A Lot Can Change In 10 Years, A Look At The NHL in Year 2022
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Have you ever wondered what life will be like 10 years from now? What about the National Hockey League? Luckily, I have the answer to the more important of those two questions, and have decided to give my readers a peep through the looking-glass. Where will the NHL be in 10 years? Suffice it to say, a lot can change. Read on to find out. (Note: this was written five days ago, before the Kyle Quincey and Jeff Carter trades).
February 20th, 2022, Sports Section of ‘The Shark Circle Times,’ the world’s leading newspaper. The article is titled “Weekly NHL News Update,” a fair example of the creativity that helped propel ‘The Shark Circle Times’ to the lofty heights of being the galaxy’s most successful paper.
• With the San Jose Sharks looking to bolster their roster at the trade deadline in the hopes of winning their sixth straight Stanley Cup, Sharks’ fans are anxious to see what GM Doug Wilson has up his sleeve. Unfortunately, Doug Wilson was unavailable for comment when I tried to reach him, but his secretary Dean Lombardi did make himself available to reporters, stating that if the right deal came along to improve the team, his “superior” (he probably just meant his boss, but reporters are not ruling out a Freudian slip) would definitely consider it.
When asked if such a deal might include adding a left-wing who could score some goals, Dean Lombardi knocked the microphone out of the reporter’s hand and stomped off, cursing. The San Jose Sharks have not offered much further information on Lombardi’s outburst, other to say that nothing has changed since his sobering breakdown last July 1st: they have recommended on multiple occasions he see a team-appointed psychiatrist, but so far he has only been willing to talk to old friend and colleague Daryl Sutter. However, there are rumors that if Lombardi does not finally agree to seek professional help, the NHL may have to step in and demote him to General Manager of the former-Columbus Blue Jackets, now of Phoenix, who the league purchased two seasons ago out and ended up having to move to Glendale, Arizona, proving what many Canadian fans had been saying for years: hockey just cannot work in a place like Columbus.
If there is one positive in all this for Dean Lombardi and those close to him, it is that at least Lombardi will have some decent pieces to work with on the Blue Jackets should he be demoted, namely veterans Michael Del Zotto and Brandon Dubinsky.
• Meanwhile, over in Detroit, General Manager Pierre Mcguire is said to be strongly considering making the franchise’s first trade in over a decade (* besides the Quincey deal), after his predecessor, Ken Holland, was finally let go for failing to show up to work the other 364 days of each year besides the draft. Most pundits have praised Detroit’s change in philosophy, saying Mcguire’s strategy of trying to acquire talent and make his team better is definitely an improvement over Ken Holland’s insistence on doing absolutely nothing to improve an aging roster while rivals like the San Jose Sharks continue to add a new all-star player every year.
• At the league level, the situation with NBC Sports Network reached a tipping point last week. Due to the extremely low ratings of Bull Riding, Major League Soccer, The J.R. Show, Give That Boy His Nickel Back, Paid Programming, and the russian-language Go O.V. Go And The Genie-O, NBC Sports Network has been hemorrhaging money for quite some time, and news came down that NBC has finally pulled the plug on their failed experiment, leaving the NHL with no home for their national telecasts. As a result, the NHL announced that the man responsible for the NBC Sports contract, Gary Bettman, has been relieved of his duties as commissioner, with former-NHL and KHL goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov taking over on an interim basis. Matt Cooke will stay on as Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Discipline, for the time being.
With no contract in place for national broadcasts, commissioner Bryzgalov had to act fast. A day after taking office, with NHL scoring at a new all-time low for the ninth time in the last nine years, Bryzgalov was left with little choice but to offer ESPN two-hundred-million-dollars per year to broadcast the NHL games for the next ten years, the same two-hundred-million-dollars per year that NBC offered Bettman just ten years earlier.
• Yes, life is harsh these days for the NHL, but not as harsh as Matt Cooke, who TSN Insider Bruce Beaudreau praised as “the ultimate disciplinarian.” NHL-leading-goal-scorer Evgeni Kuznetsov’s second straight Rocket Richard trophy is in jeopardy as Cooke suspended him the last 30 games of the season and one postseason game for an “ECWR” offense (excessively celebrating while Russian). Cooke is said to also be planning a second all-star game for the year that Kuznetsov must attend as part of his punishment, to be held in Buffalo. Cooke is also petitioning the U.S. government to make Buffalo “honorary Canadian soil” for the day to ensure Kuznetsov learns his lesson.
• Meanwhile, the San Jose Sharks’ Logan Couture has a hearing tomorrow for falling while trying to draw a penalty and accidentally giving himself a concussion. The Sharks scored the game-winning goal on the ensuing power-play against their rivals the Detroit Red Wings, and it is possible Couture’s punishment could be very harsh given both the embellishment and concussion offenses, especially with them taking place on the same play. When reached for comment, Couture said that he wished former-Sharks center Joe Thornton had at least warned him about the potential dangers before showing him the move back in the day, and that he will have to reconsider his game plan upon returning to the ice. Joe Thornton left the Sharks in free agency six years ago to sign a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings with the hope of getting one more shot at the Cup, then retired after the season. Reports are that Thornton would still like to come back to the Sharks in a front-office capacity, but they will not let him back in the arena until the Sharks lose the Cup at least once, given that they’ve won it every year since he left.
• In another top story, at the annual General Managers meetings held in February, the debate rages on about whether the NHL should finally give in to fans’ demands that the ice surface be made bigger due to a lack of scoring in the NHL. A recent update from the ‘The Post’ claims that Lou Lamoriello has called in Minnesota Wild head coach Guy Boucher as a “witness” to testify against making the ice rinks bigger. Boucher claims the neutral zone trap strategy used by himself and most other NHL coaches would not work as well on bigger ice, and that it would take “some work” and “thinking” and a “slightly shortened vacation” for him to adjust his game plan for a bigger playing surface. This led way to the most talked-about quote of the night, from Lamoriello himself. “These liberals in Washington, like (Caps’ owner) Ted Leonsis, want to take away your vacations just so their ‘fancy-pansy’ Europeans like Evgeni Kuznetsov can score more goals. They want to infringe on your rights. I don’t know about you, but I say no! You cannot take away my vacation!”
The General Managers are expected to vote from their meetings in Hawaii later this week.
• For an opinion on this important issue, we caught up with founder of ‘The Shark Circle Times’ who is leading the charge for bigger ice in the NHL, and asked him if he thinks it will be approved.
“You know, I’m sorry to say I don’t. As you know, the majority of NHL GMs are Canadian, and I think that might end up being the deciding factor, as much as I hate to say it. They really don’t like what happened. I mean, just look at the facts. As you know, Ovechkin just scored his 104th goal of the season yesterday in the KHL, which of course uses the bigger ice. I think seeing that happen, and seeing Russia’s 11-4 thrashing of the Canadians at the Olympics last year, also on the bigger ice, where Ovechkin scored 9 goals, two more than he scored his entire final season in the NHL, I think these things scare the GMs, and they’re going to vote it down. Change is scary. So is skill when it’s not being caged on an ice surface the size of an elevator.”
We should know by the end of the week whether “Shark Circle” is right. On one hand, he is known to have a terrible track record around hockey circles, but he also seems pretty sure on this one. We’ll find out soon.
That’s all from this reporter for now, but check back soon for more news.
Written by Shark Circle
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