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Saturday, March 15, 2008

And the decision is...

Eight! Eight games! Ha-ha-ha!

So as I postulated last night about this, he'd get just enough of a suspension to make some of the casual fans feel good about it all the while doing Anaheim a huge favor in giving their minutes horse on the blue line a couple weeks off before the start of the playoffs.

The way this suspension works out, Pronger doesn't even miss the rest of the regular season (which I figured would happen) and instead gives Pronger the extra favor of having one game to get his legs back underneath him before the Playoffs start!

Absolutely incredible. I guess that since Los Angeles hasn't been a viable hockey market since Gretzky left town, the NHL is pushing all their chips in on Anaheim using the "close enough" corollary. Not familiar with it? You should be - after the NHL shot itself in the foot after the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994 and the owners locked out the players for the better part of the following year, they had essentially killed all momentum gained by the Rangers winning it all.

The Rangers had essentially gone into the tank (good-bye New York market!) but the Devils used losing to the Rangers in their epic seven-game series the season before to come back even more fierce in 1995 and winning the Stanley Cup.

By virtue of this "close enough corollary" the league decided that putting all their eggs into the Devils basket in regards to rule enforcement and quality of entertainment figuring that the savvy hockey fans from New York City would latch onto a winner instantaneously and therefore keep the budding world-wide hockey takeover train rolling along!

Oops. The league soon found out that the Devils, while initially a great and lovable story about a team that finally rose out of mediocrity to win it all, became a not-so-fun side show of domination and boredom. Many, including yours truly, postulated that the lost season of 2004-2005 due to the lockout and the rule re-establishment borne from that was the way for the NHL to cleanse itself of all the clutch-and-grab styles that were adopted thanks to the success the Devils and Stars gained from that.

And now here we are at another crossroads in hockey history, a team developing a style of play that is completely opposite of what hockey was meant to be and using the same styles adopted by New Jersey (the grabbing, the slowing down, the constant interference) and then adding a different twist to it with the cheap hits, dirty play and constant fighting. You'd figure that since Bettman has been on a crusade to eliminate fighting from the game so he can market hockey to his precious and mythological "wider audience" he'd have figured that Anaheim would be a bad thing.

That's where Anaheim has got him by the balls - just being in Southern California - hitting on Bettman's other more pressing weakness, successful hockey teams in the new markets that came out of reckless over-expansion.

Hell, you don't need me to tell you what a bonehead Bettman is for pushing his garbage, listen to him yourself! Not only doing a half-ass job congratulating the winning team, but mostly to brag about how great hockey's doing in California and how quickly success has come to one of their expansion teams.

I wish I could tell you I was making all of this up, but real life allows me the creative freedom to come up with something so crazy sounding that it seems plausibly true.

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