Wednesday, 15 April 2015

If Connor McDavid can't be a Montréal Canadien, let him be a San Jose Shark.

When it comes to the NHL draft lottery, and which team I'll root for to earn the right to draft Connor McDavid, I'd made up my mind that whichever Canadian team missed the playoffs in the West, be it the Jets or the Flames, I'd want them to get the first overall pick.

Both cities genuinely love their hockey, would cherish and celebrate the young player.  It wouldn't be like when the Impact sign some European former star, or the Grizzlies got to draft Stromile Swift, an oddity that's hyped up by the team, pumped up by the media, to a befuddled, generally uninterested citizenry.  There would be genuine joy at Portage and Main or on the Red Mile if Connor McDavid landed in Western Canada.

Of course, this 'plan' of mine was dashed when both cities, happily, made it into the playoffs.  Five out of seven Canadian cities in it to win it, how about that?  Aside from Ottawa, I'll root for all of them the rest of the way.

Now, I could wish for him to land in the remaining two Canadian cities who are in the lottery, but I can't bring myself to do that, I'm actually actively hoping they don't get the #1 pick.  If we can't stomach the Toronto hype for its sad-sack franchise the way it is now, imagine how bad it would be if they got the phenom?  They've cleaned house of their former management team, so it's not a foregone conclusion, but I still wouldn't put it past them that they'd 'ruin' the kid anyway, that he'd be a treasure lost to hockey, like an Assyrian statue clobbered by a sledgehammer-wielding superstitious barbarian.

As far as the Oilers go, they've had three kicks at the can, they've had enough shots at the first overall pick, never mind that it's never been in a Steven Stamkos year.  Their tank manoeuvres have gone from unseemly to tiresome and icky, to shameless, immoral.  I don't want that team to benefit from their ineptitude.  Plus, it doesn't seem fair that the best player in a decade to come out of junior be marooned, exiled to Edmonton, because he's been 'drafted'.

In a league where there's already a salary cap, plus other limits on player rights and brakes on teams' ability to load up their rosters, the draft is a monopolistic, antiquated, unnecessary practice, as much as we may love the conceit as fans.  And, this is especially so in a world where Darryl Katz can go to Seattle to "explore" his options, or where the Spanos family can move their team to L.A. because San Diego won't chip in enough taxpayer money to build them a new palace, when there's a perfectly good stadium already in place, and when they could just do what we do and friggin' take out a mortgage and finance the new stadium themselves.

If owners can be rapacious mercenaries, and extort money out of their citizenry or pack up and leave town on their own whim, then I can't justify why Connor McDavid should be forced to play in Edmonton for a decade before he can be free to offer his services to the best bidder.  I'll root against that eventuality.

So I'm left with very few desirable locations for him to end up.  As a Habs fan, obviously the Bruins are out.  Further, I'll probably rule out any Eastern teams, and would rather he land in the Western conference, if only so that I can have more opportunities to watch him live, in Vancouver, Seattle, and/or Las Vegas.

So I'll rule out Carolina, that hockey hotbed of round ball.  New Jersey certainly, they can't fill their own rink, and have a history as a stultifying team playing soporific shinny.  Florida, they're already stacked with young prospects, and they're division rivals of the Habs, on top of being in a bizarre locale that can't work.

Buffalo, normally I'd not be averse to that, their fans have suffered long enough, it's a great hockey town, but again, I don't necessarily want that team already chock-full of young prospects and replete with future high draft picks to land that plum also, and turn around and slaughter the Canadiens every time we play them.  They get the Jack Eichel consolation prize.

Philadelphia deserves a special hell all of their own, so I never want to see him in a Flyer jersey.  It was tough enough to see the stupid Nordiques trade Eric Lindros there, where I couldn't appreciate what he did and retain my sanity.  You boys content yourselves with Claude Giroux.  And Vinny.

Columbus is a college football town, the kid would be a bauble the team would use to try to drag people to its games, instead of being the treasure the citizenry has prayed for.

Out West, I wouldn't really want the Kings to land the prize, they've won two Cups lately, and already have the advantage of its location to attract free agents, they don't need the leg up.  The same advantage disqualifies the Ducks, you don't get palm trees and Connor McDavid.

The Avalanche already have Nathan McKinnon and Matt Duchene on the roster, that's enough superstar young talent for any city.

The Coyotes are a moribund franchise, I don't want Gary Bettman to use the kid as a crutch to prop up this shanty any longer than it's already gone on.

Dallas is a football town, they have their Mavs, they wouldn't appreciate the phenom for what he is.  Plus, they robbed us of the Minnesota North Stars, the team with the second or third-best jersey in the league.  You don't Al Davis your team out of town and prosper, even if it's two decades later.

So we're left with the Sharks.  San Jose is a strong hockey town, they've supported their team from the get-go, apparently lots of transplanted Canadians who actually attend games, contrary to Jack Kent Cooke's experience in L.A. in the early seventies.  The kid gets to be in a major American centre and sells the game to the infidels, grows revenue, stabilizes the league.  San Francisco is a short flight from Vancouver and a great place to visit and attend games.  The Sharks play in Vancouver often, so I get more opportunities to see him play.

So San Jose it is.  Come on, lucky ping-pong balls, weave your magic, make that 5% chance pay off.

No comments:

Post a Comment