When I was a giant sports fan nerd of a kid, one of my favorite things to do was watch the year in review highlight reels on New Year's Eve. I also enjoyed reading the best of ___ articles. But not this year, and not from a lack of highlights. This year's editions, have actually managed to make me angry. Mostly SI hosing Thomas for Sportsman of the year and the collaborative "effort" put together by Grantland (run by alleged Bruin fan and Casual Sports Guy Bill Simmons). The reason for my disgust is the complete lack of anything even beginning to mention the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins. *I should
Now, I'll admit, I'm biased. I love the Bruins and I love the NHL. But this wasn't an ordinary Stanley Cup run. This was an American Original 6 franchise. In a major media market. Who hadn't won the cup since 1972. Even if it were only that, it would certainly deserve mentioning in a "Year in Review" column, but that's not all. The hero of this Stanley Cup run was really a story that even Disney would have rejected as implausible. The Conn Smythe trophy winner was a goalie who spent 2 full seasons in his 20's tending net in Scandinavia, which would at least somewhat reasonable, if Tim Thomas was Scandinavian and not from Michigan. His parents sold their wedding rings when he was younger so he could attend goalie camp. His own team never really seemed to want him, until his first Vezina Trophy season in '08-'09, and potentially fielded trade offers last offseason when the team looked to be in Salary Cap danger.
Thomas won 3 game 7's along the way to a Stanley Cup victory, 2 of those by Shutout. He became only the 2nd American born player (Brian Leetch was the first) to win the Conn Smythe. In the Stanley Cup Finals against the league's best offense in the regular season, he allowed 8 goals in 7 games. He posted a GAA of 2.06 and a .937 save percentage in the playoffs, easily the best player in the postseason.
Contrast that story with the champions of the other 5 major sports in 2011 and remember that last year was not an Olympic or World Cup year as well. In football, the Green Bay Packers won their 4th Super Bowl behind a 1st round draft pick of a Quarterback. Their Super Bowl drought had lasted all of 14 years. In College Football, another SEC team won a National Championship, behind a highly recruited Quarterback who got kicked out of another SEC school for stealing a laptop. In College Hoops, UConn broke their streak of 7 years of not winning a championship. The NBA Finals was a pretty decent story with the Dallas Mavericks winning a championship for the first time in their history (which never even saw the 1970's), their best player was another high draft pick, and the Finals itself only seems notable because they defeated a self-proclaimed "Dream Team" which featured two stars, a completely overrated 3rd wheel and a cast of nobodies. The Miami Heat were so dominant that they won exactly 1 more regular season game than the Mavericks. That leaves us with the St. Louis Cardinals, which ended a drought of 5 years without a championship for the National League's most successful franchise.
Obviously there's no convincing me that Tim Thomas wasn't the best story in major sports in 2011, but even if you COULD convince me that he wasn't, he certainly deserved mention from national publications in their year end reviews, unless you know, they don't have a vested interest in covering the NHL or something like that. It may be little consolation Timmy, but 30 years from now, you're the sports story from 2011 that will still stand out in my mind.