Viewed 3615 times
"To prevail, the Bruins needed to win the two remaining games in Ottawa, while the Senators needed only to win one. A deadlocked series seemed possible, and the NHL owners were in a jam to know what to do about it. Following their instructions the President warned of the danger of dragging hockey out too long, and ruled there would be no extra games." That scenario sounds very much like what could have occurred when the battle for Lord Stanley's famous mug was staged when grass needed cutting every four days, flowers were blooming, and children were counting the days until the school year ended.
But the cat is out of the bag concerning the era in which shinny icons were getting nervous about the ice game overlapping summer activities, when, two years later, the C.E.O. of those same Bruins, Charles G. Adams, was in a rush to end the Bruin's season, before the baseball season started (he was an investor in the Braves at the time). So, despite the fact that teams had to travel by train, he pushed for back-to-back matches - on March 28-29. Again, here was an effort to make sure the campaign wasn't extended to far. The original scene focused on the 1926-27 NHL post season.
This past season, with the shortened schedule due to the lock-out, it would have been possible, had the Stanley Cup finals gone the full complement of games, to see the NHL season conclude on June 28th In 2013, without an abbreviated schedule, the curtain dropped on major-league shinny on June 11. There's quite a contrast between March 29 and June 24th. But since the series ended 4 games to 2, the finale took place on June 24th.
Complaints about hockey, a winter sport, stretching into summer vacation time, are not new. The March 25, 1930 Pittsburgh Press complained: "The Stanley Cup hockey series, out of which comes the championship team of the NHL, is under way. But it is a question whether it is creating as much interest as anticipated. Many observers believe a mistake is being made in stretching out the season so long. December, January, and February appear to be hockey months. The ice sport flourishes in cold weather, and the post season series would doubtless attract more attention, and prove more successful if it were disposed of before the middle of March.
A Hockey News editorial from June 1948, opined: "Observers of the hockey scene this year can't help but notice the season has been extended more and more until now it is almost a year-round affair." The schedule was then 60 games per season, and hockey's "holy grail" was raised to the rafters on April 14th that spring.
That same year, Toronto Star, in capsule form, griped: "After Wednesdays night when the Gardens air, by the third period start, was as moist and gooey as a small boy's fist, we will restate against continuing hockey far into May!"
In April 1954, the Milwaukie Sentinel echoed those sentiments: "Club owners figure the more games the better their chance of finishing in the black - a mistake of pro hockey. It would be better if they shortened the season at both ends and played less games in the process of priming for the playoffs."
The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix put it in perspective when it noted "This is overlapping time - the silly season in sports. Hockey playoffs, the opening of the major leagues in baseball, and the signing of football players share the spotlight."
In 1968, the Quebec Chronicle Telegraph revealed that "Even President Clarence Campbell has admitted the season is dragged out too long, and that a meeting would be called to discuss the matter." At that time the teams played 74 games, and the season ended on May 11.
But, as expected, nothing came of the promise. In 1975, Buffalo defenseman Jim Schoenfeld declared that "Playing hockey on May 29th is crazy! It would be better if the playoffs ended when baseball is beginning." By then the schedule was 78-games long, with the championship decided on May 27th would have been on the 29th )
Perhaps the ridiculousness of the whole scene is betrayed by an experience of one-time NHL Public Relations chief, Ron Andrews. In June 1977 he received a letter which he called the "second strangest one he ever received!" It was sent by Keith P. Puddenham of Hertfordshire in England. It read: "Will be in arriving in Canada on July 19th like to get tickets to ANY hockey game being played on July 23rd ."
This prevailing opinion made headlines every decade. In August 1982, the Regina Leader-Post shot from the hip with: "A common feeling exists that the hockey season is too long. O.K.! So it might be sacrilegious to criticize our national pastime - but yes - the feeling does exist! The complaints are justified when one considers the season begins in mid-September and extends until late May."
Following the strike/lockout during the 1994-95 campaign, Claude Lemieux maintained that the "players liked (the shorter 48 game schedule) because every game was like a playoff game. This meant being geared up to play all the time, whereas in an 82 game format losing a few didn't matter that much! It would be better if the NHL went that route (a 48 game schedule)."
The wind of unrest over the length of hockey schedules continued well into the New Millennium. In January, 2004, Peter Young, who authors the "Sports Rant and Rave", practically shouted: "Give us a break! The seasons are way, way too long! Whatever happened to the off-season in sports? Hockey players had long summers, and baseball players hibernated like bears in the winter. We (the fans) recharged our batteries for the next season. Nowadays, pro sports might as well run year round!"
The Associated Press echoed those same sentiments, acknowledging that "the season is so long, teams are back in training camp less than three months after the Stanley Cup final had ended. Staying in shape has become an all-year routine."
Over the years several players have aped Schoenfeld's stance. Teammate Don Luce, Scott Stevens, Paul Kayria, and Steve Yzerman are others who have voiced their disapproval of the marathon-like scheduling into which they and their peers funneled.
As recently as May, 2013, the Chicago Tribune laid it on the line: "Traditionalists say it's terribly wrong to have hockey played when temperatures are in the 80's and 90's in May and June. Going to games should mean parkas, boots, and flying snow, not flip flops!"
On the heels of that declaration, former netminder, Kelly Hrudey, said of the most recent work stoppage: "There are plenty of aspects about (the shorten season), all glued to a heightened intensity that the 82- game format is too long".
At the risk of being accused of further beating a well-battered drum, the point made by the AP cannot be overlooked in listing the pros and cons of this issue. While skaters in the Original Six era may have had to take off-season employment to make ends meet, at least they were spared to the physical regimen dumped on modern players. With the not-so- subtle demand to continue to "train to be in condition when camp opens", well paid or not, players today virtually have no time off between sessions. As many who are in the know claim, these wearying demands invite injuries.
But the prosecution rests its case! With his overwhelming evidence that at least moderately-shortened schedules would make sense, why hasn't it happened?
The April 3, 1973 issue of the Spokane Daily Chronicle summed it up in this editorial: "Owners of pro sports teams contend that because of the big salaries they have to pay athletes, now they need a season as long as possible to make expenses and a little profit!" In other words - it's all about the almighty dollar!
Viewed 3615 times
The Revival of Hockey's Lost Art of Stickhandling - Part 2
Posted February 15, 2019
The Revival of Hockey's Lost Art of Stickhandling - Part 1
Posted February 01, 2019
The Rise and Fall of Sweater Number 9
Posted January 23, 2019
Penalty-Free NHL Games
Posted January 09, 2019
The Greatest of These is Charity
Posted December 22, 2018
Minor League 'Davids' Defeating Major League 'Goliaths'
Posted December 07, 2018
The Shadow Knows
Posted November 25, 2018
Lying Down on the Job
Posted November 04, 2018
The Perils and Pleasures of Water
Posted October 19, 2018
Hockey's Cinderella Teams
Posted October 07, 2018
Posted May 19, 2018
Hockey's Classic Embarrassing Moments
Posted May 10, 2018
Playing in a Fog
Posted April 21, 2018
Posted April 08, 2018
First Game, First Shift, First Goal!
Posted March 26, 2018
Always a Bridgroom
Posted March 12, 2018
The Year the Canadiens Almost Died
Posted February 24, 2018
Tangled With the Law and the Lawless - Part 2
Posted February 17, 2018
Tangled With the Law and the Lawless
Posted January 28, 2018
Lucky Black Cats and Number 13
Posted January 17, 2018
Concussions in Hockey Nothing New
Posted December 30, 2017
The Best Christmas I Remember
Posted December 18, 2017
Filling the Gap
Posted December 01, 2017
Off Duty Injuries; mishaps away from the rink
Posted November 13, 2017
The Most Cruel Bird of All
Posted October 26, 2017
Las Vegas — NHL's 31st Team — Knights or Knaves?
Posted October 13, 2017
Playing Under the Influence - of Pain
Posted May 29, 2017
In Tune Pucksters
Posted May 14, 2017
Laughter - The Best Medicine
Posted April 29, 2017
The Last Straw
Posted April 15, 2017
Whose Side Are You On Anyway?
Posted March 30, 2017
Ferreting Out Phantom Hockey Stars
Posted March 17, 2017
A Woman's Place...is On the Ice (Part 2)
Posted March 08, 2017
A Woman's Place...is On the Ice (Part 1)
Posted February 19, 2017
Tales From the Sin Bin!
Posted February 04, 2017
Happy 100th Birthday N.H.L
Posted January 25, 2017
New Year's Resolutions that Might Have Been
Posted January 06, 2017
It Happened on December 25th
Posted December 21, 2016
The Best of Hockey's One-Liners
Posted December 10, 2016
The Price of Stardom
Posted November 18, 2016
Is There a Doctor in the House?
Posted November 03, 2016
Auston Matthews: Liberator or Lemon?
Posted October 14, 2016
Hockey's Multi-Generation Families
Posted June 16, 2016
Picture Perfect - A Dozen Classic Hockey Photos
Posted June 08, 2016
Anatomy of the Penalty Shot
Posted May 17, 2016
Hockey's Honourary Indian Chiefs
Posted May 04, 2016
Posted April 17, 2016
Records That Will Never Be Broken
Posted March 31, 2016
Right Church — Wrong Pew
Posted March 23, 2016
Does "Captain" Mean Much Anymore?
Posted March 02, 2016
Posted February 21, 2016
Now That's Not Pun-ny!
Posted February 07, 2016
A Century of Leap Year Landmarks - Part 2
Posted January 26, 2016
A Century of Leap Year Landmarks - Part 1
Posted January 06, 2016
Posted December 29, 2015
Practice Can Be Precarious
Posted December 11, 2015
How Much is a Body Worth?
Posted November 25, 2015
Brooklyn Bridge is Falling Down...
Posted November 15, 2015
Did You Have a Good Summer? (Part Two)
Posted November 01, 2015
Did You Have a Good Summer? (Part One)
Posted October 16, 2015
From Champs to Chumps
Posted June 07, 2015
CLEAN PLAY……CLEAN PLAYERS….TRUE SPORTS
Posted May 11, 2015
Putting the Bite on the Opposition
Posted April 24, 2015
One Eyed Wonders
Posted April 12, 2015
Captain Cage Cop
Posted March 26, 2015
Trade Deadline Deals — Blockbuster or Bluster?
Posted March 17, 2015
Fun In the Snow
Posted February 27, 2015
Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated
Posted February 16, 2015
It's not what they said - it's what they meant!
Posted January 31, 2015
Posted January 18, 2015
Hockey's New Years Babies
Posted January 03, 2015
Strange Gifts - Christmas or Otherwise
Posted December 20, 2014
Two Dozen + 1 Wacky Wonders
Posted December 06, 2014
The Last of a Long Line of...
Posted November 24, 2014
A Compendium of Referee Non-Calls
Posted November 09, 2014
40th Anniversary of the 1974 Summit Series
Posted October 25, 2014
The Many Faces of Training Camp
Posted October 13, 2014
The Rise and Fall of Playoff Heroes
Posted May 30, 2014
Boston Bruins Celebrate 90 Years
Posted May 17, 2014
A Curse Upon Ye!
Posted May 01, 2014
For the Birds
Posted April 20, 2014
They Were Not Fooled By Their Birthdates
Posted April 08, 2014
Bitten By The Hand That Feeds
Posted March 22, 2014
Tongue in Check
Posted March 08, 2014
A Few L.A.F.F.S. to Relieve your S.A.D.
Posted February 21, 2014
The Ultimate Valentine - A Kiss
Posted February 08, 2014
Hats Off to Hockey
Posted January 25, 2014
Posted January 11, 2014
New Year's Revelations
Posted December 30, 2013
Posted December 23, 2013
Esposito vs Esposito - Smith vs Smith
Posted November 30, 2013
Just Dying to Play Hockey
Posted November 17, 2013
What's In 50 Years
Posted November 02, 2013