Within minutes of the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup there were people shouting “asterisk”. I cringe when I hear that, and I hear it in every lockout shortened season. I stop listening completely when I hear “half a cup”, because the playoffs aren’t shortened. If anything, a shortened season makes it a bit tougher for a team to succeed from start to finish. The condensed schedule means more games in less time, which is more unforgiving than spaced out games with plenty of time to rest in between. If a player is injured in a shortened season, he’ll miss out on a larger percentage of the regular season. Missing ten games sounds like a whole lot more when it’s out of 48 instead of 82. While perhaps a team might sneak in that may not deserve it, in general there isn’t much difference between shortened and full length seasons.
In a full 82 game season, teams were playing 3.03 games per week, while the shortened season provided slightly more games per week with 3.2. Already the work load is slightly heavier in a shortened season, which is to be expected. Kane averaged out to 20:11 minutes per game in the last 82 game season, while playing 20:03 in the shortened season. Not much of a difference, so it’s hard to claim that the shortened season is any easier. Another factor to consider is that 25% of the games were back to back games in the shortened season. The 2011-12 82 game season only had 20% of its games as back to back games. Players have less time to heal up between games in the shortened season. The regular season is a slightly more unforgiving beast when shortened.
The “half a cup” comments for the playoffs are asinine. It’s still 16 victories to win the cup; nothing changes to make the experience any less worthy. Kane’s average ice time in the playoffs was down a bit from 2011-12, but that’s to be expected due to him playing through four rounds. Kane was averaging 21:58 through the first round of 2011-12 and 20:55 in 2013. There was no real drop in shifts or TOI. But for a more accurate comparison, I’d need to look at someone that went all four round in 2011-12. Dustin Brown was a key factor in the LA Kings Cup run, so I figure he’s a solid example for ice time. In 2012, Brown played 414:38 minutes in the playoffs and averaged 20:43 of ice time. Kane had 481:23 of total ice time (gotta love triple overtime) and averaged 20:35 of ice time in 2013. Once again, nothing to suggest that a shortened season should be reason to downplay any achievements a team earns.
Was Bobrovsky any less spectacular for Columbus? Were the Hawks’ and the Penguins’ win streaks any less impressive? No, nothing about this season was lackluster or disappointing. The season was a rather amazing season, and the playoffs were even more so. In fact, the Stanley Cup Final was pretty much an instant classic. The asterisk should be there in the history books to signify it was a shortened season, but that’s where it should end. The quality of the sport didn’t diminish, nor did the excitement. So, let’s leave the asterisks in the records books and stop pretending that it has any effect on what happens on the ice.