The XFL, in its most recent incarnation as the NFL-wannabe, has finished the first two weeks of it’s fledgling season, and if crowd size is any indication, the X in XFL may well stand for extinct, so paltry are the attendance numbers.
In Tampa, the local entrant, the Tampa Vipers, averaged 17,000, compared to the NFL Tampa Bay Bucs, not exactly a model of gridiron majesty, which sees three to four times that amount come autumn. So, who knows, maybe there is room for another flailing football franchise in Florida.
The league, filling the three-month sports void between the Super Bowl finishing and MLB starting, plus the winding down of both the NHL and the NBA, will have to do better in that small window of time to get to year two, unless former wrestling guru and current XFL owner Vince McMahon has a ton of money to waste, and he may well have.
A major difference in the two leagues: the 40 seconds the NFL gets to snap the ball has been lowered to 25 seconds in the XFL.
With all the shifting and men in motion and quarterbacks changing plays based on defensive positioning, the XFL will have to do in 25 seconds what the NFL barely does in 40. That’s asking a lot.
I can see receivers heading upfield yelling to their coaches on the sideline, “Hey, coach! What’s my route again?”
Or a befuddled offensive lineman seeking confirmation from a fellow leviathan, blurting out, “I block 73. Who you gonna block?”
I mean, we’re not exactly talking about high achievers on the SAT’s here, are we?
For the second time in two years, a third string NHL goalie was called into action when both net minders were hurt during action. Rules state that a reserve goalie must be onsite to aid either team, but not suited up until needed. They are reverently known as EBUGS. (Emergency Back Up Goalies.)
Last year it was Chicago Blackhawk reserve Scott Foster who stopped seven shots in securing a Chicago win over the Winnipeg Jets before returning to his day job as an accountant, and his nighttime avocation as a goalie for a Windy City bar team named “Johnnie’s Ice House.”
This past week saw 42 year-old David Ayres get his first NHL win in subbing for the Carolina Hurricanes in a win over the Maple Leafs, in Toronto. It was the first competition for Ayres since 2015 when he played his final game for the Norwood Vipers of the Allan Cup Hockey League, allowing 11 goals on 46 shots in a 14-4 defeat at the hands of the Stoney Creek Generals.
That outing ruined Ayres’ chance at NHL play, but undaunted, he continued to drive the Zamboni for the Maple Leafs, and acted as their reserve goalie, hoping for a call up. He finally got it, albeit for Carolina, the first EBUG in NHL history to nail a win. You rock, Dave.