The question is no longer ‘who is going to sit inside on a beautiful summer night to watch a NHL playoff game?’ but more ’who is go to sit inside all day and all night on a beautiful summer day to watch a NHL playoff game?’
On Tuesday’s Inside Trading, TSN’s Bob McKenzie (who has 1.6 million Twitter followers more than yours truly) presented the possibility of a schedule for the bubble boys that could include three games per day in Toronto (noon, 4 p.m., 8 p.m.) and three games per day in Edmonton (2 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.).
Personally, I love it, but perhaps the league might want to consider adopting and slightly tinkering with the basketball tournament’s ‘Elam Ending’ rules by turning the clock off during a set time in the third period and having the winner determined in a first-team-to-reach-a-certain-score format, with whichever one is leading at the moment having a head start.
Otherwise there might be a back log of games right through dawn and, before you know it, they’ll be playing hockey into November.
How odd would that be?
STOPS AND STARTS
Worthy of much respect is the Philadelphia Flyers’ Travis Sanheim, a 24-year-old defenceman whose NHL salary is $3.25 million. How did the product of Elkhorn, Man., spend the pandemic pause? Working for his parents, who grow canola and wheat on their 1,500 acres along the Saskatchewan border. “I went two weeks straight where I was out on the farm, on the tractor, from 7 a.m. until whenever it got dark, trying to get the crop in the ground and help my family out that way,” said Sanheim, per Adam Kimelman of NHL.com. “We’re about two weeks seeding and planting. It’ll be the same thing with taking it out in the fall, in the harvest. Depends on the weather.” His folks could be looking for some more help if the Flyers go on the playoff run they should be expected to make … If I was an Ottawa businessman who after 3½ months of trying to outlast COVID-19 finally caved and declared bankruptcy, I’d be mad as hell that the city decided to make masks mandatory after four months. Like, why now, when the numbers are actually lower, and back in the earliest stages of the pandemic, when I could have kept my store open to people wearing face protection? … Wait, what? Kevin Lowe was selected for the Hockey Hall of Fame? OK, Eddie Shack deserves to be in before him.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
Not only is Chris Cuthbert unquestionably Canada’s best play-by-play man, but he also has a wonderful, self-deprecating sense of humour. “Career anniversary, July 7, 1979. The day Mike Schmidt became Mike Schitt in my debut sportscast,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “Always grateful I got a second chance. #BoomGoestheDynamite.” … Both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup will officially be postponed for a year on Wednesday because of the coronavirus. Apparently, those are the only two sports events that absolutely rely on spectators. Go figure … Before jumping into Season 3 of Ozark I decided to re-watch Season 2. It’s surprising how much you forget of a show that at one point you thought was the best you’d ever seen … In an interesting twist, the Chicago Blackhawks have announced they will keep their name and logo, but commit to “raising the bar even higher’ in their efforts to increase awareness of Native American culture. The Hawks are already known for honouring Native Americans with prompted, pre-game ovations and intermission performances. Let’s see how this works out.
ON THIS DATE (July 8)
Exactly 25 years ago at the NHL draft in Edmonton, Ottawa’s local NHL team (OLNHLT) made Bryan Berard the first-overall pick even though the American-born defenceman made it clear he wanted nothing to do with OLNHLT. Six months later, OLNHLT, the Islanders and Maple Leafs completed a three-team trade that saw OLNHLT move Berard, No. 1 goalie Don Beaupre and Martin Straka and get Wade Redden and goalie Damien (“First my dad dies and now this?!”) Rhodes. Berard’s injury-riddled career was interrupted for an entire season in an horrific accident at Corel Centre three years later, when he was accidentally clipped by Marian Hossa’s stick and almost lost his right eye — maintaining the league-mandated minimum eyesight of 20/400 after multiple surgeries. Redden, who was selected second-overall in the same draft, turned out to be the best player in the deal … At the same draft, the Maple Leafs acquired defenceman Larry Murphy from the Penguins for Dmitri Mironov and a second-round pick in 1996. Murphy was a favourite of the boo birds in Toronto before he was traded less than two years later to the Red Wings for future considerations, which legend has it turned out to be a bottle of wine for GM Cliff Fletcher. Murphy was a key part of two Detroit Cup winning teams and in 2004 was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame … And also at the same draft, the Canucks acquired Alex Mogilny from the Buffalo for Mike Peca, Mike Wilson and a first-round pick that turned out to be Jay McKee. Peca shut down Alexei Yashin to eliminate OLNHLT in two playoffs but Mogilny, who should be in the HHOF but has yet to be inducted, turned was the best player in the deal.
DeAndre Hopkins seems to be having a little trouble getting over the loss he suffered the most recent game he played more than five months ago. You’ll remember it as either a great comeback by the Kansas City Chiefs or a big choke job by the Houston Texans. But, either way, the Arrowhead Stadium scoreboard that at one point showed a 24-0 lead for the visitors, displayed a 51-31 gap for the home team at the end of the AFC divisional playoff game. “24 reasons why Mahomes deserves that,” Hopkins, now a receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, tweeted after news broke on Monday that Patrick Mahomes had signed the richest contact in pro sports history. “0 doubts he will win more Super Bowls.” … From the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, we are told that the NFLPA informed its board of representatives Tuesday that the NFL has proposed 35% of players salaries to be held in escrow to help manage costs during the 2020 season. That ain’t gonna fly with the players and, if the league is insistent upon this, the season won’t get off the ground … Working from home is great, except when city employees take all day to pave the small street outside your house. It’s hard to focus when the walls are shaking — and that’s my excuse for this.