Bottoms Up is a weekly feature on Backhand Shelf that admits that sometimes the underdog doesn’t win: sometimes they just lose and lose and lose some more. In this edition, a reminder that season previews are total crapshoots.
Travis Golby, Getty Images
There is now officially just one week left in the NHL regular season and, for the teams in the basement of the standings, it can’t come soon enough. This will be the penultimate Bottoms Up of the 2011-12 season, as next week we’ll take a look at the season as a whole and the long journeys that led to the worst teams in the league ending up as cellar dwellers.
This week, however, I want to look back even further, before the season even began. During the 2011 off-season, every hockey publication and blog worth its salt drags out a crystal ball, lays out the tarot cards, and tears open tea bags. Predictions and prognostications are everywhere in the month leading up to the start of the season, partly because they’re fun, partly because everyone is desperate for the season to begin, and partly because it gets discussion going.
There’s nothing that gets a hockey fan more fired up than seeing his favourite team disparaged, particularly if its done before a single game has even been played. Hope springs eternal during the summer, as newly acquired free agents fly into town, fresh-faced rookies start making a name for themselves in training camp, and team management starts making big promises about competing for a playoff spot and once they’re in…who knows?
For some of those teams, the big dreams come crashing down almost immediately, while others soar briefly then slowly deflate until it’s difficult to see that there was any promise to begin with. Take a guess which one is more depressing.
Most season previews deal with the big winners: who’s going to win the division, the conference, the Stanley Cup. But a few also predict the bottom end of the standings and I’m going to take a look at exactly how accurate those predictions were. The three I’ll be looking at are The Hockey News, Puck Daddy, and Backhand Shelf’s own Justin Bourne.
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