SUN Hockey Pool

Eastern bosses being short-sighted

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

Hosed by Montreal.

Screwed by Ottawa.

It's one thing to get done over by Gary Bettman and those Eastern seaboard teams.

But Ottawa? Montreal?

Yesterday the Senators and Canadiens effectively voted against hockey. They damn sure voted against Canadian hockey.

One more vote.

That's all it would have taken.

ONE MORE VOTE

One more vote and the NHL board of governors vote would have rid the league of the current sorry schedule which a vast majority of real hockey fans and passionate hockey people want to see eliminated.

A total of 19 of the 30 teams voted to go back to a schedule where every team played every other team at least once every season. It needed 20 votes to pass.

Ottawa voted no.

Montreal voted no.

That's all you need to know.

The Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Senators, for the first time this year, have no games against NHL teams in Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton.

Now they won't play home or away next year.

No Calgary vs. Montreal.

No Edmonton vs. Toronto.

No Vancouver vs. Ottawa.

Not here. Not there.

Are we even in the same league anymore?

Chairman Cal Nichols and the Edmonton Oilers voted for the folly of the current concept with eight games against division opponents and only one visit by Eastern Conference teams once every three years.

But the fans in Edmonton delivered the message to ownership loud and clear.

Like so many fans in so many real hockey cities, Edmonton fans want to see every team in the league every season and wanted to see every Canadian team in their rink at least once.

So yesterday it was mild-mannered, soft-spoken Nichols, who had taken the will of his constituents to Dallas, ending up as their spokesman.

In a very few words, told them they'd been let down by the same people who told them they'd lost a year of hockey in order for them to give the game back to the fans.

"I think we should be more concerned about the future of the game than specific interests,'' Nichols told reporters in Dallas.

He was asked if commissioner Gary Bettman should have shown more leadership on the issue.

"I wish he would have,'' said Nichols.

At least Toronto voted for change - any change - and John Ferguson Jr. went on the record saying the Leafs would sooner play other Canadian teams than any U.S. teams.

Not Ottawa.

Not Montreal.

Cancel next year's CBC Hockey Day In Canada telecast. Three Canadian teams can't possibly play each other under next year's schedule.

11 AGAINST

Why would Ottawa, Montreal and nine other franchises vote no?

This is about the Washington Capitals not having a game outside their time zone after they played the Oilers here on Oct. 28.

This is about the Rangers, Islanders and Devils playing each other eight times without having to leave home and, at the same time, fill each other's rinks using each other's fans.

This is about players sleeping in their own beds after most of their scheduled games on the road in most Eastern markets.

This is about having the hammer in negotiations with players who would rather play in the no-travel East than the West.

This is about only having to share Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin with Western Conference fans five games a year.

You think the Montreal Canadiens would have voted no Oilers when Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Glenn Anderson and Kevin Lowe played here?

Western alienation is nothing new.

But mix it with hockey and ...

Ask the people at Molson, when they owned the Canadiens and voted no against NHL-WHA merger. This could get ugly.


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