Saturday, November 7, 2009

The 81 Game Schedule of the 2009/10 Detroit Red Wings

This evening I went to the home of a friend of mine who happens to be a big Leafs fan. We sat down to watch a beautiful ceremony for the induction of Detroit Red Wing great Steve Yzerman to the Hockey Hall of Fame (among others). There was supposed to be a hockey game scheduled afterwards, but my memory of what transpired next is suddenly hazy. My next memory is of my friend trying to convince me that a game had indeed been played and the Leafs had won, which is not possible. Does the common cold typically lead to periods of memory loss? I suppose that it is possible that I immediately repressed the memories, but my dreadful flashbacks to the 1993 Stanley Cup Playoffs won't go away so go figure.

Borshechvsky and Foligno still haunt my nightmares like Freddy Kreuger. Night terrors where I don't know if I'm awake and I can't wake up, it really is frightening. There's the one nightmare where Mike Foligno is chasing me at Crystal Lake wearing a goalie mask and a wielding a machete...scary stuff...then there is my “Night of the Living Dead” nightmare where other old Leafs like Wendell Clark, Doug Gilmore, and Allan Bester start digging themselves out of the ground like zombies, an army of undead Leafs of course commanded by Mike Foligno.

These are two teams who are not at all comparable in terms of talent and quantifiable skill sets. The Red Wings have won 9 playoff series and won 40 playoff games since the last time the Leafs made the damned playoffs! You can put a dwarf on a go-kart and send him out at Talladega and he'd be destroyed. The Leafs can't beat the Red Wings, certainly not in a seven game series. If a hockey game took place at the ACC and the Iceman was not there to see it, did it ever really happen? There are people convinced that Buzz Aldron never walked on the moon, thus it is not unreasonable for me to believe that after the Steve Yzerman ceremony, everyone shuffled out of the building and that was it.

But now I am looking at the Wings schedule and I am only seeing 81 games. That's fine. The Wings could play 65 games to everyone else's 82 and still earn enough points to make the playoffs. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are waiting until the second half to boost it into high gear. That's what you have to do when you play so many extra games every season in the post season. I don't want Icarus to fly too close to the sun and burn out. Franzen isn't really hurt, they let him take a vacation to get the Wings young guns more playing time. It is simple math.

Maybe that's it; the Red Wings have enjoyed so much success in the past dozen years that it would only be fair if they played a 70 game schedule. This could be new "playoff fairness doctrine" to give each franchise an equal probability to make the playoffs. If took 90 points to make the playoffs, a bottom feeder like Toronto would need to play maybe 120 games to advance to the postseason; and a magnificent franchise like the Red Wings could accomplish a playoff spot in 62 games.

Just an idea.

My friend also happens to have a 2 year old son in the early stages of language development, and he likes to repeat things that are said to him; or at least his interpretation of what he heard. He has yet to develop the ability to speak in complete sentences, but he’s already a Canucks fan. The father is trying very hard to encourage him to be a Leafs fan, cheering and getting excited on those rare occasions when the Leafs do win a game. When dad left the room, I began repeatedly asking the child “do you like playoff hockey?” Sadly the toddler was unable to process the concept of “playoff hockey” in time to be screaming it when daddy came back in the room. I tried my part.

One small victory for Leaf fans, one five year embarrassment for Leaf kind.

Oh and if you can't appreciate hyperbole, you probably should not have read this.

1 comment:

  1. A very entertaining essay from the Red Wing perspective, which is very superior to the Red Star view and highly magnetic to we of the Original Six upbringing. I however, being a product of my own father's early indoctrination, find your hockey nightmares among my few more pleasant memories. Last night's game (it really happened) was a total surprise to me, but my outlook for joyful living seems to be enhanced by the realization that these Leafs are actually a competitive bunch when playing as a team. Some of us can't help but "bleed the blue", whether or not we're "blue like you"....