Top 5

Jonas Hiller

Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller was born in Switzerland and is fluent in German, French and English. Here are his Top 5 cities in Europe:


  1. Bern, Switzerland

  2. Prague, Czech Republic

  3. Paris, France

  4. Barcelona, Spain

  5. Rome, Italy

NHL Confidential

Willie MitchellFlorida Panthers defenseman Willie Mitchell, formerly of the Vancouver Canucks, recommends Hawksworth restaurant in downtown Vancouver, located inside the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. "Kind of a west coast with a little bit of a French twist to it – a lot of depth to it," he says. "A lot of meat and a little bit of texture. … The scallops are outstanding – anything for that matter."

JP

Introducing the Secret Season.

Secret Season rink

We’ve had enough.

We’re sick of this NHL lockout in its 29th day, of jostling among overpaid executives, of hoping for a partial season one day and the despair of a lost season the next.

We’re sick of hearing about our NHL stars going overseas to play for teams you can’t spell in a game of Scrabble.

Sick of it all.

We’re starting our own season. With NHL players. Every single one of them.

Thirty teams. Two conferences. Six divisions. Right here in ——–

Well, we cannot unveil the location. More about that in a minute.

First, let’s just say this “secret league” is legit. You may have heard some erroneous reports of European teams signing NHL players. There was a Kontinental Hockey League game on ESPN2. Just remember: Erroneous. (ESPN doesn’t air hockey games anymore. They’re not a legit source.)

Trust us: This “secret league” is legit.

Once the NHL lockout struck Sept. 15, we started making calls. It took a little work to lure players who accepted contracts overseas, but we got them. It wasn’t hard; all we had to do was hire a commissioner to help recruit traitors.

Marian Hossa immediately responded to our text with a simple “will do.” Within 10 minutes we had players packing their bags and ditching their respective European contracts for our “Secret League.”

Again, we cannot unveil the location. Know this much: We’re located in a “village” spacious enough to house 750 players.

It wasn’t easy to find such a “village,” since options within North America are limited. We cannot list those “options within North America” by name; NHL personnel can use a simple process of elimination and find us. It’s already bad enough we used the word “village.” Our Intelligence Agency believes Gary Bettman caught wind of our “Secret League” developing and is sending his hounds to find us.

Our village was undergoing a remodeling process before we got our hands on it. You see, when the village is no longer in use for that special “global event,” it’s refitted and retooled into condos and apartments. This was happening for our hand-picked location, and we needed to put a stop to the conversion.

Easy solution.

We recruited the biggest and baddest bullies in the NHL to make a visit to the village’s construction workers for “a little chat.” Actually, we sent a text to Milan Lucic, he replied “done deal,” and within 20 minutes Zenon Konopka, Jody Shelley and Chris Neil led a pack of 50 enforcers toward the construction workers.

Long story short, the “village” is ours – thanks, of course, to fear of a black eye. Or bloody lip. Or broken nose. Whatever. There’s no longer remodeling in the village. It’s ours, and ours alone.

They won’t unveil our location to the press.

“They won’t say a word,” Chris Neil says, cracking his knuckles in 20 places. “Not. One. Word.”

We’ll take his word.

That’s one obstacle solved. Here’s another: Rinks.

There’s two ice rinks within walking distance and 30 teams. It doesn’t take a mathematician to understand that we’ll need extra rinks. But that’s why we selected ———. There are nearly 200 rinks in suburban ——–, so we can pick and choose where to play.

Players will simply drive themselves to games.

“Wait, wait, wait. ‘Drive ourselves?’ We get limos to and from the games, right?” Henrik Lundqvist says.

Umm, no. You drive yourself, Henrik. What do you think this is? The NHL? We cannot afford the 4-dollar-a-gallon gas.

“Umm, hello … we’re in a LOCKOUT,” Ryan Miller says. “You know what a LOCKOUT stands for??”

Geez, Miller, we thought the Milan Lucic hit was the end of your whining. Guess not.

Look here, cheapskates: Use your millions to rent a car. Heck, carpool if you choose — buy a bus, whatever — you’ll be driving, that’s for sure.

“Pfff. Whatever. I just wanna skate,” Ryan Callahan says. “I just got traded to Columbus. I mean, how bad will it be here, driving from the village, to a rink in suburban ———”

Whoa, Ryan, stop there. This location MUST stay secret. Do we really need to address this?

Maybe we do.

If fans catch wind of this, we’re done. Twitter will explode, the media will follow, then Pierre McGuire, then Bettman’s hounds, and then we’re screwed.

Anyway, to keep this “secret,” we must play games when the rinks are empty and free of visitors. Thus, we must play at odd hours of the night. Our timeframe for games: Midnight to 5 a.m.

“Are you nuts?” Miller asks. “Did Lucic run you over or something?”

Uh, look: The masses of men sleep from midnight to 5 a.m., so that’s our timeslot.

No primetime hockey. No matinees. None of that. Graveyard hockey it is.

Don’t worry, you’ll adjust. The rooms are blocked from sunlight. You’ll sleep during the day, play in the middle of the night and relax on the off-days in the village with other locked-out NHL players.

“Any masseuses?” Joe Thornton asks.

No masseuses, no trainers, no doctors. If you’re injured, you find medical attention, just like the rest of the recreational hockey world. You must buy your own insurance. Our “intelligence” cost every penny in our banking account. That, we think, is our means of protecting you. (More on that later.)

“OK, fine. But do I still get to play with Ryan?” asks Zach Parise.

“OK, fine. But do I still get to play with Zach?” asks Ryan Suter.

Geez. Yes, you do. OK?

“What about refs?” Brian Campbell says.

“Forget the refs, Lady Byng boy. Let’s just play,” Brad Marchand says.

You guys will have to pay the refs out of pocket. And you’re not going to have a league unless we have refs. So pony up the money and pay …

“How about you pay them?” Parise says.

“How about you pay them?” Suter says.

How about we phone Bettman, unveil this secret location, tweet this secret location, and ruin this whole damn league!

(Silence)

Moving on.

Each team will play three times a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We’ll use the weekends for relaxing. No back to back games.

“Can you be our next NHL commissioner?” Parise says.

“Can you be our next NHL commissioner?” Suter says.

Wow, you guys are gonna be annoying this year.

Oh, one more thing: There’s no team scheduler, no general managers, no coaches.

Manage your own shifts on the ice, bring your own water bottles, carry your own bags, cook for yourselves, feed yourselves, the list goes on.

And remember: This must stay secret.

We will provide weekly reports detailing all the happenings. The problem, of course, is we cannot guarantee an entire season. The NHL can come back any day, any time.

But will it?

Consider this: If Bettman is sending his hounds, he’s concerned about something, right? Think about it: Why would he care about a “secret league”?

This either proves the authenticity of our “secret league” being a threat to his product, or, it shows there won’t be an NHL season and he has nothing better to do but take away our fun.

This will be interesting. Let’s see what happens …

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