The Wild finished off the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the NHL playoffs at about 5 p.m. Sunday. As of writing this specific sentence, it is 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. We’ve known the opponent for the second-round series (Chicago) all along. What we don’t know — and what becomes more frustrating by the minute — is when any of these games will be played.
Fans who hoped the schedule would be released Sunday after Game 6 concluded were mildly annoyed when that didn’t happen. They kept asking … and asking … and asking … but nothing changed. Sunday gave way to Monday. Surely, by Monday, the league would announce the schedule.
As Monday morning became Monday afternoon and then Monday night, annoyance turned to outright frustration. This is probably the point when a lot of fans started to realize (or remember) that they aren’t the top priority in all of this. If they were, a schedule would be out already, and fans would be able to start constructing their weeks around playoff viewing and gearing up to buy tickets. Because while the playoffs are a big deal, they are not the only thing going on in most of our lives.
Rather, there are numerous factors at play here. TV drives so much of it, and by virtue of the Lightning defeating the Red Wings on Monday — forcing a Game 7 on Wednesday and undoubtedly bringing a smile to Twins pitcher Phil Hughes’ face — there is still one series going on … giving the powers that be an excuse to keep on dragging this out while they consider how all the time slots should fit together to wring every last dollar out of these playoffs.
Arena availability is another issue, and here again the Wild and its fans got a tough break Monday. The Bucks won in Chicago, extending that NBA playoff series to a sixth game. Had the Bulls won, the series would be over — and their second-round series (with home games at United Center, the shared arena of the Bulls and Blackhawks) could start coming into focus. Instead, there is the possibility of a Game 7 back in Chicago on Saturday … plus a slate of potential second-round games still up in the air.
Also complicating matters: the NFL draft is in Chicago this year, and the glitzy first round is slated for Thursday while the rest goes on Friday and Saturday. Would the NHL really want to compete in that city with such a huge event by having Game 1 on Thursday in Chicago, even though the arena is available?
The best guess all along has been that the series will open Friday in Chicago, with Game 2 there on Sunday with home games at the X on Tuesday and Thursday.
But those are all just guesses, still, more than 40 hours after the end of the last Wild series. If you’re a fan or media member annoyed that you don’t know yet how to proceed, imagine what it’s like to be a player.
Surely we’ll all know today. (Fingers crossed).