So, the annual ritual of hockey’s ‘second season’ has begun. 16 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League are competing in the Stanley Cup playoffs, including five of the seven Canadian-based teams.
This is tremendous news for the folks at Rogers Media who paid more than $5 billion a few years ago to be the exclusive TV broadcaster of hockey in this country. 12 months ago, with none of the Canadian teams in the post season, TV ratings were down more than 60%, and Rogers had to pay back millions to big sponsors.
Should I mention that the joy may be short-lived? The chances of any of the 5 Canadian teams surviving past the first round have to be regarded as ‘slim and almost none’, especially the dear old Leafs who drew the short straw, playing Alex Ovechkin and the powerful Washington Capitals.
The team that began play at Maple Leaf Gardens almost 90 years ago is virtually guaranteed of financial success, but it’s also guaranteed that they will break the hearts of their fans most of the time. Relatively few of the folks who paid a mere 12 bucks a ticket to watch them win their last Stanley Cup in 1967 are still alive. Their current head coach, Mike Babcock was a 4 year old lacing up his first pair of skates in Saskatoon back then. I bet he wore a Leafs jersey.
The exciting group of kids that I follow – the Winnipeg Jets – have only made the playoffs once since moving north from Atlanta in 2011. I suppose I should feel forlorn about it, but I don’t.
Meanwhile, back at Rogers Media, they must be more than a little concerned about their baseball team, the Blue Jays. I know it’s early, but they have the worst record in the major leagues, and they’re off to their worst start since they began play in the snow at Exasperation Stadium in 1977.
Best advice, don’t watch any of this in real time. It’s better that way
I’m Roger Currie