The NHL is back after its annual 36-hour off-season, so it's time preview this year's frozen action. Most season previews attempt to answer questions like which teams will win the Stanley Cup or if Connor McDavid will have a better rookie year than Jack Eichel. But who says those are the big questions? As a man of the people, I asked the filthy, unwashed masses for their biggest 2015-2016 NHL questions. And they were less about Cups Stanley and Calder and more about hot dogs and cocaine.
To the hockey questions!
Over/under 55.5: hot dogs eaten by Phil Kessel on regular season home game days? — @ChrisMuellerPGH
You really think he eats 55 hot dogs a day? I mean, the guy supposedly loves his franks, but that seems high. I’m going to assume you’re asking for the entire regular season.
The Penguins have 41 home games, so if Kessel eats one per game day, that only puts him at 41. But Pittsburgh has a team this year that could make a long Cup run. They could play as many as 16 home games in the playoffs. And 41 + 16 = 57. Phil Kessel could eat as many as 57 home hot dogs this year! Impressive. He better hope the NHL never ads sulfites to its list of banned substances.
What is the first word that come to mind when you hear “Raffi Torres”? — @Uncle_Jaan
Concern. I’m worried that Raffi will look to supplement his income during his half-season suspension. And there is a well known children’s musician named Raffi. What if some poor kid’s parents accidentally book Raffi Torres for his birthday party?
“Mommy, why is the mean, scary man hitting all my friends in the head?”
If Jagr sticks to his word and re-grows the mullet, they should be made mandatory league-wide, yes? — @tfish29
Hockey hair looks awesome and adds more head protection. That’s a win-win. Expect Gary Bettman to ban the mullet.
With the Stanley Cup growing in size/weight each year, what is little Johhny Gaudreau's window to win it before he cant lift it? — @TheRembot
I think he has five years. Gaudreau is only 22, so he has a few more years to add some muscle. But then his strength will plateau, while the Cup continues to grow in size. Could Gaudreau win the Cup 10 years from now? Sure. But he’ll have to celebrate without getting the Cup over his head and with a massive hernia.
(By the way, doesn’t the Cup stay the same size/weight each year because they remove teams from the past to add the new ones? Either way: Johnny Gaudreau is a tiny person. That part is correct.)
Have the Flyers been mathematically eliminated yet? — @_PittFan
Hey, show some respect. The Flyers are, hands down, the best sports franchise in Philadelphia. Really. A team that hasn’t won a championship since 1975 and is expected to finish in the bottom half of the league is the cream of the crop of Philly sports teams. Just let that wash over you for a minute.
Are you letting it wash over you?
O.K., now go take a shower. You look like you swam in a sewer.
Have the Maple Leafs been eliminated from playoff eligibility yet? — @dillonerd
Mathematically, no. Logically, yes. But that franchise only recently started using analytics, so they may not yet understand mathematical elimination anyway. So to answer your question: the Maple Leafs are horrible in every way. Hockey is officially back!
Who isn’t excited about 3-on-3 OT? — @FrankNevanen
Probably Don Cherry. He hates most things that are great.
Is the glow puck back yet? — @emanatee
It is not. Even the NHL is experiencing some of the ‘90s retro craze. Jagr says he's growing back his mullet, after all. But the glow puck is not back. However, if you’re a fan of intrusive sports broadcast technology, you should check out baseball on ESPN. They’ve outlined the strike zone for us. Apparently home plate is just there to step on when you score.
How is cocaine not on the league’s banned substance list?!?!?!?!?! — @cjorgenson3
That is a good question. The NHL reportedly wants to speak with the players association about adding cocaine to the list of substances that it regularly tests for. My best guess is that Gary Bettman got a Netflix subscription this off-season, found himself watching “Narcos” and gave deputy commissioner Bill Daly a call. “Bill! There is apparently a drug called cocaine now? Yeah, it’s real popular in Colombia. We have to look into this before it reaches North America!” Great job, as always, Mr. Bettman.
With a crackdown on both concussions and cocaine, how boring will games be this season? — @KiwiOnAStick
Remember: cocaine hasn’t been truly banned yet. This could be the last season of hockey’s Great Powder Age. I expect some fast-paced, frenetic hockey. Exciting! I also expect to wonder why players’ noses are really bleeding.
How many grams does the Stanley Cup hold? — @DanInPittsburgh
Let’s show some respect to greatest trophy in sport, as the players who fight for it every year do. No way anyone would ever snort coke out of the Stanley Cup. Drink out of it or throw it in a pool? Sure. But never use it for nose candy. Never.
Is there a lockout this year? — @affabulldog
Good news! It’s one of the non-lockout years! This will be three in a row now*. Pretty great!
*Assuming there’s no labor stoppage over the cocaine negotiations.
Nobody cares about hockey! — @aiellod21
Neat that Gary Bettman could participate in this column through his alias Twitter account. Thanks, Mr. Bettman!
Which teams do you believe will listen to fat hooligans in the upper tank shouting "SKATE!" and "SHOOT IT!" the best? — @MattSebek
Don’t forget “Go! Go! Go!” I like to yell that one when a player gets the puck on a rush. Sometimes they forget to “Go! Go! Go!” and need to be reminded, you know?
The Florida Panthers had the lowest attendance in the NHL last year, averaging just 11,265 in paid attendance. So if fans at their games yelled these things, the players would probably hear them. Yet there are no fans in the upper deck at Panthers games to yell anything. It’s kind of a Catch-22.
Interesting and related factoid: 22 is actually the real number of fans at every Panthers game.
How many games, goals, assists will Artemi Panarin total? — @PiratesTalk
The Blackhawks are the NHL St. Louis Cardinals: Everything they touch turns to gold. No matter who they lose, someone more talented is always there to step in. So I’m saying Panarin will play 82 games and get 100 goals and 200 assists. Could be a little bit lower, though.
Why can’t a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup? — @23Dobson
It’s like with dating: If you pursue someone too hard, if you come across as desperate, they’re less likely to go out with you. That’s Canada with the beautiful and sensual La Coup Stanley. Compare that to Tampa Bay. They’re young and loaded with talent. They’ll probably win a Cup or two or three in the coming years. And only about 30 Florida resident care about ice hockey. That’s how to change your fortunes, Canada. Start playing hard to get. Or start playing better in the postseason. One of those.
Can you explain Patrick Kane’s off-season in 140 characters? — @adamreisinger
I can do it in far fewer! Here you go: Everyone is terrible.
O.K., that’s a good place to end. Enjoy the season. Enjoy the hot dogs. And please lay off the cocaine to the best of your abilities.