washington; 2018

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