SUN Hockey Pool

Blame it on Bettman

KATHRYN HUMPHREYS -- For Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

It was either fifth or sixth grade when Missy Adamson decided that we should all hate Becky Crawford. I guess Becky was not as skilled at finger painting as Missy would have liked.

I just thought she was going through a Neo-Impressionist phase, but Missy was insistent that as soon as recess was over, we all start hating Becky. Gary Bettman is Missy Adamson. He is shoving these inter-divisional rivalries down our throats and telling us who to hate.

Deciding who to hate is all a fan has.

We can't control who plays the power play or control who gets overpaid, but we can show our displeasure by giving Daniel Alfredsson the finger.

Wings fans hate Colorado because Claude Lemieux crushed Kris Draper's face into the boards. We hate the New Jersey Nets because Miss Vince Carter gave up on Toronto, not because Jersey is within a 500-mile radius.

This 'All Buffalo All The Time' 2007-2008 Leafs schedule feels like an arranged marriage without the open bar. It has the Leafs again playing Buffalo, Boston, Montreal, and Ottawa EIGHT times, and the Canucks, Flames and Oilers not once.

That means eight naked Afinogenovs and not a single naked Iginla in the post-game locker room interviews. Believe me, familiarity does not breed contempt, it breeds boredom. Even Brad Pitt knows that.

And how about those poor Detroit fans. Their beloved Original Six Red Wings play Columbus and Nashville EIGHT times. Hope things don't get heated between Chris Chelios and the Blue Jackets' Duvie Westcott.

I called the NHL offices in New York to find out if anyone was concerned the Leafs do not play their western Canadian counterparts given that hockey is Canada's game. I asked them if eight games against divisional rivals was a way to cut travel costs. This was the email I received from the V.P. of Public Relations and Player Development, word for word:

Kathryn,

This year's schedule is the last phase of a three-year cycle focusing on greater divisional and conference rivalries. The rivalry-based schedule was approved by the Board of Governors, and while there's an interconference rotation (as you referenced), the additional conference games are designed to provide fans more excitement around geographical rivalries and playoff races (ie, Leafs face Montreal/Ottawa more often). Hope this helps explain the matrix of opponents.

Matrix? I can make up words, too. A three-year cycle focusing on greater divisional blah, blah, blah ... Okay, so explain to me again why the Leafs don't play the freaking Oilers this year. Nevermind. I think I know why.

Bettman hates Canada.

Don't believe me? Then why did he schedule an exhibition game between the Leafs and Phoenix Coyotes in Winnipeg? That's just cruel. Get an eyeful Winnipeg. Here's the team you lost, playing in a league you'll never be welcome in again, and oh, by the way, the game doesn't count.

I bet he bad-mouths Anne Murray. Next he'll try to shut down Tim Horton's and turn them into Dunkin Donuts.

Missy might have been a hater Gary, but at least she loved Canada.


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