Picture it: it’s late June, 2013 and Sidney Crosby and his teammates are hoisting the Stanley Cup and drinking champagne after defeating the St. Louis Blues in a taxing six game series.

In the coming days, fans, talk show hosts, and sports columnists aren’t talking about Evgeni Malkin’s second Conn Smythe or Marc-Andre Fleury’s redemption performance that once again has him among the league’s elite goaltenders. Instead, they’re talking about how the Championship has been cheapened by a shortened season and that the Penguins shouldn’t be held with the same regard as teams that won the Stanley Cup during a full 82-game season.

Stick tap the regulars over at LetsGoPens.com for bringing up the topic and getting my wheels turning.

This isn’t uncharted water. The last time this happened, the New Jersey Devils defeated the Detroit Red Wings in 1995, a time when the Internet wasn’t yet prevalent enough to plant the seed and spread the word.

But whether the seed is planted or not, is this line of thinking rational?

My short answer is no.

And now, my long answer.

Ask any player and he’ll tell you the regular season is nothing more than a dress rehearsal for the big show, the playoffs. Whether the regular season is 82 games or 50 games is meaningless, as the best teams will realize the urgency, rise to the occasion, and make the playoffs.

The playoffs are what matter and no lockout shortened season will have any impact on the length of playoff series or the competition faced on the path to the Stanley Cup.

In some ways, it might even be argued that a shortened season would make it more difficult to win the Stanley Cup, as players would be healthier and fresher (generally speaking, of course) than they are during an 82-game season, thus increasing the level of competition.

When discussing what makes hockey so great, never do you hear fans say, “I just love the 82-game season.” Instead, fans talk about the rigors of the playoffs and how it takes 16 wins to earn the most prized trophy in professional sports.

Shortening the regular season won’t cheapen the Stanley Cup, and anyone who resorts to this argument next summer likely will have allegiance to a team that did not win.