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Commentary: NHL playoffs bring out best in sports

Courtesy of MCT

If you are a sports fan, there is no better time of the year than late April and the month of May. The NHL and NBA playoffs are in full swing, and no one is tired of baseball yet.

Although the NBA playoffs are exciting in their own way and the Indians’ start is promising, the NHL postseason does not get the credit it deserves.

At one point in the first round of the playoffs, there was an overtime hockey game on nine straight nights, including two consecutive game-seven overtimes.

That’s not to say the NBA playoffs haven’t had their own drama. The No. 8-seeded Memphis Grizzlies upset the No. 1-seeded San Antonio Spurs, an upset rarely seen in the NBA but much more commonplace in the NHL.

And there is always the opportunity to root against the Miami Heat.

But I am much more intrigued by the NHL playoffs. I may be biased as a former hockey player and a fan of the Detroit Red Wings, but any sports fan should have an interest in one of the world’s toughest sports.

In last year’s NHL playoffs, fans watched as each of the eight teams made it out of the first round with a different seed.

Although there were only two upsets in the first round this year, the NHL has produced some of the best hockey ever seen in the playoffs.

It is time to give hockey the respect it deserves. It is arguably the most beautiful sport in the world, and the Stanley Cup playoffs should be celebrated for the intensity, effort and sacrifice the players put into every game.

Viewers can marvel at Shea Weber’s playoff beard, a young Tampa Bay Lightning team competing with the heavily favored Washington Capitals and the bitter rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. The Lightning have a 3-0 series lead against the Capitals, and the Bruins lead the Flyers, 2-0.

It is almost unprecedented in sports that the iconic athletes would diminish their icon status, but that is exactly what we see in hockey.

Hockey players put their team first and sacrifice their bodies no matter their status on their team.

After LeBron James’ and the Heat’s preseason championship celebration, the values in the sport of hockey are something every sport can — and should — duplicate.

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