MONTREAL: Listen… Well, what are you doing tonight?
[Scene: The Bell Centre Concourse. Montreal and Ottawa are there.]
MONTREAL: There comes a place in a team’s season and, uh, maybe that time for you is now, when it doesn’t hurt to think about the future.
OTTAWA: Uh, no offense, there, Montreal, but think about yourself, sport. You’re the one who’s been flaking out at work. You traded a proven goalie to Washington for zero prospects. You let Boston climb back into a series you could have swept. You’ve put your hopes and dreams on the stick of Alexei Kovalev, of all people. Whatever that religious experience or whatever the hell it was, you better snap out of it, or you’re gonna get eliminated.
MONTREAL: Yeah. I, I, I…Listen, that league secession plan you’re always talking about. The one that, that could rip off the league for a bunch of shared revenue…
OTTAWA: Yeah? What about it?
MONTREAL: Well, how does it work?
OTTAWA: It’s pretty brilliant. What it does is where there’s a U.S. hockey team, and they start to play poorly, the league tends to overlook their day-to-day management. When was the last time you heard Bettman talk about the goddamn Florida Panthers? What we’ll do is take those remainders and move them up North.
MONTREAL: This sounds familiar.
OTTAWA: Yeah. They did this in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
MONTREAL: Yeah. What a good movie.
OTTAWA: I think there’s a juniors league in Quebec that did this in the 70s and they eventually got busted.
MONTREAL: Well, so they check for this now?
OTTAWA: No, you see, the NHL’s so in love with Pittsburgh and Washington right now, they’d never notice.
MONTREAL: You’re right. And even if they wanted to, they could never check all those teams. There’s got to be 80 of ‘em these days. I played hockey in Arizona this year. Arizona!
OTTAWA: It’s numbers up their asses.
MONTREAL: So there, Sens, what’s to keep you from doing this?
OTTAWA: It’s not worth the risk. I like being in the NHL.
MONTREAL: What if you weren’t in the NHL?
[Scene: An Ontario bar. OTTAWA and MONTREAL are there.]
OTTAWA: Cockos! Toronto and I have the biggest stars of all the Canadian teams. Heatley! Sundin! Alfredsson! And you, you’ve got zero talent you get to keep playing!
MONTREAL: Actually, I’m in the second round. We open against Philly tonight.
MONTREAL: Yeah, I know, Ottawa. It’s completely unfair. And I realized something today. It’s not about me and my dream of winning the first Stanley Cup for Canada since we did it back in ‘93. Kirk Muller’s not walking through that door. It’s about all of us together. I don’t know what happened the other day; maybe it was just shock. It’s wearing off now, but when I saw Calgary completely phone in Game 7 against San Jose, Ottawa, I realized that we Canuckistanians aren’t long for this league. Kids in Alberta have a right to dream of hoisting the Cup, not be dispatched by one of THREE teams in sunny California. We weren’t meant to play this way. Canadian hockey teams weren’t meant to be a minority in our sport, knocking each other out of playoff contention, taking turns losing in the Final to teams that have as much fanbase as they get snow each year.
OTTAWA: I told Bettman that “Senators” was a great team name because Americans can relate to it. God.
MONTREAL: That is not right, Ottawa. For over a decade now, you’ve worked your ass off to show that a smaller Canadian market can be constantly enthralled with a team, no matter how good or bad they’ve been. You’ve hoped for some promotion, maybe an NBC Saturday afternoon game or even something outdoors in Buffalo. Over a decade of years as the new kid on the block – and now that’s just gone. And you’re gonna into the playoffs and get buzzsawed by Pittsburgh? You know why? So Gary Bettman’s TV ratings will go up a quarter of a point. Ottawa, let’s make those ratings go down. Let’s take enough teams from the United States that we never ever have to wonder when the hell Buccigross will get to our highlights on SportsCenter again. Your plan will work, right?
OTTAWA: Of course it works. That’s not the point. Look, even if it could work, I don’t know how to implement it. No one in the league’s going to listen to a Canadian franchise that wasn’t part of the Original Six. I don’t have the contacts.
MONTREAL: Yeah? But Toronto does.
[Scene MONTREAL’s apartment. TORONTO’s there, along with OTTAWA and MONTREAL.]
TORONTO: But one team at a time? That’ll take forever.
MONTREAL: That’s the beauty of it. Each team is a thirtieth of the league. That’s too small for Bettman to notice. Take a team every few weeks, move them to Moose Jaw, space it over the off-season when Bettman is on vacation in Barbados, that’s your Canuckistanian Hockey League.
OTTAWA: Just like Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
TORONTO: Uncle Tom’s what – that’s it, I have to leave now, ok? (gets up) I have to go pay Mats Sundin more money to further hinder our rebuilding process.
MONTREAL: For what? Another playoff season with no playoffs? Or maybe a first-round exit to a team Bettman’s refs are told to favor?
TORONTO: That’s right! If I’m lucky.
MONTREAL: Look, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m tired of being pushed around. Aren’t you?
TORONTO: Yes, Montreal, but I’m not going to do something illegal.
MONTREAL: Illegal? Toronto, this is America! Come on, sit down! Come on! This isn’t Moscow! They’re not going to make you join the military instead of playing hockey. And besides, what happens if we get caught? You think Bettman’s dumb enough to alienate Canada by dumping Toronto altogether or moving them to Oklahoma City? (awkward pause)
TORONTO: (very awkward pause) So what do you think, Ottawa?
OTTAWA: This plan actually is pretty fail-safe, Leafs.
MONTREAL: You came here looking for a land of opportunity. That’s America. And yet, it’s America that’s ruining our national sport. Let’s call opportunity and it to grab its passport and we’ll meet it at the border with a six-pack of Molson. You have two options: National Identity or Constant Also-Ran.
TORONTO: I have a question.
TORONTO: Do we get to bring the American Ice Girls up with the teams?
MONTREAL: Yep. You sure can.
TORONTO: Ok. I’m gonna do it.
MONTREAL: That’s what I’m talking about! I’m talking about Amer- no, Canada!!
CALGARY: (through the wall) Don’t worry man! I won’t tell anybody about this either!
OTTAWA: Who the fuck is that?!
MONTREAL: Uh, don’t worry about him. It’s Calgary. He’s cool. All right. Now here’s how I see it all going down…