Conference III Shoots The Moon

by J.R.

Today In History

581px-Apollo_17_Cernan_on_moonAstronaut Eugene Cernan is the last man to walk on the moon Dec. 14, 1972, as part of Apollo 17.

…I’m on the surface; and, as I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just [say] what I believe history will record. That America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.

Thus ended three-and-half-years of lunar landings — six in total (Apollo 13 would have been seventh) — and a great American odyssey that began when John F. Kennedy said man would land on the moon by the end of the decade. It is one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments (beyond watching every Calgary Flames game for a season and not sliding into a deep and crippling opiate addiction).

Today, all seven Conference III teams are in action in a total of five games. It’s not fair to compare any one of those games to Apollo 11, but which game is which mission? Today we find out. But first, some CRAZY Conference III/Apollo 17 coincidences from our good buddy Mighty Mike D:

The famous rock that Jack Schmitt brought back from the moon, Troctolite 76535, has approximately the same mass & dimensions as a Hockey puck (sort of, anyway). [Ed. note: the rock is 5 cm wide and 156 grams; a puck is 7.6 cm wide and 170 grams)

The Taurus-Littrow Valley where Apollo 17 landed bears a striking resemblance to the geographic territory covered by Conference III (Ed. note: It sort of does; look how they narrow in the same place)

Apollo 17 was, of course, the misfit child of the doomed Apollo program: the eyes of the public and NASA were elsewhere (see Pacific Division), as were the bosses’ wallets (Atlantic) or trying to prop up crazy projects in Florida (hello, Space Shuttle & Metro Divison!). Apollo 17 went off and was awesome all on its own.

First Night Launch: NASA trying to lose their East-Coast bias and get on Conference III time

Gene Cernan used duct tape to fix the fender on the $38M Lunar Roving Vehicle. Now THAT’s Conference III!

On to the previews:

Stars at Jets, 2 PM

Records: Stars (14-11-5, 33 points, 5th in Conference III); Jets (14-14-5, 33 points, 7th in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: Andrew Ladd got the shootout winner in a 2-1 Jets decision Oct. 26.

Last 10: Dallas 3-4-3; Winnipeg 4-4-2

Lunar Mission: Apollo 12 landed in the Ocean of Storms — metaphorically apt for the Jets. And Tyler Seguin would have enjoyed the fellows on the mission. Pete Conrad had pictures of Playboy Playmates Angela Dorian and Reagan Wilson in his wristband checklist; Alan Bean stowed away with DeDe Lind (no relation, I don’t think) and Leslie Bianchini. Lind was also on the command module. This was all part of an elaborate prank set up by the back-up crew. Also Seguinly, Conrad and Bean blew up their camera trying to take a picture of the sun for some damn reason.

Wild at Avalanche, 7 PM Mountain/8 PM Central

Records: Wild (18-11-5, 41 points, 4th in Conference III); Avalanche (21-9-0, 42 points, 3rd in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: Ryan O’Reilly got the shootout winner Nov. 3o, completing a sweep of the back-to-back home-and-home.

Last 10: Minnesota 3-6-1; Colorado 6-4-0

Lunar Mission: Apollo 14 was all about getting things turned around. It was redemption for Apollo 13 — which wasn’t a failure, really, because they got home (indeed, that they returned alive may be the most remarkable accomplishment of the entire Apollo program), but was a disappointment; thus 14 landed on the Fra Mauro Highlands, where 13 intended to land. It was also a return to form for Alan Shepherd, who suffered from Ménière’s disease and took four years to get back into space-flight shape (indeed, the crews for 13 and 14 were swapped in the schedule to give Shepherd more time). Anywho, both the Wild and Avs could use some Apollo 14 inspiration and get back on track.

Blackhawks at Maple Leafs, 6 PM

Records: Blackhawks (23-6-5, 51 points, 1st in Conference III); Maple Leafs (16-14-3, 35 points, 5th in Atlantic)

Last Time They Met: Chicago beat the Leafs 3-1 October 19 in the United Center.

Last 10: Chicago 7-2-1; Toronto 2-6-2

Lunar Mission: Apollo 15 was the most scandal-ridden of the landing missions — it was maybe the most scandal-ridden U.S. space flight ever. OK, so Toronto isn’t a scandal, but they sure do make news and frequently anger their ardent fans. Their front-office frequently whitewashes or dismisses any criticism, which is more or less how NASA handled two missteps by the Apollo 15 crew. First, a German stamp dealer promised each astronaut seven grand in return for 100 postal covers signed after having returned from the Moon. This was, uh, unauthorized. Also, the crew left a statue commemorating the fallen astronauts and cosmonauts on the Moon. This was unbeknownst to the powers that be. The postage stamp incident was hush-hushed by NASA and the statue incident? Embraced after the fact. God bless ’em.

Blues at Blue Jackets, 6 PM

Records: Blues (21-6-3, 45 points, 2nd in Conference III); Blue Jackets (14-15-3, 31 points, 4th in SUDM)

Last Time They Met: Columbus beat the Blues 4-1 April 12.

Last 10: St. Louis 7-3-0; Columbus 6-4-0

Lunar Mission: Apollo 17’s lunar lander was called Challenger. St. Louis is a Challenger to Chicago. See what I’m driving at. Apollo 17 also had the longest trips extra-vehicularly, much as Columbus had such long trips when they were in the west (waaaah!). Gene Cernan has a unique distinction that makes him a little Ken Hitchcockish: he is the only man who descended towards the surface of the moon twice (he did it on Apollo 10, though there was no landing). In essence, Cernan came back successfully to a place where he fell short before, much as Ken Hitchcock is bringing the much more successful Blues back to Columbus.

Sharks at Predators, 7 PM

Records: Sharks (20-6-6, 46 points, 2nd in Pacific); Predators (15-14-3, 33 points, 6th in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: Sharks won 2-1 March 2, the third of three games in the lockout shortened season in which the Preds and Sharks combined score was 4-2 Predators. Combined. In three games. And one of those “goals” was the goal the NHL gives for winning a shootout. So it was really 3-2 Preds. Combined. In three games.

Last 10: San Jose 6-3-1; Nashville 4-5-1

Lunar Mission: Apollo 16’s Ken Mattingly, you may remember from movies, wasn’t allowed on Apollo 13 because he was exposed to the measles through Charles Duke, who caught it from his kids. Mattingly never got the measles in any event and got to go up on 16. It was bad run of injury luck, sorta like Pekka Rinne’s Plague Hip. And Shea Weber’s Eye Thing. And Craig Smith’s Mystery Flu and so on. But the real reason 16 is the Preds game is holy cow look at their mission patch: