The following is completely ficticious and is meant only for your amusement. I don't actually believe anything that follows and neither should you.
The Phoenix Coyotes will win the Stanley Cup this year. It's not because they are the best team, or because they are built for the playoffs, or even because Ilya Bryzgalov is the best goaltender in the world this year. It is because Gary Bettman wants it that way.
Don't believe me? Here are some facts to consider:
The NHL said from the beginning that with better management off the ice and a better product on it, the Coyotes could succeed in Glendale. Acting on that belief, the NHL purchased the franchise in US Bankruptcy court.
In making up the schedule, the NHL scheduled all three of the San Jose Sharks road games against the Coyotes this year on the second night of a back-to-back set. All three times that Phoenix goes to San Jose, the Coyotes will be well rested.
The Coyotes play on back-to-back nights seven times this season (Defending Champion Pittsburgh has 10). Only two of those trips involves a time zone change, going from Columbus to St. Louis in October and from Vancouver to Calgary in March.
The Coyotes longest road trips have four games in six days, but both are relatively easy trips (Trip 1 - Detroit, Toronto, Columbus, Anaheim; trip 2 - Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Florida). Defending Conference champion Detroit has already played one of two five-game road trips (both are ten-day trips) and President's Trophy winner San Jose has already played a six-game, 11-day trip away from home (the first of three six-game trips).
The NHL schedules and pays the officials at all NHL games INCLUDING Coyotes games. They do not recluse themselves the way league disciplinarian Colin Campbell does in matters involving his son's team (Florida Panthers).
Just saying the deck seems pretty stacked in favor of the Cup heading to the desert for the first time.