I love this idea that the West is so much tougher to play in. Yes, for some of the teams the travel is pretty rough, but really the teams aren't much tougher or bigger or meaner. Let's look back to the start of this millenium here......Zedlee wrote: Gomez...duh, no. He's a pip squeak who has spent his entire career in the East. He'd be eaten alive playing in the Western Conference.
2000-New Jersey (East): Outside of Stevens and maybe a couple others, this team wasn't really a bruising squad.
2001-Colorado (West): Blake and Foote, maybe Claude Lemieux, but nobody huge.....or was Chris Simon on that teams?
2002-Detroit (West): Definitely not a "big and tough" team that will beat you up and hurt you.
2003-New Jersey (East): See first entry.
2004-Tampa Bay (East): Some players that were willing to battle, but not a big strong and physical team.
2005-Bettman and Owners (East)
2006-Carolina (East): Same as Tampa, with a hotter goaltender.
2007-Anaheim (West): Arguably one of the dirtiest teams to ever win the Cup. This was a bruising bunch of guys.
2008-Detroit (West): See previous on Red Wings.....though think smaller.
2009-Pittsburgh (East): The Crosby and Malkin lead Pens? Yeah, tough guys.
2010-Chicago (West): Strong team, like to play hard, bought their Cup, have been mediocre since. Definitely a tough team.
2011-Boston (East): Meanest and dirtiest team I've watched in a while.....but the 2007 Ducks were close.
2012-Los Angeles (West): Tough team. No question.
Gomez has two of the 12 rings listed up there. He can hack it. He just got lazy and didn't put the effort in for the Habs. It's an even split for Cups between east and west since 2000. LA and Boston balance the scales on either coast for tough, physical play. There are a few teams in the West that are a bit bigger, but they often don't perform as well as they should. Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Dallas, Detroit, Colorado, Phoenix, Columbus, even Chicago now. Those are teams that aren't scaring anybody right now when it comes to being "big and tough". St. Louis, San Jose, Nashville, and Minnesota, are teams that can boast some size or some guys that like to hit. But I don't see them being any more physical than any NYR, Philly or Winnipeg. Anaheim ranks up there just behind LA and Boston. So what? Two teams in the West can say they are tougher than 14 of the teams in the East? Big deal. Few players are "too small" to play in the West. You are either too small for the NHL or you're not.