There is OBVIOUSLY no conspiracy…right?
In the last few days there has been much talk in local hockey circles about there being some sort of bizarre, far-fetched conspiracy involving Gary Bettman and the NHL controlling outcomes of Stanley Cup Playoff games to ensure their preferred teams win games and advance. As the theory goes, the Vancouver Canucks, and all Canadian-based NHL teams, are NOT among the league’s preferred teams, thus suffering uneven officiating from both the on-ice and off-ice officials.
Now, any objective, logic-thinking observer with a clear mind can clearly see that there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that Gary Bettman and the NHL would ever even entertain the idea of preferring certain teams to succeed over others…yes, yes I KNOW that the league now owns the Phoenix Coyotes and they’re suddenly having their 1st good season in about a decade..but that has more to do with the players trying harder this year than they have the last number of years than anything else.
Now, just to finally put this “Bettman and the NHL hate the Canucks and all Canadian Teams” conspiracy theory to rest, let’s take a look at what is driving these crazy, tin-foil hat wearing Canucks fans to feel so paranoid.
First off, let’s absolve NHL commissioner Gary Bettman of any wrong-doing. Bettman’s 1st full season as commissioner was the 93-94 campaign…that year saw the Vancouver Canucks make it to the Stanley Cup finals for the 1st time in 12 years against the New York Rangers who hadn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1940 and who’s home arena is just down the street from the NHL’s head office and represent the largest TV market in the NHL.
Now, those crazy Canucks fans will tell you that they got jobbed in that series…laughable! The Rangers CLEARLY asserted themselves as the better team taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the series…sure, those younger, plucky Canucks, so used to grueling cross-continent travel, were able to win the next 2 games against the tiring, much older Rangers who seldom had to travel out of their time zone and were often at home in their own bed even after most road games. That’s just a myth…after all Ranger’s captain Mark Messier still had enough energy at the end of game 6 to almost decapitate Canucks captain Trevor Linden with a vicious, cross-check to the head that went un-penalized and garnered no suspension from the league…so you can’t say that the Rangers were more tired than the Canucks and that’s why the league decided to move Game7 back an additional day to give the older Rangers an extra day of rest…ridiculous! Now onto Game7 of the Stanley Cup finals…sure, the younger Canucks had ALL the momentum heading into that game, but come on did they really think they could match the Rangers after they were able to recuperate with an extra rest day? Come on…let’s be real! Sure, the Ranger’s got a 2-man advantage in a close game…but let’s face it…the refs give out 2-man advantages like they’re candy in game7′s right? The only reason Trevor Linden needed to score short-handed to keep his team in it was because they were killing penalties for half the game…and sure there was a rumour going around that Bettman felt it would be better for the NHL if the New York rangers won the cup….you see where I’m going with this? Its just simply tin-foil hat stuff.
I mean, just because 8 of the 10 Stanley Cup winners, before Bettman’s 1st full year were from Canada and there has been ZERO since, is no reason to think that there is a conspiracy at play here….it is simply another coincidence people, nothing more.
Canucks fans also point to last year’s playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks claiming that the Hawks were favoured because they were a large TV market that was trying to re-establish itself as a competitive team for the 1st time in many years after playing in front of nearly empty arenas…HAH! Why would the league want them to succeed just because of that? Sure, 90% of the Blackhawks’ goals were scored with at least one of their forwards sitting on Canucks’ goaltender Roberto Luongo’s lap in the back of the net…but come-on you can’t expect the refs to do anything about that can you? A good goal-tender would still be able to make those saves…
Of course this is the same, tired excuse those silly Canucks fans are using this year. This time substitute the upstart LA Kings…sure, they’re the second largest TV market in the States and they haven’t made the playoffs in 8 years…that doesn’t mean anything…its not like some playoff success would help turn-on those long-gone, fickle LA fans and potentially revitalize a US TV market. I mean iffy, too-many men on the ice penalties are ALWAYS called against the home team in overtime of a playoff game, right? right? And just because the Canucks scored a goal that was disallowed because the puck was ‘propelled into the net by not a distinct kicking motion but a kicking motion’ by the player who wasn’t looking at the puck but was, somehow, able to ‘twist his toe’ at the puck thus propelling it intentionally into the net…or something like that…the rule is so convoluted that it can be interpreted any which way the league prefers it…wait…league preferences? NAHHHH!!!! Just a coincidence…another in a long list of coincidences…
I bet those paranoid Canucks fans are wishing one, just ONE, of those coincidences would go their way…who knows? Maybe they’ll win the Stanley Cup the year after Bettman retires or is fired! … Now THAT would be a coincidence. Yeah..that and maybe bitter referee Stephane Auger and Alex Burrows will go for beers, and Colin Campbell and Mike Murphy will suddenly feel the need to go on CBC to explain and justify it as simply Burrows showing Auger an example of a distinct kicking motion.