Something very different is going on indeed. For the first time since forever, the playoffs are backwards. Normally, the NHL playoffs conclude with the awarding of the Stanley Cup, and the NBA playoffs go on for another few weeks. Not this year. When basketball is over, there's still going to be a bunch of hockey to be played.
Note that the NBA is already deep into the first round of their playoffs, and a couple teams have even already been eliminated. Miami swept Milwaukee 4-zip, no surprise there, and a few hours later the hapless Lakers got the same skunk treatment in their own building courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs. The scene at the Staples Center was laughable. "Celebrity row" had long since headed back to their limos, but there was Kobe Bryant in street clothes and on crutches, barking out instructions to his teammates when they were down 20 points with under 2 minutes left to play. Note to Kobe. Shut up. Nobody outscores the Spurs by 20 points in 2 minutes, and you're not the head coach anyway. Go back to your mansion and soak your swelled leg (and even bigger head) in the cee-ment pond. You're about as relevant as Mitt Romney these days. And did I say shut up?
Meanwhile, the NHL regular season hasn't even concluded yet. With one game left to play, the Detroit Red Wings don't know for sure if they'll even qualify for the playoffs. Evidently, the NHL's "later" season came about from the prolonged owner lock-out last year, when both sides were wrangling (and certainly posturing) over coming to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Eventually, the NHL regular season got reduced to 48 games. At that, the schedule was condensed. They wanted to cram as many games in as they could, which meant not as many "off days". What nobody seemed to notice was, that even with the shortened regular season and condensed schedule, including the playoffs, hockey was going to last well into June.
And you know what? This is a good thing. After all, in years past, whenever the NBA finally crowned it's champs, there was no pro team sports except baseball. Maybe that's why they call it the "dog days" of summer. It's not about the teams. It's about the fans. Because the fans have nothing else to watch except boring old baseball. That doesn't start getting interesting until maybe September. And by then the mighty NFL is back in full swing, and everybody forgets about baseball until their playoffs start.
It's too bad the NHL and the players' union signed such a long term deal. Next year everything will be back to what it always has been.
I'd like to see a lock-out EVERY year in the NHL, only longer. Nobody cares about their regular season games either until the Super Bowl is over anyway, and if Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr could stretch out the labor strife long enough, maybe they could get us through July and August.
Just a thought.