We’re now less than a week away from the start of the NBA season, and yet their roommates/moochers in the NHL still can’t seem to find their way through the door, or even the door itself. It was only a couple days ago that Jan. 13 was looking like more than a theory of a starting date. Now it’s a pretty funny joke, as the league might get booted out of Canada altogether.
It’s not a huge surprise on one level, considering that the Toronto Blue Jays were exiled to Buffalo for the MLB season (“exiled to Buffalo” comes up a lot in trials at The Hague), and the Raptors are about to embark on the tried and true Canadian tradition of spending the winter in Florida. Yet, the NHL thought it could get away with keeping teams in Canada because they would never leave Canada, as they had planned an All-Canadian division for this shortened and mutated season, which also doubled as every Canadian journalist’s Adam & Eve free gift.
But in order to pull that off, the league had to thread the needle of the different protocols and regulations for the five provinces that those teams inhabit, which takes more than a smile and a mention of Toe Blake.
It’s one thing to move one team for an entire season, as unfair as that is to the players and staff of it. To do it for seven teams, and to find them all their own locations and housing and whatnot, would seem to be a logistical nightmare, as well as a terrible burden on the individuals involved. On the surface, you’re asking them to move from a country that at least has something of a handle on the pandemic — though hardly under control — to one where a trip to the grocery store is now a political rally and a daredevil act akin to skydiving. It would not be a shock if not everyone’s exactly on board.
Secondly, if that has to happen, it throws the whole plan the NHL had for this season into the trash, as it’ll have to realign everything again, depending on where these teams have to land. That certainly makes the Jan. 13 date a pipe dream.
And the league can’t even claim to have the U.S. cities set, as the Sharks have the same problem the 49ers do and were planning a training camp in Arizona to get around that.
It’s still the better bet that the league can convince the provinces to let their teams come home again, but the more the talks go on the later this will all start which means the later this will all end. The clock has been clicking on the league for a while, and it’s only getting louder now. If the NHL is set on ending the playoffs before the Olympics, and not shortening the season to a laughable amount, it had better get a move on.
The Chargers and Raiders sure played some terrible football last night, with the Chargers seeing the Raiders field goal in overtime and raising them a touchdown to win 30-27. The Raiders lost their starting QB Derek Carr on their opening drive when his groin went TWANG! on a rollout. Marcus Mariotta filled in pretty admirably, but few forces can stand up against the Jon Gruden el foldo, which the Raiders are in the midst of. This is their fourth loss in the last five, and their only win in that span was that last-gasp, Jets-being-the-Jets win. They’re now ninth in the conference, and could be two games back of a playoff spot with two games to go depending on how things go the rest of the weekend.
This is Gruden’s third year with the vagabond Raiders, and at some point photogenic facial expressions don’t stand in for results. This is the NFL, and rebuilds don’t take more than a couple years, or shouldn’t. Thankfully for Gruden, his boss, an escapee from an 80s film as a toddler who inherits a Fortune 500 company, Mark Davis isn’t going to be less enamored with Gruden’s starpower anytime soon. And all the seats will sell out in Vegas when that time comes because well, Vegas.
Such a strange league, where the one team that’s beaten what is clearly the league’s best, the Chiefs (bring it Pittsburgh, you know I’m right) can spend the end of the season lighting its face on fire.