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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Well if The NHL Can Take Forever Off, So Can I

So the Campbell Conference Western Conference Finals ended earlier this week, and the NHL in their infinite ability to do everything smartly won't be starting the Stanley Cup Finals until this coming Monday.

Memorial Day.

Leaving this amount of time between when the last Conference Final ends and the Cup Finals begins leaves hockey fans bored and wondering about what's next. This year, it happens to be convenient that the Finals will leave fans in the same condition as well. Very bored and very eager for the next season to begin already. I've already sounded off about the NHL officials both big and on the ice about how they're letting every bad old habit come back in a big way with regard to the rules and their interpretations and I'm sure here in the Finals we'll see a continuation of the lack of care for how the game is called.

I'm also sure we'll see epically low ratings since it involves a Canadian team (sorry Canada, Americans in populous and buoyant TV markets really just don't care about your teams) and a team that has no genuine following and would still play second-fiddle to the L.A. Kings if both were successful. Then again, this is the NHL and we don't care about no stinking ratings. That's why they're on Versus in the first place. What I'm most eager to see for next season is to see how many teams come out next year looking to mimic the style played by the Ducks so that they too can be successful in the "I'm Looking The Other Way - I See Nothing!" NHL.

If things occur like they have going into this year where officials got back on the bandwagon for calling everything and then eventually giving up because they're tired of the complaining and bitching, we'll make it about 20 games into the year before the dump-and-chase-and-clog-up-everything-on-skates style is completely returned and the norm. The NHL made it to just after the All-Star Break this year before this horrible transformation occurred so it'll likely take half as long this time around as I'm sure you'll have a handful of teams airing grievances with the Commissioner and Stephen Walkom that we saw the Dark Ages style of hockey come back with reckless abandon in the playoffs and that in order to make sure the game doesn't go back to sucking huge gonads again, they better go back and read through the rule book.

If you see Pat Quinn get hired on as a coach again and the Columbus Blue Jackets (coached by Jake and the Fatman stand-in Ken Hitchcock) take off to success next season, you'll understand that the NHL has truly learned nothing and don't care about their future. While I can't say I've got a huge beef with the Senators appearance in the Finals, don't think that they aren't guilty offenders here. Ottawa too has made it a point to play a swarming, stop offense at all costs kind of hockey as well with one glaring difference: They attack on offense. The Sens won't just look to sit back and wait for the power play to put goals on the board, and while they can do that well (just ask Lindy Ruff about the Sens power play...actually don't do that if you value your life) it doesn't behoove the Senators just to sit back and wait for the power play to happen. Sure, you can do that against Anaheim since they will take stupid penalties and every now and again an official will actually call interference - take nothing for granted since the NHL is careening back to their bad days.

I will say this though. If you like the game of hockey, and you liked how it was played in the 1980s and the 1990s version of hockey bored you to tears and made you pray for a lockout...your rooting interest in the Finals is easy.

You're pulling for the Ottawa Senators.

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