Dear Hockey Santa,
As you know, on Valentine’s Day at 5-ish PM, Michel Therrien was fired by the Montreal Canadiens, and Claude Julien was installed in his place. The reason why Therrien was fired is obvious — last season showed just how well his team could perform without the goaltender Carey-ing the team.
I suppose we should have seen this coming, given that Marc Bergevin held a closed-door meeting with only Shea Weber, Max Pacioretty, and Carey Price AND NO THERRIEN right after Claude Julien was fired. Rude, right? If I could insert the “U think?” emoji right here I would. But anyway, that guy should go on your Naughty list.
The reason why Julien was hired is also obvious. He’s one of the best coaches in the league, and the Bruins organization’s decision to fire him made trading Tyler Seguin to the Stars look like only a medium terrible move for the organization. Hockey Santa, if you had a bunch of aging defensemen, would you blame the coach who has somehow kept you in the season? I bet not! Put that guy on your Naughty list too, okay?
But this, as Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times pointed out (please put him on your Nice list, Hockey Santa), also means something unexpectedly hilarious:
Think this makes Jon Cooper longest tenured coach in Atlantic Division #tblightning— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) February 14, 2017
Stand corrected. #tblightning Jon Cooper the longest-tenured coach in Eastern Conference.— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) February 14, 2017
So basically, in the middle of a disappointing season, the Atlantic division has gifted us Tampa Bay Lightning fans with something precious: more incestuous drama than my favorite Telenovela from the 90s, Muchachitas.
And you know what that means, right? That means that something Tampa Bay Lightning fans might’ve yawned over a week ago, a first-round playoff matchup between two teams that I, for one, can’t stand, now promises more dangerous edge and smack-talking machismo than the entire town full of miners in La Patrona. (Still with me, Hockey Santa?)
This is what Tampa Bay Lightning fans — nay, all hockey fans everywhere — need, and what we must conspire to achieve right now. If Bolts can’t serenely defeat every team on their way to the ECF like they have for the past two seasons:
Please let there be a first-round playoff match between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens.
Please, please, let them build up enough momentum that when they meet and clash, they beat each other into exhaustion. Let Brad Marchand run Carey Price. Let Weber slap his enormous...shot all over the place. Let Julien say obnoxious things about the Bruins organization to all the French media that will make Don Sweeney scramble for Google Translate.
In short, Hockey Santa, please give us hockey fans ENTERTAINING PLAYOFF HOCKEY!
(And please give these two teams a short enough off-season that they are too exhausted to make the playoffs next year. KThx.)