won the Cup last year but I'm sure you'll
be just fine.
That's the positive spin that the glass-half-full types will give you. But it's also true that there are 22 teams sitting at home right now. That's almost three quarters of the league, none of whom could manage to win so much as a single playoff round. Losers, every one of them.
And like all losers, they have their excuses. I contacted representatives from the various eliminated teams to ask what happened, and each had an explanation ready. So read on if you've been wondering why your favourite team will be hitting the links this weekend instead of the ice.
Florida Panthers - Not saying that trading away Gregory Campbell was a bad idea, but did find it odd that every single goal we scored all season long was immediately reviewed and waved off.
Phoenix Coyotes - Not trying to make excuses about off-ice distractions, but it's kind of hard to focus when every time you walk in the front door your wife hits you over the head with a snow shovel.
Columbus Blue Jackets - Unlike certain other superstars we could name, Rick Nash is apparently too much of a bigshot to have an identical twin.
Ottawa Senators - Got the distinct impression from Eugene Melnyk that being demonstrably terrible at our jobs was a sure ticket to a contract extension.
Toronto Maple Leafs - Are totally going to remember to set our alarm for October next year instead of sleeping in until February again.
Buffalo Sabres - Struggled on faceoffs during our playoff series with the Flyers, which hurt since there was one at center ice after virtually every shot we took on net.
New Jersey Devils - John Maclean's pre-game team meetings all consisted of him sternly standing cross-armed in front of a chalkboard with "coach's strategy" written on it for an hour, before suddenly turning around and saying "Oh wait, is that me?"
New York Islanders - Same problem your rec floor hockey team had; spent too much time before every game arguing over who's turn it was to play net.
St. Louis Blues - May not have made playoffs, but did make selves feel better by pulling off a late-season blockbuster trade with a team even more hopeless and pathetic than we'll ever be.
Colorado Avalanche - Hey come on, we're standing right here.
Dallas Stars - GM Joe Nieuwendyk's multi-page strategy for winning big games turned out to be nothing but hand-drawn picture of Patrick Lalime with hearts around them.
Los Angeles Kings - Talented but inexperienced star players have not yet learned how to not break their ankles right before the playoffs start.
Edmonton Oilers - What, and ruin a perfectly good draft lottery party?
Anaheim Ducks - Lacked a sense of urgency, since playing with Teemu Selanne every night taught us that we all probably have another 15 or 20 good years left in us.
Carolina Hurricanes - Kept hearing stories about a relocated team finally being returned to the fans in its original city; figured we should lay low for the year.
New York Rangers - Winning is nice and everything, but decided to focus most of our energy on just getting John Tortorella and Larry Brooks to fight.
Pittsburgh Penguins - The loss of Matt Cooke proved devastating, as it turns out other teams play way better when they're conscious.
Montreal Canadiens - We were dominating the Bruins all season long, and then suddenly we just hit a wall. Wait, poor choice of words.
Minnesota Wild - Signed John Madden for the third line under the mistaken impression it was the former Blackhawk defensive forward, but it turned out to be the football commentator trying to get closer to Brett Favre.
Atlanta Thrashers - Do you have any idea how demoralizing it is to realize that you're Winnipeg's second choice?
Calgary Flames - In hindsight, inspirational preseason rallying cry of "Never settle for anything less than being the absolute best team in the province" probably didn't aim high enough.
Chicago Blackhawks - Tried to intimidate Canuck players and fans by constantly referring to ourselves as the reigning Stanley Cup champions, but they just kept staring at us like they had no idea what we were talking about.