This past week or so has been pure sweetness. First the NBC fiasco. Now it looks like the Predators are going belly up, likely to be moved to Canada where they will likely directly compete with the condo builders at MLSE. Ha! It is to laugh. Especially considering that the Blueberry has purchased a team with about ten times the talent that the Richard Peddies have.
Which means, just down the highway will be a team that will likely win the Cup before those jokers at the ACC. Since the last Leafs' victory (which happened at about the time I came firing down my dada's chute) Montreal, Boston, Philadelphia, Edmonton, Calgary, New York, New York, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Colorado, Dallas, Tampa and Carolina have all won the Stanley, as LT calls it. This not so exclusive club (hell its been 40 years - even the Israelites were figuring a way out of the desert at this point) is about to add a new member - either the Anaheim Ducks or the Ottawas.
Please God, let it be Ottawa.
Not to mention that ten of those Cup winners as well as Anaheim have made it to the final and lost, something the Leafs have not been able to accomplish. Not even a lousy conference championship in 40 years. I mean, St. Louis, LA, Vancouver, Buffalo, Washington (!) and Florida (!!!) have all made it. Only the Jets/Yotes have not out of all of the teams that existed before 1990.
So lets review. In a couple of weeks fifteen teams will have won the Stanley since George Armstrong lifted that old mug. Seven more will have gone to the final. Six of the eight teams who have not gotten that far are babies.
Where is multiple Stanley winner Tahir Domi anyhow? I remember him talking about how the Sens had no heart and would go nowhere in the playoffs. Hey Tahir. Yeah, you. How's retirement going for you anyhow? The heartless Sens now have gone farther then you ever did in your sorry excuse for a career. I look forward to coverage of your next escapade on the cover of the local tabloid. Meathead.
Please God, let it be Ottawa.
If you want terrific coverage of the Blueberry guy picking up the Preds, then you have to read Mirtle. The Hat and Damien Cox at the Star (both linked by James) also have weighed in with great columns on the subject. It looks like Bettman's legacy is going to be, well, nothing. Disaster is what it has been. I lived in Florida for three and a half years and at that time (98-01) you could actually watch a lot of hockey in the US on basic cable. ESPN had a game on almost every night. And now, long gone. A bloated league with franchises in markets where nobody cares. This week has been the perfect storm for Bettman. The NBC joke. And now one of his franchises ... done. Even with the new CBA the Preds could not make a go of it.
I feel badly for those Predators' fans out there. I do. To see a team you love go away is a killer. I think it was a mistake for the NHL to do what it did in the 90s but the owners are in it for the money and expansion fees are the easiest money there is. If you are going to subsidize teams then give revenue sharing money to teams where fans actually care. Without corporate support and with fan support dwindling despite having a terrific team, the Preds are dead.
Now I know from last spring and from living in Clearwater that there are fans in the South. And I am not going to argue with the passion, the knowledge, the smarts or the bearded. Transplanted or native born, these men and women love hockey and they know hockey.
But there are damn few of them.
If I were the God of Hockey, Phoenix, Atlanta, Florida, New Jersey, Washington - gone. All of them. And when I say gone, I mean gassed. When your team has won three Cups since 1995 and is a winner year in and year out and you can't sell out playoff games, then you're gone. New York doesn't need three teams. And the other four. No point in they being there. Throw a California team in there too. I'd probably say the Kings to be honest. Who would care? Disperse Ovechkin, Semin, Horton, Bouwmeester, Kovalchuk, Hossa, Lehtonen, Elias, Brodeur, Jack Johnson, Kopitar, Cammaleri, Charlie Simmer's wife. One hundred and fifty less players.
The Preds who would have gone as well, move to the Golden Horseshoe. Then as the Hamilton Fincups or Upper Canada Dark or Kitchener Waterloo Natalie Portman Makes Sweet Love to Pat McLean Three Times Every Nights, they could fill the rink with diehard fans who grew up with the game and make the Gooseberry Man even richer.
Dallas, Carolina, Tampa, Anaheim, San Jose, Columbus - they stay. I think (I may be wrong) that hockey is growing in these places. If five years down the road things have turned sour then move or contract. Welcome back Winnipeg or the Nords. Throw the Islanders in the mix too.
Same reason I'm cheering for the Sens (plus it would be so beautiful here in Toronto if they won!). If the Ducks win, how many people will care? I said thirty to forty thousand and Earl Sleek said I was likely overestimating that number. I'm tired of teams from places that basically do not care winning the Cup. Even though Peter Schaeffer and Dean McAmmond came by a couple of weeks back to take my tax money back to Ottawa.
For forty years the NHL has been chasing the American dream. They are farther from it now then ever. Doesn't matter what they do, short of playing eleven aside on grass with the old pigskin. The viewers are watching Nascar and poker and UFC. Americans do not care, for the most part. And you know what, that's ok. Hockey fans in Nashville will find hockey if they are hockey fans. (Well, maybe not with the NHL's TV contract). I'm a soccer fan. Until this year there was no pro team here. I'm still a fan of the game, warts and all. The EPL didn't do anything special to attract me. I began to watch a game that has been around forever, liked it and got hooked.
So, fuck bigger nets and playoff shootouts and all the other BS attempts to attract people who do not care and never will.
So lets go Ottawa. Win that Cup so you have to pay Emery and Preissing and have to move your man Wade Redden to, uh, lets say Edmonton?? Win it to shove it to Tie Domi and to make Leaf fans sad.
By the way, Leaf fans, why aren't you marching on the ACC and burning Richard Peddie alive? Go shoot a retired teacher or something. God knows I would.
Oh yes, as commish, I'd tie Bettman up in Red Square and have a German Shepherd, the cast of Rent, the ghost of John Holmes, a donkey and the crew of the USS Ronald Reagan fuck him up the ass.
Natalie, call me.
Sens in six.