"Despite the reverence, there is still criticism that the [National Hockey League] playoff system drags the season to an absurd length, and that this extension is a mere money-grubbing device of the owners. The charges are correct, but the fans couldn't care less. There are many who would watch hockey in July if they could. There is tension in a Stanley Cup game that no regular season contest can engender."
Truer words have seldom been written, as we sit here on May 7 waiting for the semifinals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to start. The regular season ended in early April. The playoffs still have possibly another five weeks or so to go.
However, the quote above was written not today, not even yesterday - but by Martin Kane in the April 25, 1966 edition of Sports Illustrated. At that point the Montreal Canadiens had defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in the semis, and were waiting for the winner of the Detroit-Chicago series to settle the whole thing.
That's right: forty years ago, people were complaining because the playoffs hadn't ended by the middle of April. Today, people are complaining because the playoffs haven't ended by the middle of May. We may not make it into July, but certainly the Stanley Cup won't be awarded until sometime in June.
Undoubtedly there are a lot of fans who still would be fine if the playoffs didn't end until July. Unfortunately for the NHL, hardly anyone else would even notice.