Hallelujah, the NHL scrapped the rest of the 2012 exhibition schedule on Thursday.
We've never been a big fan of the prolonged NHL preseason. Besides, this news allows to us to fully concentrate on one of the best - and heated - sporting events in the Ryder Cup this weekend.
What's not to like about the Ryder Cup? Especially since the European team has made a game of this biennial trans-Atlantic event by going 8-4-1 in the last 13 competitions.
With the lockout about to turn two weeks old, maybe the NHL could consider a Ryder Cup tournament of its own and capitalize on some of the schoolyard feuds around the league. Cue the David Letterman-type dream sequence. It could be called the Michael Ryder Cup.
You can let us know in the comment section below who in the hockey community you would like to see pitted against one another.
Here's how our final day, 12 single matches would line up:
Brian Burke vs. Kevin Lowe
Yeah, we know, too easy. Instead of heading to the golf course, the Edmonton Oilers president and the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager could rent a barn for a mini-putt competition. After all, it was Burke who, when he was running the Anaheim Ducks, suggested he and Lowe rent a barn in Lake Placid for a fight after Lowe's Oilers signed forward Dustin Penner with an offer sheet.
Tim Thomas vs. Barack Obama
We're not even sure if the United States president knows who Tim Thomas is or if Mr. Obama is a hockey fan. But we do know that the Thomas is a Tea Party supporter and refused to visit the White House when the Boston Bruins celebrated their 2010-11 Stanley Cup victory with Mr. Obama last January. Thomas would also hope to avenge his first-round loss to the Washington Capitals last spring.
Ilya Bryzgalov vs. Boston Bruins bear
We hear the Bruins bear, the mascot that performs so brilliantly in television commercials, has been looking to intimidate the Philadelphia Flyers netminder after he was asked about the biggest threat the Flyers would have against Pittsburgh Penguins in their first-round series last spring. "You know I'm not afraid of anything. I'm afraid of bear, bear in a forest," Bryzgalov said.
Daryl Katz vs. Stephen Mandel
The feud between the wild-haired Oilers billionaire owner Katz and the Edmonton mayor Mandel over the proposed public-private arena for the NHL hockey team has been controversial to say the least. Katz didn't win too many friends or influence many Oilers supporters when he bluffed his way to Seattle for a fact-finding mission on that city's new $490-million arena earlier this week.
Shane O'Brien vs. Green Men
The Vancouver Canucks super fans, otherwise known as Force and Sully, employed some local knowledge to harass former Canucks defenceman Shane O'Brien in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. When O'Brien, then with the Predators, stepped into the penalty box, the Green Men pretended to prepare a martini - shaken, not stirred - to make fun of O'Brien's reputation as a partier from his Vancouver days.
Jimmy Devellano vs. Sutter Family
The Detroit Red Wings vice-president got himself into a lot of hot water last week when he referred to the owners as people who own the ranch and everybody else, including himself and the players, as the cattle. Brian, Darryl, Duane, Brent, Rich and Ron Sutter have at one time or another worked on the family's cattle ranch in Viking, Alberta.
Alex Ovechkin vs. Bruce Boudreau
After we all read Ovechkin's lips when Boudreau decided to leave No. 8 on the bench late in a close game last fall, can you imagine what sort words would be exchanged between the Capitals superstar and his former coach in this match? "Nice duff, chubs."
Peter DeBoer vs. John Tortorella
The button-down coach of the Stanley Cup finalist New Jersey Devils held his own against the bombastic New York Rangers bench boss in the East final last year. Our favourite? When Tortorella accused the Devils of lying on the ice to get calls and pick plays while on the power play, DeBoer was asked about his counterpart's finger pointing, the Devils coach answered, "comical."
Maple Leafs vs. A Playoff Appearance
We know, we know, this is below the belt. Even NHL commissioner Gary Bettman piled on a few weeks ago when he mentioned that 29 of the 30 NHL teams had made the playoffs since the last lockout in 2004-05. The Maple Leafs haven't performed in the postseason since they were ousted in the second round by the Flyers on May 4, 2004.
Sidney Crosby vs. Mike Milbury
The former HNIC analyst called Crosby "a punk" and "little goody two-shoes" as well as referred to "his 35th concussion" in a playoff rant while on NBC last April. Milbury apologized, but Crosby's agent Pat Brisson wanted him fired.
Alex Burrows vs. Stephane Auger
Auger exacted a measure of revenge on Burrows in a game two years ago when he called two penalties on the Canucks forward. The second one was questionable and it led to a winning goal from Nashville. The referee felt Burrows made him look bad for a perceived diving incident in a previous Canucks game that Auger had officiated. The ref then retired at age 41 after last season, leading to speculation that the decision was not his choice.
Donald Fehr vs. Gary Bettman
Do we really need to go into this one?
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