1991, the last time the Stanley Cup was awarded in May

When I was a kid, I remember older family members and relatives talking about how they wished the Stanley Cup Playoffs would end earlier, like in the “good old days.”

At the time, I couldn’t understand it. At that age, I thought, heck, I’d watch games in August if that’s when Game 7 of the Cup Final was. But as time’s gone by, I’ve begun to understand the qualms with what is practically summer hockey.

I could lie and write that I hope the Devils storm back to force a climactic Game 7, but I won’t. You see, like others who read this blog, I consider myself an extremely passionate sports fan, not just a hockey fan.

And so I see the EURO coming up (Forza Azzurri), I see the NBA Finals just around the corner, I have no rooting interest in the Cup Final right now (I’m the type of sports masochist known as a Leafs fan), I see the forecast of 30-degree days this weekend, and I think to myself, do I really want to be juggling between all of those things and hockey in June?

The answer is no, and based on conversations with friends and even colleagues at The Score, many people feel the same way.

And so I ask, why can’t the National Hockey League just back things up by a couple of weeks?

Shorten the pre-season. Start the regular season in mid-to-late September instead of early-to-mid October. Start the post-season in late March instead of mid-April. Make it so that the Stanley Cup will pretty much always be awarded by the end of May (except in Olympic seasons).

A couple of extra weeks going against the NFL in September shouldn’t hurt that much when you’re already going up against the giant from October-to-January. Plus, this would ensure that like this season (due to the NBA lockout), the NHL Playoffs are always about one full round ahead of the NBA Playoffs, without the league’s Finals coinciding with one another.

Who knows, maybe if the season ended in late May, we’d wish there was more hockey to be played, but I’d rather be left wanting more than wishing the season would end already in a sport I never thought I’d feel that way about.

Who’s with me?

Other than that, here are some morning links:

  • How to build a better bandwagon: Are the Kings too good for L.A. to latch on? (SB Nation) Playing in some more competitive series might have helped, but so would not playing in L.A.
  • Kings fans urged to celebrate responsibly (Los Angeles Times).
  • Putting Jonathan Quick’s performance in perspective (Globe and Mail). As I mentioned last week, when it comes to save percentage and goals against average (not to mention winning percentage), Quick is putting together one of the greatest post-season goaltending performances in NHL history.
  • The Zach Parise free agency derby awaits (NBC Sports).
  • Are the Kings the worst thing to happen to hockey? (Axcess News).
  • If the Kings win Game 4, it might rain ‘Kopistars’ for Anze Kopitar (Puck Daddy).
  • Do the Leafs want to trade up in the draft for Yakupov and Galchenyuk? (Yahoo! Sports) Just like that time the Leafs were going to get John Tavares.
  • Judge orders Bertuzzi, Canucks to reveal details of deal regarding Moore lawsuit (The Vancouver Sun).
  • Marc Bergevin’s hiring of Michel Therrien brings early criticism in Montreal (National Post). While I understand the frustration for some fans, it is a completely different team from top to bottom (including management) since the last time Therrien was there. Other than Andrei Markov, the only thing similar about it is the city.
  • The Hartley-Cloutier connection continues in Calgary (Calgary Herald). The Flames have named Jacques Cloutier their associate coach.

Comments (9)

  1. Go south of the border and you’ll find we are absolutely not with you. The concern isn’t just (and isn’t even primarily, in some cases) the NFL; it’s college football and in some markets even high school football, and in the Northeast the MLB playoffs (particularly if the Yankees and/or Red Sox make it).

    For at least half the league, the season starts too early, not too late.

    • Interesting take. My question, then, would be if the season started when you and “at least half the league” wanted it to, would you be okay with a Cup Final that went into late June? When would you prefer they start the season?

      • You can’t push an 82-game season back in any sane way; the problem is simply that those October games are the hardest tickets to sell in the US (for much the same reasons that Canadians want to be outside in June, plus more sports competition).

        My personal preference would be for a 72-game regular season with ten games cut off the front (starting immediately after the World Series), but I could see an argument for five off the front and five off the back. (Moving the playoffs up a couple weeks does have some US risks, though; it runs them into the Masters for sure and possibly the end of the NCAA basketball tournament.) The season was expanded to 82 games in an era of a much less-physical sport; a shorter season would cut injuries and fatigue and make for even better playoff hockey.

        Unfortunately, that’ll never happen.

    • Football games are so spread out it really isn’t a problem. They play once a week (if that). Plus most are day games. There is no reason a 7pm Saturday NHL game cannot exist in September. Kill the preseason games and move the season up two weeks.

  2. I’m with you!

    I love hockey, and it’s great and wonderful, but it’s also the LONGEST season in professional sports! Baseball plays 182 games PLUS play-offs and is still a shorter season than hockey.

    I agree, bump it up to September (early fall) and have it end in May (late Spring). It seems silly that a “Winter Sport” played on ICE, is decided in the Summer.

    • Longest season in North American sports maybe, but certainly not professional sports. The English Premier League starts in mid-August and finishes mid-May, 275 days. Even if the cup finals go to game 7, that’s 251 days, nearly a month shorter.

    • Baseball plays 162 games.

  3. I think part of the problem with people not watching the Finals in the US is that there is a NBA game every night. With the NHL a round ahead of the NBA, there is a conflict every night. If there were no conflict, I see more casual fans turning in. I am not a NBA fan but I find myself tuning into the last 3 minutes of every game because there was no NHL game or it was already over. I would see someone else doing that for hockey, but they have a NBA game holding their attention every night.

  4. Shorten the season. Say 62 games just for fun. That cuts out 20 regular season games or about 4 -5 weeks. That also makes each game more critical. Less wear and tear on the players equals healthier players in the playoffs. Longer off season equals longer for injured players to heal. The mid winter snoozer between two exhausted teams might be few and far between. Might we see better hockey by seeing less of it?

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