Let’s face it folks, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is built for the playoffs. By which, I mean the organization is a profit generating machine, at least on the hockey side.
The fact that over the term of the previous CBA the Leafs managed to generate more profits than pretty much the rest of the NHL combined WITHOUT ONCE MAKING THE POST-SEASON is not only insane, but a testament to the
insanity dedication of Toronto hockey fans.
So kudos to you, Toronto. Your perseverance has finally been rewarded and your beloved Buds (what the hell does that mean, anyway?) have finally made it back to the playoffs.
But it’s been a long absence, and some things have changed. So as a public service, I’ve put together a Graphic Guide to the NHL Playoffs for you…
First, there’s probably some of you out there that not only can’t remember what the playoffs are like, but maybe have never experienced the playoffs at all. To put it in terms that might be easier for you to understand, the playoffs are that period of free time you have every year between the end of the regular season and the NHL draft:
Don’t let the short season confuse you. This is the playoffs, not the second half of the year.
The other thing to realize about the playoffs is that they don’t last for a prescribed period of time. The Leafs are only guaranteed a spot in the first of a possible four rounds. Each round consists of a seven game series. A team needs four wins to advance, but if they get caught looking ahead to the next round, they might find that it’s on the golf course:
Now, as I said up front, the Leafs are an organization built for profits. That means most of you will be watching the games from home because you can’t afford the tickets. As you settle in to watch from the comfort of your chesterfield, there are few things that have changed since the last time the Leafs were in the playoffs. The following chart identifies the changes that you might find most shocking:
Yes, that’s right. Kerry Fraser retired but Bob Cole didn’t. Go figure.
Anyway, the point is there are still plenty of bad calls in the playoffs, oh, and there’s bad refereeing too.
There’s not really much you can do about either. Maybe try switching over to the Punjabi broadcast team. You’re probably more likely to hear something that resembles what’s happening on the ice than by listening to Bob Cole.
As for the referees, it’s basically going to be hit and miss. They will either call too much or put the whistles away and call nothing. Either way, nobody comes out happy. The best you can hope for is the Goldilocks approach to officiating:
I said Goldilocks, not golden locks. I told you: Kerry Fraser retired. You have nothing to fear.
Ok, let’s move on. One of the other things you’ll notice right away about the playoffs is that your favourite players start looking like they play banjo for Mumford & Sons. This proliferation of "playoff" beards will continue to grow until one day they have one close shave too many:
Now, there is certainly alot of mystique about the playoffs. As the NHL promos in recent years put it,
Profits History Will Be Made. Part of this mystique is the idea that some players really up their game in the playoffs and come through, while others fade under the pressure. You’ll hear lots about these clutch players and their clutch scoring in the weeks ahead.
Well, I’m here to tell you that there is no such thing as clutch scoring, but there’s definitely quite a bit of clutch play:
Speaking of clutching and grabbing, it’s been a long time since you were in the playoffs, Toronto. So long, in fact, that some of you Leaf fans are playoff virgins. And for the rest of you, it might just have been long enough that this will feel like the first time all over again anyway:
Either way, Toronto, the time has come. Whether it’s the bad advice for your hockey team, the outright comical political endorsements, or the hypocritical and socially regressive rants, the sooner you guys lose your Cherry, the sooner we’ll all be that much better off.