Scrambling in Edmonton, and Whining in the NFL

Great, great story out of, of all places, Edmonton last night. The Oilers’ starting goalie is out of action. Yesterday morning their second string goalie fell sick and had to be quarantined. That left them with just one goalie on the roster. A team can’t play without two, and they had a game last night. That meant that they had to scramble to find a warm body. Their was no time to get a player from their farm team. They own the junior team in Edmonton as well, but their season was over and no players were around. Several other options were either not available or had contract issues – a player can only sign an emergency contract once in their career. They got to the point that they had to look to university hockey. University hockey isn’t a pro development league. It’s mostly where guys with no real future in hockey go to extend their career and get an education after they have played junior hockey. The University of Alberta, which is in Edmonton, was leaving for the national championships hours before the game, and they were taking all three of their goalies with them. That meant they needed to look to their neighbors in Calgary – three hours south. The starter and the backup were unavailable for various reasons, so they wound up with the third stringer – a guy who had played parts of two games in two seasons – and then only because one goalie was hurt and the other got suspended. The guy was in class, but when it ended he checked his phone and saw that he had a million messages and texts looking for him. Long story short, he threw on a suit, grabbed his gear (and got a big ovation from his teammates who were working out in the process), jumped on a plane, and got the best possible seat to watch an NHL game. This morning he was back in Calgary and back in class. I don’t know what the Oilers paid him, but they did get him a bunch of tickets for friends and families, and he got to keep his jersey. Love that story.

Sometimes NFL coaches are ridiculous. The playoff overtime rule got changed yesterday, and several coaches are pouting about it. I understand that they are upset about the process – they thought the idea was being voted on today, so yesterday they went out on a coaches golfing foray, and Roger Goodell called for a vote that afternoon while they were gone. That would be frustrating, but surely the coaches can’t legitimately have a complaint about the playoff system. It’s a broken mess, and though this new system is overly complex and flawed, it’s still a massive improvement. Anything would be a massive improvement.

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