It is a rite of spring. The snow melts, the flowers bloom and the Phoenix Coyotes are closing in on a deal for new ownership that will keep them in Glendale, Ariz.
This spring, neither snow melting nor the flowers blooming have come to pass on schedule, but it's the first round of the National Hockey League playoffs, which means the league claims it's found another Daddy Warbucks to rescue the team from the orphanage.
If you've been too focused on the actual games on the ice, I have been on a quest since 2009 to rescue the Coyotes and move them to the Copper Country where they might be appreciated and have a good home.
I have not been in any discussions with the NHL over the Coyotes, but I did play Daddy Warbucks in a 2001 Gwinn High School production of "Annie." (I shaved my head for the part. There are pictures.) My fundraising efforts have not borne a lot of fruit lately. My initial goal was to find a large deposit of gold or copper underneath a local construction project. I couldn't even find a quarter in a pothole, so I have shifted my efforts to finding my proverbial pot of gold.
I have some Irish ancestry on my father's side. I figure if I'm Irish enough for red hair, I can at least qualify for a small pot or at least a Dutch oven. Though the price of gold has declined recently, at well over $1,000 an ounce, even a crock pot of gold would be enough to pay the salary of a fourth-line forward for a year or two.
The Coyotes failed to make the playoffs this year, which I hope will drive the price down, perhaps to about $100. I still have some of my tax refund left and since golf looks iffy with the weather these days, I'm ready to adopt.
What I may lack in capital, I will more than make up for in hockey savvy, demonstrated by my slightly tardy playoff picks below:
Yes, I'm happy the Red Wings made the playoffs, but a series of must-have wins against non-playoff teams and the eighth-seeded L.A. Kings winning the Stanley Cup have inspired unreasonable optimism inside the Detroit fan base. Sometimes the trendy pick is the worst one. If you'd like proof, I'll show you the NCAA Tournament bracket in which I picked New Mexico to play in the Final Four this year.
I'll pick the Wings to lose to the Ducks in seven and maximize the pain by doing it in a game that starts at 11:30 p.m.
Though the Blackhawks didn't appear to have been informed the playoffs were starting Tuesday, they still beat the Wild in overtime and will take the series in five. Someone's going to have to win between Vancouver and San Jose. I like the Sharks to crack up last and win in six. Jonathan Quick's overtime goaltending disaster will haunt the Kings all series and they'll end their Cup defense in six games to St. Louis.
In the semis, I like the Blues over the Ducks in six and the Blackhawks over the Sharks in five. Chicago takes the Western final in seven.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have it all. They'll eliminate the Islanders before I figure out how the Islanders got to be a playoff team. Ottawa's fate will be sealed when goalie Craig Anderson sprains a back muscle throwing up a bad Montreal smoked meat sandwich before Game 7, completing a season full of bizarre injuries for the Sens. Washington's resurgence continues with a tight seven-game series win over the Rangers, and the media craziness overwhelms the not-ready-for-prime-time Leafs, who fall to Boston in five games.
'Papa Gary' Bettman "makes sure" the Eastern Conference Finals is Pittsburgh (over Boston in six) vs. Washington (over Montreal in five), but is surprised to find that the Caps put it together and surprise the super-team Penguins in six.
In the Stanley Cup Finals, the run of diversity extends to 10 different champs in 10 years as the Capitals take it in six games.
And if this all goes awry, at least I'm a nice guy. I won't call the dressing room and demand lineup changes (like Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria did in April) or sell off my underachieving team's best players once I've demanded local governments build me a Xanadu on the public dime (also Loria).
Our spring is ready for winter in the Copper Country, Gary Bettman. Let's make a deal.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.