The NHL’s Houdini Act | Draft Day Suit

The NHL’s Houdini Act

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are over and have left a lot of fans and analysts debating about whether it was one of the greatest playoffs, from start to finish, in the history of the game. As a Canadian, and a rabid hockey fan, this kind of sticks in my craw a bit. Let me explain why.

You see, just a few months ago, the NHL and its players were depriving me of the game I love so much and it got me angry. It got a lot of fans angry, really. Sports radio in Canada was flooded with bitter fans, calling in to denounce the NHL and promising a boycott upon its return. When the big day came, we fans were ready to teach those greedy players and owners their lesson! The only problem was that nothing ever happened. In fact, the NHL reported higher numbers than it had in years and I was left wondering where all the anger and backlash had gone.

Teams were practically giving away seats to games for the first few weeks, that is, until they realized that people were willing to pay for them, and then they couldn’t take back their offers fast enough. The worst part of it all was that my team, the Montreal Canadiens, were suddenly playing like a Stanley Cup contender and I found myself getting that crazy fan itch. It had happened. I had forgotten all about the lockout, my rotting fantasy hockey team and all the legal jargon I had been subjected to on radio and TV for the past few months and was in “full on” fan mode.

To add insult to injury, the playoffs brought with it a plethora of excitement that made it look like Gary Bettman had hired Vince McMahon to turn the league around. Bitter rivals, Montreal and Ottawa faced off for the first time since the return of the Senators franchise. Boston comes back from a 3 goal deficit with ten minutes left in Game 7 to embarrass the Maple Leafs and their ridiculous “jumped the gun” broadcasters, and Chicago erases a 3-1 series advantage against rival Detroit to advance to the Conference Final. But that wasn’t enough for the NHL, noooo? The Finals gave us triple overtime drama, Patrice Bergeron and Marian Hossa’s toughness, a crazy finish to the final game and one of the classiest things I have ever seen, when the Bruins fans stuck around and cheered for the Blackhawks as the accepted the Stanley Cup.

No one was talking about the Phoenix Coyotes debacle, the cancellation of the outdoor game, the lockout or the many boycotts that were supposed to take place. Gary Bettman wins again and a small part of me is sad that I have been so easily duped. On the other hand, I won that Fantasy Hockey pool, so let’s pop in the 1992-93 Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup video and the beers are on me!

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5 Replies to The NHL’s Houdini Act

  1. Laurie says:

    The same thing happened to me, and although the Caps disappointed me enough by flaming out in the first round not to completely bring me back to my usual level of excitement, hockey will likely dupe me every time.

    Welcome to DDS, @canadiandadblog! Psyched to see you made it over here.

  2. Ralph Hass says:

    Hi Chris,
    Quick correction in your last line:)
    The Habs won the Stanley Cup in 1993 – the LAST time a Canadian team won it all.
    Pittsburgh, coached by Scotty Bowman, beat Chicago in 1992 in four straight.
    This week, Bowman celebrated his 13th Stanley Cup championship with the Blackhawks as the team’s senior advisor for hockey operations. His son, Stan, who is named after the Cup, is the Blackhawks’ general manager and vice-president.
    It is interesting how things evolve over the years…

  3. chris says:

    Hey Ralph, thanks for your comment. Just a typo there, as I meant to write 92-93. Cool stuff about the Bowman’s though!

  4. Sarah says:

    Gah, I’m with you and White. I wanted to stay mad at hockey and got totally swept up in the Caps playoff run.


  5. Christi H. Aguirre says:

    • Why are two games airing on the NBC Sports Network instead of NBC? “It’s always been the system even when you had the NBC Sports Network as Versus — that’s the contract,” Flood said. “We’ve always had the two games there and that’s part of providing the value of the NBC Sports Network to cable operators. Clearly, it’s an advantage to drive the audience back and forth between the two [networks] and you saw it throughout the playoffs. We were getting incredible numbers off NBC Sports Network as well as NBC. The promotion across the two platforms is a huge win for us. That combination is a great way to grow the NBC Sports Network.

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