Sweep-the-SwampCast! April 26, 2019

Welcome back to SwampSwami.com and our weekly “Sweep-the-SwampCast” podcast-only presentation!

On today’s show, we’ll cover the “Ups and Downs” of Thursday night’s first round of the annual NFL draft in Nashville. We’ll also discuss the gamesmanship between two NFC East rivals during Round 1, the paranoia surrounding the Oakland Raiders‘ NFL player draft, the NHL hockey playoff television ratings (Up!) and the NBA playoffs (down).

Finally, we salute one of my favorite basketball players of all time. John Havlicek of the Boston Celtics passed away on Thursday at the age of 79. Hondo will forever be a part of my generation’s basketball memories!

To listen, please click above or subscribe to all of SwampSwami’s audio posts via Apple Podcasts! The price is right…it’s FREE!

A fitting Knight-Cap to the NHL season

While the majority of sports fans will have to wait for the long slog called the NBA Finals to begin Thursday night, the National Hockey League (with an equally lengthy season) will feature two teams in search of their first-ever Stanley Cup trophy on Monday and Wednesday night this week.

Heck, one of the teams wasn’t even in the NHL last year at this time!

It is the expansion team from the West versus the “close-but-no-cigar” Eastern team, as the Vegas Golden Knights will take on the Washington Capitals in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals.

The biggest question for a hockey novice like me is, “How can a brand new team, which selected one non-starting player from the other 30 teams, get into the NHL Finals during their first season?”

According to the NHL’s website, every professional hockey franchise must carry at least 20 players.  Since there are five skaters (plus a goalie) on the ice at any one time, each team has six starters with a gaggle of supporting characters.

Before the expansion draft by Las Vegas, each existing NHL franchise was allowed to “protect” up to eleven players on their roster.

So, the Vegas Golden Knights, whose General Manager previously worked for the Caps, filled their first-year roster by selecting one non-essential player from each of the other teams.  The Golden Knights is a squad built with cast-offs and old guys – players unwanted by their former employers.

Enter goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.  The former goalie for last year’s champion Pittsburgh Penguins was considered on the downside of his hockey career at age 33 and was paid a hefty $6 million per year.  The Penguins failed to “protect” Fleury (a three-time Stanley Cup champion) in favor of a younger goalie, and Las Vegas snapped him up.

Fleury’s defensive efforts have kept his new team close in games all year, while his experienced clubhouse leadership has helped to propel the Golden Knights through the playoffs during their inaugural season.

Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals polished off the defending champs from Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals of the East and then vanquished the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.  The Caps are the road warriors of the NHL playoffs with an amazing 8-2 record on the opposing team’s ice.

Washington has been in the league since 1974 and lost their only other appearance in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals in 1998.

Vegas, whose city name “Las” was dropped as it would add a fourth word to the team’s name, is the first expansion franchise to ever make it to the NHL’s championship round.

A first-time winner will emerge in what should be a fitting Knight-Cap to an interesting NHL postseason.















Golf Channel drops the puck

Tonight on Golf Channel, it’s the National Hockey League Stanley Cup playoffs as the New Jersey Red Devils face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning followed by the Anaheim Ducks at the San Jose Sharks!

What in the name of Arnold Palmer is going on?

NBC, which owns an assortment of cable channels including Golf Channel, apparently ran out of cable channels willing to carry its full ledger of NHL playoff games.  So, it’s Golf Channel to the rescue???

I’m not knocking the NHL or the quest for the Stanley Cup, but, seriously, let’s review the number of NBC-owned channels which decided NOT to carry an NHL playoff game tonight:

  1. NBC –  Carrying a drama called “Chicago P.D.” (whatever that is)
  2. USA Network – elected to carry the series “Suits” (whatever that is)
  3. CNBC – opted to carry another episode of “Shark Tank” (an interesting show, but it is seen all the time)

That left NBCSN (the network which carried my favorite Winter Olympic sport, curling) and Golf Channel to handle tonight’s hockey playoff games.

I will be the first to say that Golf Channel’s Wednesday night pre-tournament golf coverage of the Valero Texas Open from San Antonio would not draw large numbers of golf fans.

On the other hand, it’s sad that playoff hockey was booted down the dial to make way for other mediocre television shows.  If hockey’s television viewership was more robust nationwide, the games surely would have aired on one or more of the most popular NBC channels noted above.

NHL playoff hockey can be exciting to watch, but the game must attract more viewers (and advertisers) in order to take the next step up NBC’s pecking order.

Stay tuned.  Maybe next week Golf Channel will give us the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets against Happy Gilmore, Patrick Reed and the Augusta Green Jackets!