The Vancouver Canucks said goodbye to longtime division adversary Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. Twice.
Despite the fact that Brown will be participating in the postseason, the game against the Vancouver Canucks was the final regular season match of his nearly two-decade long career with the KIngs. And we definitely can’t be doing huggy bye-byes during the Stanley Cup playoffs, other than quickly in the handshake line.
The demarcation is even clearer now between the lovey-dovey regular season and the greatest sporting season of all, the Stanley Cup playoffs.
And so a new tradition has been born. There may have been others, probably, but I’ve seen it this season with Ryan Getzlaf, Brown, and then Zdeno Chara. We’ll get to that oops in a second.
On April 24th the St. Louis Blues lined up to hug and say goodbye to outgoing Ducks captain Getzlaf following his final home game. Apparently it’s now up to whatever team a longtime player happens to finish his career against, to line up and hug that player goodbye.
Shoot! Where was Ulf Samuelsson for Cam Neely’s final match? How about Darcy Tucker saying goodbye to Michael Peca, or Bryan Marchment saying goodbye to anybody.
I thought the Vancouver Canucks organization did a classy thing in the first period by simply announcing during a stoppage in play that Brown was playing in his final NHL game, which happened to be his 1,296th. It gave the good Canadian crowd a chance to express their appreciation with a long ovation and Brown to be humbled and appreciative.
Postgame it came as a mild surprise that the Canucks would all hang around on the ice to give Brown the Blues-Getzlaf treatment.
Late-hit Dustin Brown? Next thing you’ll tell me the Nux will pay respect to Duncan Keith when he retires. https://t.co/DDuiCoUdVV
— Johnny Canucklehead🇺🇦 (@JCanucklehead) April 29, 2022
This tweet response represented a common sentiment from some Canucks fans, often accompanied by dicier language.
Of course, none of the current Vancouver Canucks were here in 2012.
The new tradition has already run into other problems. The Tampa Bay Lightning, anxious to share their respect for 45-year-old New York Islanders defenceman Zdeno Chara following their final game of the season, lined up to hug him goodbye on Friday night. I’m guessing more than a few of them were happy to see him go.
Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the big man that he was retiring. He might be, but he might not be. Trust me, if dude can play another season, he will.
That’s not to say he didn’t appreciate the respect because he definitely did.
And what will the criteria be for hugs goodbye? I sense we’ll start to hear similar jokes like those that come with debatable video tributes that certain players get when they return to play against their former teams. Video tribute jokes for Loui Eriksson was one. Hugs for Alex Edler?
When Sidney Crosby announces his retirement, will every team hug him goodbye after their final game against him. You never know, it just depends on how warm and fuzzy the NHL gets.