Take it out back and shoot it. Put a pillow over its head and smother it. Let this asterisked season slip peacefully into the arms of Morpheus ne’er to awake. It has shuffled off this mortal coil.
I miss watching hockey as much as the next fan, but I am perfectly fine placing a star next to the 2019-2020 NHL Season and moving on to training camp in September. It has already been a month and the angst of no sports on TV has worn off this old man. Do I miss the pure energy that is playoff hockey? Of course, and I know that I can find nothing like it in any other sport, though Masters Sunday delivers the goods. Sometimes. Reality TV doesn’t come close to providing the excitement and sheer randomness that an NHL seven-game playoff series has. No shootout. No ties. And no holds barred. I love it.
When – and if – normal returns after Covid 19, what will it look like? If I am being honest with myself, I am not the first to embrace change, so I want to return to some semblance of life pre-Coronavirus. Already, I hate that the NHL playoffs push into June, so finishing the season in July, running a playoff tournament in August and September, and starting the next season in October just fails to interest me. If sports return in July, I want to see golf, baseball, Tour de France, et al… on TV, not hockey.
Why do we think it’s okay to return the NHL in hot weather when we already complain it has no place being in Florida, Dallas, or Arizona? (Think of all the ice complaints league wide!) Just because we miss it? In addition to the NHL Playoffs in April and May, there are a LOT of things I miss in April and May – golfing, fishing, barbecuing with my friends closer than two meters away, taking my dog to the dog beach, etc…. What do you miss as the weather turns to spring and summer? In July, I rarely, if ever, think about hockey after the trade deadline. And judging by the summer traffic on the WIIM site, others here are not paying too close attention either.
If the NHL wants to finish the season with a deformed, mongoloid playoff set-up (20 teams, 5-game series, et al…) then the draft and trade deadlines get pushed back to the week in between the playoffs and start of the next season. No thank you. Seven game series. If anything, drop down to 8 teams. Screw the bubble riders and their Cinderella stories. I'd rather cease all thought of continuing the season.
And for my fellow hockey fans, who may be unfortunate to cheer for teams other than the Red Wings, spare me with the "That’s because the Wings sucked pond water and were already out of the playoffs!" So the fuck what! Shit happens, and it will happen again, whether it is due to acts of god, the zombie apocalypse, or shithead owners (though the last two may be redundant.) We Red Wing fans lost the entire 2005-6 season with a team that was still dominant – four years removed from a Cup victory and two away from another. So the fact that some teams will have their hopes dashed, too bad. Take your diaper off and join the real world. The season could have been stopped due to players being drafted to fight a World War. Or that previously mentioned zombie apocalypse.
For those of us who had no playoff aspirations, it is easier to fathom a lost season. It doesn’t mean we would stop watching hockey. Many hockey fans are equally hockey and team fans, so we would be turning on the playoffs. For those more "elite" teams, think of all the barroom ammunition you’ll have if the season is dumped: "Fuckin’ Bruins were wicked in 2019-20. Damn Covid 19!" "I think the Lighting had major revenge on their minds." "The Maple Leafs were …. hey look a shiny object!"
Do yourself a favor. Catch up on your reading. (I’m re-reading The Game.) Learn a new language. Go through your hockey card collection. Maybe peek at the NHL Channel once in a while. Just don’t wait anxiously for the season to start up again.
Believe me, NHL 2019-20 is not pining for the fjords. It is an ex-season.