Breaking up is hard to do.
Despite a little over a week’s time passing in Orange County and the Anaheim Ducks moving well into whatever offseason plans the organization may hold, amidst locker room clean-outs and interviews held earlier in the week the bitter sting of an almost ridiculous Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Kings still looms in the air — for fans and players alike.
For the fans, the feeling stems from the immense disappointment of being promised the moon but only shown the stars. Cliche? Yes, but true nonetheless.
The season’s abrupt and devastating finale is the end cap on a year laced with victories earned by a team that never seemed to understand the definition of giving up; the Ducks always pushed and often times found victory in the oddest of scenarios. Which is why the showing in not just the last game of the series, but quite frankly Game 6 when Anaheim had the opportunity to clinch the series but failed to do so, seems almost unreal. After a team proves time and time again the capability to push through adversity, why in the most important moment of the season did they not do it? Fatigue, both mental and physical, could have played a part. But there are still no concrete answers, and unfortunately there never will be. This is sports, after all, and there can only be one winner. For this season, it was not the Ducks.
Ironically, the type of record-breaking year Anaheim played through was abruptly ended in the same kind of loss the Ducks’ 2013 postseason chances ended on as well, one that was promised time and time again would not repeat — the “unfinished business” the Ducks and their fans bought into all season. And perhaps this is where the sting is strongest for hockey fans in Orange County — over the point of when will the words of this team and the actions of this team finally meld?
A long summer awaits Ducks fans and an even longer one awaits this organization.
While fans like to think they know all, they do not. Because despite what the season-ending demise of the Ducks looked like, you have to know Anaheim did the best they could even if it wasn’t good enough. In his exit interview, Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano blatantly stated that he couldn’t explain the difference between the Kings’ execution and the Ducks’ lack thereof in the last couple of games.
And while empty and without promise, perhaps Cogliano’s words were the most important for fans to hear. Because while others chose to point out the numerous good points of the season, the frustration that stems from empty words is still all encompassing. And it was nice for a familiar, trusted face to genuinely echo the frustration felt by the ever faithful who trudged past often times rude opposing fans to cheer on their boys in orange each and every night.
So yes, the summer will be long for both sides of the line, but next season will come; it always does. And with it comes a new string of chances at the right to be called champion once again. Isn’t it the endless opportunity to be named the best, year in and year out, that keeps us as sports fans so addicted to this great game? But for now it hurts. For now being left behind is never fun. For now — breaking up is hard to do.