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Should We Love the Penguins? June 5, 2008

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

The Penguins lose. Thank God for small miracles.

And that has got to be one of the flukiest Cup-clinching goals in the history of hockey. Marc-Andre Fleury thought he had it, didn’t, fell backwards to try to make the save…and ended up knocking the puck into his own net with his rump. Whoops. And now he’s got all summer to ponder that mistake. If you don’t like the Penguins, it’s sweeter than molasses. If you’re a Penguins supporter, it has got to be positively sickening.

No insult to the Red Wings–they played one heck of a series–but I was rooting for the Penguins to lose more than I wanted the Red Wings to win. It’s done. Thanks, Detroit: enjoy that Cup, and enjoy your championship. You’ve earned it, and you couldn’t have beaten a more appropriate team.

Did notice in Corey’s article for the Times that Crosby was “teary-eyed.” He’s known on the Caps message boards as “Crysby”, among other sometimes creative epithets, and he evidently earned it last night.

Of course, before that happened, there was the traditional handshake. I was a little too stunned to stay for the Caps-Flyers handshake after we lost this year–much to my regret–but I watched this one. Since the Caps weren’t losing, I wasn’t as emotional about it, and could watch with less pain.

Now comes the harder spiritual work. I was talking with my guardian angel about the handshake this morning before I left for work, and he gave me a different perspective on the Red Wings’ victory. Is it correct to cheer for someone you don’t like, to lose? We’re taught to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us. With that in mind, how can I be a good worker for the Light, if I have no love for my enemies? Is it time for Caps fans to–yes, I’m going to say it–love the Penguins? After all, we lost to the Red Wings in our only Cup Finals appearance–to some of these same players, in fact. Should we pray for the Penguins and lovingly embrace (in Spirit) their fans, knowing how much it hurts to lose a Cup Final?

Longtime Caps fans are going to laugh me right out of town at the very idea. After all, Crosby’s just lost, the Penguins have been defeated, and all is right in the world again. And don’t Penguins fans act like idiots when they invade our barn? Hurry up, October, so we can get started on our own Cup run.

Hold it. That’s not the point of it all!

What Caps fans are being given here is a teaching moment, and a lesson in Spirit–a lesson on how to love your enemy. I’m not saying I wanted the Penguins to win the Cup: I am still relieved somewhat that Crosby (for now) won’t be getting his name on that famed chalice. But the larger lesson here, again, is “love your enemy.” So, perhaps, as Caps fans, we should reach out to our fellow hockey fans in Pittsburgh in, yes, love, and say, “Hey, we’ve been there already this season, albeit a little earlier than you guys were. It’s a tough way to go, and we feel for you. Good luck next year, and we hope to see you guys in the playoffs.”

I doubt it will happen, however. Most hockey fans aren’t looking for greater truths to the game, and aren’t looking to apply lessons of Spirit to spectator sports. I know this is a very niche viewpoint, and I thoroughly expect to get roundly criticized by my fellow Caps fans for daring to suggest that we love our archrivals. There may even be talk in some quarters that I may be a Penguins sympathizer, which may gain traction despite it not being true. Mind you, I’m not rooting for the Penguins to succeed, particularly if they’re playing against the Caps. I’m simply saying that the lesson we are all being given here is how to love our enemies. I didn’t get this in the wake of the Caps’ loss to Philadelphia, but I think I’m starting to understand it better now.

Now, let me clarify. I am NOT suggesting that the next time the Penguins visit the District, that the stands turn into Woodstock. Far from it: I’ll still be rocking the red, cheering on the Caps, and booing the Penguins and Sidney Crosby as the role of a spirited Capitals fan demands.

Still, it would be disappointing for this moment to be lost in an outburst of “nanny-nanny-boo-boo”. I was part of it last night on the boards, true, guilty as charged. But given some time to reflect, and having been lovingly reminded of the commands of Scripture, I’m going to hold off on any more of that.

I’m still a Caps fan: that’s not going to change. And I still don’t want to see the Penguins win the Stanley Cup. Still, I think that the Penguins and their fans deserve our prayers and, yes, our love, in the wake of this heartbreaking loss. Caps fans can mock me all they want, but I think that is what this moment in time is here to teach us.




1. I Repeat…Should We Love the Penguins? « Capital Spirit - April 29, 2009

[…] readers may remember this post I wrote last summer in the wake of the Pens’ loss to Detroit in the Stanley Cup Finals. No […]

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