The hockey gods have long enjoyed tormenting New York. Something else they’ve done is take a target and place it directly over the heart of the Edmonton Oilers and their loyal fans. The hockey gods sometimes smile. Were they more friendly to the Atlanta Thrashers on the road? They are cruel. They decide to give the fans a treat. The hockey gods have appeared to do UMass a big favour. They intervene and break an old television. A return to the fundamentals can make it just a little easier for the hockey gods to smile down on you. Their wrath can surely be aroused by the Oiler flag being desecrated by falling unnoticed to the ground. Ovechkin and Crosby are a gift from them. They love hubris. They send down a mischievous elf. They anointed Tim Horton when he was 17. They smiled on Ron Ellis by allowing him to be picked for Team Canada in 1972. They pop the puck free. They have a half a heart. The hockey gods don’t tolerate the actions of goons anymore. Maybe they don’t want the Flint Generals to reach the .500 mark, but they gave the Boston Bruins a stay of execution. They can be thanked for Cristobal Huet. They never intended for the Cup to end up in Texas. Craig Conroy was pleading to them for a lucky break. A worthy sacrifice to them is a parakeet that went nuts at every whistle during St. Louis Blues games on TV and after a particularly raucous playoff game against Chicago, the poor little bird had a heart attack and died. Only the hockey gods know the potential of the Phoenix Coyotes. “Sometimes the hockey gods are funny,” says Mark Crawford. “They’re very fickle.” An example of their interference is when they sprinkled some kind off magical dust over the NHL schedule-makers so that Wayne Gretzky would arrive in Edmonton one point shy of becoming the NHL’s all-time leading scorer. The hockey gods have flowing robes and gnarled faces, by one account.