Friday, October 2, 2020

Mailbag: No Bettman boos, history's most heart-breaking posts, and 20 Haseks vs. 20 Hextalls

It’s mailbag time again. The last time we did this, we argued about whether you could win a championship with 20 Connor McDavids and which Stanley Cup final we should reverse the results of. Was that last month? Last week? Five years ago? (Tries to remember what day it is today.) There’s really no way of knowing. But I’m like 90% sure it was before the Lightning won the Cup, so let’s check in with what the readers have come up with since then.

Note: Submitted questions have been edited for clarity.

When the Stanley Cup is awarded this year, will the NHL play crowd noise booing Bettman, or will they get it wrong? How loud should the booing crowd be?
– Dan G.

Dan obviously sent this question before the Lightning won, so now we know the answer: No, the NHL didn’t pipe in any booing. Or cheering, or anything else. They just had Bettman go out there and start talking, with no attempt whatsoever to get creative.

And you know what? Good! That was the right approach. My timeline was filled with people who apparently though it would be funny to hear fake boos, so maybe I’m in the minority here, but I can’t imagine anything more cringe-inducing that Bettman playing along to prerecorded scorn to show that he’s a good-natured guy who can take a joke. It would have been painfully awkward, and totally wrong for the moment. The NHL made the right call.

(Although to be honest, this idea was pretty hilarious.)

While we’re on the topic, can we address the new Cup presentation approach, where Bettman called the whole team over for a group pose while he did his rambling speech?

This was apparently something that the Lightning requested, but it was… not great. Whether it was the players giving him awkward why-are-you-still-here looks, or him yelling “What? No not yet!” into a live microphone, the whole thing just didn’t work for me, a self-appointed expert on Bettman’s Cup handoffs. But I did love how the team immediately got together for a new photo as soon as they saw that he’d left. I always assume that’s what all my friends do whenever we take a group shot.

Ovechkin gets teleported to 1967 to play for the Habs and all the team’s other skaters get lost on the way to the Cup final against the Leafs. Could him and Rogie Vachon win it by themselves?
– Taylor H.

If you listen to the podcast, you know that I have a standing theory that if you teleported Ovechkin back to the Rocket Richard 50-in-50 era, he’d score 50 goals in roughly 50 minutes. I don’t say that out of disrespect to the Original Six era legends – I’m the guy who wrote a history book, remember – but the advances in skill, strategy and conditioning in seven decades has just been enormous. That’s why it’s so hard to compare athletes across eras, especially in hockey. You have to assume everyone is being judged relative to the peers they played against, because otherwise you have to acknowledge that every player on a roster today is “better” than Howie Morenz ever was.

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