There are times when a group of friends sits around and throws out ‘what if’ scenarios that would have forever changed the world, if only they’d happened (or happened differently). The NHL’s new “History Will Be Made” ad campaign shows important moments in hockey, shown in reverse, ending with the ‘What if…’ question. Without further ado, my personal list of hockey ‘what if’s.
5. What if Esa Tikkanen had scored in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals for Washington? For Detroit, down 4-2 at the time of the miss, coming back from 3 down in the 3rd period might have been too much, tying the series at one. The Caps would have momentum heading back to DC and could have put up more of a fight instead of the four-game sweep that occurred.
4. What if the Caps had matched St. Louis’s offer sheet for Scott Stevens in 1990? I have often said that if Stevens had remained a Cap for 4 more seasons, there is at least one Stanley Cup in those years. Instead, we have another 20 years of Cup failure.
3. What if Rocket Richard hadn’t punched linesman Cliff Thompson and incited the Richard Riot? The riot changed Canada, inspired the Quiet Revolution in the 60s and forever divided French and English speaking citizens of Canada.
2. What if a team other than Pittsburgh had won the 2005 NHL Draft lottery? Would the Penguins still be in Pittsburgh if they hadn’t gotten Sidney Crosby in the Draft? Would people’s opinions of Crosby be as polar as they are if he played in, say, Anaheim? Or Minnesota?
1. What if modern arthroscopic surgery had been around during Bobby Orr’s playing time? With the various knee injuries he sustained throughout his career, Orr missed many games and retired at the age of 30. If the first knee surgery he needed been performed using modern arthroscopic methods, my guess is we wouldn’t be talking about Wayne Gretzky as the greatest player of all time.