At some point, hockey will return.
I wanted to make this some sort of wild April Fools piece, but then I reminded myself that fooling people about hockey’s return could land me a few bruises and bring out Lippo and the trolls. So I canceled that idea.
I miss the sport. While baseball claims my heart, hockey supplies the oil that makes the spring run smoothly. The Blues would be finishing the regular season in a matter of days with possibly 11 players coming in with double-digits in goals. David Perron and Brayden Schenn would set career highs in that department and Alex Pietrangelo would be in line for the Norris Trophy.
The playoffs would begin in a little over a week, and let’s be honest here: The Stanley Cup Playoffs are the best playoffs of any major sports. With no offense to the Super Bowl (good for commercials) and the World Series (quite often a snooze fest), the NHL playoffs are rugged, taxing, exhausting, and exhilarating all at once. Last year’s Cup run turned my dad into a diehard hockey fan and got my brother to come over to the house to watch games.
I’d love for the chance to have my dad, all four months of hockey-watching in his arsenal, to break down what the Blues should be doing in a game. I’d welcome it with open arms. The three of us on a couch internally biting our fingernails off.
Let’s face it. The Blues have helped fans discard so many real fingernails. Even when they are winning big, the experience is never easy. You scream at the television, shout at the voiceless neighbors, and plead for the team to do something right. They could win 4-1 and still do something wrong. That’s why they call it the ... you understand.
Hockey will return at some point, but this season won’t be the same. The playoffs won’t be the same. Best case scenarios have everything going back to normal in July, but that may be too late to get the rest of the 2019-20 season in. You need to give players a training camp and some games to get ready for the ferocity of the playoffs. You can’t just throw teams into that two month grind without the prep. Otherwise, you’d be looking at a catastrophic injury toll within the first round.
If the playoffs started near the end of July, they would consume all of August and September. How about a Stanley Cup Final in the fall season? Players would need some time off, at least 2 months. You’d have a draft and free agency could open up a little early. The 2020-21 season would be a partial one. You could start somewhere in December and maybe get in 60-65 games. It wouldn’t be the best but considering the toll of COVID_19, it would be a win to play the entire playoffs of this season and get 60 games in next season.
While fans can joke about remaining Stanley Cup Champs for another summer. it would be so much better to see if the Blues can claim the trophy again. Some would suggest it wouldn’t be a 100% win due to the lost games and break in the action, but that’s useless when names are being written on another portion of the Cup.
There’s unfinished business in the NHL. The baseball season never got going so while the delay there is unfortunate, they can just reboot or start later. There will be a partial season involved, but they aren’t holding up a half-eaten plate of food. The NHL has to find a way to complete a resolution for the season that is still on pause. It shouldn’t be lost. Worry about the next season later in the year. The 2019-20 season needs an ending.
I hope it happens. I also don’t know if it will. Isn’t that crazy? Sports are on indefinite leave, just like most of the entertainment these days. At their core, that’s what any sport is for a fan: entertainment, escape, something to dive into for a few hours.
I miss arguing about Jake Allen’s contract, Pietrangelo’s future, and Tarasenko’s shoulder. I miss talking about winning streaks and losing streaks. I even miss certain fans finding new ways to complain about a Stanley Cup defending team.
Put it all in a blender and serve it to me right now. Please. I need it and so do you.
Thanks for reading this presumed April Fools piece that turned into something more bittersweet.