|NHL commish Gary Bettman and Leafs GM Brian Burke|
If you can't tell yet, I'm fired up for the new season. I can't wait for it to start again. And it was with that enthusiasm where I found something that frankly just isn't fair. I was looking over the Sens schedule and noticed something that struck me as really odd. I even triple checked it because I thought no way, it couldn't be. No way would that possibly be allowed or considered fair.
In a season with low expectations, Sens fans have little to look forward to. What we have is watching the prospects progress, and our Stanley Cup finals will be playing the Habs and Leafs, with bragging rights being our trophy. It's with that where the issue came from. As a member of our division and our main rival, we play the hated Toronto Maple Leafs a total of 6 times per season. The games are always intense and fun, and arguably one of the best rivalries in the NHL.
So with that in mind, I was looking at the schedule to see when we played our Provincial counterparts. And what I discovered was something that makes no sense. Of the 6 times we play the Leafs this season, we play the night before ALL SIX TIMES. Yes, you heard that right. Every time we play the leafs it will be on the 2nd night of a back to back. How is that fair?
Now some of you may be saying, he that's just the way the schedule works sometimes. Some years you get a favorable schedule and some years you don't. I agree. But this goes beyond that. This is a competitive advantage. And this is just the start, it gets worse.
I thought maybe the Leafs have to play the night before too, so it negates the advantage. So I looked it in and I was right, barely. The Leafs do have to play the night before, ONCE! On October 29th, the buds play the Penguins in Toronto, before traveling to SBP for a game on the 30th. That's the worst they have it all year in the Battle of Ontario. All they have to do is travel down the 401 a few hours. Hardly a big deal.
In fact, other than the one time they play the night before, the Leafs have at least a minimum of a days rest before every game versus Ottawa, and on several occasions they have multiple days off to refresh before taking us on. Meanwhile, we have to play the night before and travel, which is tiring, while the Leafs will be resting and waiting for us.
Now I can understand it happening once. Those are just the breaks. Two times? Ya sure why not. You win some, you lose some. Three times? Ok, we just got really unlucky. It sucks but you move on. Four times? Now something fishy has happened. Five times? That's absolutely ridiculous and shouldn't happen in a professional league with millions of dollars on the line. All six times? That's completely unfair and ruins the level playing field you're supposed to have. Especially in games between Ottawa and Toronto that mean so much to both fan bases.
In my opinion, it just shouldn't happen and it is an unfair advantage for the Leafs to have. I don't know if the blame belongs to the league, the arena availabilities, the teams, or all of the above, but wrong is wrong, and this is wrong.
The Schedule for the 2011-12 Battle of Ontario:
Game 1: Saturday October 7th in Toronto @ 7pm (Sens play night before in Detroit.) (Leafs last played Thurs Oct 5th vs Montreal at home)
Game 2: Sunday October 30th in Ottawa @ 7:30pm (Sens play night before in New York) (Leafs play night before vs Pittsburgh in Toronto)
Game 3: Saturday November 12th in Toronto @ 7pm (Sens play night before in Buffalo) (Leafs last played Nov 10th in St Louis)
Game 4: Tuesday January 17th in Toronto @ 7pm (Sens played the night before vs Winnipeg) (Leafs last played Jan 14th in New York)
Game 5: Saturday February 4th in Ottawa @ 7pm (Sens play night before vs Long Island) (Leafs last played Feb 1st vs Pitts in Toronto)
Game 6: Saturday March 17th in Ottawa @ 7pm (Sens play night before vs Montreal) (Leafs last played March 15th in Tampa)