NHL Fix is in for Nashville

 

The Old Ruminator predicted this several years ago and now I’m looking like a regular Oracle. The NHL is clearly doing everything it can to ensure the Nashville Predators, a team which was on life support a few years ago, will play for the Stanley Cup this year. The great city of Nashville, Tennessee, famous for it’s hockey tradition, is one of the last remaining franchises created by Gary Bettman ( in a bizarre move to bring hockey to the tropics) which has neither won nor appeared in a Stanley Cup final. Isn’t it a coincidence that whenever one of Gary’s babies’ (Carolina, Florida, Ducks, Sharks, Coyotes and now Nashville) run into financial and fan trouble, fortunes suddenly change. Three years ago I predicted that the NHL would not let Nashville die. Attendance was abysmal, there was talk of moving the franchise to Canada. Gary Bettman was under attack as he fended off every attempt to move the franchise to a city that knew something about hockey. Well, as predicted, Nashville can do no wrong now. Thanks to Gary Bettman’s NHL officials, Nashville is a blessed team.

If ever proof was needed that the fix was in, just watch a replay of last night’s game (March 31st) between the Predators and the Vancouver Canucks. In some sort of April Fool’s joke, bizarre calls by the refs and missed calls resulted in one of the most abominable displays of biased officiating in NHL history. Mystery calls against Kevin Bieksa and Alex Burrows for innocent bumps against Nashville players who collapsed to the ice, seemingly unconscious, only to spring to their feet as soon as penalties were called and to resume playing. I was having flashbacks of World Cup Soccer. Nashville players were diving like penquins all over the ice and the refs were rewarding their dramatics with a flood of penalty calls.  Kevin Bieksa, who had been given a mystery penalty early in the game when a Predator’s player flopped to the ice like dead mackeral when he was nudged by Bieksa, apparently had had enough of Nashville’s effeminate ways and had a few choice words for the drama on the ice. For this, he was ejected from the game. Burrows had already been given a 5 MINUTE MAJOR and ejected from the game for a minor brush with a Nashville player while both were heading down the ice in the same direction. If Burrow’s hadn’t braced himself for the collision, and inferference penalty against the Nashville player might have been conceivable. Meanwhile, Nashville’s Forsberg tried to blind the Canucks goalie by skewering his blade between the grill of Eddy Lack’s facemask. The refs momentarily lost their vision and didn’t see a thing. Earlier in the game, Canucks leading scorer Radim Vrbata received a vicious crosscheck from behind to the back of the neck sending him crashing into the boards. No penalty call.

So the Canucks played the last four minutes of regular time, and the first minute of overtime, shorthanded, with two of their best defensive penalty-killing players ejected from the game. It certainly looked like the refs where doing everything within their power to gaurantee a Nashville victory. What else could you possibly believe was at work here. Are NHL referees so incompetent that they don’t realize every point at this stage in the season is critical and that in the interest of fair play and good sportsmanship, penalties must be called prudently and judiciously?  Like Team Canada against the Russians and Russian officials in 1972, the Canucks managed to survive and eventually, miraculously won the game in a shoot-out. So this isn’t sour grapes from a Canucks fan. This is just the truth. The fix is in and Nashville will play for the Stanley Cup this year.