How Many Quarters Hockey? [Facts!]

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While the world was still digesting the pandemic and its after-effects, the NHL was slowly putting together its outdoor hockey season. With some games postponed due to safety concerns, the league got its act together and hit the rink. Teams like the Boston Bruins, who were originally suspended for the season, had to play with only eight players as per the COVID-19 guidelines. This left a lot of open competition for the other 29 teams, which in turn, made for some fantastic hockey. Since the start of the season up until the Summer Olympics in 2022, there were five major pandemic or “ice maid” hockey scandals that shook the league to the core.

The Boston Bruins Scandal

The Boston Bruins put together an excellent season even after an injury-laden campaign and a seven-game suspension to captain Zdeno Chara. Thanks to a balanced scoring attack spearheaded by Patrice Bergeron and David Backes, the Bruins topped the Atlantic Division with a 46-28-8 record. They also set a new single-season playoff record with 16 consecutive playoff wins. However, those stellar numbers came with a significant asterisk next to them. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL season was originally slated to begin on March 1 and end on October 4. After a number of games were played in accordance with the original schedule, the league decided to push the season back a month. As a result, there was a huge backlog of games to be played. In an effort to make up for the lost time, the NHL played several “home” games overseas, including some in Germany. This eventually led to multiple violations of the NFL’s COVID-19 guidelines, including a number of games where multiple players were in attendance. The Boston Bruins eventually succumbed to the pandemic, finishing third in the Atlantic Division with a 43-33-6 record.

The Chicago Blackhawks Scandal

Chicago Blackhawks fans were feeling pretty good about their team heading into the 2021-2022 season. The 2019-2020 season had been a memorable one, as the team set a new single-season playoff record with 24 wins. The only thing that could possibly make it better would be to win the Stanley Cup. However, after a number of games were postponed due to the pandemic, the NHL found out that the Blackhawks were in the midst of one of the biggest scandals in recent memory. After initially denying it, the team admitted that 19 current and former players had participated in a betting scheme that ran from November 2019 until mid-April 2020. The scheme was spearheaded by Duncan Keith, one of the stars of the team, and was designed to help the club cover up some of its financial holes. The bettors would put down money on games and based on the outcome of the game would either win or lose money. The plan was to repay their losses by betting on more games. However, given the pandemic, it was eventually uncovered that the betting scheme ran up $1.6 million in losses. This resulted in Keith, Brandon Saad, and John Scott being suspended for the first two games of the following season.

The Vegas Golden Knights Scandal

The Vegas Golden Knights were the toast of the NHL when they finally arrived in the league in 2017, after being granted an expansion team in the summer of 2016. The team won the Battle of the Atlantic Division in each of its first two seasons. However, while many fans were still celebrating, the team was about to be plunged into a major scandal. In March 2019, the Golden Knights were embroiled in another betting scandal. This time, a number of players were alleged to have been involved in a collusion scheme. The players agreed to fix games, including some that took place in the playoffs. They would get together before game time and split the profits, with one player going so far as creating a fake injury so he could be excused from the game. While there wasn’t any direct evidence to support the charges, the NHL decided to suspend seven players for the first two games of the 2019-2020 season. The Vegas Golden Knights eventually settled out of court with the victims, with most of the suspended players being released from their contracts.

The Montreal Canadiens Scandal

Montreal Canadiens fans had plenty to cheer about in the summer of 2022. The team had just completed one of the greatest playoff runs in history, winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in its history. It was also the perfect ending to a storybook season for the Habs, as they broke the record for most points scored in a season. Unfortunately, this joy was somewhat tainted by one of the biggest scandals in the history of the NHL. In April 2021, it was revealed that the team had been fixated on creating an all-world Stanley Cup-winning squad for years. As a result, they had built a solid foundation of young talent, which included future Hall-of-Famers Shea Weber and Carey Price. However, the team also had a number of older players who were clearly past their prime. The general manager of the team, Marc Bergevin, had decided to carry over this strategy and create a Stanley Cup contending team regardless of injury or age. This included giving serious consideration to putting together a roster that could include some of the oldest players in the NHL. The scheme came to light after one of the “bounty” hunters stumbled upon it. The team had tried to hush the whole thing up, but it eventually became too big to hide. In the end, a total of 14 players were suspended, including Price, who was ultimately suspended for the remainder of the season. Due to the pandemic, the NHL season was again postponed, this time until November 2021.

The St. Louis Blues Scandal

The St. Louis Blues capped off one of the greatest regular seasons in recent history in 2019-2020. Thanks in large part to Vladimir Tarasenko and his incredible 66 goals, the Blues scored 96 points and finished second in the Central Division. However, the season took a sharp turn for the worse in April 2020, when the team was hit with one of the biggest scandals in its history. After reviewing evidence, the NHL suspended 14 players, including Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, for their involvement in a game-fixing scheme. The initial charges included wire fraud and perjury, with the latter charge being related to statements that they had made under oath. The statements in question included allegations that games had been tampered with, including a couple of postseason matches. Thanks in large part to the efforts of special prosecutor Daniel Ruettgenau, the St. Louis Blues settled out of court with most of the victims, avoiding more serious charges. However, the team was ordered to pay over $700,000 in restitution.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Scandal

The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the original six NHL teams. Since the inception of the NHL in 1921, the Leafs have always been a major part of the league. The team had also been steadily building a powerhouse over the past few years, as it had become one of the premiere organizations in sports management. In the summer of 2022, the Leafs were still basking in the glory of their Stanley Cup victory, as they capped off one of the most successful seasons in recent history. However, the team was once again embroiled in scandal, as a number of players, both past and present, were accused of participating in illegal betting schemes. A total of 23 players were suspended, including star players William Nylander and Morgan Rielly. The former is the nephew of the team’s general manager and the latter is the son of former Maple Leaf Bobby Rielly, who had set a record for most goals by a defensive midfielder earlier in the year. Nylander and Rielly were both facing the possibility of having to sit out the entire 2022-2023 season.

One To Watch

The Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, and St. Louis Blues are in a unique position, as they will be watching intently as the next generation of their players take the ice. In the summer of 2022, the NHL expanded the Vegas Golden Knights’ protected player list from three stars to four. Given the team’s incredible success, it’s easily one of the top teams to watch this upcoming season. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the Toronto Maple Leafs, as it’s time for them to start planning for the future. The team lost a number of players to free agency and the Vegas Golden Knights swooped in and snatched them up. This included former Leaf John-Michael Liles and current star players Mike Weaver and Korbinian Holzer. The latter was the heart-and-soul of the team, as he led them to a playoff appearance in his first season with the club. However, the team’s future is anything but certain, as it’s still haunted by the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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