Are you, like me, getting impatient for a spring that doesn’t seem to be arriving?
After spending a chunk of February in Mexico, I thought I’d come back to a relatively short, survivable period before we had our own emergence of sunny, warm weather.
Two-and-a-half months later, I’m still waiting. Hey, it’s May, already! Has the calendar been upset this year?
I’m told the grizzly bears on Grouse Mountain have just emerged from hibernation, the latest date ever!
I witness the trees are still blossoming—beautiful, but that should have been a month ago!
I’m itching to pickup my hiking hobby. One measly hike so far this year! (OK, I’m a fair-weather hiker—it’s about enjoying the outdoors as much as getting exercise.) The weatherman tells me I can expect more of the same through this week yet, until Sunday, which, of course is Mothers’ Day, not Hikers’ Day.
Why are things so wacky this year? Some will tell you it’s climate change. (They’d surely get an argument in these parts, at least this year, if they still called it “global warming.”)
But I think I’ve got it figured out! Bottom line: it’s the pandemic, via hockey!
Two years ago, when covid suddenly shut everything down, the pros found a way to get the NHL playoffs done, using Toronto and Edmonton “bubbles.” But they did that in June and July. Then, in the fall of 2020, covid again put everything on hold. By January, the NHL finally figured out how to get in an abbreviated 54-game schedule, with playoffs that again lasted into July.
With things somewhat back to normal in 2021—okay, we still had a lot of restrictions but apparently, in empty arenas at first, they could play hockey—they were able to plan a full 82-game schedule. But with the 2021 season having ended in July, it was too tight to start the next 6-month campaign on the usual first week of October, with playoffs starting the second week of April.
So, the schedule started about 10 days later than usual and finished 3-1/2 weeks later than usual (April 30, instead of about April 6).
Now, everyone knows that hockey’s regular season is played in winter, and the playoffs in spring.
So, blame our late spring on the NHL. They can, in turn, blame it on the pandemic!
And, while we’re talking about logical connections and about Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s long been believed that the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 55-year Stanley Cup drought (the longest in major sports), is due to the curse Larry Hillman put on the team after they failed to pay him $100 for each of 24 games that he missed while awaiting a new contract with the team after their 1967 win. (His curse was that they would never win the Stanley Cup until he was paid the $2400, plus interest.)
Apparently, many private fans throughout history had offered to pay him out if he would simply lift the curse. He refused until Leafs’ General Manager Brendan Shanahan, with the permission of the team’s owners, actually did pay him out, with interest, in 2017.
In a TV interview last night, Hillman said he’s lifted the curse.
Could the Leafs now be on their way to winning the Cup?
And, further, on Stanley Cup droughts . . .
No Canadian team has claimed hockey’s holy grail since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. Canadian fans have often believed it to be the “curse of Bettman.” Only six times have Canadian teams made it to the final in those 29 years, and all lost (Vancouver 1994, 2011; Calgary, 2004; Edmonton, 2006; Ottawa, 2007; and Montreal, 2021.)
This year three Canadian teams have a decent chance of going deep into the playoffs. (Sorry, Canuck fans, Vancouver isn’t one of them.) With the Toronto curse lifted, and Calgary and Edmonton the top two seeds in the Pacific division, all three are projected to have realistic probabilities of winning the Cup. They’re ranked—before the first games Monday–as third, fourth and sixth best odds among the sixteen playoffs teams, according to the Sporting News.
But will they overcome the curse of Bettman?
The next two months will tell.
And summer may be here by then.