ANALYSIS: Buckle up, it’s the summer hockey season

It feels like we just gave the Cup away, and here we are on draft day. For the next few years, get used to it.

The TV ratings Monday which had more than 16 million people in Canada and United States watch the game will be the fuel for the league and the networks that late June isn’t that bad for playing hockey.

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Those numbers are impressive, but shouldn’t be the rationale for June 24 to be the end date in the future. Some of the other games with high ratings occurred on earlier dates in June, and often these were Game 7 contests that involved Canadian teams, such as 2011 in Vancouver, 2004 for Calgary, and 1994 for Vancouver.

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Hockey fans love drama, and a seventh game is just that. Hopefully, we can have some sort of break between the games and the draft in the future, but don’t bank on it.

As for the draft, in the Sphere for the next two days in Las Vegas, it will mark the end of the traditional draft with team draft tables and everyone who’s anyone on the draft floor.

What the future brings, which most believe is what we saw for the NBA on Wednesday, isn’t that bad.  The players were there, their families were there — just the teams were all at their home bases, linked electronically, and, quite frankly, probably a little more financially inexpensively. It makes sense.

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But hopefully, the players will still feel the rush and excitement of draft day as we’ve seen for the past 40 years.

The only thing that isn’t changing is free agency on Monday. And as we get closer to July 1, it appears things are just going to be get crazier, with teams jockeying for position and feeling flush with money.

Buckle up folks, the summer hockey season is upon us.

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