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Face It, You Are Obsolete.

May 12, 2020, 9:20 AM ET [9 Comments]
Jay Greenberg
Blogger •NHL Hall of Fame writer • RSSArchiveCONTACT
If Raymond Bourque never quit trying to win a Stanley Cup, then in all good conscience how can the NHL pack in the 2020-21 season?

For sure, more things have to come together than they ever did when Harvey Bennett tried to handle the puck. It’s going to take more planning than went into the 1982-83 Penguins for sure. But they haven’t called it by now. So unlike the 1975-76 Seals, we shouldn’t abandon hope.

On the contrary, behind the scenes Gary Bettman is trying to make like Jari Kurri on the short side. It’s kind of like Ron MacLean trying to squeeze in a word on Grapes but it can be done.

Plans are even more secretive than Lou Lamoriello when he was working on the Chris Cichocki blockbuster. But we’re hearing the powers-that-be are in the process of picking four sites for a 24-team Stanley Cup tournament, best-of-whatever-they-feel-like-it. The four places, we’re told, are Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Los Alamos, and the most clandestine arena in the history of the NHL– the Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland.

This is not an easy task. The plan will require an even greater capacity for testing than Scott Mellanby endured from Mike Keenan. Easy enough for Willie Desjardins to quarantine Dion Phaneuf, but outfitting 24 teams in Hazmat suits, making them drive up for three meals a day at Wendy’s and spraying those locker rooms faster than Pierre Dorion can clean house are momentous tasks.

Can’t sneeze at the idea to allow into this modified post-season even fading teams like the Panthers. These days it’s dangerous to sneeze at all. Fortunately, it’s not still the eighties and they only will have to test essential workers for Covid19, not the fans in the Madison Square Garden blue sears for rabies.

Still, as with Brandon Manning trying to move the puck out of his zone, pulling this off will be complicated. As restrictions ease, some of those scenes on Florida beaches–it looks like a team party after an Ilya Bryzgalov trade–are scary. We all need to think like Jacques Plante once did. Not going out there without a mask, no way.

So they’re going to have to do this without fans. And it’s going to be weirder than a Bill Wirtz rationale. In Taiwan and South Korea baseball stadiums, they have put up cardboard cutouts that look about as animated as Dave Hakstol, so who is that fooling? It’s almost as fake as the Kings’ fans filling the Staples Center when the team finally got good. Where were they when Vic Venasky could have used a boost?

In Germany, for a fee you have a cardboard cutout of yourself put in front of your season seat at a Bundesliega stadium. What good is that without anyone to yell “Down in Front!”

You can paint a smile on a face like Henrik Lundqvist has done while splinters collect in his butt, but, like any promise for a quick Ducks turnaround, it’s not believable As in a locker room following a Dave Cameron oration, you still will be able hear a pin drop. Like with any GM working under Brendan Shanahan, you need a hand inside making the lips move. It would be like a Brian Burke promise to work with Keenan, not very sincere.

Pre-recordings are all the hockey we have now on television, so might have to do that for the sound at games. Otherwise, all we’ll hear is Jeff Skinner pulling up when the puck is in a corner. They got to be able to get it loud enough to drown out all nice things being said on the ice to Tom Wilson by opponents. Either that or they will have to start the games after Zdeno Chara’s bedtime, so the kiddies are tucked in and out of earshot.

So while we wait for a vaccine, the race also is on for the development of robot fans, but that should be a snap. These are not complex creatures.

Soon to be introduced as RW1-D2, these machines will be programmed to:

1) Boo a power play 20 seconds into one.

2) Spend more time from a $125 seat texting friends than watching the game.

3) Have four beers at the tailgate, three more in the arena, and then get belligerent at the third period cutoff of sales.

4) Look to Arenavision all night hoping for a five-second shot of themselves, rather than any information about the players they are watching.

5) Abuse anyone wearing a visiting team’s jersey for spending hundreds to travel and support their club.

6) Turn on a mediocre team’s best, and probably hardest working, player because he’s not good enough by himself to elevate all the stiffs around him.

7) Blame the third-year coach when it’s clearly going to take at least two more seasons for the team to be any good.

8) Find that one good puck-moving defenseman that doesn’t hit enough and make his life miserable.

9) Jump to absurd conclusions about management motives based on their own ridiculous paranoia.

10) Boo officiating calls even after the video shows that they were too close to be overturned or even obviously correct.

11) Boo Bettman because. . . uh. . uh. . well…….isn’t everybody else?

12) Become convinced that the league wants a Canadian team to win because it has been so long since one has, an American team to win because of television, a New York to win just because it’s New York or a New York team not to win just because it’s New York.

13) Be convinced the stars get special treatment from the refs.

14) Be convinced that the star on my team draws half as many penalties as he should.

15) Be misinformed and mean on Twitter.

Once these creations are all seated, it will be time to drop the puck.
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