For the first time in months, the NHL had a business appearance as usual with the lottery draw on Friday night. Rather than endlessly debating the possibility of the NHL’s return (which seems increasingly grim as the number of COVID-19 cases per capita increases once again and NHL teams struggle to even conduct boot camps. ) Fans finally had something tangible and exciting to talk about, a sign that things will eventually revert to normal.
The NHL giveaway draw should have been a celebratory event, an emphatic confirmation that yes, we need sports because they are uplifting and exciting and have real bets. Sports create community, and we need it more than ever, especially if you see a commercial from mid-March. This was going to be a brilliant time for the NHL, a time to say “Yeah, that’s why we matter!” in such a strange world for many of us now. But when the dust died down and the draft order was shown on NBCSN in its entirety, with a “To Be Decided” team winning the lottery and all teams except LA and the San Jose Sens team dropping one or more places, I went through as many hockey communities as I could. On SB Nation, Reddit, social media, and the blogosphere, a sentiment rang louder:
The NHL sucks.
On a night that should have been a celebration for the NHL, a night that was closest to normal operation, as it had been since the league postponed the season on March 12.thNo one was happy. Conspiracy theories have been swift, claiming that the NHL has manipulated the lottery project behind its Byzantine rules. It’s easier to believe in intentional malevolence that affects the Red Wings because the league hates the organization for its high level of play 10-20 years ago than to believe that Detroit was left out in the cold by chance in this giveaway.
Whatever bad feelings the NHL may or may not have toward the Detroit Red Wings, they pale in comparison to the league’s desire to make money. If the league were really playing the system, Ottawa would have made the worst possible choices, because the nightmare scenario for the NHL from a marketing perspective is what they would do if Ottawa ever met Winnipeg in the Stanley Cup Final . T
The Wings weren’t the victims of a major conspiracy with the 2020 draw, but it’s easy to feel that way because, otherwise, suffering a truncated season of 17-49-5 seems pointless and purposeless.
But when I say that no one was happy with Friday’s results, that should include Gary Bettman and his friends. No matter how you cut it, Friday night was bad for the league. Whichever is Of course The NHL wants to continue the drumming interest by actually having a second lottery draw, they just need to look around at the different fan bases.
Oilers fans know that winning the lottery would be bad for the league. Sabers fans are furious, even though the current lottery odds exist because of their team. Fans in Washington and St. Louis are angry that their rivals could be eliminated in the play-in round and are rewarded with a 12.5% probability in the first pick (better odds than all teams except Ottawa and Detroit, of course) Vancouver and Minnesota fan bases are joking about the absurdity of their best draft odds in over a decade in a season when they are bubble teams. Fans are talking about the lottery draw, but for all the wrong reasons. Go to any online discussion and see how long it takes for the Lafrenière to Montreal conspiracy to appear. The dominant conversation is that the league is essentially corrupt and, on some level, illegitimate.
The NHL has been struggling with legitimacy issues for a long time. When I say “legitimacy,” I mean “the authority and prestige others perceive you to have.” All leagues have momentary crises of legitimacy from time to time, some lasting longer than others. The NFL has concussion problems. MLB has the Houston Astros. The NBA has an unpleasant case of loss of its spine when dealing with China.
Although not directly guilty, the NHL is dealing with the shock waves of Dan Carcillo and Garrett Taylor’s lawsuit against Canadian Junior Hockey and is responsible for finding a solution if the league is the hockey manager it professes to be.
But the NHL has other ongoing legitimacy issues, and the seemingly arbitrary results of the lottery project do nothing. The league is one of the four largest sports leagues in North America, but are they? Does Liga MX have higher ratings? NASCAR not growing faster? Does MLS offer a better experience for fans? And after all, hockey has never really been translated to television like other sports, and it can’t market to its stars like MLB, NBA, and NFL.
What about that concussion problem with the NFL? The NHL has it, too. These sentiments were recently included in a brief statement on ESPN when host Max Kellerman said, “No one really cares about hockey … it’s not one of the top four team sports.” Sport does not have a legitimate claim to its place among the other major professional leagues in this hemisphere, so criticism goes.
The NHL has a constant brother syndrome on the national sports scene. MLB, NBA, and NFL don’t have to deal with speculation as to whether they really exists or not like the NHL does. The league is not only able to execute its operations, as well as the three largest dogs. It has to be better because its legitimacy is constantly questioned. But for both the casual observer and the staunch fan, Friday’s lottery draw was not a guarantee of its legitimacy. Rather than leaving fans with confidence in the way the league unfolds, the NHL created a strong feeling that, like the rest of life right now, it’s a cruel joke.
We are living in a historic moment with COVID-19, let alone the civil unrest caused by the murder of George Floyd and the growing mistrust of democratic institutions around the world that has been brewing for two decades. Many feel that the world they understood is lagging behind and in its place is the confusion of an uncertain future.
As professional sports have postponed their seasons, leagues have shouted, “Sport matters! We can give people something to feel good about in these tough times!” This was the NHL time to live up to that statement. Rather than being the anchor of normalcy in the seas of change, the lottery draw only appeared to be cosmetically unfair, not just for the Red Wings and their fans, but for fans across the NHL. Even fans of the Kings, who objectively got a good deal from the draft lottery, have a feeling of mistrust and anger at the way things played out.
We all have our religions, be they official creeds or something else entirely, which are organizing principles for creating a sense of meaning in a chaotic universe. In the end, professional leagues, including the NHL, have promised to return to normal in these tough times, as if they were a guide to help us refocus. The NHL does not affirm this for some altruistic reason, nor for a malicious one. Its organizing principle is the same as all capitalist companies: make money.
If someone wasn’t aware of this before, it should have been very clear with June 2North Dakota blackout move on Twitter when multiple teams, including the Red Wings, posted an almost black team logo on a black background to show “support” for George Floyd’s protests, to say that nothing is bigger than them. Nothing is more important. Never never forget us.
Any anger the league has toward the Red Wings pales in comparison to their desire to make money. Any desire they have to be a community builder is only secondary to the accumulation of wealth. Everything is for that capitalist search, because that is the way the system is designed, but if the league is going to market itself as a champion of something, well, you can’t be a champion of anything if it’s always a secondary priority. It’s worth continually re-examining what we expect in these NHL days, especially after the lottery draw, because we all feel hurt and disappointed. It’s not due to a major league conspiracy to hurt the Red Wings and their fans.
Lottery odds only guarantee that you don’t mind, which is what you are supposed to do to eliminate any form of bias. And lack of bias is good in this case, but it’s really jarring when the relentless odds of the lottery are compared to the pathos and pageantry that surround emergency responders. The NHL wanted to have his cake and eat it too, but due to a system he designed for himself, the league is now sitting there with a ruined cake smeared across his face.
The past few months have been difficult for everyone. And heaven knows that it has been very difficult to be a fan of Red Wings in the last two years. We have all had our personal minimums. I personally love writing for Winging it in Motown, but after a 3-2 win at Edmonton on January 22, 2019, I didn’t recap another victory until Detroit overtook Tampa in a 5-4 shooting on March 8, 2020 There are 411 days between opportunities to do what I like most about writing for Winging it in Motown, which is celebrating a victory with our readers and writers.
He has been very tough and I have a lot of respect for fans of places like Long Island, Edmonton and Carolina (and even the nice folks who stand up for the Leafs) who have resisted their teams during droughts for much longer. than ours Honestly, I haven’t been as shocked as Wings fans since we lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2009, and as tempting as it is to believe that something sinister happened behind the scenes, the much more likely scenario is that the Detroit Red Wings were only victims of cruel numbers, a cold and distant enemy without form and, therefore, impossible to hate. Maybe when the NHL set the rules, they didn’t realize that fans would be looking for a way out and that they would be the obvious target.
In the end, the lottery draw could have been a great celebration for the NHL. Any reminder of order if you want. Instead, in the midst of all the confusion and despair of a global pandemic and social and political stress, we got the draw the night before. Everything felt unfair and cruel, as if the game was manipulated from the beginning. It wasn’t rigged, but that just means the NHL is as erratic and baffling as everything else right now.