The decision to bail on the 2018 Olympics is just the latest in a string of, shall we say, questionable moves by the league
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Guaranteeing an expansion team a spot in the Stanley Cup final
Let’s say you doubled the size of your league from, oh, six to 12 teams. That means you have six new squads, with new management and players who are untested at this level. Even if you’ve never grown this much before, you have to know that these six teams won’t be that good out of the gate.
So, naturally, if you’re the NHL, this means you put them all in the same division and move your six decades-old, established franchises into their own division. Then you allow the top four teams in each division to qualify for the playoffs, where they compete for the right to represent their division in the Stanley Cup final.
By doing this, you guarantee an expansion team will play for the Cup. You also take all of the stress out of who will win that series (it was a sweep all three years – two by Montreal, one by Boston, each over St. Louis). Because balance, I guess.
The most insane thing was that it took the NHL three years to realign the league to a less-insane makeup. Which, to the NHL, meant that they moved one team. And that’s how the Chicago Blackhawks became three-time West Division champions.
The loser point
This is pretty much the participation ribbon of the NHL, but in this case it affects who goes to the playoffs.
It’s not that giving a point to the loser of an overtime period or a shootout is a wholly bad idea. It’s that the league continues to put an extra point up for grabs just because a game couldn’t be decided in regulation, even with an easy solution staring it right in the face (cough – three points for a regulation win – cough).
There’s also the argument that the loser point rewards tentative play and creates artificial parity in the standings. Other than that, it’s great.
Take your time, watch the below video, and remember that this was a thing that actually existed.
In case you were wondering, yes, the pucks were so expensive that arena staff had to retrieve them when they went out of play. Because if the fans at home couldn’t be happy, neither could the ones who went to the rink.
And of course I understand that this wasn’t necessarily the NHL’s idea. But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that a tomato is being thrown directly at your head. A glowing, comet-red-streaking tomato. Would you move out of the way of that tomato, before it caused you embarrassing results? Or would you let it hit you right in the face, for all to see?
You know what? Don’t answer that one before you read the last two entries on the list.
The crease rule
Anyone of a certain age in the late ’90s will remember a very specific feeling they had when a goal was scored in the NHL.
You didn’t even feel happy. You couldn’t. You were too busy looking at the referee, dreading what was next. And then, he’d inevitably take that long skate over to the timer’s box, and pick up the phone.
Your goal was no more.
Thank you, “toe-in-the-crease” rule, for ruining literally the best part of hockey for everyone, everywhere, for three whole seasons.
And the best part? They didn’t even enforce it when it mattered most!
The lockout of 2004-05
Rock bottom. I don’t think I need to explain this one to you. I’ll just leave you with the below image, and four of the most chilling words in sports:
Movie Night in Canada.
Now don’t forget to catch all the action of the Stanley Cup playoffs next week – also known as the exact time you’ll completely forget about this list.