As the Stanley Cup Finals approach, the players from Anaheim, Buffalo, and Carolina will really appreciate the extended break that the remaining Western Semifinals series has afforded them. Thanks in part to the Winter Olympics, many of these athletes have played over 100 games since October, and while most of us can envy those who do what they love for a living, we should also harbor some sympathy for the men who put on sweaters year-round.
No sport demands nearly as much from its athletes as does hockey — nothing comes even close. For the not-so-young players, this seems to have worn down their playoff aspirations, and their postseason losses should resonate sharply with those of us who call ourselves real fans. Indeed, the near absence of veteran stars in this year's Stanley Cup run demonstrates the clear need for a shorter regular season.