It’s pretty clear the Vegas Golden Knights are the fair-haired boys of the NHL. Of course, when you pay 500 million large to be part of the board of governors’ annual croquet game and deep-sea fishing expedition, the league is bound to treat you with a little more care.
Take the apology the NHL issued to the Golden Knights when, because of a blown call by the officials and only because a blown call by the officials, Vegas was eliminated in the first round by San Jose after a major penalty for cross-checking was issued to Cody Eakin. Forget, of course, that Vegas blew a 3-1 series lead, gave up a shorthanded goal in double overtime of Game 6 and allowed four power-play goals in four minutes when Eakin was given the boot. The league owned its apparent mistake and apologized to the Golden Knights, then sent two of its top referees to the penalty box for the rest of the playoffs where they felt shame.
So when is Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic going to receive his amends for a waved-off icing that led to a crucial goal being scored by Colorado in the second round of the playoffs? All indications are Vlasic is going to have to take a number and wait his turn. After all, the league still hasn’t apologized for the Kansas City Scouts, the glowing puck or John Spano. Nor has it owned up to its wrongs from 26 years ago when Wayne Gretzky wasn’t kicked out of a pivotal playoff game for almost decapitating Doug Gilmour with a vicious two-hander. Trust me, a generation of Maple Leafs fans are still waiting to hear back on that one.
As usual, the NHL did not exactly think this one through. There are a host of unintended consequences when it comes to the league providing a mea culpa, namely that there will now be a lot of people in the hockey world expecting apologies for perceived wrongs.
Here are some of them, along with how the apology might look:
You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about my behavior lately, and I just wanted to say I’m sorry for all the really bad stuff I’ve done over the years. Who licks people’s faces? That punch to the back of Scott Harrington’s head in the playoffs was completely uncalled for. I’m really sorry, and I’m really going to listen next time. You guys told me if I do that again, I can expect a suspension and, with your record of punishing me, I believe it. My bad. – Brad Marchand
Dear fellow members of the NHLPA:
Hey guys, Brad here. Just wanted to give you a heads-up that I’m sorry for all the things I’m going to do next season. I can’t help it, and those chumps in the Department of Player Safety don’t make it any easier for me. They keep telling me they’re going to throw the book at me, so all I do is mumble and look at my shoes, and they buy it every time. Therefore, I intend on continuing to be the on-ice dirtbag that I’ve been for the last couple of years. I’m really sorry-not-sorry about that. – Nose Face Killah
Dear Columbus Blue Jackets:
Sorry we didn’t give Charlie McAvoy a major penalty in Game 6 of your second-round series against the Bruins. If you get that call, maybe you score and get yourselves in the game, then win Game 7 and take the series. That’s a lot of ifs, but apologizing for every missed call is how we roll these days. – Love, NHL
Hey, big guy. We didn’t ask to win the lottery in 2015. What the heck were we supposed to do? Not take you? Anyway, you know, I feel kind of badly watching you waste the most productive years of your career playing on a roster that might have trouble competing in the Federal League without you. You deserve better and hey, who knows, maybe now you’ll finally get it. I’m not making any promises, but we have this new guy coming in who really worked well with me when I was with Hockey Canada. I didn’t interview him, but I threw a lot of money and job security at him in the hopes it will all work out. If it doesn’t, sorry in advance. – Bob Nicholson
Dear people of Quebec City:
I’d really like to express my regret over giving you people a glimmer of hope that you’d ever get an NHL team. I feel really bad that you spent taxpayer money on an arena that will forever be home to a junior team and an endless loop of Cirque de Soleil and Celine Dion. In our defense, the Canadian dollar did go in the toilet, and Seattle came up with $650 million. Anyway, we thought it might work, but it turns out we’ll be hanging onto the rights to the Nordiques logo for retro merchandising only, unless, of course, we need a quick landing place like we did for the Atlanta Thrashers in Winnipeg a few years back. C’est dommage. – Desole, Gary
I have no patience for any of this crap. Don’t ask me any questions that start with, “Talk about…” I’ve been fortunate enough to coach four NHL teams, win a Stanley Cup and become rich beyond my wildest dreams, but I can make like I’m miserable because I’m John Freakin’ Tortorella. I regret nothing. – Torts
Dear anyone who has attended an NHL game:
You’d think I wouldn’t have to keep apologizing after more than 150 years, but man, I regret writing Cotton-Eye Joe back in the 1850s. Of course, I had no idea a terrible band called the Rednex would turn it into the most annoying earworm of all-time. So, so, so sorry. – Whoever it was who wrote Cotton-Eye Joe
Dear Calgary Flames:
Sorry for stealing your money. – James Neal