By Bruce Penton
OK, it’s time to be a spoilsport. Cancel the National Hockey League season.
The NHL should declare ‘No Stanley Cup Champion — due to pandemic’ and forget about 2019-20. Make plans to have a fresh start in October or November when the worst of COVID-19 will hopefully be in the rear-view mirror.
Playing a few regular-season games to wrap up an abbreviated regular season, followed by a modified, reduced Stanley Cup playoff schedule — all with no fans in the stands, is a contrived way to say this pandemic mess was just a little bump in the road. We Canadians love our hockey, but we also love beautiful hot weather in July and August, when hockey fans should be golfing and fishing and camping, not watching hockey on TV.
It’s all about money, of course. The owners don’t want to have to give back millions of dollars to TV networks for games not played. The players don’t want to give up a good chunk of their salaries, or to miss out on bonus clauses in their contracts. The arenas where games would normally be played don’t want to give up the revenue those games produce.
But really, what’s the point? It’s not going to seem real to use July, August and some of September to finish of the season and run the Stanley Cup playoffs, and then turn around and say ‘OK boys, enjoy your one week of off-season and report to training camp next Thursday.’
The NHL is considering a few locations to use to finish off the regular season, then throw together a 20- or 24-team playoff system to somehow legitimize the declaration of a Stanley Cup champion. But with the border between the U.S. and Canada still closed; with quarantine issues still in play; with surges in positive cases reported in many reopened venues; with the threat of a ‘second surge’ a real possibility; with the prospect of an immediate halt to the resumption of play if one — yes, one would be enough — player tested positive for COVID-19 . . . it seems like the hurdles are close to insurmountable.
Everybody should just take their lumps. The players lose money; the owners lose money; the networks lose money; the arenas lose money. Just like every government and business has done. But, with chin up, start over fresh in October or November for the 2020-21 season and hope for normalcy. This train wreck of a 2019-20 season has crashed and burned and deserves to be buried and forgotten about.
• Patti Dawn Swansson, aka the River City Renegade, who has been doing a lot of reading during the COVID-19 stay-at-home period. Two of the titles:
— “You People: The Official Don Cherry Code of Conduct for Wannabe Canadians, where the former star of Coach’s Corner explains milk and honey and poppies & EVERYTHINK LIKE THAT!”
— “Still Searching In A White Ford Bronco After All These Years: O.J. Simpson Takes Us to Various Golf Courses In His Hunt for the Real Killers.”
• Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson: “Two NFL cornerbacks are accused of armed robbery. I’m trying to confirm they got caught after their agent turned ’em in because they wouldn’t give him 15 per cent.”
• Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Onetime Cardinals first baseman Mark Hamilton has just become, at age 35, Dr. Mark Hamilton. In other words, he’s gone from ‘take two and hit to right’ to ‘take two and call me in the morning.’”
• Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, on Twitter: “Red Sox star Mookie Betts is related to the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. Please, please tell me that makes him Duke Mookie.”
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