There are all kinds of fun theories that abound in the sporting world–the Curse of the Bambino, the Ewing Theory, and so on. All of them are about as scientifically sound (and intellectually defensible) as Intelligent Design and The Flat Earth theory, but they still make for fun water cooler discussion.
In that spirit I introduce to you, dear readers, a new (and equally unscientific) sports theory:
The Malik Effect–named for this man:
New York Rangers defenseman Marek Malik, aka The Serene Master of Malik-Fu.
The theory behind The Malik Effect holds that any team that beats a team with Marek Malik on it in the playoffs–early rounds or finals–will suffer later on. I shan’t bore you with a big metaphysical discussion of people who can affect the overall luck of others and the quasi-religious clownery that drives the theory–I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.
Known examples of The Malik Effect in action:
1999: Boston Bruins defeat the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Bruins go on to get pwned by the Buffalo Sabres on their march to that year’s Cup Finals.
2001: New Jersey Devils defeat the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Devils go on to choke a 3-2 lead over the Colorado Avalanche in that year’s Stanley Cup Finals and get pwned in Game 7.
2003, 2004, 2006, 2007: Detroit Red Wings find themselves unable to advance past the Conference Finals since beating the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals.
2003: Minnesota Wild defeat the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Semifinals. Wild go on to get swept in the Western Conference Finals by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
2004: Calgary Flames defeat the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Flames go on to the Cup Finals, only to lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.
2005: Hame Zlin beats HC Vitkovice Steel in the Czech Extraliga playoffs after a heated seven-game series. Zlin goes on to get swept in the Finals by Pardubice.
2006: New Jersey Devils beat the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Devils go on to get the crap beaten out of them by the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
2007: Buffalo Sabres beat the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Sabres go on to get the crap beaten out of them by the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Finals.
2008: Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Penguins go on to lose in six games to the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals. Note that the Red Wings, as indicated above, had gone without a Cup since 2002–until this season, when they encountered a team in the Finals that was itself under the Effect’s influence. Note also that Malik didn’t even play a single game in the 2008 Playoffs.
The only two known avoidances of the Malik Effect have come in international competition: Canada in 2004′s World Cup, and Sweden in this year’s Olympic games.
As I’ve said. This is not the most scientific theory in the world. But it’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
Addendum: The Malik Effect has been confused with the Curse of the Sheik, which refers to a team’s loss of luck/mojo when The Serene Master departs (either by trade or free agency) for other environs. That is a separate theory, which I may expound upon once a larger representative sample is acquired.