Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Stupid Schedule

Take a good look at that guy with the puck. If you're a Sharks fan, this is as close as you'll get this year.

The NHL's absurd unbalanced schedule continues to insult fans by depriving them of even a single chance to see all of the league's stars each year. By the way, the fellow in the photo is Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, who leads the league in goals, points, and highlight-film plays. He won't play in San Jose this year. In fact, the Sharks won't even play his team on the road.

I'm hot on this topic right now because the Sharks and Montreal just played a terrific game in San Jose (the Sharks won 6-4, proving they can play fast-paced, high-skill hockey with any team in the league). It was a true treat for the home fans.

But reality bites. It'll be a long time before the Canadiens play in San Jose again. And of the Sharks' remaining 16 games this season, a wearying 9 will be against the other 4 teams in the Sharks' Pacific Dvision (in fact, those 9 games will occur in the last 10 games of the season).

I understand the logic of loading the schedule so that teams play more games against those they're battling for a playoff slot. I understand the realities of travel expenses. But will someone please explain to me how the NHL benefits from keeping Ovechkin out of San Jose (or, for that matter, Joe Thornton out of Washington)? Even the NHL's plan to revise the schedule for next year will not ensure visits by all of the opposite-conference teams.

Stupid. Just plain stupid.

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