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It’s Time For Hockey Until Your Eyes Bleed

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 20: Toronto Maple Leafs center David Kampf (64) and Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) await the puck drop on the face off during the second period of game two in the Eastern Conference First Round between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 20, 2023, at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON, Canada. (Photo by Gavin Napier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Gavin Napier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We know of an editor (and have the visual evidence to prove it though it cannot be shared for legal, moral, ethical, and medical reasons) who has bet a 16-team parlay of nothing but tonight's NHL games—just because he could.

He represents the nichest of niche (and most sub-degenerate) markets for the ESPN/NHL Everybody Plays marketing tool, in which all 32 teams play Tuesday night with staggered starting times, apparently just because they can. Not because they should, mind you, or because anyone ever asked for it, or even that it's particularly special (they've got a full card Jan. 13 too, and the league used to routinely end their regular seasons with it), but because there are finally 16 separate outlets for one media entity to show them all.

In fact, it's mostly an idea stolen and modified from the best two days of the NCAA Tournament: the first Thursday and Friday, when the first game starts at 9 a.m. West Coast time (or 12 noon, if you live closer to hell) and the last one ends about 9 p.m.-ish, give or take the blown front end of a 1-and-1. There will also be a RedZone-styled whiparound show that you can find without our help because if you're going to try to watch 16 hockey games in eight hours, you should damned well bounce from game to game until your remote combusts and the molten plastic adheres to your cramped arthritic hand.

But here it is anyway, an idea that made such an impact that the first and apparently last time that Awful Announcing, the website for people who need to know why Matt Leinart is wearing a leprechaun outfit, mentioned it was three weeks ago, and they mention everything. The choice of day was unfortunate enough, given that the NBA, a sport ESPN much prefers to lavish its attention upon, opens tonight, and Game 7 of the National League Championship Series is to be settled, not to mention the much-discussed Conference USA doubleheader that includes unbeaten-yet-unranked Liberty.

In addition, the card itself is a tepid one for such an attempted extravaganza -- there are only three division rivalry games, the best of which is sadly Buffalo-Ottawa. It's as if the NHL tried something new and worked to make it as inconsequential as possible. Ducks–Blue Jackets? Coyotes-Kings? Sharks-Panthers? Hell, the last time the Rangers played the Flames in the postseason, the Flames were in Atlanta and Jimmy Carter was president.

Look, the rules are simple: go big or go home. Hockey games at 6:00, 6:30, 6:45, 7:00, 7:15, 7:30, 7:45, 8:00, 8:15, 8:30, 8:45, 9:00, 9:15, 9:45, 10:30 and 11:00 (Eastern) are a cute idea if it’s a youth hockey tournament in North Battleford or Portage La Prairie, but it is also a monumental pain in the seater for anyone who has ever done it and doesn't ever want to be reminded of it again. Give us Leafs-Canadiens, Flames-Oilers, and Red Wings-Blues, not Stars-Penguins, Flyers-Knights, or Canucks-Predators. Come on you louts, pander a little, if not this year then next—because no half-formed idea doesn't get a few tweaks before it is discarded and the people who conceived are laid off, probably early next year.

But for those of you who want a rooting interest without involving yourselves in Nick Castellanos playing in David Hasselhoff's shirt, the parlay we cite (not your author's, to be clear, because we like money in its natural habitat: our pocket) is a two-buck ticket with Toronto, Columbus, Buffalo, Carolina, New Jersey, Dallas, Florida, Colorado, Detroit, Boston, Winnipeg, Edmonton, the Rangers, Nashville, Los Angeles, and Vegas. You can follow along at home, and be more invested than most folks will be in Blues-Jets as a standalone. We'll keep you updated on New Mexico State—Jacksonville State, if that helps.

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