Let me not be judged by my reputation and hearsay, but rather by my actions as words and rumours are easy, but actions speak louder than them. As far as I know, this is no one’s exact quote but rather something that I’ve been preaching for many years. It applies in our day to day life, but even the NHL is giving us a pretty good reminder of it from time to time. With this COVID Cup, or the way the league is making key decisions surrounding it, is yet another reminder of it.
As if having loaded up an Expansion Draft so that the said expansion team makes it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals in its first year of operation wasn’t enough to expose how ridicule this league is. They are expert at creating the periodic unfair mess. This time however, their poor decision making is punishing teams that are actually landing the NHL a serious hand.
We’ve touched on this before but the only reason why we have a 24-teams tournament style playoffs’ format (or Qualifier, or Play-In or whatever you want to call this freak show) is because the NHL needed major hockey markets like Montreal, Chicago, New York (Rangers) and Minnesota to draw more interest. It’s a business decision for revenue and revenue only. Those teams were all but eliminated from the playoffs and most unloaded at trade deadline while the other teams were loading up for a playoffs’ run.
The best comparison I can make and that we can relate to regarding the way the NHL is acting is this: You know how, for the longest time, companies used sexy women or sexually suggestive advertising in order to sell their services or products? The NHL is using those sexy markets, justifying stretching from 16 to 24 teams, in order to “sell their product” to fan bases they know are likely to buy it. Like women in those advertising campaigns, those eight additional teams are simply being used and while like women in those ads, they get paid for it.
Fairness? Who cares, right?
In their wisdom, the NHL felt that it was fair to have the Detroit Red Wings, an original-six team, one that’s been in the league since day one, a team that was so far behind in the standings that they thought they were ahead, getting deprived a top-3 pick! Instead of doing the fair thing, let’s give every other team a 12.5% chance at that number one pick no matter where they finished in the standings, even those eliminated in this fake COVID Cup Qualifier tournament! Thanks for your 100 years, Red Wings, and thanks for selling the sport in the 90’s, but now that you need us, we have other teams to reward instead.
Further, the Edmonton Oilers, a team that has suffered more than its fair share of playoffs’ misses, was finally going to be in. The NHL was going to see Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in the playoffs… but they are on the verge of being eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that has no business being in there in the first place. Where’s the fairness in that?
Punishing the helpers
So look at this. At the time of writing these lines, two teams who were supposed to be part of the post-season are in jeopardy of being replaced by two teams that had nothing to do with the playoffs’ picture back in March when the NHL’s activities stopped. This could happen as early as today as the Crosby/Malkin and the McDavid/Draisaitl duo could be sent home.
Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators, the Edmonton Oilers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Toronto Maple Leafs are on the brinks of elimination. Their reward? A 12.5% chance at drafting first overall at the next NHL Draft. That’s right. Teams that were well in the playoffs, so stronger teams over a six months period, will have a shot at adding Alexis Lafrenière to their already good roster. All of this while teams that need him most won’t… justified by the NHL because “they won a best of five series”.
It appears that for the league, winning three games in a “Qualifier round” erases and surpasses in value a 70-games season of misery for some teams! Are they new to hockey?!? In what world is this fair? So in their sick minds, NHL executives are punishing the teams that are in this “tournament” to help them generate (or not lose as much) revenues! “Thanks for your help, here’s a slap in the face to reward you!”
This whole situation is not only an unfair mess, it’s idiotic! Worse is that it could have easily been avoided by limiting how far up or down teams can slide in the Draft, regardless of the best of five series’ results. It could have easily been prevented by having a weighted percentage to the number one pick based on the regular season, or a combination of it with the results of that play-in series. This would have been a way to thank the teams that helped the league. But it seems to me like fairness is not in the NHL’s vocabulary and by their own actions, they are losing ground in the credibility department. I guess as fans, all we can say is… whatever, NHL. Go Habs Go!