Even in a league that’s firing on all cylinders, there are bound to be some nightmares invading our sleep. From ice girls to Donald Trump to ads on jerseys to Donald Trump (again), here they are. Did we mention we’re serious? (But not really)
Since the most recent lockout ended in 2013, there’s been almost nothing but good news for the NHL. Business is booming in just about every market. The league’s massive Canadian broadcasting deal will fill the coffers of owners and players for more than a decade to come. And whispers of expansion are louder than ever.
But don’t take that to mean there isn’t anything that keeps Gary Bettman and league personnel awake at night. There is. For your terrified convenience, here are seven frightening nightmare scenarios keeping the fear in NHL people:
1. After demanding the return of their Ice Girls, Philadelphians start getting greedy and demand poles be brought onto the ice for half-naked women to dance around during stoppages in play.
Attendance rises among men who wear their shirts unbuttoned one button too low and who take more smartphone pictures between play than they do when the action is underway. However, female fans stay away in droves, forcing Bettman to make appearances on the local version of The View pleading for them to return and put an end to what turned into the world’s biggest orange-and-black sausage party.
2. League announces expansion into Quebec City and Seattle, but a second major recession leads to the folding of six franchises, including Quebec City and Seattle.
Having learned a humiliating lesson, Bettman institutes a “Pay As You Go” plan for all future franchisees.
3. Seven words: Donald Trump as an NHL team owner.
Just to be on the safe side, Bettman has two commando teams on 24-hour call, and their sole purpose is to ensure nothing like this comes close to happening. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best on this one.
4. Following a successful test run of putting ads on NHL jerseys, the league pushes the envelope in the name of product placement innovation by putting virtual pop-up ads on jerseys. That decision proves to be the catalyst that stirs fan anger in a way that three lockouts and ticket price hikes somehow never could. As a result, even the most ardent fans abandon their teams in droves, cutting franchise values to a dime on the dollar and triggering Bettman’s ouster.
“That’s how much people hate f---ing pop-up ads,” said every single one of us who uses a computer.
5. Advancements in game-camera technologies lead to disaster when RefCams, SkyCams and NetCams become self aware and rise up against league officials, methodically taking over control of all franchises before embarking on their endgame: morphing into a live-action simulation league.
“We thank Lou Lamoriello for pioneering the method of running a team free of your species’ unpredictable emotions and personality,” the Hockey Borg said in a cold, unfeeling statement before naming the Devils GM head of humans management in the new league.
6. Fourteen more words: Seriously you guys, not even Donald Trump as minority owner of an NHL team.
You can’t give him so much as the slightest opening. Too big a risk. C’mon, you know as well as I do that eternal vigilance is the price of not being associated with him. Let’s hunker down and get through this.
7. Concussions. What, you think concussions are going to be less of an issue for the NHL in the years to come? You new around here or something? Go to a search engine, type in “concussions in hockey” and prepare your jaw for a good dropping as you read the results.
There’s really no need to elaborate on this in a non-bolded font. Concussions are by far the scariest thing on the NHL’s radar. And there’s nothing on the horizon that looks capable of rescuing the league from a crossroads and showdown with them.