The ideal NHL schedule, Kasperi Kapanen's breakaway portfolio, hockey and the human capacity for handling adversity. jtbourne's Three Courses in a strange time for the hockey world. 👇🏽
In these times, meals help Justin Bourne keep structure in his day. So, in his first column for Sportsnet.ca, he presents you with three courses of topics: how the NHL could change its calendar for the better, Kasperi Kapanen's breakaway move, and the human capacity for handling adversity.@jtbourne March 26, 2020, 10:39 AM I can’t speak for everyone, but the only thing keeping my isolation days even remotely structured is meal time. Honestly if weren’t for breakfast, lunch and dinner it could be literally any hour of the day to me. It could be November, I don’t know. At any given time I’m covered in a three-and-a-half-year-old’s chalk, Play-Doh and someone’s blood (mine?), trying to convince my very pregnant wife not to murder the cat. And my veins run thick with strong coffee. Reaching meal times is like hitting video game checkpoints, where you can no longer take from me what I accomplished before. I made it to dinner, dammit, and I ain’t going back to before. So, I figured it’d be fitting to use meal time – a fancy dinner actually, which is a social construct I barely remember – for the structure of my weekly SN column (at least out of the gate). We’ll start with a tasty little hockey thought for an appy, followed by something a little meatier (or portobello mushroom caps for Jeff Marek), with a lighter dessert. Without further ado, I’ll be your host, server and chef today and in the weeks to come, so yeah: bon appétit. Appetizer: The NHL should pull its season back on the annual calendar A reality of life is that it’s hard to step off the ol’ hamster wheel, take some time to reassess, then resume again in an entirely new and improved way. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard. We fall into routines that wear grooves into the paths of life, and as those get deeper, it gets harder for us to turn from the familiar. Grooves become ruts. Sometimes it takes jarring life events for people to change how they operate, unfortunate though that may be. Sometimes it takes a health scare to change a diet. Well, the NHL is in the midst of a jarring life event, with the wagon wheels of another season launched free from their usual ruts. But this also gives the league an opportunity it hasn’t had in the modern era. This is a chance to reimagine the best of what the league could be within the world sporting landscape, and to enact real change to get there. What needs to change? The slot the NHL season takes up on the calendar. This current season and its potential endpoints aside, the NHL season generally pushes far too deep into summer for the liking of just about everyone. Last season the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup on June 12. Given the majority of NHL cities are located in colder climates, we’re talking about one of the three or four months where it’s really nice and hot — proper summer — and where it sure as heck isn’t hockey season. At that time, you’re also going head-to-head with the NBA finals, which means the NHL never truly has the sporting spotlight to itself for the culmination of its season. On the other end, September is “back to reality” month for most of North American culture. The kids go back to school and while it’s a beautiful month we’re clearly coming out of summer and into fall. Baseball is coming to its conclusion and the NFL kicks off, which really means “sports are back.” (And to be clear, I don’t see the NFL and NHL in competition for many eyeballs when their seasons overlap.) September nights would just feel right for the official start of the NHL’s regular season. This isn’t some drastic change I’m proposing – really the whole season just needs to be pulled back about three weeks, moving puck drop to early- or mid-September (around the 10th or so) and ending in mid-to-late May. With training camps starting a couple weeks prior to the season, we’d be looking at teams getting going within a handful of days of Sept. 1. In most years it would be hard to drop a shortened summer on players, particularly those who’ve played into June, but this isn’t most years. A big part of what we’re talking about here hinges on the worst-case scenario (at least financially) of the league not being able to resume the 2019-20 season in any fashion. This is the doomsday scenario, but also not an unrealistic outcome at this point. An earlier start to the 2020-21 season would offer at least a tiny bit of consolation for fans who’ve had their seasons cut short by a month or more. It would allow players to fully let go of 2019-20 and focus on their families in a time where their families deserve to have their sole focus. It would avoid a scenario where you rush players back into situations that still feel riskier than they will in late summer/early fall, when we hopefully have the worst of all this in check. And with that, you’d get the season to where I believe it best fits amidst the world’s sporting calendar. More from Sportsnet Read more: Sportsnet
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