The off-season sucks.

What a bittersweet time.  The Stanley Cup is full of champagne or spaghetti or chocolate milk. It has its hair down, tie loose, sleeves rolled up, and is partying like a rock star.

I’d wager that by now the Cup’s had enough fake boobs pressed against it to win an AVN Award (aka the Academy Awards of porn — don’t ask why I know that).

While the Kings bask in its shiny glow and drink themselves into a well-deserved oblivion, the rest of the hockey-obsessed world staggers out into the sun and squints at the sudden contrast in their lives. This thing we got excited for nearly every day of the last nine months is over.

I’ve never been ejected into space, but they say you live for a minute or so before you pass out and eventually die in the in cold, oxygen-deficient nothingness. But when I imagine it happening, the closest real-life feeling I can attach to it is hockey season ending.

Just emptiness. It’s so much worse, actually, when your team has gone deep in the playoffs because the contrast is SO stark. The highest highs and the most heartfelt hopes and then… nothing. So my condolences to Devils, Marlies, Wranglers and all the other fans whose magic carpets have fallen out of the sky recently.

Eventually, though, you find your bearings and settle in to non-hockey mode. You read a book or two, have actual conversations with your spouse where not halfway thinking about hockey while they’re talking, go on vacations that don’t involve going to hockey games, and maybe watch some baseball and wish they’d throw real punches when the odd fight breaks out.

Basically, we live like a normal people for a handful of months.

Naturally, all this time on our hands lends itself to reflection, and today I thought we’d circle back to a few earlier tea times from the season and see how they turned out. Yes, my friends, it’s a flashback episode:

Foxy Stats

Some day my dream of pure Foxy Stats will come true. Is that a valid life’s work? Maybe I could get the CBC to foot the bill for my research!

I brought it a small step of the way by assigning Actual Foxiness rankings to every NHLer, and then rolled it up into a team ranking.

Now, let’s see if there is any correlation between foxiness and success on the ice.

To see how it worked out, I put the final season (non-playoff) rankings in a spreadsheet and color coded each team for their hotness ranking. Reds, oranges, and yellows are higher in the foxy rankings, while greens are mid-range, and blues are really grateful to be rich and athletic.

In the full list, maybe it looks like a random distribution of hotness among the regular season rankings:

But when you split the list into playoff vs. non-playoff teams, look what happens:

The non-playoff list is considerably “cooler” toned than the playoff list, indicating the bulk of the teams rated less Actually Foxy were also Actually Less Successful. Fancy stats!

Obviously, without Actual Foxiness ratings from prior seasons, I can’t go back and check the historical validity, but maybe there is something to that whole, “Look good, feel good, play good” thing (aside from its unapologetic FU to proper grammar).

Christmas Wish List

I wished for 5 things and got none of them. In fact, my first wish for a great hockey villain went entirely the other way. For the first time in a long time, I liked most of the teams and players who made it into the post-season (though the Coyotes did let loose a streak of villainy, didn’t they?)

The most notable example has to be Roberto Luongo, who turns out to be funny, self-deprecating, and super cheeky. I want to say it was better when I thought he was downtrodden and pitiful and overrated – just another example of why the Canucks suck—but it actually feels nice to like him. I’m getting soft in my old age.

Dustin Brown’s Captaincy

Captain Brown

I was bewildered around the trade deadline by rumors (corroborated to me by an NHL insider) of the Kings being unhappy with Brown-as-Captain — or maybe more to the point, that they would prefer to have Mike Richards in the role. Oh, and that Brown was being dangled at the deadline.

If there is any “say what now?” reversal of fortunes this season, it has to be that, right?

Sure, the Kings were a little up and down through the season and maybe Brown is more of a “lead by example” type when the team needed someone more outspoken, but can you imagine if the Kings had pulled the trigger on any of that?

Brown proved himself to be one of those guys teams must have to survive in the playoffs. Offensive touch, unflappable, grounded, tough as nails, relentless, smart. Jonathan Quick might have been the most valuable player, but the Kings don’t win the cup without Dustin Brown.

*******

Alas, the fun and intrigue of this season is put to bed Instead of getting excited about hockey every day, we wait weeks at a time for each new milestone that brings us closer to October’s fresh start: The Draft, Free Agency, and watching the Blue Jays fail to make the MLB playoffs again.

But before we know it, the boys of winter will be back (CBA negotiations willing), and we’ll get to do it all again. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.