If you remember the week-long fiasco that was last year’s trade deadline, you remember the Monday night Versus game that week. Let me remind you with a simple phrase: poetic justice.
Ah yes, the Flyers game that was called “Brian Campbell’s last game as a Sabre” by his own agent. That was an awesome week, wasn’t it? The Sabres go up 3-0, only to lose in a shootout thanks to a Briere game winner. The Flyers traded for Vinny Prospal 11 seconds after the game was over, and it was all downhill from there.
Sure, Bernier was a nice little blip on the radar, but by then the die was cast with the Sabres. Sure they tried to cross the Rubicon, but Dmitri Kalinin set fire to the boat and it seems only Vanek was able to tread water in the wreckage.
Where am I going with this? Well, as relatively meaningless as the Monday night Versus broadcast is, it sure set an exciting tone for the week that was. The Sabres and Flyers were both battling for playoff position, and we all know the drama involving Briere and Biron. No matter how it ended for the Sabres, it was a good game for the league to showcase.
So what’s on tap tonight? Well, I heard the radio ad for it earlier today…
“Tonight on Versus, Islanders star Kyle Okposo takes on Ryan Smyth and the Edmonton Colorado Avalanche!”
I mean, holy crap schedule makers. You’re sitting in the league offices in August and thought an East/West matchup with zero playoff intrigue would fit the bill for the national television broadcast prior to the trade deadline? The Isles and Avs are making some noise this postseason? You may as well take the week of and show bullriding repeats. Or just show an Ovechkin goal montage for three hours.
Of course there’s no way to guess who will be sitting where, but both these teams are pretty far down the totem pole in preseason rankings if you ask around the league. The Islanders were tanking from the start, and unless they play a team like Buffalo they don’t put up much of a fight. Colorado was a bit of a mystery, but then again almost everyone in the West is still in line for a playoff spot. Except them.
It’s almost perfect if you think about it: the two teams ranked last in their conference square off for the right to draft John Tavares two days before they both hold impromptu firesales of their current wares. That, my friends, is exciting hockey. Make sure you tune in to watch Bill Guerin sitting in the press box and Ryan Smyth warming up the tear ducts between shifts.