Monday May 28th, 2007

Dear Al Gore,

For the past several years, I have been advocating a 2-3-2 system for the Stanley Cup finals. I have argued in print, or at least on the web, that unlike the current 2-2-1-1-1 system, a 2-3-2 plan in which the team with the most points during the regular season opens at home, goes on the road and then returns for the final two Cup games will ease wear and tear on players, compress the schedule and guarantee a close to the hockey season sometime before Flag Day. These are -- how should I put it? -- convenient truths.

Because my pleas have been ignored by the NHL Board of Governors and Commissioner Gary Bettman, I am turning to you, the one man in America who will likely rally to my cause -- unless you're too busy running for president or reinventing the internet.

You see, a 2-3-2 final would be a blessing for the environment. The NHL would be doing its patriotic best to be green -- beyond its recycling of Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sean O'Donnell.

Before I lay out the details, let me give you a little history. The NHL actually did use a 2-3-2 system for two years in the mid-1980s. In 1984 and in 1985, the final opened on Long Island and Philadelphia, respectively, but the Islanders and Flyers never had another game on home ice. The Edmonton Oilers, after splitting the two games on the road, won the next three at home to capture the Stanley Cup. Now you might assume some NHL high foreheads would have studied the results and concluded the Oilers of that era were among the most fabulous teams in history and a five-game final was just about right, but the Board of Governors at the time thought there was something inherently wrong with the system and rushed to embrace the old 2-2-1-1-1 slog.

Anyway, back to the new millennium and the environment.

The final is being contested by Anaheim, where the series begins Monday, and the Ottawa Senators. The flight between the cities is about six hours, going east to west. Now suppose you are Senators defenseman Wade Redden. Under the current system, and if the series goes the full seven, you will fly to Anaheim for Game 1, back to Ottawa for Game 3, back to Anaheim for Game 5, back to Ottawa for Game 6, back to Anaheim for Game 7 and then, finally, home. That is six cross-continent flights, which is a lot of jet fuel and Lord knows how many viewings of Slap Shot. (You do not want this continent to become dependent on Middle East oil or the Hanson Brothers.) But if this were an ecologically-sound 2-3-2 final, Ottawa would fly to Anaheim for Game 1, home for Game 3, back to California for Game 6 and then back to Canada's capital when it's over. Two trips would have been averted, a bigger save than any Ducks goalie Jean-Sébastien Giguère is likely to make in the series.

So lean on your political buddies, or NBC, and make this happen.

My next thought: fuel-efficient Zambonis.

Sincerely, Michael Farber

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