<table><td><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/sunny_blog.jpg" align="left" hspace="4">Microsoft had just released the original Xbox. Nintendo had followed a few days later and launched its Gamecube. And after a 28-game stint as a Washington Capital, Trevor Linden had barely rejoined the Vancouver Canucks.
Yes, a lot has changed since the Philadelphia Flyers last visited General Motors Place on December 31st, 2001. Thankfully, even more is about to.
After long affirming that the NHL’s unbalanced schedule is necessary to build divisional rivalries, commissioner Gary Bettman shifted course last month when he conceded that a change needed to be made and that more out-of-conference games needed to be played.
Bettman’s epiphany came as a surprise to many. He had long been the unbalanced schedule’s staunchest supporter. What could possibly make him change his mind? What force could be so strong?
I’ve figured out the answer.
Gary Bettman watches “24.”<a href="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1007_canuckvsflyer05_b.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1007_canuckvsflyer05_t.jpg" align="right" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1"></a>
You see, in season four of the hit television show about Jack Bauer’s efforts to save the world, beleaguered President Logan makes a shrewd move.
When the lead terrorist is killed and potential conflict with the Chinese is diverted, Logan, who’s been on the wrong side of the day’s key issues, develops selective amnesia. He ignores the mistakes he’s made and dares everyone around him to point out that he wasn’t onboard all along. No one does.
Bettman, who’s been under fire for months for his unwillingness to change the schedule format, is now following Logan’s lead.
He’s no longer trotting out statistics about how 60 percent of NHL fans are in favour of the unbalanced schedule. Instead, he’s focusing on the good that will come from a city like Vancouver seeing the Flyers more than once every six years.
<a href="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1007_canuckvsflyer08_b.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1007_canuckvsflyer08_t.jpg" align="left" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1"></a>
Don’t think that’s been his point of view all along? Prove it!
And so, when Philadelphia returns to Vancouver again next season, or the season after, don’t just thank the security guy at GM Place for letting you into the building.
Don’t just thank your mom for buying you the ticket.
Thank 24. Thank President Logan.
They made it all possible.