Finally, a finale
Sure, starting this series with the first games on back-to-back days since 1955 sounded odd. OK, sounded stupid, very stupid.
But you know why? The schedule only sounded that way because it was odd and stupid, so there’s your logical explanation. One television network was afraid to put Stanley Cup final games on during weekday nights … so Saturday and Sunday were the answer.
So the players went out and destroyed their bodies some more. The Red Wings closed the Western Conference final on a Wednesday, were back in a game on Saturday and played five Stanley Cup final games in eight days.
I realize that players are often looked upon as spoiled millionaires in today’s society. But you should she the marks on their bodies, the line for the trainer’s table, the first-name basis that they’re on with entire medical staffs. Players sacrifice their bodies for all that money and that’s a steep price, one that’s not often reported.
And you’ll notice that when the players found out about the back-to-back games to open this schedule, their concern was this – the quality of hockey would suffer, not that their bodies would.
This was a desperate schedule, formulated by a league desperate for television exposure. And this was a schedule that leads to players being less likely to perform at peak value and more likely to be injured.
But that is not what happened.
The first six games of this Stanley Cup final were wonderful despite the schedule. The players put on a great show although they were in more pain than they should have been.
All of which leads up to Friday’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final (8 p.m., Ch. 4 and Ch. 9). Tied at three games, apiece, this series will be decided by one game, perhaps by one goal or one save.
And this is why I now understand the true evil of this Stanley Cup final schedule.
The league and television networks started this series as though they were trying to set a speed record, attempting to see if they could complete a best-of-seven series in three days.
But now that we’ve gotten to games that could decide this series, now that the anticipation is extreme … the league and networks have … slowed … this … baby … right … down.
Game 6 was the first time that either team could have won this series and there was a three-day wait for that game. Now, there’s the first Cup final Game 7 involving the Red Wings since 1964 and they made us wait three days again.
Now that’s just evil.
Even the players didn’t want to wait for this Game 7. Both sides would have rather gone out right after Game 6 to decide this series. They players would rather have had the back-to-back dates for games now, not at the start of this series.
Instead, they’ve spent the past two days trying to go about their business, trying to stay in a routine, trying to sleep at night, trying not to yell at the dog for just standing there.
This is human nature and I know this to be true first-hand. Just waiting to watch this game, I’ve found it difficult to stay in a routine, to sleep.
Friday night will be a game that is talked about for a long time. It will be a key moment in hockey history. It will change how players will be remembered.
And you know what? My poor dog isn’t happy about this schedule either.