Rozner: Playoff hockey is welcome in any form

  • While many fans have reacted negatively to the NHL's plan to finish the 2019-20 season with a 24-team playoff, Commissioner Gary Bettman deserves credit for trying to get this done.

    While many fans have reacted negatively to the NHL's plan to finish the 2019-20 season with a 24-team playoff, Commissioner Gary Bettman deserves credit for trying to get this done. Associated Press

Updated 6/1/2020 5:16 PM

You can please some sports fans some of the time, but you can't please most of them ever.

Pretty sure that's the saying. If not, it oughta be.


As the NHL announced its return to play this summer, the negative reaction to the 24-team tournament in many corners of the hockey universe was not at all surprising.

It's hardly a perfect plan, but then again there can't be a perfect plan given what sports have endured the last few months.

Reminds me of the guy who lost his cellphone in an airport a few years ago.

As I was working on my laptop in a quiet corner of the terminal, I spotted it on the floor. The gentleman next to me looked at the very expensive phone as I placed it on the counter between us and he suggested we ask whoever retrieves it to at least put in the code and open it so we would know it was the rightful owner.

Made sense to me.

When the slob -- he really was a tremendous slob -- returned to pick up his phone, I asked that he please enter his code. Rather than thank me for not stepping on it, taking it to lost and found -- which would have added an hour to his search -- or flushing it down an airport toilet, he yelled something rather inappropriate and -- as far as I'm aware -- physically impossible.

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A simple thank you would have sufficed, but ya know, no good deed and all that.

Recently, there was an email from a Michael Lee, who was apparently not enjoying our healthy coverage of "The Last Dance" and the many stories written surrounding the greatest dynasty in the history of Chicago sports, which for most people was a pleasant reminder of a previous era and an entertaining time-killer during a pandemic.

Wrote Mr. Lee, "ENOUGH with Michael Jordan. You sports writers treat him as if he were the second coming of Jesus. ENOUGH."

Back in March, a much friendlier email was nevertheless unhappy with criticism of the Bears' brain trust. Tom Drake wrote that in difficult times he wanted only positive talk.

Tom, just for you I will pick the Bears to win the Super Bowl this season.

It is normal in the course of a week to receive angry messages via email or on social media. Part of the job is having an opinion, and there's always someone displeased.

Having been in newspapers, radio and TV for more than three decades, this is a basic fact, but rare is the person who can't get enough Michael Jordan. That was a surprise.


It's usually best to laugh, pour a drink and move on.

In any case, while rarely being any sort of fan of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, the man has worked overtime trying to put something together for hockey fans, and he bent over backwards working with the players to accommodate their needs and wishes.

The easy move would have been to cancel the tournament and try to get next season started on time. It might have been the smart thing to do given so much uncertainty and so many states' unwillingness to restart the economy.

But the players and owners obviously wanted some conclusion to this season, and the current plan has given them a path.

Especially when you consider the adversarial way in which Bettman usually works to hammer the players, you have to give the man credit for trying to get this done and make happy as many people as possible in the process.

No, it's not perfect. When you have the perfect plan, feel free to send it along.

Bettman worked with the players and did the best he could to find a reasonable format that won't be entirely equitable for the teams at the top of the standings, but it's a decent solution and is better than no solution at all.

It's hockey and most of us will be happy to have it back once the games begin.

For those who hate it, well, the only suggestion here is don't watch playoff hockey this summer.

Maybe you would have been happier if Bettman had just flushed the season down an airport toilet.

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