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From Our Cheek to Gary's Ears: The Plan to Resume

April 21, 2020, 9:36 AM ET [4 Comments]
Jay Greenberg
Blogger •NHL Hall of Fame writer • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The days are draining away like places where Phil Kessel might still be a good fit. It’s almost May and, unlike the Bruins twice in a Game Seven, all of us can count. We’re looking at a season resumption of July 1 at the very earliest, not very convenient since that’s always the time Sam Gagner needs to pack.

Because this normally is playoff time, somebody at the NHL Network believes we will watch anything, as proven by its airing the 2020 Skills Competition the other night. But, much as we think we miss hockey, playing it in August might be an even harder sell than, say, the Devils on a multi-year extension for PK. Subban.

On an optimistic note, Florida beaches are opening again. The other day a whale washed up, and, depending upon what kind of shape Big Buff has kept himself in, this could be an omen.

In the meantime, we’ve been good boys and girls, staying at home a lot longer than Larry Sacharuk ever did with his team up a goal in the third period, for sure. We’re getting even more antsy than obviously Kelly McCrimmon was to get rid of Gerard Gallant after a couple of losses. But with much alacrity than Kaapo Kakko–judging from that plus-minus–we wonder when it is safe to go.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the smartest guy in a room since Brian Burke, cautions against opening up too soon and winding up like Allen Bester’s five-hole on a Michel Goulet penalty shot. There remains more unknown than Shayne Gostisbehere has been to his defense partners. This corona virus might have more lives than even Mike Sillinger.

Our first obligation is to thank the first responders who fearlessly saved Claude Lemieux’s life time and again. And we must never give up hope on finishing the season because, despite it all, the NHL still hasn’t cancelled. We can only assume that Gary Bettman, too, is washing his hands frequently but not of the season, even if it means finishing the 2019-20 one while 2020-21 is underway. This could be a little confusing to Patrick Marleau, trying to figure out if this is the alternate year he’s supposed to be in San Jose or not. But that’s why there are airplanes. Or, used to be, anyway.

Meanwhile, if Bettman needs a little help, we’re here for him at HockeyBuzz with a way the NHL still can complete 80 games and yet get in four full rounds of playoffs. You may think this is more laughable than the idea of Andreas Athanasiou putting the Oilers over the top. But unlike the Penguins when Mike Johnston spoke, you gotta hear us out.

The key will be a schedule more compact than even Darren Pang, with less wiggle room than Bob Gainey gave Reggie Leach. Gotta jam more games into a short period than even Espo did trades when he ran the Rangers. But, much like Mike Bossy shooting at Jim Bedard, we can get ‘em all in, no sweat. Just gotta be in a little more hurry than Behn Wilson ever was to move the puck, that’s all.

Training camp will last two minutes and 45 seconds or until Steven Stamkos gets hurt, whatever happens first. There will be some rust, sure, but the players can be sprayed with WD-40 to hasten the lubrication process. This won’t make Joe Thornton move any faster at his age, but at least his body parts won’t make as much noise.

All the games will be moved to one site–the Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa–where seats have already been more thoroughly sprayed than shots off Nikita Zaitsev’s stick. There, you don’t have to worry about fans sitting too close or getting in and out during the 28 seconds there will be between games. If there is no vaccine by then, Craig Anderson will be injected with truth serum and be forced to admit he can’t it anymore.

The season will resume at 5 am. July 1, once Louis Domingue has been traded again. There will be day-night double headers, twi-night doubleheaders, triple headers, round-robin tournaments and dance marathons. It’s going to be more fun than even a Mike Keenan bag skate.

Wally Harris is coming out of retirement so there will be no whistles and the clock can run continuously, like Pierre Maguire’s use of the word fabulous, or for as long as his legs hold out Behind the Glass.

The players have rested long enough, can’t wait to get going. Toe Blake always used to love the guys who ate, drank and slept the game and that’s what they are going to be doing as play continues. Curbside pickup of both food and Carl Hagelin at a re-set trade deadline will be available. Port-a-toilets will be placed in the faceoff circles to shorten delays in the action. Period breaks will be only long enough for Jeff Blashill to send out his resume.

In the meantime the next game will have already started, and if the Red Wings are playing it will be over quickly, a good thing so that contest after that also can begin. To save time, the Zamboni will come on the ice while the puck is in the other zone. The color commentator for every game will be Paul Woods because he talks fast.

Both bluelines will be taken out, so that there will be play in the neutral zone, which only Roger Neilson ever paid any attention to anyway. A player will be automatically ejected once he scores two goals because it takes too much damn time to bring the puck back to center ice for a faceoff. Coaching challenges will be permitted only in cases of complete disbelief, such as after any goal scored by Mirco Mueller. Nick Jensen will not be allowed to shoot because the puck travels too damn slow.

It’s all gonnaruntogether, like Sabre seasons by now without playoffs,. But this way the schedule should be complete by July 15. No need to compromise the playoffs either. They will begin with the Blues being given 90 seconds to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo or vacate their title, fair enough since we all know they have no chance to repeat without him anyway. The Leafs will be allowed to mail it in the first round again, and save their fans from wasting their time when there is none to waste.

Playoff games will begin with a shootout, followed by a three-on-three. The Penguins won’t complain since they win with three players anyway.

When the Cup is awarded, there will be no time for any triumphant trips around the ice, sorry about that this year, because training camps will be opening again in 45 seconds. Alas, no awards ceremony this year in Las Vegas, either. For incentive reasons, we already have given the Hart Trophy to Jesper Fast and the Vezina to Jonathan Quick.

Unlike the Sabres with Marek Zagrapan, can’t waste time waiting for things to develop. Everything must be kept moving at the necessary pace so that no virus ruins next season, too. Therefore, to cut down on the speeches, the Hall of Fame will induct a class of only one: Marty Turbo. And as long as Pokey Reddick doesn’t make a comeback,the NHL will be saved.
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