Pre-season predictions are a mug’s game at the best of times, because the truth is often far stranger than any fiction we could dream up. Well, we’re going to put that to the test, because today’s predictions are all of the…um, far-fetched variety. So sit back, suspend your disbelief, and enjoy THN’s Top 10 Wacky Predictions for the NHL’s 2014-15 campaign.
10. After hearing one too many questions about his future in Detroit, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock snaps and vows to only say, “I am Groot” in all media interviews for the rest of his career. Babcock’s inimitable speaking style translates so well into the single line of dialogue spoken by the Guardians of the Galaxy character, he replaces Vin Diesel in the sequel to the blockbuster movie.
9. In their ongoing attempt to employ every key member of the 2004 Stanley Cup champion Lightning, Rangers acquire Vincent Lecavalier from Philly and Dave Andreychuk and Fredrik Modin from retirement. John Tortorella also hired as director of dressing room security.
8. Following years of speculation, NHL announces expansion to Long Island and Atlanta in 2016. “Don’t worry about it,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says in a news release welcoming expansion franchise owners Charles Wang and Atlanta Spirit, L.L.C. Jr. into the league. “Let’s just see what happens.”
7. February 21 outdoor showdown between San Jose Sharks and L.A. Kings becomes first game in professional sports history to be canceled due to clement weather; NHL reschedules it for July, when global warming is expected to put California in a month-long deep freeze. Sure, the make-up game takes place after the season ends, but this isn’t the Logical Hockey League. Just as the NHL did with the Ilya Kovalchuk contract punishment, they’ll figure out a justification for it as they go along.
6. With Steve Mason struggling in net and Ray Emery injured again, Flyers GM Ron Hextall says “to hell with it”, signs himself to six-year, $18-million deal as Philadelphia’s newest goaltending savior. (I know, I know, this article is supposed to be about far-fetched predictions. But I had to throw this near-fetched one in there for a change of pace.)
5. Kings coach Darryl Sutter retires at all-star break to star in one-man stage show “Stare-way To Heaven: Secrets Of The World’s Greatest Stink-Eye Artist”. “We’re starting it off-Broadway,” Sutter says. “And if those ingrates don’t like it, we’re moving it to f***-off Broadway”.
4. NHL announces 2014 awards show to be hosted by Larry King’s suspenders and feature live songs from Toto, Joan Baez, Justin Bieber’s fourth cousin twice removed, and a special hologram performance from Jem and the Holograms. “We believe this year’s lineup will be truly outrageous,” Bettman says. “Truly, truly, truly outrageous.”
3. Jaromir Jagr celebrates moving into fourth place on the NHL’s all-time points list by unveiling “Jagrschlager”, a Czech-made schnapps liqueur. “It’s flaky!”, Jagr says, blissfully unaware of the irony.
2. Hockey’s advanced statistics debate takes bizarre turn when fundamentalist fancy stats proponents form Fanonymous, an ultra-militant organization insisting all NHL games be decided based solely on possession numbers. “Close your eyes – the truth is out there in spreadsheet form!” the group says in its mission statement. “At last, the strawman we’ve been looking for!” hockey traditionalists reply.
1. Sidney Crosby arrested by Ottawa police while driving rented Porsche. Okay, this probably would never happen in a million years. But maybe, right?