NHL season will be a sprint, not the usual marathon
Sarich says players know how quickly they’ll need to get out of the gates
The echo of the starter’s pistol. Followed by a mad dash to the finish.
No time for chest-thumping. Less time for self pity.
“It’ll be,” predicts Cory Sarich, “bananas.
“It’ll be crazy.
“You look at the last example of the NBA and the pileup of injuries. So it’ll be teams that are ready to go immediately and teams that can keep themselves healthy, teams that can adapt quickly and fit right into their systems, they’re the ones that’ll have the most success.”
With training camps reportedly set to open Sunday following ratification of the new CBA by players, and the National Hockey League’s abbreviated regular season the weekend following, the vast majority of players and coaches find themselves on shaky, unfamiliar turf,
A 48-game schedule certainly doesn’t allow for prolonged dips in form. And a solid start out of the gate, to hit the ice running, would seem to be imperative.
“That’ll be,” acknowledges Sarich, “a little more critical this time around. I guess in the same sense, though, there won’t be a lot of time to sit around and dwell about losses, that’s for sure, because we’re just going to be playing night in and night out. It’ll be exciting in that regard. You’re going to have to be able to adapt and enjoy things, learn from things and let it all go quickly.
“I think there needs to be some sort of game structure, whether it’s an exhibition game or just beating up on each other. Just to feel that again. Once would be nice.”
The fact that after a senseless 113-day economic standoff the fight has been transferred from the boardroom back onto the ice, where it should’ve been all along, is a blessed relief to all involved, and all who passionately follow, the game.
“I’ve said from the start I think we were willing to get the deal done a lot earlier and had one of the sides just stuck around to bargain I think it could’ve done a month ago,” maintained the Calgary Flames’ rock-’em sock-’em defenceman.
“But I guess it is what it is and we can all look back in hindsight. I’m just happy that it’s over.”
Somewhat more ambivalent is a fan base that has soured during the four-month work stoppage. It’s no secret that many disgruntled patrons will need to be wooed and won back.
“I’m sure the frustration will be there for a while,” agreed Sarich. “Hopefully they can see the product again and get excited about it. I think the biggest thing is just getting out there and working on what we can control — playing a good game on the ice. Making it exciting for the fans, trying to generate some buzz in the community again to get everybody back out.”
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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