Thursday, 29 August 2013

NHL Theatre: MLSE takes hockey from centre ice to centre stage

Shortly after being named CEO of MLSE, Tim Leiweke offered the following, puzzling mission statement.

"MLSE is woven into the character of Toronto. The loyal and passionate fans of MLSE's teams want sports championships for this great city. They want excitement on the ice, on the court, on the pitch and on the stage." (quoted by Sportsnet)
MLSE owns the Toronto Maple Leafs (ice), Toronto Marlies (not-as-great ice), Toronto Raptors (court), and Toronto FC (pitch). Where's the stage?

I posed this question to twitter back in April, but no one offered an explanation. I'll just have to figure this one out on my own.

My only guess is that Leiweke accidentally leaked MLSE's plans to acquire the Stratford Festival. In preparation for this (imminent?) acquisition, I thought I'd suggest some hockey-themed plays that should be staged after this transaction is completed.

1. Mike Gillis: "I love you, Bobby. And if it's quite alright, I'll go trade Cory to keep you by my side." 

This modern retelling of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew offers a retrospective on the goaltending controversy that defined the Vancouver Canucks' 2012-13 season.

Cory Schneider is an affable young goaltender who desperately wants a chance to become a starter. The only hitch is that GM Mike Gillis first has to find a suitor for Vancouver's senior starter (and his shrewish contract).

2. Death of a Motivational Speaker

The 2012-13 Edmonton Oilers star in this adaptation of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Head coach Ralph Krueger struggles to accept that his players just aren't the winners he had built them up to be in his imagination. 

After failing to sell owner Daryl Katz and GM Craig MacTavish on his vision for the team, Krueger starts to realize that he's only valuable to the organization as a dead-duck coach who will guide the team toward earning a high draft pick to compensate for their miserable season.

3. Cody Franson: "I want to skate in America. No blocking shots in America. Ice always clean in America. So offer sheet me please, America!"

After waiting all summer for the Toronto Maple Leafs to offer him a decent contract, RFA Cody Franson begins a controversial offer-sheet romance with the San Jose Sharks. The only problem is that the recently-relocated Winnipeg Jets threaten violence against any American teams that try to woo players away from Canada.

4. "Is this the face that drew a thousand PIMs?"

In this updated version of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Georges Vezina is the one who agrees to sell his soul to Mephistopheles. In return, the Montreal Canadiens will enjoy 24 (non-consecutive) years of Stanley Cup championships. However, after they hoist the cup for the 24th time in 1993, the Habs are damned never to taste of hockey's holy grail again!

5. "Oh, wouldn't it be Crosberly?"

Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux get into an argument over Sidney Crosby. Babcock considers Crosby to be the best forward in the NHL, but Lemieux insists that #87 is the best player in general. 

To settle the dispute, Babcock bets that Crosby can't be trained into an elite goaltender. Hilarity ensues as Lemieux tasks Dan Bylsma with putting Crosby on the other side of the puck. 

6. Erik Karlsson: "And still I dream we'll sign Alfie. And we will win the cup together. But there are dreams that cannot be. And there are deals we cannot better."

In the wake of Daniel Alfredsson's departure from the Ottawa Senators, Erik Karlsson's production languishes as he spends his days and nights lamenting his jilted bromance. Meanwhile, Inspector Spartacat relentlessly pursues Eugene Melnyk to determine the cause of the supposed financial hardships that prevented the Sens from re-signing their longest-tenured captain.

Outside of the organization, Sens Army decides to blame Leafs Nation for their loss. They resolve to barricade Canadian Tire Centre against anyone wearing blue and white. (Leafs fans simply opt to see games in Buffalo instead.)

7. Toews Andronicus

The victorious Chicago Blackhawks begin the new season with hopes of winning the Stanley Cup again. However, their off season celebrations (Patrick Kane's partying, Corey Crawford's f-bomb riddled speech, and the ritualistic sacrifice of the Bruins' best player) may mire their 2013-14 campaign in a gory, barbarous tragedy.

8. "I Sing the Power Play Electric"

Building on the success of shows that offer behind-the-scenes coverage of hockey teams (e.g. NHL 24/7Oil Change, and Road to the Mastercard Memorial Cup), MLSE brings you the docu-musical Flame.

Tune in to see Flames prospects as they gather in training camp in hope of having a breakout year--and a blockbuster solo! If they can't get hits on the ice, they might as well try to get hits in the musical charts.

9. Is Tim Thomas the mysterious "Angel of Blue Paint"?  

After a slew of mysterious injuries prevent Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson, and Niklas Svedberg from playing in net for the Boston Bruins, Peter Chiarelli has no choice but to call up Malcolm Subban from the OHL to mind the net. When the 19-year old Subban performs like a veteran starter, rumours swirl that he has been trained by the mysterious TD Garden ghost that has haunted the arena ever since the semi-retirement of Tim Thomas.

This phantom reveals himself to be a real threat when he sabotages games in which coach Claude Julien starts anyone but Subban. After the Bruins win the cup, the phantom tries to kidnap Subban before he can take part in the team's visit to the White House. 

10. Elishastrata

Frustrated that there is no foreseeable end to the Toronto Maple Leafs' cup drought, Elisha Cuthbert convinces the players' partners to withhold sex until the the boys win the Stanley Cup for them. Keeping her compatriots focused on their goal, however, proves to be a much more difficult task than preserving a 4-1 in a pivotal playoff game.  

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