Image From The Bleacher Report; Credit to Original Photographer
The quote was floating out there before the NHL began the second phase of their return to play protocol.
“You don’t want to have a COVID Cup,” Nashville forward Matt Duchene said as reported by The Toronto Star. “I’m worried that if we force this thing and try and it’s a little gimmicky or if it’s not quite right, whoever wins the Cup is gonna have people trying to take it away from them their whole lives and they don’t deserve that,”
Good thing he and the Predators don’t have to worry about such things.
Apparently Mr. Duchene is not familiar with when the NHL awarded a Stanley Cup with fewer regular season games multiple times under commissioner Gary Bettman.
After all, it only took the New Jersey Devils 48 regular season games in 1994-95, in which they finished fifth best in the East. The Chicago Blackhawks were far and away the best team in the 48 game regular season in 2012-13, outdistancing the next best Pittsburgh Penguins by having no regulation losses and five positive results beyond the regular 60.
Both of those years were abbreviated because of owner lockouts.
Bear in mind that the modern NHL is unique in its stinginess in terms of the teams they admit to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There have only been a handful of other seasons where the league has been as selective as to who they admit to the post season if the league doesn’t retain their 24 team format beyond this one once the Kraken join in 21-22. Should the current playoff format of 16 teams remain, it will become the uniquely most exclusive era of the NHL.
So it makes me wonder about previous Stanley Cup winners in a shortened season. Funnily enough, none of them have anything affixed to the chalice but their names.
Did you know that there were only five players that appeared in every Devils game in ’94-’95 in both the regular season and playoffs?
Bet you didn’t get Tommy Albelin.
Nobody likes to mention it, but the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in a shorted season too. 2013 to be exact.
But the league is happy to treat that 48 game regular season as ‘business as usual’, because they made the 16-team bracket from it. After all, three (wait, three?!?) of them played every game that year. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Brent Seabrook all had good reasons for not playing the full 48 games.
For what it’s worth, the three Blackhawks that played every game of the 2012-13 season and playoffs are Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Johnny Oduya.
Which is why it’s comical that anyone would discount what the players earn in this 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Whomever comes out of this (My money is on Vegas) should be uniquely celebrated. Not treated as an outlier.
That quote was out there before the NHL began the second phase of their return to play protocol. It sounds like the words of a loser, which the qualification stage has born out. They better be serious when the NHL is able to have a regular Regular Season.
Both the NHL and NBA have proven thus far in 2020 that bubbles work to allow professional sports to continue against a pandemic.
That the NHL has been able to hold their playoffs in face of a pandemic should be celebrated. We will mark this Cup winner as special, and it shouldn’t be derisively. They beat everyone, and COVID.
After all, they will be the most unique Stanley Cup winner ever.
(Follow Hawk on Twitter: @EricTheHawk)