10. The NHL Awards
The NHL Awards show is the sport’s annual circle jerk featuring a bunch of awards handed out to the league’s elite (read: same players every year). Watching fans typically end up searching Google to figure out what the hell the Ted Lindsay award is for before it is given out. Worst of all, it’s highlighted by shitty bands and a irrelevant B-list celebrities like Jay Mohr and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Wait… Cuba Gooding Jr.?
Sadly, the most exciting part of the night is learning who will be on the cover of EA’s next NHL game.
9. Draft Lottery
The Draft Lottery is hyped up to be a big event nowadays but, in reality, it is about as exciting as watching an actual lottery selection except, instead of a cute girl grabbing balls, there are bunch of fat old dudes scratching theirs.
8. Brendan Shanahan Video Explanations
It was a breath of fresh air when Brendan Frederick “Shanny” “Shanaban” Shanahan succeeded Colin Campbell as the NHL’s chief disciplinarian. He reinvigorated the discipline system by introducing detailed video explanations of why a player was banned or not. Technically it is not an official NHL off-ice event but it is still way better than the NHL Awards. Let’s hope his successor keeps up with this tradition.
7. NHL Alumni Annual Events
The NHL Alumni Association does some cool things that do not get recognized throughout the year. Most of the time, fans learn about these events after the fact when the former players post pictures of their golf outings and whatnot to social media. The two most exciting events do take place on the ice, though. The association hosts a 30-game hockey tour across Ontario every winter. Unofficially, alumni from the two teams participating in the Winter Classic also participate in an alumni game prior to the big event. It is waaaaay better than the Winter Classic.
6. All-Star Team Draft
A few years ago the NHL and NHLPA came together to change the format of All-Star team selections. In the new version, two captains (one East, one West) are named. The two captains then host a fantasy draft, picking the cool kids first while the chubby loner waits to be picked last. Sorry, Phil Kessel.
5. Every Time Gary Bettman Speaks in a Hockey Town
Admittedly, I take an almost sadistic pleasure from watching the NHL’s commissioner, Gary Bettman, attempt to say anything in a real hockey town. He may be able to get away with making speeches in smaller markets with transient fan bases but, holy crap, if he tries to say anything in a city like Philadelphia or New York, forgetaboutit. He will be booed to the point where he cannot resist making a snarky comment that only makes the spectacle that much more enjoyable. I cannot wait to do it in person at the Draft on Friday.
4. Stanley Cup Parade
As a Flyers fan in his mid-30s, I have never been able to witness my team celebrate a Stanley Cup victory at a parade. It’ll happen eventually, though, either in my lifetime or my son’s lifetime. At least one of us will get to enjoy it. I should probably be bitter about this fact but I am not. Watching hockey fans come together to take over a city’s downtown area with a sense of pure, unadulterated joy is just awesome. Except in 2010. Stupid Patrick Kane and stupid Michael Leighton and stupid NHL Draft Lottery and stupid Kris Versteeg rapping.
3. Trade Deadline
If your team is in the playoff hunt or looking to rebuild, the trade deadline can be an exciting time, when teams are willing to overpay for playoff rentals and often give up valuable prospects or high round draft picks just for a marginally better chance at winning the Stanley Cup. Stupid Kris Versteeg.
2. Free Agency
Oh my god, free agency. It’s Amaaaaaazing… and a total shit show. In the blink of an eye, a handful of aging players coming off of one strong season or one strong playoff run can cash in big time, while fans cheer and laud their GM. Then the GM is left to spend the rest of his tenure figuring out how the hell he can move that very same albatross of a contract that is handcuffing his team.
1. NHL Draft
This is the biggest day of the year for GMs and scouts to add the important building blocks that will transform their teams to potential future Stanley Cup champions. As a Flyers fan, I have no idea what this feels like.