Really! What did we witness over the last two nights?

The St. Louis Blues, a 250-1 longshot in January, winning their first Stanley Cup after making a coaching change in mid-season.

The Toronto Raptors, without one lottery pick on their team, bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy home to Canada for the first time.

So much for the favored Boston Bruins and Golden State Warriors who supposedly had a decided edge prior to the Finals because of one key intangible, “experience”.

Sometimes though hunger, hustle, desire, and plain determination prevails.

The Blues and Raptors may not win another title for years or even decades.

If goalie Jordan Binnington turns out to be a flash in a pan, St. Louis very likely goes back to being just another upper middle NHL team.

If Kawhi Leonard doesn’t return to Toronto, the Raptors don’t fall off the map, but they do fall out of the NBA elite.

I am not really a big fan of either the Blues or Raptors but can appreciate watching from a great distance their championship run.

Both teams grinded out 16 victories, winning four series in all different kinds of fashion, and in the end gave their long-starving fans the ultimate prize in sports.

The 2019 titles will give most pro sports teams hope going forward.

It doesn’t have to always be the big name teams from the major U.S. markets that “rule the roost”.

Teams will look back to this year and say to themselves, if the Blues can win or the Raptors can win, we can win.

St. Louis showed resiliency throughout the post-season and won convincingly when it counted the most in Game 7 in Boston by a 4-1 score.

This wasn’t a fluke, they earned and deserve the prestige of being Stanley Cup champions.

In the Raptors case, the fact the Warriors were banged up doesn’t take away from their accomplishment of knocking out the defending champions.

Steph Curry wasn’t himself, and that was because of the stifling defence that undrafted Fred Van Bleet and others on Toronto threw at him.

Looking at the bigger picture, the Raptors are just the 6th team in NBA history to defeat both #1 seeds in a single postseason.

That alone tells us they are full-value for their championship and deserve the accolades that go with it.

We often hear there is such a fine line between winning and losing.

The Blues and Raptors went on a two-month run and peaked at the most important time of the year.

All teams strive for that, but only a select few accomplish it.

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Do we overstate the importance of playing at home?

I realize most athletes-teams prefer to play in front of their own fans, but sometimes an argument can be made that the less pressure of playing on the road can be beneficial.

Look at the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues finished their Stanley Cup championship going 10-3 on the road in the playoffs compared to just 6-7 on home ice.

Furthermore, the Blues and Boston Bruins went a combined 5-2 on the road in the Stanley Cup Final.

The NBA Finals had a similar story where the visiting team won five of six.

In fact, it was the first time the road team won the last five games of the championship series.

A look-back to the WHL Final shows the Prince Albert Raiders and the Vancouver Giants went 4-3 on the road in their seven games.

Granted, there will be years where the home team dominates in a championship series but 2019 results are proof that the location of the game is often overemphasized.

Just ask the Bruins how “home sweet home” was for them in the last three games that were played in Boston.

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

Toronto Maple Leafs last won Stanley Cup in 1967. In 1993, 26 years later Blue Jays won World Series. Now in 2019, 26 years later again, Raptors win NBA Finals. So good news for Leafs fans, guess this means another championship is coming in 2045! (Unless Toronto gets NFL franchise)

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

Nick Nurse’s time out call with three minutes left in Game 5 of the NBA Finals so effectively killed Raptor momentum that the U.S. Forest Service wants to sign him up for avalanche control.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

The New York Jets Le’Veon Bell says his “girlfriends” stole $500,000 of his jewellery. Although being a Jet, it’s pretty certain there were no rings missing.

*Comedy writer Jim Barach http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/

A report says 7 of the 8 most dangerous states are in the Southeast U.S., according to FBI statistics. Especially if your college scheduled a nonconference football game there.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva openly spoke out against gays, then hours later claimed she was misunderstood. More later from the world back-track and field championships.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.

*Charles Wadsworth

Happy Father’s Day to all Dads!

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Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca.
Follow him on Twitter: @Hartley_Miller
Listen to him on his podcast: Hartley’s Cat Scan.