And so it goes, on and on and on.
The Penguins' Stanley Cup parade in Pittsburgh leads directly to Las Vegas for the NHL Awards extravaganza on Thursday night. The following week, the focus shifts from celebration at the top of the league to the business of strengthening the bottom of the circuit, as the NHL Entry Draft unfolds in Montreal (June 26-27). That's when
The following week sees the NHL's free agency period begin. Will
All of these big names figure to be signed, somewhere, as bidding opens on July 1. The balance of July holds salary arbitration elections and Group 5 free agency election by players in that category. Arbitration hearings and decisions bleed into August, as do prospect camps and later in August, rookie camps and tournaments.
In other words, the NHL and hockey in general is a year-round endeavor. There is hardly any down time at all. Now, this isn't unique to the world of hockey. Every major sport has extended its season -- with the Super Bowl in February and the World Series in November (remember when
Forget the aging notion of a "short summer" and quick turnaround for teams. There is no recovery time allowed. The pursuit of a title on the ice and the business machinations away from that main goal must run concurrently. That is what makes the Red Wings' long run of success -- five Stanley Cup appearances in 12 seasons -- so impressive. Likewise, with the Penguins getting it together and keeping it so for two seasons running. The effort and focus required from the people on the ice all the way up to the executive suite and on out to scouts and minor league affiliates is tremendous.
It is also why successful teams have grown their hockey operations staffs to accommodate the workload. There is a nimbleness required now. The salary cap is a big part of the equation, as teams need to evaluate players more efficiently than ever before. That requires manpower, insight and the art of delegation. GM
It is why Holland's long-time assistant GM,
The Red Wings and Penguins get it. It is why they have a good chance at being there again next year, despite the short summer.