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Game 7 etc. open thread: someone will make the worst kind of history

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The Florida Panthers had a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup finals, and then this appeared:

The Panthers have been outscored 17-5 since this whatever you call stuff that appears on Truth Social appeared. Good preview of what a second term would look like.

The first game 7 in MLB/NBA/NHL since 2019 would be notable and fun in any context, but this is something else. If Florida finishes gagging, I agree with Sean McIndoe that this would be the worst collapse in the history of major North American pro sports:

The problem is, when it comes to this Panthers collapse being the worst of all time, I don’t have 2,000 words for you. I don’t need them.

I only need one: Yes. And then a few more: It’s not even close.

Believe me, I tried. I went back over the history of teams blowing leads. But there’s no reasonable argument that anything in NHL history comes close to what we might be about to see.

Let’s start with the obvious comparison: The 1942 Stanley Cup Final, the only other time that a team came back from down 3-0 to win a championship. That’s not just in the NHL, by the way — it’s the only time it’s happened in any of MLBNBA or NHL history. That year, the Maple Leafs came back to beat the Red Wings.

Does that work? Not really. Put aside that we’re talking more than eight decades ago, a series that virtually nobody reading this will have any recollection of watching. The early 1940s were also the middle of a World War, one that saw many of the world’s best young athletes called to serve overseas. The NHL’s MVP in 1942 was Tom Anderson. The points leader was Bryan Hextall. This wasn’t even the Original Six era, because that hadn’t started yet. I love NHL history as much as pretty much anyone out there, and even I’m not going to pretend that there’s any sort of comparison here.

Besides, those 1942 Red Wings weren’t very good. They’d finished fifth in a seven-team league, with a record well under .500, and had made the final only due to the league’s extremely strange playoff format. They were probably just happy to be there. Unlike, say, the Panthers, a team that’s spent weeks telling us about how they’ve promised themselves that they’d make it back to the final and finish the job.

So 1942 is out. But the problem is, once you do that, you’re really all out of realistic options. The Islanders were the next team to come back from down 3-0 to win a series, in 1975 against the Penguins. That was a matchup between a pair of recent-ish expansion teams. It was a big win for the Islanders, sure, and a bad loss for the Penguins. But it was the quarter-final. It’s not in the same ballpark.

[…]

All those losses were devastating — the kind of absolute gut punches that some fans still aren’t ready to talk about. Those losses can make you cry. They can make you re-evaluate your fandom. They can leave lasting psychological scars.

But they’re not blowing a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, while seeking your franchise’s first championship, in a wired age where the whole world can watch and the hot takes will be flying.

The biggest collapse in NHL history? Maybe it’s the wrong question. What about the biggest in sports history, period?

That’s closer to a debate. I don’t think the NBA or even MLB can offer something close, although Red Sox and Yankees fans might disagree. The NFL could make a case for the Falcons blowing a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI. I don’t know enough about soccer or other sports, so maybe somebody can make an argument. Has an Olympic gold medal race ever ended with someone tripping over their own shoelaces and face-planting right at the finish line?

The 2004 Yankees would be closest, and you could make a case for it given the history between the two teams, the Yankees having a late lead with Rivera on the mound in Games 4 and 5, the bloody sock and ARod’s slap in Game 6, etc.

You would like to see two large NHL fanbases involved tonight instead of one, but still I think the fact that this is happening in the championship round, with the greatest player to enter the NHL since Lemieux if not ever having the chance to do something truly historic, would put it above even 2004. The other closest analogy would indeed be 28-3, but the agonizing nature of blowing a 3-0 lead in a best of 7 is I think on a different level.

The white fly in my Barbera d’Asti* is that whether I will be able to watch this rather than listening and piecing through highlights in Twitter will depend on what stations this hotelier in Turin decided to include in the cable package. (The hotel in Lyon came through for me in Game 6 so we’ll see.) I also know I’m an old-timey sports fan in that I stand to win upwards of two grand should the Oilers pull this out thanks to a “if I’m going to be miserable I’m going to get paid” futures bet from the fall, and yet I have indeed been miserable after every Panthers loss.

Given the number of casual fans that will be tuning in, I hope above all else that it’s a great game. I have to admit that I see this going about as well for the Panthers as Game 7 did for the Yankees in 2004, but PROVE ME WRONG, boys. Oh, and it’s Dry-sigh-tl.

*I swear this post was in the hopper before I found out about this:

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