A WHITE-OUT, THEN A BLACKOUT

NHL games played in football or baseball stadiums are most often a spectacle.

Saturday night's battle between Washington and Toronto at Annapolis, Md., was no exception.

The location, on the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy, made the presentation a non-stop blur of rah-rah patriotism. Like that, or don't.

Toronto wore all-white uniforms, including white gloves, white pants and white socks. You could barely see the Maple Leafs against the backdrop of the ice. They looked like ghosts. The game was a continuous optical illusion.

The stadium's lights went out midway through the third period. The game was delayed almost 15 minutes.

Then, at 11 p.m., NBC moved the game's last four-plus minutes to the NBC Sports Network so "Saturday Night Live" could start on time. A way to remind the NHL it doesn't matter, perhaps. Or maybe it was NBC's revenge on the NHL for not allowing its players to participate in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, also televised by NBC.

It was one of hockey's showcase events for 2017-18. The game and playing conditions weren't bad. But so much of it came off as amateur hour.

 
Mark Madden

Mark Madden

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