The visibility of the Expansion Draft protections lists is shaping up to be quite the war between the public and the powers that be in the NHL. The GMs made it rather clear at their meetings in Boca Raton, FL a few weeks ago that they had no interest in allowing the world to see what’s going on behind the scenes of their organization, and more importantly open them up to criticism on Expansion Draft errors.
That’s all makes sense, but as a member of the working hockey media, it’s rather difficult to feel too bad for 31 gentleman who each hold one of the most envious positions in the NHL and are compensated handsomely to do the job.
But now, our own front man has come out against making the lists public, and his reasoning is completely different than that of his top employee and McPhee’s 30 colleagues.
I’d rather not have them be public. I’d rather we know what each team has left unprotected and we make our picks and it’s a big surprise. I think there’s going to be a lot of leaks though. I found one thing about the NHL that … everyone talks. So what we do is we don’t tell anybody anything. I think the impact of us announcing the people we pick from our expansion draft picks – particularly if the list of unprotected people is not made public is more dramatic, it’ll be more of a surprise. –The Creator to Puck Daddy
Now he does have a point, there’s definitely a level of interest that could be gained by having the Expansion Draft reveal be this massive surprise, but it’s a short sighted way of looking at the situation.
If the lists are made public, there will be at least three full days of speculation in which the words ‘Golden Knights’ will be at the center of. The surprise may be bigger (I disagree, and will address that in a second), but it’s also shorter.
If we learned anything from the recent Presidential election it’s that being in the news is a good thing. Every day it was something else and you couldn’t surf a website, scroll a timeline, or watch a television program without hearing the word Trump. He dominated the talk and eventually parlayed it into becoming the most powerful man in the world.
Every media member, every blogger, every fan of the sport will toy with the lists with their mind constantly on one thing, “which of these guys is going to be a Golden Knight.” VGK will be trending for a week rather than an hour.
Which brings me to the “big surprise” piece of the puzzle. The problem with keeping a secret is that it will curb the amount of information people have, which will in turn not allow them to be educated enough to be surprised. When you watch a TV show (or at least the good ones), they spend hours upon hours building up characters, plots, and storylines to bring the viewer in. Then, once the viewer has enough information to feel truly connected, they twist the story. Kill a big character, drop a bomb, reveal a double agent, whatever fits, the later they can get away with doing it, the bigger the shock.
With the Expansion Lists, if everyone is in the dark on who’s available to the Golden Knights, it’s going to be almost impossible to be knowledgeable enough to even be kind of surprised, let alone stunned. It’ll take even the most diehard fan a few hours to process each and every pick. But if we come in knowing how we would have drafted, equipped with mock drafts from TSN, NBC, SportsNet, and SinBin.vegas, it’ll be much easier to be shocked, saddened, or excited about each specific selection.
Let’s put it this way. If the Colorado Avalanche went in and beat the Washington Capitals 7-0 at the Verizon Center, most of us would be left with our jaws on the floor. But if I told you SaiPa Lappeenranta beat Tappara Tampere in the Finnish Elite League playoffs you’d probably look at me like I’m an alien.
That’s because of this powerful thing called context. Without it, especially in sports, it’s nearly impossible to be surprised. It’s why the UFC flashes gambling odds on the screen before every fight, why college football games have rankings affixed in front of team names on the scoreboard, and why before every NHL game they show the record of each team. It gives you an instant feel for who is expected to win, and allows you the chance to be surprised when they fall behind or even lose the game.
Hiding the protection lists leaves fans in the dark. It’s like finding someone who has never seen an episode of the Soprano’s, showing them the final scene, then being confused why they aren’t stunned when the screen goes black.
We need the information. We need to be prepared. We need to care.
If you leave us in the dark, we’ll be blind, and if we’re blind, don’t be surprised if we fail to react when you put on your flashy light show at T-Mobile Arena.