I realize I haven’t really commented too much on the NHL this year (mostly because I’ve watched about eight combined games), but I just had to float this take out there: the NHL needs to make sure the Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup.
I know I’ve spent time waxing poetic about the chairmen of the Choker’s Club, and it would be really painful to lose Capitals jokes, but I’m trying to look out for the future of the NHL, here. True hockey guys are so blinded by their love of parity that they’d be thrilled if the Las Vegas Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup, but you absolutely CANNOT let an expansion team win the title their first year. Do you know how bad that looks for the rest of the league? At best it’ll say that every team in the league has a serious talent evaluation problem if they left all of these guys unprotected. I know they changed the expansion draft rules so you can protect less players, but still. The Knights front office ran circles around the rest of the league all season. I repeat: a team in its first year of existence was the smartest team in the league. Think about that. At worst, a Knights win completely de-legitimizes the Stanley Cup. “Hey, you remember when Sidney Crosby won those Cups?” “What, you mean that thing that literally anyone can win? In fact, a team in its first year won it. What’s the big deal?” This is why I don’t get why people hate on the NBA for being predictable. Don’t you want the best team to win the championship? Why would you want a fluke champion that looks terrible in hindsight? To encourage everyone to try? What’s the point of trying to be good if you know some rookie franchise can just steal the title away from you because they got hot? An expansion team is supposed to be a Mickey Mouse shitshow. You’re going to let them win the Stanley Cup in their first year???
Gary Bettman needs to step in. He cut his teeth working under David Stern, it’s time to either put that training to use or make a phone call to someone who can. The refs need to be in on it, the replay guys need to be in on it, Doc Emrick needs to be in on it, the zamboni guy needs to be in on it, literally everyone in the NHL needs to work together to ensure the Golden Knights don’t win the title. Sure, they’re a great story. Great arena, great fans, inspirational, all that. You know what else is a good story? Maintaining the status quo and letting an all-time great finally win something. Again, I realize most hockey guys would never say this, but that’s why I’m here. Parity and handshake lines only get you so far. At some point, someone needs to look at the bigger picture. The Caps need to win. Make sure it happens.