From the Booth: Tony Brown Takes a Look Around the NHLSep 30, 2020
Hello again Monsters fans! We’re back in the wake of the strangest edition of Stanley Cup Playoffs we’ve ever experienced. This week, we’ll tip our cap to the NHL and the league’s new champs, look ahead to the quickly approaching NHL Draft and Free Agency period, and discuss a reassuring recent development for our beloved Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Bolts’ Big Win
There will always be those who fixate on the negative – what’s missing rather than what’s there. However, despite the lack of thousands of ecstatic fans, the lack of home-ice advantage, and the lack of a complete regular season, what the NHL and the Tampa Bay Lightning achieved in completing the 2020 campaign is without exaggeration one of the crowning achievements in league history.
More on the Lightning’s victory momentarily, but let’s put this into perspective in terms of the league.
Faced with a dire public health crisis, the NHL seemingly made every right move. First, they were proactive in halting the regular season in mid-March, then a carefully-constructed, return-to-play plan was introduced and executed in the face of widespread skepticism. The NHL went on to convince the players their Canadian “bubbles” would safely work and then successfully navigated that bewildering landscape without one positive COVID test.
It’s the most impressive logistical feat I’ve seen in my sporting career and will likely wind up as one of Gary Bettman’s crowning achievements. That said, the success of this season hinged on so much more than the league office – without the buy-in and disciplined adherence of each player, coach, staffer, and employee, this doesn’t happen. The fact that it did makes me proud to be part of a sport that faced this challenge head-on and with safety as the absolute top priority.
Now, on to Tampa.
I, like many of you I’m sure, heard an awful lot about how this year’s champion wouldn’t be a “real” Cup winner or how the 2020 title wouldn’t be as difficult to claim as in a typical season… give me a break! I can only imagine the mental grind overcome by these players and coaches, and to find a way to “get up” for playoff games without a sizzling, energetic building to compete game after game in is something beyond remarkable to me. The Lightning proved they were the best hockey club this year and left little doubt in the process despite all the obstacles. Let there be no mistake, this year’s Cup was among the most difficult to claim in league history, and will be remembered and discussed forevermore.
Congratulations to the Tampa Bay players, staff, employees, and fans!
Offseason, What Offseason?!
When it comes to NHL General Managers and hockey operations departments, there’s never really an off-switch. Although this season, with the NHL Draft and Free Agency period beginning just days (!!!) after Stanley Cup Final conclusion, there’s truly no rest for the weary.
The Draft begins via video conference on October 6th, concluding the following day; and the Monsters’ NHL affiliate, the Columbus Blue Jackets, are slated to make the 21st overall pick in the opening round with the team holding four additional later-round selections (in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th rounds) as well. On the heels of the draft, the league’s free agency period arrives on October 9th with several enticing names available.
Who will the Jackets select in the Entry Draft? Any new faces added via free agency? Will we see any trades? All exciting questions as the league’s compressed offseason unfolds with maximum haste. Stay tuned!
Reassuring and exciting news regarding our world-class home - Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (RMFH) has earned Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accreditation, becoming the first sports facility in Ohio to achieve that designation.
What does that mean? The FieldHouse’s announcement specifies that accreditation indicates RMFH “has implemented the most stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention in its facility,” and that in order to earn this designation, the FieldHouse was required to “demonstrate compliance with the program’s 20 core elements, which range from standard operating procedures and risk assessment strategies to personal protective equipment and emergency preparedness and response measures.”
Needless to say, this news is only further proof that in an uncertain time for live events, our home building is committed fully and passionately to the safety of all fans, employees, and team personnel. We can feel not only happy but SAFE to call this gorgeous arena our very own. That’s music to all of our ears, I’m sure!
Remember, submit below or Tweet any questions you may have – hockey-related or otherwise – using the #MonstersMailbag hashtag! Until next time, please continue to wash your hands, wear your masks, and make sure you have a specific voting plan as we speed toward November 3rd!
Be well and stay safe!